Fermin Calbeton 12
20003 San Sebastian – Donostia
I’ve been eating pintxos (pronounced “pinchos”) all across Euskadi, which is what the Basque people call their region in their own language of Euskara. There will be a long pintxos rundown at some point, but for now here’s a quick hit from San Sebastian. Pintxos generally are one to three bites in size and range in price from 1 to 3.50 euro. In San Sebastian in particular, however, these (very) small plates have been elevated into a high-art form in some kind of game of culinary one-upmanship amongst the countless pintxos establishments. Needless to say, it’s the customers who win in the end.
Borda Berri, located in the Parte Vieja (“Old Part”) of San Sebastian, is one of the places held in great regard by many, and it’s easy to see why. Every single dish here was remarkable in both concept and execution.
3862 Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard
Portland, OR 97214
I’ve always been more than a bit suspicious of Chinese restaurants whose appearance doesn’t scream “Chinese,” – meaning the divey dumpling joint with specials written on the walls only in Chinese characters or the slightly-tacky upscale Cantonese seafood palace/aquarium – as if compromise in decor suggests similar in the kitchen. Lucky Strike is a Sichuan restaurant with an unfortunate name and a decor which screams “Portland” despite the Chinese theme. Portland oozes hip from seemingly every pore, and no number of dragons is sufficient as camoflage. Countering my normal skepticism were a number of strong reports of real Sichuan food.
Balance is certainly one of the hallmarks of great food no matter what price point or region. Cantonese food seems to balance the sublest flavors like a game of Jenga in a windstorm – the smallest wrong move and the whole thing comes tumbling down. Sichuan food balances flavor Jenga blocks the size of entire buildings, with flavors almost bigger in scale than appropriate for humans. It’s no wonder that some Sichuanese (apocryphally?) wonder why all other cuisines taste so bland. Two of the key flavors are ma, usually translated as “numbing” but to me has a strong hint of “tingling” as well, and la or spicy/hot. The former comes from huajiao or Sichuan peppercorn (among a whole list of names).
Old Vines Restaurant
3303 Boucherie Road
Kelowna, BC V1Z2H3
Located on the stunning grounds of the Quails’ Gate Winery, is the Old Vines Restaurant. Having heard many good reviews from close friends, and finally had the chance to get out to Kelowna, we were excited for the chance to enjoy the sun & water, the local food & wine, and take-in the incredible views. Unfortunately due to some last-minute scheduling changes, we didn’t have a chance to book reservations and were “winging it” for most of our trip (which admittedly is my preferred method of travel).
After a lengthy stop in the wine shop to sample some (I should be honest – ALL) of their wines, and subsequently hauling boxes of my purchases to the vehicle, we peeked over at the restaurant to see if we could secure a table for the evening. Thinking that we didn’t have much of a chance for a table at such short notice, we were pleasantly surprised to find they could squeeze us in for a late dinner. In this case, it was truly better late than never!
MRKT (Market) Restaurant
10542 Jasper Ave NW
My poor camera was dropped at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, and the lens no longer retracts. I loved that camera – but after extensive research, im back in the game with a new camera! Happy to do my first post with pics from my new baby.
On a rainy dreary day, we head down the “ugly” part of Jasper Avenue to try the new restaurant by Carla Alexander of Soul Soup and Sal Di Maio who owns the gastropub downstairs, Red Star. MRKT Market is simply that – a “fresh market” concept restaurant where the limited menu provides you with a few choices in terms of sandwiches, soups, and specials. 3 sandwiches, 3 soups, one special the day we were there.
The interior feels like a wooden airplane fuselage. I’ve heard canoe, and upscale log cabin (rather generous i’d say), it is nonetheless hip, while managing some warmth. The most prominent feature of MRKT market is the long table that allows many diners to share a meal.
A rough collection of iPhone images from various meals and food/drink pickups from an ongoing month spent in the steaming hot summer days of Osaka, Japan. Come back for more as I’m sure I’ll update this post with more shots when I get some free time…
Le Pain Quotidien
922 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY
Artisan breads, sweet pastries and pantry goods like coffee and jams are what you can expect to find in the burgeoning outlets of this chain of bakeries where one can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner items that are carefully prepared with a health conscious outlook. Organic ingredients are incorporated in many of their menu items, as well this ecological philosophy is apparent in their building design and construction as well – loved the reclaimed wood that permeated the interior, giving it a very welcoming and warm touch despite being smack dab in the middle of a concrete jungle, albeit with Central Park only a few short minutes away.
The Le Pain Quotidien empire has now spread out across the United States (mainly on the east and west coasts) as well as places in western Europe and the Middle East. The Canadian outlets seemingly only sprouting up in the Toronto area. I imagine it would be a good fit in the Vancouver area as well given the local climate and penchant for things with a healthy and organic twist.
5880 Marine Drive
Its hard to believe but it was a year ago this week that I was chilling out and relaxing on the beaches of the Hawaiian islands. Good memories and fun times eating my way around Oahu are still fresh in my mind. I can remember upon my return to the west coast that I had it in my mind to try and find anything in the GVRD that resembled the offerings or stylings of my trip. I reckoned my best bet would be something like this, as it had some familiar North American fast food/diner items. After some very preliminary searching, I discovered an establishment on Kingsway with Honolulu in the name, but alas, disappointingly I learned that it was more of a Hong Kong-style cafe.
So it was with a tingle of excitement that caused me to stop when I randomly drove past the Hawaii Cafe. Built into the same building as a convenience store and near a gasoline stand at an awkward three-way stop intersection, parking is sparse and difficult to acquire. You could park down the road at the larger pub with well-sized car lot and walk down, which would be my suggestion. As I got closer however, my hopes of a Hawaii-themed meal were struck down, as I noted it was billing itself as a “Chinese food and Taiwanese beef noodle” place. Recently opened judging by the signage, I figured since I had come this far, I would venture inside.