This post is part of VeganMoFo 2019, a month-long celebration of vegan food. This week’s theme is travel, and today’s prompt is a dish that transports you back to a vacation.
Many vegans feel guilt about their pre-vegan days, particularly when in comes to treasured memories that are decidedly non-vegan. My advice? Be kind to yourself: you were brought up in a society that normalises the consumption of animal products, and you didn’t know then what you know now.
Seven and a half years ago, Clare and I went on holiday to Center Parcs with Clare’s dad. After a morning swim and an afternoon of archery, Clare’s dad wanted to relax in the lodge, so Clare and I went swimming again on our own. Afterwards I suggested we try Ortega, the tapas restaurant in the Center Parcs village. I made three discoveries that night: that not drinking alcohol doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy cocktails (virgin piña colada for me and Spanish sunset for Clare); that sweet and savoury can work together (honey and cheese croquettes); and that having a meal with your girlfriend in a dimly-lit and otherwise empty restaurant, followed by a lakeside walk under lamplight, is incredibly romantic.
Seven and a half years later, we’re married and vegan. This evening Clare returned from a long weekend camping with the Guides, and I welcomed her home by restaging that meal. But what could I do about the honey and cheese croquettes? Fortunately Marks & Spencer have ‘not-zzarella sticks’ in their Plant Kitchen range, so I just had to make the honey.
Search for vegan honey recipes and you’ll find dozens of variants on the same theme: combine two parts apple juice with one part sugar and boil down to half the original volume. I used golden syrup for the sugar. The result had a pleasing colour but still tasted strongly of apple juice. It worked well with the not-zzarella sticks, but no-one is going to be fooled into thinking it’s honey. The romantic meal, though? Just perfect.