I NEVER imagined Gibraltar would be high on my list of places to visit before coming to Espana.
But seeing as its 426m high rock dominates half of my seaward vistas, it’s been pretty hard since moving here to get it out of my mind.
So, before I knew it, my friend Elsa and I were heading there on a day trip.
I must admit, we were both pretty damn excited about meeting its inhabitants-and no-I don’t mean the Gibraltarians.
The 300 odd Barbary macaques, aka monkeys (!!!) , have been on the Rock for much longer than any of its less furry cousins.
The wild critters are a damn sight cuter too, at least when they’re not stealing your sandwich or staging a full on
human attack, as they’ve become famed for doing.
They were well worth the several kilometre constant uphill walk from the town below, even if I did at one point think things had gone a little Wizard of Oz.
A much faster walk downhill later, Elsa and I were, not surprisingly, feeling pretty peckish.
But what on earth does a British colonial outpost that prides itself on its ‘British’ fish and chip and pies have on offer for vegans?
The answer: Thanks to it being home to great melting pot of cultures, possibly more than you would imagine!
Moroccans and Spaniards count among the people who have made the Rock their home, bringing with them dishes such as tagine and tapas.
Add into the mix Middle Eastern dishes such as falafel and south Asian dishes like curry that have their roots respectively in Gibraltar’s strong Jewish, Hindu and Muslim communities and you’re surely in for a feast.
All these possibilities before we’ve even included the dishes developed over the centuries thanks to successive waves migration from places such as Portugal, Malta and Genoa.
One word of warning though before visiting Gibraltar. If Middle Eastern fare is what you crave, best to go during the week. Thanks to the Sabbath, two cafes I had my eye on- the vegetarian Verdi Verdi and Nosha’s Cafe, are shut on Saturday as well as Sunday.
We stumbled upon Vinopolis in Irish Town.
It was 4pm and clearly late lunches are not as popular in Gibraltar as they are in Spain.
Fortunately, it was just the day trip treat we had been hoping for.
A tapas eatery, at least during the day, it has several vegan friendly options.
Sadly, their take on a Gibraltarian classic, calentita (a sort of flat Yorkshire pudding affair made with chickpea flour) wasn’t a goer.
But dishes such as Moroccan tagine, grilled vegetables, tomato and garlic salad, pimientos de padron (tasty, salty fried green peppers) and bread with dips, certainly were.
And if you fancy a sweet treat to end, the passion fruit or lemon sorbet could be just the ticket.
I plumped for bread with tomato and garlic to start- the result, I fear, of walking enviously past too many people sat
outside cafes eating just that every morning on my way to work.
The tomato sauce was refreshing and the bread…well, toasted bread. If you like simple, it’s a winner.
The tagine was delicious and clearly made by a fan of the cuisine.
Perhaps typically though for a stingy Yorkshire lass, the best bit came for free.
The plate of garlic and herb smothered olives placed on our table when we sat down were the icing on the cake for me.
A more thorough exploration of Gibraltar’s vegan fare is definitely needed for another time.
But without even a concentrated effort, Elsa and I came across a handful of south Asian restaurants, cafes and takeaways, including this pure vegetarian one on Prince Edward Road, Sai Darbar.
Mid afternoon on a Saturday didn’t appear to be a time when it opened, though.
Saying Middle Eastern fare could be quite elusive on the weekend, if falafel is what you’re after, you may be in luck.
Elsa and I passed the Moroccan Essaouira by chance on our way to Morrisons to stock up on much needed supplies of marmite and non-sugar filled peanut butter (seriously, Mercadona??).
It’s on Water gardens unit 4, Westside, not so far from Morrisons.
Stay tuned for a review on a return trip!