Monday, December 23, 2019

An ode to Icelandic licorice

Icelandic salty chocolate licorice in a bag

Salty licorice for the win!

Guys, Icelandinc licorice is amazing! Let me start by saying, I hate licorice in America. You'll never find me noshing on a twizzler and everyone knows that black jelly beans are the worst. But Scandinavians love their licorice, and it's a totally different ball game in countries like Iceland. First off, it's salty, and in this case was coated in chocolate.

I bought this stuff in a gas station, and it was the bomb. I've since tried fancier Scandi chocolate from the fancy Lakrids shop in Copenhagen, but for my money, this weird little bag of Icelandic licorice was the best. I wish I could get my hands on some of it, so if you go to Icleand, don't miss your chance!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Iceland's can't miss tomato soup restaurant - Friðheimar

Lush Icelandic Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon and waterfall
Iceland's stunning Fjadrárgljúfur canyon, also known as the canyon Justin Bieber fans almost ruined

Iceland is by far one of the most beautiful places you could ever visit. Filled with otherworldly natural wonders, it is truly a feast for the eyes. A literal feast, though, not so much. Iceland is quite expensive and not known for its cuisine, so while I highly recommend it as a vacation spot, it's not really a foodie destination.

Tomato soup and tomato cocktail at Friðheimar restaurant in Iceland
Our meal at Friðheimar 

A unique tomato soup restaurant 

That's why I was so pleased to find one restaurant I can heartily recommend. Friðheimar is a tomato soup restaurant, and it was wonderful! Iceland is a great place for a long drive, and that's just what we did. We cruised from gorgeous site to gorgeous site, and this restaurant was conveniently located in the midst of our path.

It's housed in a greenhouse, and the tomatoes you're enjoying are growing all around you. You can order all you can eat tomato soup with crusty bread, and you can even snip basil right at your table to add to the dish. Don't miss the tomato cocktails. My green tomato based drink was a delight.

After you gorge yourself on soup, take a walk around the greenhouse and check out the bees that keep things growing!

Bees at Friðheimar restaurant in Iceland
Bees that keep the tomatoes growing 

Monday, December 16, 2019

3 Night Foodie Tour of Barcelona

We stayed for 3 nights at the lovely Corner Hotel in Barcelona's Eixample neighborhood. This is an elegant area of Barcelona with many dining options. Other good locations to use as a home base are the Gothic Quarter and El Born. It has a lobby filled with hip Spanish people working on their laptops, stylish rooms with lovely views, and a pool on the roof. We loved the irresistible jars of candy and bottles of cava in the lobby and the room sound-system complete with their own playlist. The only downside was one very hot night when our air conditioning broke, so they refunded us that night and moved us to an identical, but much cooler room.

Rose bubbly to welcome us to Barcelona at the Corner Hotel in Eixample
Cheers to our arrival at the Corner Hotel in Barcelona

Uber isn't in Barcelona currently, so we used Cabify the whole time and found it cheap and easy. When possible we opted to hoof it, as wandering around the beautiful old parts of town is one of the best parts of the visit.

Barcelona Restaurants

I was overwhelmed with choice when it came to picking restaurants in Spain. The country is home to a shocking number of Michelin starred-restaurants, and you could easily eat at world-class and very pricey restaurants every night. But I typically find that my favorite meals aren't the fanciest, so we decided to limit ourselves to just a couple "fancy" spots. The Spanish famously eat very late, so we made all of our reservations for 9 or 9:30 pm. Any earlier and you will find yourself alone or eating with only Americans.

Our first night we enjoyed a moderately priced meal at the stylish Fismuler. This spot from El Bulli alums originally began in Madrid and was filled with hip 30 and 40-something Spaniards. Always a fan of being somewhere locals actually eat at. The highlight was their unique take on cheesecake made with Idiazabal and Gorgonzola. A little funkier than what you're used to, but so so good.

Paella and a sea view at Martinez in Barcelona, SpainI wanted paella at least once in Spain, and we chose Martinez for its combination of renowned paella dishes and a stellar view from Montjuic mountain to the sea. It was a lovely spot to enjoy seafood paella, a bottle of Spanish white and some jamon croquettes!

Entrance of the highly rated Barcelona restaurant, Disfrutar

The star of our trip to Barcelona was definitely Disfrutar, recently named as one of the top 50 restaurants in the world. A chic setting, 25 (yes 25!) courses with eclectic wine pairings, and every single dish was both interesting and delicious. This was one of the most expensive meals I've ever had, and often that results in my expectations not being met, but in this case, I'm glad to say it was worth every penny! We sat at a prep bar, which gave us a close up view of the pastry chefs at work. Highly recommended!

Frozen lychee and gin dew drops at Disfrutar
Frozen lychee and gin dew drops at Disfrutar
Sweet corn and fois gras dish at Disfrutar

Sweet corn and fois gras at Disfrutar
Creative cotton candy dish at Barcelona's Disfrutar
Would you believe this is cotton candy? Creative reigns at Disfrutar
Chocolate "pepper" dessert at Disfrutar
Chocolate "peppers" at Disfrutar

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