We went to Greece last week (Derek had a workshop there), but most of the time we just ate in our hotel in Kefalonia. The food there wasn’t so inspiring (I guess it’s about what you would expect from an all-inclusive resort hotel), but I did appreciate that there were always beans available. We were there for five nights and they served chickpeas several times, fava beans several times, black eyed peas once, and various white beans.
We spent one day in Athens, and ate at two places that I can recommend for vegetarians—Chemin and Mani-Mani. Read the rest of this entry »
I spent three days last week in Prague with my sister, my brother, and my sister-in-law. Three of the four of us were vegetarian, so we mostly ate at vegetarian or ethnic restaurants. Below are some notes.
Hotel K+K Fenix: I was quite impressed by the breakfast at our hotel. It was open long hours, offered a wide selection of cold and hot items, and even included some organic items. There was lots of tasty fresh fruit including melons, kiwis, apricots, cherries, and apples. Other cold items included various pastries and cakes, various breads and jams and nutella, various juices, milk including soymilk, yogurt, meusli and various cold cereals, and nuts and dried fruit. On the hot side, there were hard-boiled eggs, broiled tomatoes, and sautéed mushrooms. The quality of the food generally seemed quite high. The only thing I tried that I really didn’t like were the scrambled eggs.
Kotleta: We ate our first lunch on the patio of this restaurant right near the old town square. The name of the restaurant apparently translates to “eyeball,” which is not the most appetizing of names. But our tour guide recommended it, and we were hungry, so we let her cajole us into eating there, despite the fact that it didn’t have a lot of vegetarian options. It’s supposedly a non-smoking restaurant but lots of people were smoking on the patio. We shared a few different dishes. The portobello mushroom appetizer was quite small, with only two tiny portobellos, but I thought they were tasty. The grilled marinated peppers were yellow bell peppers on top of large mounds of feta cheese. We ordered a salad with gratinated goat cheese on toast, marinated fig in honey and herbs, roasted walnuts, grapes and a wild cherry dressing. The dressing was a little too sweet for me but the salad was okay. Finally, I ordered a baked potato. Everyone was making fun of me for ordering such a boring dish, but I quite liked it. The skin was nice and crispy and the inside was various moist. The salad, grilled peppers, small baked potato, and 2 little portobello mushrooms cost 249+169+79+79=576 crowns, which adds up to $9.55 per person just for the vegetarian food. We were definitely paying a tourist bonus. We also ordered drinks, which were actually my favorite part of the meal. I got a ginger lemonade which was very gingery, and my sister-in-law ordered a cucumber lemonade that was bright green and tasted strongly of cucumbers. Both were absolutely delicious, although too strong for my brother and sister.
Maitrea: We ate dinner our first night at this vegetarian restaurant, which a friend had recommended. We started with a selection of mixed starters, which consisted of hummus, red beet tartare, roasted bell peppers, pickled goat cheese, a spinach crêpe, and bread). Everyone else thought that the starter plate was really bland and boring, but I liked it. The hummus mostly tasted like mashed chickpeas, with little lemon juice or garlic, but I found it satisfying. I think one issue was that everything was pretty low-salt. I also ordered a bowl of lentil soup, which was again pretty plain but with some sweet spice (cloves?) that I couldn’t quite identify. Again, I liked it more than anyone else. We shared four main dishes. I thought the vegetable lasagna was reasonable, but my sister and sister-in-law found it sour and offputting. We ordered a spinach and arugula salad with sun-dried tomatoes, capers, garlic, smoked tofu, and a balsamico-honey reduction. I liked the smoked tofu but found the dressing too sweet. My sister liked the salad much more than me. My brother ordered Thai eggplant with tofu, fresh coriander, chili peppers, and coconut milk, which I couldn’t eat. The sauce was just too sweet and goopy. Everyone’s favorite dish was the meatless „chicken“ and mushroom balls with oven-roasted vegetables, basil pesto and homemade tofunnaise. The balls were very tasty, but unfortunately there were only three of them. Overall no one was particularly impressed with the food, but everyone agreed that the ambience and decor of the restaurant was quite nice. If this restaurant were in Saarbruecken I’d definitely go back, as I’m sure with some trial and error I could find a couple of dishes I really like. The meal for the four of us with water and a few non-alcoholic drinks came to about 1050 crowns, or $13.05 per person.
