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Barcelona, Christmas 2014 trip report.

Spent a week in BCN around Christmas this year. Most meals were at home with family, or completely unremarkable. A few were worth discussing.

* Quimet i Quimet was worth going.

There's nothing undiscovered about this place; you can tell it's made some popular American and Japanese guidebooks by the clientele. We got there 10 minutes before 19:00 on a tuesday when they open for the evening and there were already several groups of foreign foodie tourists staring at their smartphones. Our early arrival paid off with a prime spot at the bar - it's much harder to order from the back of the house, because you'll have to wait for someone to come around.

Montaditos of foie gras & black salt, smoked salmon & truffle honet, zamburinñas and caviar were standouts, as were the house beer and vermouth. (They also make a mean gintonic, with Fever Tree on request.) This is a third-generation family-run establishment, and most of the folks working there were born into the job. It's a very busy place, but by respectfully waiting for eye contact and responding crisply and promptly with our orders when acknowledged, we got great treatment. Our places were defended by the staff when others tried to elbow us out, and we were plied with spoonfuls of an advocaat-like boozy custard and a 2015 calendar when we settled our bill, which amounted to €50 for my better half and I, including several drinks and enough food that we ended up skipping our planned dinner later.

* Al Atlas makes fantastic sandwiches.

On the southwestern end of Rambla del Raval is a little shop mostly selling sandwiches. It's easier to see the crowd of locals lining up waiting for theirs than it is to read the sign - that's how I found the place, just wandering by randomly. This is the anti-Quimet, pretty much off the tourist map. I could see this place being intimidating to some - you won't hear any English spoken and not much Spanish or Catalan, but you will hear a lot of Maghrebi arabic - but don't be dissuaded. Go and order a chicken sandwich with everything. You'll get a substantial baguette with chicken, olives, lettuce, tomatoes, yoghurt, onions, julienne carrots and beetroot, french fries, (non-pork) mortadella, and harissa, for €3, and you'll like it. Stay in and have some mint tea with it if you like, or take it away and eat it outside. We went here 3 times in a week, and I still think about this sandwich several weeks later.

* Roca Moo was "international rich person food."

Worth going to have some really exquisitely executed modernist cuisine - the smoked pigeon carpaccio was spectacular - but our budget only allowed for it because we were staying with family and thus not paying for a hotel for our trip. This is the anti-Al Atlas. Dinner for 2 was 40x the price, and while I'm sure the ingredients, facilities, and staff were also on the order of 40x the price of Al Atlas, I'm not sure I enjoyed dinner there 40x more. Still, if money's not a consideration it's worth going.

* Bar Velodromo is open 24x7x365.

We went on Christmas day for lunch. It's not a bargain during normal times, but the oysters were lovely, likewise the beef with chimichurri, and "el siscento BCN" with eggplant and roasted peppers. Mostly what's great about this place is the ability to eat well at any time, any day of the year.

* Bar Nou for pa amb tomaquet.

Another random on-foot find, this place opened for business just before we left town. Stylish, minimalist interior design. This place specializes in bread with tomato, the standard catalan accompaniment to any meal (though I can make it a meal in itself.) We went for breakfast on our way out of town - they are open 8am - midnight. I wish we had had time to try more here, but the toast with lemon, sugar and olive oil was a revelation. I'm still trying to replicate it at home.

Jan 10, 2015
terrier in Spain/Portugal

Brussels, Belgium with Kids

Georgette (in the city center, quite near Grand Place) might fit the bill. Spectacular frites too, though note that the take-out window and the actual restaurant have different menus.

Jul 26, 2014
terrier in Europe

Foods to try in Amsterdam & Copenhagen

Dutch cuisine is simple stuff, mostly great winter food like hutspot (boiled and mashed carrots and onions) and stoofvlees (braised beef) or stamppot (mashed potatoes and kale or endive) with rookworst (smoked sausage).

In July, have some maatjes (lightly brined herring) on a broodje (roll), with uitjes (diced onions) or augurk (pickles) if you like. There will be stands selling this everywhere (look for the 'Hollands Nieuwe' banners and flags.)

The Netherlands by virtue of its colonial legacy has some pretty good Indonesian and Surinamese food, though I don't have any great tips for specific places in Amsterdam, it's not my town. (In the Hague, I like Restaurant Soeboer for the former and Warung Kromo for the latter.) There are other threads with specific restaurant recommendations in Amsterdam.

My last trip to Copenhagen was as a poor backpacking student almost 20 years ago, where I ate at a Hare Krishna vegan takeaway because it was what I could afford (Scandinavia is expensive.) I'll let someone else chime in on the culinary delights of that place.

