Seville: modern tapas with exotic elements

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Some days in Seville were lovely and warm with 23C and sunshine. Those days were spent relaxing by the pool, enjoying the sun on my skin and a good book. So in the evening I would get ready for a stroll around town and a nice dinner.

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One such evening I made my way to El Pintón and was extremely lucky to snag a table outside without a reservation. After I got that table they turned away so many people. So make sure to book in advance.

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This place is different to the usual tapas bars around town. They do serve tapas at El Pintón but always at a table, so there is no busy bar area to hang out in. Instead it’s a civilised affair with only table service.

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A concept I was perfectly happy with. Just like I was happy to watch the world go by while sipping an excellent glass of cava.

But I had food too, of course. First a lovely egg dish with truffle. A combination I love. Add to that some crunch and a smooth potato créme. Mmm…

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Next up was the calamari sandwich with lemon aioli. Simple but lovely! And the squid was the most tender I’ve ever had.

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My last dish here (I wish I could have had more, but the portions were rather generous as you can see) was a recommendation from my friendly waiter; presa Ibérica tataki with sweet potato purée and pistachio sauce. The meat was exquisite and so so tender and the sweet but mellow flavours worked so well with the pork.

This; dining on excellent food al fresco, is partly what holidays are about for me. Pure joy!

El Pintón, Calle Francos 42, 41004 Sevilla, Spain

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Seville: lunch at the city’s oldest tapas bar

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My first day in Seville had an early start; I was had checked in at my hotel mid-morning, so after a little rest I set out exploring the city. It was sunny but not that warm, so I walked around taking in some of the sights on my way to lunch. And what better place to start, than from the beginning, with the city’s oldest tapas bar. It’s been around since 1670 and had as much charm as I had hoped.

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It’s quite dark inside El Rinconcillo, especially compared to the sunshine outside, and packed with people trying to order at the bar or grab a table along the sides. Everyone’s talking, eating and having a good time.

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I placed myself strategically behind two people at the bar that looked they were about to leave, and took their spot when they did. Then I ordered a glass of white wine while I studied the menu (the English version as I don’t speak Spanish). I started with some lomo (cured tenderloin from the acorn-fed Pata Negra pigs) and Spanish cheese. And bread, which you receive immediately. And my favourite; Jamón croquetas.

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I also made sure to look around and see what other people ordered. The locals always order the best dishes, and here I could see that the favourites were fried battered cod that looked absolutely delicious, but as I hadn’t fully recovered from my illness earlier in the week I avoided fried food as much as I could. But another very popular dish caught my attention: the espinacas y garbanzos (spinach and chickpeas).  The spinach was wilted and soft and tasted amazing with a hint of picante. Yum!

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When it was time to pay the tab was scribbled down with chalk straight on the bar counter so it was a quick process to settle the bill. And they accept cards, which is great.

While enjoying my lunch and soaking up the atmosphere I also made friends with my bar neighbours on each side and chatted to them about the food and the city. What I loved most about this place was the ambience and that it feels very authentic even though tourists come here too. It feels like a real Seville institution and is a MUST on your itinerary if you’re visiting. You will not be disappointed.

El Rinconcillo, Calle Gerona, 40, 41003 Sevilla, Spain 

London: dinner at my new favourite pub!

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I’ve already told you about the lovely Sand’s End pub that I lived near for several years. They have a sister pub (and restaurant) in Chelsea, and as I suspected it to be just as good, I took my friends Maria and Daniel and their children there for dinner when they were visiting.

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And I couldn’t have found a better day to show off this cosy gem of a pub! It was absolutely freezing this Saturday and as we walked into the warmth of the pub and the saw the roaring fire and the water bowls for the dogs we felt right at home.
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All of us (apart from maybe the toddler) were cold and hungry so we quickly ordered drinks and some deliciously lemony hummus and toasted foccacia.

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Then we had a hard time choosing from the menu, and in the end decided on the burger for all of us – to avoid food envy! But the rest of the menu looked great too.

It came with lovely triple-cooked chips and had a celeriac remoulade in the burger, which was lovely, but I would have liked a little bit more sauce. Otherwise it was great; nice patty and a good brioche bun.

The Cross Keys, 1 Lawrence Street, Chelsea, London SW3 5NB

Copenhagen: Street Food at Papirøen

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Being from the south of Sweden, I sometimes feel like I have two countries, and definitely two capitals. Stockholm, of course, because it IS my capital, and Copenhagen because it is a capital and so close by. It’s the airport I travel to and from every time I go home to Sweden, and it’s one of my favourite cities. Partly because I know it so well, but also because it’s just fantastic. It’s pretty, not too big, has lots of water and parks interspersed, it’s easy to get around and the people are friendly.

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And they take food seriously. On my last visit, in August last year, Daniel, Maria and I were all super excited to have lunch at The Corner of Rene Redzepi’s No. 108. As we approached in the torrential rain we noticed they were closed, but luckily we were only a few minutes away from Copenhagen Street Food at Papirøen (which I was dying to visit anyway)  so we had lunch there instead.

