Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Bilbao, Spain - Pintxos Tour

On a recent trip to the Basque region of Northern Spain, I spent the day eating my way through Bilbao. Aside from the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao is famous for its pintxos bars. Pintxos are small snacks usually served on bread and pierced with a cocktail stick. Pintxos are a great way to try many different flavors and food combinations, which is exactly what we did at each stop. 

We began in the Old Town (Casco Viejo) at Victor Montes in Plaza Nueva, widely known as the Harry's Bar of Bilbao. You can eat inside at the bar, in the restaurant, or outside in the piazza. I love the black and gold old-world facade of their building.

Also located in a corner of Plaza Nueva is Zuga. This is a popular tiny little spot that focuses on more inventive pintxos. Among the highlights are goat’s cheese with manzanilla sherry, dried fruit vinaigrette and honey; liver with red fruits and Modena vinegar.

One of my favorites that we visited was La Vina Del Ensanche, just off the main shopping street. This large restaurant has outside seating, a restaurant and a long bar (carved from a single tree). The oldest bar in the city (1927), this wood-paneled spot is famous for its ham and chorizo. There is even a shop attached to it so you can buy some of their products to take home.

Our last stop of the day was a bar that serves only oysters called El Puertito (Poza Lizentziatuaren Kalea, 22). There are dozens of different varieties you can choose from, many of them local, which we paired with some delicious champagne. This is a must-visit for serious oyster lovers!

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Oslo, Norway - Vigeland Sculpture Park

The Vigeland Park in Oslo is the world's largest sculpture park by one single artist. It features over 200 works by Gustav Vigeland in bronze, granite and wrought iron. With more than one million visitors each year, it is one of Oslo's most visited tourist attractions. The bronze statue of the little Angry Boy (shown below) is among the most famous sculptures in the park. Notice his shiny left hand: this is due to so many tourists who wish to be photographed while holding his hand.

This park is a beautiful place to spend a few hours wandering around and admiring the artwork.

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Oslo, Norway - Ekebergrestauranten

As many of you know, my brother married a lovely girl from Oslo some years ago, so it is a city that I return to often. On a recent trip I enjoyed a new dining spot with gorgeous views over Oslo Fjord: Ekebergrestauranten. It is a simply stunning spot to watch the sunset and enjoy an al fresco meal in the summer months. They also have a more formal indoor dining room with a fine dining menu, and the food is delicious. It is also worth taking a walk around the surrounding park to view the various art sculptures and installations. 

The restaurant itself is housed in a listed building. Designed in the Functionalist style in 1929 by Oslo architect Lars Backer, the original restaurant was built as early as 1916. On a beautiful summer evening it is a fantastic perch to view Oslo.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Mykonos, Greece - To Maereio Taverna

My favorite Greek taverna in Mykonos (I ate there twice during my short stay) is To Maereio (address: Kalogera, 16). Owned by two local brothers (they are twins who grew up on the island), the food is simple and delicious and so flavorful. It is nestled on one of the characteristic winding streets of Mykonos town (Chora), and has three outdoor tables if you are lucky enough to get one. Alternatively, you can sit inside or even have a meal at the bar. 

It is, of course, a prerequisite to order a traditional Greek salad. The feta here tastes so different from the kind you buy in the supermarket at home. 

You absolutely cannot go to Maereio without sampling the zucchini meatballs. I could throw down half a dozen of these now as I write this. So good.

Apologies in advance for the picture quality here, but we also had two main dishes, beef with rice and crispy potatoes, as well as a plate of spicy sausage in a tomato based sauce with peppers. These were delicious "home-cooked"meals that hit the spot after a long day at the beach.

And some extra potatoes with dill yoghurt for good measure:

The brothers will probably offer you an after dinner shot of soumada, a traditional non-alcoholic drink flavored with almond and rosewater. It will be the perfect end to your Mykonian dinner.

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