Travel


I went to visit my brother in Leigh-on-Sea a couple weekends ago and was utterly charmed by the little town, yes, by the sea. I loved the old fishing village of Old Leigh and I loved the independent shops and restaurants along the Broadway. And I loved all the food I ate while there. Dinner was at Agostinho’s, a Portuguese restaurant I’d identified as promising and we made a booking for the Saturday night.

Agostinho is the head chef in the kitchen and his very chatty and friendly wife leads the front of house team. Agostinho is from Madeira, which as a fact by itself isn’t odd but what is odd is that the other Portuguese restaurants in the Leigh/Southend area (there are three in total, I think) are all run by Madeirans. The only things I knew about this Portuguese island were the basket rides down the hills and the fortified wine. According to Wikipedia, a particularly Madeiran speciality is fish with fried bananas….. ok, I’d see what else Madeira has to offer then!

Do make sure to book a table – the place was packed when we got there at 9am. The menu is full of lots of tempting things but we decided to share just the one starter when we saw the size of the main courses. To start, one order of their homemade Pasteis De Bacalhau (£5.95). These fried morsels sure beat any of the manufactured frozen pasteis many Portuguese cafes use – these were light and fluffy and full of fish (and boneless!).

Pasteis De Bacalhau

We shared two of the mains. A Portuguese Caldeira De Peixe E Mariscos (£16.95) was a huge warming bowl of a tomato based seafood stew. Various fishes, mussels, and squid were found swimming inside along with chunks of potato and slices of peppers. The dish is perfect for any seafood lover and the broth was fantastic. We had rice on the side to soak up that broth.

Caldeira De Peixe E Mariscos

Rice

We also split an Espetada a Moda da Madeira (£14.75), a grilled skewer of sirloin and bay leaves in a wine sauce with lots of garlic. If this is Madeiran food, then Madeiran food is insanely delicious. The meat was perfectly tender (medium-rare at our request) and I was mopping up that fabulously winey sauce with the equally perfectly sauteed potatoes.

Espetada a Moda da Madeira

I was feeling guilty about the lack of vegetables and ordered a side of Runner Beans (£4.00 for two servings) for us. Simple (well, simple and butter-tossed) and just what we needed on the side.

Runner Beans

Dinner

Despite the both of us feeling pretty bloated, I insisted on squeezing in a dessert, especially when I saw (from a neighbouring table) that they had a homemade Portuguese Molotofe Pudding (Caramel Soufflé), Roasted Almonds (£5.25). This light and truly very airy dessert is like a regular caramel flan but with the texture and density of clouds. I mean, c’mon, it’s mostly air! I don’t think any of the whipped cream was necessary – if it’s just me and the Molotofe, I’ll be happy.

Portuguese Molotofe Pudding (Caramel Soufflé), Roasted Almonds

It was no surprise then that this restaurant was packed that Saturday night. Service was friendly, the food was excellent, the room was warm and cosy. It’s almost the opposite of many of the newer, louder wine bars in the area but I like it very much for that reason!

Agostinho’s
157 Leigh Road
Leigh-on-Sea, Essex
SS9 1JF

Another travel post! I was in Genoa in Northern Italy for work a few weeks ago (my first trip there) and despite it being a very short visit, I managed to pack in quite a lot of eating. I really wasn’t very prepared for the trip, having to spend more time on the work part of things, but the city surprised me – it turns out that Genoa has the largest medieval city centre in Europe, an entirely rejuvenated old port area, and plenty of affordable and excellent eating. I also had a short list of the food highlights of Genoa and Liguria (thanks for the list, A!) and I did manage to eat all the main things on it!

It all started on my first lunch break when I wandered into Zena Zuena on Via XX Settembre. This “fast food” eatery had a number of foccacias and pizzas on display and locals were crowding the counter to get a couple slices for their midday meal. I joined the scrum and ordered a bowl of minestrone alla genovese and slice of Focaccia di Recco.

