Category Archives: Restaurants

El Patio Bodega, Malaga, Spain

We had the best paella at El Patio Bodega in Malaga, and just by pure luck. We came from the nearby Bodega Bar El Pimpi (post coming soon), the first place we tried upon arrival in Malaga. But their hot food wasn’t going to be served until later that evening, and we were told that there would be no paella. We had some anchovies and sangria and looked for a place for dinner. We had to have paella. That’s the reason we were in Spain!

Oh my. Seafood paella.

Oh my. Seafood paella.

I’ve got some nerve declaring their paella the best, when we had many others we were very happy about. I especially enjoyed El Patio’s paella because it was the only one that was served to us in a perfect al dente, a point that from experience is not only hard to achieve but also disappears within a few more minutes exposure to heat. Other than its consistency, the rice was still very moist with broth that settled in the bottom of the pan, and one whose flavor was infused with saffron and flavors of the ocean. Flavors of shellfish and mollusk dominated the dish, leaving no doubt as to the base of the sauce. Our server told us that their paella recently won 2nd prize in a contest, beaten only by a chef from Malaga who worked in Las Vegas(?) Continue reading

Bodega Santa Cruz, Sevilla, Spain

The crowd at the bar, and the ladies who tipped us to get the alcachofa.

The crowd at the bar, and the ladies who tipped us to get the alcachofa.

A crowd formed outside the restaurant called Bodega Santa Cruz in Seville at noon. We just arrived after a two-hour drive from Malaga and decided that the best thing to do before visiting the sights would be to have lunch. I did not take the buzzing, aggressive crowd placing orders at the bar as inviting, nor did the rest of the group (namely, my sister and her husband). Except that to my wife, a Myers-Briggs ESTP personality (impulsive, charming, live-for-the-moment) who is also a Chinese calendar goat (always in groups), the chaos at Bodega Santa Cruz was the ultimate attraction.

All you need is love.

All you need is love.

Continue reading

Churros Con Chocolate at Casa Aranda, Malaga, Spain

Growing up in what was a Spanish colony for 300 years, one would think that I would have grown up with ready access to churros con chocolate, but I didn’t. There was one restaurant I knew I could get it (Dulcinea), but other than that, if I craved churros, I had to make it myself, which I did once when I got my first pastry bag and decorating
tips. I deep-fried some curled and etched batter and dusted it with sugar and ate it heartily. There was no time for chocolate.

Churros dipped in thick, rich chocolate. Drool.

A week or so ago we were in Malaga, Spain, looking desperately for what was to be our first meal of the day. The first open restaurant we saw that Sunday was still warming up when we ran into a very crowded street cafe. The cobblestones were lined with discarded tissues, wax paper and cigarette butts. To and from the kitchen busy waiters
carried cups of chocolate and plates of gigantic churros and we found ourselves a table to share some treats.

Out came three cups of chocolate and a steel plate of churros which we dipped and ate. The chocolate was thick, rich, and not so sweet. The churros were not sweetened and were simply deep fried large loops of donut dough. We fell in love and wanted to stay there all day but the cafe was closing at noon. With warm bellies we got up from our seats and walked around until we got hungry for our next tapas meal at El Marisquero. Continue reading

8065 Bagnet, Makati, Philippines

Long ago and oh so very far away, I made the trek to Vigan, Ilocos, a Spanish town north of Manila, to visit a friend. She took me to the nearby bagnet and longganisa factory, where curtains of sausages hung on clotheslines and vats of pork belly slabs were being seasoned by bare-handed women rubbing the meat with spices before they hung them to dry.

In a basic sense bagnet is simply deep-fried pork belly cubes but in the Ilocano tradition these pieces of meat are seasoned and air-cured before cooking. The result is deep flavor that penetrates through the layers of meat and fat, a given when dealing with the wonderful gift of nature that is the pork belly.

Tortang Talong, Mangga at Bagoong (Eggplant Torta, Green Mangoes, Tomatoes and Shrimp Paste)

Continue reading

Al Di La Trattoria – again again again!

If you’ve followed this blog you would be aware of how much I love Al Di La. I wrote about it here and here. I love it so much that it’s my default place to wow guests, especially those who are not aware of the wealth of restaurants in Brooklyn.

Sepia and oxtail over polenta

Oxtail and sepia together is just a crime. It’s like making heaven better! The bed of polenta is a good cushion and buffer for the rich flavor of this combination. Continue reading

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