Thursday, August 25, 2016

Malta is crazy busy and crowded but the food and the ruins are what we remember

Malta is a place best looked at in retrospect.  It is crowded and too busy BUT the history is complicated and diverse and contribute to food, wine and architecture that are very good.
Honey Bun
We spent some time in Valletta and found a perfect coffee at the beautiful Caffe Cordina, founded in 1837.  I love these old coffee shops, that run like well oiled machines. It was very busy but we never felt rushed.  We tried the Honey Ring, a traditional Maltese treat made with black treacle, marmalade, orange peel, spices and honey.  I could see how they would become addictive.  They aren't nearly as sweet as they sound and are really perfect with coffee. 
Legligin Wine Ba

David ready for a great lunch

We had lunch at Legligin, a wine bar with a tasting menu.  They asked about food restrictions and we were impressed when they understood our pescatarian preference.  We asked about local wine choices and the owner brought us a selection that he then described in detail and had us quite excited to try the Celsius Cabernet Sauvignon.  It was so good we found some to bring home.  
Maltese Wine Celsius
Lunch was a long lovely affair with mostly local ingredients that were fresh, well prepared and lovingly served.
Gozo Cheese, Olives, Peppers and Eggplant, Tomato Tapenade

Mushroom Lentil Soup
The Octopus and Fish were very fresh and simply prepared.

Sea Bream

I recommend Legligin.  It was memorable, good value and the food highlight of Malta. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

I count on @Scoutmagazine for restaurant advice in Vancouver but Herzog was a great tip for Munich

I love Scout Magazine so much that when I saw Herzog Munich in Restaurant Porn and was planning a couple of nights in Munich I booked dinner there.  Thank you Scout, you never lead me astray.  Munich in July was all about outdoor dining and Herzog was no exception.  The patio was sexy and comfortable at the same time.

A beautiful restaurant full of beautiful people I was a little worried that the food might not be quite as good.  The proof is in the pudding as they say and the food made the grade.  

Perhaps a little pretentious in a serious foodie kind of way, the olive oil was served with an eye dropper.  Didn't hold us back a bit. Great bread, great olive oil.  
Bread olive oil and salt
Baked avocado salad wasn't a great start but the only misstep.  Ho hum boring.

Baked avocado salad
I haven't had a spider crab worth eating in years but David wanted this one and I'm a fan again.  3 Yums UP!

Spider Crab
No one could translate the fish Zahnbrasse, but with yam gnocci on top we wanted it anyway and it was delicious.  Since learned it is sea bream.

We even tried dessert.  Mostly because again, no one could quite tell us what is was.  Tagesdessert is dessert of the day.  A traditional dessert that wasn't like anything else I've had. Like a cross between a donut and a cake with fruit and ice cream.  Tasty  and pretty, David finished every bit.  I prefer wine for dessert. 

I enjoyed Herzog.  The food was good, the comfortable garden table was excellent and the people watching even better.  

One interesting thing was how many large format bottles of wine I saw circulating the room.  The Wine Guy told me he believed that large formats age faster and allow him to have exceptional wines by the glass.  I didn't argue, just ordered another glass.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Augustiner Keller beer garden was a great introduction to Munich

Pretzels and beer are a staple in Munich

Our European adventure ended with a couple of nights in Munich. On good advice we checked into our hotel and headed out to the Augustiner Farden and it was better than I had imagined.  It is the 3rd largest beer garden in Munich and can seat 5,000 people. We sat near the front entrance and it didn't feel so big.  Perhaps all the trees helped keep it intimate. 
Augustiner Garden Munich
A basket of pretzels was delivered to the table as soon as we sat down. Some fresh Munich lager followed quickly and we settled in for a nice lunch.

The vegetarian option was a dumpling with mushroom cream sauce.  Absolute heaven.  I'd get on a plane right now to have it again.  
Dumpling Love
The small green salad looked like nothing special until you dug in a little to discover a crave-able potato salad and some sauerkraut in the bottom.  I've been trying to reproduce the potato salad ever since. 
Simple salad with hidden goodies and Perch in background
David had perch, his favourite fish, it was simple and perfect.

Good food and beer and a great atmosphere.  I will always include a visit to Augustiner Keller Farden when I'm in Munich and I hope it's soon.
An inviting entrance

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Taormina, Sicily is the port we'd most like to return to

Taormina Gate, Sicily

Taormina is perched on a hilltop looking down on the port and like many Italian towns it has a gate leading into the old town and the main pedestrian street, Corso Umberto.  It is charming with some very nice shopping and lots of restaurants.  We stopped for granita and did some hunting for olive oil but eventually it became crowded and hot amd we started looking for a place to cool off and have lunch.

David's nose for beer served us well yet again and we found Re di Bastoni or King of Clubs, a charming name for a lovely little pub serving up great food and drink. Check out the crazy room.
Re di Bastoni, Taormina

I started with a real deal Bellini made with fresh peach juice and prosecco.  So refreshing.
Fresh Peach Bellini

The bartender was passionate and informative about local food and drink. David tried the Ulysses Pale Lager from Sicily's own Birrificio dell'Etna and called it the perfect for the hot day. He also tried the Nazionale from Baladin, a brewery near Genoa.  It came highly recommended and was a good hoppy beer.
David happy at the Pub

We decided to stay for lunch and were surprised by farm fresh vegetables and fruity fresh olive oil.  Since I'd been on a quest for some sensational Sicilian olive oil I asked about the source.  Sadly only sold locally.  Everything on our plates was local.
Farm fresh food at Re di Bastoni
At the end of our cruise we decided that Sicily is the place we'd most like to go back to.