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CheeseMonger

Member Since 04 Mar 2005
Offline Last Active Feb 28 2019 07:03 PM
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#1431990 Reykjavik

Posted by CheeseMonger on 03 September 2018 - 09:55 AM

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It's worthy of the praise it gets. Last night I had a glorious dinner, and I hope that you'll all immediately get to Iceland and eat here. The chef is from here, trained and worked in Reykjavik, and has moved home and opened this little gem. His girlfriend was my charming server.

 

Here is here:

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The drive from the ring road is otherworldly- I stopped every 5 or 10 minutes to take pictures. I can add more if you wish. But this post is about Vidvik.

 

Menu: (USD to ISK is about 1:10)

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Amuse of cod crudo with a little sesame and soy- very nice.

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The cod. The cauliflower 3 ways was puree, roasted, and thinly sliced and pickled, which was a wonderful little hit of acid. The green oil is dill, and the pesto is the dill that's left from making the oil, mixed with pine nuts. Sounds like too much dill, but it really wasn't, and I'm not a huge fan of dill usually. The crisped kale was salty and added a nice crunchy element to the dish. 

 

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This was marvelous, and I savored every morsel.The cod was where some would say *just* undercooked, which means to me a little glassy and perfect. I also indulged in a bottle of wine. In Iceland the state liquor stores are opened for very truncated hours in the countryside, and I really wanted to sit on my deck later, watch the sunset and seals and have a glass. The law with restaurants is that they have to open the bottle on premises, but you can take the bottle with you.

 

Since this was my splurge, after dinner I had a Camus VSOP.

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Then walked the 6 minutes back to my seaside triplex. Hellisandur has dubbed itself the "street art capital of Iceland", and there's cool stuff everywhere. This first one represents the women waiting for the fishermen to return.

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and this is just fun. 

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and enjoyed the sunset, pleasantly tipsy, listening to the surf, birds and seals.

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Yep, Glorious day. 




#1429848 Edinburgh- for a few months

Posted by CheeseMonger on 09 July 2018 - 02:46 PM

Thought I'd pop in for a bit of an update.  I am staying in Morningside, and I'd highly recommend it- especially if you get off the main road.  I did not, and it's noisy AF. The bus stop is right below my window (convenient!), and the constant noise of vehicles, sirens and late night drunks is making me a bit batty, despite ear plugs.

 

As for food, the one word I have for eating in Edinburgh is.... disappointment. And the more I've spent, the more disappointed I've been. There have been some unexpected bright lights, but I'm pretty sad about the food in general.

 

But I'll start with a highlight. This is a place called Maison Bleue Le Bistrot just down the road. (It's one of a group of 3 local restaurants) They have a good lunch prix fixe, so I got the pea soup and the chicken provencale. The pea soup was a delight- I know this sounds silly, but it really tasted of fresh peas.  Sometime pea soup is mushy and bland, but this was really great. Little bits of firm fresh peas added texture.

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Chicken provencale was quite nice as well, and for 10 quid or so, this was a great deal

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Generous portion of thigh meat, needed a little salt.  I do wish that people would cut it out with the squiggles, but alas.

 

Nice meal, charming space, very nice people, would recommend.

website: https://www.maisonbl...eue-le-bistrot/




#1428820 chinese food in london

Posted by CheeseMonger on 12 June 2018 - 03:40 PM

As promised, I went back.  The next morning, as soon as they opened, I got the cold sliced chicken.  I'm had this dish many times, usually just bone-in slices with the delicious oils and unctuants. This version is boned and formed into a mold. The skin "contains" the molded chicken. I love chicken skin fried and crispy, but not so much cold.  The chicken itself was fantastic, and not as cold as I would have expected- colder than room temp, but not refrigerator cold.

 

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And of course, the next day before I left, I wanted to try some of the duck. I got this sliced pork and duck app with some rice.  This was also my early breakfast when I got up to catch the train to Scotland.

 

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What I originally wanted was an aubergine and pork disk, but they didn't have any aubergine, so I made a rush to this when I remembered I wanted to try the duck. It was fine, and the duck rice made a nice breakfast. Still, I recommend if you're in the area, it's well worth a stop.  While not immediately off the river bus like Royal China, it's a 7 minute walk from Surrey Quays river bus stop, or a half block from the overground station of the same name.




