Café de la Concha – San Sebastián, Spain

I was pleasantly caught off guard by the beach in San Sebastián. The nearby surf culture added a fun twist to the scene. With the combination of Euro-city life and gastronomic magic, the beach-vibes were just icing on the cake. Four and a half days in Basque Country meant Robin and I were adventurers by day and lushy-foodies by night. Soon enough, we familiarized ourselves with the coast line and Café de la Concha made the “must do list”. They stole our hearts with their white façade and blindingly red flower boxes. Plus who doesn’t love eating in a café with a view?

Much like every other bar in San Sebastián , you walk in and you’re tempted by all of the delicious pintxos sitting on the counter. As an American it’s a hard to wrap your mind around the concept of pintxos. The fact that there’s food sitting on a counter for undetermined periods of time can raise some eyebrows. It’s natural to be curious about health and safety and whether or not they can actually stay fresh. The science behind the demand and supply must be genius as they seem to move pretty fast. Café de la Concha is a pristine little eating venue with pintxos to match. They were visually uncomplicated and cheerful just like the restaurant.

It was early in the morning and egg based pintxos made it feel like we were actually having a proper brunch. We sat outside on the terrace (of course). I couldn’t get over the amazing view! There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and I was really enjoying this until the worst thing happened. Sunscreen began to leave my face and started to seep right into my eyes. They were burning for a good forty five minutes and I couldn’t see a thing. I ventured to the bathroom twice in attempt to flush them out. #byebyemakeup #saddestpintxoeaterever

Nonetheless, I powered through my pain. I’m still convinced the two of us would have gone home morbidly obese if we hadn’t shared all of that “pintx-ing”. After the burning stopped, we ordered a couple of O.J.’s and dug in.

The pintxo on the left had a crab salad on baguette topped with a very fresh shrimp. The pintxo to the right had layered anchovy topped with a deviled egg (yolk whipped with mayonnaise) and last skewered with another shrimp and olive. Of course the O.J. was freshly squeezed… Would you expect any less?

Fresh O.J. + Pintxos + Sunny times on the beach would make anyone jump for joy.

Did I mention how great the view was?

The rest of the afternoon would entail a lot of this.

For More Information: www.cafedelaconcha.com

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AKELARE (Bekarki Menu) – by Chef Pedro Subijana – San Sebastián, Spain

 

San Sebastián is no stranger to Michelin stars and fine dining. It’s home to some of the top restaurants in the world. One might find it easier to pace themselves financially by living off pintxos for the majority of their travels in order to save their wallet for the big ticket items. It’s so important to experience these sought after restaurants as the highlight of a well rounded trip to San Sebastián. Unless of course you are a baller, than ball away! One could have Michelin dining for breakfast lunch and dinner! (Sadly, their insides may begin to hurt.)

Akelare (which I’ve seen spelled two ways) was awarded three stars for a reason. The minimalist and drab interior décor is clearly not one of them. The sign might have been the best thing about the branding, yet such bold font would have warranted a bolder interior (I’d think). In its defense, I only experienced the restaurant after sundown. I imagine the bay would have a huge affect on the interior with a glorious panoramic view. Drab décor may have its own purpose anyhow…It could help one really concentrate on the task at hand (EATING).

What happens at Akelare?

As it turned out, this would be one of the many times that my friend Robin would be celebrating the 9th anniversary of her 21st year. I was happy to celebrate her as many times as it would take, if it meant consuming free alcohol and food. This particular observation of her birth would be preceded by a trifold menu offering three different combinations of set menus to choose from. It was a challenge because much like anything else in life, going with one meant having dish-envy for giving up the other. I decided on the “Bekarki”.

Granted, this adventure is coming up on its one year anniversary now, I am going to tell you about my stories anyway. It all started out with amazing bread.

Then truffle-like savory bits arrived on creatively shaped plates. One of the amuse bouche “experiences” was a bite that closely resembled an olive. It was actually a savory anchovy cream encased in olive jelly. This was the second “olive” I’d been duped by in Spain. The first time was in Barcelona Albert Adria’s restaurant Bodega 1900.

Let’s Get Down To Business:

It was nearly impossible to capture every single wine we had properly. I felt a bit shy taking a lot of photos in this serious environment. Soverribas was one of the first wines paired by our sommelier. This white wine from Galicia, is one of seven low production Albariños. They are produced with grapes from 35 year old vines which are fermented with their own yeast in French Oak vats. The wine has been described as “Atlantic sea influenced” which is way too fancy for me. I will get on board with the aniseed notes and salty finish. I felt pretty special to be enjoying one of the 1,294 bottles produced.

(Pictured Above: Prawns and Green Beans cooked in “Orujo” Flame)

Akelare did a really nice job at incorporating loads of Spanish ingredients that made this meal delicious and educational. This course was prepared using a local pomace brandy made from the distillation of grape residue left after the initial press. While it was incredibly exotic to me, it did not travel very far to make it on to our plate that evening. These shrimps were lit on fire in the middle of the dining room. A little bit of hibachi action added to the atmosphere and produced translucent prawns that were succulent with hints of smokiness from the flame.

