Back we were in Catalonia for the summer! This time, to get away from the big city, we ventured north to the Costa Brava. In particular we aimed for two small fishing villages – El Port de la Selva and Cadaques – and it’s the first village that I’ll feature in this post. To get to the Costa Brava, many people drive but it’s entirely possible to do it by public transport; you just need to be aware of the timetables. We chose Cadaques as it’s known to be beautiful and we both had never been; El Port de la Selva was chosen for its size (tiny) and its beaches and culture (plenty).

Our first part of our journey from Barcelona was a Rodalies train from Passeig de Gràcia to Llançà – you can buy your tickets on the day, a few minutes prior to the train’s departure. It was a very pleasant and uneventful 2 hour ride to Llançà, where we emerged at a station hotter than the fiery depths of hell. It was hot. Llançà is a coastal town but away from the coast, where the train station is located, oof.

Exit from the station and walk straight out and continue walking straight, over the bridge and onwards until you come to a road perpendicular. Turn left here and you’ll find the town hall. Across the road is the bus stop you’ll need. We stood there in the sun, dripping with sweat, and gazed at the very nice bus shelter on the opposite side of the road for buses going in the opposite direction. Gah. Anyway, we caught the bus for El Port de la Selva – this is a local bus and it was a little late, according to its timetable, but you can’t complain when you’re paying €1,80 for the 20 minute coastal ride.

Another view of El Port de la Selva, just before we left for Cadaqués.

We entered El Port de la Selva just in time to check into our hotel, have a little wander and then find some lunch. There were plenty of restaurants in the village and many with weekday menus. We settled for a lunch menu at Ca l´Herminda, a restaurant operating in the village since 1963. Their lunch menu was €16,50 and the first courses were very good, like this salad with anchovies – I love Catalan salads as they’re always full of variety.

Sardines Salad

It was to be seafood for the second courses. A seafood pasta was creamy and chock full of garlic. Perfect for longtime married couples!

Seafood Pasta

More garlic was had with this fabulous hake with thick toasted slices of garlic. Everything was excellent, including the paellas we saw at other tables.

Hake with Toasted Garlic

Their desserts were simple but excellent – we shared a crema Catalana and a large chunk of cold fresh watermelon.

Crema Catalana

After lunch, it was all about finding ourselves a quiet little beach and there are plenty to choose from in the area, from big beaches to little coves. The water in the region is crystal clear and it’s within the Parc Natural del Cap de Creus; it’s brilliant for snorkelling. No real photos from our time there but here’s a view of the harbour and the monastery (the speck on the hill) as we walked back to the village.

El Monastir de Sant Pere de Rodes in the distance

It’s here I’ll mention that the village was perfect for our needs – there’s plenty to do but it’s not crowded like many other towns along the coast. Most tourists were French (France is a short drive away and Blai’s mobile even managed to connect to a French network while we were at the beach).

Dinner that evening ended up being at El Rebost del Pescador, a new tapas bar we happened to pass. When I discovered that it was linked to its neighbouring Confraria de Pescadors del Port de la Selva, a fishermen’s collective, I insisted on eating there! For did I mention yet? El Port de la Selva is still a fishing village. I was expecting great things and we weren’t disappointed.

We tried almost everything that was available that night. The waiter made a special effort to point out the sardines fumades (smoked sardines), here served on slices of pa amb tomàquet. They were indeed excellent, lightly smoky and meaty.

Sardina fumada

I also need to try their home cured anchovies – and this was the best anchovy I’d ever had, all plump and tender and not overly salty.

Anxova de la Confraria de Pescadors

A Pomada d´en Manu turned out to be a kind of tuna salad with onions. I know that doesn’t sound particularly exciting but this was just superb.

Pomada d´en Manu

A melt in your mouth tender, local octopus was served sliced on sliced potatoes; again, this was some of the nicest octopus I’d ever had.

Pop roquer de Cala Prona

We ordered more after seeing a plate of something intriguing at a neighbouring table. It was mackerel off a tasting menu (€35 per person, including a bottle of wine between two) but off the regular menu, we got sardines en escabetx. These cooked sardines were falling apart in a beautifully vinegary sauce laced with plenty of sliced onions.

