Archive for Casa Vela

Calabria – A short break in Scilla

Posted in Calabria, Italy, Reggio di Calabria Province, Scilla with tags , , , on March 13, 2019 by gannet39

Scilla was my first stop on this trip to Calabria. It is considered one of the prettiest towns along the southwest coast although for me Tropea wears the crown (more of which later). I just stopped by because it was on the way to the town I was working in, so I arrived in the country a day earlier than I was supposed to and stayed for 36 hours of R&R.

My map is here.

It’s divided into two parts; first there is the beach area…

… which has a wide lungomare.

Then you come to the pretty Castillo Ruffo sitting high on a rocky headland. Legend has it the rock was the home of the Syclla sea monster in Homer’s Odyssey.

Passing under the castle you arrive first at the small harbour…

…before you come to Chianalea, the lovely old fisherman’s district.

There is only one very narrow street leading through Chianalea.

It seems like every nook and cranny is in use here.

On my first evening I had a magical experience eating at this restaurant…

Glauco (Intermediate A+), 95 Via Annunziata, www.glaucoscilla.com

This excellent restaurant was the Trip Advisor #1 at the time of writing.

I arrived as soon as they opened at 8pm to snag a good table and as it was a midweek night in May (this place will be heaving in July/August) I got a table looking out over the sea where I could watch the sunset over the castle.

The cruise ships coming from Reggio had a similar idea but once they had sailed past the castle they turned in front of my view and headed out to sea, probably towards the Aeolian Islands of Lipari and Stromoboli, which were just about visible on the horizon.

My happiness was made even more complete by the arrival of some excellent seafood alongside a chilled bottle of white in an ice bucket.

I really enjoyed the Chardonnay/Greco blend called Costa Viola by Crisera (B+).

I started with the Antipasto Misto di Mare; marinated octopus, tuna and swordfish, all delicious (A).

Alongside this, some stuffed squid, a fish ball and some mashed fish and potato creation which looked lovely but in terms of flavour were just okay (B).

And continued with the Trofie con Frutti di Mare, which turned out to be just pasta with some mussels and tomato, but it was superb (A+).

With a Limoncello, the total came to 55€, worth every penny for a perfect moment in terms of food and location.

Il Casito (Intermediate B), 25 Via Annunziata, www.ilcasatoscilla.it

This was the Tripadvisor #2 in 2017.

It’s okay food wise (B) but I would have had a better experience if I’d reserved a table on their outdoor terrace which is built over the sea.

Unfortunately it was Sunday and the whole place had been booked out for lunch by the locals. Get in quick is the lesson.

I had the Compose di Mare, which is a posh way of describing an Antipasto di Misto similar to what I had above. It was all fine (B).

I wasn’t that keen on the ‘5 Generazioni’ Greco Bianco white wine from Tramontana (C) but at least it was cheap.

Fileja con Vongole, Zucchine e Pesto al Pistacchio, an unusual local pasta with clams, courgettes and a pistachio pesto, was interesting but sadly had little flavour (C).

To finish the Semi-Freddo alla Zabaglione con Amaretti e Cioccolato went down very well (B+).

A good place but I think Glauco is better.

Casa Vela (Elementary B+), Via Annunziata, www.casavelascilla.it

I only came to this place for a drink while I was waiting for Glauco to open and ended up really liking it. The location seems very popular as all the tables on the street had been reserved.

The friendly owner serving gave me a glass of an excellent white called Critone by Librandi, which was made of a blend of non-indigenous grapes (B+).

His olives were fantastic too (B+).

Casa Vela was one of the B&Bs I considered staying in (many didn’t reply as it was the off season) but eventually I chose a room at the Hotel U’Bais www.ubais.it near the beach. It was fine for 50€ a night but nothing special (C+).

Final tip: don’t trust the changing rooms at the beach bars.

And that was my brief break in Scilla. It’s a very pleasant spot but a couple of days were enough for me. It was certainly much cheaper than Lyon where I’d just come from so a good place for a few days cheap holiday. Off to work in Cittanova next…

Valencia – Eixample – more places to eat in El Pla del Remei

Posted in Eixample, El Pla del Remei, Spain, Valencia, Valenciana Comunidad with tags , on March 4, 2019 by gannet39

As previously mentioned, the Eixample is the residential area just to the south of the medieval old town. It has three sub-districts, Gran Via, Ruzafa (see separate posts) and this one; El Pla del Remei. The El Mercado de Colon is also in this zone but I’ve given its own post. My map is here.

