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Has anyone had a great meal at Arzak recently? Any review of Kokotxa?

We had a wonderful meal at Arzak and Juan Mari came up to everyone's table to say hello, take pictures and even met us at the door to give us a kiss on the cheek when we left.
We did the tasting menu
It started with 5 amuse bouches -- scorpion fish mousse with katafi (like a shredded wheat cone with a silky mousse inside), mushroom stuffed with nuts and citrus, beans with olive and apple, a 'gilda' but instead of pickled peppers it was pickled baby carrots with dried anchovy, and a crushed tonic can that had chorizo and mango in a tonic sauce
There were a few choices of courses but since we were two, we had one of each and shared them
The first course was a foie gras course - either a manioc pastry stuffed with huitlacoche, green tea and foie gras. Or slices of apple injected with beetroot and wrapped around foie gras and potato -- both were delicious but the pastry was hard to eat. I prefered the simplicity of the apple
The second course was shellfish - Volcanic oysters which were warm oysters and vegetables served on a black salt plate. Or the Lobster Sea and Garden which started with a tablet playing a video with waves crashing, then a glass plate was placed on top with lobster and vegetables. Both were delicious but I think the lobster was better because of the experience
The third course was called Ovo-Lacto and was a perfectly soft boiled egg in a crunchy shell (like a scotch egg) accompanied by lactic leaves which were milk crisps that melted in your mouth.
The fourth course was the fish course, again two options - Monk fish green witch was was perfectly cooked monkfish served in a crunchy green 'baloon' which didn't have much flavour. It was visually pretty but the baloon itself didn't add any flavor. The other was a grilled seabass marinated in gin served with 'potatoes' which looked like cellophane and came in different colors - one tasted of pure potato, one was with truffle and I forget what the third was. This was also served on top of a tablet showing waves crashing on the shore. The fish was delicious. It was really a toss up because both fish were perfectly cooked and fresh.
The fifth course was meat - we had a medium rare wild duck breast with various seeds (pumpkin, sunflower) and fruits. The other was a deer and a roe deer tenderloin - cylinders of each. The deer was rich and gamy, the roe deer was subtle and delicious. My friend who doesn't normally like venison loved the roe deer. It was served with a roasted Jerusalem artichoke and fried chestnuts but an odd yogurt with plaster (I don't know if I understood correctly) that was served on the side and didn't add much
Then we had 4 different desserts - the big truffle which was rich chocolate with chocolate filling. A circus dent with chocolate, delicious carrot ice cream. Chokeberries with a fresh cream cheese and pear. And a golden footprint, licorice filled 'ladybirds' filled with yogurt.
Because we were spending all of our money on the food we did not have a big budget for wine (this was a splurge since I'm unemployed) so we had a nice Pazo de Senorans Secleccion Anada 2006 Albarino to drink.
Overall the meal was delicious and a lot of fun, not stuffy. It was not too experimental - it was just delicious and perfectly cooked and wasn't trying to shock or create strange combinations. I really enjoyed it

Mar 03, 2014
AgnesGooch in Spain/Portugal

Has anyone had a great meal at Arzak recently? Any review of Kokotxa?

Thanks for the Rekondo recommendation. I will look into it as well. Glad to hear you liked Arzak. I was getting worried reading several reviews from the past few months

Jan 24, 2014
AgnesGooch in Spain/Portugal

Has anyone had a great meal at Arzak recently? Any review of Kokotxa?

I'm heading to San Sebastian in a few weeks and we got reservations at Arzak. We tried to get into Akelarre and Mugaritz but they were fully booked already. However, I've read a few recent reviews of Arzak both here and on food blogs and the reviews have not been that great. Everyone talks about how friendly Elena is, how pretty the food is, but then there seems to be disappointment in the taste of about half of the courses. I'm wondering if anyone here has had a great meal there recently to counter the so-so reviews, or is the restaurant just past its prime? I'd hate to spend 190 euros before wine and not be amazed

On another note, has anyone tried one-star restaurant Kokotka? I don't see many reviews online. Is it worth trying for lunch or dinner?