(Pictured Above: White Beans and Roasted Pipparas, not Conventional at all)

I love that the menu mentions this plate is “not conventional at all”. The piparras are traditional peppers of the Basque region that tend to be a yellowish-green color with an elongated shape. The flavor is on the mildly-spicy side with a hint of sweetness and is often found on the famous “Gilda” pintxo. Here it was, in all its glory, roasted and served with white beans to add to the loooooooooooooong-list of vegetation consumed in San Sebastián. (sarcasm)

(Pictured Above: Soufleed Kokotxa, White Garlic Pil-Pil)

Holy rice crackers! Finally a little more excitement made its way to the table. Stacked and piled high, was a plate full of souffléed kokotxa and white garlic Pil-Pil. I could barely see Robin! After the flattened pepper it was nice to see a plate with dimension across the board!

 

(Pictured Above: Hake in seaweed steam. Plancton and oyster leaf)

I could tell before I took a bite of this hake that it was special. The flesh had a dewy glow and the seaweed steam only enhanced the flavor. The plankton pearls brought me right back to the fourth grade when I’d buy Dippin’ Dots at Great Adventure theme park. On a serious note, our wine was thoughtfully paired with this course in particular. Sometimes there is an appropriate collision on the tongue and it’s true magic.

In the midst of all this culinary-bliss, I couldn’t help but glance out the window. I was caught off guard by two itty-bitty flickering lights reflecting off the water’s surface. It turned out, that the very fish on my plate had been caught on that boat. Talk about “sea to table” cuisine!

(Pictured Above: Squid as a Risotto)

Naturally one would assume this was actually risotto. It takes some serious skills to take squid and cut it down to the exact shape of a grain with the same exact consistency. The fact that it was black probably made it more believable, as if it had absorbed the color of the sauce. It possessed a slight chewiness and got stuck in your molars the same way rice would. I was thoroughly impressed by the texture!

(Pictured Above: Butter Flower to accompany the Squid Risotto)

The rose-shaped butter was presented as an accompaniment to our “risotto”. It arrived on a side plate and we were instructed to mix it into the squid. I found the detailing of this butter-flower most intriguing because it looked like it was hand painted up close. The petals were very dainty and the flower made for a presentation that was playful and twee!

(Pictured Above: Schiste)

For this next course, our wine brought us to France from the Domaine des Ardoisieres on the Swiss border. The Schiste 2014 is an organic white wine with delicate fruity and floral notes with a subtle minerality to the finish. I always find that organic white wines seem to have a slight effervescence to them.

 

(Pictured Above: Grilled Iberic “Presa” with pepper seeds and garlic in three different versions)

The plate was dressed with red pepper juice and roasted pork slices were elegantly fanned over a leaf. This would be another meal lacking in any vegetation but packed full of intense flavors. Soon we’d be calling for a toothbrush with neighboring garlic bits prepared different ways. The most unique piece was coated with charcoal dust and had the concentrated flavor of an entire clove in one bite. (I tried to get a little taste of everything in each forkful and washed it down with the perfect sip of wine in efforts to savor this very special moment.)

(Pictured Above: OLIVARES)

Finally it was time for our dessert wine! It was nice to see a red wine arrive with a hypnotizing cherry color. For saying it is not aged in any wooden barrels, it possessed a lot of body with hints of figs and ripe fruits.

(Pictured Above: The Melting Cupcake)

The cake was made with yogurt foam, filled with coffee and chestnut as well as some grapefruit. I was underwhelmed. I think I hoped it would resemble an actual cupcake.

Last but not least, the dessert you will see all over the interwebs…The Akelare-branded wrapper over the Napoleon-like mass. It was all edible (of course) and in spite of it looking like plastic it tasted very much like apple! The pastry was tucked away underneath this shiny blanket and filled with an apple flavored custard. Do do do do do…

(Pictured Above: We got to serenade Robin at Akelare too.) This wasn’t about to get old. All of San Sebastian was going to know that Robin was now 30 years old if we could help it.

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R.I.P. Chris Cornell

 




Bar Vallés – San Sebastián, Spain

It was a gorgeous afternoon in San Sebastián spent shopping and meandering bars while plucking pintxos off counters and sipping delightful Txakoli. The sky couldn’t have been clearer so we took loads of great photos throughout the day. Eventually we had “shopped until we dropped” and decided it was time for another refreshment pit-stop. Casa Vallés was next on the map since it was super close and a whole two hours since we last ate. We decided to poke our heads in for a gander.

Bar Vallés opened in 1942. It gives off that impression with history exuding from the  wood paneled walls and ham hocks hung dripping from the rustic iron rails. It was the exact opposite experience of where we had our first pintxos earlier that day. Here we had a very traditional menu and much less-modern décor.

