Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pocket Posh...

I spied these gorgeous little Pocket Posh puzzle books at Pearson T1 when I was waiting for my flight out to London and couldn't resist picking up the crossword puzzles for myself. Can they be any prettier?? I especially love the purple paisley cover of the logic book...

Visit the publisher for more.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Home Sweet Home

I arrived last night after a very turbulent flight. Do turbulent flights cause a plane's cabin pressure to fluctuate? I don't know what it was but I had a massive headache on the flight and had to take an extra-strength ibuprofen to dull the pain. I don't think being congested with a head cold helped either.

My brother picked me up from the airport and one of the first things he said to me was "You sound like crap." What, my voice made deeper and raspy from my cold isn't sexy and mysterious? I know it sounds better when I sing. :) Anyway, the DVP was closed and didn't re-open until early this morning I was supremely jetlagged on top of that so I stayed at my mom's last night and called in sick this morning.

I laid on the couch most of the morning and early afternoon and finally pulled myself together for the drive downtown to my place around 3pm. I spent most of the rest of the day unpacking and doing laundry. I've got piles of papers and stuff to sort through including 2 weeks of mail and can't deal with those right now.

My building's had a rash of security issues in the last few months - mainly break-ins to lockers and cars in the parking garage - thankfully I haven't been affected. Since the building was turned over, our Board's been working on a solution because, obviously, there's a great deal of concern, so our key fob entry system is being upgraded on the 30th. The exchange for the new key fobs happened last week, while I was away so I sent an email earlier to the building manager to arrange a time for an exchange. In preparation for this exchange, I've got to make copies of various documents, including my deed, which I now have to gather up. Once that's done, it's time for bed. Ahhh...Sleeping in my own bed for the first time in 19 days. Sweet.

I've got the Sporting Life 10K this Sunday to prepare for, plus my mom's also back from HK tomorrow night so I probably won't have time to post any pics until next week at the earliest. I'm looking forward to sharing the pics since it was such a great trip! Til then...sweet dreams.

April 30 Update: I know I said I wasn't going to do any trip posts until next week at the earliest but I had the previous food blogs written and all that was missing was the pics...and since I'm procrastinating...well...feast your eyes on the culinary delights.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cinc Sentits

Cinc Sentits is the scene of our last tasting this trip. We vowed after this meal that we were going to get back to simple foods because our tastebuds simply can not handle the sensory overload caused by all the exceptional food we've had to date.

This Michelin Star resto is run by Catalan-Canadian siblings, one of whom, coincidentally, was at the University of Waterloo 2 years ahead of me studying English.

Like Alkimia the night before, we opted for the full 8-course Sensacions tasting along with matching wines and were impressed by the quality and creativity. While the food was just as wonderful and I really appreciated that the servers presented each wine with tasting notes, we didn't have nearly as much fun as we did with the servers at Alkimia...for the most part, the servers seemed to take their jobs a little too seriously.

Cinc Sentis tasting shot of Canadian Maple Syrup, Cream and Cava foam. There was a bit of salt at the bottom of the glass which was an interesting contrast to the sweetness of the maple syrup. This was super-creamy and reminded me of a toffee taste-wise.

Asparagus with mussel marinated in the house "escabetx", seawater jelly and lemon (the one without asparagus is mine. Can't stand it.)

Foie gras coca with glazed leeks, carmelized sugar and chive "arrope"

"Arroz a Banda," their version of paella with a crispy shell, rather like my favourite Dutch krokets, with grilled baby squid and saffron aioli

Turbot with spring "la floreta" peas, garlic shoot puree and "chicharron" dust

Iberian Suckling Pig, cooked over 24 hours, with apple in 2 textures and "ratafia"

Blue cheese, brioche, pear and honey

Strawberries from the Maresme "menjarblanc" with rhubarb

"Grand Cru" Chocolate 67% with olive ice cream, shattered bread and macadamias

Banana and white chocolate muffin with coconut cream and mango mousse - the latter reminded me of a mango lassi

Restaurant Hofmann

We dined at Restaurant Hofmann for lunch today, a culinary school in Barcelona which A had dined at her last visit here. The restaurant used to be located near Santa Maria del Mar but has since moved to a location that seems to be off the typical tourist path, which might have explained why we were the only tourists (and women) in a room of middle-aged businessmen.