Lunch

The minestrone in Genoa is tinged green, being laced with the fabulous pesto of the region, and was served with a slice of the typical bread of the region – focaccia, topped with lots of olive oil and a bit of rosemary (tucked in the napkin in the corner). The foccacia di Recco is also known as focaccia al formaggio; it’s not like the usual thicker focaccia but is made of dough as is used with pizza, rolled very thinly and is used to sandwich a layer of cheese (usually a fresh stracchino). The entirely thing is cooked in a pizza oven until the bread is cooked and the cheese is oozing out.

After work, while wandering around the medieval centre, making the most of the fading light, I encountered many enticing food shops and bakeries and not having a moment for aperitivo, I stepped into one bakery with trays of farinata in their window.

Farinata

A snack sized portion of farinata was sliced off for me – only 60 cents! I think many people do this when alone as they didn’t blink when I asked for it.

Snack Sized Portion of Farinata - 60 cents!

As for the farinata – it was a thin baked pancake made of chickpea flour, not unlike the socca of Nice. I loved it.

Anyway, that little snack was a precursor to a proper meal – I had identified Trattoria Ugo as a place serving traditional Genovese cuisine at very reasonable prices and I went early to ensure I’d get a seat. I needn’t have worried; the trattoria was quiet on a Tuesday night but not worryingly quiet – many locals trickled in through the evening.

In the Trattoria

For my primo, pansotti con salsa di noci, a very typical pasta dish from Genoa. Pansotti are a type of ravioli that’s normally shaped as triangles but here were made into semicircles; they’re filled with wild greens and the intensely creamy and cheesy walnut sauce paired incredibly with them.

Inside the Pansotti

For my main course, I ordered the house special – acciughe ripiene (stuffed anchovies), served with breaded and fried mushrooms, a slice of aubergine prepared the same way, and grilled vegetables. I tried asking what the anchovies were stuffed with but there didn’t seem to be an actual answer – I believe they’re always stuffed with the same thing: cheese, garlic and breadcrumbs. Here they were fried but I saw many delicatessens also selling them roasted. Delicious.

Acciughe Ripiene

For dessert, I chose a budino alla vaniglia con cioccolato fondente – a homemade vanilla pudding with dark chocolate. This smooth pudding was a little firmer than a pannacotta but was no less delicious for it.

Budino alla Vaniglia con Cioccolato Fondente

Three courses (without drinks) totaled €27.

The next day, I used my long lunch break to trek to Antica Sa’Pesta, an old restaurant in the medieval part of the city. The place looks like time stood still from the beginning of the century, with its old wooden tables with shared seating.

Antica Sa' Pesta

I ordered only a single dish, their gnocchi with pesto (there’s usually something with pesto each day) – I had heard great things about their pesto and I wasn’t to be let down. The gnocchi were excellent but it was the pesto that stuck with me – it was an extraordinarily vibrant green and with a great basil and cheese flavour. If it was one thing that surprised me, it was the amount of cheese that went into the pesto here.

Gnocchi with Pesto

Various baked pies and dishes were also on offer for takeaway. I wanted to try one of the vegetable pies that are so common in the region and went with a slice of torta di bietole, made with Swiss chard, to takeaway.

Torta di Bietole

I ate it later after work and though it was a bit on the soggy side, it was fantastically delicious. There was a thick layer of a fresh cheese on top of the cooked chard and the flavour of it all had me wolfing it down with my fingers.

After the pesto lunch, on the way back to work, I grabbed a gelato from Cremeria della Erbe, meant to be one of the best gelato purveyors in the city. I was surprised by how soft the gelato was but was reassured by a local that this was how it’s meant to be. My strawberry sorbet and coffee-ciok (coffee gelato studded with milk chocolate bits) were fabulous.

Gelato number two

That evening, I sought a shop that has been selling candied fruit for centuries – Pietro Romanengo fu Stefano.

Pietro Romanengo fu Stefano

Inside, I found the saleswoman wrapping Christmas pandolce … for Carluccio’s! So yeah, Carluccio’s pandolce is from this most famous of Genovese shops. I’ll be trying one this Christmas for sure! Anyway, I returned home this time with some of their candied chestnuts (scented with a bit of orange blossom) and chocolate covered candied orange peel, some of our favourite things.

