Baluard – Praktik Bakery Hotel- Barcelona

pratikpastriesWhat a concept! A boutique hotel with its own bakery! What else do you need? Absosulety nothing. Every morning, the smell of freshly baked goods will entice you to have a delicious breakfast of warm bread and flaky pastries  that are an absolutely delightful sample of  Catalonian baked goodness.pratikbaker

You can choose from an endless variety of breads that go from wholewheat baguettes, spelt rolls to rustic loaves made with  black olives. As far as the pastries go, thin apple and berry tarts, cupcakes and the ever so delightful ensaimadas, a light and airy Danish of sorts will make your mouth water.  I had the ensaimada de cabello de ángel, light and fluffy dough filled with  threaded pumpkin jam,  exquisite!

praktikbread22

I had my breakfast with a cup of truly *”relaxing” café con leche and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. A delightful meal that would get me ready for another day of exploring enchanting Barcelona. A good night’s sleep and an even better breakfast, what else do I need? Oh, yes, my bike to burn off all those calories!bikex

 

Praktik Bakery Hotel

Carrer de Provença, 279

Tel: 34 934 88 00 61

Barcelona, Spain

http://www.hotelpraktikbakery.com

 

 

 

*quote from the awkward 2020 Olympic Ganes pitch given by Madrid’s mayor Ana Botella in 2013

Pintxos – Zeruko – San Sebastian, Spain

zerukomorcillaA Basque word for tapas, the pintxo is everywhere to be found in stunning San Sebastian.  I was fortunate enough to stumble upon Zeruko on calle Pesqueria in the old part of town. A rather hip spot that offers a generous variety of fresh samplings of some of the best in Basque cuisine.

Order a glass of wine or beer and delight yourself with exquisite bites of fresh fish, seafood and meat that are hard to resist. Slices of Spanish bread gingerly topped with different delicacies spread across the busy counter,waiting to be snatched by hungry patrons who have a hard time deciding what to choose first. A rather fun way to eat!

I couldn’t resist the pintxo de morcilla de arroz con huevo de codorniz, a slice of grilled rice filled blood pudding topped with a tiny fried quail egg, rich to say the least but absolutely delightful!zerukosardinas

The pintxo de sardina con gelatina agridulce de cítricos  was a tangy tasteful bite of fresh sardine topped with a dollop of citric sweet and sour gelatin. Quite an unusual  yet delicious combination!zerukomelon

A more traditional one was the pintxo de melón con jamón , melon with  Iberian ham topped with pine nuts ingeniously meant to resemble the fruit’s seeds. Overall, Zeruko is  a fabulous fusion of contemporary creativity and old fashioned favorites!

Bar ZerukoZeruko Pescadería 10 San Sebastián Tel: 943 423 451 http://www.barzeruko.com

Arroz de Lingueirão – Razor clam rice – Casa Velha, Cacela Velha, Portugal

arrozdelangueiraoOk, so once again I am confronted with a sea creature that I have feared most of my life: the razor clam! I first came across one when I was about nine years old,one breezy summer afternoon,  while searching for small clams on the island of Tavira. The sight of a long and narrow shell from which peeked a slimy long mollusc was almost traumatizing! So, later in life, whenever someone mentioned  the ever so popular  razor clam, I’d cringe with disgust.

But now, I am all grown up and willing to face it in its most delicious state: arroz de lingueirão, razor clam rice. A brothy stew made with tomatoes, onions, garlic, white wine, clove and lots of fresh coriander. I am humbled to admit that it’s one of the most delicious meals I’ve every had. Of course, these sweet and tender razor clams were  diced and not served whole so, that visibly, I believe,  makes a great difference.lingueiraocloseup

I was recommended Casa Velha and became weary at first because, right outside, I saw a menu in English. For a moment, I’d forgotten that this is the Algarve and there is a huge foreign population that come here all year round so, I mustn’t  judge.

It turned out to be a genuinely good place to eat and if everything else  is cooked as well as this rice dish, this place is phenomenal. I’ve heard they serve great fish and many other seafood stews as well.  Perhaps that’s why it’s always packed and tables are really hard to come by and although at lunch time you most likely won’t have a problem finding one, it’s highly recommended that you make  reservations for dinner. This is definitely no tourist trap!

 

casavelhafrontCasa Velha

Rua de Cacela Velha

Vila Nova de  Cacela

Algarve

Tel: 281 952 297