Europe

[London] Fera at Claridges (One Michelin Star) - Summer '16 Tasting Menu

Fera - Claridge's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Address: Claridge’s, 49 Brook St, Mayfair, London W1K 4HR, United Kingdom
Hours: Everyday; 12–2pm, 6:30–10pm
Price: £110 (dinner tasting menu) + 12% service charge per person (without beverages or tip)
Verdict: Worth trying, if you're a fan of fairy food. Every dish and crumble is elegantly and beautifully presented; the tastes fresh and exquisite. A very polished meal (a little ironic since Fera means "wild" in Latin). Don't come for the Michelin star; come if you want to be dazzled by food art and treated like a medieval lord. Both the waiters and dishes are very dressed to impress. 

Reservations necessary. +44 20 7107 8888; reservations@feraatclaridges.co.uk
http://feraatclaridges.co.uk/ 

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 Seaweed cracker, lemon sole, sea herbs

Seaweed cracker, lemon sole, sea herbs

July '16 Dinner Tasting Menu

  • Stewed rabbit with lovage
  • Seaweed cracker, lemon sole, sea herbs
  • Puffed barley, mushroom, celeriac and junipe
  • Pea mousse with cod and calamint
  • Mackerel in coal oil, marinated tomatoes, seaweed and fennel
  • Rose veal tartare, oyster, apple and kohlrabi
  • Leeks with pork jowl, chicory, sunflower, apple marigold
  • Cod with roe sauce, courgette and lemon verbena
  • Goosnargh duck, roasted radish, turnip, rhubarb and oxalil
  • Fig leaf mousse with gooseberry, sorrel ice, almond meringue
  • Meadowsweet cake, cherries, pine and sheep’s yoghurt

I distinctly point out that I came for the July '16 dinner tasting menu because Chef Simon Rogan's food here is heavily influenced by season and climate. "Our menus are inspired by the constant changing of the seasons," says their website. "We only use exceptional, mostly homegrown ingredients that are harvested in their prime. This is why our à la carte and tasting menus change as often as the weather in which our ingredients are grown."

I had a very delightful, refreshing dinner. For 11 courses, the full-flight meal was satisfying without being overbearing. Sauces were light, subtle and precise. I'm impressed because it's difficult to make fine food tasty without putting much burden on your digestive system.

My favorites of the night: pea mousse with cod & calamint, rose veal tartare and the meadowsweet cake (that really isn't cake but more like icy flavored crisps). I'd visit again for the creativity and grace of its presentation. Sure, the restaurant receives criticism for its almost 'too-perfect' glossy feels. It's ornate. Extravagance disguised in hushed rustic tones. But let's not kid ourselves, what were you expecting? Stepping into Mayfair and into one of London's most sophisticated hotels... you knew what you were getting into.  

 Seaweed cracker, lemon sole, sea herbs

Seaweed cracker, lemon sole, sea herbs

  Rose veal tartare, oyster, apple and kohlrabi

Rose veal tartare, oyster, apple and kohlrabi

 Goosnargh duck, roasted radish, turnip, rhubarb and oxalis

Goosnargh duck, roasted radish, turnip, rhubarb and oxalis

 Meadowsweet cake, cherries, pine and sheep’s yoghurt

Meadowsweet cake, cherries, pine and sheep’s yoghurt

  Leeks with pork jowl, chicory, sunflower, apple marigold

Leeks with pork jowl, chicory, sunflower, apple marigold

  Puffed barley, mushroom, celeriac and juniper

Puffed barley, mushroom, celeriac and juniper

 Pea mousse with cod and calamint

Pea mousse with cod and calamint

[Reykjavik] Downtown Guide Part 1

Reykjavik, Iceland's not-too-large capital, is a beautiful and eclectic city that’s showered in colors and packed with vigor. Merely 2 degrees south of the Arctic Circle, the city receives only 4 hours of sunlight during the darkest Winter days and bakes in sunlight for almost 24 hours a day in the Summers. As Iceland’s most populous city (~120,000 inhabitants), it is also the country’s most exciting urban playground. Here you can find first-rate restaurants, large shopping malls, interesting museums, queer shops and a “legendary” nightlife that the Icelanders are proud of (which apparently is now gaining reputation as one of the most fashionable and chic European party city). 

