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Madrid trip report

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Jul 02, 2015
mrsjoujou in Spain/Portugal

Barcelona trip report

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Jul 02, 2015
mrsjoujou in Spain/Portugal

Madrid trip report

Restaurante Bacira
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This was our first lunch in Madrid and having arrived around 10 am, we were starving. They started their lunch service at 1:30 pm and we had to kill time sitting in the nearby park. This restaurant must have been the most reasonably priced restaurant we dined at in Spain. Great quality, creative food, generous portions and helpful service. What else could you ask for? If only restaurants in CA started that trend.
we had:

Scallops with Tobiko, Sprouts and Yuzu
We started with this very fresh Japanese influenced scallop dish.

Grilled Octopus with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Black Olives and Basil
The octopus was grilled flawlessly. It had a nice char from the grill and the roasted sweet potatoes were a nice touch. The salty black olives and the aromatic basil completed this wonderful dish.

Roasted Sea bass with Black Puffed Rice and Brussels Sprouts Kimchee
As soon as I saw puffed black rice, I was sold. How creative is that? Specially using it as a crust. Needless to say we really enjoyed the perfectly cooked fish.

Iberian Pork Cheek in Glace with Teriyaki Sauce, Lychee Cream, Beetroot
By this time we were almost full and you can blame the amazing bread basket for that. We could not believe the portion size and such a reasonable price. We had to force ourselves to eat as much as we could. Too bad we could not take the leftover with us. It had such amazing pork flavor and you would not expect any less from an Iberian pork. The use of nuts was unique and the lychee cream added sweetness to this dish.

Pomme Sucre
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We stopped here twice. The first time to check it out, the second time because it was very close to our hotel. What surprised us was how quiet the cafe was each time we visited it. I guess they are not as popular as the nearby Mamá Framboise. There was only one lady serving the two time we went there and she spoke not a word of English. Their quality was good, but what we sampled was nothing spectacular. Prices were fair.
We had:

Caramelizada De Cacao
This chocolate puff pastry was good enough for the first day.

Jasmine tea
It was what I needed to relax a bit. I have had better jasmine tea before.

Sunrise
Lime mousse, Lemon, Mandarin with Toffee and Chocolate Streusel
This was a nice citrusy cake, nothing more.

DVC
Raspberry and Chocolate Ganache, Raspberry Mousse, creamy chocolate and raspberry
We liked this one better. How can you go wrong with chocolate and raspberry and thankfully it was not too sweet.

Mamá Framboise
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Mamá Framboise was very close to our hotel and it seemed to be very popular. I have heard the Spanish like their confectionery sweet and this place definitely reflected that. Thankfully they spoke enough English to put you at ease. Prices were fair, but not worth it to us.
we had:

Cafe Manchado
My husband enjoyed his latte.

Chocolate Pequeño
This was my first taste of Spanish hot chocolate and it disappointed big time. Way too sugary. I took two sips and gave the rest to my husband. Even though he tolerates sugar more than me, he had a hard time finishing it up.

Croissant De Frambuesa
Is this raspberry croissant or a sugar croissant?! As though you didn’t have enough sugar on the top, there was a sugary raspberry jam inside so you would be in a sugar coma all day.

Croissant De Chocolate
This was not a typical pain au chocolat. It had a sweet chocolate custard inside. A big disappointment.

Palmera De Chocolate
Surprisingly this was the only item that was pretty good. A nice dark chocolate atop palmier.

Al Trapo
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Al Trapo reminded me so much of one of my favorite restaurants in LA, Ink. The decor was very modern and clean. The cuisine was contemporary and imaginative. Our waiter spoke perfect English, but looked like he had a late night the night before. Prices were reasonable for the quality.
we had the following:

Amuse
Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Mint, Cilantro and Yogurt was definitely my kind of starter and to serve it over a paper was very original.

Spanish Tortilla Souffle Bites with green bell peppers and anchovies
This were a little tasty bites and modern version of the traditional Spanish tortilla.

Sautéed Artichokes with crunchy breadcrumbs, thin sliced Iberian bacon and parsley mayonnaise
Artichoke and crunchy breadcrumbs were the perfect marriage for the umami bacon and cool mayo.

Squid Noodles, tender baby broad beans, potato, egg yolk and onion
This dish was a perfect spring dish. You had to mix the yolk with the tender squid noodles and fava beans and that resulted in such a comfort dish. Loved the serving dish.

Cream of stew Lentils with cinnamon, cheese gnocchis and foie gelée
This was such a creative dish. Creamy lentils had a great flavor from the cinnamon. The pillowy cheese gnocchis were a great addition and the foie gelée put this dish over the top.

Sautéed Morels with creamy bechamel meat sauce
This dish was visually spectacular. Morel mushroom, one of my favorite mushrooms, were amazing and combined with the meat sauce, you were in the umami heaven.

Sautéed Morels with creamy bechamel meat sauce
This dish was visually spectacular. Morel mushroom, one of my favorite mushrooms, were amazing and combined with the meat sauce, you were in the umami heaven.

Moulin Chocolat
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Moulin Chocolat is right across the street from the Retiro Park and it is a must stop. The only problem was that there was no seating available, so your only option was to pick up your goodies and eat it in the park. They had a great selection of chocolates and little treats that not only looked great, it was priced reasonably and tasted pretty good. Service was friendly and they spoke enough English to get you going. Yes, I wish we had a place like this in the LA area.
we had the following:

Vaso Sibarita
Mascarpone Mousse, Baba Cake, Raspberry with Mango Coulis
This was not only visually appealing, but it tasted great. I specially liked the creative way they filled the raspberries with mango coulis.

Extreme
Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Mousse and Chocolate Glaze
This was a chocolate heaven and looked like a black pearl.

Tartaleta de Frambuesa
Butter Sable, creamy Chocolate, Black Raspberry, fresh Raspberry and Mango
We really enjoyed this very refreshing, fruity verrine goodness. Perfect for a hot day in Madrid.