On my last morning, I returned to a cafe just a few doors down from Pietro Romanengo fu Stefano – this cafe was Fratelli Klainguti and it and the candied fruit shop were both greatly favoured by Italy’s most famous composer, Giuseppi Verdi, who spent over 30 winters in the city.

Fratelli Klainguti

I decided to try their Falstaff, Verdi’s most loved hazelnut paste filled brioche.

Verdi's Falstaff

With a cappuccino, that was my breakfast that morning. The Falstaff was very good (the hazelnut paste was incredible) but to me, didn’t need that extra sugar fondant on top. Verdi clearly liked his pastries very very sweet!

A Cappuccino and Falstaff

There’s even a signed picture from Verdi himself, proclaiming that the cafe’s Falstaff is better than his own!

Verdi

Right before I headed to the airport, I visited the Mercato Orientale in search of some fresh pasta and pesto to bring home. I did find some but I also discovered a busy, vibrant market with beautiful fish, meat and produce of the region. Oh, how I wished I could have brought it all home!

Untitled

If you’re looking for more Ligurian specialities, the ones I didn’t have time to seek out were: stoccafisso accomodato (a stew of dried unsalted cod), coniglio alla ligure (Ligurian-style rabbit), trippe (tripe). And you know what? The city is extremely pretty too – make sure you find time to visit the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo (avoiding lunchtime when it’s closed!) and the numerous palazzi.

Cattedrale di San Lorenzo

Untitled

Porto Antico

All my photos from my short trip can be found in this Flickr album.

Like I said previously, Boston was full of good eating and I wanted to put together a post of the bits and pieces I had throughout the week and they’re listed here in no particular order.

One afternoon, I skipped the conference lunch and headed off looking for my own, better one. I came across a series of food trucks near Kendall Square in Cambridge and the name of one caught my eye – I’d heard good things about the Clover Food Truck. They have a few trucks and even a few proper restaurants now.

Clover Food Truck

It’s only at this truck though that you can get the Brussels Sprout – a sandwich of fried brussels sprouts, cheese, pickled red cabbage, hazelnuts and a garlic sauce. It was fantastic – I love fried Brussels sprouts and making them the centrepiece of a sandwich is genius.

The Brussels Sprout

Clover Food Truck
Kendall Square
Carleton St
Cambridge, MA 02142
USA

Clover Food Truck on Urbanspoon

One night we headed down to The Barking Crab for more seafood. And more seafood we had! There was about a 20 minute wait since we didn’t have a reservation for the loud, bustling restaurant but we got a big table, necessary for our platters of crab legs and lobster…

Junior: 1lb. Snow Crab Legs & 1.25 lb. Lobster

…and our lobster roll.

Lobster Roll

Our table was full! The Barking Crab has its critics but we all had a great time with great food. I really need more crab legs in my life.

Dinner

The Barking Crab
88 Sleeper St
Boston, MA 02210
USA

The Barking Crab on Urbanspoon

I took the opportunity to try the Bonchon on the Harvard campus while I was taking a look around. This is a Korean chain of restaurants that are famous for their Korean fried chicken.

I wasn’t able to order from their lunch menu (only available on weekdays) so had to make do with the a la carte menu (which was also full of other classic Korean dishes). I ordered the smallest possible order of wings in their famous hot sauce and a side order of rice; the wings came with pickled radish (fine) and coleslaw (watch out for the garlic!).

Bonchon Chicken and Sides

The wings were outstanding – the skin of the chicken was shatteringly crisp, even towards the end of the meal and there was a pleasing heat in the sauce that made my lips tingle happily. Please come to London, Bonchon!

Bonchon
Harvard Square
57 John F Kennedy St
Cambridge, MA 02138
USA

Bonchon Harvard Square on Urbanspoon

For most of the week, I stayed at a hotel a stone’s throw from Toscanini’s Ice Cream in Cambridge. The New York Times calls their ice creams the best in the world but I’m more content with calling them the best in Boston (sorry, the gelati in Italy wins hands down!). Coffee Hydrox and Creamsicle were both very very rich – their full cream ice cream is some seriously heavy stuff. The flavours were good though not mindblowing.

