The last time I was out here with friends, we booked an apartment via Airbnb. One txikiteo night, we also got a room in a Pension in Parte Vieja. Perfect after a pub crawl, but quite noisy too as the Pension is right above the Pintxo bars where a crowd drink txakoli to death till the wee hours of the morning.
I like A Room In The City. The young men behind the Reception Desk may not be the friendliest but they're cool and efficient. I borrowed some photos from the Net here just so I can show you how strategic the location is in a more quiet part of the city. (Calle Easo, 20) It is located right next to a chapel too. In fact, you can spot some of the church pews in the Sun Deck while viewing the pleasant neighborhood which includes the Buen Pastor Cathedral just around the bend.
Apart from the Sun Deck, the dining hall and sitting lounge are pleasant additions. Much better than sitting in hotel lobbies. In the dining hall, one can partake of free coffee, tea, biscuits, nuts. There is also a vending machine where you can buy chips, chocolate bars and drinks. Then there's the kettle and microwave to heat up water and food. All in a very spacious hall where everyone washes the dishes they use and wipe the tables clean. Neat!
Next time I get here with family and friends, I'd likely book a dormitory good for 4 or 6 pax on bunk beds. Sounds like fun especially with young ones. Then we'd spend more time in the lounge or the Sun Deck and laugh at each other's jokes. Some croissants bought from the nearby boulangerie cum patisserie, warmed briefly in the microwave, along with my favorite morning brew. Swell. And before we hit the Pintxo bars at night, we'd have some cerveza on the deck with some aceituna and chistorra bought from the nearby deli. Oh, life is good. 💕
Imagine how my heart broke, going to La Viña in San Sebastián and finding it closed for 4 consecutive days. 😭😭😭Imagine how I grew desperate checking on other bars and restos in San Sebastián, hoping their version of tarta de quezo comes close to La Viña's. Imagine how I felt upon learning La Viña has reopened as soon as I've left San Seb and arrived back in Madrid! 😡
Thank God for friends who visited San Sebastián soon after we've left and brought back --- drumroll, please --- an entire cake for us to devour in Madrid. 🤗😋😀 All that creamy, yummy, burned on top 🍰🍽🎂goodness packed in a red box! You don't know happiness until that first bite.
When in San Sebastián, you'd do your txikiteo to complete your Basque experience. In Parte Vieja along Calle 31 Agosto, just a stroll away from Yglesia de Santa Maria, Atari Gastroteka, La Cepa and La Cuchara de San Telmo, is this culinary gem. Your Basque guide won't be lying if he says it's the world's best cheesecake! Seriously.
The first time I was here, I was too full from a La Cepa dinner to do a serious Pintxo bar crawl. I knew better this time. I started with Bar Zeruko. And almost got stuck here. The '2 pintxos and a drink' rule can't, won't apply. Not content with what's on display at the bar, we ordered from the kitchen. Must be the txakoli. So white and clear and young and Basque!
The fruits from the sea were great starters. La Hoguera literally translates to "bonfire" and La Hoguera de Bacalao is a special Pintxo here where your smoked cod is served "smoking" until it's ready to rest on a toast smothered with some herbal cream and a vial of warm, liquid salad dressing. Such effort in presentation! And how about this bowl of baby eels and creamed uni with a dash of perejil sauce? Yum.
I chose another bacalao dish -- this cod being one of my personal favorites. It looked interesting on display at the bar, bottled with a green pepper and some cheese at the top. Plated, it looked kinda ordinary, methinks. But it was full of flavor and I had to stop myself from having seconds.
The chistorra came wrapped and was served with a mildly spicy tomato sauce. The mushroom pintxos were good but not what I'd order next time. I was likewise intrigued with the soft boiled egg encased in a gelatinous meat stock and served on a bed of Migas or bread crumbs flavored with chorizo. Every dish is so creatively done. How delightful!
My niece and I shared these pintxos and decided we should start moving. Txakoli on hand, we cheered we had a good start. Bar Zeruko rocks!
There are many dining options in Pamplona's Plaza Del Castillo and the streets and alleys around it. We found this one.
The pig's cheeks and white asparagus salad were superb. I'm a sucker for white asparagus and will have them whenever they're in season. The pig's cheeks dish was cooked a la estofado but not quite. Served with steaming rice!
If you're here, you have the choice of a sit-down meal or a bar set-up where you can enjoy your Rioja and some pintxos. Both are very good. I was intrigued by many tapa or Pintxo varieties but only tried one. No room for more. 😭
But what I had, I liked! The Iberico con quezo with honeyed walnuts was sooo good. Somehow, I regretted not sitting at the bar. I could have tried some others I haven't had the chance to figure out.
We only stayed 2 nights here. Both nights we dined in this place. No regrets. The variety may be limited but with only 2 people running the restaurant, I'm amazed how they manage to keep customers happy with prompt service and food quality.
My sister is a meat person while I prefer vegetables and fish. The Entrecôte, served with salad and potatoes made my sister happy. Another time she had chicken roasted in its juice which was equally good. I liked the chicken too, savory and very tender.
But we both agree the soup is the best. I was happy with their generous portion in a big bowl, filled to the brim with potatoes, carrots and leafy veggies. The beef and vegetable broth was served piping hot, perfect with the bread.
