June 22, 2012 14 Comments
After returning from our awesome vacation to Portugal (see photos and what we did here), life has been hella busy, thus my patheticly infrequent posts of late. Hopefully I’ll find the time to get back up to speed soon!
In between life’s hecticness, I did manage to squeeze in some time to go through photos from our trip and wanted to share one of our favorite restaurants. It’s called Bake the Difference and it’s an entirely vegan restaurant in downtown Lisbon. It’s in a great location and the food is warm-in-your-tummy hometown-good.
Particularly the empanadas. They were off the hook! Not only was the filling tasty, but the best part was the crust. In all of our empanada-consuming years, we’ve only come across ones with a heavy, doughy crust and, don’t get me wrong, they too have been fantastic, but the light, melt-in-your-mouth crust of these were an awesome change. It’s not that it was thin or flaky, just light and delicious in a way that didn’t weigh you down. Alex could eat three or four of them in a sitting and still have room for another dish and a dessert!
The ones above were filled with red bell pepper, seitan, and coriander.
While this one was carrot leek. Again, all of them were delicious and at 1.50 Euros each you cannot beat the price!
Their salads were also good and a very welcome change from the desiccated, cardboard treats we’d been served by Air France the prior 24 hours. This particular salad was specially created by the owner for me. That was the other noteworthy thing about Bake the Difference is that the owner, waitstaff, and cooks, all of whom we interacted with, were such wonderful, friendly people. So wonderful, in fact, that I ended up leaving a 33% tip—they totally deserved it!
For dessert we had to try the salame de chocolate. Yes, that’s right CHOCOLATE SALAMI! It’s a traditional Portuguese dessert and is a gooey-chocolatey slab with bits of cookie crumbles mixed in, which resemble the white fat in salami. I know these photos don’t provide the best view of the entire slab, but you can kind of see the similarity, no?
I have big plans for chocolate salami and am going to try recreating it this weekend. I will definitely share how it turns out!
Bake the Difference also does amazing juices. We had a fantastic carrot-apple-ginger juice as well as fresh-squeezed orange juice.
As if the chocolate salami was not enough, we ordered more dessert—a chocolate cake with strawberry filling. And since I am dreadfully afflicted with an ice cream addiction and was dying to try the non-dairy ice creams of Portugal, I had to order a scoop of raspberry swirl on the side.
It was soy-based and had a super creamy consistency—very, very good. The cake, too, was amazing, but left Alex with an itchy mouth after discovering the frosting was topped with hazelnuts, not peanuts. D:
On another visit to Bake the Difference, we had this sauteed mushroom and garlic dish over rice. The owner explained that it’s based on a traditional Portuguese seafood dish, which was why we decided to give it a try even though neither of us are huge mushroom fans. The plate went back to the kitchen empty, which says a lot for a mushroom-hater (Alex) and a mushroom meh-er (me.)
On another occasion we tried the vegan hot dog, which was solid. A fairly standard veggie dog with a dazzling array of toppings.
On our last day in Lisbon I finally had my beloved plain Provamel soy yogurt. I absolutely adore this stuff—it’s tart and tangy just like plain yogurt should be and I look forward to having it every trip to Europe. It’s similar to Whole Soy Plain Unsweetened and Wildwood Plain Unsweetened found in the states as well as Plain Sojade, which is another brand found in Europe. They’re all amazing, yet slightly different.
Also, on our last day, I was forced to get a couple scoops of ice cream—this time French vanilla in additional to another scoop of raspberry swirl. And then I was, god forbid, forced to eat it all. Tragedy! 😛
Alex ordered a slice of carrot cake, which turned out to be a major bummer of a slice. Not because it wasn’t super delicious (because it was!), but rather because instead of making it with almonds like they usually do, that day it was made with walnuts. It took us awhile to figure out what exactly he was allergic to because, in addition to the unusual substitution of walnuts for almonds, the Portugese word for walnut (“noz”) is often used to refer to nuts in general and also appears in the word “noz-moscada” (nutmeg!), which the cake did contain. The scene somewhat resembled a Monty Python sketch! But the good thing is that his walnut allergy isn’t terribly severe and after taking a Claritin he was fine for the rest of the day.
Here’s a shot of what it looks like when you enter. It’s such a cute little cafe and, I swear, it’s always busy—clearly a popular place in the neighborhood and, I’d imagine, a Lisbon attraction for vegan tourists like us.
Everyone at the restaurant was so apologetic about the nut mix-up. The cook, who happens to be from California, even came out of the kitchen to tell us how sorry he was (did I mention the people there are awesome? Because they are!) and that he wanted to give us a couple slices of chocolate salami for the road. And when delicious chocolate salami in a cute little to-go bag is being presented to us, how can we refuse?
Five stars all-around for the stellar food, service, atmosphere, and price at Bake the Difference!