Trufa Cafe, Trufa Palet D’or, Trufa Manjari Truffles
All the truffles were great. The coffee was like having a shot of espresso.

Oriol Balaguer Madrid
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Ever since I had Oriol Balaguer’s amazing croissant in Barcelona, I could not wait to try it again in Madrid. Thanks to Google Maps it took us a long time to walk there! We got there around noon and since we had a lunch reservation at 1:30 pm we did not want to eat too many things. Service was cold but we could converse in English.
I just wish our hotel was closer to their shop so we could have tried some of their cakes. Oh well, you can’t have it all.
we had:

Croissant
This was as great as the first time. Perfect buttery croissant that was airy with a crunchy exterior.

Pain au Chocolat
This was one of the best pain au chocolats I have ever had. Perfect texture and taste. The chocolate could have been a little more dark, but that is my personal preference.

My husband tried their Pain aux raisins and really enjoyed it. It was nice and crisp and studded with plump raisins.

Restaurante lakasa
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It was a hot day in Madrid and after our stop at Oriol Balaguer we wondered in the area. We were near Sorolla Museum in a very quiet street. We were tempted to go in for a quick pick, but decided it might take a while to find a cab to take us to Lakasa. We waited a while and got lucky as the cab took us to the area near the restaurant. I noticed in Spain, the cabbies sometimes drop you off in the area that is close to your destination.
We were the only non Spanish diners. There was one very nice staff member that spoke English and took care of us. I guess they don’t get that many tourists, because at the end he came over and thanked us for dining there. How refreshing is that? One big advantage about this restaurant was the fact that you could order many of their dishes in half portion. That way you can try a few things. Even the half portions were generous.
we had:

Coca de trigueros y setas con jugo de leche
Green asparagus and mushroom tart with sheep’s milk juice
We started with this very delicious and spring-y dish. The grassy asparagus was the perfect partner for the earthy delicious morel mushrooms. The egg added richness to this wonderful dish. When was the last time you were served morel mushrooms in a restaurant that didn’t cost an arm and a leg? Spanish are lucky.

Garbanzos con carabinero Chickpea Stew with Red Shrimp
As soon as I saw my beloved red shrimp listed on this dish, I was sold. I love chickpeas and this was such a comfort dish. The shrimp was cooked beautifully.

Bacalao con crema de ajonegro con verduritas a la vainilla
Cod confit with black garlic sauce and vegetables scented with vanilla
This was an interesting dish. The cod was cooked medium rare and the vanilla and black garlic added sweetness to this dish. The veggies provided a little textural contrast to the dish.

Presa de cerdo ibérico puro de bellota con verduras encurtidas y Comté
Grilled Iberian pork, pickled veggies and Comté cheese
The best was saved for last. The only problem with that was we were kind of full, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying this wonderful dish. The Iberian pork and Comté was umami marriage made in heaven.

Fruta con yogurt
After all that food we needed something light and healthy. The juicy, sweet fruit and the tart yogurt was a perfect ending.

Rocambolesc Madrid
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Jordi Roca of the Three Michelin star restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca, was the creator of this ice cream and sorbet shop in Girona’s city center. In 2014 he opened a place inside El Corte Inglés Gourmet Experience in Madrid.
We had:

Coconut and Violet Sorbet with strawberry and baked apple
My husband had this and enjoyed it. It was like being on a tropical vacation and smelling the violet.

White Asparagus and Truffle Sorbet
The asparagus sorbet had a very intense grassy flavor and was topped with truffles and truffle juice and salt. An interesting savory treat, but I could have skipped the salt.

Cacao Sampaka
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We stopped at this wonderful chocolate shop/cafe twice and had no idea how close it was to our hotel. They opened at 10 am and that is standard for most chocolate shops but a little late for most tourists who are looking for breakfast before starting their day. In our first stop, we had our first proper breakfast in Madrid. The second time we picked up a box of chocolate, a chocolate tart and breakfast for the following day before heading out to the airport. Service was friendly, they spoke good English and they were helpful with making our chocolate selection.
We had:

Cappuccino
Look at this beautiful cappuccino. My husband was in heaven.

Chocolate Azteca Thick Hot Chocolate (80% cocoa and spices
)Thankfully I finally had an amazing dark hot chocolate. So rich and comforting, every sip was joyful. Mamá Framboise should take a note.

Cruasan Mixto Ham and Cheese Croissant
We love our ham and cheese croissant and this one did not disappoint. The croissant itself was not as perfect as the one from Oriol Balaguer, but it was a close second. The cold version the next day was as good as the fresh warm one.

Tarta de Chocolate Chocolate Tart
This was our last treat the night before we left and it had a deep chocolate taste. I could use one right about now!!

Chocolate
Their chocolate came in Fruit, Truffles, Innovations, Single Bean Origins, Dried Fruit and Nuts, Spices, Flowers and Herbs and Liqueur collections.
I really enjoyed the Wasabi, Peanuts and specially the Balsamic Vinegar. We also enjoyed Cassis, Coffee and Raspberry. From the single bean origins we liked the Venezuela.

StreetXO
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As soon as I knew we were going to Spain I tried for a reservation at DiverXO, David Muñoz’s three Michelin star restaurant in Madrid. Unfortunately even at more than three months ahead, they were all booked. Well, as much as I was disappointed, I knew they had a casual Asian street food style restaurant on the top floor of El Corte Ingles. The night before our lunch we had sorbet from Rocambolesc in the area called, gourmet experience in order to make sure StreetXO will be open the following day. They start their lunch service at 1:30 pm and since they don't take reservation, you have to line up and wait to be seated. You had a choice of a seating at the counter facing the open kitchen or you could have sat outside. Of Course we chose to seat inside in front of all the smoke, heat and action. At first you might get bothered by all the smoke, but you get used to it. You ordered at the counter directly from the kitchen staff and as soon as the food was ready, they placed it in front of you. The only complain I have was the pace of the food. It was too fast. They had plenty of interesting and original Asian fusion tapa dishes and it was hard to make a choice. Everything we had was packed with flavor and this was my husband’s favorite restaurant of the trip. The guy with the mohawk took care of us and spoke perfect English.
I just read that they will open a restaurant in London this summer and NYC next year.
We had:

“Singapore Laksa” with ring prawns cooked over Japanese robata grill coconut cream, shiitake mushrooms and pasta shells
As soon as I saw them grilling these beautiful prawns, I looked at the menu and had to order this dish. The prawns were cooked beautifully and the broth was amazing. The shiitake added earthiness to this dish.

