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BCN: food

Tapas life and more. Let’s finally dive into this world of Catalan food.

Some data was gathered by me back in 2017, and even though I tried my best to check if all the places are still there and asked my local friends if they are still just as good as before, slight changes on the Bcn food scene from what I will describe here may have occurred. 

BRUNCH

The most important meal of the day for me. Even though I believe tapas are quite suitable for breakfast just as much as they are for dealing with evening craving, I still worship brunch in its classical understanding. So, top my avocado waffle with that poached egg!

  • Cafe Alsur. That’s a chain. All of the places are very cozy, with friendly stuff, air conditioner (not a must for cafes thing even in Bcn heat) and great ambient. I wrote most of my thesis there as well as got wasted at 11 am a few times, so it’s a place for any occasion; and their waffles are the best!
  • la Boqueria. A food market in the heart of Barcelona that attracts both locals and tourists with its choice of anything fresh, from juices to seafood delivered straight from fishermen. I love walking in early in the morning to grab a fresh juice and empanadas for breakfast on the beach.
  • Brunch&Cake. The most instagrammable brunch in Barcelona. Expect to wait quite long to be seated though. But if you want a perfect picture of your brunch, with the brightest mimosas and the fluffiest pancakes decorated by flowers and colorful sauces – that’s a place for you!
  • Federal Cafe. Even though hidden on a tiny square in the Gothic Quartet labyrinth, there are queues to be seated as well during brunch hours. I preferred to come in the afternoon for a brinner and enjoy all the same amazing egg dishes, toasts and coffee, but in a less crowded vibe. The place is very stylish but minimalistic. I love their tiny tables at the window seats. Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
  • Lulu. Also a bit hidden from pedestrian streets most of tourists take, but quite popular, it’s a place with quite a small menu made mostly out of simple toasts, but they are delicious. And they have 1L sangria on cava, wohoooo!
  • Milk. Another popular place, which is no surprise. I’d recommend coming earlier. We came already at 9, and by 11 it was impossible to get a table. But it’s located on the street with a few other amazing brunch places, so you can always give it a try, and if not – you won’t have to look for something else long. Turkish eggs and Crab benedict are love! milk
  • Tropico. A more quiet place, nevertheless great breakfast choice, fresh juices and design. A famous map of the world where everyone takes pics is found there, for sure you’ve seen it once if checked Barcelona in instagram locations. Omelette with goat cheese and honey impressed me so much that I started making it at home. tropicoA few more places where I loved brunching but can’t find pics now:
  • Flax&kale. Also very instagrammable. For me was a bit too healthy, but vegans and those who would rather replace sauce hollandaise with a watermelon in the morning will love it.
  • Benedict is a famous place, that’s one of those on the same street with Milk. It recently opened a new location, Belliny. Same menu, 400% less crowded. Loved their variations of Benedict, just ham seems boring for me after seeing how much one can actually make out of it!
  • EatMyTrip was a tip from my local friend. The dishes are just soooo pretty! Definitely on my list for the next trip!
  • Caravelle. Old good brunch yet so new and different.

TAPAS

I will be honest, I am not a fan of Spanish cuisine. I prefer my seafood completely raw, which is not a Spanish way, and my bread basket containing at least 6 kinds of breads, which is definitely not a Spanish way. And tapas excite me only if they are REALLY unique. So you can be sure that those will blow your mind, because I’ve tried a lot.

  • Bormuth. Located on my favourite street in el Born, it’s quite a typical tapas place. But they are just so delicious there! Croquets, tartare toasts, patatas bravas with an egg on top, jamón on a warm plate…I even ate the russian salad there! And never have I ever though I’d be amazed by meatballs. Sorry USA fellas, but the American way made ones gross me out. bormuth
  • Cañete. Just the freaking best tapas place in the world. All said.

