Category Archives: Restaurants

Run BKK

Back in Bangkok…a mess of sweaty, humid love and energy! Smells wafting at me every which way…potent durians, pollution, toothy grins , flip flops and worn crow’s feet among the locals…I couldn’t be happier to be lost in this contaminated, sparkling (a grimy glitter, if you know what I mean) urban circus.

A grey, humid welcome to BKK!

A grey, humid welcome to BKK!

We landed after a 12 hour flight from Madrid tired but happy. Luckily, the lovely staff at the Royal Orchid Sheraton let us check in at the wee hour of 8:30 am! After a two (five) hour nap I clearly felt exuberant enough to take on the city.

We started off with some spicy curry and Chang beers from nearby restaurant Tealicious. While it wasn’t much to look it, the familiar bursts of Penang peppery curry exploded it my mouth as I happily wolfed down what would be the first of many curries I will surely be indulging in this trip! Of course this was followed by some Tums, also the first of many I will be indulging in during this six week spicy adventure.

Penang me please

Penang me please

After lunch, we headed down to the Taskin pier to catch the ferry boat to the Asiatique Market. We got 75 minute foot + head, neck and shoulder massages (400 THB per person, about $11), which was literally heaven after 12 hours in economy seating (though I can’t complain, we did have an exit row!), followed by a stroll through the shopping/market area.

Love (and intense humidity) is in the air at Asiatique

Love (and intense humidity) is in the air at Asiatique

I purchased a notebook for 60 THB ($1.50) and enjoying checking out all the clothing etc. We also messed around with the new Go Pro which is super fun even when you aren’t doing extreme sports!

A little Asiatique action

A little Asiatique action

After this we headed back and it seemed to get more and more humid by the second, so we thought a dip in the pool might be a good idea! More to come tomorrow after we get a good night of sleep and hit some temples!

Advertisements

Eat Your Heart Out At The MadrEAT Food Truck Festival

Spring has arrived and it’s time to experience the Madrid Food Truck Festival, MadrEAT. The event features over 40 different food trucks, stands and market stalls where you can find all sorts of different cuisines and enjoy an afternoon eating in the sunshine.

Welcome to MadrEAT

Welcome to MadrEAT

 

I must say I am impressed in how quickly Madrid has grown to embrace international foods. When I first moved here six years ago, you could barely find a sushi restaurant, and now Madrid is quickly catching up to other major cities and offering a much more “exotic: food selection such as Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Latin American and more.

Some Korean BBQ sassy sauce bottles

Some Korean BBQ sassy sauce bottles

I visited the festival for the first time last March, and have since then noted it will be continuing on in the AZCA complex each month this spring, starting again today! More practical info at the bottom of the post.

A yummy arepa from the La Cuchara truck

A yummy arepa from the La Cuchara truck

Last time, I was able to sample some Korean BBQ which was amazing, Venezuelan arepas from La Cuchara, a Feltman’s hotdog and some delicious dessert cakes, topping it all off with a four euro bottle of Sidra. Prices are reasonable and I indulged in several treats & snacks for a total of under 15-20 euros.

A delightful snack of Sidra and Hot Dogs

A delightful snack of Sidra and a Feltman’s Hot Dog, yum

I plan on attending again Saturday and who knows what I will indulge in this time? Perhaps a gourmet burger, perhaps a taco?

2015-03-14 14.02.56

The festival has a fun, kitschy vibe

 

This is a great festival and my main recommendation would be to arrive there EARLY especially if you plan on going Saturday and Sunday. The spot gets extremely crowded with a lot of strollers blocking the walkway (annoying) and so it’s best to arrive sooner rather than later.

One of the trucks

One of the trucks

Happy chowing!

You can hand out and eat outside

Enjoy snacking outside at MadrEAT

Practical Info

Spring Dates:

17, 18, 19 of April
8, 9, and 10 of May
19, 20, 21 of June

Location:

AZCA, entrance by Paseo de la Castellana 89, by Orense 16 or through the Central Comercial Moda Shopping. There is free parking in Moda Shopping (from 12:00 to 20:00, Saturday and Sunday). Metro: Nuevos Minsterios or Santiago Bernabéu, Bus: 27 – 40 – 126 – 147 – 150

Opening hours:

Friday from 12:00 to 18:00
Saturday from 12:00 to 24:00
Sunday from 12:00 to 18:00

 

Good Morning Vietnam!

