PEr FYI

January 19, 2020

Pez Vela, Barcelona… irrefutable proof that God exists and wants us to be happy

Paella, Spain’s most famous dish — mountains of yellow rice cooked with seafood, chorizo, and/or chicken in big lidded pots called calderos, enough to feed two or three hungry diners. Where can you get the best paella in Barcelona? This is a really common question for visitors coming over to visit this beautiful city.

Luckily for you, I’ve already covered that question!

Upon entering the warm, welcoming Pez Vela, the surroundings are immediately evocative of the Mediterranean. When the mouth-watering and hearty brothy rice with lobster landed on the table, it was belt-bustingly big so that the red crustacean seems to be crawling out of the caldero. Unlike paella, the rice here remains immersed in boldly flavoured broth and actually portioned to share.

Perfect paella. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 12, 2020

Blackbird, Manila…Hear me now: do not make the mistake of dying before you have eaten here

There are places, that, have great food, but more importantly will also guarantee you a good time. That mean dishes that go beyond excellent but make you smile, too. And all at the right price. Which doesn’t necessarily mean cheap but definitely means value for money.

To start, dive into the exceptionally decadent mushroom, fortina and truffle arancini. The salt and pepper squid and shrimps with sweet soy and ginger was as unusual as it was delicious. Then there’s tempura eggplant and prawn fritters with nuoc cham. These are all more tiny mouthfuls than actual dishes.

The main event comes in the form of impossibly thin slices of grilled short rib, green onion and ginger, kimchi, hot bean paste, lettuce and rice. It is utterly delicious and truly one of the undisputed stars of the show.

Then have a little rest – because you really should try a sundae. The dessert is worth saving space for. The burnt butter and vanilla seed ice creams, chocolate brownie, candied pop corn, salted caramel is an ice cream lover’s dream come true. I believe I have found the single best dessert available right now in the Philippines, or, for that matter, anywhere else.

This is an impressive date spot if you want to bring out the big guns. You’ll keep talking about this truly delicious meal long after leaving. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 5, 2020

Calbee Plus, Sapporo…honestly you just need to try it.

Although it doubles as shop for snacks and confectionaries and suchlike, Calbee Plus really scores with its line-up of Poterico and soft ice cream.

With the Poterico Salad, there’s no reinvented wheel here, but everything’s exactly as it should be: the chips have an exceptional, almost Kettle-like crunch, which gives way to a fluffy dream of an interior. They are to me, what porridge was to Baby Bear: not too thick, not too thin, snappably crisp and rustling invitingly.

Hokkaido Soft Ice Cream is seriously good ice cream. Looks-wise, it has nothing on the new generation of gourmet ice cream but it’s smooth, creamy and flavourful – it’s totally worth it.

Life’s too short to eat bad ice cream. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 4, 2020

Los Caracoles, Barcelona…lots to like here, and lots more that could be better

I bloody love a snail. Dig in with the tiny fork. Probe the crevices of the now empty shell with your tongue. Then get to work with torn-off pieces of bread, dredging and dredging again at the garlic butter. Being such a fan of escargots, I made a beeline to Los Caracoles for the Spanish version of special snails.

The Special snails – Caracoles especiales are served on small plates from a big dish where they are kept hot in their sauce. The spicy touch they have makes them different from other snail recipes. I wouldn’t call this dish a triumph. Less satisfactory was the garlic shrimps – gambas al ajillo but the Catalan roasted 1/2 chicken – 1/2 pollo a l’ast was a return to form. The Paella “Los Caracoles” was pretty average

There’s lots to like here, and lots more that could be a little better. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 1, 2020

The Cher Show, New York City…a mixed bag

If you grew up on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour in the mid-’70s, like I did, there is probably nothing I could write here that would keep you away from The Cher Show.

There were too many character arcs and agendas to serve — three Chers, several careers, 35 songs. All the songs were there – “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves”, “If I could turn back time,” “Believe” – it’s impossible not to karaoke along. Stephanie J. Block’s spectacularly commanding performance – her take on Cher – goes beyond impersonation into respectful homage, and while the vocal likeness is uncanny. We get to witness all of Cher’s struggles and triumphs, but are not especially moved by them. Unlike Mamma Mia, the songs rarely tell the story. The costumes are simply sensational, ranging from the nostalgia trippiness of the 1960s to the famous feathered get-up of the 1986 Oscars. This, to me is just a fancy but empty jukebox musical.

I’m still left wondering what The Cher Show is exactly. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 31, 2019

Eranda Herbal Spa, Koh Samui…guaranteed rejuvenation

Filed under: Activities, Massage, spa, Thailand, Travel — Tags: , , — PEr @ 7:16 pm

Phone off, fluffy robe on.

If you’re looking to escape the city and relax surrounded by nature, you can’t go far wrong with Eranda Herbal Spa – a cocoon of sheer relaxation. It’s the ideal place to shut the door on reality. What this really means is you get a huge treatment room filled with dappled light and delicious scents. You fight as hard as you can to not snore as you receive a full body massage – your weary, city-worn muscles will thank you for it.

A visit to Eranda Herbal Spa will revive any weary soul. You’ll be so damn relaxed you’ll be floating all the way back to your hotel. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 30, 2019

Vino e Cucina, Milan…the Costoletta was fun and satisfying to cut into

What meal most typifies Milan? That has long been a subject of intense debate in Italy’s business and fashion capital. The simple cotoletta alla Milanese, or veal cutlet fried in butter is a dish you can find everywhere in the city

Here in the Vino e Cucina, the atmosphere is sterile but the thick, dense Costoletta alla Milanese – Milanese cutlet is crumbed and browned in a strangely uniform manner, and served with a simple and sympathetic shaved salad. Think of wiener schnitzel, but thicker, bone-in, and with a juicier interior. Have it with a side of Patate al Rosmarino – Potatoes with Rosemary.

Vino e Cucina is never going to be the hottest place in town. That’s fine as long as they keep serving costoletta like this. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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November 16, 2019

Luke’s Lobster, New York City…it’s hard not to love.

There’s a lot of joy to be had in a lobster roll. Priding themselves on the fact that they work directly with fishermen to pick out the best seafood, Luke knows a thing or two about lobster.

Unable to decide at The Plaza Food Hall, I went for The Luke’s Trio – 1/2 crab, 1/2 lobster, 1/2 shrimp and preceded that with clam chowdah. All the meat are well-chilled, fresh and tender; they melt in your mouth along with the butter, which is flavorful but not overpowering

It’s big on flavours and it’s huge on joy. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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October 13, 2019

Kinotoya Café, Sapporo…great place to have up your sleeve

When it comes to bakeries, Japan is a goldmine. The Japanese have embraced the art of French patisserie and become seriously good at it.

Kinotoya Café is neighbourhoody, mildly hip and completely welcoming, but still ever so slightly pretentious in places. I love the omelette parfait. It sounds sound so wrong, but it is so right. You can also indulge in the pretzel croissant and soft-boiled eggs.

For me, at least, Kinotoya Cafe is a great place to have up your sleeve. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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October 6, 2019

Raymond’s, New Jersey…it doesn’t get more old school that this

You may not be able to tell from the outside, but stepping into this nondescript diner is like  going back in time, gotta love that 1930s style décor.

On the food front, not to miss is Raymond’s French Toast – with fresh fruit and pure Berkshires maple syrup which is heavenly – amped up with a side of smoked bacon – some of the best smoked bacons I have ever had. The food is prepared and served significantly better than most diners in tourist areas or business districts, but it’s still affordable. For a weekday breakfast, you will feel right at home.

Raymond’s reminds us that some things should never change. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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