108 Copenhagen – Noma’s kid sister

Noma, which was ranked the best restaurant in world several times, has closed its doors and is currently changing location. The new NOMA will be in Christiania but meanwhile not to fret, René Redzepi has opened a second restaurant a few meters away from where NOMA once reigned, 108. Lead by Kristian Baumann who strives to make 108 stand apart from NOMA and is succeeding. 108 is much more accessible but don’t let that fool you, tables are scarce. Baumann is working with different Nordic techniques such as smoking, pickling and fermentation to products that are all local so that you can really grasp the area’s cuisine. The restaurant serves a la carte so that you can design your own menu.

I was there during Spring Break and I have to say that it was my favorite meal in Copenhagen. It flew to the top of the list. On the one hand 108 is laid back and informal. The service is easy going and know how to guide you through the menu and the wine parring. The decoration has a sort of swanky nordic feel and the food is delicious. The flavors are well-balanced with a kick.

Our dinner:

Radish

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Leeks with algae, I love it when restaurants use algae because it is suppose to be so healthy and I still haven’t managed to incorporate it into our home meals.

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Scallop with sea urchin

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We had the classic Glazed Pork Belly to finish off our mealIMG_0474.jpg

I strongly recommend keeping an eye on 108 and Christian Baumann!

108

Strandgade 108
Copenhagen K 1401
Denmark

Los Quesos de L’amelie – a cheese lovers must

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There is no hiding it, I am sure that in a past mouse I must have been a mouse living in a French fromagerie. If you are one of those people who dies for cheese, Los Quesos de L’amelie is a must-go-to. It is located behind Arturo Soria Plaza shopping center and it has a nice garden terrace right in front. Besides buying cheese they have high tables where you can order a glass of wine and nimble away on some delicious cheese. Another option is to sit outside and enjoy the sun and the breeze.

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Los Quesos de L’amelie

5 Torrecilla del Puerto Street, 28043 Madrid
Telephone- 913 88 12 

Arzabal Ponzano – one of the liveliest streets in Madrid

From a couple of years back Ponzano has been becoming more and more popular with a wider ranger of places to go get a drink or grab a bite to eat. Actually it has become so popular that you will find swarms of people flocking around both inside and outside making it hard to walk down the sidewalk or to order a drink. There is no doubt that this street is upbeat and fun on any day of the week. Now that it seems that summer is almost upon us, eating out and having a drink outside becomes even more appealing.

The choice is so wide that at times it can be difficult to decide which bars/taverns should be the chosen ones during your bar hopping. There are so many options ranging from places where you can grab a beer or a glass of wine and a tapa to more serious places where you can get a good quality meal. One of my favorites is Arzabal Ponzano run by Álvaro Castellanos and Iván Morales, you might have gone to one of their other restaurants: Arzabal Retiro, Arzabal Reina and one of my favorite Japanese restaurants Kirikata (previously known as A de Arzabal) It has been only a matter of time before they ventured out to trendy Ponzano.

The place is hip and stylish. You can eat either at the bar area or sitting down at one of the tables. It is the kind of places where you can grab some tapas with your friends after work or actually sit down with your parents or clients for a more formal/informal dinner.

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We are all accustomed to their quality standard. Delicious ham croquetas and it is actually a great place if you are in the mood for meat.

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I am a fan of their torrijas… simply perfect and topped off with a scoop of ice-cream. You can’t ask for more.

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Arzabal Ponzano
29 Breton de los Herreros Street
28003 Madrid
Telephone- 915 94 06 90

Fukamachi – the perfect tempura can only be found in Japan

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A year ago now I was totally emerged in the preparation of our trip to Japan. It is always troubling for me how time just seems to fly by and I can’t believe that I STILL haven’t managed to share with you all the places that I so enjoyed on our trip although this is the last one. I find that Japan is a truly remarkable country and even though I read, watched and listened to so much information before traveling there, there are still so many things that catch you totally off guard and cause you to fall in love with the city. So many experiences that you know and are aware that are unique to this country and when you fly back home they will comfortably find a home in your memory. One of those flavors, textures is that of tempura. We are used to a much thicker coat when we have tempura outside of Japan, but if you eat a high standard tempura restaurant in Japan you will find that the coating used is so thin, crisp, light and marvelous that it will have you wishing to memorize it.

We were recommend to go to Fukamachi, a one-Michelin star restaurant in Tokyo. It is located in the quieter area of Ginza and it is a very small restaurant, like most in Japan, so be sure to book in advance. Our hotel was kind enough to handle all of our booking requests before our trip.

Fukamachi is run by the head chef and he has two helpers by his side. The restaurant is small and unpretentious because here the only aim is good tempura. We had the lunch time set menu, there are a few to choose from and the price was very reasonable. These are some pictures of our fish and vegetable tempura.

