Xiringuito Escriba, Barcelona

A weekend in Catalunya for my bachelorette party, whoo-hoo! We spent the first day/night in Barcelona, hanging out by the beach and relaxing, then having a big night of tapas and Barcelona bars!

But first, around midday, we headed to lunch along the beach, at Xiringuito Escriba, which is supposed to have some of the best paella… and we were not disappointed!

We started with some creamy croquettas and salad… if you ask me, the croquettas were slightly over fried, ie, they left them in the fryer just a few seconds too long so that they were over-crisped and slightly tasted burnt… but the insides were quite good, a nice, creamy bechamel with bits of ham… but because of the outside, they were slightly off.

The salad was quite good… a nice mix of veggies… and since there were five of us, we ordered a second one to share as well.

But let’s get on to the more interesting dishes… the steamed clams in white wine and garlic were light and delicious, the natural briny-ness of the clam juice mixing with the olive oil, garlic and wine, creating a sauce that you wanted to drink from the bowl…

And the paellas, oh, the paellas..

We went for the Escriba especial fish paella, served with all sorts of seafood, including mussels and clams, langoustines, prawns, and cuttlefish. The rice was perfect, nicely marinated in the sauce but perfectly crunchy. You see those wooden spoons? They’re meant to help you scrape the rice off the bottom of the pan, where it’s sticking, and you get to enjoy the crunchy texture of the rice, still hard on the inside but nicely cooked on the outside.

With this, we had the surf n’ turf fideo paella, which is made with vermicelli noodles instead of rice… and which I actually prefer, even though it doesn’t crisp up like the rice does and give you a crunchy texture.

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Yooji’s, Zurich

The next day, I get a bit more time for lunch… and found a sushi place on the way to my last meeting. As I sat down inside and looked at the menu, I realised that I had been to Yooji’s before!

Today I decided to get everything from the conveyor belt… my seared tuna tataki…

My delicious tea, a lemongrass tisane… cute tea pots, no?

The spicy prawn spring roll (packed with prawn, grapefruit, and and lettuce… a fresh and light taste!)

And the tuna tartare sushi, which I liked as it was more tuna than rice (for once!) and the sesame seeds gave it a nice crunchy texture…

This branch of Yooji’s, which was in the Old Town of Zurich, had less variety than the one I’d been to in the Gewerbeschule district… but it still hit the spot! This is becoming a favourite for a quick, sit-down lunch in Zurich!

Pulcino, Zurich

A work trip to Zurich overnight, I had a hectic first day and had to grab lunch at the train station as I was boarding a train… and this is what I found… weiner stuffed into a baguette with mustard and ketchup… eh. It did the job, and the sausage wasn’t bad!

Then, at the end of the day, as the weather was really touch and go (and still pretty chilly!), I decided to head to a restaurant locally, in the Old Town where I was staying.

I found Pulcino, an Italian place, that had a good menu and was PACKED at 7pm on a Monday… so I decided it would be a good option! I started with a market salad, which was perfect… it wasn’t of the Swiss variety that I love so much, with all sorts of bits and pieces on top of greens with a creamy dressing, but it was a nice mix of ingredients, and contrary to the picture, did not have too much dressing.

Then, I kind went crazy. One of the options on the specials menu was casarecce pasta with chicken, mushrooms, and grape tomatoes in a light cream sauce. Usually, the idea of chicken and pasta to me is really weird… I’ve always thought of it as a US dish, and the kind that you find in Cheesecake Factory-type places… but for whatever reason, it was what I was craving tonight…

And it really hit the spot. As it wasn’t a huge serving, the cream and cheese didn’t overwhelm… and actually, the chicken and mushrooms went really nicely with the al dente pasta. I may be a chicken and pasta convert!

Nom Nom, W Hotel, Montreal

A trip to Canada for work and I get into Montreal pretty late the Sunday night. Luckily, I arrived just before the hotel restaurant closed… I rushed to the bar and ordered just before last call.

Nom Nom just recently opened in the W Hotel and has a cool vibe… and a pan-Asian menu, with little twists.

I started off with the onion soup dumplings, which were dumplings served in a broth (an onion soup, duh). I was expecting actual soup dumplings, with broth within the dumplings, but given the cold outside, a little soup was nice! The dumplings themselves were stuffed with something… turned out it was Brie cheese, which I didn’t realise, but it was actually quite nice, not too overpowering, just nice and gooey.

And then went for the tartare of the day, which came with grapefruit, green tea, and coconut milk. Today, it was sea bass. And sooooo good. This was quite a cool interpretation on a tartare, I loved the dusty, matte taste of the matcha against the citrusy grapefruit, the coconut milk tied it all together (I mean, who doesn’t love coconut milk?!) and the fish was neutral enough to take all of those flavours.