Jan 24, 2014
AgnesGooch in Spain/Portugal

Thailand Restaurant recs in Koh Jum, Koh Lanta and Chiang Mai

Thanks everyone.

In Chiang Mai, we went to Wera's Larb Ped, luckily before they moved. The Larb Ped was good, but not outstanding. I don't know if they made it mild seeing two blonde girls there or not. But our favourite dish was something they called a sour sausage that was incredible. Home made fresh sausage with chunks of meat and melt in your mouth fat. I was with a Croatian friend who couldn't get enough and thought it tasted like the home made sausages her grandfather used to make.

We ate at Mix for another friend's birthday - the food was very pretty and well presented but it was just so-so. I liked the atmosphere and the staff and the normal cocktails but would skip the molecular ones next time as they are just flavoured shaved ice made out of dry ice. They tasted good but not really drinkable.

Our hotel had recommended Aroon Rai and we stuck to the Northern Specialities. I have to say the Khao Soi and Khanom Jeen we had at a stall at the Saturday walking street near the silver temple was better than we had at Aroon Rai.

In Koh Jum we went to Koh Jum seafood - nice view on the water but overpriced and the fresh squid was overcooked and rubbery. The crispy whole fish was tasty but at 500 baht was ridiculous. Otherwise we just at at our resort or Freedom Bungalows

In Koh Lanta, again no great meals. Time for Lime was good but missing something since the last time I went. It was good but when I went a few years ago it was amazing.

Thailand Restaurant recs in Koh Jum, Koh Lanta and Chiang Mai


Thailand Restaurant recs in Koh Jum, Koh Lanta and Chiang Mai

Heading to Thailand over Xmas/New Years and looking for good Thai food in each location.

Koh Jum is small and I understand most restaurants are at the hotels/bungalows but can anyone recommend a memorable meal. We'll be staying at Luboa Beach (the northernmost beach) but don't mind taking a scooter to another beach or to Koh Pu town or Koh Jum town.

I've been to Koh Lanta before and the only good meals I had were at Time for Lime which was fantastic, and some little place on the main road behind Khlong Dao beach that didn't have an English name. I ate at my small resort and a few others on the beach and they were all boring, dumbed down for farang no matter how many times I told them I wanted it spicy, and had limited menus with the same 10 dishes on pretty much every menu. We are staying on Long Beach this trip and hoping someone might know of somewhere decent to eat because I didn't find any 2 years ago.

Last time I was in Chiang Mai we didn't have any sit down meals - it was all street food which was fine. But I would love to have some typical Isaan food in a sit down restaurant. I've heard of Baanrai Yarmyen which is outside of town, but are there any other good options in the old city?


casual foodie visits london

If you are around on Thursday or Friday lunchtime, try the food stalls at Whitecross Market which is right near Barbican.

Exmouth Market, also not far from Barbican, is also a great street both during the day when there are food stalls or in the evening. There are a number of small restaurants there where you are perfectly fine going alone. If you like Spanish food, Moro is fairly pricy but amazing, but their tapas bar Morito next door is cheaper and more casual. Caravan is a gastro pub that is great for drinks or coffee, small plates, big meals and Sunday brunch - the menu runs the gamut from wontons to couscous to Weinerschnitzel - and I've never had a bad meal.
If you like Thai food, there's a very authentic Isarn-style place in the basement of the Heron pub on Norfolk Crescent off Sussex Gardens. There's no sign and the crowd is mainly Thai, especially on weekends when they have Thai karaoke. But during the week it's quieter and no problem going on your own. They have a whole page of som tom (green papaya) dishes. They don't dumb down the dishes for foreigners unless you ask for it mild.

Sep 13, 2013
AgnesGooch in U.K./Ireland

Pula - Konoba Batelina average cost?