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I would not leave Japan without having tasted true tempura. Tempura will never be the same from that day on.

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Fukamachi

2-5-2 Kyobachi, Chou-ku, Tokyo

Nishinotoin Tea Shop- the perfect matcha roll cake

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When you go to Japan you quickly pick up on the fact that they are very big on matcha so finding matcha flavored ice-cream, oreo cookies, kit kats, waffles… is a piece of cake but there is no doubt that the real thing is even better. Matcha is a special green tea which is ground into powder. The health benefits of it are marvelous being a great antioxidant amongst other things.

Before we went to Japan. thanks to friends who were raving about this special tea with a very particular sweet-sour flavor, I started falling in love with both the flavor and the whole ceremony behind the preparation of a cup of matcha. Obviously I was eager to find good matcha and also the whole cup, wooden spoon and bamboo whisk kit so that I could continue to enjoy a cup of matcha the traditional way back home with my Japan bought accessories.

Thanks to a blog I read about the matcha roll cake which they make here a Nishinotoin Tea Shop I quickly added it to our list of must-go places. According to this blogger, it was to die for. We decided that we couldn’t leave Kyoto without trying it. Boy was she right, delicious! The cake is soft, creamy and perfect.

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To accompany your cake, matcha of course. There is a wide variety of different matcha preparations, you can order traditional style hot tea, served with ice, with milk…since there were four us we each ordered it prepared a different way so that way we could try them. Rest asure that you can order it whichever way entices you the most and it will be superb. There is a certain frothy quality that I can’t manage to obtain at home. If you fall in love with latte or ice style, do not worry because they sell these different preparations in tins or boxes so that you can take them back home.

Japan is a fascinating destination and tea there takes on a whole new angle, one that should not be missed. Now, to make the journey and not try that matcha roll cake…. well that is just unforgivable.

Nishinotoin Tea Shop & Tea House Motoan, Kyoto

Very close to Nijo Castle

Shop open: 9:30~18:00 Tea house open: 10:30~17:00 (last order)
Closed: Every Wednesday (open on national holidays), 1st, 2nd & 3rd of January

Gen Yamamoto – cocktails brought to a new level

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A friend of ours told us that we couldn’t go to Tokyo without having cocktails at Gen Yamamoto and I have to say that it is quite an experience. As most places in Tokyo, the bar is small, bear except for the thick wood counter which is absolutely stunning. You can’t but help run your fingers over the grain and awe over its subliminal beauty. That is the way Gen Yamamoto works, there is such subdued elegance in each of his cocktails that it almost feels as if you were drinking his artwork.

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As you enter, Gen Yamamoto greets you, perfectly attired in a crisp white jacket, in English that makes you forget that you are in Tokyo, he has lived abroad many years, and throughout the evening he explains each cocktail and engages in subtle conversation.

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The only option is a cocktail tasting menu, either four or six cocktails. Now, I know what you are thinking because I thought exactly the same thing. “I can’t drink four or six cocktails without rolling over drunk!” Not to worry, cocktails here are very small therefore are drank rather quickly. We actually started off with four and ended up having six because they were so good and I promise we walked out dignified without tumbling from side-to-side.

Cocktails are seasonal and most of them include fruit. The order in which they are served  is determined by Gen. You can notify him if there is something you don’t like though.

I am simply going to show you the cocktails we had so that your mouth can start to water and your alcohol craving level can increase.

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Remember you need to book a seat at Gen Yamamoto.

Tsukji Fish Market – sushi for breakfast

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Breakfast at Tokyo Tsukji Fish Market isn’t your convencional toast and coffee affair. Tsukji Market wakes up in the wee hours of the morning. The buzzle starts when the produce start to arrive and the internationally known tuna action. If you plan to see the action remember that you need to be in line at around three in the morning to try to get a place to see the procedure.

We decided against waiting in line at three in the morning since we would much rather stay in bed until a more decent hour. Nonetheless, we did want to arrive to the market early in order to have breakfast and get a feel of the morning vibe.

Divided in two parts, the inner part is closed to visitors until 9:00 in the morning because, let’s face it, tourists are a pain when you are trying to get your job done. In the inner part is where you find fish, fruit and vegetables and the outer part is where you can find restaurants, stalls and shops. We found that it was full of weird vegetables, fruit and fish that we had never seen before. We could only guess what it was and what it could be used for.

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Meals are served among the many sashimi stalls and many people come to have breakfast here. You get your sashimi dish, soup and water in one of the many narrow restaurants where you sit at the counter, entering through one door and then exiting through a door at the back.

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Great raw fish and a totally different way to enjoy breakfast!