Jun 01, 2014
terrier in Europe
1

Please 3 dinners in Amsterdam!

Fa. Speijkervet is worth a look. Seasonal, Dutch, casual, off the tourist map, and they use the whole animal.

May 25, 2014
terrier in Europe

Gift to bring Dutch foodies?

I'm in Den Haag, but don't mind heading up to Amsterdam for this - would love a pointer to masa and dried chiles.

(I have found refrigerated corn tortillas and canned chipotles in adobo at Kelly's but that's it. The tortillas were not great but were ok for making enchiladas.)

May 15, 2014
terrier in Europe

Suggestions in Groningen, The Netherlands?

Cafe de Koffer for beer (have a lentebock.)

Eetcafé Schuitendiep for a nice meal (make a reservation. The 6-course tasting menu is fun and reasonable at €38.50 but a-la-cart is also fine.)

Toko Semarang for creditable and spicy take-out (or eat-in, in a pinch) Indonesian.

Let us know where you end up and how it was! There's not a lot of NL activity here, especially outside of Amsterdam.

May 08, 2014
terrier in Europe
1

Gift to bring Dutch foodies?

Thanks - I have tried the Haagse Markt (as I live in Den Haag,) and was somewhat surprised not to find collard greens. Lots of tayer leaves and madame jeanette peppers, though. I will keep looking.

Apr 28, 2014
terrier in Europe

Gift to bring Dutch foodies?

As a foodie who moved from Seattle to the Netherlands last year, here's what I miss that I have yet to locate:

- good, fresh corn tortillas (or even masa to make my own)
- for that matter, tamales! A couple dozen good frozen tamales (red and green) would hit the spot.
- collard greens and poblano peppers. (These do not exist here at all.)
- filé (as in powdered sassafras leaves - I like to make gumbo. Probably too obscure a gift unless you think they're the type to want to try to make their own.)
- rye whiskey and peychauds bitters (bourbon's plentiful here but I have yet to find rye)
- good American microbrews (e.g. Hopworks IPA, Oskar Blues' G'knight, 321 )

Apr 27, 2014
terrier in Europe

Best restaurant for oysters?

The obvious additions are

Walrus & Carpenter
Taylor Shellfish

Mar 13, 2014
terrier in Greater Seattle

Cheesesteak: Zacaggni's

It's in the market, the old Wonder Freeze stall just past Delaurenti and across from the newsstand.

Mar 03, 2014
terrier in Greater Seattle

NE of the I-5 I-90 interchange

A mile radius from that interchange covers all of Pioneer Square, the ID, Little Saigon, the north end of Beacon Hill and a big chunk of the Central District, FWIW.

Assuming you mean just the north-east quadrant, I can think of a few places that way.

Up at Jackson and 22nd, Chef Cafe is seriously cheap and delicious Ethiopian, worth a visit.

Sichuanese Cuisine is my default for, well Sichuanese cuisine in Seattle.

The original Pho Bac location is in that sector, as well as Saigon Deli (bahn mi) and Pho So 1 (good pho but also bun bo hue)

Malay Satay is also in the area. Tamarind Tree is still popular and tasty.

Feb 28, 2014
terrier in Greater Seattle

Pizza By The Slice - Ats'a Nice!

Third vote for Big Mario's, it's not even close. (But I do still like A Pizza Mart downtown for what it is.)

Feb 24, 2014
terrier in Greater Seattle

Traditional Tapas in downtown Seattle

Pintxo is probably your best option for tapas specifically. Seattle is a long way from Spain, though, so set your expectations accordingly.

If you've never been, I do think Palace Kitchen is worthwhile. Get the chicken wings and at least one other small plate that interests you for the table, and someone in the party should have something from the grill. Unless you don't drink, have a classic cocktail. (I frequently fall into a manhattan there, or a Pimms cup in the summer. The house specialty cocktails on the menu run sweet.) I never once took a guest from out of town there that was disappointed - most ask to return on subsequent visits.

Feb 22, 2014
terrier in Greater Seattle

A Most Expensive Piece Of Pizza

$5 slice? bushwa! (Unless it's at Di Fara like grampart says - and it's only worth it there to avoid the wait for a whole pie.)

I actually think A Pizza Mart (at least the hole-in-the-wall location on Stewart St near 9th.) does a creditable $3 utility slice, especially during the week at lunch or after work when the turnover's high and the pies are consumed within a few minutes of baking. I'm particular partial to a "combo" slice and a jim beam on the rocks (it's a bar, after all) and sorely miss it.