Modry Zub Noodle Bar: For lunch on our second day we went to what we thought was a Thai order-at-the-counter joint. But it turned out that most of the tables were part of a sit-down restaurant. So we were relegated to a little table off to the side. We thought it was a fast food kind of place but it ended up taking quite a while for them to bring us our food. The four of us shared three dishes: a green curry with tofu, pad thai, and ma-muang tofu with veggies and cashew nuts. I liked the green curry, but my brother didn’t care for it much. My brother and sister really liked the cashew dish. Overall it was a pleasant lunch, and three dishes was plenty for the four of us. Altogether the lunch cost 535 crowns, or $6.65 per person. They even gave us free tap water!
Pizzeria Ristorante Giovanni: For our second dinner we went to this Italian restaurant not far from the center. The first table they sat us at was very smoky, so we asked to be moved, and they moved us to a different room which was apparently their non-smoking section. We ordered a tomato soup and garlic bread as appetizers, but they brought them out at the same time as our main dishes. The garlic bread was basically just pizza dough with no discernible garlic flavor. The tomato soup was very good though, and we ended up spreading it on the garlic bread to give it some flavor. My sister ordered the tortelli tartufo, which were stuffed with truffle and asparagus in a tomato-truffle cream sauce. I couldn’t detect any asparagus, but the truffle and cream sauce was tasty. We shared a salad of arugula, tomatoes, carrot, and zucchini, which was fine, but the salad dressing seemed to be just oil. Luckily there was balsamic vinegar on the table, and that helped. I ordered the pasta primavera, which was a bit small and really boring. It had very few vegetables and needed some pizzazz. My sister liked the noodles though. She thought they tasted homemade. Our final dish was a regina margherita pizza with buffalo mozzarella, arugula, and cherry tomatoes, and we added olives to it. Again, it was inoffensive but boring. It helped to dip it in the tomato soup. I guess it needed more tomato sauce? Altogether with a bottle of water the meal came to 1130 crowns, or $14.04 per person.
Bombay Express: My sister and I got take-out from this Indian fast food joint, and took it on the train with us for dinner. The yellow dal was pretty tasty, but the saag paneer wasn’t quite right. Both dishes came with massive quantities of rice. For the two dishes and two take out boxes they charged us 188 crowns, about $4.68 per person.
Clear Head (Lehka Hlava): My sister and I ate our last lunch at this vegetarian restaurant, which turned out to be a sister restaurant to Maitrea. I was in a bit of a rush because I had to get to the airport, so I just ordered a bowl of red lentil and carrot soup. The bowl was quite small and brothy, and it didn’t seem like nearly enough food for lunch. So I asked the waitress what else I could order that would come quickly, and she recommended the quesadilla with marinated vegetarian “chicken.” It arrived quickly and piping hot, but I found it a bit odd tasting. The inside had not only the vegetarian mock meat and cheese, but tons of grainy mustard. I found the combination odd, and I thought that the dish as a whole needed salsa desperately. The quesadilla came with a bit of guacamole, which was pleasant, and helped to add a bit of flavor to the dish. My sister ordered the beet burger, which was huge and disconcertingly bloody looking. The burger was on a bun with pickles and soggy lettuce and some kind of creamy sauce. She had also ordered it with cheddar, but she said that with the sauce and the cheddar it was too rich. She ended up pulling off the bun and just eating the burger. She said it was better that way. I tried it but didn’t particularly care for the dish. Since it was my last meal in Prague, I splurged and ordered another ginger lemonade. This one tasted different than my first one, but was equally delicious. Wow, was it ginger-y and lemon-y. I wish I could get it in Saarbruecken! I guess I’ll have to learn how to make something similar myself. Altogether our meal with drinks added up to 485 crowns, or about $12.06 per person.