After roving around the Icelandic countryside for 6 days straight, I felt a little displaced to be back in the city again but relieved as well. I probably saw more cars within 20 minutes roving around Reykjavik than I did altogether for the past week outside of the town.

I stayed at Hlemmer Square, a boutique and cozy hotel located near the edge of downtown Reykjavik. It is conveniently situated—walking distance from all the necessary landmarks or a 2 minute drive from just about everything. There’s no on-site parking but it never took me long to find street parking around the area.

Hlemmer Square
Laugavegur 105, 105 Reykjavik, Iceland
+354 415 1600 | http://www.hlemmursquare.com/

Strolling around the streets is highly recommended. The sidewalks and roads are nicely paved and drivers are usually passive-friendly. The houses and shops are painted in jolly bright colors and you'll find street art printed on the walls easily. Walking around aimlessly is an adventure by itself!

 Downtown Reykjavik by day

Downtown Reykjavik by day

 Downtown Reykjavik by night

Downtown Reykjavik by night

Harpa Convention Center and Concert Hall
Austurbakki 2, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland
+354 569 6700 | http://harpa.is/

The Harpa is built along the shore where the city touches the sea, on the east side of the old harbor. Reykjavik’s conference center and home to the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, the Harpa is an amazing modern Nordic architectural achievement. Deploying light, color, movement and their interactions, the Danish-Icelandic leading architect and artist Olafur Eliasson used panes of clear and color-coated glass to design a building that seems to shimmer and glitter with the reflections of the surrounding sky and sea. Doesn't it remind you of a kaleidoscope? There are usually many exhibitions and concerts available to the public, but even if you do not attend an event, be sure to come and check out this gorgeous piece of art and check out their gift stores.

 Harpa Convention Center in Reykjavik

Harpa Convention Center in Reykjavik

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsu
Tryggvagotu 1Reykjavik 101, Iceland
http://www.bbp.is/

Very close to the Harpa is Iceland’s famous Bæjarins Beztu Pylsu (aka “the best hotdog in town”). What? Yes. Dubbed by Forbe’s magazine as the “world’s most famous hotdog vendor,” this little establishment has been here since 1937. Even President Bill Clinton stopped here during his visit. Cutting straight to the chase, the iconic item on its menu is the “ein með öllu” hotdog or the “one with everything” as it is affectionately referred to as by the locals. It is a lamb-based hotdog covered with a variety of condiments like ketchup, mustard, fried onion, raw onion and remoulade, a type of sweet mayonnaise dressing made with capers, mayonnaise, herbs and mustard.

  Bæjarins Beztu Pylsu hotdog

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsu hotdog

A bite into it and I understood why some claim it to be the best hotdog in Europe and why it is good enough to be part of Iceland’s traditional cuisine. Different from pure beef or pork hotdogs, the lamb is tender and juicy. However, my favorite part of it was the surprisingly pleasurable crunch of the crispy fried onions. It perfectly complemented the scrumptious sausage and sauces. Iceland does not allow any the import of any meat or animals, so naturally all the meat sold here is free-range, grass-fed, organic and hormone-free. That probably partially explains why meat is expensive here (like everything else here) but also why they're especially tasty. 

Last but not least, the loaded hotdog only costs 280 ISK ($2 USD), which is cheaper than anything else you can find in Iceland. Please do not leave Iceland without trying this place. Although hotdogs are almost ubiquitous in Iceland, you'll regret not having tasted a true Icelandic hotdog the way locals eat it until you’ve tried this messy goodness.

 Hallgrímskirkja church
Skólavörðustígur 101, Reykjavík, Iceland
+354 510 1000 | http://www.hallgrimskirkja.is/

Installed at the top of a hill in downtown Reykjavik, this tall white Lutheran church is the largest church and the sixth tallest structure in Iceland (at 73 meters). It is a major Icelandic landmark and its roaring stature can be seen anywhere from downtown Reykjavik and even from miles away from city center. 