So next stop on the trip was Hanoi, Vietnam. We arrived uneventfully via Vietnam Airlines (a nice experience, and although they are Skyteam unfortunately you can’t get Skymiles for flying them, boo) and there was a driver waiting for us to take us to our hotel, about an hour ride. Since it was evening, we couldn’t see much, but there was a lot of traffic, especially motorcycles, and it reminded me of Bangkok.  

We then arrived at the Splendid Star Grand Hotel, where Martin, the owner, kindly welcomed us and offered us fresh mango juice, which we gladly accepted. He informed us that he had upgraded our room, which we proceeded to, juice in hand. Boutique hotels in Asia are adorable, again, towels folded into cool shapes (elephants this time) and rose petals everywhere. We crashed almost immediately so we’d be ready for our Hanoi kids tour the next morning.

Elephant towels!

Elephant towels!

A little background on Hanoi Kids Tours. The tours are operated by young high school or university students who are members of the Hanoi Kids Club. The concept of the club is helping youngsters improve their English by giving tours to people, therefore also getting a taste of new cultures and providing a great service to the community. We had heard rave reviews of the tour and couldn’t wait. We chose the tour option one, which was a tour from about 9-3 pm which included seeing the Temple of Literature, the Sword Lake and turtle pagoda, walking through the Old Quarter and the French Quarter, as well as the Ho Chi Minh complex. The tours are free, however you must pay for your guide(s) to eat lunch or a taxi with you if you use it. A great deal in my mind.

Sword Lake

Sword Lake

Us hanging out at Sword Lake in Hanoi

Us hanging out at Sword Lake in Hanoi

 

Our guides arrived promptly at the hotel at 9 am, Viet and Tung. They were both university students around the age of 20, and super nice. We started off at the lake, where they graciously took a million pictures of Jorge and I, and told us the legends and history of the lake and the pagoda. We also conversed about their families, their university and all sorts of things related to Vietnamese culture and food, and learned quite a bit from them.

The Turtle Pagoda

The Turtle Pagoda

From there we headed to the Temple of Literature, which was an old university and temple, where they explained to us a lot about the history of the temple.

The Temple of Literature

The Temple of Literature

I may have forgotten to mention earlier that it was over 100 degrees and humid outside, absolutely sweltering, so after this, we thought it to be a good idea to hit a museum (air conditioning!). We headed towards the Women’s Museum, which was a tribute to all things women in Vietnam.

Crazy hanging baskets

Crazy hanging baskets

They carry so much stuff in here!!!

They carry so much stuff in here!!!

 

The most interesting part was the documentary on women street vendors. They interviewed women on why they were selling things in the street, and it was a great insight to their culture and social status. Many of them live in villages and come into Hanoi all week and sleep in boarding houses with other women in order to sell as much fresh fruit, flowers and other items as they can in order to pay for their children to go to school.

Us being dorks

Us being dorks

Traditional Vietnamese Fashions

Traditional Vietnamese Fashions

 

The fashion exhibit was also enjoyable, though small, showcasing many different clothing items through the history of Vietnam. There was also a section on women who fought as guerrillas in the mountains, which was a great display of their bravery.

Now they we had cooled down a bit, headed back outside and asked the boys to take us to a local, sit down restaurant. They took us to Thuc Don restaurant, ordered for us and explained to eat each of the foods we ordered, which I of course made videos of.

My favorite dish, the pancake. You take the rice paper, add the veg, then take a piece of the pancake, add some sauce, and roll it like a burrito!

My favorite dish, the pancake. You take the rice paper, add the veg, then take a piece of the pancake, add some sauce, and roll it like a burrito!

The English/Vietnamese menu and me pointing to my favorite dish

The English/Vietnamese menu and me pointing to my favorite dish

Everything was absolutely DELICIOUS, especially the Bun cha, the pancake and the sticky rice. I was thrilled with the tour and their lunch spot choice.

Our lovely tour guides graciously posed for a photo with us after lunch

Our lovely tour guides graciously posed for a photo with us after lunch

After lunch we braved the heat once again, and strolled (more like sweated) through the French Quarter over to the Ho Chi Minh complex. It was cool to see it, but since it was Friday, we didn’t enter to see the embalmed body, which was fine with me. Preserved dead people…weird…anyway, it was interesting to see the outside.

