Our riad has consistently served the best food we’ve had in Fez, so we were excited to have the opportunity to take a cooking class here. We started the day by going to the market to shop for ingredients, although the staff didn’t really need anything so they mostly just showed us around.
After a few days in Barcelona, we rented a car and drove up to San Sebastián with Pam and Josh and with a plan of eating all the pintxos (that region’s tapas) we could find. Along the way, we stopped in Zaragoza to stretch our legs and have some lunch. Zaragoza had a nice waterfront and some pretty shops and cathedrals in the old quarter. It also had a shopping mall with a two-story tall Augustus statue in the middle. We’re not sure why.
It was wonderful to come back to Barcelona after seven years. We really enjoyed the city the last time we were here, but this time we did it even better. We had our good friends from San Francisco, Pam and Josh, visiting us and together we explored cute neighborhoods and fully embraced la hora de vermut.
I’ve never been a huge fan of egg tarts. We’ve had the Portuguese pastry in Hong Kong, San Francisco, and Macau, and I’ve always found them to be too much like sweet scrambled eggs. I hoped Lisbon could change my mind about egg tarts, and it did – big time. Manteigaria in Chiado has been cranking out pasteis de nata since…about a year ago. They are doing it right – rich, custardy centers in a super flaky crust, all a tiny bit burnt on top.
You can eat your pastel and have an espresso at a long marble counter, Italian style, while watching new batches of pasteis being made.
There are other famous pastel de nata bakeries in Lisbon, most notably in Belém, but Manteigaria is the one that stole our hearts. We’ll be back.
We made a reservation at Mini Bar Teatro after having an excellent lunch at one of its sister restaurants. Mini Bar offers a la carte small plates, but we opted to put ourselves in the chef’s hands with the “epic menu,” which includes 12 mini courses that are all a surprise. It’s so fun to eat this way but usually really expensive. Fortunately for us, Portugal is really affordable.
The dishes were all delicious, and it was clear the staff had a lot of fun presenting them with some flair and mystery. It was really dark in the restaurant so the following photos are not the best. Here’s the full menu:
For our first meal in Lisbon we struck gold with A Cevicheria. We plan to eat there many more times. Even before our food arrived, the restaurant stole our hearts with its giant octopus, jars of fermenting things, fish display, and general hipness.
Another day, another amazing meal in Istria. We visited Stari Podrum in the town of Momjan, Istria, to enjoy the height of truffle season. This lunch was so rich and filling we didn’t have dinner. First there was this:
After parting with Gary we rented a car and drove up to Istria, Croatia’s northwestern peninsula. Istria is widely regarded as having the best food in Croatia, so we were eager to try the famous local products, which include fish, olive oil, wine, truffles, prosciutto, cheese, and honey. Basically, they have all of our favorite things.
Istria’s proximity to Italy is reflected in both its food and architecture. We spent a day in Rovinj, a colorful seaside town that is popular with cruise ships but was pretty empty the day we visited.
Prague is famous for its many historic landmarks and sites of cultural significance. But we’re not interested in those. Here are our top five trivial and bizarre things we spotted while walking between the actually famous stuff.
#1: Door Covered With Creepy Heads
As far as we could tell this didn’t belong to any business or museum, it was just some random door. I can only assume that behind this door is an onyx pedestal draped in black velvet holding the Necronomicon.
#2: Statue of a Giant Pixelated Pregnant Woman
This was on the walk from our AirBnB to Old Town, so we got quite familiar with it.
#3: Crane Tow Truck
If you’ve been to Europe you know it’s full of narrow streets and tight parking spaces. Maybe you’ve thought to yourself: “I can park here. How could they possibly tow me even if they wanted to?” And now you know the answer.
#4: Animated Statue of Peeing Men
I think this art piece speaks for itself.
This one is not as weird as the others. But it is impressive how quickly this lady was able to whip out Trdelník (pronounced “turtle-neck”, I assume). Delicious.
Honorary Mention: Anonymous Bar
This already got a full write-up. But… gah! So creepy.