Hutong – a bird’s eye view of London from The Shard

B81E7AB2-13CE-4423-93A0-0AE30D382555There is no doubt that I find London to be one of the most vibrant cities in world. There is always something going on be it in arts or entertainment but also there is always something new and exciting check out when it comes to restaurants. Actually one of the hardest parts when visiting London is to decide exactly which restaurants to dine at or which exhibitions to visit.

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The last time we were in London we went to Hutong (Northern Chinese Cuisine), we had already been at Hutong, Hong Kong and wanted to check out the English version which consequently is located on the 33rd floor at The Shard, London’s newest skyscrapers. I need not say that the views are stunning. One of the best parts of dining here is to be able to look out onto the city. We went for lunch on a clear blue sky day and I spent more time looking out than eating.

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They offer a four course lunchtime menu for 35 pounds and if you want to add a glass of bubbly at 39 pounds.

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You can make reservations on their webpage.

Hutong at The Shard
33, The Shard, 31 St Thomas St, London SE1 9RY, England
Telephone: +44 20 3011 1257
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Faviken- a gastronomic journey

Faviken is not a simple gastronomic experience but it inevitably complies a journey and that is the beauty behind the Faviken experience. In our case, the first seed of longing this experience was planted with Spanish Hipsters blog. My husband read about it and very excitedly urged me to read the post but the true impending desire bloomed when we saw Netflix’s Chef Table. We fell in love with Magnus Nilsson, with his commitment to his childhood area, his kms 0, seasonal cooking and a bond was made. We knew that we had to go to Faviken and this year for my birthday my husband gave me a trip up north to Stockholm, Copenhague and or course our desired Faviken.

After spending a few days in Stockholm, we flew up north to Östersund, where you literally land in the middle of a forest. The airport is tiny and you get to walk to the terminal. BTW, there is a quite popular ski resort in Are nearby in case you want to try the Swedish slopes. Once there, we rented a car. Eighty-nine kms separate the airport from Faviken. The drive up is beautiful where you seem to be driving through deserted roads, lined with pine trees, snow and frozen lakes. The air is crisp and tranquility reigns. Meanwhile the excitement increments, wanting to pinch yourself to make sure that you are really there, in the middle of Sweden on your way to Faviken.

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When you drive up to the restaurant you immediately recognize the red farmhouse and the teepee. Your smile is ear-to-ear. You are promptly greeted, your car taken care of and you are shown to your room. The staff is warm and friendly making you feel like a guest at a friend’s countryhouse.

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After we had settled into our rooms we decided to take a walk around the property and then we came back for a relaxing sauna to get our appetite ready for dinner.

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We were kindly greeted my Magnus in the dining hall and were shown into the living room where the light is dim and the fire is crackling. Magnus’ fur coat hangs on the wall.

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After appetizers you can either be shown upstairs where you are seated according to your party or you can stay downstairs in the living room and dine at the communal table for eight. We were seated at the latter. I have to openly admit that at first I wasn’t convinced as I thought that it might be uncomfortable to sit with perfect strangers. I was totally mistaken. As the night progressed, conversation started and we ended up having a ball.

When we had finished with desserts we were urged to have a cigar and drink outside in the teepee. Although it was cold out, the warm blankets and the fire kept us comfy. Over drinks and smoke we got more acquainted and ended up talking way into the night.

After a good night’s sleep we had breakfast, this time upstairs in the dining room. Rested and with our stomachs full, the time to say good bye had arrived.

I have to admit that Faviken was not the best mind boggling dinner of my life but it was an absolutely beautiful experience that I fondly recommend to any foodie.

The menu is extremely season but this is what we ate when we were there in April…

Appetizer

Linseed and vinegar crisps, mussel dip

Wholegrain wheat cracker with carrot salad

Broth of smoked and dried reindeer, decomposing leaves, very fresh curd and crowberries

Wild trout roe served in a crust of dried pig’s blood

Bird’s liver custard, malted cabbage, rowan berries and parsley stems

Pig’s head, dipped in sourdough and deep-fried, gooseberry, tarragon salt

Slices of cured pork

Scallop “i skalet ur elden” cooked over burning juniper branches

Cod steamed with spruce needles, fermented jerusalem artichoke

King crab and almost burnt cream

Sourdough pancake, seaweed, beef butter

Lupin curd gratin

Mahogany clam with beer vinegar

A small egg coated in ash, sauce made from dried trout and pickled marigold

Steamed kai-lan, very good cream and Finnish fish eggs

Quail, roasted and very finely ground lupin

Colostrum with meadowsweet

Raw jerusalem artichoke, dark roasted cereals

Silage ice cream

Potato dream

An egg yolk perserved in sugar  syrup served on a pile of crumbs made from pine tree bark, ice cream seasoned with spruce

Raspberry ice

Bone marrow pudding, frozen mil

A wooden box filled with tar pastilles, meadowsweet candy, dried rowanberries, smoked caramel, sunflower seed nougat, dried black currants.

