Can you guess this city landmark?
**This draft has sat in my draft folder since the week after I returned from Oslo because the trip didn’t quiet go as planned and I was having technical difficulties loading the pictures. Then I returned stateside and basically ignored my blog for months.**
After a whirlwind Easter trip, with stops in 3 different places (Bedford, England, Budapest, Hungary, and Vienna, Austria) I was both excited and not about where to head to next. There are so many places I want to visit that picking one that I could do over a short time AND on a budget was driving me nuts. Also, I was discussing with one of my roommates about travelling together and her budget was even smaller than mine so that constrained me even a bit more. Previously, I had found a ticket to Lisbon for 69€ that I didn’t book while waiting on her to confirm whether she was going or not and lost the deal. But the travel gods were with me and on my frequent perusal of Skyscanner.net I found a another deal, a round trip ticket to Oslo from Barcelona for 40€!!! I decided whether she was going or not I was booking but she said yes and I booked the flights on Ryan Air with the quickness. Now, Oslo is one of the more expensive cities in Europe so we decided to give couch surfing a try. I’m leery of the idea. I’m a small brown girl in a big bad world. I’m adventurous but I cautious about which chances I will take with my safety. Staying in a random stranger’s home is one of those things that I’m iffy about. I know many travelers do so without a second thought but they are not a small brown girl like I am.
As my roommate was going to be on the trip I thought two is better than one and decided to give it a try. Perhaps, one day I’ll write about the shenanigans that went on with the couch surfing situation (or not). Lets just say there was an indecent proposition which was rebuffed which led to me being asked to leave the apartment (ostentatiously for other reasons). Yes, I said me. Where was my companion you ask? That is also another story. The short of that is she told me she wasn’t coming at 4am when I woke up to get ready to go to the airport. This clouded my trip considerably, as now I was heading to the couch surfing situation by myself and didn’t have time to pull back up the affordable accommodations. So you see, my Oslo trip did not start out well and was a bit troublesome in the middle.
However, Oslo was not at fault for any of this. It is a gorgeous, albeit expensive, city with lots of see. I hope to return to take the train trip to Bergen to really see the magnificent fjords which I ended up not doing due to the upheavals in my trip and budgetary constraints. Anyway, enough with my blithering on and one, I know you want the pictures so here ya go! Enjoy
A few weeks ago I took my nephew on a berry picking adventure to Ellsworth Hill Orchard and Berry Farm LLC to pick blue berries. Two of my friends came along and at the end we had 1 1/2 gallons of blue berries. Ro didn’t want any so Dela Mae & I split the cost and the haul. I brought the berries how and it was evident I would be the only one eating them despite assurances from mother, sister and nephew that they liked blued berries and will eat them. To keep them from going to waste I put about 6 cups in the freezer intending to make a berry crostada when i acquired some other summer berries. We then had some hellaciously hot weather that nixed any thought of turning the oven on and I really wasn’t in the mood to make pastry dough. Yes I could by it but I love good pastry and the store-bought stuff usually lacks flavor, flake or both. I still wanted to make some sort baked berry concoction when I came across an article in Edible Brooklyn extolling the virtues of a Cornmeal Crisp from David Lebovitz former pastry chef from Chez Panisse. I read the article and followed the link from to David’s page and decided the next day I was going to use those blue berries and well as some strawberries I had frozen so they didn’t end up in the rubbish heap. I had also bought some black berries earlier to nibble on but decided that most would make it into the Summer Berry Crisp I was making.
Here’s the thing I am a good (my friends say great) cook but not so much as a baker. Cooking is an art so can putz around with the ingredients, take something out, add something else, change the meat whatever you feel like doing and you will end up with a tasty dish. Baking however is more science, mess around with the proportions and you’ll end up with a lumpen log instead of a light cake, a messy crumble instead of a chewy cookie. One must understand how the ingredients work together and where you can and cannot substitute so this cornmeal crisp recipe made me happy. All you had to do was measure, whizz in the food processor and turn onto the mixed berry mixture and place into the oven. In less than an hour you can have hot bubbly goodness to pair with vanilla ice cream or a little whipped cream or by itself.
You can play with the fruit mixture, make it all berries, or all stone fruit, or a mix of berries and stone fruit. The limit is what you like and what you have on hand at the time. Next time I’ll see about making this using only stone fruit and then a mixture of berries and stone fruit. I do believe this will come back at Thanksgiving with an apple mixture perhaps with some currents ( I love dried currents).
Preheat oven to 375 F (I’ve to check this)
4 cups blue berries
2 cups hulled and cut strawberries (I’d use more next time)
2 cups black berries
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbls flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Juice and zest of 2 small lemons (this might be overload but I think the slight tartness is good).
*I like to mix everything together and let it sit for half hour or so but you don’t have to.
Directly from David’s website Polenta Crisp Topping Polenta & Cornmeal is the same thing.
