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Monthly Archives: February 2017

7 Places to Try Old School Spanish Food in Madrid

The ambience at Casa Toni couldn’t possibly be more authentic. Pictures of bullfighters line the walls, and the same waiters have been working there for decades. The dishes include black pudding, fried chorizo, tripe and – best of all – oreja de cerdo: grilled pork ear with a spicy red sauce. It’s crispy and delicious, and rarely disappoints. If fish is more your style, try the sepia (cuttlefish) served hot and fresh with lemon and parsley.

Delicious suckling pig at Restaurante Sobrino de Botín

Officially recognised by Guinness as the oldest restaurant in the world, and name-checked by Hemingway in The Sun Also Rises, Restaurante Sobrino de Botín has a lot of history behind it. The house specialities are cochinillo (roast suckling pig) and cordero (lamb), both made in an oven which is centuries old. The restaurant occupies four storeys of a historic building just outside of Plaza Mayor. If you call ahead, you can book a table in the bodega – the oldest part of the building, built in the 15th century.

Mouthwatering rice dishes at El Pato Mudo

Officially, paella is the speciality of Valencia, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a great version of this rice classic here in Madrid. El Pato Mudo, just around the corner from the Royal Palace, has a variety of amazing paellas, as well as a mouthwatering black rice made with squid ink. While there are more well-known paella restaurants nearby, El Pato Mudo is great value, with professional service and food that’s just as good or better than its famous neighbours.

Delectable shellfish at Cervecería Cruz in the Rastro

The Spanish love their shellfish, and this traditional bar is one of the best places to have it. The Rastro market on Sundays (and the late lunch after it closes) is an institution in and of itself, and this bar is right in the middle of the action. Here you can try razor clams, scallops, and even stewed snails. It’s mostly standing room, and you might be stepping on clam shells as you eat, but don’t worry – it’s all part of the authentic Madrid experience. (Calle de las Maldonadas, 1.)

A modern gourmet market at Mercado San Miguel

Not a restaurant per se, Mercado de San Miguel is a gourmet market with a mix of old and modern Spanish cuisine. The numerous stalls serve everything from fried anchovies to mini-hamburgers to Serrano ham on the hoof. There’s even a gourmet olive bar. It’s a bit expensive, but even the price-conscious traveller can afford to sip a vermouth and soak up the ambience of people roving between the stalls. You can also stop by for a pastry after lunch, or for a mid-afternoon snack – sweet or savoury, you decide.

Calamari and more on Plaza Mayor

Locals in Madrid love to stop by Plaza Mayor for the market at Christmas, the numerous concerts and cultural events, or just for a stroll any day of the year. While you’re there, do as the madrileños do and stop for a bocadillo de calamares (fried squid sandwich) at one of the many speciality restaurants in the area. One of the best is Cervecería Plaza Mayor (plazamayor2.com), which has been serving octopus, shrimp, squid and more for nearly 40 years.

Modern pinchos at Taberna de Ramales

This tavern, on a lovely little square near the Royal Palace, specialises in modern pinchos – small servings on a piece of baguette – made with traditional ingredients. One of the specialities is cod with aioli, or you can get a sampler of eight different pinchos at a discounted price. If you want something more substantial, try the cazón adobado (marinated dogfish) or huevos rotos (fried eggs with potatoes and ham). On sunny days you can take a seat outside in the plaza and enjoy a glass of wine with a view of the palace.

Oxtail, fish and friendly service at Casa Jacinto

Right around the corner from the Senate and Plaza España’s monument to Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, Casa Jacinto is a local favourite and is particularly busy when the Senate is in session. Specialities include steak (cooked at your table on a hot stone) and oxtail stew, and the setas con almejas (wild mushrooms with clams). Come for the food and come back for the selection of wines and the excellent, friendly service.

Typical Spanish stews at Taberna de la Daniela

Known for their cocido madrileño (a thick chickpea stew), Taberna de la Daniela (tabernadeladaniela.com)  has several locations around the city. Many locals eat cocido every Sunday, as a sort of family tradition. It’s served on two plates: first the broth, then the chickpeas and the meat. You can also try the besugo (sea bream – a fish that’s typically eaten for Christmas dinner), the croquettes, or any number of other typical Spanish dishes.