Coffee Hydrox and Creamsicle ice creams at Toscanini's in Cambridge (Boston) last night.

I did better after I got recommendations on Instagram – this is their B3 – brown butter, brown sugar and brownies. I also heard good things about their burnt caramel but never got around to trying it.

Tonight's Toscanini ice cream was the B3. Brown butter, brown sugar and brownies. Thanks for the rec, @heyreese !!

Toscanini’s Ice Cream
899 Main St.
Cambridge, MA 02139
USA

Toscanini's Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

I had one day off in Boston and, this being by first time in the city, used it to walk along the Freedom Trail. I diverted a bit on Hanover Street to get myself to Mike’s Pastry for one of their famous cannoli. It’s not difficult to find – just go in the opposite direction of the happy looking people clutching bakery boxes from the shop.

Espresso Cannoli

I battled my way through the indecisive crowd and got myself an espresso cannolo. The fried pastry was wonderfully crunchy even when filled with the cream (the filling is much lighter in texture than the Sicilian ones I’ve had in the past). It’s definitely worth the detour.

Mike’s Pastry
300 Hanover St
Boston, MA 02113
USA

Mike's Pastry on Urbanspoon

Finally, I can’t finish the series on Boston without mentioning Legal Sea Foods. We went to the branch at Kendall Square (Cambridge) for a work dinner on our first night there and the selection of starters we split first really shone compared to the mains – here were their excellent New England fried clams. Or maybe I just filled up on the starters and didn’t have a chance to properly appreciate my crab cake. Hmm.

New England Fried Clams

I even found time to fit in a final cup of their fantastic clam chowder at a branch at Logan International Airport (there’s a Legal Sea Foods at every terminal, I believe). It was a good end to the trip.

Clam Chowder

Legal Sea Foods
5 Cambridge Center
Cambridge, MA 02142
USA

Legal Sea Foods - Kendall Square on Urbanspoon

And that’s it for Boston (and Cambridge)! As is usual, all my photos from Boston (and photos from my walk along the Freedom Trail) can be seen in this Flickr album.

I wanted to treat myself on my last night in Boston and, from what I could see online, Craigie on Main in Cambridge was exactly what I was looking for – serving modern cuisine made from local ingredients. With a James Beard Award winning chef (Tony Maws) at the helm and with other numerous awards, it was certainly going to be good; I booked myself in for a solo dinner on a Friday night. When I arrived that evening, the place was packed, again a consequence of that ridiculously busy weekend, but the hostess, seeing that I was by myself, did her best to seat me as soon as possible (and at a lovely window seat overlooking the entire restaurant too). Service overall was excellent – my waitress had already picked up on the fact that I was from out of town (the mobile phone number for my booking gave that away).

A number of options were available in the evenings, three courses of your choice, a 6-course tasting menu and an 8-course tasting menu. It was the 6-course tasting menu ($98) for me. Bread and butter were promptly set before me and I tried my best not to fill up on it!

Bread and Butter

The meal started with an amuse of green tomato gazpacho with golden raisins and peekytoe crab. I loved the slight tang of this cold soup and the raisins and crab added a good balancing sweetness to it. I never would have thought of eating green tomatoes in this way.

Green Tomato Gazpacho

The first of the tasting menu’s six courses was sashimi of madai with heirloom tomatoes, a confit tomato and crispy quinoa. I enjoyed this light start and could see that this was going to be a good meal. Actually, all the tasting menu dishes surprised me that night as I had originally expected perhaps smaller versions of the dishes on the a la carte. But this wasn’t the case – everything was original.

Sashimi of Madai

Another fish dish came next – slow cooked swordfish and shrimp in lobster sauce with seabeans and chorizo. The textures of the seafood were incredible, both turning out completely differently after slow cooking – the meaty swordfish and the silky shrimp.

Slow Cooked Swordfish and Shrimp

I loved the handmade trofiette pasta with sweetbreads and mushrooms that came next. The mushroom sauce coating the pasta was incredibly rich and the fried sweetbreads made it all even richer. Heaven.

