Category Archives: Europe

Tickets, Barcelona

People, believe the hype.  Tickets is all that they say it is, which is totally amazing.   We booked 3 months in advance on the web before heading off (note to east coast Australians – the clock resets at 8am our time for the bookings).    The restaurant’s decor is whimsical, inviting and open.  The service was brilliant.  And the food was magnificent.

When in Spain, must eat jamon.  We had the thinly sliced salty “Joselito’s Gran Reserva iberian ham” with “the tomato bread” which was toasted and smeared with rich tomato goodness.

The “slices of tuna belly with it’s tartare, panceta and salmon roe” was delicate yet packed a punch.

These “miniairbags stuffed with manchego cheese” were like eating puffy clouds of cheese.  And the pearl on top were olive oil droplets!  When I first saw them I thought it was golden roe (!).

The chilled “avocado cannelloni with crab and romesco sauce” was a divine and delicately balanced dish.

This was my least favourite dish for the evening.  “Macerated prawns with soy and ginger” had prawns that were creamy in consistency (which is not my thing), but the sauce was delicious.

I have no idea how they made the “marinated fried fish” as the outer crust was so delicately crispy but the inside fish was perfectly moist and juicy.  Delicious.

The ““mollette” with double chin” was to die for.  It was like the greatest pork sandwich I’d ever had.  The consistency of the bread matched the juicy tasty pork to a tee.

This dish looks a bit rude, but the “confit potatoes with pork rib jus and boiled iberian ham” was great!  The potatoes had so much flavour in them!  Loved it!

Tasty “chicken skewer with shitake mushrooms” was great – juicy chicken and mushrooms grilled on a skewer.

Grilled lobster” was cooked perfectly and super tasty.  Came with a lemony dressing which enhanced the sweet chunks of lobster meat.

The “liquid ravioli of Payoyo cheese” was amazing!  It was like cheese in a cheese membrane which just exploded in your mouth.   The cheese was quite strong, like a mild blue flavour.   The toasted bread atop gave a nice crunch.

First dessert was the “pineapple with Maraschino cake and lime meringue“.  Cold sweet chunky pieces of pineapple mixed with cake and covered with a browned meringue.  Refreshing and light.

My boyfriends step dad is Catalan so we had to have the “Catalan creme roll“.  Sweet creamy filling with sweet crispy outer shell.

Last was the recommended “warm lava cake of “Turron de Jijona” with raspberry sorbet“.  As described, the cake was warm and once broken oozing with almost caramel like sauce.  The sorbet was a nice sharp contrast to the cake.

So we had a lot of food.   And it was delicious and quite the experience.  I was really bummed that we didn’t get the forest dessert (it was like a chocolate cake and other things made to look like a mini forest) and the mango sorbet which is served to you from an old school ice cream cart.  Guess I’ll have to go back for it!

Just in case it wasn’t obvious – I love this restaurant.

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San Sebastian…. Greatest Hits!

Was in San Sebastian, Spain in September and had the greatest culinary adventures whilst walking the streets of the old town (Parte Vieja).  Every corner unveiled another narrow street with more pintxos (tapas) bars to visit.   This is my homage to the best little street out there (Calle 31 De Agosto), with the three places that we had to go back for over and over again.     Warning: google maps may fail you.  Another warning:  these places keep ridiculous hours.

First up is the cool and modern Fuegro Negro.  It’s pintxos with a twist here.  Modernised version of small food.  Twas so good!  The top thing to try here is definitely the “Mackobe with Txips” – a miniburger served in a tomato bun along with banana chips.  Insanely good.

Other dishes of note: “Pickled Pork with Frozen Mole” and the “Foie Snack“.  The surprise element of the frozen mole melting in your mouth with a piece of porky goodness is a winner.  The foie snack is for those that love foie gras – big serve of foie gras which has been caramalised on top, with lots of bread.

Next up, Bar Martinez.  A more traditional kind of place with no seats, a huge bar with lots of pintxos up on display, and grumpy old men behind the counter.   There are two things that you must have here.  First are the chicken skewers.  It’s not up on show, so you have to ask for it.   Marinated tasty chicken on a stick grilled to golden perfection.

The croquettes here may have been the yummies in the whole of Spain.   There are a few different varieties – cheese, chorizo, jamon, salted cod – and they are all excellent.  There is a fair amount of variety here for other pintxos, so go nuts!


This place has the greatest seared steak ever: Gandarias.  Again, it’s not on the menu, and the dudes in the shop don’t speak English… but you’ll get there.  It’s so good.  We had it 3x in 2 days.  It’s topped with grilled capsicum and sea salt.  Yum!  The tapas here are a bit more uppity then Bar Martinez (as can be seen from the pics below).

So that’s it.  All in one street, with plenty of other places around the corner.  There’s a nice little beach around the corner, so between the food and sunshine, it’s fantastic in San Sebastian!

Senderens…. Fabulous Lunch in Paris

So, I think we’ve all heard of the French chef who gave up his 3 Michelin stars to give good food at affordable prices to his customers.  That man is Alain Senderens and, I think handing back his stars was a great ploy to get infamous.   So we’d heard of this man… and when we were in Paris, we sought out his restaurant Senderens.   The food is spectacular.  The prices… hmm… I’ll let you be the judge.

There are two parts to his restaurant – the fine dining downstairs and the “Bar Le Passage” upstairs.   Given it’s lunch, we opted for the bar upstairs that has a 36 euro 3 course lunch.   We loved it so much, we returned for lunch again before flying out of Paris.

The 3 course lunch is fixed, so there’s no selecting of course.  First time were there, we were served a courgette cream soup as the amuse bouche which was light, cool and creamy.  Entree was a pork terrine, served with a rich hollandaise sauce, apples and lettuce heart topped with finely chopped eggs.  Any terrine served in France is fantastic, and this was no exception.   Main was a salted cod in mashed potato (it had a fancy French name!) and given I’m a big fan of both – it was delicious!  Buttery, salty, silky perfection with a toasty piece of garlic bread on the side.   Dessert was white chocolate mousse on a chocolate cake base with a strawberry sorbet atop.   It was a great way to finish the meal, although by then I was ready to roll out of there!

 


The second time round, we were presented with a capsicum cream soup as the amuse bouche.  Creamy and cool, served with a paper thin crouton.   Entree was a fish mousse with lobster bisque, which was so beautifully presented as quenelles with drops of bisque surround it and a thin crouton for texture.   The main was a roast chicken, served with  a parsley risotto on the side covered with parmesan foam.  This dish was impeccable,  perfectly tender chickeny chicken with complimentary sides to boost it’s taste – yum!  Dessert was a citrus mousse, with candied lime and oranges.  Again, a great finish to the meal.

I loved both our lunches here.  The first time we rocked up, I was a bit concerned as we’d been sightseeing the whole morning and I was disheveled and looking a bit worse for wear.  But we were greeted and welcomed like royalty, and whisked to the bar for our lunch.  Service was efficient and professional, and I never felt unattended.

The bar upstairs is a nice and casual environment.  And if you’re lucky to sit next to the window, you have a great view of the church in Madelaine.  The restaurant downstairs is a more formal, and elegantly decorated.  Next time I’m in Paris, definitely will try the restaurant!