Saturday, 30 March 2013

Vegan Portuguese Wines

We are quite partial to a drop of good quality red wine and in the ‘spirit’ of keeping it local we wanted to be able to sample Portuguese vegan wines whilst we were here.  So on our first visit four years ago, we did some research beforehand and identified, sought out and have sampled several ever since.  Here are some of our favourites (all red as that is what we prefer);

Quinto de Esteveira (Douro region) – Vegan and organic – approximately €5.50
The bonus with this one is it is cheap but that means no less when it comes to flavour as it is one of our favourites.  We found this one in a health food store called BioViver in Aljezur (about 40 minutes up the west coast from Sagres).

Quinto do Coa Tinto CARM (Douro region) – Vegan and organic – approximately €10.99
Also available in white. This is one of the more expensive ones so a real treat normally but it is a very tasty example.  We are able to find this in Baptista in Luz and also in the big Intermarche in Lagos.  Bizarrely we found this last year in the wine shop in Wadebridge in Cornwall but it was about £15 a bottle there which kind of pushes the boundaries of treats to a once a year sheer indulgence.

Carm Classico Tinto Douro – Vegan and organic – approximately €7
Also available in rose.  The second cheapest choice we have found amongst our favourites and we like to say there is ‘no harm in a Carm’!  It goes down very well.  We have found this in Baptista in Luz and also the big Intermarche in Lagos.

Casa de Mouraz Tinto Dao – Vegan, organic and biodynamic – approximately €8
Also available in white and rose.  Probably our least favourite of our favourites but still very tasty regardless.  We have found this in the big Intermarche in Lagos but also in the nearest Intermarche to our campsite at Budens.

Quinta do Crasto - Vegan - approximately €9.50
We found this only this year in the Lagos Intermarche and only sampled it this very evening.  Not quite as fruity and smooth as the others but it still went down very well indeed with our evening meal.

We have also found reference to the following wines being vegan on the internet but we have been unable to find these as yet –

Quinto de Comenda
Anything from the Cooperative Cellar of Covilha


Friday, 29 March 2013

Scrambling and Camping

Tofu scrambles is the ultimate easy vegan cooked breakfast.  Even more so when you are camping.  We always have in our camping ‘larder’ a couple of packs of long life firm silken tofu.  We also have our handy stash of herbs and spices stored in old 35mm film canisters, a little nutritional yeast, bouillon powder and either Braggs or soya sauce.  So as long as we can buy an onion and a few mushrooms (and any additional vegetables we fancy adding) we are good for at least a couple of scrambles during a camping trip. 
This year in Portugal we are delighted to see more tofu and seitan products in the chilled section with the vegetables at the supermarket local to our campsite.  We were even more delighted to find blocks of tofu with big chunks of seaweed in it and at a really good price (€2.50 approx).  It makes for a lovely tofu scrambles and we have been enjoying it quite frequently this trip without even touching the tofu supply we brought from the UK.
I know of no vegans who haven’t got their own version of tofu scrambles, but here is an idea of ours whether you are camping or not!
Scrambles for two
Oil or water for cooking
1 onion sliced
½ teaspoon of turmeric
6 mushrooms sliced
2 sticks celery sliced (optional)
Pumpkins seeds (optional)
1 level teaspoon of vegan bouillon
1 block of whatever tofu you fancy or can find
1 teaspoon of Braggs for soya sauce
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast powder

Fry the onion in oil (or just use a little water instead as it still tastes as good) until translucent.
Add the turmeric and give it 30 seconds.
Add mushrooms and any other vegetables or seeds you might fancy (e.g. celery and pumpkins seeds).
When the veg starts to soften, add in the bouillon and cook for a couple of minutes.
Mash up the tofu and add and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring to mix everything together well.
Add in the nutritional yeast, stir to mix and cook for a couple of minutes.
Add in the Braggs or soya sauce and stir.
Serve whilst hot. 