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It was the perfect place to take shelter from the rain. And walk around the different food stalls and pick a nice buffet lunch. For as you can imagine, it’s impossible to only eat one thing here. pap19.jpg

We started with traditional Danish smørrebrød (openfaced sanwiches) and they were very good.

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Then we shared some yummy tacos and had a little breather. The hardest thing was finding somewhere for us to sit, so make sure you secure a few chairs before you go looking for food, unless you’re happy with a quick bite standing up.

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Next I had the best thing ever; a GOURMET hot dog. It had mayo, crispy onions, parmesan – the works and was the best hot dog I’ve ever had. So yummy!

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I was seriously full after these different snacks but we decided we could share one more dish before throwing in the towel.

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And this is what we went for; fries topped with duck meat, creamy dressing and pickled red onions. It was seriously greasy but absolutely delicious and a perfect ending to our meal.

I just read on their website that Copenhagen Street Food is closed until May this year, but hopefully the same vendors will be back then.

Copenhagen Street Food, Hall 7 & 8, Papirøen (Paper Island), 14 Trangravsvej, DK-1436 Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen: Royal Smushi café

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One of my favourite things to do in Copenhagen, especially in the autumn or winter, would be to go to Royal Copenhagen for cake with my mother. They used to have this amazing old-style café on one of the top floors where you could pick out your cake from a large table in the middle of the room, just filled to the brim with cakes, tarts and the likes. It was wonderful but it’s sadly closed now.

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But one can get a very similar experience, but in a more modern way, at Royal Smushi Café, at street level.

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The cakes look (and taste!) fabulous and they have a nice selection of both savoury and sweet treats. All served on Royal Copenhagen crockery.

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I had the carrot cake and although it’s usually not my first choice I was seduced by the lovely looking frosting. And I must say, it was a very, very good carrot cake. The best I’ve had, in fact.

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The interior here is lovely too, with high ceilings, modern chandeliers and pink walls. The perfect place for a mid-afternoon treat!

Royal Smushi Café, Amagertorv 6, 1160 København K, Denmark

Gotland: Amazing cider and local produce

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This is a restaurant review I would have liked to post a lot earlier; straight after our visit to Gotland in August. But life happened and suddenly it’s February and about time. 

My childhood friend Karl is a person I very much admire, he has so much drive and passion when he starts a project I wish I had even half. A few years ago he started making cider together with his friend Mikael under the name Fruktstereo (‘Fruit stereo’). It’s made from 100 % fruit, without any additives, so have more in common with crafted wines than commercially made sweet cider.

Mikael hails from Gotland, Sweden’s largest island and a real summer paradise, so when my parents and I went there in August, we made sure to book a table at his restaurant Nyplings Mat & Vin in Visby. It’s a summer pop-up serving local ingredients like vegetables from the family farm and meat and dairy from the island.

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It’s sustainable and delicious and we enjoyed our evening here so much! Especially because we started the meal with a bottle of their cider, called Ciderday Night Fever. It was dry and refreshing and so unlike all other ciders I’ve had. In a good way. This was far better!

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We started the meal with a selection of tender raw beans from Mikael’s family farm (picked the same morning!) and a lovely dip.

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Then we moved on to the starters. Dad I wanted to sample them all, and so decided to share two. The ewe tartar with beetroot, cress mayonnaise, wild garlic ‘capers’ and shoestring fries was absolutely delicious!

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But the other starter (which my mother also had) was lovely too. It was a poached creamy egg (almost like a 63 degree egg where the texture of the white and the yolk are similar) with kale, hazelnuts and caramelised whey.

Somewhere here the cider was finished and my mother and I wanted a glass of wine each. We tried to describe what we wanted (two very different wines) to Mikael, and like he could read our minds he poured us a glass each of what we had tried to describe! Very impressive!

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Then we moved on to the main course (we all had the same) of melt-in-the-mouth slowcooked chuck steak with parsnip and radish. We all loved this dish!

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The Swedish summer weather in general was quite poor but we had lovely sunny days on Gotland, although after the sun had set behind the rooftops we got a little cold sitting outside and moved inside the restaurant for our final course.

Which was this humble bowl. Underneath that caramel coloured layer hides blackberries and cookie crumbs, covered by that smooth and fluffy topping of yoghurt, caramelised milk and liquorice. Great flavours and textures to finish off the meal!

We had such a lovely evening here, and it was great fun to try my friend’s cider and meet his very talented business partner. Let’s hope this pop-up is here to stay.

Nyplings Mat och Vin, H10, Hästgatan 10, 621 56 Visby, Gotland, Sweden 

Gotland: Sylvis döttrar café on Fårö

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A real ‘must’ when visiting Fårö, the little island just north of Gotland, is a fika (coffee and cake) at Sylvis döttrar, a bakery and café on the island. My friends mentioned it like an institution; it must have been around for years, so we made sure to visit in the afternoon.

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The place was very popular with a long queue of tourists waiting to buy their baked goods, but we were not all that impressed.

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Both mother and I are keen bakers and we all found the cakes a little basic. And some slightly dry. I got a sense that the café was past its prime, living on its reputation from years ago.

A real shame, when so many people come here for fika all summer long.

Sylvis döttrar, Fårö Bukleks 1526, 624 67 Fårö, Sweden