The Ho Chi Minh complex

The Ho Chi Minh complex

The boys then helped us to find Jorge a SIM card for his phone and set it up, which was amazing because we never could have figured it out alone, nothing was in English! They walked us back to our hotel and after giving us several other restaurant recommendations, including street food, they sent us on our way.

I loved the tour and it was so much fun getting to know such lovely locals. I really felt it was the ideal way to see Hanoi and I would absolutely suggest this tour to anyone looking to see Hanoi from a great insider perspective.

A last selfie attempt in the sweltering heat with our monopod

A last selfie attempt in the sweltering heat with our monopod

After a shower and a nap, we braved the heat again to check out the street food and the night market. Crossing the street in Hanoi (especially without our local guides) was no easy feat. Hundreds of motorcycles, bikers, taxis, tuk tuks, and cars and absolutely no traffic signals. They don’t stop for you, they just go around you. The trick is to go slowly and steadily. We survived it, and we also survived sticky rice and boiled chicken on the street with no stomach issues, hoorary!

We then headed home to get some sleep–we needed to be on our way to Halong Bay at 730 the next morning.

I will do a separate post on Halong Bay next, but I may as well finish out our last day in Hanoi after the tour here.

Me in front of the prison. Even though I am smiling, it was not what I would consider a "happy" spot

Me in front of the prison. Even though I am smiling, it was not what I would consider a “happy” spot

We decided to visit the Hoa Lo prison (nicknamed “Hanoi Hilton”), which was creepy and weird. I liked seeing it, but it did have a lot of propaganda about the Vietnam War (they call it the US War). They first show how the French used it as a prison in the 1800’s and then it later became used for the Vietnamese to imprison American war pilots. They rave about how wonderfully they treated the pilots, like kings. Now I wasn’t born until after the war, so I guess I can’t really say, but the Americans say they were tortured immensely in the prison, so I guess it’s just weird seeing that live and not really knowing what went down. I made sure to read up on the prison before to get some info, and I am really not sure what I think about it all. In any case, it was eerie and weird but I am glad I saw it.

I have a feeling maybe this isn't how it really went down...but what do I know?

I have a feeling maybe this isn’t how it really went down…but what do I know?

In the midst of all this we ate some lovely food at La Restaurant and Highway 4, both which were amazing. I am a big fan of Vietnamese food, especially their hot Chili sauce which I need to figure out how to source in Spain. Highway 4 was cool because you had to take your shoes off and sit on the floor.

Highway 4...chicken with vegetables sitting on the floor. They even make you take your shoes off!

Highway 4…chicken with vegetables sitting on the floor. They even make you take your shoes off!

 

Loving this sign in the bathroom at Highway 4!

Loving this sign in the bathroom at Highway 4!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some pork spring rolls and Hanoi beer at La.

Some pork spring rolls and Hanoi beer at La.

 

We plan on getting some of the famous Hanoi coffee before we leave–updates to come on that. Stay tuned for my next post on Halong Bay!

Japan Restaurant Week in Madrid

I am super excited to be able to share with all you guys that Madrid has finally woven it’s way into the International Food Spotlight and is Atrapalo is hosting Japan Restaurant Week.

Sushi

When I first moved to Madrid from New York City six years ago, I remember thinking how little international food they had here, and how expensive it was to go out for Sushi or Indian food.  But I definitely think in the past five to six years, Madrid has opened it’s doors to more immigrants and cultures and is welcoming all of the new international restaurants that are springing up everywhere.

Over the years in Madrid, I love participating in the tapas tours and the Feria de Tapas at the Palacio de Deportes, but this is the first time I have ever heard of Madrid celebrating some kind of food that is not Spanish food, which I think is really fabulous.

While living in NYC, I loved restaurant week, which was a week where participating restaurants offered fixed price menus for $25 or $35 dollars.  You can therefore imagine my excitement when I realized Atrapalo is offering Japan Restaurant Week in both Madrid AND Barcelona. I think this is an awesome opportunity for Spaniards and foreigners alike to take advantage of and eat some delicious Japanese food.