I appreciated the step back into “old-school Basque-vibes”. We arrived at an odd time of day which allowed for quicker “pint-xing” since the dining area was completely empty. With all of the sunshine there was no way we could sit inside an empty restaurant. Sidewalk seating it was! There was a bit of scaffolding around us, but otherwise we had a great view of the square from their café section.

Menus were already provided at the table (pictured below). Pintxos are great for sharing (or not) and with friendly price points of 2-5 euros each, one could easily go crazy. You’d explode and maybe rupture something before that, but grazing around town is a very reasonably-priced activity for all.

Our Assignment: Pintxos at Bar Vallés meant we would be ordering Tortilla Bacalao and Merluza Romana (pictured below).

It was nice to have a pintxo where the bread wasn’t part of the composition but rather an “optional” accompaniment. Tortilla de bacalao (pictured on top) was a tortilla made of salted cod, eggs, onions, green peppers, garlic and parsley. It was nice and moist. Merluza Romana (pictured below) is made up of hake (not cod). A lemon is provided to squeeze on top for a citrusy “zing” that cuts the grease nicely. I liked the denseness and consistency of the skin that formed on the outside. Both of these tortillas screamed BRUNCH to my NYC foodie-mind.

On the way back to our hostel we stumbled into another bar that was part of Robin’s hit-list called “Bar Izaraitz”. We looked at eachother and figured one more pintxo couldn’t possibly hurt before dinner.

What do you think happened? We went ahead and ordered a “Gilda’ (pictured below). It was part of our “SS -homework” and helped us feel like we were getting vegetables into our diet…You know vegetables like pickled peppers, salt cured anchovies and green olives on a tooth pick. If I could have it my way, I’d get all of my vegetables into my system like this. I have such a savory palette that I’m basically a walking ball of sodium.

Evidently this pintxo is a big deal around these parts. It’s named after the actress Rita Hayworth who played Gilda in the film produced in 1946. Like much of the other interesting pronunciation in the Basque region, the “Gilda” is pronounced “Hilda” locally.  (Txa-txa-txa!)

Day one in “SS” already had us acquainted with the city and our map reminded us that we would have to spread out our pin-txing in order to avoid a trip to the vomitorium. With some fancy foodies ahead, we would have to curb ourselves until well after sundown…What to do? Where would Robin and Jenzie “pinch” next? Or who would they “pintx” next? Stay tuned to find out in the next post of Jenzie In The City!

For More Information: Casa Valles

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Jenzie Gets Political (Oops):





Atari Gastroteka – San Sebastián, Spain

I landed in San Sebastián early in the morning. I was so excited to see a new city in Spain and optimistic I’d have better fun-luck there. The sight was unforgettable as I looked out the window of my plane. I was entering a romantic painting of moody overcast skies, loads of lush greenery surrounding a body of water with a small boat docked and waiting for its owner. Donostia-airport was quaint, clean and civilized much like the entire city of “SS”. Finally, the moment where I’d find out what all that “Donosti-buzz” was about. Welcome to Basque Country!

I retrieved my bag and waited curiously for another airport bus to take me to center city. There were limited taxis and the majority of people were bus-bound which was reassuring. After about an hour of highway driving, we seemed to approach a bustling area. The architecture appeared to be French-Influenced and the vibe was Monaco meets Barcelona (if I had to describe it). When I passed the Hotel Maria Christina I got a little excited inside. I had been scoping out pictures of this hotel for weeks. Sadly, I wouldn’t be sleeping there this time around.

My phone died just in the nick of time. Luckily I had a Spanish SIM when I got off the bus and GPS came in handy to find my new home for the week. My room wasn’t ready yet which left me with some time-to-kill. I decided to explore the vicinity and soon located a lovely café in the middle of a sunny square. I sat for some tortilla and coffee while I charged (my mind and my phone) in a convenient outdoor-socket. The view was blocked by trucks stocking all of the surrounding cafés with their precious pintxos ingredients.

I made sure to keep an eye on the time since my friend Robin was driving into town shortly. I was silently praying that she might be at least an hour late so I could snooze. Thankfully my wish was granted!

I returned to Pension Edorta which is located on Puerto street in the “Old Town” and very close to the shoreline. It was nice to be right in the center of anything that mattered for the week.

The close beach proximity allowed us to incorporate some evening jogging and a hike in the park to see Jesus at Monte Urgull for some pintxos burning “sports”…

There was also some yoga.

Our Inn-keeper was the sweetest most helpful man ever! Our rooms were super clean and totally decent for the wopping 50 euros per night. It was going to be intimate sleeping quarters for the next 4.5 days, but who was counting?

We were conveniently located right next to Iglesia de Santa Maria and what would soon become our most favorite “pintxos-eria”…

The name is Atari Gastroteka!

 After all the pintxos I took down in San Sebastián, these were the MOST memorable. Besides delicious food, there was something really special about the ambiance in this restaurant. The way the light came through the windows and the close proximity to the cathedral was magical. It was high energy and the pintxos that sat lining the bar looked so fresh and decadent they could make your mouth drool upon first glance. No pintxos were left un-pinched at Atari. The plates kept coming and coming with new and interesting treats to admire. (Note: Some pintxos at other bars could get a little stale!)

