Food Travel America / LAX / NYC / Peak Experience

2012 Leftovers

Another year is done and it seems that with each passing year, it feels like that one went by faster than the last.

It was a year where I started to feel comfortable and happy about my hobby blog, Call Me a Food Lover, and a year where I felt especially lucky that my love of food brought on some amazing experiences and extraordinary food. But as was the problem last year with not being able to keep up with all of my eating, I now present you with my 2012 leftovers.

Barcelona 

It seemed all I did in Barcelona was eat with some sightseeing in between. I had a couple of leftovers of good food and one I wouldn’t recommend.

Let’s start with the one that I wouldn’t recommend and not because the food wasn’t fantastic. Bar Mut was around the corner from the apartment. I tried to go twice and couldn’t get in. On our second try, I asked if I could make reservations for a later time and was told they were too busy to deal with me. I tried to go another time when their website said they were open, only to be told they were not, but I could come back in half an hour. Now normally I wouldn’t have bothered, but from all I read, the food was going to be worth what I felt was lousy service. When I finally got a table, I was never given a menu but was recommended dishes that sounded amazing. The food was very good, but when I got the bill I realized I was served only the most expensive things and my simple lunch turned out to be almost as expensive as my meal at Tickets the evening before. With all of the travelling I do, in places I don’t understand the language, I rarely feel scammed. I hate to admit it, but I felt scammed.

The food was delicious and I understand that I ordered come luxurious dishes, but 120€ still feels unreasonable for 4 tapas and 2 glasses of cava.

"Bar Mut sardines"

Sardines – a complimentary 1st taste.

"Bar Mut clams"

Big and meaty clams drizzled with wonderful olive oil.

"Bar Mut Barcelona foie steak"

Seared steak topped with foie gras.

"Bar Mut Barcelona spinach"

Spinach salad

"Bar Mut tuna"

Seared tuna topped with smoky ham.

Located inside the market, I made  a quick stop for lunch at Santa Caterina Cuines after wandering around the food stalls. The food was so good, my quick lunch turned into a bit of a lingering lunch, but that’s what being on vacation is all about.

"Santa Caterina Cuines Barcelona sangria"

My first and only sangria in Barcelona. It was delicious, so I don’t know why I didn’t drink it more often.

"Santa Caterina Cuines Barcelona anchovy"

I felt I hadn’t had enough anchovies on my trip. I got this plate to satisfy that craving. It only made me want more.

"Santa Caterina Cuines Barcelona artichoke"

Artichokes and cebolla (onions) a la plancha.

:Santa caterina cuines Barcelona asparagus"

Tempura asparagus with romesco.

"Santa Caterina Cuines Barcelona Croquetas"

Croquetas

:Santa Caterina Cuines Barcelona pan con tomate"

Pan con tomate

Santa Caterina outside

I wanted to engross myself with as much about Ferran Adria on my trip to Barcelona, so a trip to Tapaç 24 was a must. Carles Abellan worked at El Bulli for 6 years before opening a few restaurants in Barcelona. Abellan was the first “top chef” to open a tapas bar in Barcelona with others including Albert Adria to follow.

"Tapac 24 Barcelona Moritz beer"

"Tapas 24 bikini"

Bikini sandwiches with Iberico ham and cheese and flecks of truffle.

"Tapas 24 Barcelona bomba"

Bombes de la Barceloneta – fried potatoes with meat topped with a spicy sauce.

"Tapac 24 Barcelona Iberico jamon"

Delicious Iberico ham

"Tapac 24 Barcelona lentils chorizo"

Lentil and chorizo stew – honest and homey.

Tapas 24 sign

Victoria, BC

A weekend in Victoria during the summer for a dragon boat festival. I wasn’t with my regular team, but a put-together one called Fai-Dee-Lah. We got in on Friday afternoon and made our way out to find some Buck a Shuck oysters at Pescatores.

IMG_3266

IMG_3272

To take a Ben-ism, “it’s hard to go wrong” with buck a shuck oysters.

And because oysters are never enough, we ordered a few other dishes as well.

Albacore tuna tataki

Albacore tuna tataki

Crab cakes with brie

Crab cakes with brie

And if you’re wondering, the mish mash team I went with came 4th overall in the Victoria Dragon Boat festival.

Here we are paddling out to the start line (I'm at the front).