As it was late, this is all I ordered, as I didn’t want to go to bed on a full stomach, but I can’t wait until my next trip to Montreal, to try some of the other dishes on the menu!

American Airlines Business food… they’ve still got it!

On my last trip to the US, I flew American Airlines instead of my regular British Airways… and was pleasantly surprised by the food… going to NY, I had a full meal, starting with some appetisers… a red chicory salad with blue cheese, walnuts, and a balsamic vinaigrette, simple but nice, as the cheese and walnuts were well distributed..

This was served next to marinated “heritage” carrots, hummus, dried fruit and some curry oil. Also simple but good… nothing too heavy and you felt like you were getting a healthy dish in!

Then, I went for the king prawns and chorizo, served with saffron basmati rice and asparagus tips… It wasn’t the prettiest thing in the world when it arrived, but same thing, it has good, fresh flavours (the chorizo was a nice complement but didn’t overpower the prawns in the spicy tomato sauce). The asparagus was soggy, but then, veggies tend to be soggy on planes, I’m not sure if there’s a way to work against this!

For dessert, cheese… nothing much to say about this, though the goat cheese was a nice touch! Overall, a solid meal!

Coming home, I got a single dish as I wanted to get some sleep on the flight – I went for the buffalo chicken, served with a corn bread and coleslaw. The chicken was…. okay. The chicken itself was nice and moist, but the fritture was soggy, so I took it all off… you were supposed to mix the spicy sauce and blue cheese on the side to create the buffalo chicken.. and it was really just okay at best. The coleslaw had been sitting under the soggy fried chicken, so was also kind of limp… not great.

But in the morning, when I arrived at Heathrow and headed to the arrivals lounge, I was in for a treat!

The menu of breakfasts that they will make for you is quite diverse, I went for the tartine with smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers and red onion… just like a NY bagel.. and it came with some avocado on the side! Brilliant!

So, overall, the service surrounding the AA Business Class trip was quite good, and I’ll definitely take them again versus British Airways (actually, I’m not sure I have a preference between the two, but it’s nice to switch it up sometimes!)

La Fruitiere, Val d’Isere, France

We came here last year as well, but this year, we sat indoors at La Fruitiere, as the weather was cold and snowy… But I’m glad we did, because the decoration indoors is very charming, old French country style, very light and airy!

The barrels under the charming bar correspond with table numbers and keep your goggles, gloves, helmets and other gear while you eat…

And up in the corner, you can see the large, round barrels of local cheese that they store… along with the Genepi and other local herbed digestifs that they serve after lunch, sitting on the bar.

So what did we get? I went for the special of the day, the sepia tagliatelle with seared scallops and prawns. It was served with a jar of fishy sauce, which you could pour all over the pasta… yum.

Here is our very healthy salad that made up for the pasta and burger… it was quite large, with fresh tomatoes and a lot of lettuce… exactly what we needed, as it’s so hard to find greens in the mountains!

But doesn’t Andre’s burger look great? Gooey, melty cheese, and it was perfectly medium rare inside…

Then, obviously, dessert. We got the almond and blueberry tarte. What I love about blueberries in France is how small they are… much smaller than their English and American counterparts… and they’re always bursting with flavour!

So out we waddled, clutching our stomachs, and watched some of the cabaret that had started outside (look up La Folie Douce if you don’t know what I’m referring to)… a little dancing in our ski boots, and we were off again, down the mountain.

Artic Cafe, Val d’Isere, France

A three day weekend and we’re off to ski, this time in Val d’Isere! As luck would have it, someone picked up my suitcase at the airport, so I was without clothes the first day and didn’t get to ski… but the weather was pretty crappy, so it doesn’t sound like I missed much!

Andre decided to brave the elements anyway, but met me down in town for a quick lunch at the Artic Cafe. This is a new joint that has sprung up since last year, a mix of cafe and healthy food (think avocado toast and smoothies). They have two locations, one right next to the slopes and one on the main street in town.

We each went for the protein punch bowls, which were basically a big salad overfilled with protein!

In terms of protein, you had quinoa, pumpkin seeds, chicken and feta… accompanied by roasted red peppers, beets, and sweet potatoes, lettuce and a nice pesto sauce drizzled on top!

It was a HUGE amount of food, and I ended up leaving most of the cheese and some of the chicken, just as it really was a protein overload… but it was good value for the amount of food, and a nice combo of warm (roasted veg) and healthy that was perfect in the mountains!