Category Archives: Jenzie’s Foodie Excursions

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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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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What Jenzie Is Groovin’ To:

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

For More Information:

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

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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.

For More Information:

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

For More Information:

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

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Still Great Advice…You don’t wanna end up like one of those awful looking people pumped up with Botox:

Just Because:





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

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Just Because Seahorses Rule:

Nightjar – Hoxton – London, England

img_2304Nightjar was recommended through a trustworthy source at Jamie Oliver’s FIFTEEN. (Thank you!) By the time we were on our way, I had officially turned into one of these nocturnal birdies. They were the clever inspiration for the name of this speakeasy located “on the fringes of Shoreditch”. With lofty ideas of going clubbing and a walk through “the fringes”, we successfully stumbled upon a guarded door which led down a really dark staircase and finally led us into the magical art-deco-cocktail-underworld. Sound familiar?

 

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During my last few trips to London I intended to find some of the city’s speakeasies. I wasn’t very successful as I usually start out with a loose itinerary and let the rest fill itself in. This search lies low on the list of priorities when I get my fill in NYC. Plus the genre is a bit “has been”…Where can we go from here? Long gone are the days of Milk and Honey and the reign of our dearly missed Sasha Petraske.

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(Pictured Above: The necessary mysterious signage subtly posted for only the super observant to see.)

I wrote my college thesis on the speakeasy trend and applied a marketing analysis where I dissected the success in the hospitality scene. Twenty some years later the movement is still going strong, and globally at that. They’re perfect places for jokers coming out of a full meal that believe they “can hang” but not really enough for a club. This usually allows for some aggressive seated chair-dancing into the wee-hours of the morning. Chair dancing is so fun to LIVE jazz music! (Lots on here.)

Nightjar‘s cocktails fall under five categories: Pre-Prohibition, Prohibition, Post-War, Night Jar Signatures and Sharing. One sounded more tempting than the next and watching the artistic presentation of these fascinating drinks was no help. The bartenders were almost entranced in their own world as they spun, shook, tossed, stirred and whisked all kinds of magic potions behind the bar…I wanted them all! Sadly even Jenzie has her own physical limitations to adhere to.

Picking our way through a list of ENDLESS exotic ingredients prompted all kinds of questions. Our mind was made up by the giant smoking bird.

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What is in the giant smoking bird? The stuff that dreams are made of! (Of course)

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YORKSHIRE PUNCH: Gin Mare, Apple & Rhubarb, Absinthe, St. Germain, Berry liqueurs, Lemon, Yorkshire Tea, Honey and Ginger. After the fanfare of the dry ice wore off, we were stuck with a giant pitcher and tin mugs filled with an array of interesting garnishes. There was a Yorkshire tea bag (bien sur) a yellow tomato (or toh-mah-toe) and herbs (like Rosemary or H-eubs?) on top of rather large ice cubes… Yes, herbaceous would be the adjective to describe this concoction. It took a while to finish since it serves 2-4 people. This shared-punch might have been the closest I came to having tea that entire weekend!

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All good things must come to an end when Jenzie has jetlag. As we made our way back up the staircase and left the roaring and mysterious cocktail-land behind us, we heard quite the ruckus on the street. It turned out there was a legit brawl up in this piece!

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Thankfully we had the friendly door man to protect us. The hostess didn’t want us to leave as it seemed we had some unfinished business to tend to. FYI – Nightjar includes a cover for their live entertainment.

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People were screaming, getting naked and throwing punches! Startled by this uncivilized behavior, it was officially time to call my uber.

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No worries, I made it home safe and sound! Can’t wait to try their sister bar Oriole next time I’m in town.

<3 Jenzie xoxo

For More Information: NIGHTJAR

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

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FIFTEEN by Jamie Oliver – Islington – London, England

Ever since mimg_2304y trip back to Blighty in 2013, I’ve been on a Jamie Oliver kick. My university friends suggested dinner at Barbecoa for one of our rare mini-IPAG reunions. Dinner was lovely with cocktails to match and I found the view of St. Paul’s particularly stunning! I’ve followed Jamie Oliver’s Instagram since then and often reference his site for the rare occasion I cook a meal. This year I decided that Jamie’s resto FIFTEEN had to be on the itinerary.

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Uber(ing) over was interesting as we almost got dropped off at the Jamie Oliver headquarters. That must be where all the magic happens! It turns out that FIFTEEN was established in 2002 and gives young unemployed people a chance for a better future through training in the hospitality industry. Every year they recruit 18 people between the ages 18-25 to become professional chefs through their apprentice program. How cool is that! Delicious, ethical and socially responsible…I dig it.

