Showing posts with label barcelona. Show all posts
Showing posts with label barcelona. Show all posts

Catalonian Croissants (Barcelona)

After arriving into Barcelona at 8:00 am, or midnight from the destination we flew in from, we were determined to power through the day to reduce jet lag. What we needed was a strong cup of coffee and some breakfast.

Catalonian coffee or European coffee in general, is richer and more flavourful than what we're used to in North America. When you order it with milk, it tastes similar to a North American cappuccino (minus the foam).




Catalonian croissant (1)


Little did I know, but, even croissants taste different - likely as North American versions follow the French recipe.

Instead of looking like a horn, they are crescent shaped. The baking temperature and/or duration are higher/stronger as the tips of the croissant are crispy and resemble croutons. Rather than being somewhat savoury, Catalonian croissants are glazed with a sweet egg wash so that it ends up tasting like sweet challah bread (except with toasty tips). It's not as buttery but still hits the spot!

At less than 4€ for 2 coffees and 2 croissants these are an excellent breakfast options while travelling in Barcelona.

Photo Sources:
  1. Foods from Spain (http://www.foodsfromspain.com/icex/cda/controller/pageSGT/0,9459,35868_6863776_6912650_4539865_0,00.html)

7 Portes (Barcelona)

Location: Barcelona, Spain
Address: Paseo Isabel II, 14 
Website: http://www.7portes.com/catala/index2.php
Type of Meal: Lunch

During the morning we were visiting Barcelonetta, the port/harbour area of Barcelona, and went to 7 Portes as I wanted paella and heard they had a long standing reputation in serving it.  I've previously eaten paella in Toronto's Little Spain and in Barcelona (at a budget friendly establishment as a student), so was excited to try something nicer and hopefully more authentic.

The restaurant is large, compared to other Barcelona restaurants, and reminds me of the old Fish Houses we had in Toronto.  

The waiter started us off with a basket of cold rolls and small plate of green olives (as a warning you're charged 7€ for and not given a choice of).  Each table has a selection of 2 or 3 types olive oils which are interesting to try although they taste very similar.

We each had a salad:
  • A seasonal salad for myself, which consists of different types of lettuce and endives with vegetable garnishs (a piece of carrot, celery, 2 wedges of tomatoes and sprig of green onion).  The salad was undressed but I could easily make a dressing with the oil, balsamic vinegar and salt available at the table.  There was nothing special at all about this dish but portion was large enough to serve 2 as a starter.

  • A rocket salad for my husband made up of spring mix salad and a large portion of baked goat cheese dressed with a raspberry (?) viniagrette.  The rocket salad was definitely the tastier of the two salad selections.
Seasonal salad (1)



We split the parellada "rich man's" paella which contained a mixture of chicken, chorizo, scallop, shrimp, calamari, mussels and lobster. I must admit, I was disappointed. When you look at the menu on 7 Porte's website they showcase large whole prawns and crab legs on their paella. What we received was chopped up pieces of rubbery meat and seafood in rice. 
For a city with such abundant seafood, the amount featured in the dish was extremely disappointing.  The prawns were small shrimps, the scallops & calamari cut into small cubes and the lobster one of the smallest I've ever seen - really a large crawfish at best.  As the meat and seafood was cut into such small pieces they were overcooked and lost all the texture and flavour seafood should have.  For all I know, the seafood could have been frozen as it certainly tasted like that. 


The rice itself was okay - wasn't too soggy from liquid but the actual flavour wasn't for me. Firstly, I expected the rice to be golden yellow (from saffron) and plump and fluffy in texture. The rice we received was light brown and seemed like it was drenched with soy sauce (which I know likely wasn't the case). After some post-trip research, I now realize the paella containing saffron, which is show cased on cooking shows, is the "Valencian" style. Whereas, the Mediterranean mixed paella generally does not contain this rare spice.

The bits scraped from the bottom of the pan tasted good as it had a smoky nutty flavour. So I'm not sure - was the paella just not cooked long enough or perhaps they should have served it in the pan rather than showing us the pan and then plating it?



Parellada paella (2)

Service was good; the staff weren’t overly friendly but attentive. The only problem arose as we had a difficult time getting our bill - it took two attempts asking different waiters and even the second person took a while to get it to us.