For an early afternoon visit, the place was already slammed. They have outdoor seating and indoor tables, but we struggled to find standing room at the bar. We were greeted and offered menus, but who could bother reading with trays of enticing pintxos staring them in the face? It seemed like Atari operated on a pintxos-honor system…Take what you want and fess up to it later.

Anyone that actually follows my blog might remember Robin from my trip to Charleston in 2014. Both Robin and I can talk a lot. While we were at Atari we were very quiet. There was way too much chewing going on. (There was also pointing, some non-descriptive grunting language, more chewing and pointing and grabbing of pintxos (repeat).

Pintxos Photos at Atari (So you get the idea):

1- This was a trio shared plate.

2- Pintxos of jamon with chutney and feta on a whole grain croissant.

3- Brie with chutney and jamon.

=Happy Girls!

To think that this was just a warm up. There were so many pintxos ahead of us and we were already full! It was time to set out and discover San Sebastián with distended bellies and our map in hand.

First, this would all require a churro.

For More Information: ATARI

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Because This Is The Coolest:

 




Cal Pep – Barcelona, Spain

After a stroll through Sant Pere-Santa Caterina, it was nearly time for dinner. Cal Pep was on the agenda! Earlier in the day we had strolled by just to check out the scene and to see if we could recruit two personas for our reservation. It happened that two unlucky souls had dropped off, so we needed a complete party. The plan was to turn up and wait for a seat at the bar. Worst case scenario we could kill some time drinking delicious wine while making Spanish friends.

We were shuffled into the overwhelmingly lively bar area at the front of the restaurant. Attempting to make our way over to the dining area and out of harms way, we slowly earned the best view in the house. It only took about thirty minutes and a little cava.

The corner of the resto became pretty intimate quarters with about 7-8 bodies all huddled up, simultaneously dodging extremely busy servers and bartenders rushing about. We eventually became friendly with these two and scored a table under the original reservation.

The Meal:

The dining room was basically a cave-storing area for all of their delightful wines.

The meal began with some more traditional tapas-fare like tortilla.

We had some fried calamari…

Then we moved on to some larger squids and shared a tender tentacle of broiled octopus.

A steaming pan of shellfish loaded with fresh clams and mussels arrived to the table as well.

These courses were broken up by lighter tapas such as bruschetta-type-vehicles with red peppers and anchovy along with blistered padrón peppers sprinkled with sea salt. It was all very wholesome and traditional Spanish food made with super fresh and high-quality ingredients.

We later graduated to some heartier chorizo and beans with a sturdy side of veggies and potatoes surrounded by (fish heads).

There was so much delightful wine free flowing through the entire meal. We made sure our server sent out a bottle of red and white to complement the meal accordingly. He did a great job at making sure “the well did not run dry” that evening.

He even sent out a dessert just to remind us of where we were dining (in case we forgot)…Maybe it was in case we forgot where we were entirely.

There are seriously few tastier things than an authentic crema Catalana! I’m still trying to figure out how they got “Cal Pep” to stand out on top after torching it. I would have expected it to all melt down. #magic

This guy was so playful and welcoming…He made our experience at Cal Pep so much fun! I couldn’t believe the value of our experience when the check came. I’m so scarred by NYC prices that I expected this meal to be double the cost.

I wish I could say the rest of the night went as well as our delicious dinner. It was the first time I turned up to a club to be turned away! Word on the street was they didn’t like my shaved head or my footwear (I had flip flops on).

I had to return home for a costume change and appropriate footwear. Le sigh*

#thankgodforthe24hourpharmaciaandresourcefulandsupportivefriends <3

It had been a full day in Barcelona and sadly “life on the run” had begun to take its toll. You see, in your 30’s it’s all fun and games until someone ends up at the pharmacy (at 2am)  ordering drugs through a 3×5″ flap in the door.

I’m convinced this city will never let me like it.

All is well that ends well (with a croissant at the airport).

With new Spanish foodies on the horizon to explore, I was excited to catch my Vueling flight.

For More Information: Cal Pep

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Just Because…NO:

Frank’s Bar @ Hotel Arts Barcelona – Barcelona, Spain

I finally landed in Barcelona! There’s something so easy and refreshing about BCN airport. It’s small and modern (with a Custo store) and no fuss. I grabbed my bags and a Spanish sim card and left to queue up for the bus tickets. I played with the machine for a half an hour and realized I could have bought a ticket on-board. (Yay.) Moving on to center city… It was an entire year since my last Barcelonian-rendezvous.

(Pictured Above: Jenzie visits Casa di-Ip in Summer of 2015) Last year my friend Michael was supposed to host my only evening in Barca, but he had other plans on the agenda and decided to fly to NY instead. All good…He left a key with me and I got to chill with his cat.

