Hiatus No. 1: Europe

So I realize I've been away for a little while--ok, all summer--and I should probably explain myself. Reason number one is... my camera got stolen in Barcelona. Yes, pickpocketed out of my purse, even though every other person told me beforehand to really watch my things since pickpockets run rampant over there. I had that camera for less than a year, and although I didn't spend too much on it, I still felt that I had to punish myself by going camera-less for awhile. Sigh.

Reason number two: Too busy to blog. Lots of travel this year, I already talked about Miami, then there was California coast, Barcelona, London, and two trips to central Pennsylvania. Both Europe trips were for work (less than a month apart), and involved me running around stressed out and sweaty for a good chunk of them. Besides that and the stolen camera, both cities were wonderful and lived up to their hype. P.S. Photos are from my cell phone. Who knew that a crappy generic Blackberry knockoff could take such decent photos? Otherwise I would have taken more, arg!

Barcelona had amazing food, but unfortunately, on the one night we had planned on tapas bar-hopping, many of the places were closed. The standout dishes (for photos from other sources, click the links):
  • Queso de Cabrales (Cabrales blue cheese)
  • Sidra (Asturian hard cider, poured very high above the glass to aerate the cider)
  • Jamon iberico de bellota (cured ham made from at least 75% black Iberian pig, then the "de bellota" part refers to those pigs that only ate acorns for the period before slaughter; the "top of the heap" type of jamon iberico)
  • Pan con tomate (really simple, toasted bread with tomatoes rubbed on them, with a bit of garlic and olive oil)

Everyone knows the stereotype about British food. As Roger Ebert wrote in his review for Ratatouille, "Famous British recipe: 'Cook until gray.'" All in all, Barcelona beat out London for Overall Taste, but London had much more diversity in terms of cuisines available. In Barcelona, you saw the same 5 to 10 dishes served everywhere, some places better than others of course. London had the traditional pub food places, the Indian neighborhood, a sprinkling of various types of Asian cuisine, and the fine dining. Gordon Ramsay's restaurants seemed too high end for me, so I opted for lunch at Jamie Oliver's place in Covent Garden, Jamie's Italian.

For starter I had the bruschetta with smashed peas, broad beans, buffalo ricotta, lemon and mint. It seemed appropriate for the sunny (yes, I said sunny!) yet mild London afternoon. Would you believe it if I said it was sunny every single day I was there? I was there for almost a full week! I'm sure this contributed immensely to the gushing love I felt for the city. I could so live there. Back to Jamie's--the bruschetta tasted very fresh, but just too much ricotta and a bit too difficult to eat. Bread wasn't cutting well with a knife and fork, but it was too massive and piled up to eat by hand.

Then I had the pappardelle meatballs ("Incredible meatballs slow-cooked in a tomato and basil sauce with Parmesan"), and they were great. Really flavorful, rich, and delicious. Overall, impressed with the place and would definitely return. Service was excellent (cute waiter helped), modestly fashionable decor, and tasty food.

So that explains hiatus number one. Let's hope there isn't another too soon, but you never know.
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