#1428382 New Orleans

Posted by CheeseMonger on 31 May 2018 - 10:42 PM

Was in NO a few weeks ago, and my friend's apt. was just around the corner from Bar Tonique on Rampart, on the edge of the French Quarter. Walk in, you'd swear you're in a gritty dark dive bar. Stick around, and you realize you are in the presence of true mixology. From classics like a Ramos Gin Fizz or a Negroni, to, well, just check the website. Directly across from Louis Armstrong Park, it's a cool bar with great drinks, and super happy hour. The bartender was very nice, and she talked to me about the drinks she was making and the potions she added to each. I had my trusty book ready to occupy my solo self, but was thoroughly entertained just watching her.

 

http://bartonique.com/




#1428381 Atlanta

Posted by CheeseMonger on 31 May 2018 - 09:42 PM

I’ve been down here in Atlanta for a couple of months, taking care of some family business. It finally occurred to me to make a little report.

 

For what it’s worth, I’m usually a Fall person, but Spring is the best time in Atlanta. So many blooming flowers, bushes and trees, it’s just lovely. Unless you have allergies, I guess. It’s lush.

 

Since Atlanta is a population center, you’ll find everything to eat. There has been an explosion here, like other cities of the reclaimed industrial building turned into a food hall with lots of gourmet offerings and hipsters. I hate those places, so I won’t be reviewing those ;)

 

Mostly what I look for here is what I can’t easily find in my travels- and that means all the good Asian and Latin foods. The easy answer to that is Buford Highway.

 

Korean:

Tofu Village in Marietta. Not on Buford Highway. My KF (Korean friend) lives up near here, and we met for a rare dinner. Our meetups are usually lunch. She was having a craving for kimchi soup, and I got the dolsot bibimbap. The dishes were good, but the banchan was just okay.

 

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Han Il Kwan, on Buford Hwy, ITP (Inside the perimeter). KF’s Friday go-to. We get the Kimchi Jjigae (kimchi, pork and tofu stew) and seafood pancake.  With 3 of us sharing, and the very good banchan, there is plenty. The stew has a great heat.

 

Chinese:

Yummy Spicy, on Buford Hwy, ITP. This is a fairly new place, with good reviews so far. There were four of us, and we got Baby Wontons in Chili Oil, Dan Dan Noodles, Dry-fried Eggplant, Jing Jiang Pork, Yummy Spicy Chicken. The dumplings were ethereal, small amount of filling, with super thin wrappers that floated off into the oil like angel wings. You can probably tell that I loved this. The Dan Dan Noodles were ordered as a sub for Minced Fish and Cilantro Rolls which they didn’t have that day. I stirred them up and served- the oily sauce had good heat, but also other flavors came through.  Very nice small dish.

 

Dry-fried Eggplant is a favorite of mine everywhere. It’s good here, but the innerds are not as creamy as I’d like. The outside is light and crunchy, though, and the flavor is good.

 

Yummy Spicy Chicken is basically what’s called Chongquing chicken elsewhere.  Nuggets deep fried and tossed with a crazy number of dried peppers. This was our least favorite- just really no flavor there.

 

Last but not least, the Jing Jiang Pork. Not a spicy dish, but very well done. Threads of pork served with julienne of scallion and small rice pancakes on the side- these were so thin you could read through them, but they held up to the taco treatment, filled with the pork and scallions. This we will definitely re-order.

 

The summary: Will definitely go back. Will ask for the spice to be ratcheted up many notches.

https://www.yummyspicyga.com

 

Good Luck Gourmet, Buford Hwy, OTP (outside the perimeter). This is the original spot of the much lauded Gu’s, whose presence in this dump of a shopping center practically saved it, and were repaid with an enormous rent increase. So they moved to Krog Market- a hipster downtown food hall.  So we have GLG, and it’s excellent in general. The Dry Fried Eggplant is everything you want- crispy, creamy, salty and with mala, with plenty of scallions and cilantro. Spicy sliced Tofu skin is very good, but a little thicker and tougher than I prefer.

