Málaga: Jamon for breakfast and exploring the Alcazaba

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Holiday for me is all about relaxing and not waking up from alarms, but, being a night owl, that means missing breakfast at the hotel every day. So instead I’d get ready and venture outside for breakfast.

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Luckily I had a nice café near my hotel, it’s a chain of cafés in fact, offering everything from sandwiches to cooked food, pastries to cakes and even a delicatessen with cheese and charkuterie.

This ciabatta filled with a general helping of Jamon Iberico was a perfect start to the day and set me up for my day of sightseeing.

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I’m quite choosy on what I spend my time on, but for the the Alcazabar was an absolute must!

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This impressive citadel, overlooking the city and its harbour is very well preserved and an absolute dream to discover.

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It was built in the 1000s and is still standing firm offering incredible views as well as beautiful gardens and amazing architecture.

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I mean, look at this view – incredible isn’t it?!

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And the details to the building. Especially dating back that far is rather incredible.

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But my favourite part was the gardens. So beautiful and serene I could’ve spent all day here.

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But I didn’t, as I had more things to explore.

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Like the ruins of a Roman theatre just below the Alcazaba. It’s been around since the first century BC and is still part of the city landscape. At night it’s lit up beautifully and during the day one can just walk in, sit down and take a break.

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Surrounded by the hustle of bustle of modern life, I find it amazing how this old ruin is a part of modern day Malaga (and not closed off).

Alcazaba of Málaga, Calle Alcazabilla, 2, 29012 Málaga, Spain

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Recipe: Shakshuka with yoghurt and feta

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At the brunch in December I introduced my friends to shakshuka, which they all loved. It’s such a great brunch dish if there is several of you as you can make the tomato sauce ahead and then cooked the eggs in the oven. If I make a smaller portion for lunch or dinner I cook it in a frying pan on the hob and cover the pan with a lid, as it’s quicker than heating up the oven.

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My version of shakshuka has the usual base of peppers, onions and tomatoes as well as tinned tomatoes to make it saucy. After baking the eggs in the oven I add the toppings; Greek yoghurt, crumbled feta and chilli flakes. If I made this just for myself I would have added some Tabasco as well, but here I left it on the side so everyone could help themselves if they wanted more of a kick.

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Bacon isn’t really necessary with this egg dish, but it works so well at brunch (and with the mushroom omelette) I thought it was a nice addition.

Scandelight’s shakshuka, serves 4-6

1 shallots, chopped

1 small garlic clove, chopped

2 bell peppers (of any colour), chopped

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 large tin (400 g) tinned chopped tomatoes

30 ml water

salt, black pepper

a pinch of sugar

6 medium eggs

200 ml full-fat Greek yoghurt

1 tbsp olive oil

1/4 lemon

chilli flakes

1/2 packet feta 

Pour a little oil in a large frying pan or saucepan. Fry the garlic and onions until golden (not brown). Remove from the pan. Fry the peppers until soft and add the fresh tomatoes. Add the garlic and onions and stir on medium heat until nice and soft. Add the tinned tomatoes and water and stir occasionally. Season to taste with plenty of salt, black pepper and sugar if needed. Let the mixture thicken. 

If using a frying pan, make six “holes” in the mixture and crack an egg in each. Cover with a lid and cook until the whites are set.

If using an oven, transfer the tomato mixture to an oven-proof dish and pre-heat the oven to 180C. Make “holes” in the tomato mixture and crack an egg in each hole. Bake until the whites are set. 

In the meantime, mix yoghurt with salt, pepper, lemon juice to taste and olive oil. 

When the eggs are cooked, remove from the hob or oven and add dollops of yoghurt to the pan/dish. Sprinkle with crumbled feta and chilli flakes. Serve with some nice bread. 

Barcelona: brunch at Milk and Catedral de Barcelona

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Only five minutes’ walk from our hotel was this cute place serving some of the best brunch in the city. I found this out via Time Out and I was certainly not the only one as we were met with a long queue, but it moved quickly and about 15 minutes later we sat down to eat.

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It’s a cosy place with a lot of tables and a few seats at the bar. It was packed and buzzing; nice atmosphere for a Sunday brunch before exploring more of Barcelona.

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The service was really quick, so we got our cappuccinos, and my freshly squeeze orange juice almost directly after we ordered them.

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And soon after that our food arrived. Emma had the Greek yoghurt with fruit salad and granola which was really nice and fresh. Extra points for serving the yoghurt in another bowl.

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I was craving eggs and had the scrambled eggs with morcilla and gruyère on toast.

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We also got a bread basket just to make sure we had enough carbs for our long day walking around the city.

Milk, Carrer d’en Gignàs, 21, 08002 Barcelona, Spain

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After brunch we headed to La Pedrera, via Catedral de Barcelona. We both like “ticking” things off along the way. Efficient sightseeing – that’s us!