I didn't think the meal was worth the 52€ (also had bottle of sparkling water and a beer).  In the end, the meal wasn't horrible, but, I feel like I could have gone to other restaurants and received something of similar quality for much lower prices.

If anyone reading this is Spanish and has tried 7 Portes - can you please comment as to whether the paella served is authentic? If it is, perhaps my palette just doesn't like paella.

Overall mark - 6 out of 10


____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System
  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!
For further general discussions about this blog please refer to http://gastroworldblog.blogspot.com/2012/09/welcome-to-gastro-world.html


Photo Sources:
  1. Seasonal Salad. Trip Advisor (http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g187497-d697396-r121336864-7_Portes-Barcelona_Catalonia.html)
  2. Paella. The Bon Vivant Blog (http://www.mdfeeds.com/2009/11/14/7-portes-barcelona-spain/)

Restaurant Montiel (Barcelona)

Location: Barcelona, Spain
Address: C/ Flassaders, 19
Website: http://www.restaurantmontiel.com/
Type of Meal: Dinner

If you didn't realize, Spaniards tend to eat dinner later than North Americans - most restaurants don't serve dinner until 8:30pm.  Being Canadians, we were the first people at the restaurant.  But, were quickly joined by more tourists, thanks to Trip Advisor, where I discovered this establishment.

On Trip Advisor, reviewers suggest asking for a table downstairs.  We were sat upstairs and didn't see any problems.  There was an air conditioning unit and we found it more secluded as you didn't constantly have the door opening and closing.  The decor is warm and well-lit with small wooden tables and chairs.

After ordering, our waiter presented us with a dish of tapas. I believe this was free as can't recall there being a "cover charge" like many restaurants in Barcelona.  The tapas consisted of pickled Spanish green peppers, mild Glossette sized green olives, a rich olive oil with sugar cube portions of bread to dip and some wedges of sausage. 

Montiel does pork right.  In North America pork isn't a prevalent meat, but it is very much so in Spain.  Our appetizer of cured Iberian ham was some of the best charcuterie I've tasted  - paper thin sheets of briny ham that wasn't too dry.  It had just the right amount of fat that melted in your mouth and coats your tongue with the most heavenly taste.  I especially liked that it wasn't overly salty or waxy like some charcuteries often turn out. 

My husband also got pork for his main.  I had read Catalan cuisine includes great suckling pig so he ordered the "suckling pig service on the table with seasonal accompaniment".  What we received was a leg of fall off the bone pork capped with a crispy exterior and sprinkling of sea salt and pink pepper (?).  The skin was extremely delicate, had an excellent crackling texture and appears to be seasoned with a sugary topping so that once roasted the skin took on a slightly sweet brulee coating.  The waiter explained that the pork was so tender as it was made from a 2-month old piglet and slow roasted for 8 hours.

By "accompaniment" the dish included a handful of undressed spring mix salad (essentially the type you find in a bag in the supermarket). This was a bit disappointing as the dish was so heavy it needed more greenery, preferably with vinaigrette to cut through the fattiness of the pork.





Suckling pig (1) 

I had the "pan seared duck with wild mushrooms creamy rice" as I love duck and don't cook it at home. The duck breast was cooked to medium and the skin was well rendered so it became very crispy.  The meat itself could have been flavoured more as it didn't come with any sauce so perhaps a light marinade or brining would have helped. Nevertheless, the duck went well with the "mushroom creamy rice" which tasted like a brown rice risotto (sans butter) with earthy mushrooms that had a crunch to it.  If you've ever had Chinese black fungus, the mushrooms almost had that texture.



Pan seared duck with wild mushrooms creamy rice (2)

The restaurant caters to tourists as all waiters spoke excellent English and the menus were printed in English.  The service was great and at the end of the night our waiter gave us a hand shake before leaving!