Sardina en encabetx

I also ordered a pintxo of their seitó de la Confraria – their own cured fresh anchovies (or boquerones). Beautiful. And with that, we tried all the seafood; it’s just a shame that they had run out of the red prawns from the region.

Seitó de la Confraria

All this with a couple of drinks totalled about €30. Bargain. You can purchase their preserved fishes and other local products in the restaurant too. Highly, highly recommended.

The next morning, after a hearty breakfast at the hotel, we set off for our hike to El Monestir de Sant Pere de Rodes – the monastery up the hill from El Port de la Selva. Our first stop was at a local shop/bakery where for about €5 we got a baguette turned into two sandwiches with freshly sliced chorizo and ham and cheese from the deli counter. We were not charged much more (if any more) than the cost of the baguette and the deli items by weight, and we got the bread rubbed with tomato in the Catalan way as well! Bargain! That was our picnic lunch sorted.


The hike up was difficult, much more so than our hikes in the Vall de Boí – the distance was greater and the heat! The heat! If you’re going to do this hike, do bring lots of water to keep you well hydrated. We walked all the way along the harbour until we reached a campsite. From there we went through the valley, via a tiny village called La Vall de Santa Creu and then up to the monastery.

The Monastery!

We only saw two other hikers on our way up and three on the way down; it was hot. The majority of visitors to the monastery drove there and they all looked cool and fresh whilst we looked like sweaty rats. The monastery was well worth the hike though and the views from up there were incredible.


If you don’t want to bring your own lunch, there’s a full restaurant and cafe inside.

We took a different route down, heading first to the carpark and taking the path down past the incredibly fortified Església de San Sebastià …

Església de San Sebastià

… and then the most beautiful village of La Selva de Mar. From there it was back to our hotel in El Port de la Selva. I read somewhere that the fishermen in times past worked in El Port de la Selva and lived in La Selva de Mar. The latter village was clearly heavily fortified against the many pirates that used to visit the region.

La Selva de Mar

Our final dinner that night in El Port de la Selva was at Monterrey, the restaurant that was owned by our hotel. While our hotel was located a little back from the coast, their restaurant was right by the beach, well, and a road. It’s a good position and we got an outdoor table with a lovely view of the harbour (reservations recommended).

We pushed the boat out when ordering (we deserved it after the hike!). First up, a snack of delicious fried xipirons, tiny little squids.


It’s only after this trip that I’ve realised that we ordered a lot of escalivada, here again with anchovies. We can’t help it – we love this Catalan grilled vegetable dish!

Escalivada with Anchovies

We couldn’t leave without sharing a rice dish between us – we chose the seafood paella, which was cooked more like a Catalan rice than a Valencian paella.

Seafood Paella

The grains of rice were a little undercooked and it was a little wet (hence the Catalan rice dish comparison) but overall the flavour was outstanding. There was plenty of seafood within and we finished the entire thing. Uh… no dessert for us then.

Seafood Paella

We did have a little walk to a local ice cream joint though – Gelats Artesans Galiana! I have no photos but their ice creams were fantastic and we went there both nights we were in the town. My favourite was their orxata sorbet but their pistachio ice cream was also excellent.

Thinking about this sorbet de orxata in El Port de la Selva.... #latergram

Overall, we ate very well in El Port de la Selva! Our second stop was Cadaqués – and that’s for the next post!

It was my birthday last month and I was particularly disorganised this year. Three days prior, I still hadn’t figured out how I would celebrate this now slightly depressing occasion. Noodles had to feature somewhere (symbolising long life in the Chinese culture) but didn’t necessarily have to be at dinner; I could scarf down a bowlful at lunchtime. Barbecue? Did I want meat? Comfort food? What was exciting in London? Somehow after a lot of googling and a lot of perusing lists, we fixed on A. Wong, the upscale Chinese restaurant in Victoria. The main thing was that it had space that evening. Noodles sorted then.