Miso charcoal small cuttlefish Korean kimchi sauce and fried egg, extra crunchy Japanese mini sardines
My husband picked this dish and besides the prawns this was our other favorite. We could eat this dish everyday. The smoky cuttlefish combined with the rich egg and kimchi sent your taste buds to heaven.

“Chili crab” paprika, chipotle peppers, palo cortado sherry, mantou
I have heard so much about this dish and had to order it. It was a light dish. Sweet crab meat was sitting on mantou, a Chinese steamed bun and had a heat from chipotle and paprika and necessary richness from the eggs.

Grilled Iberian pork pancetta “Saam” marinated mussel condiment, pickled shiitake mushrooms, sriracha and tartar “XO” sauce
At this point I was full and probably didn’t enjoy this dish as much as I could have. I am not the biggest fan of pork belly, but since this was an Iberian belly it was very flavorful. The dish itself was good, but nothing original with the exception of the marinated mussel. I guess they wanted to cover umami from the land, the sea and the earth.

DSTAgE
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DSTAgE was the first restaurant reservation I made for our trip to Spain and it was our last meal in Madrid. It makes me sad thinking about it. I wish I could go back in time and experience it all over again. I guess we left the best for last. I love the fact that many restaurants in Spain served the same menu at lunch time as they did dinner time. I know in NYC some restaurants offer that but in LA it is all about dinner.
DSTAgE means “Days to Smell Taste Amaze Grow & Enjoy”. Chef Diego Guerrero left the two Michelin star restaurant, El Club Allard in 2013 to open up this restaurant last summer. In less than one year they earned their first Michelin star. The restaurant looked industrial with exposed brick and hardwood floor. I guess he wanted the emphasis to be on the food. Upon entering the restaurant a staff member checks your name on the list and invites you to seat at the bar area. You can have a drink and they serve you the first course . You are then taken to the open kitchen area where one of the chefs prepares your next course. After that, you are seated in the dining room. They have two tasting menus: DTASTE, with 10 creations, for 88 Euros, and DSTAgE, with 13 creations, for 118 Euros. We went for the shorter one and it was plenty of food. This must have been the most interactive restaurant experience we have ever had. A couple of the dishes with many steps were prepared in front of you. The servers/cooks were friendly and spoke English but at times we smiled when our waitress introduced every dish with, “I made this and that”. As I made an eye contact with Chef Diego Guerrero, he came over and I thanked him for the wonderful experience we had. He seemed very friendly and humble.
we had the following courses:

Sea Urchin & Citric Dashi
As soon as I saw this dish, I knew we were in for a treat. I love uni and this was not only visually stunning, but tasted great also. The only problem was you wanted more of it, much more.

King Prawn Ceviche
This was like having a personal chef preparing an amazing dish for you. Every time I wanted to snap a picture, he added more ingredients to the dish. He first mixed the king prawn on the top of a himalayan salt slab. He then placed it on a strip of banana leaf and added all kind of garnishes. You were instructed to hold it like a cigar and drop it in your mouth like an oyster.

Huitlacoche Mochi
Interesting fusion of Latin and Asian.

Quinoa Bread
When our waitress mentioned quinoa bread, I was like What? Of Course I wanted to try it. I have never had quinoa bread before and found it nutty and dense. Now I have to find a recipe and make my own. How creative of them to come up with that.

Tuna, Toffee & “Foiesabi”
This was a surf and turf dish. Tuna and foie gras plus toffee for sweetness and crunch. A nice dish.

Octopus roasted with “Tomatillo”
We love octopus and enjoyed this dish.

Tolosa Bean Ravioli with Cabbage Broth
This dish was amazing. Who knew beans could taste so heavenly. The cabbage broth almost tasted like dashi.

From Winter to Spring
As you can see there was a big production for this dish and was very interactive. Torching and mixing all kind of exotic ingredients from around the globe. It tasted sensational.

Red Mullet braised with Saffron Sauce and Crispy Scales
A nice light dish.

“The Butcher’s Cut”
This must have been the first beef dish we had in Spain because we all know how much Spanish love their pork. Not only the presentation was original and imaginative, the beef tasted out of this world.

Maji Leaf
After that heavenly beef this was a nice refreshing treat.

Popcorn with Strawberries and Sweet Egg Yolk
I liked the strawberries more than the popcorn and loved the presentation.

Purple Garlic
A meringue filled with black garlic cream was a nice ending to a wonderful lunch.

Jul 01, 2015
mrsjoujou in Spain/Portugal
1

Barcelona trip report

Thanks to a lot of research and help from this board we had great time eating in Barcelona.
Here is the run down of the places we tried.

Gresca
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This was our first lunch in Barcelona off the plane and jet lagged and the only restaurant that I actually had to call and make a reservation. Their lunch service started at 1:30 pm. We went to find the location around 12:30. We were starving and there was no bench or a little park around the restaurant to kill the time.
The staff was fine. A male server and a female one. I found the waiter more friendly. We were given an English menu with funny translations, like old beef for aged beef!! What I found odd was the staff were really pushing their €19 lunch menu and when I placed my order they were surprised that I didn't go for the menu.
We had the followings:

Cheese Crisp
Although tasty, this was the weakest amuse of the whole trip.
Fideus de Porc Amb Bolets

Pork Noodles with Mushrooms
I started with this unique pork noodle dish. The noodles were made out of pork. The broth was very comforting and the baby veggies nice and crunchy. I enjoyed the beautiful serving dish as much as the dish itself. Very unique and artistic.