Meet Ralph! Ralph was the best company I had in Barcelona during the summer visit in 2015. <3

There was even more of her to love this year. <3

Our BCN adventures began with a quick trip down to Bogatell beach to sun bathe and nosh with some of Michael’s friends and locals.

While tanning, I picked up a gorgeous tapestry (which will now make an appearance on the Jersey shore this summer) along with some local fare. Nothing like some refreshing cerveza and Lay’s on a hot beach day!

(Pictured Above: Jenzie lounging on Bogatell with a sangria.) You don’t even have to go far for refreshments since the beach vendors are so efficient. I picked up a round of sangria for us, because “When in Barcelona…” Cheers!

After our afternoon at the beach, we took a walk around town and I took some pretty pictures of old buildings, fountains and doors.

I realized that over time there had been a burgeoning appreciation for tourism. Evidently I’m not the only one photographing hand painted signs of CAP PIS TURISTIC.

I had been admiring the local art at a leisurely pace because you know, vacation… I soon realized how fast Michael can walk.

It’s okay though…Every now and again he would wait for me to catch up.

After a quick trip to the local grocery store to buy snacks we never ate and some wine for pre-gaming, we got ready for our BIG night out on the town.

Since this would be another short and sweet trip, I researched quality food and drink options once more. We started the night’s fesitivities at Hotel Arts. They have quite an impressive entrance with a bridge like fountain structure (pictured above) hydrating plants below. The child in me could have run straight through this adult SIZED sprinkler. However, the night was still young and it was way to early to get in trouble with the law.

Inside at Frank’s Bar:

My initial impression was that Hotel Arts was out of place (for Barcelona). I couldn’t help but feel like I could be anywhere, not there! It was a bit “up on itself” for the laid back and ever-so-slightly bohemian culture we all know and love. The lighting was very dim in contrast to the bright and beautiful day I was leaving behind. I was now entering the land of dark teak wood, black lacquer and marble. This is Frank’s bar. While there are some windows to peer out of the cocktail lounge, you can’t see the beach or the marina. (That is what the roof is for.) Frank’s is not the place to go if you want to feel “beachy”.

However, all nice places have their purpose and Frank’s is best left for the sophisticated and “mature” crowd that might be passing through town on business, or convening for a special occasion. While the hotel came across as super posh, I was excited to see that cocktails ran 10 euros a piece. That’s a bargain for a New Yorker! I asked if they could make a drink recommendation and the bartender insisted I try the passion fruit martini, which did not let down! I love anything tart… BOOM.

Since cocktails weren’t as expensive as I’d anticipated, I was able to pop into Menchen Tomas for a Bar(th)elonian Souvenir! Still waiting to wear that jacket. <3

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Hotel Sanderson London – Mad Hatter’s Tipsy Evening Tea – SOHO – London, England

Wait wait wait… LET’S BACK IT UP. I can’t go to Barcelona without discussing tea. It’s a must when visiting Blighty. Since it was Lyndsay’s first time in London, I wanted to make sure that she had an introduction to the art of afternoon tea. She had a few suggestions including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tea at One Aldwych and the Brasserie’s tea at Sketch. The only issue was her flight and timing. I researched alternative teas and came across the Mad Hatter’s at the Sanderson Hotel.

It seemed like it could be as fun as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory… Why not?! I figured it’s tea, it incorporates cocktails and sounds like a cartoon, right?

The Experience:

We were running late due to our flood. Thankfully Shoreditch House was helpful with pushing our reservation back (after some suggestion) and The Sanderson was accomodating. It turns out that boozey-tea isn’t in crazy-demand on a Sunday night. Upon arrival we were greeted by two jovial door men having a good chuckle at us American girls with eyes glued to our Google maps. They guessed we were there for there for the boozier-version of tea and directed us to concierge to check in our rain coats.

We were seated in a quiet corner of the courtyard with menus featured inside the pages of what appeared to be really old books. Within moments we were nose deep in scintillating literature describing the magical journey of treats ahead.

Tipsy Tea:

(Pictured Above: Rose and Cucumber G&T, Pomegranate and Basil G&T, Juniper Cosmo and a Lychee Martini). Tipsy tea is EXTRA special because they present a miniature flight of cocktails which are an adventure alone. All mini-sips are Alice in Wonderland themed (bien sur) with a variety of liquors including gin and vodka blended with various infusions and fruit flavors. ALL are guaranteed to give you a TRIP into “Wonderland”.

My only complaint: Each miniature cocktail was mixed with an even more miniature shot of alcohol! In all honesty, the bartender could have omitted it entirely and I might not have noticed. If I was wondering about anything it was “Where did the alcohol go?”

We caught the Sanderson on a quiet night. All you could hear were the whispers of the few neighboring tables and the water fountain trickling in the center. I imagine it would be an entirely different environment on a mid-summer’s afternoon. With a jet lagged Lyndsay, a calmer evening was ideal.