As I’d booked so close to the date at this clearly very popular and lauded restaurant, it was an early dinner for the two of us. And we sat in the dark basement – when I do return, I hope I get a table upstairs where it’s light and airy. Apologies then for the very dark photos.

Chilli oils, two of them, arrived at the table, both distinct but it was difficult to exactly figure out what was in them due to the lack of light. I think there was dried tofu in one and beans in the other?

Chilli Oils

We started with the fanciest prawn cracker I’d ever seen: the A. WONG Prawn cracker (£2.50), topped with various pickles and sauces and some fried ‘seaweed’ too.

A. WONG Prawn cracker

Chengdu street tofu, soy chilli, peanuts, preserved vegetables (£3.50) was a little cup of lovely delicate soft tofu all spicy and moreish.

Chengdu street tofu, soy chilli, peanuts, preserved vegetables

63 degree ‘tea egg’ with shredded filo (£5.95) was served with a smouldering cinnamon stick for some atmosphere… only ours wasn’t really smouldering and Blai grabbed it without realising that it was supposed to be a burning stick, almost causing me to scream. Yeah, more light was definitely needed. Apart from that, the egg was all melty and lovely on the crunchy filo nest.

63 degree ‘tea egg’ with shredded filo

I had heard that there was an element of theatre with the food here and it was most apparent with the Xian city ‘lamb burger’ with sesame, coriander and chilli and Xinjiang pomegranate salad (£12). This didn’t exactly work down in the basement as we couldn’t make out what exactly was in the bowl. Pulled lamb, sesame seeds, what’s that chopped stuff? Is that salad? We piled everything onto the provided buns and tucked in. Tasty but not particularly special.

Xian city ‘lamb burger’ with sesame, coriander and chilli and Xinjiang pomegranate salad

Xian city ‘lamb burger’ with sesame, coriander and chilli and Xinjiang pomegranate salad

I really enjoyed a dish of Yunnan wild mushrooms, truffles and red date casserole (£8) which came topped with a thin sheet of fried tofu skin. The flavours were strong and novel and went well with …

Yunnan wild mushrooms, truffles and red date casserole

Yunnan wild mushrooms, truffles and red date casserole

… a generously filled bowl of excellent Egg fried rice (£3). All the food up to this point had been very flavourful and we never needed to turn to the chilli oils on the table. However with the remains of the fried rice, the chilli oils proved to be fabulous.

Egg fried rice

The noodles! I had expected more noodles on the menu but there only appeared to be Singapore fried noodles and those that we ordered: Hong Kong tossed noodles with sea urchin butter and shrimp roe (£12). These very rich and buttery worms were served with a broth, like dry HK noodles typically are, and we were told to dip the noodles in the broth before slurping them. They also made a big show of sprinkling the shrimp roe on the noodles. Always one to break the rules, I ate the noodles and then drank the broth, HK style.

Hong Kong tossed noodles with sea urchin butter and shrimp roe

Dessert time! It was my birthday and there was no way this course was going to be missed! We went for the Taste of A. WONG desserts (£22), which was all of the available desserts (at a small discount). Now this is where I felt the restaurant really excelled.

Poached meringue, lychee granite, mango puree, orange sorbet and lotus roots came as two parts – a plate of the meringue shaped like a mandarin orange, filled with an ice cream and the granite and puree served separately in a tea cup. The waitress opened up a red packet and poured its contents onto our plate – lotus root crisps.

Poached meringue, lychee granite, mango puree, orange sorbet and lotus roots

Poached meringue, lychee granite, mango puree, orange sorbet and lotus roots

The Tea smoked banana, nut crumble, chocolate and caramel came as a chocolate sphere and this time our waitress poured on hot caramel from on high and yeah, sorry, the photo was taken after this. It all looks like a splodge. Oh, but it was a gloriously fantastic splodge of caramel goo and chocolate and banana puree and lots of crumble. Utterly fantastic.

Tea smoked banana, nut crumble, chocolate and caramel

I liked the order in which they brought out the desserts. Coconut, white chocolate, strawberries, yoghurt and mochi was a refreshing plate of ices and textures.