Feb 19, 2014
terrier in Greater Seattle

What's the most unique food experience in Seattle?

I'd go to Taylor Shellfish (at Melrose Market) and order whatever non-chowder geoduck prep they have (I had some really nice sauteed geoduck there something like a year ago). Along with a crap-ton of oysters (also local) and a beer. I can't believe I didn't think of this earlier.

Walrus & Carpenter is also a good place to do this sort of thing, but might be more hassle. (I personally swore them off after waiting an hour for a seat and getting passed over repeatedly by the host in favor of later arrivals. If you're going to go all Studio 54 on me I've got better things to do - and I never forgive this kind of nonsense, but others might be better looking or more patient.)

Feb 19, 2014
terrier in Greater Seattle

What's the most unique food experience in Seattle?

Nobody's given beer recommendations, so I will. First, practically every bar in Seattle that has draft beer will have Manny's Pale Ale (from Georgetown brewery) and/or Mac & Jacks Amber on tap. They are ubiquitous, local, and only available on draft in the Seattle area. They're not necessarily my favorite beers, but now that I've moved away from Seattle they're the beers I associate most strongly with the place. Most beer drinkers, whatever style they prefer and even if they're snobs, will find either or both acceptable.

Beyond that, it really depends what you're into. If you like Belgian-style beers, you should visit the Stumbling Monk. Not only will they have an unmatched selection of beers from Belgium, they also have some solid local beers of similar style (Dick's Triple is worth a try.)

Other local brews, well, there are a bunch of brewpubs and tasting rooms in sodo and points south. In the city proper, there's Elysian with a few locations, and a few others I'm sure I'm forgetting. Thing is, you have to work hard to find a bar here that *doesn't* have some worthwhile local (or regional - you see plenty of Bridgeport, Rogue, and Deschutes up from Oregon) beers on tap. Just try the beers you see on the menu that you've never heard of (except Olympia or Rainier, the Schlitz and PBR of the PNW, unless that's what you like.)

Another kind of "beer" worth trying is Rachel's Ginger Beer. It's not really ginger beer (i.e. it's not fermented with S. florentinus and L. hilgardii cultures) but it's got its uses. Walk down Olive Way a bit from the Stumbling Monk and you'll see Montana on the other side of the street. They've got RGB on tap along with Fernet and a few other carbonated cocktails (plus beer of course) - worth a stop. I personally favor a dark and stormy with Cruzan blackstrap rum and RGB in an old-fashioned glass (not the long pint glass and goslings black seal they normally used.) Mmm-mmm. For the ultimate hipster experience, have a pickleback (shot of whiskey chased with a shot of spicy pickle brine - house-made of course. Sounds repellent, actually unexpectedly delicious.)

Best Value-to-Price Ratio in Seattle?

For me it's gotta be Chef Cafe on 22nd & Jackson. I've never spent more than $25 there feeding my family of 4, including a couple of Ethiopian beers for mom & dad. The veggie combo in particular at something like $8 (it used to be $6!) is almost enough for two people on its own. And it's good, some of the better Ethiopian food in the city. I love the kitfo at Cafe Selam, and miss the injera at the (sadly departed) Pan Africa Market, but Chef Cafe was our standby.

Jan 16, 2014
terrier in Greater Seattle

Fish head Curry...

Malay Satay Hut is probably your best bet.

Jan 10, 2014
terrier in Greater Seattle

Recommendation for 3 days (French, seafood)

I think you can get in and out of Canlis - which has a spectacular setting - for under $150/pp. (N.B. there aren't many places in Seattle where I'd be uncomfortable without a jacket, but this is one of them.)

Jan 03, 2014
terrier in Greater Seattle

good tortilla press

Sad to report El Puerco Lloron is no more. Permanently closed. :(

Dec 24, 2013
terrier in Greater Seattle

Your favorite chowish discoveries of 2013.

The only one worth mentioning for me in Seattle was Kedai Makan, the quasi-Malay takeout window on Olive Way. I can't say enough about their nasi goreng in particular - I am not exaggerating when I say my family ate it at least 30 times this year.

Dec 19, 2013
terrier in Greater Seattle

Breakfast

I'dd add Lola, and if you really don't mind traveling, Hudson is worth the trip down 99 to Georgetown. (No minors allowed at Hudson if that's important to you.)

Dec 18, 2013
terrier in Greater Seattle

Best overall meal in the last year

Hm, for 2013 I have to go with a dinner at the soon-to-be-departed (temporarily, as it hopefully moves to a new space) Dinette. A few toasts, a big butter lettuce salad, and braised short ribs. Nothing too fancy but just well executed with great service in a cozy room. I hope their new space is as magical.