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Other than Habitual in El Mercado de Colon, there are a couple of other places to eat round here…

Casa Vela (Intermediate A), 26 Carrer D’Isabel la Catolica, www.restaurantecasavela.com, closed Sundays

A small but high quality tapas bar and deli, since 1908. They can seat about twenty at tables in the back.

I came at lunchtime for a mixed tuna salad which I couldn’t fault (A).

There is an extensive wine selection available.

Palace Fesol (Intermediate C), 7 Calle Hernan Cortes, www.palacefesol.com

This restaurant began by serving Fesoles (lima beans) to the urban poor in 1909 but it’s now a relatively posh restaurant.

They are famous for their rice dishes but I didn’t have anyone to share one with so I ordered something smaller.

To begin I had the Crujiente Relleno (crispy stuffing) on the recommendation of the nice waitress but unfortunately it was virtually flavourless (C) so I’m not sure what it was supposed to be stuffed with.

Next I had the Corvina con Verduras a la Plancha (sea bass with grilled veg) which tasted and looked a bit oily and dirty from the grill (C).

The Hoya de Castillo 2016, a Macabeo Merseguera blend, made things a bit better though (B-).

I’d give them another try if I had no other choice as they have a good reputation, but this experience wasn’t special by any means. There’s plenty more fish in the sea though (see my other Valencia posts).

Valencia – Eixample – eating at Mercat Bar in Gran Via

Posted in Eixample, Gran Via, Spain, Valencia, Valenciana Comunidad with tags , on October 4, 2015 by gannet39

Gran Via is the subdistrict of the Eixample that lies to the south of Gran Via del Marques de Turia. There are heaps of restaurants around here, particularly along Carrer del Comte d’Altea. See also the following post on the Mercado de Colon. My map is here.

Mercatbar (High Intermediate B), 27 Carrer de Joaquin Costa, www.mercatbar.es

This is the flagship tapas bar of Quique Dacosta, a famous local chef who was the talk of the town when I was there.

The idea is to reinvent traditional classics in a modern style. Visually and conceptually the food is wonderful but sadly the flavours just weren’t there for me. A chef I met told me that the food is prepared in a central kitchen and then sent out to the restaurants in the chain (including Vuelva Catalina and El Poblet) where it’s heated up, which can’t be good for how it tastes when it finally reaches your plate.

The famous Souffle de Patata y Yema de Huevo, appears to be an egg ‘yolk’ in little mouth sized parcel. I now know that restaurants in Spain are not allowed to sell dishes made with fresh eggs and instead they use reconstituted powder to simulate egg dishes, which might explain how it’s possible to make this seemingly complex tapa. It was an interesting concept but not much more (B).

The Langostinos Crujientes Fritos were okay (B) but the Romescu sauce it served with was pretty horrible (D). I was intrigued by the Cubalibre de Foie Gras con Escarcha de Limon, or foie coated with a kind of coca cola jelly and lemon sorbet, It was an interesting combo that worked pretty well (B+) but there was too much of it. The potato crisps were fine (B) but the local wine left a bit to be desired (C).

To finish the Milojas Clasico de Crema Pastelera Caramelizada (millefoille) were good (B) and I loved the homemade no label muscatel (A+).

I was served by a very nice lady who if anything was a bit too attentive.

The décor is modern and bright with a TV showing how their dishes are made, which makes for addictive viewing. It’s an experience so go by all means but Camarena’s places are better. Arrive early or reserve.

I returned for lunch in May 2017 and was a little surprised to find it fairly empty when the terraces on nearby Carrer del Comte d’Altea were buzzing.

I had the €15 Menu del Dia for which I got some fresh broad beans to shell myself, along with Salpicon de Marisco (seafood salad), Arroz a Banda (rice cooked in fish stock) and Brownie y Helado (brownie with ice cream).
Everything was fine (B) but not out of this world.

To drink a glass of Puerto Alicanate (B) and with dessert a copa of disappointing Mistela Vall de Valo (C).

So still a good place, I’d happily go back.

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