I've just returned from an amazing vacation abroad with my friend Laurel. In spite of her breaking her ankle on our first night in Barcelona, we had a great time, and I have enough photos to share that I am going to split them up into a few posts. First, and perhaps most importantly, let's discuss food. We had excellent meals all over Spain, France, and in London, with really only one meal that was unremarkable (but not bad) in the entire two week trip.
Our first stop in Barcelona was Bubo, where we sampled some of their delicious (and gorgeous!) pastries.
That night we ate at La Bodegueta, a very traditional bar which had the best patatas bravas I'd ever eaten. This picture is of their huevos estrellados (soft cooked eggs over potatoes, in this case served with jamon), which were also incredible.
Maybe my favorite meal in Barcelona was a dinner at Inopia, where Kim Cattrall was seated behind us. We had a great selection of dishes, finished with these gorgeous Aragonian cherries misted in anise liqueur, and mel i mato (soft cheese served with honey), along with a glass of Cava rosada. Perfection!
On my last day in Barcelona, I discovered a hidden gem of a Xurreria right around the corner from our apartment that had amazing churros and porras (a different kind of donut) along with fantastic chocolate. I wish I could start every day this way!
At the Hotel Aire de Bardenas outside of Tuleda (more about the hotel later!), we ate a wonderful dinner using vegetables from the garden right outside our window. I didn't get to take very many pictures, but this one is of a artichoke and goat cheese salad with seared lamb.
In the heart of the Spanish Basque region, we visited the cheese museum in Idiazabal to taste cheeses. The one to the left was my favorite but I can't remember which farm it was from. For export purposes, all these cheeses would be marked "Idiazabal," but we were impressed by the differences from cheese to cheese. I wish we had had time to do some tasting on the French side of the border, as Ossau-Iraty cheeses are my very favorite, but perhaps that will have to be another trip.
This is an unfortunately blurry photo of an order of Solomio a la Pobre at El Astelena in San Sebastian. We ate way too much at this one pinxtos bar to go to very many more places, but we did stop at La Cepa for the best jamon I've ever tasted and a glass of cider.
In Bordeaux, we had an amazing, molecular gastronomy tasting menu at Septieme Péché completely by chance (the restaurant we were trying to go to was closed, and we happened to wander into this one). I neglected to jot down the details of this dish, but it involved a gelee, a foam, two reductions, and a powder.
In Paris we were sad to find a number of restaurants we wanted to visit closed (we were there at the beginning of the week), but were very happy with the ones we ended up at. This was a wonderful leg of lamb with grilled Espalette peppers and mashed potatoes from J'Go.
And here is a gorgeous roasted carrot tart and assorted salads from Rose Bakery.
As well as a chevre, apricot chutney, and pine nut crepe from West Country Girl.
And last but not least, in its second appearance on this blog, the Croque Poilane from Le Nemrod.
In London we were able to go to some of my favorite culinary destinations. We had lunch at the Bluebird Cafe in Chelsea, where the only course I photographed was this lovely garden salad.
We had two outstanding dinners at Moro (this is a the fava bean and cucumber soup with black cumin, dill, and yogurt)
and at the always amazing River Cafe (here are the ravioli with buffalo ricotta, zucchini and marjoram, and some perfectly sliced prosciutto with Charentais melon, and my favorite lemon tart with creme fraiche).
We also hit up the East End one day for some salt beef beigels in Brick Lane. Unbeatable!