If you're looking for an affordable delicious meal go to Restaurant Montiel.  Our bill came to approximately 95€ with a large bottle of water (no tap water here), glass of wine, 2 beers and a double espresso.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System
  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!
For further general discussions about this blog please refer to http://gastroworldblog.blogspot.com/2012/09/welcome-to-gastro-world.html


Photo Sources:

      1. and 2.  Monkey see, Monkey feast!
      (http://monkeyseemonkeyfeast.blogspot.ca/2012/08/montiel-restaurante.html#!/2012/08/montiel-restaurante.html)

La Luna (Barcelona)

Location: Barcelona, Spain
Address: C/Abaixadores 10
Website: http://www.lalunabcn.com/


Picture of the main bar area at La Luna (1)

We just happened to find La Luna while wandering around the Barri Gothic district in Barcelona before dinner.  

The ambiance matched the gothic neighbourhood; La Luna's interior reminds you of a Medieval castle with exposed brick arches, wrought-iron lamps and warm wood furniture.  

The bartender was kind enough to warn us, before we ordered anything, that the electric system was going to be reset and they'd be without power for 10 minutes.  We decided to stay anyways and he lit some candles for us.  It made us think how Medieval bars would have been like - drinks by candlelight.

We only had drinks here:
  • My husband picking through a selection of European beers
  • Me a glass of sangria which was much better than the glass I had earlier that evening.  The sangria was filled with fresh chopped fruits and followed a more authentic receipe - not overly sweet and much stronger 
Very affordable and great atmosphere; we had 3 drinks for 11€.


Photo Sources:
  1. Esther Maqueda - http://www.lalunabcn.com/es/Barcelona-restaurantes/bars-in-barcelona.html

Lasarte Restaurante (Barcelona)

Location: Barcelona, Spain
Address: Carrer de Mallorca, 259 
Website: http://www.restaurantlasarte.com/
Type of Meal: Dinner

Nestled in the Passaig de Garcia (Torontonians think of Yorkville but larger and more posh) the restaurant is decorated with a white, clean, modern interior. The chairs were uber comfortable; even though our dinner lasted almost 3 hours I didn't feel any stiffness.

Lasarte gifted me with one of the best meals of my life!  Reservations are required as they have very limited seating - I believe only 16 people. And their service is impeccable with purse stools, serves simultaneously clearing plates and a fresh napkin before desserts are served.    


Our course, the food is the most important. Their dishes are works of art. Every course is set upon different serving trays to accentuate its presentation and contrast colours as necessary. With an 11-course tasting menu there was much artwork to behold.

First, various pre-dinner courses compliments of the chef including a platter of five hors d'oeuvres:
  • Rich and flavourful coconut ice cream topped with crunchy salty kernels which complimented the sweetness
  • Melt in your mouth warm croquette of cheese that were heavenly after the cold ice cream
  • Large green olive stuffed with a grapefruit segment - surprisingly tasty for someone who doesn't like olives; I'd like to think of it as a combination similar to the Italian cantaloupe and prosciutto
  • Piece of local melon with a petal of a flower to add a floral note the melon's sweetness
  • Small pack of roasted nuts covered with curry and honey that went well with our crisp white wine
Next, a "lasagna" of smoked foie gras, green apple and eel with a delicate candied brulee green apple topping. When the waiter was breaking down the dish I had doubts note particularly a fan of foie gras and with eel? However, the combination of the velvety foie gras, sweet green apple and seared eel actually complimented quite well. It wasn't my favourite but I didn't dislike it.

Foie gras, green apple and eel lasagna (1)

Granular cubes of cucumbers with raspberry foam topped with a fresh small oyster. An outstanding dish, the raspberry foam was a great palette cleanser and the micro cubes of cucumbers added such an interesting texture.  The oyster was clean and tasted great with the foam mixture. Lasarte should add it to their menu and charge for it!

Oyster with raspberry foam and cucumbers (2)

Even the bread being offered was extraordinary.  We both opted for the brioche with American bacon.  Yes, it's as amazing as it sounds. A butter soft brioche bun with speckles of bacon throughout to add to its rich flavour.

After all those amuse bouche dishes we knew we were going to have a mind blowing meal. 

Red tuna tartare with curd cucumber - finely chopped tuna topped with a layer of cucumber gelee and another layer of salmon roe.  The smooth tuna tartare is full of flavour and toned down slightly by the cucumber gelee, but as you chew the briny salmon roe just pop in the mouth. As if this wasn't enough, the dish is accompanied with crisp crackers each topped with four dried mini prawns.  Definitely the best tuna tartare I've ever eaten.