DETAILS:

Japan Restaurant Week goes through Sunday October 27th, and you have to make reservations ahead of time HERE. There are several participating restaurants and each offers a specific fixed price menu for $25.  On the website, you can read reviews of each participating restaurant, see their fixed price menu options, and reserve your spot for lunch or dinner.  Be careful-some of the restaurants have limitations on when you can reserve, and go quickly, spots are filling up for weekend time slots!  ALSO keep in mind that IVA is not included in the menu price.

Having just got back from Japan last week, I actually didn’t get my fill of Japanese food, I was only there for two days for work rushing around, so I am super excited to practice my newly acquired language skills (this consisting of hello and thank you in Japanese HA) and chow down on some sushi this weekend! I hope everyone takes advantage of this and enjoys some Japanese food this weekend!

A Day in Florence

I was lucky enough to not only see the Beyonce concert in Milan last week, but also to have about 24 hours to enjoy Florence! And I most certaintly enjoyed it.  In a 24 hour period, I was able to stroll the city with friends, have an outdoor lunch and Aperol Spritzer while gazing at the Duomo, pop into Gucci and Bottega Venetta for shopping, visit the Gucci Museum, have a ¨Gucci¨styled coffee at the Gucci Museum cafe, have an amazing dinner at La Giostra, followed by a  night out at YAB gay bar with friends.  The next morning, pizza for breakfast followed my a strong espresso fueled me as I stopped at Brandy Melville  Boutique to buy a long skirt, stroll around the city finding beautiful sites and vintage shops, and finally end my morning with the Gelato Festival!  All of this in just 24 short hours!  Enjoy my pictures below!

A view of the Duomo

A view of the Duomo

Yum! Aperol!

Yum! Aperol!

My lunch outside in Florence

My lunch outside in Florence

Not your average cupa Joe!

Not your average cupa Joe!

Luggage at the Gucci Museum

Luggage at the Gucci Museum

Yes, you are seeing this right...it´s a Gucci Car!

Yes, you are seeing this right…it´s a Gucci Car!

Appetizer: Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi

Appetizer: Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi

Florentine Steak

Florentine Steak

Vanilla Ice cream with rice and berries

Vanilla Ice cream with rice and berries

My breakfast!

My breakfast!

Another view of the Duomo

Another view of the Duomo

Florence is a biking city...cool!

Florence is a biking city…cool!

Vintage Shop on Via de Conti

Vintage Shop on Via de Conti

The Gelato Festival

The Gelato Festival

Vanilla gelato with pine nuts and caramel

Vanilla gelato with pine nuts and caramel

Me and my gelato, happy as can be in Piazza Santa María Novella

Me and my gelato, happy as can be in Piazza Santa María Novella

Red Wine Gelato! Yum!

Red Wine Gelato! Yum!

Gelato Mojito!

Gelato Mojito!

 

 

Best of Madrid: Mahou Tapeo

I really enjoyed myself last weekend at the Mahou Tapeo.  This year there  were only a 38  participating restaurants, which was fewer than past years, but it was still excellent.  I hope you enjoy my photos of the delicious tapas and the event below!  Until next year!

Mahou Tapeo Mahou Tapeo Mahou Tapeo Mahou Tapeo Mahou Tapeo Mahou Tapeo Mahou Tapeo Mahou Tapeo Mahou Tapeo Mahou Tapeo

Tapeo Mahou Returns to Madrid!

Mahou Tapeo Madrid 2013

One of my favorite events in Madrid is the Tapeo Mahou festival.  Madrid offers several tapas tasting events, most of which included following a desired route to visit several bars and restaurants to taste their speciality tapa and enjoy a Mahou beer.

However, this event tops the charts for convenience, because participating restaurants set up stands at the Palacio de Deportes and everything is all in one location.  You buy tickets and receive a map which includes all the names of the participating restaurants, their stand number and their offered tapa(s).  Pick your favorites and visit those stands.

I´ve had an amazing time sampling the speciality tapas in the past and I can´t wait to stop in this weekend.  Useful information:

May 9-12

From 12-430 pm and then from 8-midnight.

You must buy tickets for all, and the prices are:

Mahou Clasica or Sin: 2 fichas, 1 euro

Terico of Mixta, Light or Negra: 4 fichas (2 euros)

Tapas: 3 fichas (1.5 euros)