Archive for restaurants

Down in the Docks in Vigo

Posted in Galicia, Spain, Vigo with tags , , on September 15, 2012 by gannet39

Mussel platforms from the Zenit roofThis is my second post on Vigo. For info on the Hotel Zenit and trips to Las Islas de Cies see the first postVigo street
This is the Atlantic coast so don’t expect it to be as warm as other parts of Spain. I came from 41C in Andalucia to 14C in Vigo in June when it rained for most of the three days I was there. The hottest month is August when the average temperature is around 20C.

Vigo street2

I was a little disappointed the first time I looked for seafood in Vigo. The old town (casco velho) has lots of places that could potentially be quite good but they are inevitably very touristy and expensive. By all means go and run the gauntlet of restaurant touts in the modernised fish market  at C/de la Pescaderia, but it will never be an authentic experience.

Oyster stalls



You can get very cheap oysters here (€1 each) from the old ladies who stand at the stalls along the passageway. You can eat them standing at the counter or sitting down at one of the marisquerias that line the alley and have them  with a glass of Albariño and other bits and pieces.

Shucked

It must be a tough job standing all day selling oysters, probably enough for someone to lose their marbles. The old dear I bought mine off totally forgot I’d paid her and kept asking for her money while giving me a hard glare so it was a bit difficult to enjoy them. However my colleague Camino, who comments below, thinks she was trying to play me for more money!

Unshucked
I had a dessert of Queso de Pais (Tetilla)with Membrillo at Restaurante Bogavante and was given pleasant service.

They gave me a glass of Bandeira port with this which gave substance to the accusation by other Galicians that Vigo is more Portuguese than Galician (they are right on the border with Portugal).

Port wine

I wasn’t too keen on trying anything else seafoody in the fish market as the prices are high and the quality indeterminate. For a proper Galician seafood experience you need to go here:

Nisio (Elementary A+), 42 Santa Tecla, Tel. 986 373 106. Sorry, forgot my camera.

This place is the real deal. A former workers bar in the port area that has garnered a reputation with the locals (thanks Monica) for some of the best mariscos in town. You need a taxi to get here (only €5 from the Zenit Hotel) as you’ll never find it otherwise (cultural generalisation: Spanish people aren’t great at giving directions, they’d rather guess than tell you they don’t know!). The taxi ride takes you in the opposite direction from the old town and circumnavigates several dodgy backstreets, daubed in graffiti and lined with shipping containers, before you arrive at a non-descript red shop front.

Inside there is a simple bar space with unadorned walls except for a couple of pictures of Vigo FC. If it’s warm enough you can sit outside in the backyard amidst the flowers under a beautiful trellis. They also have a back room for posher dining but the bar with the football on the telly was fine for me.

Also, don’t consider coming here unless you have a bit of Spanish seafood vocab as there is no written menu and no English is spoken, except by a very lovely but rather embarrassed lady they pulled out of the kitchen to talk to me. I know my mariscos so this wasn’t too much of a problem and they are really nice here so it was easy to build some rapport. I’m quite glad I forgot my camera though as this would probably have freaked them out a bit, although later they told me they were happy for me to advertise them, albeit with the language proviso above. I arrived at 8.30 and had the place virtually to myself until it suddenly filled up with dockers at 10pm.

I kicked off with a plate of tiny prawns Camarao (?) which were great (A). I made the mistake of asking for some Aioli to go with them and was told in a friendly way that they did not do that kind of thing here (although other Galician places will). I suppose it’s kind of like putting ketchup on your chips; it adds flavour but sometimes when the simple ingredients are this good, you should just taste them for what they are.

This was followed by grilled Navijas (razor clams) (A) and Almejas a la Marinera, a sauce I’d never appreciated before until I came here (A+) After this, Pulpo, I’m guessing in the Al Feira style (with paprika), which was some of the best I’ve ever tasted (A+) although the waxy boiled potatoes it came with were just ok (B). I desperately needed a fag break after this unrelenting assault of pure goodness but the message didn’t get through to the kitchen and I had to temporarily send the final Lenguado (sole), also with boiled spuds, back to the kitchen to keep warm and it suffered as result (B).

The drink to go with this feast could only be the local Albariño white, which comes served in chilled earthenware jugs, (B+).

This was one of the best seafood experiences I’ve ever had. Although I desperately wanted to do the full works it would take a couple of visits to try everything. Stupidly I turned down the Percebes, which can be hit or miss in my experience. However, thanks to my friendly neighbour on the next table (thanks Jose) I was treated to a couple of the best I’d ever had (A+); full flavoured and still warm from the kitchen.

By this time I’d befriended everyone in the bar and what I had for dessert was a bit hazy. I do remember having a few chupitos of homemade Orujo des Hierbas which of course was excellent (A+). After this I piled into a Jose’s car and went into town for more drinks, so my memory is a little misty after this point…

This is a great place, you really should go if you don’t mind rough back street joints and your Spanish is up to it. Also, don’t tell Trip Advisor whatever you do. It’s currently ranked the 57th best restaurant in Vigo and long may it stay that way.

The next day I was in need of a change from seafood so I went on the hunt for meat, no mean feat in seafood central. Galicia is known for its veal but Vigo probably isn’t the best place to have it. The place that was suggested to me (Siglio XXI) no longer seemed to exist so I prowled for a while and plumped for…

El Asador Secreto (Inermediate B) Rua Serafin Avandano, Tel. 986 124 813

This is a bright modern place, with friendly efficient staff and fairly good value for money. The soundtrack is muted but I picked out ‘It’s Raining Men’ by the Weather Girls amongst other disco slammers.

Solomillo de TerneraAfter a complimentary bowl of Guacamole with some nice bread and biscuits (B) I went straight to the main, Gallego Ternera, a slab of entrecote with an artistic slash of raspberry sauce and a solitary stem of green asparagus, both adding little to the dish (B) with this some fairly chunky chips (I like them skinny) which were fine (B).

However, the side plate of Pequillos (‘little beaks’, a variety of mild peppers from Northern Spain, grilled and skinned) were really salty for some reason and I had to send them back (D).

RiojaA few big tables of locals arrived at 10pm (but it was still only half full on a Saturday night) and proceeded to smoke the place out as they grilled their own steaks on the camping stoves placed on their tables. Maybe this is a selling point for some, but the aircon couldn’t cope and it was the one thing that put me off wanting to come back.