Smoked oyster on the grill, steamed spinach with sesame and crispy tubers - brought out in a domed dish, the top is lifted in front of you so the smoke actually wafts into your face before eating.  The scent is intoxicatingly powerful so that patrons at other tables can even smell it.  Despite the impressive entrance it wasn't my favourite dish, but then I've never been a huge fan of oysters.

Vegetable leaves salad, herbs, sprouts and petals with lettuce cream and lobster - if food could be art, this dish would be a masterpiece.  When placed in front of me I was memorized by its many components and trying its combinations was even better.  All the ingredients are set upon a shallow tomato consommé gelee that compliments the many dollops of sauces and leaves of herbs, sprouts and petals.  There was a very small cube of lobster that was perfectly cooked, I just wished there was more!  One of the stand out dishes of the tasting menu in my opinion.

Vegetable leaves salad, herbs, sprouts and petals with lettuce cream & lobster (3)

Tempered beef steak slices on foie gras curd, iodized salad and mustard ice cream - the mustard ice cream went very well with the slices of beef, which was almost a carpaccio style.  A good dish but not as spectacular, in my opinion, as the rest.

Prawn, royale of sea urchins, caviar of goat's burned milk and almond - I was expecting this to be one of my favourite dishes but surprisingly it was not.  The prawn was cooked perfectly but I found the accompanying items didn't add much to it.  Something about the dish, perhaps the goat's burned milk, made it overly smoky and slightly bitter.

Prawn, royale of sea urchins, caviar of goat's burned milk and almond (4)

Farmhouse egg with beetroot and liquidised herb salad, Basque "cocido" carpaccio and smoked cheese - I overheard from another table that the egg was cooked for an hour to get it to achieve this dish's consistency.  This is certainly no normal egg!  Upon cutting into it the yolk runs out in a molten state - not liquid like a poached egg and not cooked through like a soft boiled.  A great flavourful dish, I only wish sticks of brioche could accompany the dish so I had something to dip into it!

Low-temperature cooked sea bass on a bed of bacon and parmesan cream, goose barnacles and cauliflower couscous - in case you're wondering what are goose barnacles they have nothing to do with the fowl and actually grow in the ocean.  The fish was cooked well a tasty but not memorable dish.

Sea bass on bacon & parmesan cream, goose barnacles and cauliflower couscous (5)

Roast pigeon rested on a creamy stew of durum wheat, touch of truffled potato and spicy sauce - the pigeon was cooked perfectly with its crisp skin and medium rare finish.  I was so glad there was finally a meaty rich dish to contrast everything else. Although by this time I was stuffed I wished there was more.  I couldn't get enough of the meaty pigeon, hearty durum wheat and silky potatoes!  My only wonder was where was the spicy sauce?  I actually found the sauce more sweet than spicy.

Roast pigeon with durum wheat, tuffled potato and spicy sauce (6)

Lemon peel ice cream, vanilla iced drink with citrus and mint tea - after such heavy dishes this was such a good dessert to start with.  The ice cream floats upon a dish of vanilla, citrus and mint liquid and was so refreshing and cleansing for the next dessert dish.

French toast with frozen coffee crème and plum compote - after eating this dessert you may have thought you went to heaven.  The French toast must have been sitting in a cream egg mixture for a lengthy time.  Imagine a piece of creamy bread pudding dipped in egg and then seared until there's a brulee crust on it.  The warm French toast was not sweet and instead the frozen coffee crème gave it a lovely contrasting cold, sweet taste.  I absolutely loved the dish!

French toast with frozen coffee crème and plum compote (7)

Petit fours - to finish the night a tower of petit fours were presented consisting of mango mouse on sponge cake, a square dark chocolate truffle topped with gold flakes, rich vanilla butter pound cake and a Catalan white chocolate gelatin with honey which tastes almost like an egg panna cotta with syrup. The latter was a treat to be introduced to and I'd love to have it again.

If you're ever in Barcelona and have 3 hours and 288€ to spare (includes tasting menu for 2 and bottle of wine) you have to try Lasarte. The experience is amazing and memorable.