Here we are paddling out to the start line (I’m the paddler at the front on the right).

405279_10101327834351392_504105736_n-1

Providence

My original plan after our epic lunch at Blue Hill at Stone Barns was to drive to New Haven in to get there in time for a late dinner. Turns out that for once in my life, I was actually too full to go through with my plan. No worries though, we drove on the next day and stopped in Providence for a grilled pie. Although it wasn’t the famous New Haven apizza I was looking for, Bob & Timmy’s turned out not only to be “legendary” but also rated the 5th best pizza in America according to GQ magazine. I’m surprised no one’s copied the grilled pizza idea at home, it’s very good.

"Bob Timmys grilled pizza Providence"

"Bob Timmys grilled pizza clams"

When in New England, you must do as the locals do and order the white clam pie.

"Bob Timmys grilled pizza sausage"

And because Ben is a sucker for sausage on a pizza we ordered the sausage supreme as well.

New York

A whirlwind weekend trip with my mom and sister, but I did have time to meet a friend for a drink. Actually it was 1 beer and 1 comped glass of wine at the bar at the Porter House in the Shops at Columbus Circle. Interestingly enough, it seemed almost everyone there was comped at least 1 drink. I don’t know if I’d go back for the food alone, but the stories we overheard from the patrons at the bar were fascinating enough to make me return.

Selection of east coast oysters.

Selection of east coast oysters.

Roasted bone marrow

Roasted bone marrow

Los Angeles

Left on my own, I’m rather indulgent.

I had a bit of time to spare before my day at the spa and afternoon tea and I happened to “stumble upon” Son of A Gun, Dotollo & Shook’s other LA hot spot. I was able to snag a seat before it filled up for a quick snack.

"son of a gun"

"son of a gun oyster"

4 oysters on a half shell – even though I asked for non-BC, I seemed to end up with Kusshi’s and Fanny Bay’s.

"son of a gun lobster roll"

The tiny lobster roll was mayonnaise based and nothing like I had on my East Coast roadie, but was a satisfying “one bite”.

"son of a gun burrata uni"

Uni, burrata, button mushroom and yuzu – I’m such a sucker for uni and I was curious about the uni and cheese combination which turned out to be fantastic.

"son of a gun door"

I’d been reading about Red Medicine for over a year, but was never convinced from the reviews I’d read if its creative menu would be pushing the boundaries too far for any of my group dinners. So on an evening alone, I was able to snag the house car to take me to the edge of Beverly Hills where I sat at the bar solo, got to know the bartender, and ate some very interesting food.

"red medicine uni"

Charred uni with cauliflower custard, laver, chinese sausage, plantain, garlic – I loved the charred uni and had very mixed feelings about everything else served to me in the fish bowl.

"red medicine beef tartare"

Beef tartare with water lettuce, water chestnut, nuoc leo, chlorophyll and peanut – A very good beef tartare infused with Asian flavours.

"red medicine spring roll"

Crispy spring rolls with Dungeness crab, lime, pea pods, fines herbes, chili. This dish was comped to me, (maybe because of my camera? or maybe because I was so charming up at the bar). Not being swayed by the price, it was my favourite taste of the night.

"red medicine coconut"

Coconut bavarois – coffee, condensed milk, Thai basil, peanut croquant. I really didn’t need this dessert, but I’d heard that the chef is known for his desserts. I’m glad I got it, even if it was just for a few bites.

As indulgent as I can be with ordering when I’m by myself, sometimes all it takes is 1 dish to ‘wow’ me, which is what the tomato salad at the Sunset Marquis did.

"Sunset Marquis tomato burrata"

Burrata mozzarella and heirloom tomato salad – On a bright sunny patio eating this salad is the best way to put a smile on this Vancouver girl’s face in November.

And my last leftover from LA is Umami burger, which has been on my list for a few years now. For one reason or another it’s never been convenient. But with their new location at the Grove, it was hard not to want to check it out. I love America and their right to eat medium rare hamburger.

"Umami burger truffle"

Umami truffle burger with a side of tempura onion rings and cheesy tater tots.

Oaxaca

I still haven’t caught up with all of the posts I want to do for Oaxaca, but I do know there will be some eating adventures leftover that shouldn’t be forgotten.

