Friday, August 08, 2014

Data!!!!

I'm not going to say what it is, only that it is interesting and promising :D

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Belly dancing lesson

I could have sworn that Ele told me they were 'Bollywood Dancing' lessons. But no, the programme said 'Bauch Tanz' we that's how we found ourselves shaking it on a Tuesday night.

I've got to say - I've got absolutely no skill in this at all but it was a lot of fun trying to keep my arms elevated and still while trying to move my hips or shoulders or boobs. It's also great for getting over body issues. We were a class full of women of different age and body types and as our instructor demonstrated - you can't shake it if there's nothing to shake!

Elé and I have decided that we will try to continue this as our communal exercise session so watch this space!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Spanish shopping

When planning this trip, a lot of thought was put into who I should fly and how much luggage I should bring. The fact of the matter was, I was going to shop and everyone knew it. In the end, it was decided that I would fly Vueling to San Seb with a backpack that was about half full, and then I would fly Iberia back to Munich because I would then receive baggage allowance!

And I needed it. Here are the clothes I bought!
I found the shop where I bought Pooey's strawberry dress a few years ago, but this time I walked away empty handed. The fact was, the dress that I wanted (elephant print) wasn't in my size :(. But then I tried on this dress a few streets later and...well, I didn't really need it but it's super cute so hey!

A couple of streets later, I bought these wedges at the same shop where I'd purchased these sandals a few years before. They were on sale and damn comfy. CuzJen and Fremma actually encouraged me to buy two pairs but I waved it off with a, "That's crazy - I can only wear these maybe 2 month of the year in Germany." I am regretting being so responsible.

Jacket from Zara. I don't know if you can tell from the photo but the lining is leopard print and it looks totally funky. It was also on super-sale (I think it was only €30) so I took it. I'll admit to being slightly freaked out that this was my first day in Spain and I'd already basically bought an entire new outfit.  

But the next purchase wasn't until pretty much the last full day in Spain when I got this singlet...

And these strappy heels (also on sale!). I had an interesting conversation with the guy at the Camper store about why someone would want to move from Australia to Germany. He basically thought I was mad :D 

And finally, I actually bought this at Zara in Barcelona airport. It will be a good replacement for my Kookai cardi (which I seem to have lost). 

So see? I really did need the baggage allowance :D

Monday, August 04, 2014

Spanish Sojourn Day 5

For our last full day in Spain, we decided to be less about the eating and more about the tourist action.
Except when we went to the Barri Goti (Gothic Quarter), it was still pretty much closed. 

Including this chapel dedicated to St. Christopher

So purdy

Tourists coming out...

Eventually we got hungry and had lunch in a bar at La Boqueria. The foie gras was good but everything else was kinda disappointing.

But we made up for the disappointment by going to Barceloneta to hang out on the beach.
Which was also kinda disappointing because the sand wasn't as fine as the sand at La Concha and wouldn't hold our sandcastles as well.

Having said that, I was pretty impressed with the castles that worked - check out the brickwork detailing! And they were only €2 from Ale-Hop!

As it is a bigger city and a smaller (man-made) beach, it was much more crowded and dirtier than La Concha (I need to stop comparing everything to San Seb). Having said that, it still made me happy and pretty relaxed. I made the rookie error of taking an actual siesta (i.e. I fell asleep) on the beach. The burn line was...interesting.

But then dinner came along again and we headed out the Cerveceria Catalana and got a table after 20-30 minutes.
And a jug of sangria not long after that!

Our mixed platter of jamon, lomo, chorizo and queso manchego 

Word to the wise - while the menu has an English translation, the specials menu is only in Spanish! Luckily for us, I knew that pulpito meant small octopus! These were really good actually. I kinda wished we'd had more.

The scallop wasn't as good as the octopus but still good.

And somewhere along the line, I figured out that pipis in garlic sauce was also a special. These were also pretty awesome!!! It kinda made me miss XO sauce though...

And some token vegetables.

The three of us were having a really good time; the food was excellent, the sangria was amazing, the atmosphere was pretty lively, and our waitress was a load of fun joking with us. I think the staff found a trio of small asian girls who ordered a lot to be quite funny. When it was time for dessert, we asked her opinion as to which was her favourite. She said it was difficult to choose because it would depend on what kind of flavours we liked.
So we decided to get a cake platter that had a coconut cake, an almond cake, lemon tart, and a cake that reminded me of Vietnamese creme caramel.

But it wasn't crema catalana because we also got this!

When dessert arrived, we all went 'woah' at how large the serving was and our waitress laughed at our reaction. She would come over every now and then to check on how we were doing (and maybe if we would be leaving soon - it was pretty busy). But then something happened. Something extraordinary that made us all go, "What is that?!"
Basically some people around us ordered bravas huevos (aka 'fries') and we wanted some! So we ordered some! The staff weren't laughing anymore. I think they were afraid. 

And so here we come to a wonderful end to our Spanish sojourn - terrifying the locals with our Asian endless pit stomachs. 

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Spanish Sojourn Day 4

The reason why I wasn't too worried about meals in Barcelona was that when we arrived at the apartment and found out that one of the seventeen 1* Michelin restaurants in Barcelona was a couple of blocks away, we jokingly applied for a lunch reservation for the next day and to our surprised it was granted! This restaurant was Alkimia.

Alkimia has a tasting lunch menu/mini degustation for €40 which we all chose to take. It consisted of 5 courses - starters, courses 1-3, and dessert or cheese, plus a glass of wine. We all chose the red (a rioja) and then the food started coming. 
Macadamia crispbread. To be honest, I could have eaten all three of these!