Unfortunately we are only there for 2.5 days before we head to Venice. I wish we could stay longer but it's just not possible this trip. I've been to other places in Croatia before and loved it and the food (Dubrovnik, Lopud, Hvar, Vis, Split, Trogir)

Apr 16, 2013
AgnesGooch in Europe

Vienna Late Night Dining Suggestions? Need dinner around 11pm on Friday

Plachutta takes orders until 11:15pm
http://www.plachutta.at/en/plachutta_... is the closest to you -- it's on the other side of Stadtpark so it's a quick taxi ride or about a 10-15 minute walk

Apr 16, 2013
AgnesGooch in Europe

Pula - Konoba Batelina average cost?

Thanks Aishling. €150 before wine is quite a bit as we would be drinking with the meal so I am assuming it's easily €100 per person including drinks
Do you have other recommendations in Pula? We are staying in Verudela and won't have a car so it has to be somewhere accessible by public transport or by taxi. We will be there a Saturday and a Sunday night.

Apr 16, 2013
AgnesGooch in Europe

Pula - Konoba Batelina average cost?

I've read great reviews about Konoba Batelina on several websites but none of them seem mention the cost, only that it's pricey. But I don't know what pricey means by Croatian standards. I understand the menu price changes depending on what sort of seafood they have that day, but does anyone know the average price range of a meal - whether in kuna, Euro or US$ just so I can get an idea whether we can afford a splurge or not?

Apr 15, 2013
AgnesGooch in Europe

Kale Recipes

I love making different flavors of kale chips like those mentioned above. My fave at the moment is 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp Sriracha and some coarse salt mixed into the kale before baking -- you can add more or less Sriracha depending how spicy you want them. Another good variation is 1/2 tbsp oil, 1/2 tbsp soy sauce and either sesame seeds or furikake (Japanese seaweed/sesame mix) mixed into the kale before baking. Or mix oil with cayenne pepper or chile powder to taste, bake the kale, then squeeze lime on the chips once they come out of the oven for zesty chile-lime chips

Or I make a delicious chorizo, cannellini bean and kale stew. These measurements are approximate
In a large pot, saute one large Spanish chorizo (250g/8oz) until slightly browned. You don't need to add much oil as the chorizo should give off enough oil. But if it's dry, add a spoon or two of olive oil
Add 1tbsp smoked paprika and 1-2 bay leaves
Add 1 chopped onion and 2 cloves garlic and saute until soft
(Optional -- add 2 chopped carrots and/or celery stalks)
Add 1/4 cup sherry vinegar and deglaze the pan
Add 1-2 cups dry white wine and reduce to about half to burn off the alcohol
Add 1 can chopped tomatoes and cook down until juice is reduced by half
Add one can rinsed Cannellini beans (or you can use dried beans that have been soaked, but the cooking time will be longer)
Add 4-6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock (or water) depending if you want it soupy or thick like a stew.
Simmer for 20-30 minutes until beans are soft
Add the chopped kale just 3-5 minutes before serving so it softens a bit but stays green. If you add it earlier than that, it will start to turn a khaki color which doesn't look as nice.
The stew is delicious fresh but like most stews, tastes even better a day or two later

Apr 08, 2013
AgnesGooch in Home Cooking

Great Indonesian in Amsterdam/Utretch?

I'm another fan of Sama Sebo. I have a friend whose family lived in Indonesia for generations until the 1940s and has tried most of the rijstafels in Amsterdam and thinks it's the best. I've eaten there twice with her including on my last trip to Amsterdam just a few weeks ago and it was delicious. I've tried 2 other places but they were not as good. The secret with Sama Sebo is not to order a rijstafel per person as it's too much food. We went with a group of 5 and ordered rijstafel for 4 people - 3 regular and one vegetarian to get more vegetable dishes. And even then we couldn't eat everything. It's not cheap but its very good.

Sep 17, 2012
AgnesGooch in Europe

American-style hot dogs in London?