Best places for vegetarians in Belgrade

Radost Fina Kuhinjica

Radost Fina Kuhinjica is usually the first choice for vegetarians, due to its attractive location beneath the Kalemegdan Fortress, cozy setting in a ground-floor apartment and the original menu that will make even your die-hard meat-eating friends think twice. At Radost they always try new recipes as a daily menu, but the evergreen dishes to definitely taste are the starter platter with baba ganoush, hummus and freshly baked pita bread, vegan burgers in either beetroot or shiitake variation, as well as Radost ramen soup. Don’t be in a hurry, because the cakes are more than worth waiting for.

Dining at the stylish Mayka restaurant © Nevena Paunovic / Lonely PlanetDining at the stylish Mayka restaurant © Nevena Paunovic / Lonely Planet

Mayka

Located in one of the most beautiful and historical streets in Belgrade, Kosančićev venac, the restaurant’s name is a play on the Serbian word for ‘mother’. Mayka’s (facebook.com/maykabeograd) menu consists of vegetarian dishes from various national cuisines that are made at ordinary homes, evoking the smell and the warmth of mum’s kitchen. In a stylish interior you can order samosas, curry, meals made of seitan and dhal, pizzas, spicy lemonade or Indian sweets. However, the signature dish that sublimes the restaurant’s philosophy is Mayka goulash, an authentic version of stew made with seitan, tagliatelle, heavenly spiced tomato sauce and warm, melted cheese.

Oliva

If you opt for a shopping tour across the river, in Novi Beograd (New Belgrade), make your way to this beautifully designed little eatery. You’ll be surprised by its spinach burgers with sea salt or vegan sticks seasoned with roasted sesame. The absolute winner among desserts is the avocado, dates and hazelnut mousse, which goes great with fine wines from the restaurant’s selection. Despite its out-of-the-way location, Oliva (restoranoliva.com) has an unusual frequency of guests even on a Monday evening, which is probably its best recommendation.

Jazzayoga

If you pass Jazzayoga (jazzayoga.com) at lunch time, make sure you stop by and try food from its weekly menu. Depending on the day of the week, you may run into buckwheat moussaka with green beans, oyster mushroom stew, steamed rice with chickpeas and mint, chili sin carneor other yummy food combinations. You’ll also find sandwiches made of wholegrain yeast-free bread, other wholegrain products and cookies that will make the entire world seem right for you.

Zdravo Živo

The only raw-food bar in Belgrade, Zdravo Živo (zdravo-zivo.rs) serves and delivers complete meals made from raw, plant-based ingredients. The menu varies daily and there are usually two to three options to choose from, such as raw fish and chips, stuffed peppers, spaghetti bolognese, burritos, cabbage rolls or sausages. Stuffed peppers andsarma (cabbage rolls) are among the most common meat dishes in Serbian cuisine, but transformed and dressed up as raw meals with fresh vegetables and seeds stuffing, they’re a perfect refreshing choice for hot Belgrade summers.

Hanan and Tel Aviv Hummus House

Its majesty falafel is gaining huge popularity even among non-vegetarians in Belgrade. Once rare to find, falafel is now served at several locations around the city. If you want to eat in, you can go to the central Hanan (restoranhanan.rs) restaurant in Svetogorska Street, but if you’d rather grab a really voluminous falafel sandwich on the go, stop by Tel Aviv Hummus House (telavivhummushouse.com) near the busy Zeleni Venac Market or visit Shawarma Hanan (facebook.com/pages/Hanan-Shawarma) near Cvetni Trg.

5 Best Restaurants in Addis Ababa

Oda Cultural Restaurant and Cafe

Inside the Oromo Cultural Center is the Oda Restaurant and Cafe, which you might recognise from Anthony Bourdain’s Ethiopia visit onNo Reservations. The Oromo are one of the largest ethnic groups in eastern Africa, and the Center’s restaurant showcases the best of Oromo culture. The hall is furnished with pinewood-carved furniture and curtains made of traditional fabric. Injera made of tikur teff (a black grain about the size of a poppy seed considered to be more nutritious than the more refined white teff), spiced butter and beso (roasted and ground barley) are at the heart of Oromo cuisine. Chumbo is prepared with black teff baked thick and yoghurt, cheese, and spiced butter spilled on top so that it looks like cake. Buna qalaa (roasted coffee dipped in butter) is a cultural snack that gives coffee deeper flavours. The Oromo Cultural Center is near the National Stadium.