Overall mark - 9.5 out of 10.  Why didn't this get perfect if I loved it so much? Since I'm not a huge fan of oysters, I wish there was more variety in the tasting menu (3 of the dishes showcased oysters).  That would have made it perfect for me.

____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System
  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!
Photo Sources:
  1. Foie gras, green apple and eel. The Wandering Epicures (http://epicures.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/lasarte-barcelona/)
  2. Oyster with raspberry foam and cucumbers. Trip Advisor (http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Restaurant_Review-g187497-d809578-Reviews-Restaurante_Lasarte-Barcelona_Catalonia.html)
  3. Vegetable leaves salad, herbs, sprouts and petals with lettuce cream & lobster.  Black Caviar (http://shopblackcaviar.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/lasarte/)
  4. Prawn, royale of sea urchins, caviar of goat's burned milk and almond.  Trip Advisor (http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Restaurant_Review-g187497-d809578-Reviews-Restaurante_Lasarte-Barcelona_Catalonia.html)
  5. Sea bass on bacon & parmesan cream, goose barnacles and cauliflower couscous. Black Caviar (http://shopblackcaviar.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/lasarte/)
  6. Roast pigeon with durum wheat, tuffled potato and spicy sauce. The Wandering Epicures (http://epicures.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/lasarte-barcelona/)
  7. French toast with frozen coffee creme and plum compote. Black Caviar (http://shopblackcaviar.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/lasarte/) 

Welcome to Gastro World


You can tell by the name, this blog is about food … food from across the world: in terms of geography and cultures. The focus is on restaurant reviews – I love eating and there are just so many talented chefs out there creating amazing dishes. But, Gastro World also dabbles in all things delicious from food events, food products, food services and maybe even a recipe every now and again.


My Mission to be an Advisor

I hope to be your food advisor. Not an advocate or story teller but rather recount my meals in enough detail that you gain a view about the dishes. Taste is subjective so even though I don’t like something, read about the elements I didn’t fancy, you may find that you’ll still enjoy the dish.

Gastro World also hopes to support restaurants. It’s competitive in the culinary world and like other industries restaurants need to change and evolve to stay ahead. The hope is restaurants will appreciate my honest thoughts and not feel offended. Sometimes, I may point out things that could be tweaked and even offer suggestions on what I feel may make it better.

Of course, by no means am I an expert. As a chef or an owner of a restaurant just consider the feedback, you never know if could be helpful. After all, it’s much better to hear about it from me than to read about it later in a national newspaper or magazine when food critics are in town.

As an aside, Amy Pataki and Chris Nuttall-Smith if you ever find the time to have a meal with me I’d be ecstatic and promise never to reveal your identities. I love your reviews!


To Reveal or Not to Reveal?

In the beginning, I wanted to be anonymous, thinking this was the only way reviews could be fair and objective. Eventually, I realized it hindered my development as I had to turn down events which have proved to be invaluable to meeting fellow bloggers and gaining a deeper understanding about restaurants and what I’m eating.

So, although I’m not shouting my personal details from the rooftop, I’m also no longer hiding in the shadows. The majority of the meals are personally paid for and restaurants are not informed that I’m a food blogger when reservations are made. For those that are invited and complementary, I still believe in providing an honest opinion. After all, if I lied it’s really doing the restaurant a disservice as they won’t receive feedback which may help them evolve and stay competitive.


Other Things To Keep in Mind

Pricing is provided to allow you to judge "value for money".  Pricing will either be shown as a bill total which includes food/drink costs, taxes and mandatory service charges or in most cases the menu price for the dish (excluding taxes and gratuities).

All reviews are my personal opinion. As I mentioned, taste is a subjective thing so you may feel differently about a certain dish or restaurant. 

I receive no compensation for restaurant reviews. Meals are paid out-of-pocket and if they are complimentary the post will indicate it. I receive no reimbursement from the restaurants to write about them. However, for food product or services I may charge for sponsored posts, which are identified. Rest assured, I would never agree to write a sponsored post if I hated something.   


In the end, I hope you enjoy reading Gastro World as much as I love writing it. Please enjoy and I hope to entice you to try some of these places. 

Bon appetit!


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