Salami with tomato water and olive oil. I really liked this as well!

This I liked much less. I cant remember exactly what it was but it was almond soup with pieces of jamon (?) and garlic. The soup itself was cool and light but whenever I had a spoon with the raw garlic in it, it completely overpowered my mouth for the next few moments in a way that was quite unpleasant.

Following the disappointment of the previous dish, I have to say that I LOVED this one! But you know, lightly poached egg with chips and truffle? I was never going to hate it :D

My chosen main - pork belly. Both Fremma and I thought the sauce was a bit too rich for our liking although the meat was very tender. 

My cheese platter. A local sheeps milk, gouda from the Netherlands, and a French blue. 

Little chocolate cake petit fours to go with our tea...

And some white chocolate truffles.

We had a slight discussion about this - I'm not sure exactly who said it, but there was a moment where we agreed that it was 'cheap'. Then it occurred to us - exactly at what point does one consider paying €40 ($US54/$AU58/£32) CHEAP?! Especially since I could argue that I wasn't completely happy with everything. Sure, I could eat that egg dish every day of my life but on the other hand, I have paid more for other lunch meals that could be considered 'lesser' but enjoyed much much more *cough F&M high tea cough*. But what was particularly nice was that while we were definitely full, we didn't walk out feeling heavy and overloaded, and really, you can't put a price on that kind of satisfaction.

We then made it back to La Taqueria...but were late by about 20 minutes. They nearly gave our table away but we got there just in time to claim it!
And we celebrated this by having guava margaritas!

Our appetisers - tortillas with melted cheese and mushrooms (wrap the cheese in a tortilla), guacamole and corn chips. Some sauces on the side that we were supposed to put in our tacos. One of them was actually really spicy and kinda painful.

Taco choice number one - beef tongue. Yum.

And the 'special'. I can't remember what was in it but it was tasty!

Here are some canned seafood we'd bought thinking we'd have a picnic somewhere.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Spanish Sojourn Day 3

This day was unfortunately a bit of a write off, although it really shouldn't have been. We woke up fresh and early and before everyone else in San Seb to catch our train to Barcelona. Okay, that's not quite true - an old man was up and jogging around the city. I know because he stopped his jog to talk and walk us to the train station! How friendly. 

Our train was supposed to take 6 hours to Barcelona but due to some defect, it took closer to 7. That was okay - we had pre-planned the fact we'd be on the train during lunch time and had loaded up things to eat like mejillones en latas (canned mussels), lomo, cheese, cakes, fruit and bread. People were looking at kinda strangely but we feasted! A bad thing I have to report is that despite the fact that we all loved our cheese, none of us wrote down what it was (I picked it at random) and so none of us could buy another block. Sad times indeed. 

By the time we made it to our apartment and settled the formalities, it was past 3pm and I decided to take a siesta. Bad decision. As I was the only one who didn't sleep on the train, when I woke from my siesta it was around 7:30pm and CuzJen and Fremma had gone out to do some shopping. A day wasted :(

And yet, not really!
We chose to go to La Taqueria - a recommendation from a Mexican friend who said they made tacos just like in Mexico! The walking route also took us by La Sagrada Familia. Unfortunately the taqueria was full and could not accommodate us at all. I made a reservation for the following night and a recommendation. We were told to head to Cerveceria Catalana as a place that made good food. 

Unfortunately that restaurant was also packed and we went around the corner to Meson Cinco Jotas around the corner where we decided that we really needed to have some leafy greens and so ordered this tomato and avocado salad. I quite liked this actually. 

And I really liked this foie gras, pine nut and sultana salad!

We then undid all that green by getting ordering a meat platter to share. The meat was nice- different pork and beef cuts, plainly fried and seasoned only with salt and a bit of pepper - but nothing particularly outstanding.

I was disappointed with this. It was a deconstructed crema catalana. It tasted like cheesecake. Why fiddle with crema catalana?! Booooooooo.

But oh well. I can accept that San Seb and Arzak may have set the bar really high on food standards but this was just the first meal of many in Barcelona.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Spanish Sojourn Day 2 part 2

Despite being quite warm and nearly 3km away, we deicded to walk from Arzak back to the city centre. We had a very strange moment when a woman started randomly speaking to us on the street - she was from the Philippines and was in Spain to visit her son. We're not really sure why she started talking to us (other than us all being Asians?) and she only stopped talking when her bus started coming up the hill. 
A bar that we stopped in for a toilet break. The sign says, "We have a broken router - NO WIFI - Talk to each other!"

Zuriola beach - definitely not as crowded as La Concha. Giant lunch or not, we damn wished we were wearing swimsuits!

There was an international jazz festival on that night but we decided that, since we were going to have to catch an early train the next day, we should spend the night packing and sleeping. Sad faces all around. We did venture out to visit our favourite places for dinner though.
And saw this BEE-YOO-TEE-FULL sunset!

Seriously

It was selfie-perfect

Although the light affected whether you could see yourself

No matter. Totally gorgeous.

Oh yeah. Bring the yums.

Speaking of which, we went back to San Telmo to get some of the things we didn't order the day before, such as this beef

And this duck ravioli

And the ministers feet - pigs trotters. The same waiter who took my order yesterday took my order again this day. He even said to me, "You were here yesterday" to which I replied, "Yes, I was!"

And completely sated once more and absolutely devastated that this would be our last meal, we walked on home to our pensione to rest *sniff sniff boooooo*