 

The cumin lamb can be over salty, but the spicy boiled fish is (despite that it's tilapia) a great version of this dish, lots of heat and shredded cabbage on the bottom. GLG has lots of offal and other uncommon meats, like frog.

 

https://www.goodluckgourmetga.com

 

Masterpiece, Buford Hwy, WAY OTP.  Masterpiece has been winning lots of awards, including a James Beard. I’ve only ventured up here once, regrettably, as I can’t drag anyone up here with me. Also, Atlanta traffic sucks, and it's hard to even talk myself into it. I was driving in from Asheville to a friend’s house, so I stopped and ordered one of everything... Nothing failed to impress, and everything that I expected to be spicy, was. Since the drive after the pickup was about 35 minutes, the fried things rather wilted. The twice cooked pork especially, and flabby pork belly is not yum, so we didn't finish that. But a couple of days later I made fried rice, and chopped the pork belly leftovers into lardons, toasted them in the oven, and they made the best crunchy topper ever.

 

Menu here via doordash: https://www.doordash.com/store/masterpiece-duluth-94163/

 

More later, gotta make dinner!




#1427315 Edinburgh- for a few months

Posted by CheeseMonger on 06 May 2018 - 12:55 AM

My next stop will be in Edinburgh, starting in Mid-June. I've not been, and I want to get the most of my stay there. I'm as excited about this as I've ever been about anywhere. Wikitravel is okay, but I'd love some advice about a good (not too pricey) neighborhood, and things to do. I use airbnb for apartments, unless anyone has a better idea. Thanks for the insight.

 

edited to add: I won't have a car, so easy access by walking or bus appreciated.




#1426646 Paris Bistros, Restos

Posted by CheeseMonger on 19 April 2018 - 05:00 PM

Sorry I've been MIA for a bit, and I completely forgot to write up one of my favorite little lunches whilst I was in Paris in January. It's a little spot in the 12th near the Ledru-Rollin metro station called Miss Lunch. The proprietor/chef speaks excellent english, and the tiny restaurant is staffed only by herself and a single server. The menu changes weekly- and she says she rarely repeats a dish, unless it was a great success. Here's the menu for the week that I was there.  It's limited, and you get what you get- but you can also check the website in advance to learn that weeks menu.

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The only criticisms I read of the place were from people that wanted special accommodations without understanding that you can't remove alcohol from a dessert already made, etc.

 

website: http://www.lunchintheloft.com/en/

 

I'm all about the formule, so I chose an entree and plat for 15 euro.

I elected for the smoked haddock for my first course, and, well, you know that feeling you get when you taste something great, but also completely unique?  That was this dish- a grouping of ingredients that I would have never put together just blew me away. Smoked fish + pear + blue cheese? God that was good. I wish I could have just gotten 3 of them.

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For my second course, I chose the braised ham. It was fine- a very generous portion with chestnuts and other veg. Quite filling, nice flavors. Comfort food on a rainy day.

 

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I highly recommend, and check the website for the menu and hours/days open. 

 

I had a great little airbnb apartment a block from the Aligre Market, which was great for cooking in. Too bad that Paris is cracking down on those, it's so nice to have a kitchen.




#1423530 Perpignan, with a little Collioure

Posted by CheeseMonger on 19 February 2018 - 10:49 PM

I've been on the road quite a bit lately, and haven't had the time or ability to pull out the ol' chromebook and type up the final Collioure post. 

 

I took the train from Perpignan which only costs 6 euro, and is smooth and efficient.  There is also a 1 euro bus, that's based in Perpignan. For that heady price, you can go to all of these places on the map below- it's quite the steal.  You can see Collioure over on the coast there, and that was 45 minutes to Perpignan, with many stops and a maniac driver.  I took the bus back to Perpignan to catch the TGV to Paris. 

 

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FYI, the bus stop in Collioure for this bus is not in the "center" but tucked into a fortress wall on the Ave. Gen. de Gaulle, just across from Can Pla restaurant.

 

So I arrive on the train with map set for my airbnb, and time to spare.  It's late January, but the weather is perfect (for me). Cool and slightly overcast. 