Tetilla with membrilloIn recompense for the salty peppers I was given a plate of cheese to finish my wine (Mazerredo de Ostau Crianza 2008). Along with Manchego (A) and Dobeja (??) sheep’s cheese (A). I had the local Tetilla, a more matured version from that I’d had in the oyster market earlier in the day (B+).

PuddingFinally I chose a chestnut tart, served with raspberry sauce, which was very nice (B+).

Ruby portIt went especially well with some Casa de la Ermita 2010 from the Jumilla DOC (kind of like a ruby port), which received serious damage when it was left on my table.

So a nice place but very smoky, but then it is an Asador after all. And they have free wi-fi.

Don Quixote (Intermediate B), Calle Laxe 4, Tel.986 229 346 http://www.donquijoterestaurante.es

I’ve avoided this place in the past due to its name and the fact it has an English menu on the wall outside. On the other hand it’s in a very picturesque spot, at the top of an old slipway, where on a warm evening you can sit outside on wooden terraces. It was a bit chilly this evening so I opted for the rather gloomy interior with its faux medieval chandeliers and displays of swords and armour.
It’s also the only restaurant I found open on a Sunday evening and the staff are very pleasant. Oscar the English-speaking waiter had enough time to educate me a little (see below). The service from the old church was being broadcast onto the street over a tannoy system which clashed horribly with the folk music in the restaurant but I put up with it till the mass finished.

The Ensalada Mixta (B) I started with was a hefty affair with lettuce, carrot, beetroot, white asparagus, black olives, wedges of boiled egg, nicely ripe tomatoes, grilled red peppers and some good quality tuna but, as often is the case in Spain, the last bits were lost in a deep pool of water and Jerez vinegar at the bottom of the bowl. One dropped olive and I my white shirt was destined for the wash.

VealAfter this a thin cut veal steak for which inland Galicia is rightly renowned (A), some nice chips (B+) and some overcooked mixed veg on the side (C).

Ramon BilbaoThe Ramon Bilbao Rioja (2009 Crianza) went very well with it (B+).

Tarta de SantiagoTo finish a slab of a classic Galican dessert, Tarta de Santiago, this moist freshly homemade version being one of the best I’ve ever eaten (A).

TostadoThe best thing for me though was the unusual versions of Orujo they have here. Orujo Tostado is clear aguardente with added caramelised sugar which was excellent (A+) and I favoured it above the free chupito of Aguardente Vejo, (A), which had a more subtle flavour. The colour was the same but this was due to age rather than the addition of burnt sugar.

Oscar waiter instructed me that Orujo is actually an Asturian word and here in Galica, Aguadente is the popular way to describe it.  I posited that this was of Roman origins but he said it was possibly Egyptian! He also gave me the tip that you can buy this, and much more at the wine store on the corner of nearby C/Victoria.

Total cost €39. I’d recommend just coming here at the end of the evening for a slice of homemade tart, and an Aguardente Tostado.

Acuario (Elementary B+), Rua Cervantes, Tel. 986 223 015

This was my second visit here (see previous Vigo post). I had the Ternera Estofado again which was very tasty if a bit salty (B+).

Young wineThe bottle of red Vino Joven was chilled due to it’s youth but was drinkable and cheap (|C+).

LepantoFor dessert Queso Pais Tertilla which all in would have cost about €25 if I hadn’t bumped up the price by €9 with a copa of Lepanto cognac, which was ok, but I’ve had better (C+).

Pablo the owner is an interesting guy who has worked in a top restaurant in London (and hence speaks good English) and has sailed round the world a few times. He was happy to shoot the breeze for a while when all other customers have gone.

My new friend Jose from Nisio took me for a drink in bar of his hotel; Nagari Gran Hotel Boutique & Spa (Advanced A), 21 Plaza de Compostela 21 www.granhotelnagari.com I’m guessing it’s probably the best one in town. The rooftop bar has a great view of the estuary. I think you can go there just for a drink.
In September, Vigo hosts the Vigomar Shellfish Food Festival in the port of Berbes.

Another local delicacy are Zamuburinas, a local scallop that you won’t find elsewhere in Spain. I had a huge slab of Zamburina pie after work one day which was very good (B).

Tarta de Zamburinas

Next time I’d like to go to neighbouring Canido (€10 in a taxi?) which has a small port with lots of restaurants (recommended by Luis) and if the weather is nice (unlikely) maybe Samil (the largest and most popular beach), Playa del Vao (which has a Roman villa at one end) or Playa del Carril (near the fishing district of Bouzas. For more tourist info go to www.turismodevigo.es

Eating Out in Almeria

Posted in Almeria, Almeria Province, Andalusia with tags , on June 19, 2012 by gannet39


Almeria
was founded by the Moors in 955AD. The Alacazaba on the hill, the second largest Arabic fortress in Andalusia, is a reminder of this history. The influence can be seen in the food with many Moorish ingredients featuring heavily and a strong preference towards rice and fish recipes.

Nice bit of topiary

Perhaps their most famous foodstuff however is a newcomer, the Raf tomato, whose crinkly body and sweet flesh is much prized. It was first developed in the sixties and seventies and is only grown here.

There are several large beaches near the centre of town, making it a major holiday destination for mainly Spanish tourists. The best apparently are at Caba de Gato, but I didn’t have time to go.

Here’s my Google map with all these places marked.

 

Post summary:

For great food and traditional surroundings in the old town: Casa Puga (Intermediate A+)

For good food and picturesque surroundings near the old town: Bodega Las Botas (Intermediate B+)

For fast food and fishy snacks at the beach: El Tio Pepe (Elementary B)

Easy tapas option near the Vincci Hotel: Cadenas (Elementary B)

 

Out of all of them, I think this one is unmissable…


Casa Puga
(Intermediate A+), Calle Jovelllanos 7, Tel. 950 231 530 www.barcasapuga.es GEM ALERT!

The most famous tapas bar in town, and of course it’s in all the guides, but for good reason.

Cow cart outside Puga

It’s been around since 1870 and the atmospheric interior is covered with beautiful old ceramic tiles and pictures of days gone by.

Comedor
Three huge earthenware wine jars fill one end of the restaurant area while the old wooden bar is where most people choose to stand and talk.

Wine jars


Everything I ate here was superb. My first visit was with a friend on a Saturday night when we did well to get a seat as it was heaving inside and out. We had three plates of sliced Chorizo, Salchicha (A)…

Chorizo

…and Manchego Curado with toasted almonds (A)…

Old cheese

…along with a decent 2002 Rioja Crianza (A).

