The second place was an awesome gelato shop called Grom, just down the road from our apartment. It was really fresh, full of flavour and decently priced. So, we went there every night! My favourite flavours were surprisingly Coffee, and the Dark Chocolate gelato, and my boyfriend loved the Nougat.
Thirdly, is my favourite restaurant from the entire trip. This place was recommended to us by our host, and we were so glad we visited (twice)! Osteria Il Gatto e la Volpe (The Cat and the Fox), was soooooooo good. Soooooooo good. I will happily keep repeating that it was sooooooo good. The reviews on TripAdvisor were also amazing, so it was a no-brainer for us! The menu was really big, which is usually not a good thing, but not this time. Everything that we had over the two nights was downright delicious, and we couldn’t fault anything. They serve warm bread before your meal comes, which is definitely homemade in their pizza oven – it was really yummy. They also make their own balsamic vinegar – the best I have ever tasted! It was really thick and had quite a grape-y flavour, and I would have happily drank the whole bottle! You can actually buy big wine bottles of the vinegar – if only we had the suitcase space! My boyfriend had a pizza both nights which he absolutely loved and thought it was the best he had in Italy, and that’s saying something, as he had a looooooot of pizzas! The first night I had a vegetable risotto, and it was great. Nothing pretentious, just freshly cooked with a simple tomato sauce and creamy rice. The second night was definitely the highlight for me – I had a ravioli filled with a super light mashed potato with herbs, in a bolognese sauce. I know it might not sound like much, but it was amazingly delicious. I still think about that dish, and yes, I did dream about it that night! I can’t wait to return to the Cat and the Fox, and I absolutely recommend it if you are ever in Florence!
The next place we really loved in Barcelona was a restaurant called Koxkera. Weird name, but amazing food. This was definitely our treat in Barcelona, it was not cheap but it was definitely worth it. I was on a mission to find a great paella, as you do in Spain. Although, I had read that many places will just heat up frozen versions, which is disgraceful considering it is their national dish! I guess that stuff happens everywhere though, as we did have couple of horrible pizzas and risottos in Italy. So, I did my research and tried to find the best places in Barcelona that make fresh seafood paella. We certainly found this at Koxkera – it was full of flavour, but the saffron was not overpowering, the calamari was so fresh and perfectly cooked – not rubbery or stringy at all, and the prawns were delicious. I can’t explain how great it was!! We had two prawn starters, one being fresh unpeeled king prawns with lemon and aioli, and together with some traditional Spanish tomato bread, I was in heaven. I know it’s a little weird, but I love peeling prawns. I find it very therapeutic! I couldn’t do them all day, but just a few. Our second prawn dish came out in a sizzling claypot full of garlic and small, extremely hot Spanish chillies. They were like little prawn poppers, and I could have eaten them all myself! I really can’t wait to get back to Barcelona and try some more of the food! We had great sample of amazing Spanish seafood and I think I may have to try and find something similar in Melbourne! Let’s hope I can 🙂
A few other bits and pieces:
There are a couple more little bits I want to add into this post, as they were simply too good not to share! The last 10 days of our trip were spent back in London, which is now easily one of my favourite cities in the world. We went to a fantastic little Japanese place in the West End area called Tsunami, and it was fantastic. I am by no means a big fan of Japanese food but this restaurant may have slightly changed that! We had a range of things, and shared them all between the four of us. I really like the idea of sharing food, and it seems to have become quite the phenomenon in today’s society. I like trying little bits of everything and tasting new foods I probably would never order myself. At Tsunami we had kataifi prawns – king prawns wrapped in string like pastry and fried – what’s not to love? We also had tempura prawns, sliced hoi sin pork belly, dynamite chilli beef, soft shell crab sushi rolls and miso marinated black cod. The highlights for me were the tempura prawns, the dynamite beef which wasn’t too spicy considering its name, but it just had that nice bit of heat (I sound so wanky!!), and the black cod. This piece of fish (bottom right below) was easily one of the best things I have had on this trip, second to the ravioli in Florence. It was deliciously flaky and so creamy, and the miso which it was marinated in gave it the most amazing caramel flavour and sticky edges. I’m not sure how else I can explain it, but it was really to die for. I would highly recommend.