     

  • 9 Granados. More chic, but still fits within tapas culture with its menu to share. Delicious! Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
  • El Quim. And we are back on the Boqueria market. Who said it’s only bites to go and juices there? You find soooo many proper haute cuisine, just in a market stand format, that I am pretty sure I haven’t even tasted the best things there yet. But this one place had such attractive smell that I even ate fried fish there which I normally dislike.

     

  • Honest greens. A new place in town that already won people’s hearts with it’s smart concept of building up bowls and salads from whatever you want, but if that whatever includes raw tuna, shitake and all the freshest greens – I’m in! Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

SEAFOOD

What would be a trip to Barcelona without the best seafood? Don’t go for it anywhere, it is just as likely to be frozen as it is in the city far away from the coast. Sitges where we used to go on a holiday with family has much better fish and seafood to offer than Barcelona, however surprising that may seem. But there are great fish restaurants in Bcn as well, just make sure you know where to go.

  • Can Fisher. Fresh. What else is there to say? Amazing view to the sea itself, too. Far from the city center, which is often great for a fine dining experience. Ironically, I only have starters that include meat captured in a picture. The seabass in salt was so huge that couldn’t fir in one. I guess. So you’ll have to believe me on that one.Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
  • Mordisco. Seafood classics as well as dishes like squid ink risotto. Charming room with a glass ceiling. You can take me on a date there!
  • Xemei. This place won my heart. I’d say it’s the best dinner I ever had in Barcelona, not counting pizza from Frankie Gallo maybe. It’s not a seafood restaurant but a Venetian cuisine one. Great when you can’t see tapas anymore 😉 It has the best seafood pasta though! Their menu has meat choices, too. The place itself is so special that it’s worth going there if you don’t care about the size of clams in your plate.

    A dinner bonus for those who don’t eat fish. The best meat restaurant in town – Buenos Aires. This steak will make you go crazy!

BARS

Here we are on my favourite page of gastronomy. The bars. No, THE bars.

  • Creps al Born. My number one place in Barcelona. Great cocktails, cool staff and amazing vibe of the bar adds up to a bonus of great sweet and savoury crepes they make there. I would totally include this place in my brunch list as a Sunday hangover must-do (on other days it opens at 6 pm, so use your chance for a proper Sunday funday!)
  • Numeronueve. Located just around the corner from Creps al Born, a classical bar with original cocktails menu, cozy corners for dates and a wide bar for those who wanna chat with a cure barkeeper. You get to dance there a lot as well. It was one of my first bars in Bcn where I went with Dasha already 6-7 years ago, so I love it tenderly. numero 9
  • Boca Chica. A fancy beautiful bar. Everything there is just iconically beautiful, from bathroom mirrors to coasters. Make sure to dress up a bit. It’s so different from typical Bcn bars where anyone can come in shorts that this contrast brings you to a royal feeling. Processed with VSCO with m5 preset
  • Pulitzer Hotel rooftop. A great daydrinking place, too. Almost always has a DJ, crowded but with a cool crowd, not with tourists who walked in from the beach still in their flip flops.
  • Ocaña. Located in the centre of Bcn tourism, you would never expect it to be so special.Just walk inside, go downstairs to a speakeasy bar Apotheke, take beautoful stairs up to observe an amazing Mexican restaurant. Sit on the terrace to feel this energy of the city – it’s so concentrated in Plaça Reial!

Presumably me and Dani saw each other for the first time in Ocaña, when he was managing it and I was visiting Barcelona, before we actually met again in Vienna 3 years later. So this is a special place foe me not only because of their delicious octopus and silky cocktails.

  • Mr Robinson. A bar where you can brunch as well. Not sure what makes it so attractive to me, a cute menu styled as a journey around the world book, wooden bar or suitcases, but I really like it there.
  • Bar Brutal. The coolest wine bar I’ve seen.Processed with VSCO with g3 presetAhhh can’t believe I FINALLY managed to share my favourite places in one of my favourite city! No idea why it was so hard in the past 3 years to finalise this post! Maybe one day I’ll even write about Hong Kong! Anyways, eat, drink, love, travel to Barcelona! I definitely will soon again!