  Hallgrímskirkja  church in Reykjavik

Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavik


[Paris] Marché Bastille: A Parisian Farmer's Market

Marché Bastille

Categories: Outdoor flea/farmer's market
Address:  Boulevard Richard-Lenoir, Paris 75011 (near the Place de la Bastille)
- Metro stops: Bastille or Bréguet-Sabin 
Hours: Thursdays & Sundays 7:00am-2:30pm
Price: Free
Verdict: A must visit for locals, and highly recommended for tourists if in Paris on a Sunday

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Paris, like most other European cities, isn't very lively on Sundays because not many stores are open. Hence, the Bastille Market is an excellent choice to visit on Sundays either just to stroll through, grab a bite, or stock up on weekly groceries
  • It is an open-air roving market, assembled with shaded canopies along the strip of Boulevard Richard-Lenoir
  • You can find pretty much everything you want here as a local or tourist, from flowers to spices to scarves to perfume, foie gras, and keychains/souvenirs 
  • Numerous breakfast/lunch options on-the-go or take home: crepes, rotisserie chickens, Turkish wraps, Spanish tapas and paella, hummus, and smaller snacks like meatsticks and cakes
  • Also has a plethora of fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, pastries and baguettes, seafood, local cheeses, meat, sausages, spices, olives, herbs, and jam

WATCH OUT

  • Only open twice a week (Thursdays and Sundays)

OTHER TIPS

  • Grab some amazing gelato from Amorino around the corner on rue de la Roquette near Place de la Bastille

[Berlin] East Side Gallery: A Testimony & Tribute to Freedom

Categories: Outdoor art gallery, memorial
Address: Near the city center (in former East Berlin) on Mülenstraße in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg
 Date visited: February 2013
 Price: Free 
Verdict:
 MUST SEE!

HIGHLIGHTS

  • International memorial and symbol of freedom; a visual testimony to the jubilation and spirit of liberation after the fall of the Berlin Wall 
  • 1.36 kilometers long; it is the longest segment of the Berlin Wall that is still standing today
  • Features 106 beautiful murals painted by 118 artists from 21 different countries. Also referred to as the Kunstmeile, or art mile, the gallery is located along the banks of the river Spree in Friedrichshain
  • Very inspiring and informative, a must-see in Berlin!
  • Will end up here with the alternative Berlin free walking tour (strongly recommended!)
  • Some of the more well-known murals are: 

 Dimitrji Vrubel's “The Mortal Kiss” of Erich Honecker and Leonid Brezhnev's mouth-to-mouth embrace

 

 Dimitrji Vrubel's “The Mortal Kiss” of Erich Honecker and Leonid Brezhnev's mouth-to-mouth embrace

Dimitrji Vrubel's “The Mortal Kiss” of Erich Honecker and Leonid Brezhnev's mouth-to-mouth embrace

            Birgit Kinder’s Trabi (Trabant) knocking down the Wall

 Posing with Birgit Kinder’s Trabi (Trabant) knocking down the Wall

Posing with Birgit Kinder’s Trabi (Trabant) knocking down the Wall

Some of my other personal favorites: 

[Berlin] Doner Kebabs in Kottbusser Tor

Doner Kebabs in Kottbusser Tor

A doner kebab is a

Turkish dish made of meat cooked on a vertical spit, normally veal or beef but also a mixture of these with lamb; a cheaper version of chicken is also found. The dish is also widely known by its Arabic name, shawarma, or in Greek as gyro.
The sliced meat of a Doner kebab may be served wrapped in a flatbread such as lavash or pita or as a sandwich instead of being served on a plate. It is a common fast food item in the Balkans, Middle East, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Seasoned meat in the shape of an inverted cone is turned slowly against a vertical rotisserie, then sliced vertically into thin, crisp shavings. Toppings include tomato, onion, lettuce, pickled cucumber and chili.

 Categories: Turkish, Fast food

Address: Any kebab store in Kottbusser Tor, located in central Kreuzberg (the Turkish area in Berlin) - it is a metro stop on the U-Bahn 
Date visited:  February 2013
Price: 2.5€
Verdict: Definitely a must visit - trust me, it's worth the trip even if you're not in the area. Doner kebabs will be available everywhere in town, but the ones here are the best. It'll be the first spot I hit up when I'm back in the city!

HIGHLIGHTS

  • It will be the cheapest foodporn you can get in Berlin 
  • Berlin is home to the largest number of Turkish people outside of Turkey itself, so you can imagine the authenticity and deliciousness
  • HUGE! (Cheap and filling as a full meal or as an afternoon bite)
  • Ask for all sauces in your kebab (hot sauce, herb sauce, garlic sauce) instead of just yogurt sauce

WATCH OUT

  • Many places will only take cash!