The Food:

Our tea stand included an impressive assortment of savoury snacks: Scottish smoked salmon, miniature Wiltshire ham and applewood croque- monsieurs, Cornish crab and herb éclairs, along with miniature caviar scotch eggs. (While Lyndsay was not a fan, these were my favorite!) We moved on to cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches on lime bread and other (less sweet) things. Of course the bottom layer of our tier had tasty scones with cumin seeds and Wensleydale cheddar with an herb butter. Yum!

Some Favorite Treats Featured Below:

    

(The White Rabbit’s Pocket Watch Macaron)

  

(Banana & Rum Bread with Butterfly)

(A Red Velvet Vodka Lady bug)

(Chelsea Chili Cornbread with a Flower Box)

(Last But Not Least – Alice’s naughty Pimms infused “drink-me” potion.)

We had a lot of food to tackle and a fun hotel to explore, which was exactly what we did.

I have an affinity for hanging chairs and made sure to get a photo in my all-time favorite dream chair.

We sat at the big white bar before leaving, as cocktails can’t be missed here. Philippe Starck would be sad.

While I don’t think I’ll be back to The Sanderson anytime soon, I thought Tipsy Tea was an adorable experience for cousins! The cocktails and atmosphere add a unique spin on the tradition and the boutique hotel provided curious environments for guests to enjoy.

Miraculously Lyndsay was able to sit upright on a bar stool long enough to take this photo! We gave her some more tea and encouragement…Soon everything was status-quo. There were still a couple stops to be made and she was fading. Overall this was a successful intro to her first stay in Blighty.

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Questions, Comments, Concerns and Review Requests Please email to: JenzieInTheCity@gmail.com

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Jenzie’s Friends Up to Cool Things:

Watch Kayla make her slammin’ stuffed mushrooms!




Shoreditch House – Shoreditch – London, England

Oh the places you’ll go! After a rock-star night, I woke up in Chelsea near the footballer-grounds in Stamford Bridge. Safe to say I was in dire need of water and a lie-in. Today was going to be an exciting day since cousin Lyndsay was landing in London. Her trip out made me realize how fast someone can get through customs if it’s preventing you from sleeping in. After 100 text messages of instructing her on how to train to center city, I was relieved to collect her at the station so we could begin our adventures in Blighty.

After layovers in three countries she appeared to be deceivingly refreshed…Ah to be 24 again!

Last time we traveled in Europe together I was basically her age. Pictured Above: Cousin Lyndsay and I looking amused at the breakfast table in Venice, Italy (2007). A decade later…

We collected my things and ubered off to what would be home for the next two days. We were staying in Shoreditch by Lyndsay’s request! What better place to experience Shoreditch than at the Shoreditch house?

Our Stay:

I thought we were staying at Ebor St. when I booked. On arrival it turned out that the main house was full. They sent us (walking with our large cases) to Club Row. This meant we had a city block or two (walking back) to get our hangout on at “The House”. It also meant newly refurbished rooms and a quieter stay. #nottooshabby #okayfine

My initial impression-The room was super crisp. The tiny room was no understatement, as our bed was basically touching all four walls (almost). They like to leave their vintage radios turned on just so you hear static noise out of the corner. (It can’t play a single station clearly.) This requires a hobble around the bed to turn it off. The radio’s vintage appearance reminds you that this radio is very cool. You are very cool because you are in this room. This room is so cool because it’s in Shoreditch house. Enough said.

Our room was equipped with all the bells and whistles including the Cowshed Spa products. (ALL of THEM).

The bathroom was my favorite room until we decided to take showers. We soon realized the door was not properly sealed. ALL-THE-WATER decided to spill out from the stall into the room, hence dampening ALL-THE-THINGS. That was fun to deal with on a tight schedule (shed-juhl).

Before that fiasco we sat for Sunday Roast at “The House”. The goal was to get out of there in 90 minutes or less, but they forgot about us entirely. After staring down the wait staff that was loitering in front of the kitchen line, we became the most hydrated guests in the dining area with extra beverages to make up for the horrid wait.

After an hour these croquettes finally made it to the table. Pictured Above: Salted Cod Croquettes with crushed peas and mint. The croquettes weren’t hot, the cod hardly salted and peas not crushed…I struggled to find mint? (I would take anything to taste something.) This put me in a sad place. I really wanted to leave but I had a starving Lyndsay. She was a tad weary from her travels that needed nourishment!

Sad to report the food was sub-par. If we weren’t on such a time crunch I had originally aimed to do a proper pub-roast.

My 21-day-aged West Country Sirloin of beef was seriously rubber. The Yorkshire pudding was hard as a rock.

I decided to stick to veggies as I was having major roast-remorse.

How does one remedy this? We did what anyone would do and decided drinks were the way forward. With an attempt to enjoy pool-life, we set out to the roof and ordered two frozés. We didn’t actually want frozé, (who does?) but it was scary to think how long it might take to flag down a server and order a drink that would require any preparation. At that rate we could be there until sundown.

It wasn’t the most ideal pool weather with overcast skies.

I was determined to get into that pool anyway.