Btw, Hurrup Eta Klik translates to SUCK ON. How about that, eh? 🤣🤐😳
Can't resist putting in a few words on our charming hotel in Saint Jean Pied de Port. It wasn't my first choice, but have absolutely no regrets booking 2 nights here where pilgrims start their Camino Frances.
Hotel Itzalpea is right outside the walled area, just a few steps from the gate leading to Rue de France. You can view it from the slits if you're walking on the ramparts of the muralla.
The interiors are very simple. After all, it only has 3 floors. We were lucky to have the room with a view of the street and the walls. Not noisy like other hotel rooms on the street side. Breakfasts can be had for €9 a set , which was quite enormous! No hot meals but ham, marmalade, jams, yogurt, bread basket, pie, pots of coffee, tea or chocolate.
The rooms go for about €70 a night, twin. Good-sized, clean and well-appointed. It wasn't pilgrim season yet when we arrived, so expect a crowd by the front where they set up tables under the sun.
I'd book this hotel again when I head back. Very charming.
I know. It's NOT the best. It's a tourist trap. But it will do for first timers. (We set the bar higher as we go along, ei?) Many tourists are in the littered ground floor where the tapas bar is. Then there's the line for those who want a sit-down meal on the 2nd floor.
The callos madrileño must be a top must-eat along with the Jamon y quezos. Most certainly you don't get the best callos served here. Nor the pulpo de gallego, which really disappointed. After Galicia & Pais Vasco, one gets a bit more discerning with his octopus dish. I regretted having ordered pulpo here.
Usually, the pecaditos here are crunchier and the fried boquerones are crispier. Not today though. Not sure if the kitchen's too busy with so many diners or quality has suffered. Both would have been perfect with our order of Sangria.
Well, there would be many other dining places to try. No rush. As they say, build up the excitement!
All in a week. A tale of 2 Thai restos. Both good. One kind of pricier, but still highly recommended despite the small portions.
You can never go wrong with People's Palace in Greenbelt 3. Always up to the job for a Thai fix. The Pomelo Salad tasted so clean, uncomplicated and refreshing. Great starter along with prawns wrapped in crispy noodles (off the menu). Naturally, I had to have my Green Chicken Curry in a bowl. Shared it but I must have consumed half the bowl. Son-in-law's Eggs (wth!) was surprisingly delish. The crispy lapu lapu fillets and pork with peppercorn are all winners. The 5 of us tried to do justice with our food choices, capped with the very Thai Thako (tapioca pudding with coconut cream) and sticky rice with Mango. On full bellies, we burped our satisfaction over the food and lemon grass drinks.
If you care to have your Thai fix elsewhere and cheaper, try Thai Original BBQ at BGC. The catfish salad goes perfectly with their BBQ. These two plus the eggplant with basil dish complete a great Thai meal. Oh, if there's room, go for the Thai halo halo. Share it too! The sticky rice in the halo halo really fills you up so save that for last. Bon apetit!
NIKKEI? That refers to a Japanese who has migrated and permanently settled elsewhere and imbibed the culture of the host country without losing his Japanese character entirely. A fusion, in a manner of speaking. In the culinary world, the fusion of Japanese and Peruvian dishes such as what are served in this restaurant in Rada Street in Legazpi Village just a block or so away from the Greenbelt complex.
There were recommendations not to miss the Parmesan Scallops. We heeded such advice and had them for appetizers. It was almost sacrilegious to have these beautiful, fresh scallops swimming in butter. But topped with slightly torched Parmesan cheese, it's simply irresistible. We enjoyed these as we sipped our Nikkei Mojito to refresh and clean our palates from all that buttery-ness.
From Buttery to Fatty. That's the Buta No Kakuni I had with Chahan. All that pork belly, ponzu, katsuboshi and leeks goodness in a bowl. My 2 friends both went for a healthier lunch of saba shioyaki. This mackerel and gohan meal is perfect if you're still feeling guilty over the holiday indulgence. But not so for one other member of our party who recklessly asked for his beefy Lomo Saltado lunch.
We didn't have a chance to try their ceviches but we've heard those are good too. The portions are modest so those with big appetites may need more appetizers or side dishes. In our case, we were good with what we've ordered, thinking we'd try the other interesting, creative, trendy dishes on the menu. Besides, we needed room for their homemade ice cream of ginger, sesame and wasabi. 👍
Seriously? Those chicken tenders and chicken skin dipped in truffle ketchup wasn't bad at all. Doubtful over the truffle but still, a steal for P165. Especially when each bite and dip are followed by a spoonful of "dirty rice". There are times when you don't want to see a litany of food options and can only manage between choosing if you want your chicken spicy or regular. So when told I'd be treated to a P165 lunch here by this generous grandkid of mine, I readily agreed without much expectation. I'm not paying. It's cheap. And not much options. Ergo, no serious thinking before feeding.
The Birdhouse is on the 4th floor Food Hall of Up Town Mall in BGC. One of the newest to spring up in this mall-crazy corner of the capital. Lots of food stalls here, plus a few more on the 2nd and 3rd levels. Pretty neat. Lotsa space. Hipster vibe. Upon entering the mall, we felt transported somewhere in Australia or America.
I would love to go back and check out the other stalls here. And yes, try the other flavors of those yummy thin-layered crepes in Papermoon. Good ambience. When I think of P165 meals, I'm thinking crowded food courts, noisy, not neat at all, and mediocre meals. In Birdhouse, no way I'm judging based on the standards applied on P1,000 or even P500 meals. Listen up guys, the bird costs only P165!