smaak lekker

One of the pleasures of the continent is La Chouffe on tap. The pleasure is intensified with the knowledge that these delicious Dutch and Belgian beers are friendly to vegans. One of the hazards of going to a pub in England is the temptation to try a cask ale. Vegans, beware! Without exception, those lovely ales will be filtered with isinglass as they are drawn up from the cask. But you can put those reservations aside when faced with a blonde or a trappist brew, which abound once you enter the continental EU.

Dr Sin and Mrs Lomez have several times travelled to Utrecht for a working holiday – work by day, Delirium Tremens by night. Utrecht is once again on the calendar as the location for this year’s Minding Animals conference, which is sure to be populated by a whole lot of veg*ns. A lot of people are speaking, therefore just as many will be attending and, as such, the proportion of veg*ns in the city will be considerably higher than usual. Fortunately, the canaltropolis has plenty of a few vegan failsafes: trappist beer (see above), frites and falafel (both useful before, during or after imbibing the first).

The Manneken pis vlaamse frites chain is omnipresent in Utrecht; turn any corner and you’re bound to see a small boy peeing all over somebody’s chips. The servings are generous as are the dollops of condiment – sauce all the way down to the very last crisp. This is a meal in itself so do not attempt if you are looking for a mere snack. Falafel joints also abound, so if at first you do not stumble upon, walk another block and you will succeed.

Here seems a suitable point to pause and reflect on the importance of falafel in the diet, herbivore or omnivore, and its prevalence throughout the world. In Cairo at the turn of the century, 10 freshly made falafel (tamayya) would cost about one Egyptian pound, not even 10p each. A small price to pay for something so delicious and nutritious, packed with iron from parsley and protein from chickpeas. Mrs Lomez would buy 10 every other day then take them home to make falafel à pita deluxe, featuring more salad than just the falafel and hommous sold at the falafel joint. Little did she know that at about the same time across the border, Dr Sin was also getting by with falafel Israeli-style, featuring pickle. Maoz has done well to spread falafel love globally, even popping up in Perth, Western Australia (commendably located next to HJ’s, perhaps the reason why it closed down?) and tempting Soho’s nightbirds with much healthier fare than a greasy kebab. Falafel also keeps veggies and veggie lovers in Copenhagen satisfied, just remember to ask for no crème fraîche. Beyti in Nørrebro does a full falafel meal, and the choice of falafel joints increases exponentially the further along Nørrebrogade you go. Dr Sin and Mrs Lomez have had no trouble finding falafel wherever they travel but have had no luck sourcing a continual supply back home in Bromland. Al Barakah bakery could have been a contender but has mysteriously closed without even leaving a note. A freshly pressed review seems to be too late for the bakery to leverage.

But back to beer. It is not uncommon for continental breweries to release seasonal brews and ACU seems to keep at least one tap reserved for these special beers. Dr Sin and Mrs Lomez selected the special brew on each of their occasions to dine at this cooperative vegan kitchen on Voorstraat, where the menu changes daily. Affordable, delicious, inventive and generous meals made both very happy indeed. ACU does not have a line in frites but it’s best not to snack before eating here. With so many veg*ns due to swarm Utrecht the first week of July, table reservations may be in order.

And now a question: what does falafel mean to you?

Mrs Lomez would be interested to hear your replies.

Until next time,



2 thoughts on “smaak lekker

  1. You have singlehandedly mentioned all my favorite things in Utrecht — Manneken Pis, La Chouffe, and ACU fare! (: I’m checking out the Minding Animals conference you mentioned — maybe I’ll see you there.

  2. mrslomez says:

    Excellent, I’m speaking on Wednesday at 2pm!

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