Gazpacho with bacalao
My husband went for the lunch menu and picked this dish for his first course. He really enjoyed the gazpacho.

Arros de Gamba
Prawns with Bone Marrow Rice
This dish sounded interesting and at €28 a little pricy. I was expecting prawns served over marrow rice, but what I got was mostly rice with some chopped up shrimp pieces and two pieces of marrow. Although tasty, I found this dish to be the most expensive dish of the whole trip for what it was. Since I am not a big rice eater I gave half of the rice to my husband.

Lake Fish with Caramelized Onions and Spring Onions
This was my husband’s second course. To me it looked very basic, but it was prepared well.

Chocolate
Last course of the lunch menu. It was a good chocolate mousse, but nothing exciting.

At the end it was a good restaurant for our first day and one of the few that was open on a monday.

La Pastisseria
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Thanks to a recommendation from gastrocar a fellow chowhound, I was informed about this amazing pastry shop. Before leaving for spain, I checked out their website and was very interested in their beautiful creations and was hoping that they will taste as good as they looked. After our tour of the Casa Batlló, we took a short walk for our first sweet indulgence in Barcelona.
It was almost overwhelming to decide which one of their work of arts to choose from. My husband was going to go for the Tatin, but I convinced him to go for a more daring creation. The only negative about this place was that they served Nespresso, so my husband had one of their tea. Service was friendly and helpful.
We had the following:

A Rosa De Sant Jordi
70% Chocolate Mousse with Vanilla Sponge Cake, crispy wafers and Sacher cake
I choose this beauty. Was it a pastry or a Gaudi sculpture??!! I have never seen such an artistry before. Spanish are the masters!! It was a delicious pastry, but a tad sweet for me. It must be all the 85% chocolates I have been eating.

La Cirera
Cherry Mousse with cherry compote and creamy yogurt sitting on a base of crunchy almond cookie and milk chocolate
I picked this one for my husband and it was magnificent. Tart cherry compote made all the difference in the world and went very well with the creamy yogurt and the crunchy almond cookie. I will always remember this delicious treat.

Unfortunately we only got a chance to try this place once. We almost made it the following night, but we were a little too late. Oh well, too many sweets to try and so little time.

Disfrutar
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Oh, El Bulli, the restaurant in many people’s bucket list, mine included closed it’s door in 2011. Three of the core chefs, Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch and Mateu Casanas opened up this restaurant at the end of 2014. Some of the dishes they serve is inspired by their time at El Bulli. I was very excited to try this restaurant and the night before had a hard time falling a sleep due to jet lag, but I told myself, no matter how long you sleep, you will enjoy your meal at Disfrutar. Years ago due to anxiety and insomnia, I had to cancel our dinner at Alinea!! Six years later, I still kick myself for that foolish decision.
Anyways, That morning we had to run to Sagrada Família and on the way we each had an apple. So needless to say we were starving and I am glad, because there were plenty of amazing food waiting for us.
The decor was very modern and clean with plants accenting the space. When you first walk in you pass by the bar area and the open kitchen and finally get to the dining area. There is also a patio area.
There are two menus; ‘Disfrutar’ for 68 Euro and ‘Festival’ for 98 Euro. I am glad we went with the shorter version, because towards the end we were very full. You have to have a very big appetite to go for the Festival.
Service was professional, but at times we had a hard time understanding some of the staff’s English. What was odd was that a couple of times we heard the crash of glasses or dishes breaking, which was a shame considering the level of food they served.
At the end, this experience was very unique and we had lots of innovative, fun dishes for a bargain price of 68 Euro. You have to pay at least double the price in US, so I encourage anyone traveling to Barcelona to make your reservation as soon as possible. You won't regret it.
The rundown:
Passion Fruit and Rum Frappe with Roasted Coffee
This was beyond delicious and creative. A great start for a wonderful lunch.

The Beet that goes out of land
This were like beet meringues.

Tomato”polvorón” and Arbequina Caviaroli
Not only this dish was visually beautiful, but was very delicious. They were like nutty shortbreads dusted with an intense tomato powder and topped with olive oil pearls.

Transparent Pesto Ravioli
Another beautiful display. We were instructed to dip the ravioli containing, pine nuts, basil and parmesan for a few seconds into a parmesan dipping sauce. As you placed it in your mouth the ravioli dissolved and created an intense pesto flavor.

“Disfruta de la aceituna”
A signature dish at el Bulli, we were instructed to eat the green one first. It had a nice grassy taste. The darker one had a very intense, flavorful flavor.

Smoked Idiazabal Cheese Biscuit with Apple
This cheese tasted really unique and combined with apple was a pleasure to eat. Seconds please!! Look at the beautiful serving dish.

Our Cava a very refreshing choice and a bargain at only 20 Euro. Funny thing is due to language barriers, we thought that we were getting half a bottle and ended up with a full one. I hardly ever drink, but this was a very easy to drink. I am glad the meal lasted around three hours!!

Crispy Egg Yolk with Mushroom Gelatin
You ate the perfectly crispy egg yolk first and then moved on to the mushroom gelatin inside the shell. Egg and mushroom, how can you go wrong with that?

Seafood and Avocado Meringue Sandwich
This was a lovely light combination of seafood and avocado, another classic combo.

Salad of Parmesan “Tacos”, Tomato and Basil
How cute were this delicious flavorful tomato and fragrant basil tacos? You also had the flavorful parmesan and olive oil pearls.

Marinated Oily Fish with Cauliflower Tabbouleh and Mushrooms
This dish had umami from mushrooms, earthiness and crunch from cauliflower tabbouleh and a great acidity from the marinated oily fish.