Coconut, white chocolate, strawberries, yoghurt and mochi

Overall, the food was excellent though I didn’t need the extra steps/theatre involved with some of the courses. That said, I’m keen to return to try their dim sum. Upstairs on the ground floor. With light.

A. Wong
70 Wilton Road
Victoria, London

I brought a friend to Smoking Goat on Denmark Street last month to finally try their food (it’s all about Thai-style barbecue here) and see what the fuss was all about. It did live up to expectations!

From the specials board, we chose a Grilled Pork Skirt with Nahm Prik Som (£13). This arrived first and I loved the hot and sour flavours throughout.

Grilled Pork Skirt with Nahm Prik Som

Fish Sauce Wings (£7) were, I believe, their version of the Pok Pok (hailing from Portland, Oregon) ones. These battered wings had been dragged through a sticky, umami-laden sauce and while they were good, I thought perhaps grilling the wings would have worked better.

Fish Sauce Wings

The Whole Cornish Mackerel with Nahm Prik Pao (£15) on their regular menu was recommended to us and it did live up to expectations. The oily fish is always excellent when grilled and the savoury nahm prik pao (like a chilli jam) worked well with the strongly flavoured fish.

Whole Cornish Mackerel with Nahm Prik Pao

For our veggies and to sop up all the wonderful juices and sauces, we shared an order of Som Tam Bangkok with sticky rice (£6.50). The salad was excellent and refreshing and they offered us plenty of sticky rice in little bags as the meal went on.

Som Tam Bangkok

Sticky Rice

For nonalcoholic drinks, I’d stick to their proffered pandan infused water; the flavoured waters we ordered off the menu weren’t particular interesting or worth the £3 or so. Overall, though, the food was indeed very good.

Smoking Goat

7 Denmark Street
London WC2H 8LZ

We were looking for some dinner in Soho and I had narrowed down a list of nearby restaurants to a few. From that list, Blai chose Bukowski Grill, which specialises in American grilled stuff, all cooked over charcoal on a Josper grill. It was our first time there and for some reason, in the five years that the original joint’s been open, it hadn’t really hit my radar. I’ve only just found out now that this Soho branch, their largest restaurant, only opened earlier this year.

I think it was the burgers on the menu that put me off initially – there seem to be a million burger restaurants in London and most are quite good. Bukowski Grill, thankfully, has other things on their menu as well and it was these that caught out eyes. We started with a nibble of Tasso pig cheek with pickled peach relish (£3.50). For the price, it was a generous little dish of pig cheek prepared as a hot spiced ham. In a weird way, it reminded me a little of a spicy char siu!

Dinner at Bukowski Grill in Soho. Excellent stuff!

We felt we needed to order the highlighted 72 hour beef rib with tobacco onions (£12.25) – and we had no idea what to expect. It was certainly not this beautiful beast. This massive beef rib was fantastic, all smoky and tender, and equally magnificent were the tobacco onions, which turned out to be fried onion strings. Gnawing on the rib felt a little like being in the Flintstones.

Dinner at Bukowski Grill in Soho. Excellent stuff!

A fried chicken thigh milk buttermilk waffle with green chilli maple syrup (£8.50), with a fried egg (£1.50) in our case, was also excellent. Can’t go wrong with chicken and waffles and the spicy syrup made this version quite unique.

Dinner at Bukowski Grill in Soho. Excellent stuff!

We had some chips on the side as well but… no photo of that. They were chips. They were good.

A little sweet thing was exactly what we needed now. A salted caramel soft serve ice cream with peanut butter brittle (£3.25) was near perfect. I liked the salty caramel ice cream but the peanut butter brittle needed to be in smaller, more manageable pieces (and the best peanut brittle I’ve had has been the stuff from this shop in North Vancouver, BC, Canada).

Dinner at Bukowski Grill in Soho. Excellent stuff!

I think what surprised me were the very reasonable prices for everything and all the dishes flying past us did look great – the milkshakes and, yes, even the burgers. It’s a fun little spot, with plenty of seating, and lots of Bukowski‘s NSFW poetry on the bathroom doors. I’m keen to visit earlier in the day too to try their brunch menu.