 

If you are a fan of the Master and Commander books by Patrick O'Brian, this is where he lived, and wrote these books, and a Picasso bio- they were friends.  Many artists ended up here as well, and I can see why- it's lovely. 

 

Unfortunately, most of the area restaurants and businesses are closed for the season, which left pickings slim. I walked down from the train station and since I was early for check-in, wandered into Cafe Sola, right in the the center.  The owner is very affable, and spoke English back to my French. I asked for a menu, and he says he'll tell me what he has- a chicken dish and a fish. Alrightly, the fish it is. 

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It's a fennel and fish stew- looks a mess, but was very tasty and wholesome.  I thought the little green things sprinkled on the rice and salad would be capers, but they were lentils. 

 

Here's my excellent beer- 

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This had the feel of a very "locals" place, but it's hard to tell since it's not exactly tourist season.  I ate here again for lunch the next day- steak frites which was just okay. I would have tried another restaurant, but the few that were open were pretty expensive, so I came back here for the atmosphere. Good Wifi is also a bonus. Apparently the owner is mad for football, and the place is adorned with TVs in each direction to catch the action.

 

A couple of photos around town:

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I contemplated knocking around this area longer, but with so little choice in food, I decided to hightail it to Paris. 




#1422714 Perpignan, with a little Collioure

Posted by CheeseMonger on 01 February 2018 - 08:13 PM

More on Perpignan, a little city that I think is sorely overlooked. This pic I took around the 20th of January.  I am without jacket, there are palm trees, and yet I can see the snow-capped mountains easily.

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On a blog somewhere I read about a restaurant called La Carmagnole, tucked away in the old part of the city behind the cathedral of jesus the separatist. The review hit the requisites for me- excellent food, excellent value. So off I went.

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Today's formule:

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I elected, as usual, for the entree + plat.

I chose the Cake with the chevre and spinach, tomato coulis.

 

First look- a burnt muffin.

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But inside- a souffle! But also with some pasta inside- so that's twice in Perpignan I've unexpectedly received a cheesy fluffy pasta thing, without that being mentioned, as far as I know. The tomato coulis added little to the cake, but was perfect with the very good bread. 

 

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But again, I can totally see this as a brunch dish you could make in advance and then bake off. 

 

For my plat, I had trouble deciding, but chose the risotto. I really had trouble with this one, and then after I ordered, the woman next to me received her risotto, and I felt like I had made a huge mistake- amorphous yellow rice blob like the "San Francisco Treat".  But then I received mine.

 

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From the first bite to the last, I was in eye-rolling heaven.  I've never had such a lovely risotto- the creaminess of the risotto itself, the light touch of curry, the generous chunks of chicken, the peppery bite of the arugula, and even the toasted sesame seeds. All together, I was shocked by how much I loved this. As my ex used to say- it hit all the notes.  And god bless crispy fried shallots. 

 

My back is to the coat hanger, so I'm tucked into the corner here.  Most of the lunch crowd had left when I took this pic- it was full when I arrived.  Charming place, and the guys there in the booth were clearly friends/family.

 

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I considered staying longer, but wanted to get down by the sea while I had the chance, so the next day I took the train to Collioure. 




#1422411 Perpignan, with a little Collioure

Posted by CheeseMonger on 26 January 2018 - 06:00 PM

Where am I?  Languedoc? Rousillon? Catalana? The Kingdom of Mallorca? Occitane?  Yes! I think.

 

It's fascinating that when you cross a border- a border that's shifted location and domination so many times it's hard to count- that the language seemlessly (and I mean suddenly) changes. 

 

I went to Perpignan because I had some time to kill before a meeting in Paris, and the weather looked beautiful. From Barcelona/Girona, it's an easy choice.  This is January, and although I wear my jacket, I could easily not.  Here's the thing too: wear nice wool pea jacket, get addressed in French, don't wear jacket, get addressed in English. Unscientific study with subject of 1.

 

Perpignan is charming. There's a palace for the Kings of Mallorca here, because although I thought Mallorca was just a Baleric island, it was a Kingdom into itself for over 400 years.