Eventually it was time to dry off, change and set out to discover the new and improved Shoreditch. Last I was there it was still grungy and mildly unsafe. It “fancies itself” on being quite the edgy and artsy area of London with that “hipster” vibe we all know and love! Basically it’s the Williamsburg of NYC. We took some interesting photos of the area. Check them out below:

A secret view from a secret window.

We came home that night to find we were upgraded to a not-so-tiny room for all of our troubles. Thankfully they made this seamless by putting all of our belongings back exactly where we left them (just in the new room). It even came equipped with another static playing radio!

At least now the bathroom was “super-sized”.


My experience at Shoreditch house was a bit “soggy” to say the least. I’ve had better experiences at their other locations. The staff was on point the next morning though… They remembered my wake up call and even had a breakfast take-away baggy prepped for my departure at 5:00am. Leaving little Lyndsay behind to play in London, I was now Barcelona-bound with fresh berries and granola in hand. Yum!

<3 Jenzie xoxo

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Questions, Comments, Concerns and Review Requests Please email to: JenzieInTheCity@gmail.com

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Trailer Happiness – Notting Hill – London, England

img_2304Two days in London and I had been eating like a champ. This marathon eating came with the inevitable dread of a distended abdomen. Some activity was in order (or shall we say sports) and I was lucky to have the support to make it happen. My friend and I decided to take a walk around SOHO on day-two in hopes of finding a one-day- gym-pass for Jenzie. It turns out that gyms don’t really allow “this sort of thing”. In order to get a gym pass (easily) you have to go to the Easy-gym. Well of course, duh! Why didn’t I think of that? #sarcasm #soobvious #sobritish

We found other things a lot easier that morning.

We found a little of this and a little of that too.

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After having a lengthy lunch at the Capital I knew that it would be a challenge to commit to an early evening yoga. However, if one wants to play one must work for it! I was excited to try a class at Triyoga located in Kingly Court, SOHO.

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The weather was so nice that evening as we approached the studio. I got up to the second level entrance and turned around to take in the buzzing view. Something about this Kingly Court made me happy…So did the class! I burned off enough calories for the mischief I was about to get into that evening. We had an excellent series of postures and contrary to NYC studios, they weren’t overly crowded. For the 40 quid of unlimited classes you get at Triyoga as an introductory offer, it’s definitely worth it. The staff was friendly and helpful, they provide clean studios and trendy yogi-apparatus to meet all of your possible needs.

(Ohhhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmm)

After a class and a quick shower, I had just enough time to grab my cases in SOHO. It was moving-day and time to order up an uber to my hotel. While trying to make moves as fast as I could, I was a tad late to Trailer Happiness for a night cap with my friend Indira and her clan. One intended nightcap turned into an amazing night of dancing and laughs. It had been a whole three years since we last saw each other and dined at Estela in 2013!

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Fast forward three years and not much has changed here! (except my hair)

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This year my London travels brought me back to Notting Hill quite a bit. It’s been ages since I had reasons to go to that area. I do remember being quite fond of the Portobello market in my university days as it was so good for Christmas shopping! While trying to keep things simple and seeing friends the priority, I was excited they had a bar recommendation in mind and was happy to go with the flow. When I finally arrived, what seemed like a normal every day lounge on street-level turned out to be an underground night at the Brady Bunch house with flaming tiki-cocktails and the best old school rap and r&b I’ve heard in ages! (Think: Brady Bunch home having a fallout shelter party.)

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Enthusiastic bartenders put on quite the show! There’s even a permanent flame mark on the ceiling from setting cocktails on fire.

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Those beats tho…

As in true London-form, no successful night out ends without a kebab on Edgeware road. I still can’t bring myself to eat meat that is shaved off a rotating rod, but I can kill me some felafel with spicy sauce! That’s exactly what I did @ Cafe Helen.

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Eating kebabs under some really colorful fluorescent lighting…This night was another night for the books!

<3 Jenzie xoxo

For More Information: www.trailerhappiness.com

Questions, Comments, Concerns and Review Requests Please email to: JenzieInTheCity@gmail.com

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OUTLAW’S Restaurant at The Capital – Knightsbridge – London, England

Iimg_2304 am happy to blog about my experiences in London as it was the first leg of the “Jenzie’s Euro-extravaganza 2016”. What a great weekend of foodie-fun, old faces and new areas explored! Sadly last year’s London-eats were not reported and I let my faithful readers down. By the time I reached Blighty my excitement had been waning due a stressful sequence of events. Eventually the memories of my meals were deleted due to travelin’ drama-trauma.

Four years ago (and many lives) I was introduced to my foodie-friend Elliot at Launceston Place.

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The following year he was so kind as to liaise with the wonderful chef Tim Allen to organize my very first stage in that very kitchen. This was a truly memorable experience!

Since then we were lucky to convene for a “chat and chew” at Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant MAZE in 2014 and once again at Angler in 2015 (which I failed in my duties to report). Le sigh* I was impressed once again this year with a phenomenal lunch at Outlaw’s restaurant at The Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge, London.