Handmade Trofiette Pasta with Sweetbreads and Mushrooms

For the meat course, I was surprised to be presented with lamb – it’s not a meat I come across very often in North America. Here was lamb two ways – confit belly and leg (I think?) served with couscous, green tomato puree and shishito peppers. And it really was some of the best lamb I’d had all year.

Lamb Two Ways - Confit Belly and Leg

I was then presented with the first of my sweets: a Riesling sabayon with local wild blueberries and raspberries. While this was tasty, I did think the portion size was a bit mean. And with the second dessert being light and fruity, I did wish that this was something richer.

Riesling Sabayon

The light and fruity second dessert was a melon sherbet terrine with compressed spiced melon and mint meringue. This was a lovely end to the meal – very refreshing.

Melon Sherbet Terrine

Overall, it was a great meal and a great end to the trip. By the way, I hear they also serve an excellent brunch (I had originally planned a brunch there but the schedule didn’t allow for it).

Craigie on Main
853 Main Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
USA

Craigie On Main on Urbanspoon

You can’t go to Boston and not have seafood and one of the hottest places in the city to dine on seafood is the highly lauded Island Creek Oyster Bar and I managed to get a table for 5 of us at 9:30pm one night. Island Creek Oysters is still a working oyster farm today and we even had some of their oysters at Myers+Chang – this restaurant, Island Creek Oyster Bar, brought the farmer even closer to the diner.

Despite our making a booking though, we had to wait for almost an hour for our table as the restaurant ended up with more people than it could handle. (Actually, this seemed to be the case at all of Boston’s restaurants that weekend – there just seemed to be a huge influx of tourists in the city.) And we weren’t the only ones – we were all crowded at the entrance and the front of house did their best to calm the screamers (I’m not joking – there were some nutjobs waiting for a table too). When we were finally seated, we could see that the restaurant was larger than expected, curving round to the side, and that it looked great. And yeah, it was packed.

We ordered quite a few things and shared them all. We started with their Clam Chowder, made with hand-dug clams and house-cured bacon and a little buttermilk biscuit on top. The restaurant was kind enough to split two orders into five bowls for us, removing any need to figure out how to share it without swapping germs. Creamy and good even if the very strong bacon flavour surprised me at first.

Clam Chowder

A side order of a full-sized buttermilk biscuit was utterly gorgeous. American-style biscuits are one thing I really miss here in London and this one was just perfect, all tender and flaky and glazed with honey.

Buttermilk Biscuit

Fried Clams were insanely good – actually, all the fried seafood I had in Boston was excellent.

Fried Clams

The clams came with some fries but we ordered another side of them just in case we didn’t have enough food. It turns out we had enough food and really didn’t need these fries, however excellent they were.

Hand-cut Fries

I’d heard a lot about the restaurant’s Ethel’s Lobster Roll and we ordered two to split. They were delicious, each was overflowing with lobster pieces just held together by the mayo dressing. Forgive me, but I would have preferred fries to the potato chips (crisps) on the side but that’s just my preference.

Ethel's Lobster Roll

Another favourite of mine was Mrs Bennett’s Seafood Casserole. This was a very generous mixture of seafood cooked with seafood stock, cream and a bit of tomato paste amongst other nice things and topped with crushed crackers. It was lush and we kept finding lots of things including a small lobster tail that we split between us. I need to learn how to recreate this.

Mrs Bennett's Seafood Casserole

A colleague’s order of Herb Crusted Gloucester Cod was fine but not as exciting to me as all the other treats. Still, it was a unique to me combination of beans, yellow beans, chorizo and hot peppers underneath that large chunk of cod.

Herb Crusted Gloucester Cod

Orders from the raw bar took the longest as they were clearly getting hammered by the late night crowd. Fluke Crudo were slices of raw fluke marinated with orange, lime and sesame and there was a bit of chilli in there for spice too.

Fluke Crudo

A couple of us got oysters – these Chatham oysters were lovely and meaty (I prefer the flat meaty kinds to the large plump creamy types). I’ll never understand the need for cocktail sauce on an oyster though.