Meat and birch pie

Aromatic seeds

Snus fermented in a used bitters barrel

Faviken

Arallo Taberna – we are talking tapas

IMG_1869I had been hearing a lot of great buzz about Arallo Taberna which belongs to Amicalia  Group. They which recently opened in Madrid after the success of the one in La Coruña but it has taken us a bit more than anticipated to try it out. We finally did a couple of weeks ago and I have to say that I thought that it was spot on. The industrial, layed-back ambiance is ideal for informal lunches and dinners. You can choose between dining at a table or at the long counter which was my choice since it opens right onto their wall to wall kitchen. I always enjoy watching chefs at work and marvel at their speed and precision.

Arallo is bold and daring and they are not afraid to mix it up. The result being some delicious tapas that leaves you wanting more and longing to come back.

To give you a feel of what their tapas are like…

volandeiras which is a type of scallop

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bonito (a type of tuna fish) tartar

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nigiri croqueta

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hake tacos with wasabi mayo

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Arallo Taberna

31 Reina Street, 28004 Madrid

They don’t take reservations

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Standard Pizza – soft crust pizza

IMG_1193There is something very comforting about a well-made tasty pizza. I love having pizza at home but when I travel I am extremely pleased when we stumble upon a good pizza, which isn’t always easy. This time I have to thank Monocle City Guides which give you lots of interesting insight written by people who actually live and know the city. In summer we spent a few days in Berlin, reading through the guide before we left I saw some very appealing photos of a pizza place in Berlin called Standard Pizza and I decided to add it to our go-to places. The pizza was just as good as I had imagined by the look of the pictures.

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We ended up having  delicious pizza outside on their terrrace.

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Standard Pizza

Tuesday to Friday 18:00 – 00:00
Saturday and Sunday 13:00 – 00:00

Telephone: +49 30 48625614

TEMPLINER STR. 7
ECKE ZIONSKIRCHSTRASSE
10119 BERLIN

The Barn – coffee please

IMG_1187For all you coffee lovers out there, if you are in Berlin or are planning to go anytime soon you don´t want to miss The Barn which is a Specialty Coffee Roastery in Europe. They only work with premium coffees from sustainable and traceable farming. They have several locations so be sure to check them out here.

IMG_1188We were in Berlin this summer and we were lucky enough to have one right next to our hotel, so you can probably guess where we had breakfast every morning. Ours was in Charlottenburg. It was a bit tricky to find because it was actually on the rooftop of a SuperDry store. Monday to Saturday you just go into the store and walk up all the flights of stairs until you reach Kranzler Café which is a round café with a circus canopy and a wonderful terrace outside where you can sit and sip your coffee. The tricky part is on Sundays because although the café opens daily from 10-8, the store is closed. At around 10 o’clock someone will come down and set up a sign indicating that you go down a narrow hall which leads to an elevator that takes you straight up to the café. The first day we went to the café was on a Sunday and I have to say that it took us ages to figure it out.

IMG_1189Another plus is that they sell coffee beans to take home and they also ship so we had actually been having their coffee at home before, thanks to a friend who introduced us to The Barn.

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BTW, their carrot cake is pretty good.

The Barn

Lolo Polos – love love love them

My friend Yosune is constantly on the look out to see what is new. Last spring she brought to my house these wonderfully refreshing, naturally made with fresh fruit popsicles that I fell in love with. I craved for more and this summer I have had my fill. Since they are all natural, they have no added sugar, additives…it’s like eating frozen fruit which has been geniusly mixed (watermelon with kafir, matcha tea and coconut… I could go on but I haven’t tried one that I don’t like.)

IMG_1686There are three stores in Madrid (16 Espíritu Santo Street, 30 Leon Street and inside Mercado de San Antón) but I was thrilled to know that recently opened a fourth store out in Las Palmas, right on Las Canteras boardwalk where La Playa Chica is. This is the first store to open out of Madrid. So, as you can probably venture to guess, I made a stop there every day on my way home from the beach this summer.

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Store in Las Palmas

IMG_1687Another plus if you live in Madrid is that they deliver to your house but unfortunately not to mine.

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Lolo Polos