Our Macaroni Carbonara
This macaroni was made out of gelatine. How clever is that? A very good dish.

Razor Clams in Fennel Meunière
This were amazing. The fennel provided a welcome anise flavor. I wanted more of this.

Red Mullet with Pork Jowls and Aubergine Gnocchi
By this point we were full and very happy to see the portion size. Aubergine gnocchi, Really? The level of creativity was amazing.

Iberian Pork Tenderloin “Pibil”
We were so full, but how can you say no to Iberian Pork? We wish we had more appetite, but we forced ourselves to savor every bite of this beautiful and delicious dish.

The Tangerine
God knows we needed this after all that food. Very refreshing.

Chocolate Peppers, Oil and Salt
This cute peppers were made out of chocolate and thankfully a manageable portion.

Coffee Profiterole
This was a great end to a great meal.
I am very sad looking back at the pictures. My brother often asks me where are my favorite restaurants? This is definitely one of them. An experience that I will always cherish. People of Barcelona are very lucky.

DelaCrem
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We stopped here and were very impressed with what they offered. The mojito was so delicious. It tasted like a perfectly balanced mojito. The coconut was like tasting a cloud of coconut. So light and airy with intense coconut flavor. My brother would have cried with joy, because he loves his coconut. We also had some other flavor that I can not remember but I know was pretty good.

El Quim De La Boqueria
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I have heard so much about this place and was really looking forward to finally have a hearty breakfast in Barcelona before heading out to Park Güell. The great thing about El Quim is you can have whatever you want from the menu no matter how early you get there. If you want to beat the crowds, you better get there before 10 am.
Service was efficient except that they forgot to fire up the mushroom dish I ordered and charged us for it. Good thing I looked at the receipt and point it out to them. It was a shame too, because the mushrooms looked great.
we had the following:

Cappuccino
Great frothy cappuccino.

Cortado
My cortado was very good also.

Huevos Chipirones Two Fried Eggs with Baby Squid
My husband really enjoyed this dish, which is their specialty. Very fresh baby squid with perfectly fried eggs.

Gambas Ajillo Prawns in Garlic with Cava reduction
Oh, did I love this beautiful and gently cooked shrimp. It had a nice flavor from garlic and little acidity from the cava.

Escribà and Chök the chocolate kitchen
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Pasteleria Escribà’s original location on Gran Via is a historic bakery that was established in 1902. We went to the La Rambla location in the Barri Gòtic area of Barcelona.

I had the very chocolaty and delicious tea called Choconoir and my husband had the Gracia blend green tea.
We also had:

Rambla Individual
I picked this combination of orange and chocolate cake. It was moist and flavorful and beautiful to look at.

Angie Individual
My husband picked this raspberry and chocolate cake and how can you go wrong with that combination? Well, you can go wrong if the cake is on a dry side.

Chök
I had read about this place and even though we just had pastries at Escribà, I was not about to come back to La Rambla so we stopped here to check the place out and to share a cronut.
Pistachio and Raspberry Cronut
It was good, but nothing earth shattering! The lady behind the counter was very friendly and cut the cronut in half for us. I guess I forgot to take a picture before hand!

Triticum by Moritz
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Spanish bread maker Xevi Ramon, the man behind Triticum provides bread for the some of the most acclaimed restaurants in Spain. He started making breads for restaurants and hotels. He came up with The Bread Away Collection in 2012, giving customers a chance to try his artisanal breads in Barcelona. Their bread goes through two days of fermentation. They then bake it in special ovens on a stone surface, resulting in a great crust. They even sell their breads in France, Germany, Japan, Italy. Let’s hope they make it to US.
We took a cab on a hot day to Triticum by Moritz before our dinner at Tickets. I Have to thank gastrocar once again for sharing his valuable information with me. As soon as we walked in, I was in a bread heaven. Everything looked so appealing and it was hard to make a decision. What was so great was some of their breads came in a small size, which was perfect for us. I just wish we had a bread shop like this in our area.
We had:

Pain au Chocolat
It was a pretty good one and only €1.20!!! God we overpay in US big time.

pa de Segol
Slightly bitter with crunchy exterior included buckwheat flour and rye. A lovely dense bread and my kind of bread. This bread came in a large size and the lovely girl behind the counter informed me that I can have a fourth of the bread. That was music to my ears!

Motlle Cereals
This was a dense, hearty bread with oats and perfect for breakfast.

Motlle energetic Nut, Apricot and Fig Bread
This was a great fruit and nut bread with a great crust.

Tickets Bar
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I anticipated our dinner at tickets in a big way. You have to reserve 60 days in advance and I even checked earlier to see how fast the reservations were being filled. Needless to say I was excited and knew that they would offer to pick dishes for you, but I wanted to pick my own. We got there a few minutes early and saw the staff meeting inside. Finally, a little after 6:30 pm the doors opened and we were seated. The decor was fun and unique. After All, this was a tapas bar not a fine dining establishment. The waiters were not that friendly, but the servers were all friendly. Their menu is divided into snacks, finger food, Tapas and sweets and more. It was fun to see some of the dishes being prepared tableside. We saw chef Albert Adrià, but as much as we were hoping there was no sign of chef Ferran Adrià. Oh well, you can dream, can’t you?!!
We had the following:

Arbol de Tickets Spring Tree with its Pistachio Acorn
This was very whimsical. We were instructed to use the scissors to cut the strawberry from the miniature tree. I believe the balls were made out of peas. This was clearly a showpiece.

Profiteroles Con Cre Blackcurrant Meringue with Raifort Cream
This was very delicate and had a nice blackcurrant flavor.

Olivas Gordal Adobad Tickets’ Olive~S
We had two sets of olives. The lighter one and a darker one. They were both great and very similar to the ones we had at Disfrutar.

Cornete de Atun Tuna in Nori Seaweed Cone
This dish was as fun to watch being prepared as eating it. Very clean flavors and high quality tuna.

