Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Best of 2008

Last year whizzed by so quickly that I can't believe that it's already three days into 2009. We did several gastronomic trips, went away on a few long weekends and tried many new restaurants. Here's to looking back on what we did, where we went and what we ate in 2008.

Best Breakfast - London's The Wolseley where the atmosphere and the scrumptious breakfast treats are worth the steep prices. From the tabletop, to the crisp linen napkins, the FT to the flaky croissants, the silver flatware and accessories to the perfect cappuccino and most of all the non-stop people watching, it's the busiest and buzziest breakfast in town.

Best Tapas - Barcelona's TapaC 24 where we enjoyed the tapas, the atmosphere and the fantastic casual concept of culinary whiz Carles Abellan so much that we ended up eating there twice in just one week.

Best Pastry - The flaky custard-filled pastries at Lisbon's Pasteis de Belem are an example of how change isn't always good. Their classic recipe created in 1833 has stayed delcious through the centuries.

Best Takeaway - Empanadas from Buenos Aires' El Mirasol can be ordered to-go or even better, delivered hot and fresh straight to your door. Snack food that beats pizza any day.

Best Market Meal - Our impromptu late spring lunch in Paris after a morning foray to the market at Place Maubert with my friend Daria. We had to control ourselves and not buy everything in sight. We ended up with ribs and potatoes and some runny ripe cheeses that remind me of why I want to live in France one day.

Best Bang for the Buck - With no end in sight for the current credit crunch, La Moraga in Malaga offers excellent tapas in a sleek, modern atmosphere with prices that don't hurt the pocket. Great wines by the glass for less than €5 each and tapas from €3.

Best Al fresco Asian - Another cheap find (pretty rare) in Marbella, Top Thai, delivers what it's name suggests - top Thai food in a simple al-fresco setting. Perfect even for a sunny winter's day when spicy food help keep you warm.

Best Homemade Breakfast - Waking up late on the weekend and whipping up corned beef hash is one of the best homemade breakfasts I can think of. Add some fresh orange juice, illy coffee, the weekend papers and it justifies staying in on a Saturday.

Best Frites - Paris L'EntrecĂ´te has the best hot, salty, crispy fries and the most amazing sauce to swirl them in. You'll have to exercise patience though as the crowded entryway and the interminable wait will almost make you give up and leave. Stick it out and you'll be rewarded.

Best Kid's Menu - I'm not a big fan of "chicken nuggets and fries" offered as kid's meals in most restaurants so I was pleasantly surprised that fancy London restaurant, Le Cercle, offered a proper children's degustation menu (same food as mum and dad, just in tinier portions) for free (that's right, FREE) when one parent orders the prix-fixe menu.
Here's to 2009 and new gourmet travels.......Happy New Year!

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well! this list makes your mouth water!!!!!(is that the right expression? ) I hope one day to be able to at least try some of these places.
Happy New Year!
Alexandra

Gourmet Traveller said...

Thanks Alexandra! Yes, that is the right expression - I'm glad it made your mouth water. Happy New Year!

Miguel said...

I agree with you: Tapac 24 best tapas so far for 2008 :)

Gourmet Traveller said...

Hi Miguel,
Happy New Year! I can't wait to go back to Barcelona for some more tapas.
G.T.

Heather said...

I am glad my dinner is cooking as I read this. Your blog photographs are fantastic and capture exactly what you are talking about!

Gourmet Traveller said...

Thanks a lot Heather! I'm hoping to add lots of new places for next year's list.

Anita said...

Your recommendations were very helpful, thank you! My husband and I went to Barcelona for our anniversary and decided to check out TapaC 24...your blog sold me on it. It was definitely our favourite Tapas place and wished there was one in Toronto, Canada.

Gourmet Traveller said...

Hi Anita,
I'm so glad to hear that you liked Tapac 24 and found it through my blog. Thanks for writing and letting me know. It makes my day when I hear from readers who've had a good meal.
Haven't heard of a Toronto version but if I come across it, I'll let you know.
In Canada, I can recommend these two counter restaurants AU PIED DE COCHON in Montreal and JAMIE KENNEDY WINE BAR in Ottawa.

Happy Anniversary!

G.T.

Genevieve said...

Great post, and as it is approaching dinner time, a mouth watering one ! I wanted to add one of our favorite down to earth healthy tapas joints in Barcelona- Taller de Tapas on calle Argentaria in the trendy Borne district. I find that in many tapas places there is a distinct lack of light veg dishes, and at taller de tapas they have all kinds of veggie and fresh seafood tapas on offer. Highly recommend! You can get info on food markets and restaurants in Barcelona on our blog, too: www.cellartours.com/blog

Gourmet Traveller said...

Hi Genevieve,

I'll defnitely check it out on my next trip to Barcelona. Lovely blog you have - I'll add it on to my blogroll.

Thanks for checking in!

G.T.