On our way back to Australia, we had a little stopover in Singapore. Our hotel happened to have the amazing Carousel restaurant inside, which has won a bunch of awards for its buffet dinner. So, of course, we had to go. It was definitely the best buffet I have ever been to. The seafood section alone would have been enough, but they had everything. There were two dessert tables with great little layered shooters and cakes with chocolate airbrushing. They were all amazing (including the 3 chocolate fountains). We were lucky enough to have breakfast there, too, which also unsurprisingly fantastic.
Well, that ends my foodie experiences from our amazing trip to Europe! I can’t believe how quickly it has gone, and I would do anything to go back. I hope you have enjoyed reading about my travels, and I hope I haven’t bored you too much with the descriptions of all our meals! Now back to reality, and back to BAKING! Yay 🙂
Ahhh…it´s been a while! I apologise for my severe lack of posting while abroad, I really didn´t fancy writing a post and adding photos on my tiny iPhone with shaky wi-fi, so I figured it would be best until I got to a proper, civilised computer! In addition to that, there hasn´t really been a whole lot to post about anyway, as we have been in the UK most of the time so far, and whilst the food is great, it´s fairly westernised and not really that different to Australia, well, from what we experienced anyway. However, there were two places we went in London that were fairly touristy but still quite amazing 🙂
I´m sure that most people who have been to London have experienced the epic craziness that is Harrods. Wow. That place is insane. The only things I wanted to see were the Toy Kingdom (I had an amazing time when I was 8 years old and was feeling nostalgic) and of course, the heavenly food hall! It was insaaaaaane. There were so many people there that you could hardly catch a glimpse of the cupcakes, let alone to buy one, which would require a hefty bank loan anyway! Obviously the patisserie and the bakery were my favourite sections to look at, but they also had other areas such as a butcher, a fishmarket, a salami/cold meats sections and soups, sandwiches and salads, etc. Everything looked delicious. I settled on a brie and caramelised onion panini, and an amazing brownie – a bit boring I know but most brownies have walnuts in them, which I am allergic to, so it was a rare and beautiful moment!
The other amazing foodie experience in London was the awesome Borough Market. It´s not huge, but is very well known amongst the locals, and many top restaurants come to the Borough Market to pick up their fresh ingredients. The range on offer at the market was huge, and consisted of items such as cheeses, salami, truffles, seafood, pastries, artisan chocolate, goat´s milk ice cream, spanish paella, fresh fruit and veg, meats, juices, preserves, baklava, BBQs, Jamaican soul food, coffee, and my favourite, fresh pasta! I had, obviously, some pasta, which was the most delicious pumpkin tortellini with olive oil and pecorino. I would have taken more with me if I could have. I also had a fresh juice with pear and mint, and my boyfriend had a fresh falafel and the most amazing, and the biggest apple strudel I have ever seen – and I forgot to take a photo of it! We will definitely be returning to the Borough Market when we head back to London in November.
Another place I loved was M&M World! It´s a bit of a novelty, but the place is crazy – 3 stories full of M&M everything – clothes, PJs, homewares, souvenirs, and of course, every M&M colour you could ever dream of! I loved M&M World, so much I went twice and bought PJs! Wish they had one in Melbourne 😦
We begin again…!
These photos above are from a cooking class I did in Hoi An. We went to the Hoi An fresh food market in the morning, and collected all the ingredients for the dishes we would make. The market was a crazy place, so many people, and so much food. It was great to see all of the Vietnamese exotic fruits, vegies and herbs all together in one place, and to learn about them all and where abouts they come from. The fish market was amazing, there was even a hammerhead shark just lying on the table for sale! You really knew that the seafood was fresh because the whole area didn’t smell fishy at all.
