Monday, November 30, 2009

A Vegetarian in Samoa




I have wanted to go to Samoa for a long time; I love tropical islands, the Polynesian culture and, like many, I truly cherish the chance of a sunny break from the Auckland winter rain.






The tourism industry in Samoa may not be as yet as sophisticated as in other popular destinations like Fiji or New Caledonia, but there is already a great choice of places to stay, from traditional family run fale, to top of the class resorts. Because we were travelling with children my husband and I looked for a resort with several facilities and activities and, on the little ones request, a kid club.

We choose the Aggie Grey’s Lagoon Resort and Spa, on the main island of Upolu, which is the newest sister resort of the famous Aggie Grey’s hotel in Apia. With 140 rooms the resort is large by Samoan standards, but it is also well spread out among extensive gardens, and each room faces the beach, or better, a succession of little beaches. As a result the place didn’t feel crowded or noisy.




There are four restaurants to choose from and, although tropical islands are not exactly vegetarian high cuisine destinations, each eatery offered a few vegetarian options. The children enjoy the pizzeria, and so did we, but opted for the pizza with cheese rather than the vegan one which included mush potatoes among the toppings (sorry, blame my Italian blood but couldn’t try that one!). Each restaurant also had a children’s menu which very much resembled New Zealand children’s menus. Needless to say that my kids ended up ordering from our menus, which offered more choices for the veggies.

Light meals included samosas and spring rolls, simple salads and home made bread with dips (possibly the best option). At the time of our visit room service had only one vegetarian choice: rice with stir fried vegetables, possibly low on the protein front, but OK for one evening.

But the best restaurant for us was the Asian-Fusion one, the only one with a tofu dish. They also had soba noodles with mushrooms and broccoli, and vegetable tempura.





The breakfast buffet was truly Kiwi style: cereals (but no soy milk), toasts and vegemite, and a variety of cooked items. Personally I am not a ‘beans on toast’ type, I may have an egg or pancakes, but not everyday. I also felt that most vegetarians would find it difficult to watch fellow holiday makers using the same serving spoon to pick up the meat and the supposedly meat free items on the hot buffet.

The one of the thing I really liked for breakfast was the pastry selection, in particular the banana slice and the sweet buns dipped in coconut milk: I had plenty of those with coffee! I was also grateful for the large trays of fresh fruit, something that you would expect in the Tropics.




To compensate for all the sweet pastries I had I made sure that at least half of my breakfast consisted of papaya and bananas, and sometimes pineapple. I also tried a green mango, but it was rather sour.

Papayas and banana trees are to be found everywhere on the resort grounds, and we picked quite a few for afternoon snacks. I also found it useful to bring a few dried snacks from New Zealand, things like biscuits and nuts, and noticed that a few guests on the resort, especially those with children, had done the same.





In addition I usually travel with a little bottle of extra virgin olive oil, small enough to fit in my toiletry bag, and big enough to last me an holiday, in case the food taste bland. During a trip to Apia we visited the market and bought a few vegetables, which then became salads with the aid of the olive oil, and some borrowed salt. For sure I found the markets more interesting than the supermarkets, which don’t have enough for vegetarians. In the markets you can also buy fresh coconut, cooked taro, and a variety of inexpensive souvenirs. In central Apia there are a few European style cafes, and worth a visit is also the historic Aggie Grey’s hotel, where they make good cocktails, with and without alcohol.





All in all I found Samoa fascinating: I enjoyed seeing all the little (and the not so little) churches, the villages on the roadside, the lush interior, and the whole atmosphere of the place.

http://www.aggiegreys.com/resort/resort.htm

http://www.aggiegreys.com/


Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©


5 comments:

  1. Great photos, I really like the last one.

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  2. Looks like a great trip even if the food wasn't the highlight! When I find myself in that situation, I do like you did and eat lots of fruit :).

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  3. Thank you for your comments Jo and Michael.

    Yes, it is a good chance to have a nice 'raw' and 'detoxing' holiday!!!!!!

    Still, olive oil helps for the salads :-)

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  4. Lovely pictures! I'm so intrigued by the sweet buns dipped in coconut milk as I love coconut milk and cream :)

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  5. Yes, the buns dipped in coconut milk are lovely, in Auckland they sell them in some Polynesian shops, Sometimes I can find them at Nola's Orchard in Oratia.

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