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Chocolateria San Gines is the churros destination in Madrid – if you do a little research, this chocolateria comes up in almost every search result. People from all over call it an institution… and it is. They’ve been serving churros since 1894. That’s a long, long time. If you had any doubts about commitment or worries that this place was resting on its laurels, you should know that they’re open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Damn.
Do you like surprises? Do you like to be delighted? Do you enjoy the feeling of happiness? If you answered “Yes” to any or all of these questions, you’ve come to the right place. And, let’s be honest, if you didn’t answer “Yes”, you have got to be pretty twisted. Espaisucre is one of the first of its kind in Barcelona – a tapas bar completely dedicated to making desserts and satisfying the sugar craving in all of us in the most interesting and unique kind of way.
People are going apeshit for donuts. You know what I’m talking about, Montrealers. The wave of trendy donut shops has not yet tided over – you’ve got Chez Boris, Leche and Saint Donut leading the charge in bringing gourmet donuts back to reality. Forget about Tim Hortons, Dunkin Donuts and what you thought you knew about how donuts taste. These guys are reintroducing the dessert in a way that will turn donut eating into your new bad, albeit delicious habit.
Now, for a change of scenery. We’ve left the hustle and bustle of Tokyo behind for the more quiet, rural city of Nagano. We’re here for one night, two days. Walking up the main street in Nagano, you’ll find shops that sell curio items, cute little souvenirs and dried goods en route to the Zenkoji temple at the top of the hill.
Ever since we ate at the black hoof in Toronto, we’ve been bemoaning the lack of top shelf charcuterie in Montreal. We had heard a lot of buzz about Le Comptoir in the past few months and it took us all summer to finally get the chance to try it out.
After a semi-satisfying dinner on St. Denis (more on this in a following post) at Mache, we were hankering for something sweet. Obviously, right. A quick search on Google showed me the closest ice cream shops and just steps away was the one and only Dr. Frost. I had passed by multiple times but never had the chance to visit. The bright pink sign had stuck in my mind, but for some reason I had recalled it as Pinkberry… We don’t have those here yet, unfortunately. Scanning over reviews and commentary from various users online, I learned that the “macarons givrés” were something they were known for, and that it was a must have.
After identifying an insatiable need for ‘authentic and traditional’ Japanese fare, we contemplated tripping out of town to Toronto to fill our bellies with the good stuff. Just as we started to make our preparations, the idea of New York City struck us. Toronto is somewhere we’d always be able to go – it’s less costly relative to the States and doesn’t require crossing an international border.
Best. Chicken. Ever. Get ready to go wild for this one. Crispy on the outside, firm but tender on the inside, the chicken at Romados lives up to all that street talk. Yep, it is arguably serving the best chicken in the city. None of that dry, bland tasting meat that you choke down with big gulps of water. Nope, not here. With some seasoning, a bit of spice brushed onto the meat and a little extra gravy for the fries, the taste is incomparable to anything else. Mmm, mmm, mmm. We got a half chicken and two thighs to go. Smothered with fries and coming with a bite of salad, the three of us wolfed down our meals like there was no tomorrow. Yes, we were hungry. But the main accelerator for the speed at which we ate was the tastiness of the food itself.
Overwhelmingly cute, Hello Kitty Sweets is known for its Hello Kitty themed everything – that includes furniture, decoration, staff uniforms and of course, the food. I don’t have a particular affinity for Hello Kitty but I did think that going to this restaurant would be an interesting experience worthy of blogging about.
From what I gather, Sadaharu Aoki is currently the most popular Japanese chef in Taiwan. His minimalistic patisserie shops have been catching my eye since ever I’ve been in Taipei (once in the Regent and the other when I passed by Joel Robuchon’s Salon de The in Bellavita) so I was happy to finally stop by and pick something up at the location in the B2 level of the Bellavita complex. Everything looks amazing… good enough to make you actually semi-seriously contemplate buying one of each dessert and worrying about the calories later. We got one Valencia with candied orange and sugar on top and one chocolate cake. Pictures speak for themselves.
Located in the basement level of the prestigious Regent Hotel (incidentally where Lady Gaga chose to stay when she came to Taipei for a show several weeks ago), the Brasserie is an upscale all-you-can-eat buffet style restaurant with a selection of foods wide enough to make your jaw drop. The sushi/sashimi bar features freshly caught lobsters, crabs and oysters, king mackerel, swordfish, yellowfin tuna, sea urchin among other premium raw seafood. The Japanese section also had cold soba and oolong noodles prepared on demand, just fried tempura (fish, potato, taro, shrimp), miso soup among many other choice selections.The “American” section featured some typical foods you would expect which for some foreigners may be a welcome relief from the rather different Asian foods you find most places in Taipei.