[Oslo] Åpent Bakeri

Åpent Bakeri means "Open Bakery" in English and they're often regarded as the best in Norway. 

Categories: Bakery, cafe
Address: 
Parkveien 27, Oslo 0350, Norway
-
Åsengata 42 (Hans Nilsen Hauges gate), Oslo 0480Norway
Damplassen 24-25, Oslo 0852, Norway
Date visited: February 2013
Price: 60-180 NOK
Verdict: A must. A perfect cozy bakery with the best housemade jam on earth.

 Freshly baked scone with housemade jam and cappuccino

Freshly baked scone with housemade jam and cappuccino

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Has a variety of top quality freshly made pastries, bread rolls, cakes, scones, and salads
  • Coffee, tea & juices
  • Good for breakfast or afternoon hangout
  • The housemade jam is the BEST - do not miss out on this (there is a bowl at the counter that you can scoop as much as you want) 
  • Great unostentatious and welcoming environment
  • Very good and cheap option in Norway
  • Recommendations:
    - JAM with anything (scone, bread)
    - Breakfast platter (yogurt with berries, eggs, bacon, etc.)
    - Pain au chocolate

 

[Paris] Cantine Merci

Categories: Salads, soups, cafe, juices. healthy
Address:  111 boulevard Beaumarchais, 75003 Paris
Date visited: February 2013
Price: 10-20 € (lunch)
Verdict:  Very chic and healthy. Will be back!

cantinemerci.jpg

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Canteen style restaurant (as part of the bigger Merci concept store - also selling furniture, clothing, ) 
  • Good for a healthy, light lunch
  • Slightly pricey, but ambience is worth it. A lot of locals.
  • Clean, contemporary, and bright decor
  • Fresh, colorful salads and daily soups
  • Has desserts and fresh juices
  • Similar to Ottolenghi  in London!
  • Recommendations:
    - Daily salad and soups
    - Quiches

WATCH OUT

  • Closes at 7pm Mon-Sat
  • Closed on Sundays

 

[Paris] L'Homme Bleu

Categories: Moroccan, North African
Address:  55 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, Oberkampf, 75011 Paris
Date visited: January 2013
Price: 20-35 € (dinner)
Verdict:  Not too bad! Come to try authentic Moroccan food!

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Friendly, relaxed, homey environment
  • Good for dinner, reservations recommended
  • Excellent couscous and tender meat
  • If you want to try Moroccan food, check this place out
  • Ample portions and fresh ingredients
  • Recommendations
    - Lamb tangine with couscous
    -  Tagine's laxrif: lamb, onions, dates, figs, almonds, raisins, all flavored with orange blossom and cinnamon

 

[Paris] Al Taglio

Categories: Pizza, Italian
Address: 2 locations
  - 2 bis rue Neuve Popincourt, Paris 75003 (Marais)
  - 27 rue de Saintonge, Paris 75011 (Oberkampf)
Date visited: Multiple (January-April 2013)
Price: 8 -20 € (quick bite or meal)
Verdict: Perfect for a quick bite or a casual meal. 

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Gourmet authentic Italian pizzas
  • Casual canteen style with modern decor
  • Sold by the kilo; different prices for different toppings
  • Recommendations:
    - truffle cream, potato
    -  bacon,  cream of squash
    - smoked ham, mushrooms, ricotta 

 

[Paris] Le Loir Dans La Théière

Categories: Tearoom, Desserts
Address: 3 rue des Rosiers, Paris 75004 (Marais)
Date visited: January 2013
Price:  8-15 €  
Verdict: : Alice in Wonderland Themed Cute Teahouse? Cute! Will be back to try more cakes.

 Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie

HIGHLIGHTS

  • A cute and quaint little Bohemian-styled Alice in Wonderland teashop in the Marais 
  • Large squishy antique sofas
  • Walls and shelves full of quirky murals and antiques
  • Specializes in baked goods
  • Amazing selection of teas and cakes (huge slices!)
  • Great atmosphere, very cozy, perfect for 
  • Recommendations:
    - Lemon meringue pie

WATCH OUT

  • Closes at 7pm everyday
  • Cakes run out quick! 
  • There may be a long line on weekends