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BCN’19

5EB73EA4-D97E-435E-946F-1AEE62BD89CABarcelona! Even the sound of this name drags the happiest moments out of my memory. I spent my happiest sunny days in that loud, fast and crazy city. From going to Port Aventura first time when I was 12 to actually living in Barcelona as a local in 2017, I have seen so many sides of it, including fixing air conditioner myself and being robbed or caught in a terrorist attack, yet I love it with all my heart and will always be coming back.

Two year break was longer than I could expect when left it last time. But maybe it was needed in order to see it again with fresh eye and appreciate even more. I was happy to bring along Anfisa who had never been there and enjoy the tourist stuff together with the local hidden places from my own experience and from tips that local friends always share.

Walks from el Raval to el Born through the Gothic Quarter, eating hangover crepes at Creps al Born, finding the most stylish tiny boutiques when getting lost in chaotic streets pattern, grabbing empanadas on Boqueria mercat when on the way to Barceloneta for a swim and a lemonade at Surf House – I swear I started crying few times from all the emotions and flashbacks those three days gave me.

But in fact, the first reason for our trip was visiting Sónar Festival.

I must admit the lineup was not as amazing as one could expect on a festival of such scale, and sound quality was suffering a few times at the venue of Sonar by Night. But it was nevertheless a great party, and we were happy we didn’t expect too much and definitely weren’t frustrated. Our main focus was still Barcelona itself. I can’t describe the beauty and energy of it – you have to experience it yourself! I can, however, describe my favourite thing, the food, which I will FINALLY do in the next post, together with all the previous tips I gathered in the past years. One new place to see was Casa Vicens – one of the first Gaudi masterpieces. It opened for visitors in 2017 and I am more than glad we made it there! It’s so much more worthy to see in comparison with the other venues that are flooded with tourists since years and lost their charm already. If you are in Bcn any time soon – make sure to visit it before the world knows about it 😉

My summer in Bcn in 2017 was so intense that I never kept on writing any posts that I was planning (I really tried). The emotions are still with me, but let me leave some memories from the best summer ever here ❤

Bcn, 2017:

See you soon again, hottie!


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Summertime’19

Another original title to the post, huh?

In fact, this is a note devoted to Lignano – a lovely seaside town in Italy that has become our summer home in the past 2 years. But it IS my summertime so far. I went there already 5 times this year, planning to go again in a couple weeks. IMG_6882_Facetune_31-03-2019-13-27-15Lignano is a typical summer resort, crowded in July and August and turning into a ghost town between October and April. The most beautiful time is, however, off season. First time this year we hit it with the girls as early as in March, and loved it!

Empty beaches, yet already warm sun (the header picture is taking during my visit at the beginning of April), no people, tidy streets, absolute peace around…and most restaurants still closed. You have to know where to get your food off season 😉 Bidin and La Botte are open almost all year round (on some weeks only Friday to Sunday); places on the main shopping street in Sabbiadoro also have longer operating season. I really like  O’Sole mio, but better go for pizza there (Diavola is amazing!), we were more impressed than by pastas. Agosti and a restaurant at Hotel Blue Marine are one of the best fish places in Sabbiadoro, if you ask me. But off season a picnic with prosciutto, mozarella, fresh bread and some wine on the beach will do, too!

I am sure I mentioned it about 20 times in my previous posts about Lignano, but my favourite restaurant there is still Sandrocchia ❤ From their tartares and crunchy focaccias to red prawns and burrata (!) pasta and mussels in wine sauce. Incredible! We chose it to celebrate Birthday of our beloved Anna when went there another time with the ladies; it also happens to be one of the restaurants open until really late (1 am), and their tiramisu is delivered straight from heaven.