 

A canal runs through town- a canal that looks like it would be a great place to walk dogs and such, but that is not a possibility.  It looks like a lovely park, but there are no access points or stairs.  It is not.for.you.

 

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Maybe they just want to keep all the giant dog turds on the street.

 

There is also quite an impressive Cathedral in Perpignan. The Cathedral Basilica of St John the Baptist. It may answer a long held question for many of you- but yes, Jesus is a Separatist.

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closer...

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Separation of church and politics? Don't mind if I don't, thank you.

 

Day one I wandered into the central area with a single goal- lunch and The Hyacinthe Rigaud Museum. It was Sunday, I was pretty sure the museum was open, but I wasn't positive about restaurants, so I winged it.

 

I went into L'Cafe Arago because they had a formule listed at something like 15 euro, starring a "gambette" and gratin dauphinois.  I love legs and potatoes- I'm in. Turns out it was a goose leg!  And while not the best goose I've had, it was still roast beef on a stick with a nice salty jus. The potatoes were creamy and delicious, and difficult for an american to keep on the back of my left-hand fork without looking silly and them sliding all over. I didn't get pics of this dish, it was pretty good, though.

 

The week before I had been sorely disappointed by the collection at the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art. A whole floor dedicated to a woman who moved sticks around (Rosemary Castoro), and the next floor to poet/artist Joan Brossa that had a few interesting found-art sculpture pieces that justaposed unrelated objects in interesting ways, but still felt (from the 1940's or so) that close up pics of women's crotches (lots of them) was somehow a new thing. I'm sorry dudes, but faceless naked black and white torsos with bush hasn't been avant-garde since the caveman. There was one funny one that had the faceless woman looking at her bits in a mirror, and the mirror had a man's face- I LOL'ed at that one. But I'm probably being too hard on him because the first was so without feeling. Was that the point? A couple of Joan Miro's saved the trip.

 

Back the the Hyacinthe Rigaud- What an interesting collection.  He was best known as a classical portraitist, and his work is stunning. He also has a cleft in his chin like The Family Guy, and so do most of his subjects. There was a special exhibition of Jean and Jacques Capeville that had interesting landscapes, florals, and oddly, a dead-on painting of my mother.

 

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There was one room that was fascinating to me- a person who's name I have forgotten had collected small canvases from his artiste friends, and they were all displayed together. I've gone back to the website to try and learn more, and failed, but I spent as long in this tiny room as I did in the whole rest of the museum. 

 

Pano shot of the room, with a couple of my favorites:

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This was up high, and I was on my tiptoes stretching my arms up, so I couldn't get it square, but it i loved the energy and subject.

 

And this one:

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I had the whole place to myself on a winter Sunday, and spent about 4 hours. Really enjoyed this one. I have more pics, but I won't bore you- just if you go to Perpignan, visit this. I didn't go to the Modern Art Museum in town, it wasn't open on the days I was there.

 

Back to food.  Or on to food.

Day two I headed to a nearby lunch spot called Lou Grilladou.  It's down a little alleyway on north side of the canal, and I showed up a little late for lunch, probably around 1:30. I was quickly sat at a dirty table by a charming girl who cleaned it up quickly.  It was clear that the first wave had left, but half the tables were finishing up.

 

Menu pics:

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and the closeup of the formule:

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I got the entree + plat for 13.5

 

Honestly, I didn't know what I was getting with the first, except it was some kind of tarte, and the I ordered the cabillaud, which I knew to be cod. A Demi (50 cl) of rose, and I'm good to go. 

 

Tarte a la morue turns out to be cod pie!  And it was really great. I could see this being a brunch hit.

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the tomato between the crust and fish added sweetness- this was a really nice dish I could see working with any white fish.

 

The next pic isn't that impressive, and I think it's because I was late to lunch, and things looked a bit... overcooked.  But I'll say this- I have a great idea from one of the sides- the one on the upper right that looks like a charcoal.  It tasted like, and had the texture of, a ratatouille held together by a roasted eggplant mousse.  There were pieces of veg in there, but there were all ensconced in this fluffy matrix that was very enjoyable.  I'm sure at least one of you knows what this was called. I want to figure it out and make it.The other side was like a fideo casserole- good, but at this hour, overcooked and that top layer wasn't really edible. 

