Wednesday, 12 September, 2018
Lauren Baino recently visited Sitges, Spain. She recounts her week of trying to find vegan options in an unfamiliar territory.
I don’t know about you, but I already miss summer. So try and read the following tour of vegan eats in Sitges in the voice of one of those ethereal meditation guides, preferably accompanied by lightly lapping waves and the distant sound of latin dance music. Did I mention I’m missing summer?
Sitges is a coastal town just southwest of Barcelona, known for its beaches, nightlife, and history. But let’s be honest, I was mainly excited about the food. I’m Italian, and having been blown away by the recent growth of veganism and vegan options out there, I was confident I’d find the same boom in neighbouring Spain. I did a little bit of research beforehand – and by research, I mean I put Sitges into the HappyCow app – but essentially got on the plane armed with no more than a picture I’d taken of the Spanish page in my Vegan Passport – yes, I’m old and I got it before there was an app!
We arrived quite late on the first night, and aimlessly wandered into town looking for something quick and easy. One of the first places we came across was Montroig Cafe, which only had one vegan option, but I didn’t mind, and happily ordered the hummus sandwich with mixed sprouts. Much to my dismay however, when my order arrived I was presented with a tuna sandwich, and apparently the confusion arose because they had only recently added a second ‘vegetarian’ option to the menu. I also ordered the patatas bravas, but when they arrived they were doused in mayonnaise, even though it wasn’t mentioned on the menu. Safe to say, within hours of being there, I had done a complete 360 on my brazen vegan confidence.
On our way to the main supermarket in town, Mercadona, we stopped by El Fornet, a bakery that serves soya milk and is very reasonably priced too (€1.50 for a latte), but unfortunately they didn’t have any vegan pastries. Luckily, my day was made when I found a mini vegan pizza in the bakery section at the supermarket! We had also decided to make pasta salad for lunch as we were staying in an AirBnB, and were overwhelmed by the quality, colour and aroma of the fresh veggies in the supermarket – if you’re going to be self-catering, buy and savour as many of these as you can!
That evening we went back to the loving embrace of HappyCow and found that Mama 5 came highly recommended, however it was fully booked for the night, which we took as a good sign and booked for the next day. We went to Lady Green Biovegetarian instead, and there were a good few vegan options, so I went for the cheeseburger, and also ordered a New York cheesecake for dessert. The burger was tasty, but the service was very slow, and our waiter, who actually turned out to be the owner of the restaurant, forgot both our starter, and my dessert, which by the time we’d waited that long for the rest of the food, we decided to give up on. I’m still not over it…
By this point we were really hoping for a good meal at Mama 5. I’d been told I had to get the yukka fries, so we ordered them as a starter alongside the vegetable croquettes, but were also surprised by an amuse bouche of vegan Vichyssoise and some seasoned crispy corn which was lovely. There were a couple of vegan options, one of which being a quinoa salad, but I went for the chilli sin carne, and it was the best decision I made all holiday! The chilli was perfectly seasoned with a combination of texturally different beans and pulses, which combined with the freshness of the avocado salad and the lightness of the rice made for an incredible meal. Don’t be fooled – the portions may look small, especially if you’re a greedy guts like me, but they are incredibly filling. It is a little pricier than some of the other options, but worth every cent.
After a little bit of Instagram stalking, we decided to go to Lizy’s Kitchen for a reviving coffee and cake before the beach. Not only is Lizy herself a delight, but she has a variety of different plant-based milks to choose from, and though we went a little bit late, she still had a raw vegan bar and vegan muffin available to satisfy my sweet tooth for breakfast – and the muffin was so huge I couldn’t even finish it in one go! It came to under €5 euros for a coffee and cake.
In all honesty we struggled to find another good vegan option for the final night, and once it started raining we threw ourselves at the first thing that had the word vegan on the menu – Nieuw Amsterdam, a sort of American style pub/diner, and went for the burgers. There are two vegan options on the menu, the classic or the tropical, which I went for, and fries. The burger came with pineapple and sweet chilli sauce which was delicious, but the bun was about twice the size of the filling which made it quite hard to eat, and the fries, oh dear the fries…they were warm but chewy and none of us could get through them, despite the ravenous hunger. I don’t know if it was just a bad batch, but I wouldn’t recommend them if you end up there!
All in all, it was a mixed bag in terms of vegan eats. There were incredible finds and there were mediocre finds, but the incredible ones were good enough to outweigh the bad. If you’re heading to Sitges anytime soon, I’d recommend Lizy’s Kitchen for brekkie, Mercadona’s fresh produce for lunch, and Mama 5 for dinner as many times as you can afford!
by Lauren Baino
Lauren Baino is an Italian British actress and presenter on a lifelong quest to get the best out of veganism and self-care. Follow Lauren on Instagram.