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When we finally arrived our table hadn’t turned over yet. We decided to take a trip to the off-license around the corner for some bare necessities and soon returned to perch at the bar. I took a look around lounge area and happened to spot a small sign that noted their gin pairing classes offered on the first Tuesday of every month. If only I were in town a bit longer! Every time I come back to London I feel this way. There’s just so much to see and do … So many places to eat and drink! It just keeps getting better.

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FIFTEEN specializes in mostly gin-based cocktails. I decided to order the “Rose Gimlet” – Beefeater gin, house made yuzu and rose water cordial served straight up. It was soft on the palette and the yuzu prevented it from going in the “soapy” direction. I’ve always appreciated the brave incorporation of floral flavors the Brits have mastered. Elderflower has certainly seen its days…Could rose flavor beverages be the way forward?

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After deserting my phone with the bartender who was kind enough to charge it, we were escorted over to our table and seated with menus. The daily “Chef’s Selection” was £55 for five courses which seemed like great value. We decided against the wine pairing in efforts to be conservative. (haha) Instead we opted for a white and red recommendation that would transition well with the courses. I was trying to avoid falling on my face before the night’s end.

This is what happened:

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We had VIP seats right next to the open kitchen which allowed sneak previews of delicious plates being served.

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This delightful little amuse-bouche came out to play! It was a miniature cream cheese tarte topped with truffle and scallion shavings. This wouldn’t be the first time we saw truffles that evening.

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Course 1:

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Burrata, Grelot onion and Smoked Walnut and Malt: This was by far one of my favorite courses from the meal. What is not to like about the creaminess of burrata? This dish was a refreshing change from seeing another soft Italian cheese come out with your typical tomatoes and basil. It was rich and smokey and made me think of the transitional season we are entering. Complex with both flavor and consistency as well as providing a seasonal touch…It’s like taking your burrata camping.

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Course 2:

Dorset Crab, Courgette, Wild Fennel, creme fraiche: This dish went in the entirely different direction from the burrata course. We went from a smokey fall dish to light, bright and colorful in the literal and flavorful sense.

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Course 3:

Agnolotti, Summer Truffle, Courgette and Parmesan: This course went really well with our amuse bouche and burrata course. The cheese stuffed agnolotti was wading in a pool of what appeared to be parmesan and courgette foam, then sprinkled with a dusting of summer truffle. It was decadent in flavor but light enough to still leave room for what was coming. They may be hard to photograph but certainly not to eat!

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Course 4: OUR MAIN

Short Rib with Garlic and Montgomery Cheddar Mash: Anyone that knows me well understands that I am new on the meat-eating front. I try to save it for special occasions and travel. Talk about the planets aligning for me to experience the mouth watering short rib at FIFTEEN. This beef actually melted on my tongue. The Rioja paired with this dish was enhanced with notes of cherries that paired with the jus beautifully. The mashed potatoes were velvety soft and whipped with garlic and one of my favorite things to come out of the U.K., cheddar. I. Was. In. Heaven.

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Intermezzo: Sorbet blah blah blah

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Et Enfin: Dessert!

English Strawberry, Goat’s Milk Ice Cream, Elderflower and Spring Herbs: While goat-based dairy confused my tongue in the past, it made perfect sense in this dish. We see a return of the elderflower (in a jelly form) which ties both the earthy qualities of the goat’s milk and the (crunchy herb bark) together nicely. The English strawberry (reduction) added an extra tart…zing! This was followed up by a selection of British cheeses. (not pictured here.) I was way too involved.

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Last but not least, our check was served with house made truffles to take the edge off receiving the tab. The issue was that they were so rich and chocolaty, they left us thirsty! What to do?

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We were quickly sorted out with a list of after dinner beverages. While battling severe jet-lag I was seriously impressed that I made it this far. I didn’t want to ruin the good trend I had going and decided to order an espresso martini by suggestion of our server. This rich and velvety caffeinated boozy-bev did just the trick. Smart server!

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We had such a divine experience at FIFTEEN that we ended up closing the joint down. While very full and very merry, it was time to be on our way.

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I highly recommend FIFTEEN for a place to kick back and relax with friends. Even if it’s only “near Shoreditch” you’ll still feel cool sipping on delicious cocktails with helpful and enthusiastic staff. I’d totally go back if this was my city.

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HAPPY GIRLS! <3 <3

<3 Jenzie xoxo

For More Information: FIFTEEN

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

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