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The Cathedral is rather breathtaking and definitely worth a little detour.

Catedral de Barcelona, Pla de la Seu, s/n, 08002 Barcelona, Spain

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I also enjoy looking at pretty old buildings, and especially Barcelona offers a lot of nice facades.

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Some more traditional, and some in the iconic modernista style.

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Like Palau de la Música Catalana; a pretty concert hall with pillars, angels and painted walls.

Palau de la Música Catalana, C/ Palau de la Música, 4-6, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

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I think I prefer the simpler styles though, like these more traditional facades with shutters and balconies. So pretty!

Eating NYC: breakfast at Balthazar

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Not jet-lagged at all while in the US, we actually overslept breakfast at the hotel every single morning and had to find breakfast elsewhere. An easy feat in New York, but also a little bit tricky if a donut from Dunkin’s (they’re everywhere!) doesn’t constitute breakfast in your opinion. One day we just happened to walk past Balthazar and decided to try our luck. We got a table straight away. A small one in a corner. But still, we were hangry and breakfast was near so it was perfect!

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I had my favourite egg dish; Eggs Benedict, and this was a great version. More rustic than The Wolseley’s but almost as nice. And in my ravenous state I loved the addition of the fried potatoes. Sinead had a lovely omelette, also served with fried potatoes, so we were both very happy with our menu choices. An hour and breakfast here put us in a good mood for the rest of the day. I would still like to try the breakfast at the hotel as it seemed great, but that’s for another trip.

Balthazar, 80 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

Breakfast at The Wolseley

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Despite having lived in London for 8 years now (yep, time flies) I haven’t had the pleasure to eat breakfast at The Wolseley until this year. Bad planning on my part, obviously. But at least I’ve been there for several lunches, dinners and afternoon tea. But there is something special about breakfast in this fabulous art deco space with perfect eggs and perfect service. If you fancy reading up on the subject (and get the recipes), I highly recommend A.A. Gill’s book Breakfast at The Wolseleyit’s very good.

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For me, this is the ultimate breakfast experience because it’s so different from having breakfast in your own kitchen. There are lots of waiters and they’re there to pour water, take your order, serve the food and fetch you whatever you want. Their attentive and efficient and together with the perfectly executed food it makes it such a special experience.

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I had breakfast here with two of my best friends from Sweden when they were visiting. We needed some morning luxury and thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast here with Eggs Florentine (spinach, poached egg and hollandaise sauce on a toasted English muffin) and an excellent bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon.

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We also enjoyed cappuccinos and freshly squeezed orange juice, and to finish this lovely basket of pastries. My favourite was the plain croissant, wonderfully buttery and flaky. If you also need this breakfast experience in your live (you do), I urge you to book a table well in advance as it’s a very popular weekend treat.

The Wolseley, 160 Piccadilly, London W1J 9EB

Brunch at The Ivy Market Grill, Covent Garden

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Around the same time as The Ivy was refurbished two siblings popped up; the Ivy Chelsea Garden on Kings Road (where it’s near impossible to get a table) and The Ivy Market Grill just by Covent Garden Market.

When Linus and Mirja were visiting at the end of May (where does the time go?!) we went here for Sunday brunch on their last day in town and it was such a nice send off.

The brunch menu is long and has plenty of egg dishes to choose from and everything we had was top notch. We ordered the sourdough for the table not realising it was a whole loaf, still warm. That’s several plus points just there!

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Mirja had the vegetarian Full English breakfast consisting of halliumi, eggs, fried mushrooms and tomatoes, avocado and baked beans served in a mini copper pot. Really fresh and a nice breakfast dish! 2015-05-31 12.53.47

Linus had the thick pancakes with bacon and maple syrup – that’s just up his street. And they were good. It’s so important that the simple dishes are cooked perfectly, and here they were.

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I loved my scrambled eggs with truffle and toasted brioche. Although I make my own scrambled eggs a lot softer, these were still well-made and well seasoned, and the truffle on top was just a delicious pairing!

I will definitely go back here for brunch or breakfast; I like both the ambiance and the menu. Think of The Ivy Market Grill as a low-key alternative to The Wolseley.

The Ivy Market Grill, 1 Henrietta St, London WC2E 8PS

Avocado toast with feta and poached egg

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Last Sunday I woke up to a picture similar to this one on Instagram, it was Foodetc parading his excellent breakfast that I decided to copy since I had all the ingredients at hand. Delicious!

I often eat avocado toast but this was the first time I had feta and poached egg with it. A recipe is superfluous but here’s a quick description of what’s on the plate: toasted Poilane (or other nice sourdough) with mashed avocado (and limejuice, tabasco, salt and pepper), crumbled feta and a poached eggs. Yum!