Bukowski Grill
10-11 D’Arblay Street
London  W1f 8DT

There are branches in Brixton and Shoreditch too.

What with all the flying out of Gatwick’s South Terminal in the last few months, I’ve had the chance to try Bruno Loubet’s Grain Store Cafe a few times already. I still haven’t tried the original restaurant at King’s Cross but I know there’s an emphasis on vegetables, without being a fully vegetarian restaurant. Healthy without being boring.

Our flight to Milan earlier this year was a morning one and we took the chance to eat off their breakfast menu. Bruno’s Power Breakfast was a small platter of eggs benedict, truffles, broccolini, grilled vegetable ratatouille with dukkah and avocado on toast. I loved the emphasis on greenery for breakfast and that avocado toast was excellent stuff. The only letdown was the hollandaise made without butter….without butter, it’s not hollandaise, sorry.

Bruno's Power Breakfast

Baghdad Eggs were fried eggs and spiced butter on salt-baked celeriac waffles. I don’t think I could detect the celeriac in the waffle batter but the combination was fresh and fantastic.

Baghdad Eggs

My flight to Stockholm was after work on a Friday, meaning that dinner was going to be a long way off. A selection of small dishes seemed like the perfect nibble – Thai minced chicken (this looked like larb in lettuce cups and was served with watermelon), a Greek-style dish of artichokes/tomatoes/cauliflower/mushrooms, and grilled aubergine with tonnato sauce. Everything was fine and just tasty enough. OK, nothing was spectacular but y’know, very good and very creative for an airport.

Small Dishes - Thai-style chicken, artichokes and tomatoes, aubergines.

Sweet potato fries were also ordered and were perfect. Extracting them from their plant pot was like playing a gustatory version of pick-up sticks though.

Sweet Potato Fries

Then the flight to Bordeaux (you would have thought I’d deliberately flown out of Gatwick South Terminal this year…) had me looking for a snack. I spotted the avocado toast on another table and ordered that…but with a side of bacon. The hipster snack was perfect – the avocado fresh and well seasoned. I didn’t need nor want the sliced onions on the side – onion breath is always a faux pas on an airplane.

Avocado Toast

The bacon was overcooked though and had turned into bacon jerky, just a bit too chewy for my liking. I’d skip that next time and uh…maybe get more sweet potato fries.


Other dishes that looked good (as they whizzed past me) include their burgers, their salads, and their fish and chips. It’s fun, it’s creative, it’s mostly healthy. I think it’s a great addition to Gatwick and possibly the best place to eat in Gatwick South. The only thing that would make it better is more reliable free wifi but hey, that’s just me.

Grain Store Café and Bar

Gatwick Airport
South Terminal

After a couple days at home after Stockholm, it was back in the air and over to Bordeaux for another work do. I landed in the evening and immediately set out in search of dinner – a friend from Bordeaux recommended Le Scopitone and it was there I headed. I was very taken with the little retro restaurant!


I was brought a little tapenade on toast to nibble on whilst I perused the menu. There’s a fantastic set menu deal that changes daily but I went a la carte to get the fish I desired. Service was lovely – one waitress offered me a local newspaper to read while I waited for my meal (I was by myself) though perhaps the grisly front page news of a found body wasn’t so meal appropriate. Anyway, great service!


I started with a brilliant tarte fine with grilled vegetables…brilliant because it was an unexpected large pile of those grilled vegetables and salad and a soft boiled egg on a little sliver of pastry. Yes, take my word for it – there was a bit of pastry under that salad and I loved it all.

Tarte Fine with Grilled Vegetables

My main course was monkfish with morels, all with a rich cream sauce and an equally rich slice of potato gratin. Oh, and more roast vegetables. The food here was excellent and the portion sizes massive!

Monkfish with Morels

Le Scopitone

Le Scopitone
5 Rue Vieille Tour

After dinner, I strolled around the city centre and it is exceptionally beautiful down by the water and here at the Bourse and the Miroir d’Eau!