 

But the fish- the fish was a little crusty on top in a good way, but moist and flaky, and a massive serving I'm sure the sauce helped. Like I said, I am aware the pic doesn't look terribly appetizing, but I was quite happy. Maybe it was the demi de rose speaking.

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The 50 cl of wine was 4 euro. I love france.




#1422400 Salt Bae

Posted by CheeseMonger on 26 January 2018 - 12:06 PM

W.T.F. I'd heard of this character, but I didn't really think it was a real thing. I can't tell if he's in on the joke or not. I have a vague hope that he sheds his character and laughs his ass off at the absurdity.  But maybe he's really just another self-important douche.  Occam's Razor predicts the latter.




#1422367 Barcelona recommendations

Posted by CheeseMonger on 25 January 2018 - 10:02 PM

There is indeed separatist sentiment all over- from the yellow and red flags, and the "Si!" flags hanging from every balcony.

 

To address pra's point- It's an easy 45 minute fast train, a better commute that many endure.  But, I think a simple day trip would be a mistake. It's not a big town, but there are multiple ways to go to explore from the train- spend a night, explore. I've been watching too much Samurai Gourmet, perhaps, but (another sacrilege!) I really wanted Japanese, specifically ramen- and after finding a ramen-ya in town called Mien, I headed over for lunch.  It was weird- I walked into what looked like a tea parlour. With one woman making noodles from a machine extruder completely ignoring me.  "Hola" and Buenos dias" got me nowhere. Louder, and the lady turned around and pointed at a curtain across the room. The curtain gave way to stairs that gave way to a small dining room. Unfortunately, here were only two 2-tops, and they were taken by other singles. He didn't want to seat me at a 4, so told me no availability, and sent me to a sister restaurant Mimi.

 

I was pretty committed to Japanese at this point, so I headed over the few blocks. They were running a menu del dio- I meant to get a pic, but forgot, sorry. I think it was 13.5 euro for: 

 

1) Very nice edamame- I usually just steam mine with some garlic salt, because they are my popcorn, but these were fried with bits of garlic. Made me consider alternate prep methods, and the sesame oil was nice.

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2) Miso soup:

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Nothing terribly special, but also warm and comforting.  I'm missing a good kitchen.

 

3) Pizza Bao. 

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Why?  Why does this exist? It was the Bao of the day, and I couldn't get another type with my menu. It's pesto, tomato paste and mozz, in a pillowy bao. Why? I did not finish it. Maybe it's a tourist draw, but no.

 

4) My main was the spicy pork neck (yay!), which comes with rice.

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It's on the bone, which makes it a little difficult to eat, but worth the trouble.The flavor was great, if a bit weak on the heat despite asking for 8/10.

 

I had some sake made in Spain- this was a little weird.  They explain that the sakes are the same price, but then you get a shorter pour for the "mediterranean" sake, because it's more expensive. Just charge more for the carafe's volume, and explain that- don't say they "cost the same", and give me a 3/4 pour.  Cute little sake glasses, though.

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5) also included, a dessert and a coffee or tea.  I chose fresh fruit and green tea.

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Good meal, certainly worth the price, but that pizza bao still makes me sad.

 

More in Girona:

Konig, with an umlat over the o. Konig is a small chain, that has 3 locations in Girona (also Figueres and Barcelona). It's quasi-German. I'll say this- the Konig Especial Frankfurter is an awesome dog. The patatas bravas with their "special sauce" are also very good. It's a big secret, but I guess it's garlic aioli with espelette pepper. 

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I know it doesn't look impressive, and I can't remember the last time I had a hot dog, but I loved this frank. There are ketchup and mustard bottles available- but be warned, those containers are under a weird pressure thing. like you squeeze, then squeeze a little more, and then BOOM. grrrr. Black shirts are the best.

 

Because it was so near my hotel, and I needed some greens, I went back for dinner and ordered the Siena salad, which I really enjoyed.

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I liked the idea of using frico as crunchy bits, and you can't see the real reason I ordered this- the baby artichokes hiding in there.

