28 February 2016

Bar Lobo – Barcelona

Traveling makes me anxious. It's not the kind I used to get when I wasn't so sure of myself, it's more about not finding the best places to eat and drink. First world problem? Of course, but being fortunate enough to even visit Barcelona, I wanted to make sure I ate well and saw as much as I could in the short time I was there.
Jess and I banished the January blues with a two-day trip to this beautiful city. Sight seeing, eating and drinking in Barcelona was the perfect way to spend a weekend in what has been, in the past, quite a depressing month for me. Our first stop was probably the best of all, and it set the tone for what was the best city break of my life so far. 
Bar Lobo dispelled any fears I had about Barcelona's foodie scene. Its decor was light and leafy – much like my dream home – and its staff were friendly and efficient. We were seated straight away and served a basket of bread while we decided what to order – always a plus. 
I don't know why but when I'm in a hot country like France or Spain – even in January when it's not that much warmer than the UK – I am wont to order coca cola at any given opportunity. This craving surfaced as soon as we sat down and I cannot tell you how delicious it was when it arrived in its glorious glass bottle with an accompanying ice-stacked glass.
Jess ordered houmous and bread, honey aubergine crisps, chicken wings and I went for the fries, prosciutto and fried eggs. When the food arrived we decided to share as there was so much of it but there were absolutely no complaints as everything we ate was incredible. Our favourite: the honey aubergine fries. We've been craving them ever since – I really need to figure out how to make them at home.
Despite the enormous portions, we had room for pudding. With a cup of strong black coffee this was the creamiest, lemoniest, zestiest and fluffiest lemon meringue pie I've tasted outside my mum's kitchen. The only downside was the crust which was crumbly and soft, but nothing to whinge about. Lemon meringue pie is a dessert that is not on the menu often enough, and this is what I loved about Bar Lobo – just how vast and extensive their menu is. 

I highly recommend this place to anyone visiting the city, I know I'll certainly be returning on my next visit. And, take it from me, if you too suffer from anxiety when traveling, this place will sort you right out. Find out more about Bar Lobo here.


18 February 2016

Anna Cake Couture – Clifton, Bristol

We found Anna on a wet, windy December afternoon. From the outside this boutique-like cafe looked tiny; just one table and two chairs, a small counter and a blackboard menu. I wasn't interested, but Sarah insisted we go in, and I'm glad, or I might never have discovered this absolute gem of a cafe. This is where I take all my friends and family when they visit. Everyone loves it.
Anna opened in Clifton village in November last year and has since become a hit with locals and visitors alike. The staff are lovely, enthusiastic and tend to your every need. They care about what they do and it really makes a difference to the overall experience. I like trying new things so I was pleased when the waiter recommended the white peony tea on my first visit. He described it as a lighter version of green tea, and it was truly delicious in its delicateness.

We sat in the hidden seating area at the back of the cafe and watched Anna's team work their magic in the kitchen, just metres from our table. It made me want (more than I usually do) to buy my own place and spend my days baking croissants, cakes and macarons.
If you're going to Anna for the cake (of course you are) then you'll want to get there a few hours before they close - they make everything fresh and it sells fast. I experienced first hand the disappointment of pointing at a lemon meringue tart only to be told it was sold. As if cake can be reserved!

A strong claim, but I'm making it: you won't find prettier, more delectable cakes in Bristol - or, perhaps the whole UK.
And the tea was special, too. It came with a timer and the hot water and leaves were kept separate - vital in preventing over steeping.
Banoffee layer cake
Chai macaron and chocolate & walnut cookie
Sarah noted that not many cafes get both their drinks and cakes right, but Anna excels in  both avenues. Having been to this beautiful little cafe on a handful of occasions, I can vouch for the fact that they provide both well made sweet treats and good quality tea and coffee, and I can't wait to try even more of their offerings.You can find out more about Anna here - they also make wedding cakes and offer classes in baking, too.

5 February 2016

Small plates & Sushi at Yume Kitchen – Cotham, Bristol

Reflecting on my new year's resolutions for 2015, I saw that I'd written 'try new things' (duh) and underneath that: 'ie sushi', I guess I always forget about these things, but sushi has been on my mind for a while now. I can't really call myself a foodie until I've tried it, right? Well, now I have, and I did the absolutely unheard of thing and ticked off one of my resolutions. Which means I can now officially declare myself a foodie. I hate that word.

I have a friend at work who loves Japanese food about as much as I do. She recommended Yume Kitchen for dinner so I went along with Beth for an evening of small plates and rose lemonade (the most delicious soft drink ever to be invented).

Yume means dream, according to the website, and a dream it was. We were greeted by a very friendly waitress who seated at a beautifully laid table, complete with gorgeous mahogany chopsticks and navy detailed crockery.

As total sushi novices, it took us a while to choose what we wanted, but once we had, our dishes came out in steady succession. First up was the tuna nigiri. It arrived pink, chilling on a little dome of rice. It was quite difficult to eat, but, overall, bloomin' delicious. Dipped in soy sauce the sweetness of the tuna and rice was offset perfectly. It was the best start to one of my favourite Japanese meals, ever.

Next came the chicken karaage – japanese style deep fried chicken marinated in garlic, ginger and soy sauce. This reminded me a lot of Bone Daddies' fried chicken and it was just as delicious, but the portion so tiny!

The penultimate dish was the homemade gyoza – pork with a garlic and ginger kick. These soft and squidgy dumplings were worth the waitress' recommendation. The crisp skin on the outside made them easy to dunk in the soy sauce (a must for gyozas) and the flavour, well, you could just tell it was homemade, and homemade well.

The main event and overall winner, however, was this: Tonpeiyaki. Thinly sliced pork and vegetables with omelette on top with katsu sauce and japanese mayo. Served sizzling on the plate, this dish was packed with an incredible barbecue flavour. The sauce was rich but so moreish. I think about it quite a lot. The tonpeiyaki was bigger than our other dishes, and Yume Kitchen did well to bring out our dishes in an appropriate order. 

I really wanted the macha ice cream to finish but we were stuffed. So, next time. And there most definitely will be a next time. Find out more about Yume Kitchen here.
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