When we arrived at the Amsterdam airport, we received a warm greeting from Harald, the talented photographer behind the camera at Vegalicious. Harald does a fantastic job capturing the beauty of his wife Chris’ unique vegan recipes, all of which are available for free on the Vegalicious blog.
We had the pleasure of staying with Chris and Harald at their home in Almere, the Netherlands. Upon introduction, they dubbed us their little test bunnies and immediately started feeding us Chris’ delicious vegan creations. Our first taste of Vegalicious talent came in the form of vegan strawberry tarts with soy yogourt and cashew cream. We enjoyed them in the garden with tea and coffee.
Later in the evening, we were treated to a fantastic dinner, the first of many. I had the chance to help Chris in the kitchen, stuffing pasta shells to the brim and learning the art of peeling asparagus without breaking it in half.
It was such a pleasure to watch Chris work. She made everything look effortless as she took just a few, simple ingreidents and came up with extraordinary results. The main course on our first evening was a pasta bake. Chris lined a glass dish with large pasta shells, stuffed with a spinach and onion mixture, covered them in tomato sauce and topped it off with some homemade cheese sauce. Can you say… incredible?
For sides, we enjoyed white asparagus with an orange sauce and chive blossoms, as well as a lovely veggie salad with homemade miso dressing
For the next five days, the cooking and eating continued. We were treated to some of the best food we’ve had all year. After the first day, we realized why Chris and Harald didn’t have much in the way of advice about eating at vegan restaurants in nearby Amsterdam. De Peper, the squat cafe we visited, was good but they make way better food at home.
One evening, Chris made a hearty Tex Mex casserole using corn flakes sent to her by a friend from the USA. I always dream of vegan options overseas but, in speaking with Chris, was reminded that North America does have a lot to offer vegans. I’m talking above and beyond corn flakes, of course. The casserole was sprinkled with Cheezly, the only vegan cheese substitute available in the area. No daiya cheese for Holland just yet.
One of my favourite Vegalicious recipes, and one we’ve made several times since moving on from Holland, was Chirs’ ingenuous Madras tomato coconut soup. It only requires a few ingredients, making it a perfect recipe for vegan backpackers.
Once a month on a Friday, the Vegalicious duo treat themselves to homemade pizza. We were off exploring Amsterdam on pizza night but they were kind enough to save us a slice. Even a day later, it was some of the best and most unique vegan pizza we’ve ever had. The homemade crust was topped with artichokes, asparagus, green olives, cheezly and homemade cheese sauce.
Chris likes to keep her recipes healthy, making lots of salads and soups. She does, however, make some mean baked goods. She impressed us with her breakfast biscuits, as well as some puffed pastry turnovers, stuffed with rhubarb and vegan cream cheese.
Chris has a beautiful garden in the backyard, as well a larger patch of land just a short bike ride away. She’s able to grow a lot of her own food but still has to rely on local shops for some items. To give me an idea of what she has to work with, Chris took me on a big tour of the local food stores. We stopped off at a few Turkish and Asian grocers but the highlight was Almere’s local health food store, Helios Natuurvoeding (Markerkant 12061314 AK Almere). I picked up some of the popular spreadable goodness you’ll find in most of western Europe: Tartex and Streich. I also found some Bonvita vegan white chocolate, which was creamy and awesome, and an Allos puffed amaranth and chocolate bar, which I could have lived without. All of these goodies cost about €11.00 Euros ($14.11 USD).
Chris and Harald inspired us. Chris reminded me that being in the kitchen is a true pleasure. And healthy, delicious meals, only require a few ingredients. Add some homegrown produce and passion into the mix and you’ve got the makings of a recipe worth sharing. John’s interest in taking photos and making videos were definitely reignited by Harald (flickr: haraldwalker). He’s been capturing moments more often as our journey continues.