After the market, we went back to the instructor’s home to cook. There were three of us in the class, and we each chose a dish from an extensive list of Vietnamese cuisine. This class was definitely one of the highlights of the trip, and I thoroughly recommend Van from Green Bamboo Cooking School if you’re ever in Hoi An (check it out on Trip Advisor). I chose prawn and pork fried spring rolls, as spring rolls are my absolute weakness, and I wanted to learn how to make them properly. The other dishes that were chosen were a coconut chicken curry and chicken, lemongrass and shallot rissoles. We also cooked some fresh squid, and seared some fresh tuna from the market.
I was really happy with how my spring rolls turned out. They were really crispy, and went perfectly with the dipping sauce we made. The sauce was really simple, just lemon juice, a heap of garlic, and a touch of chilli. However, you can add as much or as little garlic and chilli as you like, and you can also use lime juice, which I actually liked a bit better than the lemon juice. When I make the spring rolls myself though, I think I would actually leave out the pork and the prawn. Whilst they were beautiful, I think the prawns especially got a bit lost in the pork and the vegies. The prawns were amazing, so fresh you could actually see right through them, and as I was peeling them they were still flopping around which really freaked me out!! Unfortunately, I don’t think the spring rolls showcased the prawns enough.
The coconut chicken curry was sooo good! We actually used the coconut water from the market which made the flavour really prominent. Yum! I seared the tuna in the above picture, and it was really, really good. I had never tried fresh tuna before, and safe to say I won’t be going back to the canned variety! We used the salt, pepper and lemon juice mixture that I mentioned earlier, and it went perfectly with the seared tuna. Can’t wait to try that one again!
Last but not least, I have to showcase the best cocktail I had in Vietnam – espresso martini (Vietnamese style). I am by no means a coffee drinker, but this cocktail was to die for! There is something a bit different about Vietnamese coffee, I think it is a bit sweeter, and nowhere near as bitter as some of the coffee you get in Australia. And only $4! Mmm 🙂
After nearly a week being home, I have finally managed to start this post. Hopeless! I told you my time management skills were non-existant. For the past three weeks, my boyfriend and I have been travelling around Vietnam. It was a wonderful experience, and it is an amazing country with some wonderful, and not so wonderful food. So, I wanted to showcase some of the wonderful food we experienced. I won’t bore you with detailed descriptions of everything, so just hover over the photo for a quick explanation!
These photos above were all from a night foodie tour we did with XO Tours (check them out on Trip Advisor if you’re heading to Saigon). This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. We were taken on the back of a motorbike in a crazy city with next to no road rules, with young Vietnamese women as our tour guides. They took us to three spots across the city, and each had fantastic food – some of the best seafood I have ever had. The bottom photo here is coconut jelly, which was actually set in the coconut itself, then scooped out of the coconut with a layer of fruit at the bottom. Yum!
Something I will be definitely using from my experiences in Vietnam is the simple seasoning of seafood with salt, pepper and lemon juice. So simple, but so, so good. I had it on chicken, too, and you can see it above next to the tiger prawns. In Nha Trang (a beach town on the southern coast of Vietnam) where these photos were taken, most restaurants have a seafood stand out the front, where customers can choose what they would like cooked. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find our favourite, crab, anywhere in Nha Trang. Although, there were ladies across the road from the beach boiling fresh lobster to order. Yumm!
We had some of the most amazing Indian food in Vietnam. I am a sucker for a good butter chicken and garlic naan, and from one end of the country to the other, it was spectacular! You can see below that for 100,000 VND ($5AUD, $6US) we got a full meal with rice and a beer! You can’t get much better than that! I have set a challenge for myself to try and recreate one of these butter chickens, marinating the chicken overnight and making naan as well!
FYI – I am doing this post in 2 parts as it is not letting me put everything into one.