We just have ours on toast normally as we have a little grill on our camping stove but it would be nice in wraps too.  Enjoy!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Perfect Padron Peppers in Portugal

No it’s not a tongue twister but it could be if you got one of the odd spicy ones!
So here we are in the beautiful outside world of camping in Portugal.  Apart from the wonders of sleeping under canvas whilst the whole tent is illuminated inside with silver moonlight, cooking outside has got to be one of the best things ever (and we don’t mean stinky barbeques).  The food always tastes amazing; like the special secret ingredient is the outside world itself. 
So imagine when Phil found one of his favourites hidden away in a local supermarket – padron peppers.  He was very excited.  Padron peppers are small green mild offerings with a slightly bitter but fresh nutty taste.  Every now and then one of them will have some spicy bite to it – you never know until you bite into it – but last night we were free of such surprises and left to enjoy the more subtle aspects of their taste.  The simple life is often the best and we enjoyed said padron peppers simply lightly fried whole in Portuguese olive oil and then finished off with a sprinkle of salt, a splash of early evening light and a sprinkling of fresh Portuguese air.  A perfect tapas dish! 

Wednesday, 13 March 2013


You can tell that the Cornish Spring is just around the corner.  The fields are aglow with golden Cornish daffodils and the air is infused with the distinct smell of cauliflower.  Admittedly the latter isn't always a great smell (I compare it to the smell of slightly damp wetsuit and sadly Phil agrees and hence our bathroom occasionally smells like a cauliflower field), but regardless it does mean that we only have a short time left huddling in front of the open fire in the ongoing effort to dodge the forthright and chilly wind of winter.

Meanwhile what better way of enjoying the great indoors than infusing the whole house with the smell of curry cooking.  That is what is happening this very minute - the curry spice king that is Phil is creating his magic in the kitchen.  No recipe necessary - he just gets out his secret spice box and gets on with it.  I have no idea what is in that box as, like his toolbox, it is a place that is sacrosanct to the very maleness in him.  I never go there and neither do I want to as he is the curry king in our household.  All of know is that the result fills the house and my belly with exotic warmth.

So I say bring on the spring and fill the air with the 'eau de damp wetsuit' but in the meantime, and whilst we wait with anticipation for the warmth and excitement of the fairer months, we will create our own little exotic oasis indoors.  That also includes the sounds (most important whilst cooking) and we recently rediscovered the brilliance of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan so whilst you think about and imagine the smells that infuse our house presently, have a little listen to this -

Mustt, Mustt (Massive Attack Remix) by aspidistra451

Friday, 8 March 2013

Proud to be Mooning!

Now hear this ladies (and modern gentlemen) - mooning is a good thing to do.  Fact!

I refer to the mooncup.  I've been using one for at least 8 years now and I think that all women should really consider the benefits of using one.  Any men reading this; your lady will love and respect you more for being so sensitive and concerned about her health as to mention this to her.  Don't be shy now. 

I'm not shy of talking about such things because I think it is important to share things that could have such an impact on health and the environment.  I wish somebody had told me about it years and years ago so I make no apologies for shouting it from the rooftops now but I do apologise for not blogging about it as soon as we had a blog.

I used to use tampons;  still do occasionally to be honest (but only Naturecare now).  You see the common brands of tampons use materials that are not free from pesticides, GM materials, bleaches and dioxins.  Not the kind of thing you want to be sticking up there quite frankly .  I used to use those common brands and then, after a smear test, I got 'abnormal cells' (I predict most men are holding their ears at this point and saying 'la, la, la' but hang on in there).  It was all okay in the end but it really made me think about the importance of taking control and thinking about all aspects of what you expose your body to (inside and out).  I instantly changed to Naturecare organic tampons (less toxic) and then continued to investigate further.  That's when I happened upon the mooncup.  I've had no problems since.  Could be coincidence but hey, I'm not really into gambling that much.

This about sums it up perfectly -

It might seem a little weird to use a mooncup for the first time but like anything, it becomes second nature.  Honestly it does.  Very little extra effort is involved and a whole lot of money and environmental cost is saved.  11,000 tampons or pads is what the average women would use in their lifetime.  Where do you think all that gets disposed of?  Landfill or the sea.  Yuck. 
Then of course there is the health issues to take into account.  35% of the moisture  absorbed by tampons is natural moisture.  That moisture is there for a reason!  All you need to get rid of is the surplus not the natural stuff!  The ingredients list of most common brands of tampons makes uncomfortable reading too.  You wouldn't eat it so why stick it up the other end - sorry but let's be frank and honest about it.
Be informed ladies and gentle sensitive loving men.  Be informed.
For more info please go to -