My sister and I left Prague for a couple of days and took the train out to the Adršpach-Teplice Rocks. The park itself was lovely, and we spent a very nice morning and early afternoon hiking through the Teplice section of the park. But food was an issue. We were staying right near the park rather than in a town, and all the restaurants at the hotels near us were inexplicably closed. We ended up having to go 2 km to the single restaurant in the nearest town (which was more like a village). The vegetarian pickings were very slim, and we ended up with a plate of french fries, mayonnaise, deep fried cheese or broccoli, and cabbage salad. Although we enjoyed the natural environment, foodwise we were quite glad to return to the more veggie-friendly Prague.
I recently spent a week in the San Francisco Mission District. Even though I didn’t actually do all that many foodie things, there were a number of highlights. Read the rest of this entry »
I went with Derek to Copenhagen for a long weekend in June. I’m not much of a sightseer, but I quite enjoyed exploring the many floors of Danish furniture and kitchen and housewares at www.illumsbolighus.dk. I only bought a dish towel, but there were many, many beautiful things to look at. Also, right around the corner near the Segway tour storefront was a small clothing store with stylish but unusual and comfy-looking designs. Finally, I had a number of interesting culinary experiences. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve waited so long to write about my Tokyo trip that my recollection of the details has mostly faded. The main thing that I remember is that food in Tokyo is extremely expensive. Everything is about twice as much as you would pay in Europe or the U.S., and some things (like fruit and nuts) are even more expensive. Ignoring the prices, though, I had a lot of very tasty food. Here are the food memories have persisted: Read the rest of this entry »
I know I haven’t yet posted anything about Japan, but I just got back from my second annual October trip to Berlin, and I want to write reviews of the restaurants we tried before the details fade away. Compared to our 2010 Berlin trip, this time Derek and I veered towards fewer Asian restaurants and a few more American and European places. Read the rest of this entry »
I just got back from a two week trip to Seoul and Tokyo. I’m going to write a little (okay, a lot) about the Korean food here, and reserve Japan for a second post.
My previous experience with Korean food was limited to a few visits to Korean restaurants in Pittsburgh. I remember trying some kind of ice cold noodle and (another time) a Korean hot pot. Both times I found the food completely foreign and unappealing, and I couldn’t get myself to eat much of either dish. So I was quite apprehensive about the food in Korea. Luckily, my friend Ahra was kind enough to take four entire days just to show me around Seoul, acting as both tour guide and interpreter. Ahra was a great guide, especially of the food. She’s not only a local but a chef, so she could answer all kinds of food questions. Read the rest of this entry »
I spent almost three weeks in New York this past September. Normally when I visit New York I just stay in the Village with Derek’s parents, but this time I moved around quite a bit. My trip started out in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where I caught up with my friend Spoons. Then when Derek arrived I moved to his parents place in the Village. After he left for his conference in Baltimore I went to Ithaca for the weekend to visit my friend Katrina. Finally, I spent a night in Columbia grad housing with my friend Jenny. I was also at Columbia for quite a few lunches, as I was observing two courses at the University. The three weeks passed by in a whirlwind. I was kept busy digesting all sorts of new ideas from the courses I was observing, as well as lots of food, as always. Read the rest of this entry »
Derek and I recently spent Thanksgiving in Staunton, VA. We had a lovely time with his family and mine, but it seems we didn’t do much over the week except cook and eat! One notable exception was an excellent game of Wise and Otherwise, from which I learned the very deep African saying: “In the dreams of a chicken… barley is barley.” I also quite enjoyed Derek’s completion of the Dutch saying starting: “Coffee has…”. Although I correctly identified the correct saying (“Coffee has two virtues: it’s warm and wet”), I liked Derek’s version better: “Coffee has a black life, but a white death.”
