Hello again, from Barcelona!
Today we explored La Boqueria. Where one can enjoy a fresh , icy cold juice from various delicious fruit combinations! I really enjoyed my passion pineapple! This is a central market where you can find just about anything you would want to fill your kitchen with enticing aromas! Select from chicken, fish, meats & what seemed like an endless selection of fruits, vegetables, spices & locally created candies & sweets! I was impressed with the little stall selling eggs. But I had to wait until I returned back to our apartment to find out what birds some of these eggs came from. Everything from this vendor was in Catalan! So in case you are curious, there are duck, chicken, pheasant & partridge eggs to choose from! Im kind of thinking they may all taste pretty similar... what do you think ? Has anyone had partridge eggs??? Food for thought!
Tomorrow I am off to Rome!!!
Rome has been special!
I love Italy & was very determined to "shoe horn" a visit into our trip. We began the day with a lovely morning stroll through the Piazza Navona, one of the largest piazzas in Rome; usually very crowded with tourists, vendors, performance artists, musicians & artists vying for your attention! But if you arrive before 9am, the piazza is yours, and quite majestic with the sun seeping through the antique buildings & the three fountains just beginning to fill their basins! A quick cappuccino at St. Eustachio Cafe ("the best" coffee in Rome) and off to Campo de' Fiori for supplies. We arrived just as the outdoor market was opening, and felt like locals ,selecting our fruits & vegetables for the next couple days. I chose some Romano beans, which I can never find at home and always enjoy, salad veggies, strawberries, zucchini blossoms, peaches and an assortment of nuts. On our way back to the apartment we popped in at Il Fornaio for several pastries & focaccia bread that was soooo good! I wish every day could begin as quaintly as today.
Buenos Dias! from San Sebastian!
Here every bar serves up "pinxos" all afternoon and way into the night! platters line the bars of every place! If you are a vegetarian here - you are in trouble! Serrano ham is king, followed by chorizo, blood sausage, salted cod, & various other little cured fishes!! So it's been challenging for my son...who is a vegetarian! He's enjoyed quite a bit of Manchego & quince along with many slices of tortilla espanol ( a thick egg&potato omelette). Today we visited the central market & found some very tasty pastries & a fruit shop that looked more like a rainbow! So I think we are all happy now. Adios, off to conquer the day!
Tasting my way through Europe,
It’s just coincidence that we chose to review two Italian restaurants in a row, but these two restaurants couldn’t be more different. Ristorante Rumari (see previous blog post) is a classic family-style Italian restaurant serving classic Italian fare. The Mare Culinary Lounge is as unique as its name, in a location that seemed to us to be very unlikely—inside the Laguna Beach Holiday Inn. For those who don’t already know, the word mare as used here is not like the old gray mare. Pronounced mar-rāy in Italian, it is simply the word for “sea.” Mare is a companion restaurant to the Alessá group of Italian eateries in Newport, Huntington, and downtown Laguna Beach.
We visited Mare during their soft opening, (as of this writing they still do not have a fully functioning website) and it was clear that they still have some things to do to get ready for a grand opening. Even so, the service was good and the food was superb. Our server, Jason, was the perfect balance of friendly attentiveness and professionalism. We were first treated to a marvelous sampling of Mare’s appetizers courtesy of chef-owner Alessandro Pirozzi: Tacos “Mai” Way-- Braised oxtail, baby sweet onions, and homemade Saba in a unique Bahn bao wrap, $10.00; Olive Fritte – Fontina stuffed castelveltrano olives, lightly flash-fried and topped with sea salt and Italian parsley, $8.00; Arancini Carnaroli—A rich and flavorful risotto mini cake, with mozzarella and Bolognese, $8.00; and, Polipo Mediterranean—Delicate and delicious braised octopus carpaccio, with bell peppers, black Sicilian lava salt, and imported baby caper-berries, $14.00. All in all, the most varied, unusual, and perfectly prepared appetizers we’ve had in a Laguna Beach restaurant.
For the main course, I chose the house-made radiatori with slow-braised Colorado lamb shoulder. $19.00. The lamb was fall-apart tender, the pasta perfectly done, and the flavor profile was unbelievable. Both my husband and our dinner companion tasted this dish and despite loving their own choices, both said they would choose the radiatori next time. My husband had bronzini – a lovely flakey Mediterranean sea bass dish that was a special that evening. Our friend had superbly prepared lamb chops. We all felt that our dishes were perfectly prepared and awesomely delicious.
Mare’s lounge-bar is upscale and well-stocked—the perfect place to pop in for martinis and scrumptious appetizers. The restaurant has both inside and outside seating. We chose the outside patio, which is unfortunately in full view of Holiday Inn guests scurrying back and forth to their rooms with sandy children and grocery bags in tow. However, I don’t want to overemphasize this element. Mare is stylish and upscale. The service was excellent and the food was truly exceptional. The overall quality of this restaurant more than makes up for any perceived negatives regarding location. I have no doubt we will be back to Mare again and again, and we will certainly recommend it to our guests.
Read more about Mare Culinary Lounge and see pictures of the restaurant and food on Cathy Thomas's cooking blog.