London: tapas at Rambla, Soho

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The summer is always really hectic for me, especially since I go home to Sweden for two weeks in August, and that’s why this blog post is so late; I’ve been playing catch-up since then.

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The last week in July is also extra busy because it’s both my own and my dear friend Gaby’s birthdays that week. Just before I go home!

The Friday night was Gaby’s night (and her actual birthday) so after doing my last errands for my trip it was so lovely to arrive to Rambla in Soho and have a nice dinner with the girls!

Rambla is a fairly new tapas restaurant in London, with mainly Catalan food and we were all very excited to try it!

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We started with bubbles – always appropriate when there’s a birthday to celebrate! The cava was really nice, so I recommend you all to think of something to celebrate when you go here. IMG_2096.jpg

Then we ordered a bunch of dishes for all five of us to share around the table. First off were the classic padron pappers. They never disappoint with their saltiness!

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Next we had these delicious croquetas with spinach and pine nut. Yum!

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And chorizo! It was all about the classics to start.

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Then we feasted on crispy fried artichokes with saffron aioli and the most tender octopus with fried garlic and herb sauce. Delicious! I so love to eat this way; picking from plates, trying little bites of everything while chatting away with friends sipping cava.

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One of the favourites of the evening was this hearty and cheesy (yum!) oxtail canelones with navat cheese and caramelised onions. Drool!

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The birthday girl divided it evenly, although I think most of us would happily have had one each. But it was too rich. Especially since we had more yummy cheese to eat…

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This whole baked Navat cheese with crudités and bread to dip was divine too! We were scraping the bottom of the dish in the end, never letting a morsel of good cheese go to waste.

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The classic patatas bravas arrived late as an after thought (I think they forgot them to be honest) but we happily mucnhed our way through these lovely crisp potato bites.

The food here is excellent (especially the octopus and the oxtail canalones!) but the service was a bit of a let down. Some things were forgotten and we had to keep reminding the waiters. After two bottles of cava they didn’t have any more cold ones so we had to swap to rosé cava instead. It’s all little things, but things you expect to run smoothly, and since it was a birthday celebration it was very unfortunate.

With this in mind I’ll still highly recommend Rambla – the food is worth it! – and hopefully they’ve sorted out these kinks by now. Race you to the baked cheese?!

Rambla, 64 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 4QG

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Malmö: tapas at Escama

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That Friday night in Malmö was lovely and balmy and when we arrived to Escama for dinner the outside area was of course packed. I had booked a table but the outside area was first come first serve. A shame, but I get it. So we put our names on the list and and sat down at the bar.

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And we divided our dinner into two sittings; nibbles inside at the bar and more substantial dishes outside once we got our table.

We started with some excellent jamon iberico (tapa negra) and Monte Enebro cheese. Real classics. Especially the cheese section was a little unimaginative. Nice cheeses but a very standard selection. Luckily the ham made up for it!

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It took a good while until we got seated outside, but we nibbled, drank cold Albarino and talked.

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When we sat down outside we got a different waiter, and it was like somebody had forgotten to “hand us over”. We got no attention and had to flag waiters down several times to order, ask for side plates and so on. Really not fun when we were finally going to order the main part of the meal.

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We had the tuna tartar which I was a little disappointed with. It was literally just chopped tuna with a little seasoning. Some crunch, more flavour and a nice emulsion would have been nice!

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But the entrecôte steak that we’d seen our table neighbours inside enjoy was amazing! I would come back to have one of those to myself. Easy! We both enjoyed that VERY much, so they do know their meat here. The patatas bravas were also nice, although on the spicy side, but I quite like that.

All in all, we had a nice but very long (due to the lack of service at the end) dinner with some varied service. But the jamon iberico and the steak were so good that all is forgiven!

Escama, Fersens väg 4, 211 42 Malmö, Sweden

Birthday week!

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My last week in London before going on holiday was also my birthday week (and my friend Gaby’s) so it was rather busy as I also needed to pack and finish off work at the same time.

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I started celebrating my birthday already on the Monday with drinks at Bar Americain followed by dinner at an old favourite; Bocca di Lupo. It was really nice and great food as always and so a real treat!

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On Tuesday I mainly packed for holiday but got most of it done which was great!

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Wednesday was my actual birthday and after work a few colleagues took me out for drinks before I had dinner with the girls at another old favourite; Kurobuta Chelsea.

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Thursday I did errands and finished packing and Friday night I celebrated Gaby’s birthday eating tapas and gelato in Soho. The perfect start to my holiday but I wouldn’t stay out late as my flight was at 7am the next morning. My two weeks in Sweden were wonderful and I will tell you all about it soon!

Málaga: gourmet tapas and the best waiters!

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I found Malaga a lot more touristy than Seville, and the type of tourists differed too. In Seville most tourists seemed to be Spaniards from different parts of the country but Malaga with its harbour, seem to attract tourists from all over Europe. And because of this there are copious amounts of tourist trap style restaurants littered around the central parts, which as you know, are not my thing.

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Instead I did some research, and found La Cosmopolita mentioned lots of times as a nice restaurant.

And it was! I had a wonderful dinner here and almost went back a second time. Looking back, I regret not doing that, as where I ended up for lunch was a lot inferior, but I was rather embarrassed from almost fainting on my first visit.