See, I told you our trip was food-centric. Even the two sayings that I remember from Wise and Otherwise are food related! And now for the trip report… Read the rest of this entry »
Two weeks ago Derek and I spent four and a half days in Berlin. We were starved for good non-Thai ethnic food, and tried to seek some out some great, low-key restaurants in Germany’s modern, international metropolis. Unfortunately, I didn’t write this blog post quickly enough and many of the details have faded from memory. Below are my somewhat fuzzy recollections. Read the rest of this entry »
In May, Derek and I spent a long weekend in Paris. A friend of ours who is doing a sabbatical in Paris invited us to come for a visit. In planning the visit, I hit upon the brilliant idea of spending Derek’s 30th birthday in Paris. It turned out that our friend was going to be out of town that weekend, but she graciously arranged for us to stay at her place even in her absence. Read the rest of this entry »
I just got back from a week in Madrid. I didn’t read anything about it before leaving (didn’t even buy a guidebook) and thus wasn’t sure what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect the huge metropolis that I found. Madrid reminded me a lot of New York City–tall buildings, lots of people and traffic, great metro system, millions of shops and restaurants…. The main differences seemed to be that Madrilenos eat dinner at 10:30 at night, and speak Spanish. I think Madrid would be a fun city to live in, but it was a bit overwhelming as a tourist destination, at least for a tourist as unprepared as I was.
Before leaving for Spain, I had read a bit about the cuisine. I mostly found webpages complaining about how veggie unfriendly the country is. I even found one page that claimed that Spain was voted the second worst country for vegetarians to travel in, after Mexico. Supposedly meat and/or fish are in everything. I don’t know if Madrid is different than the rest of the country, but I found the veggie-options to be better than I expected. I was lucky enough to travel mostly with Spanish speakers, which definitely helped. I never ended up being served anything that had any meat or fish in it (at least to my knowledge). Read the rest of this entry »
In October I spent ten days in New York City, and ate out at a number of new restaurants, and a few old ones. We leaned pretty heavily towards Italian this trip, pretty much spurning all cuisines originating east of Italy. Next time we go to NYC we’ll have to focus on Ethiopian, Chinese, and Indian!
This post took me a long time to finish, but hopefully I’ll soon finish up my post about all the cooking we did while we were in NYC, including the cooking class Derek and I took at the Natural Gourmet cooking school. Read the rest of this entry »
My blog has languished recently because I haven’t been cooking–I’ve been enjoying other people’s cooking in Scotland. Derek and I spent a week in Edinburgh and three days on the island of Islay. Both were lovely.
I immediately fell in love with Edinburgh. I felt at home from the moment we got on the airport bus and started riding through the suburbs. I liked the Georgian monotony of New Town, the touristy cashmere kitsch of the Royal Mile, and the small town friendliness of Stockbridge. Edinburgh feels like a big, bustling city, yet it’s very easy and fast (and cheap!) to get around on foot and by bus. Plus they’re rebuilding the trams!
I spent most of my week in Edinburgh just walking around, exploring all the different neighborhoods, and checking out the marvelous thrift stores (of which there seemed to be an infinite supply). And I ate. I ate lunch and dinner out every day. After the unvarying German/Italian/Thai of Saarbruecken, it was a pleasure to be able to sample so many different cuisines. Still, as the week wore on, I started to get sick of restaurant food. My normally captious nature blossomed into outright pickiness (as you’ll see in the comments below). But don’t be fooled by all the criticism. I had a lovely time in Edinburgh, and would return in a minute.
Scotland is more vegetarian friendly than Germany–almost every restaurant has at least one vegetarian main dish. That said, the vegetarian fare is pretty predictable. At most restaurants the vegetarian option is risotto, and if not risotto, then it’s almost always ravioli. I enjoy a well-made risotto, and I’ve had some excellent ravioli. (The pumpkin ravioli in a sage cream sauce at Girasole in Pittsburgh comes to mind.) However, when I go to a restaurant and the only vegetarian choices are risotto and ravioli, I become unreasonably acrimonious. So I tried to seek out places with more interesting vegetarian options. Read the rest of this entry »
In October, Derek and I took a belated honeymoon to Tuscany, and lucked into a succession of nine perfect Autumn days: sunny blue skies, warm (but not hot) afternoons, and cool (but not cold) nights. The weather was more consistently fabulous than the food, but in the course of our holiday we did have a number of memorable food experiences. Here are my top ten food memories from our ten day trip to Tuscany. Read the rest of this entry »