We had the prix fixe, which was 5 courses with 2 options each so we smartly ordered one of each menu so that we could try everything by switching plates half-way through each course. It seems I've misplaced the menu so the descriptions will be hit and miss. The artistry of some of the courses, the desserts and their skills with sugar in particular, is quite impressive.

Amuses: Candied walnut, rolled wafer, fish croquette, cheese puff and strawberry puree shot

Samosa of green peas and quail

The yummy bread basket, presumably made in-house

Coca of sardines

Squid and ink pasta

Salmon with spinach...can't remember what the crispy stuff atop it was made of

Drawing a blank...but this was seafood

Ditto - but obviously red meat

See above.

Cheesecake with a raspberry surprise in the middle. The shot of raspberry sorbet is completely edible.

Chocolate bombe with almond ice cream which reminded me of a Caramilk ice cream bar. The sugar-spun vase holding the candied nuts was thinner then cellophane.

The sweets that came with our Cafe con Leche


We dined at Alkimia last night, which is #2 on's Top 10 Restaurants List. It was recently awarded a Michelin star, which came as no surprise because the food was exceptional and the service was professional and fun at the same time.

A and I were the first to arrive just after 8:30, which is early for Barcelona and were the last to leave about 4.5 hours later. We opted for the Menu Alkimia, a 9 course tasting along with matching wines.

Appetizer #1: Savoury tomato essence to be taken as a shot after the slice of sausage

Wine pairing #1: First of many a pretty wine label

Appetizer #2: Slice of tomato with a ceviche (if I recall correctly) in a creamy foam

1st Course: Coca of anchovy with roasted vegetables and truffle butter

Wine Pairing #2

2nd Course: Amberjack marinated with summer tomatoes, cottage cheese, nectar of strawberries

3rd Course: Pickled oysters with glazed cheek, sauteed spinach

Wine pairing #3

4th Course: Wild mushroom morels stuffed with meatball, pine nuts

5th Course: Egg bonbon with potatoes, quince, sausage

Wine Pairing #3

6th Course: Iberian pork with cheese, asparagus and beet

7th Course: Prawn "a la mano"

8th Course: Red mullet with seawater (A+++ for presentation - the "seawater" is blue from boiling purple cabbage and purple basil and was poured into the bowl at the table)

Wine Pairing #4

9th Course: Shin of veal, glazed green beans, olives and coconut

Dessert #1: Almond ice cream with citrus, basil and orange blossom

Wine Pairing #5: I'm generally a Port girl but this 20 yo Sherry was fantastic

Dessert #2: Bitter chocolate with raspberry cream and eucalyptus ice cream

Dessert Bonus Round: From left to right - Chocolate lollipop with mint ice cream (see the centre below), white chocolate and mango mousse, chocolate bonbon with coconut filling and green tea macaroon

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bar Mut

It's 1 am and I just got back from dinner and I couldn't wait to blog about it because it was so good. A and I dined at Bar Mut tonight, a tapas bar we found in Time Out Barcelona. We had called ahead for a table which wasn't available but were advised that we could just show up for a seat at the bar. Normally, I'd say forget it, let's go somewhere else, but I'm so glad that I didn't this time around because it would have been so sad to have missed this meal.

After about 20 minutes wait, our server kindly translated the tapas on offer on the blackboard and we ordered 3 straight off:

Egg Carpaccio with shrimp and frites

Risotto with sausage and mushrooms

Our fantastic wine: 40% Merlot, 25% Cab Sauv, 20% Syrah and 15% Lladoner (a grape I'm not familiar with)

Suckling pig with baby onions and grapes cooked in a sweet red wine reduction

We followed the first 3 tapas with a final "main" which went amazingly well with our red wine, which I thought needed a juicy piece of steak:

Steak topped with foie gras (sweet like butter but creamier)

And finally, our dessert, a frozen greek yogurt with basil oil and tomato jelly which the server described as something akin to caprese salad which I love - and it made me soooo happy to taste it, and a bricohe with a gooey centre with ice cream.

This meal has spoiled me and I will be quite sad if the meals to come aren't on par...but we've had really good restaurant karma as A likes to say and I can't believe that it won't continue.

'Til the next bed is calling me as we've an early start tomorrow, so buenos noches!
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