Esparragos Vinagreta White Asparagus in Miso Pickled Sauce
The white asparagus were amazing, but the miso pickled sauce stole the show. You just wanted to lick the bowl. I think my husband almost did that!!

Salmon Soasado Wild Salmon Roasted with Piparra Jus
The salmon was prepared medium rare and even though I am not a salmon person unless it is cured or smoked, I enjoyed this dish especially the spicy sauce.

Chapata Cochinillo Crunchy Suckling with Mini Ciabatta
This was great. Crisp mini Ciabatta and luscious suckling pig. How can you go wrong with that? It had a lot of substance too.

Mar y Montana Baby Squids and Iberian Sausage In Surf Sand Turf
The best dish of the night and one of my favorite dishes of all times. Delicious and juicy Iberian sausage, expertly prepared squid and white beans. Oh My!! I could eat this everyday.

Spaghetti Setas King Oyster Mushroom in wok vegetable spaghetti
This was all about umami. A great comforting dish. Basically mushroom spaghetti. It might look simple, but it was not.

Ensalada fresas Strawberries Salad, with Modena Vinegar, Pepper, Olive Oil with Basil and Lime Ice Cream
This must be one of the best desserts we have had in a long time. Very refreshing and packed full of flavor. The preparation was entertaining to watch but it was no match for the final product. The most delicious strawberries, great tasting olive oil, black pepper and aged modena vinegar. Up to this point, I have prepared the same thing myself in the past. What made it over the top, was the very delicious lime basil ice cream. We will always remember this dish.

Milhojas Vertical Vertical Mille-feuille with Chocolate base, Noisette Butter Cream and Wild Strawberries
After the Mille-feuille from Jacques Genin in Paris, this must be our second favorite. Hazelnuts and wild strawberries? Yes please!!

Cafés El Magnífico
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I had heard great things about Cafés El Magnífico. So we walked to the Born area of Barcelona searching for this place. As we walked in we were informed that they were not open yet! What is up with Spain’s coffee shops and bakeries opening up so late? A lot of places opened up at 10 am. We looked through their menu and asked the barista to pick a bean low in acidity for us. Since we have never tried the AeroPress method before, we gave it try. It took the barista a while to make our coffee and surprise, surprise, it was served in a wine glass. I think she picked a Ethiopian beans for us. It was complex with a hint of tobacco.

Montiel Espai Gastronomic
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This was our last lunch in Barcelona and we almost didn’t make it thanks to the confusing streets surrounding the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar in the Born area. Even the locals had a hard time telling us where this street was located. Thankfully, at the last minute we found the restaurant. We walked in and told the waiter what had happened. He told us that the same thing has happened to people before and we were the only diners for lunch that day. Basically the staff of at least four people were there just to cook for us. Imagine if we did not find the place.
The restaurant was small and romantic. Our waiter was beyond friendly and very knowledgeable about food. You had a choice of two tasting menus. The food was a modern version of classic catalan dishes and was beautifully presented. They were the only restaurant that sent us a thank you email. A great customer service.
We had the following:

Amuse Bouche
Sardine
This was our first taste of fresh sardine in Spain and it was pretty good. Not fishy at all.
Foie Gras
A nice little foie bite topped with Iberian ham.
Rhubarb
This was nice and refreshing.

Ajo Blanco
I really enjoyed the modern version of the classic garlic soup. Very flavorful and beautifully presented. The sweet garlic went very well with the salty Iberian bacon and the nutty almonds.

Xatonada Modern Version of the traditional Catalan Salad
The cod was cooked perfectly and went very well with the romesco sauce. The orange sauce really brightened the dish. Lovely presentation.

Egg Cooked at low temperature with Sweetbreads and Pumpkin
This was a nice comfort dish. The sweetbreads were nice and crisp and went very well with the sweet pumpkin and the egg.

Smoked Eel from Delta del Ebro in a Rice
This was our first taste of eel and it didn’t disappoint. Our waiter informed us that the eel goes through a long cooking process to make it tender. I am not a rice person, but this must have been one of the best rice dishes I have ever had. I had to stop myself from filling up on this amazing rice.

Milk Fed Lamb Shoulder with Creamy Potato and Topinambour
I was full already, so I might have not appreciated this dish as much as I could have. The lamb was crisp and a little fatty and since I am not a big lamb lover, I preferred the very fresh and flavorful veggies. The creamy potato was lovely too.

Ratafia, Pistachios, Hazelnuts
This was a feast for the eyes and mouth! Dark chocolate, Hazelnuts , Pistachios and ratafia. Need I say more?!

Petit Fours
We were beyond full, but had to stuff ourselves to death!!

Oriol Balaguer
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Oriol Balaguer has had a number of awards throughout the years. His father was a pastry chef and from an early age he showed interest in pastry making. He worked for seven years in Ferran Adrià’s team. In 2003 he decided to create his own brand of chocolate. We stopped at his chocolate shop in the Born area of Barcelona and yes we wished we had a shop like this in the LA area.
We tried the Raspberry, Peanut and some other flavor that had no translation chocolates. They were all very good.

Best Artisan Butter Croissant in Spain 2014
Even though we picked this up in the afternoon and ate it later in the day, it deserved all the accolades. It was slightly sweet and had a great buttery taste and was crisp.

Pastisseria Bubó
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We walked into their shop in the Born area of Barcelona and were impressed with their selection but we had lunch plans and decided to stop by later. After our lunch at Montiel, there was no way we could have had more sweets.
I knew about their other location on the Passeig de Gràcia. What I didn’t know was how close it was to our hotel. Service was friendly and they spoke good English.
We had:
Xabina
This was awarded the world’s best chocolate cake in Lyon in 2005. It had four layers. An olive oil sponge cake, praline layer, cappuccino sponge soaked in Madagascar vanilla and chocolate mousse. It was a nice cake, but a tad sweet for me.