 

Here's the menu in English: http://www.konig.cat...ta_K├Ânig_en.pdf

 

In Girona there's a bridge designed by Eiffel, so you've got to see that. On a Thursday it was covered in separatist flags, but the government is cracking down, and by Friday, the flags were gone.

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Also, for Game of Thrones fans, the Sept of Baelor, aka the Girona cathedral

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Beautiful town, spend at least a night (and two days) before returning to Barcelona. 




#1422094 Barcelona recommendations

Posted by CheeseMonger on 20 January 2018 - 05:07 PM

I ended up back at Cerveceria Catalana after hiking around Park Guell anyway.  I just love the place, but I hate getting into ruts, which I clearly do. However, this is a good rut to be in.  This restaurant puts out quality food- no microwave! 

 

Just had a little snack of prawn and mushroom brochettes and sliced fried artichokes. 

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delicious bright fat prawns, and 4 kinds of mushrooms (button, shittake, wood ear and chanterelle) on the skewer. I really do love this place, and mid-afternoon it's easy to tuck up to the bar.

 

Another afternoon, on the walk back to my weird airbnb in the eixample from the contemporary art museum, I stopped into a spot, mostly because I really needed the loo. The people were a delight- the maitre d' proposed to me, and they gave me slices of the iberico leg that was sitting next to me at the end of the bar.  They also kept filling my wine glass long after I'd paid, and it's a wonder I found the apartment again, being rather hammered. I honestly have no idea what the name of this place is, but I think (based on the map), that it's the Puerta de Europa, near the Universitat metro station.

 

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mmmmm salty porky butter. 

 

Barcelona is such a great city for taking the bus and just popping off when something interesting appears, which is often. The bus map is a puzzle to be solved.  I was there for 4 days, and visited lots of places I'd never been, and a few I had. The weather was super cooperative as well, perfect walking temps.




#1422013 Bergamo and Milan

Posted by CheeseMonger on 18 January 2018 - 06:59 PM

Jan 7 -12 I spent in Bresica. Beautiful old city area- and larger than I thought.  We ate at home almost exclusively, except when we went to Sirmione on Lake Garda for the day.  Now that's a charming little fortress town. Average tourist food, so nothing to report there either.

 

But 12-14 I spent in Milan. I'm going to say straight off that I wasn't impressed much with the city. Sure, the Duomo is quite the feat, but so crowded, even in January (I also have issues with these massive monuments built to laud the ruling class at the expense of the poor, but that's a whole 'nother thing). The touts and beggars and crowds and stinky smells just overwhelm any sense of awe, it's just another big city. The Museo del Novocentro has quite a cool collection of Italian contemporary art, so that was good, but I fled on the tram asap. 

 

But- Across from my 1 star weird hotel, was an Asian restaurant called Tiglio. And I loved it. It's tiny-tine, only 4 small tables and a couple of seats at the bar.

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Peanut as chopstick rest- cute!

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"amuse bouche"  In quotes, because these guys were much more than a bite. On the left is daikon pickle with turmeric, and on the right an 8 minute egg with shaved katsuobuchi on top, and a little seaweed under.  My bouche was indeed amused.

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My appetizer was one of my favorite Sichuan dishes- cold sliced chicken. Usually served bone-in, as this was, this version was lip-tinglingly goodness. I was literally doing a happy dance in my chair.

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Main course was Sichuan duck.  I tried to get a good pic, but never could get one to turn out right.  It's a leg and thigh, as well as a sliced bone-in breast.  The fat was perfectly rendered like a damned cracklin, the meat moist. I was afraid that too much spice-heat would obscure the duck flavor, but it was well balanced, and the skin nice and salty.  I admit that I was dipping duck pieces into the oil from the chicken dish, because that flavor was so great.

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I also ordered plain white rice, and I just couldn't finish all of this, so I poured the chicken sauce into the rice, and added a few duck pieces on top to take away, and they were fabulous breakfast.

 

The chef gave me a little Sichuan Peppercorn lesson about when to use the different types (oversimplified summary: whole with heat, ground for finishing). The fragrance on my fingers after rubbing them between was floral and made me want to invent a perfume and bathe in it.  I make Sichuan oil and powder at home, but I've never had peppercorns so fresh.