Had lunch at Bubbledogs last Saturday afternoon and loved it. The dogs were really tasty with that perfect snap you don't find too often. I had pork both times, my friend had the beef and liked hers as well. I had one of the K-dogs with Korean chili bean paste and kimchi but the kimchi was not spicy enough. I like my kimchi very spicy. The Jose was a Mexican dog with salsa, guac, sour cream and jalapenos. I asked if I could get a bacon wrapped dog and told the server that the Mexican-style hotdogs you get in AZ/CA and in northern Mexico (Sonoran hog dogs, Tijuana dogs, etc) are always bacon wrapped. It was delicious. My friend ordered her beef dog with just mustard and sauerkraut and loved it. She got a side of the "NY Street Cart Onions" which she imagined would be like the onions you get at Papaya King in NYC but it was nothing like it. It was actually like an onion marmalade, sweet and tasty but not like anything I had ever had in NYC. The tater tots were really good, we had two orders. I don't know if they were actually that great or it was a nostalgia thing but after living in Europe for almost 10 years I can't remember the last time I ate or even saw tots on any menu.

Sep 11, 2012
AgnesGooch in U.K./Ireland

Any Sri Lankan hounds on this board?

There are only about 2 questions about Sri Lanka in the past 2 years and neither got any responses. I'm going over Xmas and New Years and specifically looking for 2 dinners in Colombo, 1 in Kandy and 1 in Ella. We'll probably just be doing street food for lunch most days and the rest of the time we are at a yoga retreat and food will be provided. I've eaten Sri Lankan food in London (there's one restaurant near me and a friend's housekeeper is Sri Lankan and cooks for them 1-2 times a week) but have not been to Sri Lanka so I can't wait to try the food there.

Sep 08, 2012
AgnesGooch in India & South Asia

Vienna - Eating near Praterstern

You have to try Schweitzerhaus inside the park
It's a beer garden with traditional food - roast pork knuckle with perfect crackling (the house specialty), home made sausages especially the fresh weisswurst which have to be eaten the day they are made, goulasch, wiener schnitzel, dumplings, sauerkraut, potato salad. There are some tourists there, but it's mainly groups of locals - families, work colleagues, etc. I was brought there by a group of Austrian friends

Jun 02, 2012
AgnesGooch in Europe

Anywhere good to eat in Stockholm?

I've never had a bad meal at Rolfs Kök http://www.rolfskok.se/?lang=en
It's a small place so you have to reserve

Jun 02, 2012
AgnesGooch in Europe

Where can I find bakkwa in London?

Bakkwa is a Singaporean/Malaysian type of jerky. They normally have different varieties available. While most are pork, you can also get chicken and beef at some places. There are also different flavours - most are sweet and saly but others are spicy

I brought some back from my last visit to Singapore but just ate the last of it and was hoping there's somewhere in Chinatown or elsewhere I can find it.

Apr 01, 2012
AgnesGooch in U.K./Ireland

Any good eats in Wollongong?

There's nowhere at least half-way decent to eat? I have 3 meals on my own and really don't want hotel room service. I thought every town in Australia had at least a good Thai or Chinese restaurant

Any good eats in Wollongong?

Thanks for Caveau, I suspect that may be where the company are taking us for the group dinner. I am also looking for good cheap Asian eats. My colleague there claims Wollongong is a culinary wasteland, but I know there have to be at least some hidden gems

Any good eats in Wollongong?

I have to be in Wollongong on business and have 3 free nights so I am looking for recs for dinner. I love anything Asian, especially Thai, Vietnamese or Japanese but would also like to find somewhere focusing on local, seasonal Australian cooking. Any good finds?