"Merced Mercado mole tamale"

Tamale with mole negro, my reason for going to Oaxaca. I only had 1 before I picked this up at the Merced Mercado from Lupita.

Another must on the Oaxaca list is the smoky hall at the Mercado 20 de Noviembre, I’m afraid I saved it for too long, as I went to eat there after my epic meal at Casa Oaxaca. Lucky that I can be satisfied with just 1 bite of each type of meat, which is pretty much all I could muster.

Not hard to wonder why this is dubbed the "smoky hall" at the Mercado 20 de Noviembre.

Not hard to wonder why this is dubbed the “smoky hall” at the Mercado 20 de Noviembre.

"Mercado 20 Noviembre Oaxaca carnitas"

Selection of thinly sliced beef and pork, tripe and chorizo.

"20 Noviembre Oaxaca smoky"

"Oaxaca 20 Noviembre market meat:

A combination of cecina (pork rubbed with chili), medium aged tasajo (beef) and some chorizo.

Seattle

I spent the weekend in Seattle doing Christmas shopping but ended up also finding 2 new great new spots on my last trip of the year.

I remember my sister Rochelle mentioning she had a great time at the Purple Cafe and Wine Bar a while back. I wasn’t really looking for a big meal, just somewhere to have a simple bite and to unwind. My time sitting at the bar was just what I was looking for, with good food, a fantastic wine selection and wonderfully knowledgeable bartenders.

"Seattle Purple Wine bar"

After a few glasses of wine, I became curious about the digestifs. After an informative lesson from the bartender and many tastes, I finally decided on this glass.

After my amazing journey to Oaxaca, I wasn’t sure when I’d be inspired by new flavours again. It didn’t take long, because the smoked tofu dish at Joule was so familiar and yet so new at the same time and made me realize I’m never that far away from great food as long as I keep searching.

"Joule Seattle smoked tofu"

Smoked tofu, honshimeji confit, soy truffle vinaigrette

"Joule Seattle short rib steak"

“that” short rib steak, kalbi, grilled kimchi – The smoked tofu could have been a hard dish to follow. No worries, this was one of my favourite beef dishes of the year.

"Joule Seattle chinese broccoli"

Chinese broccoli, walnut pesto – grilled gai lan! I will definitely try to recreate this at home.

That’s all my leftovers from another fantastic year of food. After 2011, I didn’t think anything could top my experience of meeting my food/travel idol, Anthony Bourdain but my 2 chef experiences this year were head and shoulders above Bourdain, and I think Anthony would understand why he got knocked off the top.

Tickets & 41º were certainly 2 of my top 5 of the year, with 41º being at the top. The food at both were extraordinary and after many meals by chefs who were cooking in the style of El Bulli & Adria, it was nice to finally experience the real thing. And just like you can see many photos of the Mona Lisa and know what it’s supposed to look like, nothing compares to the anticipation of getting to the destination and taking in the real thing in person. The kicker is, not only was the food amazing, I actually met Ferran Adria as well.

"Ferran Adria Tickets Barcelona Susy Bando"

My single best moment of 2013.

My year ended with Chef Alejandro Ruiz, who introduced me to a wonderfully new world of Oaxacan cuisine beyond mole and tlayudas. Because of this meeting, I am not only counting down the days until I get to return to Oaxaca, I am also inspired to learn more about Oaxacan and other Mexican cuisine and feel like I need to get into my kitchen more to push myself into discovering new flavours and techniques.

"Alejandro Ruiz Oaxaca cocinero"

My resolutions are set and my leftovers now dealt with. On to 2013!

Bar Mut – Pau Clarís nº 192 (diagonal), Barcelona

Santa Caterina Cuines – Avinguda de Francesc Cambó, 16, Barcelona

Tapaç 24 – Carrer de la Diputació, 269, Barcelona

Pescatores – 614 Humboldt St, Victoria, BC

Bob & Timmy’s Legendary Grilled Pizza – 32 Spruce St, Providence

Porter House New York – 10 Columbus Circle  New York

Son of a Gun – 8370 W 3rd St, Los Angeles

Red Medicine – 8400 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles

Umami Burger – 189 The Grove Drive, Suite C-10, Los Angeles (multiple locations)

Purple Cafe and Wine Bar – 1225 4th Ave, Seattle (multiple locations)

Joule – 3506 Stone Way N, Seattle

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