Tikus Shiro

In the busy neighbourhood around the Lideta condominiums, you’ll find a truly local sensation: a shiro bet (shiro house). You can guess Tikus Shiro’s speciality from the name: delicious shiro, a stew made of chickpea or bean flour, served with injera. You’ll find shiro on many restaurant menus around Ethiopia, but what drives most people to Lideta is the ‘half-half’ option, where you can pick two dishes from the menu and get a half portion of each. Worth trying are bozena shiro(shiro stew with meat), misir be kuanta (lentils with dried meat),gomen (Ethiopian cabbage), and timatim kurt (a spicy tomato salad served raw or heated). Enjoy your selection in the condominium courtyard’s refreshing garden to cool off from the heat on the street. After your meal, have a strong cup of freshly brewed Ethiopian coffee or a glass of homemade tej (honey wine).

Chane’s Restaurant

In the heart of the Cazanches district near a stack of popular chain hotels, delicious Ethiopian fare is served up in a centuries-old house once owned by a military hero. The house preserves the 19th-century way of life with old artworks and black-and-white photographs of royals and foreign dignitaries. From the kitchen drifts the aroma of traditional Ethiopian dishes from the recipe book of the famous chef Chanyalew Mekonen (aka Chane), who used to cook at the German Embassy and for the Emperor of Ethiopia before starting this restaurant. Chane died in January 2017, but fortunately he left his legacy and the art of cooking to his son and wife. The restaurant serves a limited selection of dishes, many of which Chane invented.

Don’t leave without trying Ethiopia’s favourite dish, the doro wat (a spicy chicken stew that can be tempered with injera and mild goat cheese). On Wednesdays and Fridays, traditional fasting days when no animal products should be eaten, shiro wat (a mild nutty-tasting stew made from chickpea flour) is served instead. Although shiro is a common and easily made dish, Chane’s shiro is widely regarded as the best in town.

Yod Abyssinia

Yod Abyssinia highlights all of the cultures and cuisines that Ethiopia has to offer. A lot of effort has been put in to make the place look as authentic as possible. The spacious main hall is designed to resemble a typical hut and is full of eye-catching materials, from traditional hand-woven curtains to serving dishes made of woven grass. Diners sit at the traditional tables and chairs, wide, short wooden tables surrounded by three-legged stools. Yod Abyssinia serves nearly all of the dishes from the country’s many ethnicities, and the food is presented by culturally dressed staff. During the day, the mood is calm and relaxed, but at night, the meal is accompanied by a traditional music and dance performance. Pack your dancing shoes because guests are encouraged to join in. You’ll find Yod Abyssinia behind the Millennium Hall in Bole, near the airport.

Brundo Butchery

Ethiopia is home to people of diverse ethnicities, and the mix of their tastes and cultures has produced some amazing cuisine. Raw meat is one of most the highly regarded Ethiopian dishes, and it’s usually reserved for special occasions. Even if you’re not celebrating, you can try one of Brundo’s many popular meat dishes, such as kurt (raw meat taken from the choicest parts of an ox) and tibs (cooked beef tips).

However, the restaurant is best known for its kitfo, which is made from the softest and reddest parts of the meat, which is ground and mixed with spiced butter and mitmita (a spice made of ground birds eye chilli pepper, salt, cardamom seeds and cloves). If you don’t like the taste of the raw meat, ask for a heated kitfo, called kitfo leb leb, which looks like highly seasoned minced beef. Tej, a traditional Ethiopian alcohol made from fermented honey, is the perfect accompaniment to such a meal and is also served here.

Grenoble for first timers

Fly up to Fort de la Bastille
For the best introduction to Grenoble, hop onto the bubble-liketéléférique, the cable car that floats up over the Isère River to Fort de la Bastille. Perched high above the city, this 19-century military fortress was erected to defend France against the Duchy of Savoy. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, the stunning 360-degree panorama breezes out as far as Mont Blanc if the day is clear enough.