3/4 cup (105 g) flour
2/3 cup (90 g) coarse polenta
3/4 cup (80 g) almonds or walnuts
1/2 cup (90 g) packed light or dark brown sugar (or cassonade)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
nice pinch of salt
4 ounces (1 stick, 115 g) unsalted butter, well-chilled
In a blender or food processor, pulse the flour, polenta, nuts, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt until the nuts are in smaller pieces.
Cut the butter into chunks and pulse in the machine until the butter is finely broken up and the mixture no longer looks sandy and is starting to stick and clump together.
Distribute crisp topping over prepared fruit and bake until fruit is bubbling and cooked underneath, and the topping is deep-golden brown. (Plunge a sharp paring knife in the fruit to feel if it’s cooked through.)
Note: You can store the mixture in a zip-top freezer bag for a month or two, or refrigerate it for up to one week.
Let me know if you decide to make this crisp and share what your results were like. Or if you have another
simple recipe using summer fruit send it my way. I’m always looking for something new to try.
Last week a friend of mine sent me a message asking for recommendations for places to eat and drink in Barcelona for a co-worker. At first I drew a blank and thought, “I didn’t eat out a lot so I don’t know what to recommend.” I let the thought tumble around my brain for a day or so and then came up with this following. As I wrote the more I remembered. After I sent the email to her I realized that many people who visit a city love to get recommendations from the locals so I decided to share this list with you my readers and perhaps you, like my friend can pass it along to a family member, a friend or coworker who is heading over to the gateway of the Mediterranean.
The list is by no means exhaustive it’s just of restaurants, bars or taverns in Barcelona that I have eaten at or enjoyed. Keep in mind that Spain eats later in the evening 9PM/10PM. I’ve included the Yelp Link so you can get more detailed reviews.
One of my favorites is Cerveceria Catalana. It attracts a good mix of tourists and locals. The food is good and offers lots of different tapas. GET THERE EARLY LIKE 7PM or you will be waiting a long time to sit and eat. Dinner runs about 22/25 euros per person. Unless you despise cod or are allergic to fish you should try the Esqueixada de Bacalao, a Catalan specialty. I eat it every time I visit the restaurant and I don’t usually repeat dishes. Cervecería Catalana
Carrer de Mallorca, 236 Neighborhood: L’Eixample Phone: 932 160 368
An alternate to Cerveceria Catalana, ran by the same people is Cuidad Condal. The food is similar and the wait may be less during the dinner rush. I prefer Cerveceria but you’ll have to try for yourself and decide.
Rambla de Catalunya, 18 Neighborhood: L’Eixample
Another place for tapas that comes highly recommended by others who live in Barcelona is Maitea Taberna. It’s a small place where you help yourself to cold pintxos (bread with topping “pinched” by a toothpick) at the bar and the servers come around so often with hot options. At the end of your meal you’ll pay by number of toothpicks on your plate. There is a good variety for everyone. It’s small and gets filled up quickly so it’s best to get there before 9pm.
Carrer de Casanova, 15T7 Neighborhood: L’Eixample Phone: 934 395 107
Maitea Taberna has their own site. Check it out here.
For the foodie (I know you’re out there don’t be shy) Restaurant Sauc is awesome. It has a 38 euro lunch menu M-F and it’s a steal for a Michelin 1 star. They are able to accommodate food allergies which was great for my friend Nat on her birthday. If you’re a regular to my blog you’ll remember my review/take on Restaurant Sauc.
Via Laitana, 49 Neighborhood: Barri Gotic Phone: 933 210 189
Restaurant Sauc has its own website as well. Reservations aren’t needed for lunch (they told me that on phone) but I say make one anyway as the crowd can vary and you wouldn’t want to miss out eating here.
For evenings Barcelona is chock full of places to eat and things to do. Take yourself away from Las Ramblas and your fellow travelers/tourists and explore the barrio of Poble Sec. If you can visit them on Thursday evenings for 2 Euros you can have a tapa and beer or vino at many of the bars & taverns. The main street is Carrer de Blai Metro stops Poble Sec & Paral-lel are closest. They have a Facebook page and below are some of my favorite haunts. I miss that place.
Bars to eat/drink at
Barramon Be nice to bartender/server Jonny and maybe his pour will be heavier.
Koska Taverna Always packed in the evenings but the various options make it worth the pushing and shoving.
Es Xibiu Another that is always packed. They have a 5 tapas and wine special all the time so Thursday isn’t your only option.
Bodega Salto Open later than the rest of the bars/taverns along Carrer Blai/Calle de Blesa (yes the street has two names) it’s the perfect funky place to end your evening with some more wine and olives.
Another dive is Madame Jasmine. It’s in Barri El Raval which locals will caution you not to visit as a tourist but I felt perfectly safe there. I just didn’t venture down the dark alleys. It’s a bit of a dive but the drinks are good and the people friendly and the prices very reasonable.
Another place that I’ve heard great things about the food at Quimet and Quimet but never made it there
I hope these suggestions help you to be well fed while making your Euros stretch in Barcelona. If you’ve been there what other places would you recommend for eating and drinking.