In June parties are already starting, all restaurants open up, and the sea, as it’s not deep in that area, warms up very fast. So far June is my favourite time to visit. September is great, too, but it can occasionally get rainy, like 2 years ago. We came for the first time back then and still fell in love with the place. So much that we decided to stay. I’m really happy to have Lignano just 4,5 hrs drive away, get away for long weekends there, be so close to my parents, pine forests which I could ride with a bicycle for hours; tennis courts I am ready to hit at 7 am every day (and then polish with beers and croissants),warm silky sea and all those amazing foods. I’m super glad when friends come visit, too, so if you happen to stay in Lignano – give me a note 😉

There’s a lot to do in the area, from foie gras farms in Palmanova and fishing markets in Aprilia Marittima to golf clubs, bicycle routes, cruises to Croatia and Slovenia and just exploring ancient villages filled with artefacts around. But for me the main attraction is still Venice.

I go to beautiful Venice every time I’m in Lignano, may it be even a 3-days stay. Never thought a place this touristy can get my heart. It’s always crowded, just live with that and search for secret routes, like I mastered after about 25 visits there. Yet, it is always so new and unexplored. Charming during any season and even weather, I’d say.

On my pre-last visit I was lucky to catch up with Polina there! We checked out Fondaco dei Tedeschi: a place with one of the best views, where you don’t even pay for entrance, but have to register for a time slot in advance, Isn’t this place just magical from any perspective???

Lignano, thanks for making my summer that I spend in Europe this year for the first time bearable! See you soon ❤


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Viennese Balls 2019

Processed with VSCO with m3 presetOne of the most beautiful Viennese traditions: the famous balls. I admit that my absence in the past 2 months has been determined partially by getting ready for balls, then attending them, and then recovering from them. What a life!

This year I attended 3 balls and there is one more to go: the best night of the year, Life Ball. But it’s a completely different format of a ball, and this post is about the traditional ones that are held in Hofburg, the palace those born in the 1900s know from the cartoon “Princess Sissi”.

Viennese Balls are strict in dress code and traditions. Floor length dresses only for women and tuxedos for men. Traditional Austrian clothing, dirndl and trachten, are allowed on a certain occasion. To the ball held by the United Nations, one can be dressed in a national costume of another country, too. That was the one we kicked the ball season off with.

IAEA Staff Association Ball

this one was a lot of fun due to the number of acquaintances we met there. Crowd of young and ambitions people, interesting conversations while drinking wine in gallons, cool fun music and the best techno and disco dance floors out of all balls. Yes, you read it right! There are modern DJs at the balls, too, and after midnight the palace turns into a rave.

Ball der Wiener Wirtschaft

this one is much more traditional than IAEA ball. The crowd is significantly older, but nevertheless dances quadrille with even more enthusiasm than the young ones 😉 The classical part of the ball, from the opening ceremony with debutants to the orchestra and singers of the main ballroom, was of the best quality. Pure aesthetic enjoyment! Also, more seating areas than dance floors, if compared to how the other balls were organised. Suitable for those who are more into music and performance rather than crazy nights out.

Kaffeesiederball

This one is said to be the coolest in Vienna. We had a lot of fun because we gathered a large group of people. Even Polina flew on from London for the occasion. What can be more exciting than a bunch of friends dressed in amazing gowns pre-drinking all together in one of the most elegant bars of Vienna? We chose Park Hyatt Bank Brasserie&Bar for the occasion. Not something that happens every weekend, huh?

Apparently, the pregame was awesome, because we came to the ball itself very late. I would be regretting this a lot if it would be my first ball, but luckily I already saw the opening ceremony of another ball, so didn’t feel left out as we rolled into the palace just before midnight. Next year, however, I would give it a desperate try to show up a bit earlier. But the later you come – the longer you are likely to stay! We stayed until the very end at all balls, but after this one we even went to a club. Also one hell of an experience in a long light gown! But this is Vienna baby, so in fact half of the club was dressed like that, too. Ah, this time of the year! Elegance and never feeling overdressed. I wish I could just wear gowns all year long. Sometimes I do, though. But such occasions as balls really make one feel special.