Looking for Sonoran Hot Dogs in San Diego, ideally North County

I will be in San Diego over Xmas/New Years staying in Carlsbad and am wondering if there is anywhere that serves Sonoran hot dogs - bacon wrapped dogs covered with beans, cheese, onions, mayo, ketchup, jalapenos, etc. I don't have time to get to Tucson this trip so I was wondering if there is anywhere in SD selling them - whether a restaurant or food truck. I've looked online and can't seem to find anything. I have a car so would be willing to drive if there is nothing in North County

Dec 15, 2011
AgnesGooch in San Diego

St Albans - looking for great Sunday Roast, child friendly a must

Heading to St Albans with friends and 5 kids in tow to Verulanium park and were looking for a good Sunday roast.

Any opinion of the Portland Arms, Goat Inn, White Hart Tap or any other suggestions?

Mar 26, 2011
AgnesGooch in U.K./Ireland

Romania - Bucharest and Brasov - recommendations please

There don't seem to be many posts about Romania and am heading there next week for a long weekend. We will have 2 dinners and 1 lunch in Bucharest. In Brasov we will have 2 dinners, lunches may be in the surrounding area as we will be exploring, and we'll have one day hiking outside of Brasov so if there's a good shop or market to check out to pick up bread and local cheeses, that would be great.

I've already heard of Caru' bu Bere in Bucharest but not sure if it's too touristy or actually serves decent traditional food. I would prefer traditional Romanian food - not the ubiquitous pizza places and kebab shops listed in most tourist guides. Street food is also fine

Aug 19, 2010
AgnesGooch in Europe

Maida Vale [London]

The best Thai in the area I've found is down Harrow Road heading towards Kensal Rise called Thai Box Express specialising in Esarn (Isaan) style food of the Northeast. The food is outstanding and so fresh, better than any of the Maida Vale Thai's I've had. They do deliver. The restaurant itself is fine and decor is ok but the place is always empty. They don't "dumb down" the spices for European palettes - I ordered the papaya salad "not spicy" for a friend who doesn't like spicy food and it still had quite a kick to it. They also have dishes like Duck Tongue, Pork Neck, Pork Liver, etc you don't find on most Thai menus in London
Street Hawker is good - they do take away but not delivery
The pizzas at Le Cochonet on Lauderdale Road are pretty good, again take away but no delivery

Jul 29, 2010
AgnesGooch in U.K./Ireland

Valencia - Are many restaurants in closed Easter Weekend? Where to find paella for one?

I am going to Valencia over Easter and was wondering if many of the restaurants are going to be closed Good Friday or Easter Sunday.

I was in Madrid 3 years ago over Easter and while the shops and museums were closed except on Saturday, we had no problem finding restaurants and bars that were open. But a friend who lived in Valencia several years ago told me the city pretty much shuts down from Holy Thursday - Easter Monday. Is that still the case? Am I going to have trouble finding places to eat - as the pension I'm staying in doesn't have a restaurant.

Also I'm now travelling by myself as a friend had to cancel. Is there anywhere you can get paella for one? I'd hate to miss out on Valencia's most famous dish

I got the list of restaurants from previous posts but if there's anything new, let me know.

Mar 26, 2010
AgnesGooch in Spain/Portugal

Two nights in Nottingham?

Unfortunately Sat Bains is already booked both nights we are there. Does anyone have other recs - maybe one nice dinner and one casual inexpensive place (Indian, Thai, Middle Eastern, etc)?

Oct 01, 2008
AgnesGooch in U.K./Ireland

Breakfast "L'Anglais" @Chez Gerrard, Heathrow

The food and service are generally good. The only thing I don't like is that if you ask for condiments like mayonnaise to go with their delicious "frites" they bring you a bowl full of mayonnaise, ketchup, HP sauce and mustard packets.

Jun 03, 2008
AgnesGooch in U.K./Ireland

Groovy place for a b-day partin in Shoreditch/Clerkenwell?

May 11, 2008
AgnesGooch in U.K./Ireland

haozhan, london

The only letdown was the waiter's attitude when we ordered tap water, even though we ordered beers. He made some snide comment about how "foreigners" always want tap water. But the food was delicious

Apr 27, 2008
AgnesGooch in U.K./Ireland