Chatham Oysters

I felt like exploding after that meal – there really was no space for dessert. I wish I’d left a little space for their peach cobbler but we were having trouble keeping our eyes open too after the long day (yeah, everything after this was a bit of a blur). Actually, I wish I could have tried everything on their menu.

If you’re curious, I think it worked out to about $45 per person. It’s a really fun, buzzing restaurant that I certainly highly recommend. Bookings are a must.

Island Creek Oyster Bar
500 Commonwealth Ave
Boston MA 02215
USA

Island Creek Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

I had been Googling for places to eat in Boston and I gotta say, Boston is one major foodie city. I was there with colleagues for work and in just one week, I managed to eat very very well and very very easily (I made bookings for almost everything only 1-2 days prior). High on my list was Myers+Chang, a restaurant owned by Christopher Myers and Joanne Chang (the latter is also the pastry chef and owner of the very popular Flour Bakery) featuring an Asian fusion menu. I was intrigued. And on Mondays and Tuesdays, they have a Cheap Date Night offer – set menus for two for $45. Budget menu? Excellent! Five colleagues and I were game.

The place (in South Boston) is a bit of a walk from the closest metro station and it being Monday night, the streets were empty – a huge contrast from the hip hop music blasting through the packed restaurant. Between the six of us, we ordered one of each of the three available Cheap Date Night menus. Everything came out at once, necessitating the addition of another table, but I’ll break them down here.

The “Bro Date”

Their Green Papaya Slaw, chilis, peanuts, fish sauce had a good chilli heat that was unexpected. Though it’s “fusion” cuisine, the seasonings haven’t been dumbed down.

Green Papaya Slaw

We had no idea what to expect with the Crispy Arctic Char Roll, nori, hot Chinese mustard but what arrived was fantastic. It’s a whole piece of arctic char wrapped in a spring roll wrapper and fried – gorgeous.

Crispy Arctic Char Roll

Of course, the Grilled Pork Belly Porchetta, shiitake, black vinegar, soft egg was one of my favourites! You can’t go wrong with tender pork belly and a soft boiled egg!

Grilled Pork Belly Porchetta

Spicy Silky Tofu, peppered pork, scallions, kimchee was pretty good, though perhaps lacking in spice.

Spicy Silky Tofu

The “Girls Night Out”

The Fresh Rolls, herbs, lettuce, tofu, chili peanut sauce were very much like the Vietnamese summer rolls.

Fresh Rolls

I love anything to do with roasted or fried cauliflower so the Sweet and Sour Cauliflower Bites, pickled shallots, fresh mint, toasted rice was right up my street.

Sweet and Sour Cauliflower Bites

A particular favourite of the table was the Kale and Sungold Salad, Korean chili vinaigrette, crispy shallots. Kale salad! I mean, really! It’s excellent!

Kale and Sungold Salad

The only slight dud in this menu was the Black Pepper Shanghai Noodles, tofu, shiitakes, peanuts, cilantro which I found a bit dull. Oh well, they’re fine as a filler-upper but I think there are other more exciting-sounding noodle or rice dishes on their regular dinner menu that might work here.

Black Pepper Shanghai Noodles

The “It’s Complicated”

Their Island Creek Oysters, yuzu snow were utterly fantastic – very fresh and set off with the slightly sweet and highly aromatic yuzu snow.

Island Creek Oysters

These grilled Peel and Eat Szechuan Shrimp, caramelized lemon, mouth numbing pepper were also excellent, with a kind of fusion Sichuan sambal thing going on on top.

Peel and Eat Szechuan Shrimp

I also enjoyed the Stuffed Rainbow Trout with Coconut Rice, tomato ginger jam, Penang spice – why haven’t I paired rainbow trout with sambal? It’s fantastic!

Stuffed Rainbow Trout with Coconut Rice

The Hakka Eggplant was very good, being all soft and silky, but the seasoning on it seemed a bit muted to me.