Honorable mention because it's not a dine-in restaurant, but I'm pretty sure we ate take-out from Kedai Makan at least once a week between February and October. The nasi goreng, the peppery pork ribs, the roti canai... so damn good.

Dec 09, 2013
terrier in Greater Seattle

Roux? Matt's Truck

I'm in the Netherlands, which unfortunately gets lumped into the "Europe" catch-all board here and doesn't have much of an active community.

I've had some fabulous Surinamese and Indonesian cooking so far but in general I'll take Seattle's restaurant scene any day.

Nov 28, 2013
terrier in Greater Seattle

Roux? Matt's Truck

Based on the fried shrimp poboy I had there, I'd call it worth a try. (Unfortunately, I no longer live in Seattle so it'll be a while before I get back to try anything else.)

Compared to Matt's, it's much more like the poboys I grew up with on the gulf coast - iceberg and tomato, pickles if you like 'em and sauce, each added separately to a fairly airy roll. Matt by contrast uses a denser, crustier roll and fancier dressing (by which I mean the salad not the sauce) that's pre-tossed to coat then added to the roll.

I don't mean to say I don't like Matt's poboys (I do, and I did enjoy his gumbo the last time I tried it - maybe a year ago), but Jemil's gets the nod on the poboys for familiarity to my tastes.

Nov 28, 2013
terrier in Greater Seattle

Roux? Matt's Truck

What do you think of Jemil's truck? I've only tried their poboys, but i found them pretty spot-on.

As far as non-fried stuff goes, I eventually started cooking it myself, figuring I could do a better job at home. I'd put my etouffee up against anyone in Seattle at this point. All it really takes is a willingness to make stock with your crawfish or shrimp shells. Once you cross that bridge, you're most of the way home.

Nov 27, 2013
terrier in Greater Seattle

Best French Fries in Europe by City - and their sauces...

First, to the OP, frietsaus is like Miracle Whip - it's a sweetened and filled ersatz mayo. Mayo vs. frietssaus is a debate like whiz (aka pump cheese) vs. provolone on a Philly cheesesteak. Some people prefer the cheaper processed product and some do not. (I personally do not.)

The ubiquitous satesaus or pindasaus in the Netherlands is usually a very sweet peanut sauce. "Patatjes Oorlog" (literally "war fries" but don't ask me why) usually have peanut sauce, raw onions, and mayo or frietssaus.

If you can't tell, I'm not really a fan of frietsaus and pindasaus. One South Holland fry-bearing specialty I do like is the kapsalon (which means barbershop, long story) - that's basically shawarma meat and gouda cheese on a bed of french fries, warmed in an oven or (the best) under a salamander so the cheese melts. Then it's topped with an iceberg lettuce and tomato salad, garlic sauce and/or sambal. Spectacular kcal/€ ratio.

Nov 15, 2013
terrier in Europe

Recommended: Falafel Salam (food truck)

Much better, given that I've never had suitably fresh falafel from Hallava. I'm also not a fan of Hallava's default kitchen-sink approach to accoutrements (i.e. unless you direct them otherwise, they stuff the pita with all kinds of sauces and salads creating a bit of a gloppy mess.)

Maybe I caught Hallava at bad times or on bad days, but I've never had a hot and crisp falafel from them.

Nov 07, 2013
terrier in Greater Seattle

Recommended: Falafel Salam (food truck)

Strongly recommend this place.

The main thing is the owner understands that falafel must be served within a couple of minutes - preferably within seconds - of leaving the fryer. It can never sit around in a hotel pan, ever.

It's the only falafel in Seattle that holds a candle to street falafel I've had in Israel or the better carts in New York. Not quite world-class, but really damn good for Seattle. (It's sometimes a little too pasty/not fluffy enough - but always fresh fresh fresh.)

The pita's pretty good too - definitely made fresh daily (I've seen and smelled the cooler the owner brings the day's batch in at the beginning of the shift.) Do try the various salads and pickles he makes (and the schug if you like it spicy!) The menu-spec sandwiches are just starting points, it's normal and accepted to order just what you like on the pita, and Shimi the owner cheerfully offers tastes.

I wish he'd started doing the wings before I left town.

Oct 30, 2013
terrier in Greater Seattle

Please help a sad girl find some Mexican food in Seattle

Tacos Chukis on Capitol Hill does pretty decent tacos al pastor, turning on a spit with pina. It's really the thing to get there, I think.

Aug 11, 2013
terrier in Greater Seattle