Sunday, December 9, 2012

2012 in Food


As 2012 comes to a close I look back fondly on a year of wonderful food!

The epicureal highlight of the year was found in Spain and Portugal where we immersed ourselves in the wonderful mercats selling fresh fruit, fish, ham and olives. Then there were all of the cafes that incorporated local foods. 

New things to love? Well one of them was Catalan Cream. It is Spain's version of (what in France would be) Creme Brûlée or (in England) Trinity or Burnt Cream (it was served at Trinity College, Cambridge). 

We enjoyed it at Granja La Pallaresa in Barcelona. It differs from Creme Brûlée in that the custard is infused with citrus zest and cinnamon and was traditionally only served on Sant Josep's (Saint Joseph's) day. Now this crunchy top delight is available year round. Also, in Spain the top is caramelized using a hot iron or broiling, not a flame.

Tea Time at Barcelona's La Pallaresa

I also loved the wonderful fresh combination juices at the various mercat's throughout Barcelona. The stalls have hundreds of the brightly colored cups each featuring two or three juices. It is a visual treat as much as a taste treat.

Juice at a Stall at Barcelona's La Boqueria Mercat  

In Madrid we trolled the restored (and very wonderful) Mercado San Miquel. Even in mid summer Its aisles were filled with olives, ham, and those delicious little bocadillo sandwiches (filled with salmon, ham or roast beef). 

In one stall a vendor made me the most amazing lemonade granita ever. But you can also shop for pastry or sip a glass of reasonably priced wine or beer.

The Mercado San Miguel

We left Barcelona with memories and a new cookbook from Spain's most famous avant garde restaurant El Bulli. How avant grade? Well it closes for 6 months of the year to experiment on recipes. When it opens for reservations each January about 1,000,000 people will request one of the 8,000 available bookings.

In Lisbon we enjoyed some wonderful cafe food. We found Lisbon to be a joy. There are lots of parks and each has a little stall selling sandwiches, beer and wine. This is a city that loves to eat, and knows what to do with its seafood (both fresh and canned.)

Lisbon Adores Canned Fish
(And I Love the Packaging)

In Lisbon we also quickly became additcted to their little custard pastry (Pasteis De Belem) which we found everywhere. Luckily our hotel always had a tray of these little gems out for breakfast every morning. 

During the rest of the year I enjoyed other great dinners. In May there was a visit to Bliss in San Antonio which featured a great entree of scallops and finished with Grapefruit Tiramasu desert.

Grapefruit Tiramasu

Other highlights included (another - can there ever be too many?) visit to that mecca of Southern cooking The Wilkes House in Savannah. I also visited Elizabeth's on 37th for the first time. If I lived in Savannah I'd double my weight in record time.......

The year also included great coffee at the Royal at the Biltmore and a few lunches at the Grand Central Market in LA.

LA's Grand Central Market

Soon it will be 2013 and Roadboy looks forward to another year of great markets, street food, and, hopefully, some fine dining thrown in for good measure!


Roadboy's Travel's © 2012

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