Bordeaux Palais de la Bourse

Porte Cailhau

I was wandering around Bordeaux on another day when I came across this adorable Uighur restaurant – Route de la Soie. It was exactly what I felt like that afternoon and settled in for a plateful of polo, here served with the salad of the day and some yogurt. Polo was their pilau rice, very similar to an Uzbek plov, made with lamb and lots of grated carrots. The salad was mainly cold glass noodles with carrots and cucumbers in a moreish garlicky dressing.


This place is brilliant if you’re looking for a little something different!

Route de la Soie
48 Rue des Faures

I didn’t have much time to see lots of sights but did have time for another bit of a stroll through the city.

Clocher Saint-Michel and Basilique Saint-Michel

Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux

I loved the quays area and found myself back there again, this time during the day. This time, I could see that the Miroir didn’t just fill up with water but could also release a spray that made everything look all moody and fantastic.


On my last evening, a group of us headed back to the centre of the city and randomly chose a restaurant with a very Bordelaise menu – this turned out to be Père Chabrot, a relatively new restaurant located in an old wine cellar. My starter of salade de gésiers was delicious – the confit duck gizzards were wonderfully tender and the entire salad was enlivened with a raspberry vinaigrette.

Salade de gésiers

My faux filet avec sauce Bordelaise was cooked perfectly à point. Good stuff – I was a little surprised that despite its proximity to water, the cuisine of Bordeaux is mainly defined by meat. I loved the sauce Bordelaise, made with red wine and marrow.

Faux Filet avec Sauce Bordelaise

The accompanying fries were excellent and there were enough for the whole table!


Not bad!

Père Chabrot
30 Rue Saint-Rémi

And, of course, one couldn’t leave without trying Bordeaux’s most famous pastry: the canelé. The place to get them is Baillardran, and there are quite a few branches scattered around Bordeaux and at the airport too. It was at the airport that I picked up a few to take home.

Last one. 😐

They’re apparently not everyone’s cup of tea and I originally thought they perhaps weren’t mine. I realised that I liked them when I tried the original size (as pictured above) – these were custardy and vanillaey and with a lovely chewy crust. You don’t get the nice contrasts with the smaller sizes. Go big with canelés!

It’s a great city to visit for a couple of days and there’s certainly some good eating there. If you’re a fan of wine, well, the recently opened Cité du Vin is surely up your street (not so for me as I cannot drink wine – a bit of a shame in Bordeaux!). All my photos from this short trip to Bordeaux can be found in this album.

I was looking for lunch around Charlotte Street one Sunday when I happened upon the simple little joint that is Pide. When I say simple, I mean there’s a menu on the wall, a little seating in the front, and an oven in the back. And, yes, they sell pide and lahmacun, all freshly made and freshly baked when you order it. Apart from those, there are ready made salads and dips and sides of kofte, falafel, halloumi and chicken wings. Everything on the menu is well-priced and if you order lahmacun (or multiples of lahmacun), as I did, you can get the salads and dips at a discount.

A small order of Shepherds salad was lovely and refreshing – tomato, cucumber, onion, Turkish peppers, all with a little sumac on top.

Lunch at Pide on Charlotte Street.

I got a dip as well – quite a generous little tub of cacik, the classic garlicky, minty cucumber and yoghurt dip.

Lunch at Pide on Charlotte Street.

That dip was indeed perfect for my lamb lahmacun, fresh out of the oven served on a large sheet of paper. This was excellent stuff, all warm and lamby and intensely savoury and with a dab of the yoghurt, gosh. Gosh, it was good.

Lunch at Pide on Charlotte Street.

I ordered chicken wings too! These were grilled (I guess in the oven?) and then tossed with a spicy sauce. They weren’t the most exciting things but they hit the spot.

Lunch at Pide on Charlotte Street.

All of this plus a Turkish tea at the end came to less than a tenner – a total bargain by my books. And with a bit of this and a bit of that, I think I put together a relatively healthy and balanced meal, no?

Lunch at Pide on Charlotte Street.

I’m keen to try their pides and the rest of the lahmacun toppings. And their kofte too!

45 Charlotte Street
London W1T 1RU

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