Since I started talking about Viennese traditions and clothing, in between the balls we had a night of dressing up un traditional Austrian dirndls and going to a heuriger. Usually this is a kind of entertainment for summer, but our dear Olivia had her farewell leaving Vienna for New York, so we had a proper reason.

I am honestly quite excited to be in Vienna the upcoming summer (I always left before) and experience things like Kirtag and all the crazy wine festivals that I missed before.

For now we are saying goodbye to the Ball Season and are looking forward to wearing our gowns again next year, searching for more down to Earth entertainments meanwhile.

 


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Paris, Je t’adore

Processed with VSCO with m5 presetParis. How much garlic smell, macarons crackle, demonstrations noise and lights of fancy shopfronts in this word.

Last time I went to Paris was more than two years ago, so we decided to give ourselves a long weekend of pleasure of eating snails and foie gras, shopping on sales and just getting away from dull Viennese winter.

We finally spent enough time on Montmartre for me to understand how much I love it there! Last time we took a short walk because there were too many tourists; during my first visit in Paris we only went to the Moulin Rouge. I must admit I liked the city during demonstrations everyone is so scared of. No tourists, and even the locals stay in. Easy to get a table in restaurants, to take pictures without crowds in the background, and just to enjoy Paris the way it would be if it wasn’t too popular. The weather in January is also surprisingly fine! We came during the worst day of that week’s forecast, and it was still much better than what winter looks like in Vienna.

Yellow vests and constant complaints about winter aside, the main topic for me never changes – THE FOOD. This time we were better prepared than I was last times, when my travel companions were just walking me to the fanciest restaurants of Paris, like Chez Julien, Chez André and Fouquet’s, which are without any doubts amazing, but trying something different was what I wanted out of this trip. So, here we go with what we managed to eat in 48 hours Paris:

  • Hardware Soiété: opened by Australians, there is another one in Melbourne. Literally the best brunch I’ve ever had! Lobster eggs Benedict blew my mind! The entire menu is very creative and goes far beyond avocado and poached eggs, but not too far, where you get a leaf on a burnt crumb for breakfast, the time when you are the hungriest. I’d love to try everything in the menu! The staff is super nice, I guess mostly Australians, so here you are not afraid of not being understood – a common fear in Paris. The drinks are also flawless, Anfisa had her best cold brew there. The area of Sacré-Cœur is also pleasant to start your day there. Definitely a brunch-must-visit! The place was full, we came with no reservation (early, before 10) and immediately got a nice table, but when we were done with the food there was already a decent queue outside.
  • For our next breakfast, we decided to have it traditional French way: get a croque monsieur sandwich, cheese omelette, baguette and croissants with coffee in a random Parisian bistro. We found one near the Opera house, but all the ones we checked around seemed to have a similar menu. And I must say, despite being extremely touristy, it was great! Paris is a place where you shouldn’t be scared of something aimed on tourists only, foodwise at least. There are more places we discovered and I marked for brunch for the next visit, so maybe someone will try them out before me: Peonies, Season, Marcelle, Dersou.
  • Breakfast follows with lunch/dinner must-eats. The famous truffle pasta at Pink Mamma! I have eaten tens of truffle pastas in life, but that one was definitely the best! This gourmet group is in general always a good choice. La Felicità is another cool location with great ambient that many Paris experts advised me already. And not just the food is delicious at their restaurants, also the buildings and the rooms themselves are a treasure. 100% instagrammable 😉
  • Finding an absolutely perfect place for dinner was a challenge for me. A lot of recognised restaurants don’t have websites, don’t reserve and just don’t want to communicate, don’t have menus in English. Google research and platforms like tripadvisor don’t help much there either, so I went through some blogs and came across Chez la Vieille. It’s a place you never enter seeing from the outside: tiny door, no light on the ground floor, no spectacular signboards. Even the name is written with chalk, no kidding. And this was exactly a place I was looking for. The best foie gras way of serving I’ve tried, fine wines, intimate atmosphere (for some maybe even too intimate, the tables are no more than 10cm away from each other). Was the finest kick-off into Parisian food experience!
  • Another hidden treasure you are not likely to come across, that was recommended to me is Le Mary Celeste. Compromise prices on something I consider haute cuisine. We tried their tartar and pulled duck on brioche, and I think my stomach cried from pleasure. The bar itself is charming, too, but downstairs is one of those hidden places that might become your favourite if you live in the neighbourhood.
  • When in France, my main desires are snails, foie gras, beef tartar and their sandwiches of any kind. It’s not easy to find a fancy place that has all of this on the menu, because usually fancy places have only 5-7 things on the menu in general. So sometimes a proper classy French bistro is the easiest choice, especially for a larger group of people. We had our finest snails and sandwiches at Cafe Charlot, but I remember having visited a lot of restaurants of this kind during my previous visits to Paris, and I was always satisfied. Depends on what one is searching for, but if you are fine with very crowded, loud, smelly with food places and don’t care how fancy the ambient is – you may have one of the best dining experiences at one of those, so I’d say: don’t just follow the planned route of gourmet trouvailles, be spontaneous and enter any bistro that has a table available! We enjoyed sitting outside enjoying some wine on Montorgueil street: a loud, popular among tourists and younger locals, crowded area with a lot of places to chose from. Here we slowly shift from dinner to bars.
  • Experimental Cocktail Club: around the corner from the above mentioned street. A fun bar, like one of those I go to in Vienna. Young charming barkeepers, delicious nicely garnished experimental cocktails, cute couples squeezed around large groups of party people. There you easily find some adventure!
  • Again hidden, in fact, completely hidden: Candelaria. You have to go through the fast-food place that sells tacos and margaritas and confidently push a tiny disguised white door where the kitchen is. And you find yourself in an amazing bar! I have been in a lot of hidden bars, the concept of exclusivity has become a big deal in the past years. But those places are usually posh, people visiting them want to feel way too exclusive and sometimes it gets ridiculous. It’s not about Candelaria. Here you just feel like you have come to a friend’s house party. If we didn’t have so little time in Paris and weren’t therefore on a bar tour, I’d easily spend all night in that cozy bar full of tacos and people who all seemed to know each other.
  • Clown bar is found right in the circus and has one of the coolest old-school designs.  The food looked delicious, but we were already waiting for our table at le Mary Celeste, so this one remains a goal for the next visit 😉
  • Street crepes. Call it cheesy (they ARE cheesy! and I don’t know what cheese they put inside, but I wanna drown on it), call it tourists attraction, but those things are damn good! A perfect ending for a night out.

Other than eating non-stop (even though I am not even sure if anything other than that is needed in Paris), January is a great time for shopping: sales but less tourists. I discovered the area around Rue Vieille du Temple this time. Haven’t been much around the 3rd district before because most of the time my routes were built around some tourist sights. This district is a very nice place for walking, shopping and chilling in some cafe with a terrace. Won’t even start with Parisian shopping, you probably know it all. If you don’t, you will.

Most of attractions like museums, cathedrals, palaces, castles, viewing points, gardens and whatever else there is in Paris I had already visited before, so we took it easy with the cultural side. We went to Musee de l’Orangerie though, and it is spectacular! We expected a small room with 2-3 Monet paintings, but there is an entire palace of Monet! I’ve seen so much that though nothing new can be there, and it was a new Monet level. Other paintings it contains are also Paris-museum-level valuable and a pleasure to the eye, so I highly recommend the museum. A free entrance everywhere in Paris for European students is also quite motivating, thank you, Paris!

Hoping to be back sooner than it took me since my last visit! Paris, je t’aime!