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And for dessert, the chef brought me Mochi.  He brought them on separate plates, but I took a bite of the green tea (the other is coconut) one before getting a pic, so I had to hide the bite for the camera. I've never had mochi before, and really appreciated this gift. Mochi is weird, but fun. 

 

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The next day I spent in the Centro, and was happy to just go back to Tiglio for dinner again. The chef asked if I had any foods I didn't like (no), and he chose for me. 

 

Shrimp with a Thai-style coconut curry, messy, not super spicy, but the shrimp were fresh and plump. Finger-lickin' good.

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Rice in lotus leaf- I've had only one version of this I've ever liked, made by a friend's mom (Chinese). This was okay, I'm maybe not crazy about the flavor that the lotus leaf imparts to the rice. In any case, this was stuffed with all kinds of bits, but I saved most of it for breakfast.

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And a cold Sichuan Beef Salad. I have no idea what this cut was- I think kidney? The flavor was very like the chicken last night, which is in no way a complaint.

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Here's the menu pics:

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It's easy to get here if you are staying in the Center- just take the #1 tram from The Teatro de Scala towards Greco, and exit at Via Venini and walk a half block up on the right.

 

I know some of you would think it's heresy to eat twice at the same non-italian restaurant in Milan, but Croatia is a big zero for asian food, so I needed this. The quality and hospitality are outstanding, so I clearly recommend it!




#1421481 Croatia, thru Nov 2017

Posted by CheeseMonger on 09 January 2018 - 09:31 PM

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One last Croatia post. A Cypriot friend that I met last year near Lecce has moved up to Brescia, and she came to Pula to fetch me and return me to Italy.  She also just needed a break from the move, her boyfriend's parents coming to visit, etc.. So we wandered around Pula for a couple of days to see the sights, but everything that served food (other than McDonald's) was closed.  Coffee was to be had, but the recommended places like Batelina- nope. 

 

Since Rovinj is lovely, and friend had ever been to Croatia, we drove up (45 min) for attempted lunch on the way back to Italy. The pic above is the view from the restaurant La Puntulina.

 

As always, obligatory menu  pics:

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A little gifty for the table- bakalar (salt cod) on seeded bread.

 

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Super rich and creamy- just a wonderful bite to get in the mood.

 

Here's where my friend has helped me- she asks questions!  I'm the "guy" who doesn't ask directions when lost, has to figure everything out for myself, all that bullshit. She had many questions, and they paid off in spades.  

 

We ended up ordering an appetizer half-and-half of the Hors d'oeuvre Puntalina, and the Carpaccio.  I would have never thought to ask about this possibility, but she did.  And we agreed that Anchovies were not our favorite, so those were left off in favor of adding to the other options. Fucking Genius.

 

LOOK AT THIS BEAUTIFUL THING!

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All cold- four cooked on top, four raw on the bottom.

Starting from upper left: Adriatic shrimp, Octopus salad, more bakalar, Tuna tartare, Raw Dorado, Raw Calamari, Raw prawns, and cured salmon. And those are Meyer Lemons, or as close as you get- thin oily skins, flavor between lemon and blood orange, just enough acid to enhance, but not mask.

 

I know I've made the point that I am not really a "fish" person, and it was with a little trepidation that I yielded the reins of the ordering to my friend, but am I ever glad I did. Each of these items (I know I'm going to sound like a moron here, so please be gentle) had it's own taste and texture. The Dorado was sweet and silky, the raw prawn popped in the mouth.  I don't think I can adequately convey what a game changer this plate was for me. All of this came out of the cold sea that morning, at least the raw stuff.

 

The other dish we ordered to share was the "St Jacob shells a la Puntalina", which were Adriatic scallops (small) with a carrot and pinenut puree, with toasted hazelnuts and charred tomatoes. 

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On it's own, a warm dish with great flavor and texture contrasts, but next to THE PLATE, it didn't stand a chance.  I'm not saying it wasn't good, but that it was a wingman.

 

Best meal on this Croatia trip was my last.  Highly recommended, the food, and the view.