A chain store located all over Asia – mostly in fancy department stores and malls (the one I visited was in the basement level of the Ion Orchard in Singapore) – Awfully Chocolate attracts customers by advertising their most interesting item: poached chocolate. The sales associate kindly explained the process to me which involves the process of deep freezing the chocolate and letting it readjust to a reasonably cool temperature. I tried the Kahlua and Bailey’s poached chocolate on her recommendation as it was the bestseller of the house. To be totally honest, I was attracted to the shop due to its aesthetic appearance and tried the poached chocolate purely out of curiosity. Even after the first bite, I knew immediately that I wouldn’t be able to finish it alone due to its super rich texture and heavy chocolatey flavor. No one else I was with was interested so I had regretfully to leave half of it behind. Awfully Chocolate really is awfully chocolate – I would recommend it exclusively for hardcore chocolate fans.
Walking into 313 – the newest mall on Orchard Road – we stumbled upon Honeymoon Dessert on the fourth floor just below the Food Republic. Attracted by the beautiful photo slideshow of traditional Chinese desserts with a modern twist, we decided to give the place a shot.
The number of high tea places in the Shoppes at the Marina Bay Sands seems endless. After our pleasant foray into the world of high tea in Singapore with TWG, we decided to check out High Society. Featuring plush red velvet seats and curtains, gold colored chandeliers, black and white tiled floors, a bar full of nothing but Veuve-Cliquot and Moet, the place definitely gives off a more fancy and uppity air. Despite the setting, the service isn’t snobby at all and you can really enjoy a nice cup of tea or coffee and a dessert quite comfortably.
Vallier is a casual eatery on the western edge of old Montreal with a no frills menu. A variety of burgers dominate the relatively small selection of mains along with reinvented classics like Macaroni and Cheese with bacon cubes and Shepard’s Pie with duck confit. Our party ordered burgers across the board along with a variety of local beers and the restaurants signature French Canadian classic Pudding Chômeur.
World renowned French chef and restauranteur Joel Robuchon – the only one in the world who has received as many as 24 Michelin stars – has opened a Salon de Thé in Taipei’s Bellavita high fashion complex. Beautifully decorated with not a single item out of place, the furniture, the floors and the couches alternate between a jet black and a bright red, providing a stark contrast. We went around 11 am, a little early for afternoon tea granted, but we were anticipating waiting for a while, having heard that lines to get a seat inside are common. To our surprise, it was completely empty! We were the only customers until a few minutes before we left as some more groups started to trickle in. The place is gorgeous – as are the pastries served here.
Serving Hunan style food, 1010 is located on the 6th floor of the swanky Eslite building. We ordered Chinese cabbage with some pork strips, orange chicken (especially delicious), ribs smothered with cumin seeds (tender, falling off the bone goodness. You get a plastic glove to eat with and a wet towel to clean up with), grilled shrimp (bite off the head and tail, eat the rest of the body, including the shell. Crunchy!), Chinese buns done two ways, steamed and fried along with condensed milk sauce. For dessert, we had the black sesame ice cream topped with tapioca balls and a bowl of chestnut soup with longan (dragon eyes) inside. Unghh, so good. Personally, I never get really excited about Chinese food simply because I have it so much at home. 1010 did a great job of serving delicious Chinese food with a few interesting surprises here and there.
A lot of the restaurants I will post in the coming future will likely be difficult for me to translate into English. Please bear with me! I’ll do my best with pictures and Google Maps to identify the places for you. The first restaurant we went to in Taipei city was a noodle shop close to my grandmother’s apartment. We ordered a beef tenderloin noodle soup and a pork turnip noodle soup. Food came out a few minutes after we ordered and tasted great too. Having gone with natives of the country, we didn’t think to give our bodies time to adjust to the local food. Either that or we got a bad batch of noodles. In this, both my brother and I had upset stomachs that evening and had to stay in bed for the entire next day. So my advice to you is to stay away from greasy/oily soups your first couple of days in.
In search for something sweet after eating at Muvbox, we went down McGill street to Pizzaiolle for dessert. The clean cut restaurant setting with the semi open kitchen concept was quite nice. We got there just in time to get a spot – a few minutes after we sat down, the restaurant filled up quite quickly with tourists and fans of the Grand Prix; uniformed members of the British racing team sat next to us.