Hakka Eggplant

For six, this was just the right amount of food, leaving a little space for dessert (I was looking forward to trying Joanne Chang’s creations). It was a little difficult to split some of the items and I reckon it’s easier to split things between four rather than six. It’s clear though that these Date Night menus are well designed for two.

A Silky Chocolate Mousse, black and white sesame brittle, tamarind caramel was certainly very rich and very popular with our table.

Silky Chocolate Mousse

The Frozen Vanilla Bean Parfait, fresh orange granita was a cute play on the orange creamsicles I grew up with. And it was certainly superior to the creamsicles I grew up with.

Frozen Vanilla Bean Parfait

My favourite was the Lemon-Ginger Mousse Coupe, homemade fortune cookie and yes, there was a message inside the fortune cookie! I normally hate cheap fortune cookies but this homemade version, with lots of ginger in the batter, was outstanding, all buttery and crisp.

Lemon-Ginger Mousse Coupe

This is the kind of food I love – it may not be entirely “authentically” Asian but it tastes good and that’s what matters. I’m just upset I never had a chance to eat off their a la carte menu! There are so many things on their menu I want to eat: Korean bbq sloppy joe, fried chicken and ginger waffle, beef and broccoli chow fun…

Anyway, reservations are imperative for Cheap Date Nights.

Myers+Chang
1145 Washington St
Boston, MA
USA

Myers + Chang on Urbanspoon

We spent a morning at the beach in Barcelona and packed up come lunchtime and starting thinking about what to eat. Nothing at the beach looked appealing, with most of the xiringuitos blasting out extremely loud music. I suddenly thought of a Japanese place I’d been wanting to try and as we hadn’t had Asian food in a while, we were both game.

We hopped on the Metro and went to Passeig de Gracia and from there walked to c/Rosello and c/d’Enric Granados – it’s strange how just walking a few blocks from Rambla de Catalunya causes all the tourists to disappear! It was pretty much tourist-free around Akashi Gallery. For yes, the place I wanted to try is not only a sushi bar and restaurant but also a photo gallery and travel consultants. The restaurant could have been lifted directly from Japan – quirky furniture, cool plants, a raised tatami section, and even a small garden in the back. And the menu is full of things I want to eat – lots of authentic Japanese savouries but with an element of fusion apparent in the dessert menu.

Blai and I both went for the Akashi set (yes, one of those menus del dia), which included a nice little selection of different things from their menu. There were other sets available: sushi, sashimi, donburi. First to come was the miso soup, served like a first course. I would have preferred for it to be served with the rest of the food but my hunger meant that I slurped this up in no time at all.

Miso Soup

After our bowls were cleared, the sets were then brought out. Salmon sashimi, chicken and okara patties and a salad topped with Japanese potato salad were first served…

Akashi Set

…accompanied by onigiri (with mushrooms mixed in with the rice) and tamagoyaki. There’s enough variety there to keep you occupied!

Onigiri and Tamagoyaki

The sets come with ice cream or coffee/tea. Naturally, we both went for ice cream. Ginger for me (with lots of lovely candied ginger embedded within)…

Ginger Ice Cream

…and green tea for Blai.

Green Tea Ice Cream

We couldn’t help ourselves – we then asked for their dessert menu and ordered another one! An original old-fashioned kakigori ice shaver was calling to me by the sushi bar and it was the perfect weather for it too. Blai chose the strawberry and condensed milk kakigori which came out all luridly red but was utterly delicious.

Strawberry and Condensed Milk Kakigori

I finished the meal with coffee though from what I saw, it looks like they serve some fantastic tea. I’ll have that next time.

Coffee

Of course, you’re not limited to the set menus at lunchtime. There’s an a la carte menu available at lunch and dinnertime too. It’s a shame though that the gallery closes between lunch and dinner – their desserts would be fabulous for tea time! Nutella dorayaki or matcha tiramisu anyone?

Akashi Gallery
Rossello, 197
08036 Barcelona
Catalonia, Spain

That brings my holiday by the Med 2014 series to a close. All photos from Marseille and Barcelona (and Aix-en-Provence, Arles and Banyoles) can be found in this Flickr album.

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