Delve into the region’s history
To gain a fuller sense of the area, clamber up Montée Chalemont, the ancient Roman road that winds past the red roofs of the city, and go into Musée Dauphinois. This former 17th-century convent is now an absorbing regional museum that explores the culture and traditions of the Dauphinois people. Its ‘People of the Alps’ section is particularly intriguing as it documents the lives of locals through old photos, timeworn clothes and outdated farming machinery.

Digest some contemporary art
Founded in 1798, the stirring Musée de Grenoble is still regarded as one of France’s finest art institutions. Its abundant collection includes Egyptian antiquities and artwork from the 13th century onward, but what the museum really excels at is contemporary art. The bright, light-filled gallery has honoured the likes of Georgia O’Keeffe and Wassily Kandinsky in the past, whilst still finding space for more than 4000 paintings, including works by Renoir and Monet.

Become a comic book convert
For years, the Sainte-Cécile convent (couventsaintececile.com) has been converted for all manner of purposes. Aside from being a religious sanctuary, it has been a theatre, cinema and a military base. But since the Glénat publishing house moved in around 2009, it seems to have finally found its calling: comic books. Boasting a library of more than 20,000 titles, visits also allow visitors to see the restoration of the cloister and its impressive staircase. Jacques Glénat’s private art collection is on show too. Seek out the colourful stained glass windows designed by Dutch comic designer Joost Swarte and the statue of the famous comic book character Titeuf, which sits out front.

Cycle to the écoquartier
Despite its proximity to the mountains, Grenoble is surprisingly flat, so make the most of the city’s Métrovélo bicycle rental scheme and glide to Caserne de Bonne (la-caserne-de-bonne.com), a shopping centre that’s also home to France’s first écoquartier (green neighbourhood). Built on the grounds of a former military barracks, this sustainable development has a lovely park with fish-filled ponds and plenty of great street art. Look out for Snek’s striking L’Arme de Paix, which depicts a woman crying, and Nevercrew’s Ordering Machine which shows two whales caught up in a towel.

Indulge in some gastronomic treats
Cheese haven, Fromagerie des Alpages (les-alpages.fr), is easy to spot by the long lines stretching like melted mozzarella from the door. This award-winning cheesemongers is a treasure trove of dairy delights offering Savoie, Beaufort, Bleu de Sassenage, Saint-Marcellin, raclette and reblochon cheeses. One block down is artisan chocolatier, Chocolaterie Bochard (chocolaterie-bochard.com). This ritzy store sells an assortment of sweet treats in beautifully packaged boxes, but the star attraction is Le Mandarin, small chocolate-covered clementines.

Explore the lanes around Place Notre-Dame
There is no better place to test Stendhal’s notion about massifs lurking on street corners than the alleyways leading from Place Notre-Dame. Wander the narrow streets of this historic centre and you’ll soon stumble upon handsome squares, artfully decorated fountains and plenty of tempting terrace bars. Before long, the cobbles of Place Saint-André will appear, where the city’s most beautiful building, Palais du Parlement du Dauphiné, resides. This former courthouse from the 16thcentury splendidly mixes Gothic and neo-Renaissance elements.

Drink an elixir of life
Unless you’ve vowed to live a solitary life of quiet contemplation, don’t expect to gain entry to the Grande Chartreuse monastery, 30 winding minutes north of Grenoble. Instead, hike the surrounding mountains and wild meadows before heading to the Chartreuse Cellars (chartreuse.fr) in neighbouring Voiron for a taste of the monastery’s famous spirit, chartreuse. The pungent herbal liqueur, made from a mixture of 130 herbs, follows an ancient manuscript passed onto monks by François Annibal d’Estrées, the Marshal of France in the 1600s. The original manuscript, most likely written by a 16th-century alchemist, was thought to contain an elixir, but it proved so complicated to decipher that only part of it was used to make the spirit.

Dine at one of the oldest cafes in France
Follow in the fork-steps of Rousseau and Stendhal by eating at the feted Café de la Table Ronde (restaurant-tableronde-grenoble.com), reputedly France’s second oldest café after Le Procope in Paris. The pewter counter, antique mirrors and period chandeliers contribute to the brasserie’s classic good looks. Start with the braised diots (mountain sausages) with gratin dauphinois, and finish off with a tarte aux noix(walnut tart), made with local Grenoble walnuts, and served with a scoop of walnut ice cream.