The waiters were very sweet though, and made sure I got a chair (as I was standing in the tapas bar), water and something sugary. One waiter even followed me to a taxi to make sure I got home alright, which was really sweet.

But the service was like that; thoughtful and sincere, even though the restaurant was buzzing with people and all waiters were rushing around seeing to everyone.

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The cooking was on par; and I thoroughly enjoyed the best Russian salad (with Jamon Iberico on top!) I’ve ever had, the most amazing cod tempura with shiso, and bread. I would have liked to have more, but as I didn’t feel very well I thought it best to go back to the hotel and lie down.

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The tapas portions (which were not on the actual menu, but the items were) were quite large though, so I doubt I would have needed much more, but I would have like to try more dishes!

La Cosmopolita Malagueña, Calle José Denis Belgrano, 3, 29015 Málaga, Spain

 

 

Seville: amazing Plaza de España, and more tapas

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I had seen photos of Plaza de España before I went to Seville myself, but was still taken aback by its beauty when I went there to see it for myself. Wow, is all I can say. Wow!

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If you, like me, have a penchant for blue and white tiles, beautiful buildings and pretty fountains, you simply must visit. It’s breathtaking. And so much larger than I expected.

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And if you come here during twilight it’s just magical.

 

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It’s so pretty I found myself walking around spell-bound for well over an hour. Plaza de España, which was built for a world fair in 1929, isn’t particular old in the grand scheme of things but still has an almost majestic quality.

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And as it’s such a large open space you can just walk around here and take in the beauty whatever time you like, instead of keeping track of opening hours. Which I learned the hard way when I tried to visit the Real Alcazar. Since when do things close early in Spain?! Oh well, next time.

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All this walking of course made me hungry, so I walked to a restaurant nearby that I had read about; La Azotea. It’s actually a chain with several restaurants around the city, but it doesn’t feel very chain-like at all. In fact, the Santa Cruz location I went to felt like a neighbourhood restaurant. The waiters knew many of the customers which created a lovely atmosphere.

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I had Jamon Iberico. Because, why not?! It’s delicious and I could easily eat it every day.

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I also had an amazing gazpacho, apparently the cold vegetable soup originates in Seville. It was very refreshing after walking around Plaza de España.

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I also had can con tomate which here was served in bite-size pieces. So yummy!

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And last I had some lomo; cured Iberico tenderloin. So delicious!!

Plaza de España, Av de Isabel la Católica, 41004 Sevilla, Spain

La Azotea, Calle Mateos Gago, 8, 41004 Sevilla, Spain

 

 

Seville: amazing gourmet tapas!

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If I had to choose one favourite meal in Seville, it would be a tough decision, but I think this lunch at Eslava would be my choice.

I had lots of fabulous food during my week in Spain, but the combination of gourmet tapas, great service and the atmosphere here made this lunch very special.

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The restaurant was packed when I arrived, and I thought I was early, but a nice flirty waiter (my favourite kind) found me a spot inside the tapas bar, perfect for people (and food) watching.

No sooner had I ordered a glass of wine until it arrived with a bowl of olives. I love that! I feel that Spaniards must easily get hungry too; as you’re always presented with bread and/or olives as soon as you sit down at a table.

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As you can see it was busy indeed, and a long queue that I managed to jump thanks to my waiter.

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My first dish was the award-winning slow cooked egg yolk on boletus soufflé with caramalised wine sauce and it was AMAZING!

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This is not a tapas for sharing – order one each!

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The next special dish on the menu is this cigar with brie and cuttlefish – a very strange combination of flavours but it totally works!

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After the first two must-have plates I felt I had to choose the next dish very carefully as it would most likely be my last here. (Sometimes I curse my inability to eat lots at one time; I’m more of a eat often but smaller portions type of girl.)

The courgette Charlotte with a garlicky sauce was just the thing to finish off my meal. More subtle than the previous dishes it still held its own and was very satisfying. Definitely one for sharing though as very filling.

I left the restaurant very content and ready to take in another day walking around the beautiful city. But as I’m writing this, I’m already dying to go back for another meal!

Eslava, Calle Eslava, 3, 41002 Sevilla, Spain

Seville: classic tapas

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For me, it’s just as important exploring the classics as the contemporary, regardless of field. It applies to books, music and of course gastronomy.

Some of the restaurants I tried in Seville are modern and fun, although still with it’s roots in the classic stuff, and even though I absolutely adore that style of cooking I sometimes prefer something old school with less fuss.

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Casa Placido isn’t particularly fancy but instead it has tonnes of charm and classic good food. The dark wooden furniture and the tiled walls are ageless and makes you feel at home in an instant.

I sat down and ordered an excellent glass of Albarino, but I feel I probably should have dipped my toe in the many sherries on offer. Next time. The plate of Jamon Iberico was very generous and the excellent ham went down a treat.

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The tortilla serving was even more generous and very nice too!

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There were lots of other nice things on the menu, but this was what I was craving; simple classic food. A nice contrast to the more elaborate dinners I enjoyed elsewhere in the city.

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Casa Plácido,  Calle Mesón del Moro, 5, 41004 Sevilla, Spain