Ondarre 2002 Rerserva

We were the last ones in the place but our excellent waiter still came to fill our shot glasses with a second complimentary Pacharan, this one tasting more like cough medicine than usual (B).
I was working nearby the next day so came back for lunch where, after another complimentary slice of ‘queso viejo’ (matured Manchego) with toasted almonds, I got stuck into the fishy side of things. I had a plate of sublime creamy Pulpo a la Gallega, still warm octopus sprinkled with paprika and olive oil (A+). Sorry about the blurry pic.

Pulpo a la Gallega
Also a plate of Salmonetes (Red Mullet)…

Salmonetas

…and a mixed salad with Ventresca (belly tuna) (both A).

House salad
This went well with a glass of dry white Verdejo ‘Monasterio de Palazuelos’ from Rueda (B).

Palazuelos

To finish, the Tartita al Whisky looked worryingly different from other times I’d had it. Unlike previous occasions though this one was partly made with ice cream which was a winner (A).

Whisky tart

With this two glasses of sweet dessert wine, called simply Vino Dulce, made on the premises (A+).

Vino Dulce

I had the same old boy looking after me as the night before, which he did very well (thanks Juan). I was literally purring with contentment when I left.
Casa Puga is in the old town, just minutes away from all the historic sites such as the (perhaps not so special?) Alcazaba; the ancient fortress on the hill. There was no way I was going to make it up any kind of incline in the heat after that lot, so it might be an idea to do it before you eat.

The bells

 

I did manage the attractive Plaza Vieja and La Catedral which were on the flat, and achievable at a slow shuffle.

Cathedral door


Headless Angel

Bodega Las Botas (Intermediate B+), Calle Fructuoso Perez 3,

This is another atmospheric old joint in the historic centre, tucked down a back street. It’s hard to find but worth it for the beautiful interior, packed with bullfighting memorabilia, including a couple of huge horned heads peering down at you from the wall.

Bull

You can also sit outside in the alleyway on some beautifully painted but very uncomfortable traditional chairs and tiny tables (hence the A minus).
As with all other places in Almeria, you immediately get a complimentary tapa on the house, in our case a plate of unshelled almonds and fantastic ham on tomato bread (A).

Jamon
My choice of crinkly under-ripe Raf tomatoes (a local speciality) with raw garlic wasn’t the best (B-) as the huge plateful really needed something else to go with it.

Raf tomatoes

The house salad has lots of ingredients but was just ok (B).
So, this wasn’t the greatest food experience but that was down to our (my) poor choices as there were some beautiful looking canapés on other tables. Service was just ok. Another downer is this is accordion player territory.  Their sister restaurant Marisqueria Baviera is just around the corner at 10 C/Tenor Iribarne,for the seafood side of things.


El Tio Pepe
(Elementary B), Avanida Cabo de Gata

This was the hotel recommended beach shack down in Neuva Almeria, a good place to go on a Sunday when everywhere else will most likely be closed. The food is fine but nothing out of this world.

I just had a plate of Migas (B) with some perfectly grilled Sardinias (A) and several cervecas.

Migas and Sardinias

It takes ten minutes and €6 in a cab to get there, or you could take much longer on the bus. A sun lounger cost me €3.50 for the day.


Cadenas
(Elementary B), 98 Haza de Acosta, closed Sunday.

Turn right out of the Hotel Vincci, turn second right down unsigned Calle Muro, turn right at the end and you’ll see this bar on the right in a block of small bars.

The easy option near the hotel, this is a local tapas bar selling decent food.  Get there soon after 8pm to guarantee a place on the terrace as it’s very popular. At lunchtime they only serve raciones.

I had the Patatas Bravas (pictured), Ensaladilla Rusa (boiled potato. tuna, mayo ), Carne con Salsa de Tomate (all B).

Bravas

Hotel Vincci Mediterraneo (Intermediate C), 281 Avenida del Mediterraneo, Tel. 950 624 272, www.vinccihoteles.com

Nice enough staff, except for one miserable guy in the breakfast room, spacious but basic rooms and probably quite cheap but it’s not very central and they fleece you on the internet. The wi-fi is €6 for 24 hours but doesn’t always work. Via the cable through the telly it’s €7 an hour!

Places I didn’t have time to get to:

Recommended by my 2011/12 La Seleccion del Gourmet guide:

Casa Sevilla, 14 Rueda Lopez, high end place

Recommended by the Rough Guide:

Aranda, 8 Rambla del Obispo Orbera, selling La Gitana dry sherry

Restaurante Alfareros, 6 Calle Marcos, good menu del dia but always closed when I went, maybe permanently?

Teteria Restaurante Almedina, 2 Calle Paz, friendly Morrocan place serving couscous and tajines.

Snacking in Sao Paolo

Posted in Brazil, Downtown, Jardim Paulistano, Liberdade, Sao Paolo with tags , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2012 by gannet39

Just a short stay 36-hour stay here unfortunately, which hardly did the place justice.  Sao Paolo  is a huge mega polis, the main business hub for the entire continent.  Even flying over the city seems to take ages, so you can imagine what the traffic is like. Unlike Buenos Aires or Rio, there doesn’t seem to be much of a grid system and it’s basically a huge maze of traffic-packed streets.

I stayed at the cheap and cheerful but fairly central EZ Aclimacao Hotel at 668 Av. Armando Ferrentini, near Avenida Paulista. I didn’t have enough time to research a good place to eat so I went for the nearest one to the hotel that was listed in Frommer’s  top ten restaurants. Ideally I would have liked to get in at Jun Sakamoto’s famous Sushi restaurant but he only has 8 tables and likes to hand pick his customers. So instead I plumped for…

Antiquarius (Advanced A-), 1884 Alameda Lorena, Jardim Paulistano, SP, Tel 11 3082 3015

This place specialises in Portuguese cuisine (lots of codfish) and I would have preferred somewhere with more local food but I went as it was relatively near the hotel. It still took me nearly an hour though due to the Saturday evening traffic! It was a bit of a mistake to come here really as it’s very formal and they charge a small fortune for food which would be a fraction the price in Portugal. Still, the food is very good.

The service is pretty OTT and I had to deal with separate waiters for my aperitif (a very stiff Caiparinha (A)) food, wine, water and bread but eventually it settled down to just one guy. He was a Portuguese chap who spoke good English and who I presumed had escaped the economic woes at home to come and work in the former colony. The irony is very poignant. Surely no two countries have ever reversed roles so completely.

Several small plates of starters arrived first, which I presumed were only charged if you ate them. I scoffed the lot! They included pate, soft cheese (these first two being replenished if you finished them), garlic bread, three kinds of fritters (salt cod, fish and cheese), something non-descript I couldn’t discern. I doused the fritters in ladles of small hot peppers in olive oil from the small pot on the table.

I quite liked the soundtrack too, a breathy female vocal singing such classics as ‘I’ve got you under my skin’, ‘Tea for Two’ and ‘Come Fly With Me’. It got me humming anyway.

For my main I went for the steak with French fries and white rice.  This involved a very tender and bloody slab of beef (A+) with a brown gravy-like sauce (which the waiter could only tell me included herbs) and lattice chips (B). I had to remind them about the plain rice (B) I was craving, and which was the only reason I’d ordered the dish in the first place. I despair of my contradictory habits sometimes. I have a huge desire to go out and eat but often only want the simplest fare when I get there.

I still had half an imported bottle of average Vale de Mina red (B) so I asked for a little cheese to go with it. I got two large ice cream scoops of powerful ewe’s cheese which I could only manage a few small slithers of because the taste was so pungent(C+). I would love to be able to eat this stuff but I really don’t think it agrees with me. I nearly had a whitey once eating something similar in Paris whilst sipping strong wine and sitting in the sun.  I’m sure the cheese was the prime culprit.

My man kindly replaced it with a plate of Quejo Casteloes, which had been heated in the oven till it had a consistency similar to molten Mozzarella, very stringy and totally delicious (A).

The restaurant was heaving now so I vacated the table and went over the street to the Cuban cigar bar for a bit of secondary smoke and a couple more Caipirinihas.

The next morning I met my old friend Elcio and his lovely wife Mae, who took me out for the day. I had a great experience of SP thanks to them.

We went for a walk around the ‘old’ downtown financial district of Sao Paolo which was pretty much deserted on a Sunday (though the streets were still heaving with traffic). It’s a bizarre mix of architecture with Gothic churches neighbouring art deco apartment blocks.

Mainly though it’s all soaring New York style office buildings cluster around a couple of small parks and pedestrianised zones.

Some of the oldest buildings in the city are here but few of them have made it to a hundred years yet.

There are still a few nice ones though, like the Teatro Municpal,  which is modeled on the Teatro alla Scala in Milan. You can apparently get guided tours of the building but you have to book ahead so we missed out unfortunately.

The original financial district has been relocated now and the streets are heavily populated by large numbers of homeless people and ‘Oxi‘ addicts, either passed out on the pavement or walking around like zombies. It’s definitely not a place to come at night but we didn’t have any problems in the daylight.

We also took in the museum in the square of Pateo do Collegio, which is considered to be the original spot the city was founded on in 1554. The small museum has some interesting displays showing the growth of the city, and a collection of church artefacts. You have to pay in but it’s not much.

We also stopped in at the cathedral, a neo-Gothic pile of stone much like any other. The only item on display in the very plain interior was a glass case inexplicably containing a flagrum whip! In front of the church is the Praca de Se with a statue of Padre Jose de Anchieta, a Jesuit missionary who was one of the founders of both Sao Paolo and Rio. This area is as historical as it gets in SP.

 

 

The highlight for me however was the Mercado Municipal, an old European style market in the heart of the downtown.

The ground level of the huge central hall is a mix of greengrocer’s stalls stacked with huge piles of exotic fruit, Italian delis with hanging displays of sausages and cheeses, and a multitude of butchers and fishmongers who are gathered together in various corners.

One dried cod stall had the biggest fillets of bacalhau , I’d ever seen, about a metre long. It was labelled Gadus Morhau aka Atlantic cod, and so must have been imported from Norway.

On the first floor is the restaurant area with two blocks of cafes and snack bars and seating for probably about a thousand people. Elcio told me there were two classic Sao Paulo snacks I should try in order to become an honorary Paulista (someone from the state of SP, which includes Paulistanos, people from SP city itself). I couldn’t choose between them so the solution was to have both!

First off was the scrumptious Pasteis de Bacalhau, a deep-fried pasty stuffed with salt cod, sliced olives and parsley, something I’d had in Rio but is particularly well known here (A). Italian Brazilians say that the flat, envelope-like pasteis or pastel and the more bulbous fogazza were both derived from Italian calzone. Others say that it was the Issei (Japanese immigrants) who adapted Chinese wontons for sale on the street. Still others say that they are derived from Indian samosas. Anyway wherever it’s from, everyone eats it because it’s delicious.

To follow the legendary Mortadella Sanduiche, a hot baguette containing about twenty wafer thin slices of Mortadella (lard laced sausage, originally from Bologna), and provolone cheese, tomate caqui (‘persimmon’ tomato which we just call a salad tomato), oregano, lettuce and rocket. With a cold beer to go with it, this was one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had (A+).

I didn’t know at the time but my food hero Anthony Bourdain filmed this fabulous sandwich for one of his No Reservations programmes (the sandwich is about four minutes in).

After these starters we walked a short distance to Liberdade, aka Japan town. Sao Paulo has the biggest expat Japanese community in the world and in this neighbourhood there are several streets of Japanese shops and restaurants.

I first came to Liberdade late at night in 2006 when Elcio took me for sushi in the early hours of the morning. The place he took me to is seared on my brain forever. As soon as you come in the entrance, you are immediately on the dance floor which, on the night I went, had several multi-racial couples (many mismatched in terms of height) close dancing feverishly to what Elcio described as Brazilian country and western music. Over to one side was the bar where a midget sushi chef was standing on a box and jigging around to the music while simultaneously moulding rice balls and raw fish. The back half of the room was a pool hall with an array of other unusual characters knocking balls around on the baize. All in all, one of the most bizarre restaurant atmospheres I’ve ever been in.

We sat down and I was introduced to the Mamasan who took our order (in Japanese);  a large wooden model boat crammed with the finest raw fish I’d had since I lived in Japan. That experience totally won me over to Brazil. Why live in conservative Japan when you could experience their fantastic food culture in much more relaxed social surroundings? Brazil has it all!

I was hoping we could go back there this time but there were so many other, equally enjoyable, things on offer that we didn’t have time.

On this muggy Sunday afternoon, we started off at the open food air market in Liberdade where there were many more multicultural examples of Brazilian food fusion. One stall was selling fogazza (deep-fried dough balls with fillings such as palm heart or ‘Calabrese’, a spicy sausage with origins in southern Italy) alongside Swiss crepes and ice cream tempura!

A lot of it looked pretty ropey to be honest so I saved my appetite for a proper restaurant, which prompted a debate about whether to eat Chinese, Japanese or Korean food, all of which was available in top quality. The choice was left to me in the end, and there could only be one…

Aska Lamen Bar, 466 Rua Galvao Bueno, Libertade, Tel: 3277 9862 (no reservations)

Ramen (also spelt Lamen) is one the food I miss most from the time I lived in Japan and I jumped at the opportunity to have it again as I’ve have never found a satisfactory place in the UK. This place is the real deal and has a great reputation, so there a small crowd waiting with us on the pavement for the shutter to come up at 6pm. On other days apparently there can be long lines along the street.

Mae told me that the old guy who ran it had gone to Japan to study how to make Lamen after he had retired from working all his life in a big company. He obviously does it for love as his prices are amazingly low when he could charge a lot more. You’d think he’d be taking it easy now but he’s there every day, working away in the kitchen with his chefs.

I had the Miso Tonkatsu Ramen (bean paste and roast pork) with a portion of Kimchi (fermented Korean chilli cabbage)  The noodles were thinner than I’m used to, like vermicelli, and you had to eat them extra fast before they get too soggy. Japanese people slurp their soup noodles loudly, which makes them taste better due to the intake of oxygen, as well as cooling them down. The stock is the key to a good ramen (many of the best places in Japan have secret recipes) and this pork-based broth totally hit the spot for me (A).

We also shared two great portions of Gyoza (steam fried dumplings), one pork filled (A+), the other veg (B+). Both had a delicate skin which had to be treated very gently to maintain their structural integrity when dunked in the dipping bowl of soya sauce and chilli oil. An ice cold bottle of Brahma completed one of my favourite meal combinations of all time. Pure heaven.

Sadly this was the end of our little tour as we all had to make our various ways home. Every time I’ve been to SP I’ve eaten fantastically well, which might justify Paulistano claims to have the best food and restaurants in the country. Mae and Elcio did their best to prove this theory correct. Thanks guys, it was great!

Live like a King in Caserta

Posted in Campania, Caserta, Italy with tags , , , on June 15, 2011 by gannet39


Caserta
is famous for La Reggia, the opulent former residence of the King of Naples. It has been used as a film set several times, for example as the Needoo palace in Star Wars Episode 1 The Phantom Menace.

It’s definitely worth seeing but I’ve been before and unfortunately you now have to pay €12 and I’m too tight to part with food money.

La Reggia

However, you can take a peek at the grand staircase, probably the nicest bit inside anyway, without having to show a ticket.

Grand staircaseStone lion

Ceiling

The best thing about the complex is the gardens which stretch off into the distance.  There’s some great statues in the fountains and the English Garden is very nice as well.  Here are some pictures to give you an idea.

Nowadays Caserta is known for being a garrison town, as well as a Camorra stronghold (you will find several references to it in Roberto Saviano’s factual novel ‘Gomorrah’) who apparently have a strong grip on the important textile industry here. I’ve been a visitor here several times over the years so I have a fairly good handle on the restaurant scene.

Locanda Batisti (Intermediate A-), 99 Via C.Battisti (near the station) Closed Sunday/Monday

Perhaps my favourite local restaurant in terms of getting good food for the right money, the seafood is particularly good. The bread is wonderful (especially the olive and sun-dried tomato variety) and there is no cover charge.

My favourite first course is the Linguine ai Frutti di Mare (A+) with mussels and several kinds of clams (vongole).

Linguine ai Frutti di Mare

The picture below shows several small and one large Fasolare on the top row, Vongole Verace below them and at the bottom Mussels and Taratufi to the right), a steal for only €9.

Bivalves

I can also recommend the Paccheri di Gragnano al Ragu di Coccio (A); big floppy tubes of pasta. (The Campanian town of Gragnano was one of the first places to produce pasta industrially) in a sauce of beef mince and tomatoes), although I’m sure everything is good here.

Paccheri di Gragano al Ragu di Coccio

For seconds the Misto di Pesce is also excellent (A) (grilled squid, octopus, prawn, scampi and fish). I also had the Scallopina con Vino (Falanghina) one night which was also good if slightly too salty (B-).

Scallopina con Vino
The house white invariably seems to be a good quality Falanghina (in 2008 a fantastic Nifo ’07 and in 2011 a very good Sannio’09 and a Conca Bianco).

Falanghina
The Millefoglie dessert of flaky pastry on a bed of Zabaglione cream is also nice (B).

Millefoglie

The A minus score is for the poor service I encountered upon returning in 2011. Although the owner has always been rather dour and smiles are rare from anyone here, the two new young guys he has serving now are particularly useless and need to be constantly told what to do. Also a colleague came here a few weeks later and was given some fish that was off! It’s never happened to me but it goes to show the perils of recommending restaurants  (let alone eating in them).

Conclusion: usually the food is good as the number of locals shows, and you can have two courses and a bottle of wine for around €30 here.

Massa (Advanced A), 55 Via Mazzini (the main pedestrian shopping street, it’s on the left with your back to Via Roma, through an arch). Tel. 0823 456527. Closed Sundays.

A high end place I always come to for the end-of-week blowout, all A grade vittles but at a price. Having said that, similar places in bigger cities would be much more expensive and when I was there last they had introduced two four-course tasting menus, one for seafood (€34), and one meat based (€29) which looked good value on paper.

Massa logo
The atmospheric building has been a restaurant since 1848. It’s a big place with a main room decorated with architectural drawings of La Reggia and King Ferdinand II and his family in military dress on prancing horses, and side rooms with displays of old brass instruments. In the summer (June onwards?) you can sit outside under the palms in the pleasant internal garden.

Massa entrada

You can also ask one of the friendly waiters to take you down to the atmospheric wine cellar (la cantina); hewn out of solid volcanic rock and complete with secret underground passages, now blocked up.

Wine cellar

Different waiters have told me different stories, one saying a passage led to the Reggia and another, perhaps more truthful one, saying it led to an air raid shelter from WWII.

Secret passage
On my last visit, after a complimentary glass of Spumante and a plate of focaccia (there’s a pizza oven out in the garden making “real” Neopolitan pizza); I set about the Menu Degustazione Mare. To begin a plate of very thinly sliced octopus and cured fish with rocket (B), a ball of delicious Mozzarella wrapped in smoked salmon (A) and a grilled scallop au gratin with heaps of garlic (A).

Antipasti
To go with this I chose a bottle of ‘I Borboni’ Coda de Volpe (2008) (from Cantina Lunajanca in Benevento, a neighbouring province) which after a poor start got better after being open a while (B).

Coda de Volpe
To follow Spaghettoni di Gragnano con Lupini di Mare e Cavolofiori, spaghetti from the famous pasta town with lupini clams and florets of cauliflower, which had a strange smoky flavour but was otherwise tasteless and needed salting (C). Very disappointing.

Lupini di Mare e Cavolofiori
Next a fillet of spigola fish with putarelle  in a citrus sauce and peperoncino (indiscernible), the fish and greens being quite plain by themselves but wonderful in combination (A).

Spigola
I swapped the glass of chocolate dessert and cream (Bicchiere Cioccolato al Latte e Albicocche) on the menu for a glass of Acquavite di Miele di Castagno, a distillate flavoured with chestnuts and a hint of honey, interesting but not something you’d demand a second glass of (B). Although the latter came free and I was going for cheap options, I still spent €48 on this visit.

Acquavite

Conclusion: good food but not as good as I’ve had from Locanda Battisti, however the service is much better and the ambience one of the bestyou will find. Somewhere that shouldn’t be missed if you can help it.

In 2008, three of us kicked off with a celebratory end-of-tour bottle of Prosecco (€12) and continued with a very good house Falanghina (€10). Food wise, we started with Trilogia Buongustaio, a seafood antipasti misto including octopus and swordfish for €14, moved on to Ravioli Coccio (fish), Lasagnette Pasta and Risotto Pescatora, all €14, and grilled veg for €6, all excellent.
Massa also owns Vicolocieco a wine bar down a side street, around the corner from the restaurant. Very busy at the weekends, you can sit outside in the small alley (vicolo).

Friendly staff
I had the Sformitina di Melanzane (grilled eggplant with mozzarella and big flakes of grana, which was nice (B) but a bit too cheesy for my liking.

Sformitina di Melanzane

Max and Barbara gave me friendly service when I first came here on a limoncello crawl.

Limoncello

The locally made meloncello is best avoided in my opinion (D).

Meloncello

I also had some lovely Grappa Aglianico here on another night.

Another uber-posh place is La Colonne, specialising in water buffalo meat which I would like to try but seeing as how they didn’t have menus outside, I guessed it was a bit beyond my price range.

I remember eating well at Antica Osteria La Scalinatella at 2 Via Fratelli Giovanni e Giulio Pagano, Tel. 0823 441850, but it was a while ago so can’t tell you what it was.

Antica Osteria La Scalinatella

La Loggetta (Elementary A-), 62 Via Cristofor Colombo and 41/43 Via Roma

According to Barbara at Vicolocieco, this is the best place in town for pizza. It’s certainly popular with the locals and you will have to queue if you arrive after 8 at the weekends. The Via Cristofor Colombo location is more atmospheric although both places are pretty basic with paper tablecloths and sullen service.

La Loggetta

I went for my favourite, the classic Pizza Margherita ai Mozzarella di Bufala (DOP), which tasted really good but for me the edging was too thick, and the centre a bit too soft and runny (although it should be to a certain degree). This is being hypercritical though and the local ingredients were so good I couldn’t honestly fault it (A-). You can also buy pizza al metro here (by the meter, actually two square meters in a large rectangular tray) but you need a small family with you to have a chance of finishing it. With a large Birra Nastro Azurra my bill came to a paltry €8.

Nastro

Angolo Verde Ristorante Pizzeria, 21 Via Redentore (a side street off Via Mazzini, opposite the entrance to Massa)

When I went in 2008,  some things were value for money (€5 euro self-service salad bar, €3 half litre draught white), some things a bit pricey, such as Scialatielli con Pesce in Esposizione, which was excellent but cost €14, and the cover charge of €2.50. Walked by in 2011 and they seem to have gone downmarket with Menu Touristico’s on the board outside. Probably worth a whirl though.

A Paranza (Intermediate B), 24 Via Santorio

This large place was thankfully open on a Sunday, unlike any of the places above, though this might have been due to the wedding reception that was in full flow when I arrived. A seafood specialist with a simple, meat-free menu; most prices are in double figures though you could in theory eat three courses for as little as €20, or as much as €45.

A Paranza

I had six delicious small balls of Mozzarella (A) to start.

Mozzarella

For the pasta course; Spaghetti alle Vongole which was competently made if a bit oily (B).

Spaghetti alle Vongole

This was followed by one of my pet hates, a pre-dressed mixed salad which I had to send back (D) as it was over salted.

The house white was a mediocre (C) bottle of Falanghina from Colle D’Oro in Benevento which Enzo the smiley waiter thought I should drink warm until I got him to bring an ice bucket(secchiello), although through fatigue I settled for a beaker instead of a wine glass. Total cost €25. Conclusion: relatively cheap and open on a Sunday, but not somewhere to go when other places are open.

La Leccese, (Elementary C), 64 Via G.Verdi, next to Locanda Battisti above.

I tend to end up eating here when its neighbour Locanda Battisti  is shut and I can’t be bothered to walk elsewhere. It’s also a pizzeria though I didn’t see anyone eating one, despite it being very busy on the Monday night I went.

The food is rough and ready and cheap as chips, but all just about edible (C), and you can eat outside. Although the menu says ‘dal 1968’ this place was called Da Camilla in 2008 and seems to have changed hands. Unfortunately the food hasn’t improved much. I had the classic Pasta e Fagioli which had a lot of the former but little of the latter and was even more mundane than usual (C).

Pasta e Fagioli

For the next course I opted for the local Salsiccia Nero Casertana, which wasn’t the blood sausage I’d hoped for but just the ordinary variety that you can get in most places.

Salsiccia CasertanaThe house red is pretty poor (C-) so I strongly recommend you get a bottle of something else if you come here (I won’t again if I can help it). The best thing (B) was the Frutta Tagliata, but then you can’t really go wrong with sliced fruit (strawberries, cherries, apricots, pineapple, water melon). Despite assuring me it would be frozen, the limoncello they gave me was only slightly chilled. Grappa is €1.50 in the roughhouse bar opposite.

From 2008:

A’ Lampara Ristorante Pizzeria (Elementary B), 64 Via G.B. Vico (off Via Roma, you will see the yellow sign if you look down the side street)

This is a cheap value-for-money place with B or C grade food.

A' LamparaProsciutto and mozzarella for €6 and Trofie del Golfo (pasta twists with clams, mussels, scampi) for €8.50 were the best things I had.

The pizzas are ok but a bit thick for my taste. The house red and white (C) are both pretty ropey but just about drinkable, €4 for a half litre. The draught Falanghina is better for a little bit more. A grappa costs €2.50. Big telly (so the place of choice for watching football) and friendly service from the young guys. You might want to avoid the karaoke on Sunday night. Turn left out of Hotel Europa, first right and you will see its sign on the right straight away.

Conclusion: the big telly at the end of the room makes this a good place for watching football and the cheap food and wine make it a good place to come if you’re on a budget.

Pepe Nero, (Intermediate B) 17 Via G.M Bosco

This is like All Bar One meets Pizza Express. I had the arrosticini (kebab of mediocre beef, ok pork and excellent sausage) with fries for €8.50 with a servicable Aglianico del Taburno (Fontanavecchia ’04) for €12. Other local
wines start at €9, Belgian and German beers for €4, 400ml draught for the same, and that famous British beer, Tenants Super for €3.50. They have a large range of big salads, pasta, steaks and, unusually, goulash, madras and Mexican
dishes. To finish, the Torroncino Crema di Baba e Nutella was nice. Overall I would score it a B, modern and very popular but a bit of a walk from Via Roma.

Via G.M. Bosco seems to have a fair bit of night life with a couple of bars opposite and further along from Pepe Nero. There’s a modern gelateria/pasticceria at #34 called Mungiguerra (since 1926 apparently although not in this building) which also sells digestivos (an average grappa costs €3) although the staff could learn some customer skills.

There are salumerias all over town but Leuci at 168 Via G.M. Bosco is a particularly large one and has a big range of handmade pasta from Gragnano, wines, hams, cheeses and lots of other desirable things.

Pasta Gragnanostuffed peppers

The indoor Mercato di Caserta at 52 Via Cesare Battisti  is small but there’s lots of great produce, all super-fresh and some of it still alive!

LemonsFresh cheeseTomatoesLive oclopusBandieraCalamaio clams

I’ve stayed at a few hotels along Via Roma over the years. The Hotel Europa at 19 Via Roma has a basic gym and an ok breakfast. Room quality varies but the back is quieter and the ones at the very top have good views of the hills. The Hotel Jolly, nearest the station, has similar rooms and a slightly better breakfast to my memory, but no gym. The Hotel Bruman has the nicest rooms and free computers and wi-fi in each room, although there is no gym and breakfast is pre-ordered and served in your room. If you like sleeping with the window open, in all these places you should go for a room at the back, to avoid the noise from Via Roma. There is the odd mosquito so bring some protection.

Farewell Caserta, until the next time!

Korea comes to Mancunia

Posted in Manchester, Northern Quarter, United Kingdom with tags , , on February 4, 2011 by gannet39

NOW CLOSED!

Baekdu Korean Restaurant (Elementary A), 77 Shudehill (corner with Hanover St), Manchester, M4 4AN, Tel: 0161 834 2227 GEM ALERT!

I’ve been going to stay with my old buddy Luke in Manchester for over twenty years now. Our shared love of good food has meant that eating well  is always top of our agenda when we get together. His flat is in the Northern Quarter, a cool counter-culture area that’s slowly being reborn out of the textile trade twilight zone to the east of the city centre.  It’s a great place to live with lots of little boutiques, bars and record shops on the doorstep.  Strangely though the restaurant scene here has always been lacking. Sure there are some great curry cafes, like Al Faisal and Yadgar on Thomas St where you can get a good lunch for next to nothing, but there has never been anywhere to get cheap quality food in the evenings. Until now that is.

Baekdu is located on the edge of the Northern Quarter, in an unattractive spot on Shudehill. It’s completely authentic serving classic Korean dishes to a predominantly Oriental clientele. The interior is basic with modern cafe bar furniture and bleak white walls, which make it a little too bright to be truly relaxing, but forget that, it’s the food that you’re here for.

Korean cuisine is hearty, healthy and hot. Most dishes come with Gochujang, fermented chilli paste, a distinctive ingredient which sets it apart from neighbouring cuisines.

The national dish is Kimchi, fermented Chinese (napa) cabbage with gochujang, which is eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can see huge earthenware pots on very balcony in Korea which contain a year’s supply of fermenting cabbage for the family. Done well, it can be really delicious and the version at Baekdu is no exception (A).

Another distinctive Korean dish is Bulgogi (“fire meat”), usually wafer-thin sirloin marinated in soya sauce, sesame oil, sugar and garlic which is then grilled on an open flame. In more upmarket Korean BBQ restaurants the customers grill the meat themselves on small grills built into the tables, or even on hot stones, but here it is pan-fried. We had Dwaeji Bulgogi, a version made with pork, onions, peppers and chilli paste which was pretty good (B).

Also very famous is Bibimbap, literally meaning “mixed meal” which in its most basic form is simply a big bowl of warm rice topped with chilli paste and Namul, various small portions of shredded vegetables, some of which can be quite exotic (Bell flower roots and fern shoots anyone?) but not here as it would add too much to the expense. The version we had was Dolsot Bibimbap (B+) which consists of fried beef and a basic namul of mushroom, carrot, spinach, together with a raw egg which is stirred together will dollops of chilli paste. It’s served in a hot stone bowl coated with sesame oil which is so hot that it cooks the rice and egg forming a delicious crust is on the sides of the bowl (B+).

Some of our favourite dishes were the vegetarian ones; such is Sigumchi Namal, spinach blanched and seasoned with garlic, soy, sesame oil, sesame seeds and sugar (A) and Oi Muchin, cucumber salad, seasoned with garlic, spring onions, sesame seeds and chilli paste (A).

Gal Bi are delicious barbecued spare ribs that have been marinated in rice wine, soy, sugar and garlic (A).

Also the Haemul Pajeon seafood pancake (made with squid and spring onion) is wonderfully crunchy and tasty (A).

The only let down is the Hite beer (C-), which should be spelt with an S at the beginning, but despite that this place is a real find for me. When I lived in Japan, Korean food was a welcome alternative to the delicious but rather bland local fare, kind of like the role curry plays in the UK. Until now I had to go to London to get my fix (in particular Kimchee in Golders Green) but now it’s just a short drive over the Pennines, a sign the world is getting smaller. A real gem, don’t miss if you’re in the area.

With thanks to Luke Una

Getting fed in China

Posted in China with tags , , on February 1, 2011 by gannet39

Beijing 006It can be quite tough at times to find a square meal in China to suit the western palate. There is of course great food to be had but if you don’t know the Chinese for it you are on a non-starter, quite literally. Some places have picture menus but they tend to be the exception.

2014-11-29 12.41.00By way of example of the perils involved, here’s a picture one of my colleagues sent me of something she found in her food while in Dongguan. She was uncertain whether it was fungus, seaweed or intestine!

My solution is to have friendly Chinese people you meet write down the Cantonese or Mandarin characters (kanji) for the dishes you like when you encounter them. You can ask them to write the pinyin (romanised script) too if you want to have a stab at the pronunciation but don’t assume all Chinese people will be able to read it. Also be aware there are regional variations of pinyin!

With the help of accommodating hotel receptionists and teachers, I’ve built up a set of food flashcards that I can show to waiters to get such staples as fried or steamed rice, various stir fried greens, beef noodle soup and cold beer. It sounds like a bit of a cop out, but your server will appreciate it, and you’ll get the food that you actually want to eat.

There are also picture flashcards, which use the three scripts mentioned above, that you can download for free here and here. I also recommend the Lonely Planet phrasebook which has a handy dictionary with kanji translations you can show to the waiters. Now of course you can download dictionary apps for your smart phone as well.

For specific local dishes, take a photo of the relevant regional list on this webpage and just show the waiter the characters for the ones you want to try. Do it before you travel as you probably won’t be able to access this page (or many other websites) once in China.

You should also remember to say if you want your drinks cold (‘bing’). If you don’t, you will get probably get warm beer or water as Chinese people believe they are better for the stomach than cold beverages. A useful phrase might be 不冰不给钱! or ‘bù bīng bù gěi qién!’ which I think translates to “no cold, no give money!”

Most restaurants close at 2pm lunchtime and by 10pm at night and are pretty rigid about it. There are always night markets and stalls around should you want to eat later.

In the smaller local establishments, hold on to the little packets of tissues they send you as there’s often no loo roll in the toilets.

Airport restaurants are surprisingly not too bad, which is a godsend if you’re like me and can’t abide any of the stuff served on planes.

If you can bring yourself to do it, serving staff can be summoned by clapping your hands above your head football supporter style! I only ever do this if I have been completely abandoned though.

While we’re at it, there are a few local habits that were sources of culture shock for me:

Most (though not all) waiters I have met have been very friendly and attentive, even a bit too attentive at times. Hovering hotel servers will pounce on any plate or spoon that looks used, even reaching over you as you eat in their eagerness to procure it and thereby justify their existence. It’s very annoying but I’ve learned to roll with it or you would be constantly losing your temper at breakfast, admittedly a time when I’m not at my best.

Once I returned from getting a coffee to find everything gone; my milk and spoon I’d just collected, my food and even my newspaper. I went round replacing everything but but by the time I came back my coffee had gone! I just had to laugh. Breakfast can take a while in China…

Probably the most unappealing cultural habit for Westerners is public spitting, which is mainly but not exclusively practised by males. I can live with it on the street but when trapped next to several hockers on a plane, and even a spitter in a sauna! (as has been my misfortune in the past), you risk being driven to the point of insanity.

My solution is to use a PET (Politeness Enforcement Tactic) to make them stop, in this case offering them a tissue to embarrass them! If only there was a flashcard for ‘please don’t hock or spit’. Posher restaurants have signs with this message, both in kanji and cartoon form.  If you see one, my suggestion would be to take a picture of it and show it to any offenders that enter your personal space. People know it’s not acceptable because if was made illegal by city governments during the Beijing Olympics and Shanghai Expo.

Hopefully these tips will make your trip more enjoyable.

Good luck!

 

Crossing the Bridge in Kunming

Posted in China, Kunming, Yunnan with tags , , , , on February 1, 2011 by gannet39

Kunming is capital of multi-ethnic Yunnan province, in the south west of China, on the border with Viet Nam, Burma and Laos. As you would imagine it has lots of very interesting food and which has attracted some attention in the West. It’s also supposed to be one of the prettiest cities in China and it was very nice to stroll along the paths beside the river. Sadly though I was only in town for a couple of days and had little time to explore the rest of the city or the province.

I stayed at the monolithic Horizon Hotel Yunan at 432 Qingnian Rd, in the central Panlong district, which was fine. The staff were pretty helpful and they have a fairly large pool.

Crossing the Bridge NoodlesIngredients for making Crossing the Bridge NoodlesThe famous local dish here is a noodle soup called Guo Qiao Mi Xian or ‘Crossing the Bridge’ Noodles. It differs from any noodle soup I’ve had before by the fact you have to assemble it yourself. First a plate of bean sprouts, spring onion, ribbon tofu and a raw egg arrives, followed by a second plate of small pieces of chicken and several thinly sliced pieces of pork (and other porkish meats I couldnt discern), then a bowl of fat rice noodles and finally a bowl of hot stock. The ingredients should be mixed into the stock in order and topped off with a few dollops of chilli sauce if so desired. Legend has it that the dish was created by a wife who had to carry food a long way (over a bridge) to her husband who was studying for an exam. Mixing the ingredients on the spot kept the dish from getting soggy.

If you turn left out of the hotel and first left, you will find several places serving it (also a good one near Shane school of English next to the river). Unfortunately most places have no picture menu and operate a pay first system where you are issued with a coloured ticket which is then handed in at the serving hatch. My solution was to loiter and watch what people got for their ticket and if I liked the look of it, pointed at the colour ticket I wanted.

Another local delicacy is Qi Guo Ji, a chicken soup stew cooked in a stack of clay pots, similar in principle to an Italian coffee pot. The resulting distilled broth is delicious and the chicken was ok if you could find the chunks without pieces of splintered bone. I had it with local wild mushrooms (also highly renowned) at a wooden fronted restaurant named ‘Yunan Delicacies Food’ on the street behind the hotel, next to the antiques centre. The menu is in Mandarin but you can see pictures of the clay pots on the first page. I had it with rice, some kind of green veg and specially aged Pu-erh tea for 58 RMB.

Goodbye Kunming, shame I only scratched your surface. Please see my post about Beijing for Yunnanese food in the capital.

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