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Since our initial foodie meetup in 2014, I’ve become much more blonde.

What Happened:

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As soon as I greeted Ello(zie), he brought my attention to the fact we had the best seats in the house. If you sit in the far end of the dining room facing towards the entrance, there is a small window (to your right) which gives a tiny glimpse into all the magic happening in Outlaw’s kitchen. It’s a quiet dining room with a simple yet elegant décor clearly influenced by aquatic life in the most understated way. I happen to be a huge fan of seahorses, so I was excited to see a large picture of one at each side of the room.

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Here we were, seated for a midday lunch on a Saturday. A matcha-chai  from timber yard was enough to send Jenzie off the deep-end that morning. I had to make Elliot aware of my fragile state and was grateful we had Bellinis on the way. It was barely 36 hours since I’d landed and I was elated when the crostini turned up with a delightful spread made of cod’s roe. I hoped a little drink and a little nosh would sort me out.

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Two delicious types of rolls were served including Cornish cheddar and Cornish (?) Doom Bar beer. The Cornish cheddar was by far my favorite. (Was it Cornish though?) I actually ate two. #naughty #IheartCarbs4eva

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OUTLAW’S offers a set menu for 32 pounds per person. This includes three courses and a Bellini. It would have been great value for a hypothetical $64.00 when the pound was still worth something. I’ll take it for a comfortable $39.00! #BrexitExchangeWin

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(Pictured Above: Cornish Fish Soup with Red Peppers and Paprika) This soup happens to be prepared with “pap-rick-a” not “pap-pa-reeka” in case there was any confusion. I struggled to taste or see anything that resembled a sea creature in my soup. It was puréed into a very smooth and velvety consistency. The red peppers and paprika added a pleasant reddish hue to the presentation and a muted spice with a light acidity on the tongue. I really wanted some salt.

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After the Bellinis had disappeared, Elliot took the liberty of ordering wine. He went with a lovely Sauvignon Blanc that complimented our fishy-fare very well. David Levin (owner of The Capital Hotel) started growing grapes in the Loire Valley in 1985 in efforts to provide quality wine for his luxury hotels and restaurants. They pride themselves on producing a world-class sauv-blanc that also happens to be organic. I felt privileged to be sipping this wine and appreciate its story.

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(Pictured Above: Lamb Scrumpet with pickled chicory, anchovy and coriander.) This is a piece of lamb shoulder which is slowly cooked and fried. It was a much heartier starter than my selection and much better value for the set menu price. This dish gave way more of a “bang for the buck” so to speak. Thanks to Elliot, I was able to see another one of the delicately presented starters…This was the correct one to order.

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I couldn’t help but feel like I might have let him down by ordering the soup.

The Mains:

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My eyes were instantly drawn to the plaice. (Pictured Above: Plaice served with warm tartare sauce and baby gem lettuce.) The adjectives warm and creamy were speaking to my soul. This light and flaky filet was delicately placed in a pool of creamy-goodness and garnished with a fish stick that brought me right back to childhood.

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Elliot also enjoyed a sea creature option as opposed to the Beef Rump on offer. (Pictured Above: Hake with curry sauce, cabbage and shallots.) This brought up a very funny conversation about an allergy I swore I had to Hake. As it turns out it’s Skate that makes me ill! A quick search on the “goog-lay” is enough to make me understand why. Skate fish look like miniature stingrays. Any time I see the fanned out grain of their fleshy bits I steer clear!

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After we cleaned our plates (and we did) a sudden anxiety ensued about the meal ending. I was still really hungry. #haha

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I knew I was in good company when Elliot wanted a mixed cheese plate in addition to a dessert. Out came a selection of British cheeses with tomato and pepper chutney. Jenzie never turns down a cheese plate. #nevagiveup

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I chose the Passion Fruit Ice Cream Sandwich served with coconut sorbet for dessert…Who doesn’t love passion fruit?

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Elliot selected the Plum & Almond sponge cake with almond cream & lemon crème fraiche. I was happy this was a midday lunch…I didn’t require a breakfast or a dinner and I was about to roll out the door.

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The honeycomb chunks were intriguing. They made the perfect snack as we sat and created a plan for Jenzie’s adventures ahead.

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A picture that started off with the resemblance of Hangman would soon turn into the most detailed pinxtos tour of San Sebastian! #epic

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Sadly we had to take Elliot’s artwork on-the-go due to a time constraint. We couldn’t leave without a complimentary shot of Harvey’s sherry first. It’s part of the full experience here at The Capital!

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Elliot’s dedication to his map proved incredibly useful.

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Alas, through tube rides and rain he finally completed it.

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It was time to take a selfie!

<3 Jenzie xoxo

For More Information:

Questions, Comments, Concerns and Review Requests Please email to: JenzieInTheCity@gmail.com

Click Like* and Share* with your Friends!

Also follow my foodie adventures on Twitter ~ Instagram and Tumblr!

Jenzie Grooves:

Just Because Seahorses Rule: