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melachap1354's Profile

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Santa Fe Anniversary Dinner Recommendation

I think people are getting a little off topic here. I live in Boston now (30 years) but grew up in Albuquerque and visit Santa Fe annually. If I was looking for Italian or French Bistro, frankly there are better choices in the Boston Area. Stick to what they can't get here - high end Southwestern/New Mexican. I have eaten at SantaCafe and it is very nice with a modern take on traditional Southwest cuisine. The Ore House is very very very casual.

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Ore House
50 Lincoln Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Sep 30, 2010
melachap1354 in Southwest

summer restaurant in Porto

Sorry, but that's not true for Tawny ports. The can be drunk bit by bit without losing flavor.

Jul 29, 2010
melachap1354 in Spain/Portugal

summer restaurant in Porto

Barao Fladgate restaurant is at the main Taylor cellar on the top of the hill. As far as wine quality, I'm just repeating what my husband says. But of course taste is very individual. A vintage is always the best, but because it must be drunk the same day the bottle is opened, it is not very practical for someone who likes a glass or two every day. His interest is in older Tawny and colheitas. I still recommend trying one of the "bigs" and then moving on to a small limited distribution cellar for a contrast.

Jul 28, 2010
melachap1354 in Spain/Portugal

summer restaurant in Porto

We have eaten at the Barao de Fladgate and the food is very good and the location is spectacular. My husband, a serious port lover, finds the Taylor ports, while ubiquitous, are not very good compared to other smaller cellars located there. If this is your only tasting, not the best introduction to port. Calem & Royal Oporto do really great "introductory" presentations on Port, but to really "taste it" go to Wiese & Krohn, or CCVP (makers of Vasconcellos).

Jul 27, 2010
melachap1354 in Spain/Portugal

Eating in the Pyrenees

When I was researching my recent trip to Spain, it seemed there were very few discussions/recommendations about the Spanish Pyrenees. We have returned from our vacation so here are a few of our finds.

As we traveled north to the Aragonese Pyreneese we stopped in Sabananigo, a small town north of Huesca, to visit a small farming museum on the outskirts. We had lunch in the center of town at Hotel Villa Virginia. The food was good, but the main attraction is the elaborate handmade desserts!

We stayed about 20 - 30 km away in the tiny village of Navasa, at El Caserio de Fatas. Navasa is just a short drive from Jaca, the regional capital. El Caserio is a "casa rural" deep in the countryside. Rut & Raul will provide a very tasty dinner in a lovely dining room. We ate there both nights of our stay. We did eat lunch in Jaca, but it was sub-par.

En-route to the Val de Boi, in the Catalunyan Pyrenees, we ate at the wine museum restaurant in Barbastro. Barbastro is the center of the Somotano wine district. A pleasant lunch in an attractive room with really good wine.

We had one of the most enjoyable experiences in regional dining in the Catalunyan Pyrenees. At the suggestion of Charlie, the American ex-pat owner of Cafe Sedona in Taull, we drove out to L'Abadia de Castellars for lunch. Part of the fun is in the journey -- this is a farmhouse far down a small valley. You take the road to Malpas off of the N-260 in Pont de Suert. When you get to Malpas you follow the "restaurant" signs until you turn off into a gravel driveway that leads the the restaurant. What you'll get is authentic regional cuisine including local specialties like mel & mato, soft cheese curds flavored with honey, and local sausages as part of a tableful of appetizers. Included in the "menu del dia" are about 6 choices each of first course, second course, dessert, the aforementioned appetizers, bread & wine. The menu is printed in Spanish as well as Catalan, but we heard only Catalan being spoken by all the other diners. The location is gorgeous, overlooking the valley and looking up to abandoned villages on nearby crags. The combination of site, food and drive make this a "must do" for visitors in the area. (See below fo a picture of the restaurant.)

Alex, our innkeeper, suggested supper at a local favorite in Taull, Restaurant El Caliu, Carretera Pistes, at the top of the village on the highway to the ski resort. Again, a wonderful regional meal in a very congenial atmosphere. Although it was a Saturday night, we found, as we had throughout our visit in the countryside, the restaurant was mostly empty. It was clearly off off season, so we were able to engage with the local servers in a very convivial way, in spite of my poor Spanish and non-existent Catalan.

Jun 06, 2010
melachap1354 in Spain/Portugal

A few tips for south of Barcelona

I have just returned from an 18 day trip to Spain & Portugal. We traveled to Barcelona, Tarragona, Monbtblanc, the Pyrenees in Aragon & Catalunya, the Solsones, Girona, Porto, Viana do Castelo, Baiona & Madrid. We enjoyed some outstanding meals everywhere. It seems Madrid & Barcelona get all the attention so this post will focus on "hidden treasures" in the hinterlands. There are so many it is hard to be brief.

My first suggestion is in Montblanc, south of Barcelona, on the highway to Lleida. The restaurant is Fonda de Angels, P/ Angels 1. It is worth seeking it out just to have a meal there. The quality was exceptional. As you climb up the stairs to the second story dining room, you pass the kitchen where several women are cooking up a storm. The room was full of local businessmen, and local families - always a good sign. The menu wasn't written down, but recited by the waitress. Some knowledge of Spanish is a must when traveling off the beaten path. My husband had the best rabbit he had ever eaten. It was simply grilled, but was juicy and delicious - a real feat with rabbit. I had braised "'pig's cheeks" which were also delicious. Be sure to order a carafe of house red and a bottle of the local lightly sweet fizzy water. Pour some of each into your water glass and enyoy! Very refreshing. All of this was at a very economical price. Also, Montblanc is at the center of the Conca de Barberà wine region.

We stayed several kilometers away at Masia Font de l'Oca, located between Espluga di Francoli & Poblet. You can order dinner for an extra fee and the food was very good. This B&B or "casa rural" is for those who want to be far into the countryside so ordering dinner is highly recommended. This inn is casual and rustic and the hosts, Josep & his wife are charming.

We spent a day in Tarragona, an easy drive from the Masia. At the suggestion of Josep we had lunch at AQ, Carrer les Coques, 7, not far from the Cathedral. Ultra-hip design, with a modern but accessible menu. Excellent sea-food, but plenty of choices for this non-seafood eater. Highly recommended.

From here we travelled to the Pyrenees in Aragon & Catalunya so my next post will describe some great finds in those regions.

Jun 06, 2010
melachap1354 in Spain/Portugal

Barcelona in June: Tues, Wed and Thurs (and I don't eat fish or seafood!). Rec's please!

I'll be in Barcelona on Friday morning! My daughter (lives in Madrid) called several restaurants including Cinc Sentits & Celler Can Roca (in Girona) to make reservations for our stay and they were happy to adjust their set menus to compensate for the fact that I don't eat fish or shellfish. Just ask when making a reservations. I've been eating happily in Spain (including Galicia) seafood-free over many trips even in "seafood restaurants".

We're moving on to the Catalan & Aragonese Pyrenees -- staying in the Val de Boi - Val de Aran and in Navasa, north of Huesca. I've noticed that there is not much restaurant information about that area. I will be able to post about our experiences when we get back -- last week of May.

May 01, 2010
melachap1354 in Spain/Portugal

El Celler de Can Roca, Girona

The link to the pictures is great. Very inspiring. We're waiting to see if we can get a reservation.

Mar 31, 2010
melachap1354 in Spain/Portugal

Cinc Sentits, Gaig, La Dama, Sauc, Con Gracia which one?

Thanks again. I have a Madrid -based daughter who will be calling restaurants next week to ask about menu substitutions and reservation availability. I'm glad I found these boards -- they are really helpful.

Mar 27, 2010
melachap1354 in Spain/Portugal

Cinc Sentits, Gaig, La Dama, Sauc, Con Gracia which one?

Thanks, I was thinking I might try to be a bit more adventurous and give the molecular thing another try. As far as seafood -- all I can do is ask if they can be flexible -- some restaurants are very accommodating. If not, we'll have to find someplace else in Girona. We'll be coming to Girona from Solsona so I don't think we'll make it to Sant Celoni.

I'm impressed with your knowledge of the restaurants in the area - do you live in Barcelona?

Mar 26, 2010
melachap1354 in Spain/Portugal

Arzak vs Akelare

Same as previous reply -- our Sunday lunch at Akelare was the best meal I've ever had. The combination of the food, the setting and the service was extraordinary. It made me realize what those Michelin stars really mean. This is the meal that I compare all others to.

Mar 25, 2010
melachap1354 in Spain/Portugal

Cinc Sentits, Gaig, La Dama, Sauc, Con Gracia which one?

We are looking for a "special meal" for a Saturday night. I know these restaurants have very different styles and sensibilities, but which one would you choose & why? We are eclectic diners. After leaving Barcelona we will be spending the next week and a half traveling to Tarragona, the Pyrenees & Girona. Any comments about El Celler Can Roca?

Mar 25, 2010
melachap1354 in Spain/Portugal

summer restaurant in Porto

I don't eat sushi or any fish or shellfish (my husband loves it) and I ate very well. They have lots of more traditional dishes. Look at their website.

Mar 24, 2010
melachap1354 in Spain/Portugal

summer restaurant in Porto

When we were in Porto about 2 years ago we happened upon Shis. The location is outstanding -- on columns right on the sea. The food was delicious with an interesting mix of sushi & continental cuisine! We're going back to Porto in May (My husband is seriously into port and the best can only be found in Porto), and I want to go back and sit at one of the tables overlooking the waves.

Mar 24, 2010
melachap1354 in Spain/Portugal

Planning for my May trip to Barcelona

I just looked at the Con Gracia website and they stated that they take "dietary needs" into consideration. I'm interested in all opinions! How far in advance do we need to reserve for a Sat. night after 9 pm?

Mar 24, 2010
melachap1354 in Spain/Portugal

Planning for my May trip to Barcelona

Thanks to both of you for your suggestions. I have had good luck in both the US & UK in asking for substitutions in tasting menus when I make my reservation. In Germany they have happily offered substitutions when I was ordering. I'm just wondering if restaurants are equally generous in Barcelona.

Any more ideas about tapas restaurants with tables? What about restaurants that are open at noon? Thanks again

Mar 24, 2010
melachap1354 in Spain/Portugal

Planning for my May trip to Barcelona

I have been impressed with the depth & breadth of the suggestions on this board. My husband & I are travelling to Barcelona to Barcelona in early May. Our hotel is on c/ Arribau just off of the Av. Diagonal. We will getting into the city around midday Friday after an overnight flight from Boston.

I am looking for a places close by to have an early lunch and/or an early (7-7:30) dinner that night - jet lag will prevent us from "eating like the natives" on that first night. I have read plenty of good suggestion on this blog, but I have particular "requirements" and need more information.

We have travelled to Spain many times before so I suspect tapas bars may be our best bet for that first day. However, I am a "plump", short ,55-year old woman and I'm not crazy about bar stool seating or leaning on the bar kind of places. Are there recommended places with real tables? We don't care if they "charge extra" for our comfort.

My other "issue" is that I can't eat any seafood (it makes me queasy). I have eaten happily all over Spain (including Galicia (!)). I just need suggestions for places that have plenty of other choices (besides sausage).

My next question is about a "fine dining" experience for Saturday night. We are interested in either traditional or "modern" Catalan quisine, but I'm not a big fan of "molecular gastronomy". We do enjoy tasting menus (with wines) as long as I can avoid seafood. This is our first time in Catalunya! Thanks in advance.

Mar 23, 2010
melachap1354 in Spain/Portugal