Namelaka vanilla
Not only this was visually stunning, it tasted great also. I am not a milk chocolate girl, but still enjoyed it. It had delicious praline financier, vanilla cream, chocolate mousse, raspberry and I think basil.

Jun 30, 2015
mrsjoujou in Spain/Portugal

Pitchoun Boulangerie (DTLA) ... new contender for best croissant in LA?

Thank you. It looks great and hopefully we will try it soon.

May 29, 2015
mrsjoujou in Los Angeles Area

Pitchoun Boulangerie (DTLA) ... new contender for best croissant in LA?

We went there on Sunday and got the pastry basket and was just OK. We got Croissant, Pain au Chocolat and Schneck Pistachio. The croissant was better than the other two, but lacked the flakiness and crispness that we prefer. The pain au chocolat was not good at all and the schneck didn't tasted like pistachio at all. We also tried their Millefeuille that was ok and finally their Chocolate Mousse cake that was pretty good. Their coffee was beyond bitter.
I prefer croissants from Gjusta and Maison Giraud. I recently had an amazing croissant from Oriol Balaguer in Barcelona, so I will have a hard time finding anything close to that.

May 29, 2015
mrsjoujou in Los Angeles Area

Hipsters on Hillhurst

Ever since we had their ice cream in Atlanta, I have been waiting for their LA location to open up. We went on Sunday and surprisingly they were busy already. We enjoyed the Lemon butter milk, lime cardamom and salted caramel as good as Bi-Rite. My husband enjoyed their LA flavor, (wheatgrass, pear, vinho verde).
Their single scoop was $5 and the trio, only $6.50.

Mar 25, 2015
mrsjoujou in Los Angeles Area

Barcelona and Madrid help

Thank you Juan Doe. I sent a request for sun lunch for lakasa. We will see what happens.
As far as Surtopia, I wish they had more info online.
Bacira, only has opening for fr.
I keep Sacha in mind.

Mar 23, 2015
mrsjoujou in Spain/Portugal

Barcelona and Madrid help

Thank you. I can't wait to try S-X.

Mar 23, 2015
mrsjoujou in Spain/Portugal

Barcelona and Madrid help

Thank you very much. I was hoping to hear from you. I am looking at all your suggestions right now. I am excited to try Street-Xo and it was already on the top of my list for Madrid.

Mar 18, 2015
mrsjoujou in Spain/Portugal

Barcelona and Madrid help

We will be in Barcelona and Madrid in May and I have done a lot of reading and research. I am interested in breakfast, lunch (creative and nice plating) and maybe a snack for night time. Also bakeries that have some healthier options, ice cream and chocolate shops. Unfortunately they are not many recent reports on this board and I appreciate any help I can get.

Barcelona
I considered the following:
Coure, Pinotxo Bar, Bodega 1900, Embat, Restaurant Angle, Moments, Bar Velodromo, Roca Moo, Igueldo, Quimet & Quimet, Pubilla, Paco Merlago, Mesón Bidea Berri, Cal pep, Rias de Galicia, Bohèmic, Arola, Vallès, Gresca, Llamber, Cerveseria Catalana, Lluerna.

What I have so far:
Mon) Our arrival day. Unfortunately not a lot of places serve lunch on mon and was thinking either Hisop or Alkimia even though the latter gets some mixed review as far as the service goes. Any other ideas?
Tue) I have reservation at Disfrutar for lunch.
Wed) I have reservation for early dinner at Tickets. I was thinking of going to El Quim for big breakfast to hold us over until dinner and give us enough energy for Park Güell.
Thu) Our last day and hoping to get a reservation (28 days in advance) for lunch at Cinc Sentits. Any better choices?
For healthy options I have:
Flax & Kale and The juice House.
For Sweets I have:
Oriol Balaguer, Bubo, Escriba, Cacao Sampaka, Enric Rovira, Hofmann, Barcelona Reykjavik, Bread Forn and Tomo II for ice cream.
For Coffee:
Nomad Coffee Shop & Lab and Satan’s Coffee Corner

Madrid
We are staying at Urso hotel. Any healthy breakfast ideas?

I considered the following:
RAMON FREIXA MADRID (looked OK), O Pazo, Federal Café, La Casa del Abuelo, La Castela, Restaurant La Terraza Del Casino, El Club Allard, Álbora, viridiana. There is so many choices and I need help for Madrid. Looking for more creative than classic.

What I have so far:
Fri) Our arrival day.
Sat) Maybe Lúa for Sat lunch.
Sun)
Mon) Maybe Restaurant La Terraza Del Casino for their lunch menu. Has anyone tried it and is it worth it?
Tue) Our last day and I have lunch reservation for DSTAgE.
Sweets:
Cacao Sampaka and Fonty.
Tea:
Tekoe
As you can see I don't have much for Madrid and I have an extra day.
Thank you for reading and I appreciate any help I can get.

Mar 17, 2015
mrsjoujou in Spain/Portugal

Breaking Borders: Anyone catch it?

I really enjoyed it. Great concept and the food looked wonderful. They claimed he made all the dishes by himself!! That was a lot of food. I wish he would serve some of the dishes in his restaurant.

Mar 17, 2015
mrsjoujou in Food Media & News

Anybody tried Aestus in Santa Monica yet?

I considered going there for brunch too, but since their menu was not up yet, I decided to wait. What was on their brunch menu?

Mar 09, 2015
mrsjoujou in Los Angeles Area

ST Pâtisserie Chocolat in Costa Mesa

From what we have tried I liked mille feuille the best and anything that involves chocolate. I just wish their prices were not so high. You can get more reasonable prices in NYC and Paris for comparable or better quality.

Mar 08, 2015
mrsjoujou in Los Angeles Area

ST Pâtisserie Chocolat in Costa Mesa

You are lucky. Every time we go there, they don't have the mille feuille.

Mar 07, 2015
mrsjoujou in Los Angeles Area

Best Healthy eating options in LA area

We recently had dinner at Girasol Restaurant and ordered bunch of healthy, delicious dishes. Specially liked the octopus dish and the Persimmon with Pomegranate dish.
You can read my review and see the pictures at:
http://travel4foodnart.wordpress.com/...

Jan 08, 2015
mrsjoujou in Los Angeles Area

NY'r visting LA...rec's please

They serve tacos at lunch time.

Jan 05, 2015
mrsjoujou in Los Angeles Area

ST Pâtisserie Chocolat in Costa Mesa

ST Pâtisserie Chocolat is a Pastry School and shop by master pastry Chef Stephane Treand. We finally have a little bit of Paris at SOCO in Costa Mesa. I had no idea this place was opening at SOCO. After our brunch at Pueblo I noticed this place and naturally we had to check it out. I asked the French lady behind the counter who turned out to be the daughter of the pastry chef, how long they have been opened? She said the day we visited them was their first day. Thank God I didn’t miss out on a French Pâtisserie!! I was very excited to see the display case, but I have seen pretty cases before without much substance. We decided to start with one item. Their prices were a little high. Each piece was around $6-$7 but the quality justified the prices.
You can see the pictures and read the review at:
http://travel4foodnart.wordpress.com/...

Dec 11, 2014
mrsjoujou in Los Angeles Area

Light Brunch at necco Japanese Tapas Restaurant: A Pictorial Essay

We had lunch there yesterday and the experience was a mix. We went there hoping to order the items that was listed on their online menu, but I guess those items are only served at dinner time. Of course there is no mention of that on their website.
We chose the fish plate and the veggie plate. The veggie fair much better. It was eggplant and carrots and it was pretty good. The fish was fried red snapper and was really overcooked. Which is a surprise at a Japanese restaurant. We didn't feel like sending it back, but we should have. The side Veggies were all good, but nothing too exciting.

Dec 07, 2014
mrsjoujou in Los Angeles Area

Declining quality at Costco?

I am well aware of the drought situation. I always find high quality produce at the SM farmer's market. I just got back from Trader Joe's and bought bunch of high quality produce including Bell Peppers. What I mentioned about berries being moldy is nothing new and has nothing to do with the drought.

Nov 25, 2014
mrsjoujou in Chains
1

Declining quality at Costco?

Yesterday at my Costco In OC, most of the berries looked either past their prime or were moldy. What is the point of huge inventory of moldy stuff? Even the pineapples didn't look as fresh as usual. I was looking for peppers to make stuffed peppers and they only had the ones from Mexico. Last time I purchased it, they were from Canada and they were greenhouse grown.
Come on Costco, we live in CA and deserve much better than this.

Nov 25, 2014
mrsjoujou in Chains

Truffle Dinner at Taco Maria

They don't have desserts.

Nov 24, 2014
mrsjoujou in Los Angeles Area

The Best Bazaar Food: MUNCHIES Guide to Tehran, Part 1

Thank you. I liked part 2 the best. That tea house looked great.

Nov 19, 2014
mrsjoujou in Food Media & News
1

Tony does Jamaaaaaca

Great show. Specially the final commentary. I will miss Tony until the next season.

Nov 18, 2014
mrsjoujou in Food Media & News

The Best Bazaar Food: MUNCHIES Guide to Tehran, Part 1

Thank you. It was very interesting.

Nov 17, 2014
mrsjoujou in Food Media & News

Gjusta great place for your Croissant fix

We checked the new Gjusta bakery/market last Sat and it did not disappoint. The location is kind of odd. It is near the homeless alley and parking could be challenging. There is no sign and the place is very airy and bright. We got there around 10:30 AM and they were already out of Pain au Chocolat and Ham & Cheese Croissant. We picked up the very Flaky and buttery Baklava Croissant and a Danish. The Croissant was on the small side, but very good and unusual. How come no one else thought about making a baklava croissant? The Danish was very buttery and my husband, the Danish lover, really enjoyed it. We also got their liqueur Chocolate Pudding and at $6 it was a small size, but very good.
We will give this place a try in a month. By then they will be more organized and hopefully make enough croissants.

Nov 05, 2014
mrsjoujou in Los Angeles Area

Tony's Excellent Iran Adventure

I was really looking forward to seeing this episode and it didn't disappoint. Some of the food looked really good like the Kabobs and the sour cherry rice with tiny meatballs. What you called "Burnt rice" is actually crisp rice and is called tahdig. A lot of different cultures have a version of that. It is always fun to learn about different cultures rather than being judgmental about it. Persian people as Tony mentioned are famous for their hospitality. He said they never felt so welcomed including when they traveled to Western Europe.

Nov 03, 2014
mrsjoujou in Food Media & News
1

CA hound needs your help

We are coming down in a couple of weeks for a family wedding. We are staying at the Four Seasons and looking for creative, visually appealing and delicious food. We won't have a car and need a place that is within 10 minutes cab ride or near MARTA.

I have looked at St. Cecilia, The Optimist, BoccaLupo, Restaurant Eugene, Empire State South, Better half, Saltyard, Miller Union Woodfire Grill, Serpas, King + Duke.

I need your help with the following:

Dinner the first night, I have a reservation for St. Cecilia. Is that a good choice?
Early dinner Sun night before flying back?
Breakfast on Fri? Is there any French bakery near the hotel?
Lunch on Fri, I was thinking maybe The Optimist.
Brunch/lunch Sat and Sun?
French bakery and ice cream, I have Jeni's on the list

I appreciate your help and looking forward to visiting your city.

Sep 25, 2014
mrsjoujou in Atlanta

Saint Martha

Great review. I think we will wait a while before we try it.

Sep 19, 2014
mrsjoujou in Los Angeles Area

Great Porchetta Sandwich at Wheat and Sons (Anaheim Packing District)

I am glad you enjoyed it. We had the Suckling Pig Cubano last time and although it was good, we prefer the Porchetta.

Aug 11, 2014
mrsjoujou in Los Angeles Area