Sunday, January 30, 2011
Tapa Hopping and Adventures Abroad
Ahh, Home Sweet Home.
We have just arrived back to the states after an 8 day trek through Southern Spain and London for our two year anniversary. Where do I even begin with this one?? This was such a much needed trip for both of us. It couldn't have come at a better time - our lives have been running at 500 mph lately between work and school and dogs and owning a home (and we don't even have kids yet...). So as you can imagine, it doesn't take long to feel completely drained and stressed running at that pace constantly.
Our main goal was to relax and eat really great food and drink some really great wines. Check, check, and check.
We start in Sevilla, Spain. Tapas GALORE!!! I was in heaven. This city really knows how to do things. The people are beautiful, the food is outstanding, marinated olives are aplenty, and the siesta is still alive and well! Even the streets are good looking - lined with orange trees and spotted with old cobblestone. We got used to wandering from one plaza to the next, tasting tapa after tapa at the sidewalk cafes.
Typical Street in Sevilla
Jamon and Tomato Bread
This is the typical set-up in the restaurants in Sevilla...lots of jamon
Olives, spicy and garlicky deliciousness
Our absolute favorite meal was at this little restaurant right next to the Alcazar Gardens called Vineria de San Telmo. There are no words to describe this meal, I'm salivating just writing about it. We ordered the tasting menu that consisted of 5 different tapas selections from the main menu. Below was my favorite - Black Spaghetti with Sea Scallops and Garlic Pesto. The flavors were so rich and the sea scallop tasted like it had just been pulled out of the ocean. Enough said. Just look.
We ended the evening with a traditional Flamenco show. So cool.
Sevilla is also home to the world's oldest cathedral. The size of this thing is indescribable. It's a sight to see at night. It just lights up the entire city.
We left Sevilla and headed south to the ocean to a city called Marbella. It was January so the weather was cool, but we soaked up the sun and truly relaxed to the sound of the waves pounding the shoreline day and night.
The view from our room
Vino blanco on the Mediterraneo
Our culinary tour of Spain came to end, so it was time to head north to London. I lived in London for four months during college. I loved it and have missed it since I left 8 years ago. I was so excited to take my husband around and show him where I lived and ate and shopped. First stop: Muswell Hill, north London.
This is the house I lived in while abroad in London. Gosh, a whole flood of memories came back when I was walking down that street - I thought of the times I walked back with my luggage after traveling for the weekend, or all the times we'd head to different pubs around the city and create memories of laughter and meeting new people, or the times I walked that street while talking to my family and friends back home in the states on my cell phone, and even the time I took my parents to this house so they could see where I lived when they came to visit. Such a bittersweet walk for me. And it seemed as though nothing had changed in 8 years.
And what would a visit to Muswell Hill be without a stop at Toff's - voted one of THE BEST places for Fish 'n Chips in all of London for the past decade. We ordered the cod - so light and flaky and full of flavor. The batter is just right and the chips are twice fried. Not the best in terms of nutrition but it's a MUST. Thank goodness for all the walking we did...
The one thing I never got to do when I lived there was take a ride on the London Eye. So, this time I had to. We booked the champagne flight - highly recommend. The views of the city are amazing - and what better way to enjoy than with a great glass of champagne. We went at sunset- stunning.
I'm slowly but surely learning about living La Dolce Vita - it's so hard in our society today to really slow down and enjoy the little things, the good things - a meal, a friend, a garden, a cup of coffee. We're always in such a hurry. But when I was in Spain, I didn't feel that pressure. No one seemed stressed out or anxious. They ate toast and jamon for breakfast and savored an espresso AT the coffee shop or restaurant BEFORE they went to work. There was no "take out", unless you went to Starbucks (yes, they're everywhere). I envied their style, and vowed to myself that I needed to make a much more concerted effort to breed this lifestyle in my home. Is this possible? I don't know. All I know is that I'm thankful I have the opportunities to experience different cultures and learn from them.
It's back to reality - but I'm feeling restored and energized. And I sure have a whole lot of new inspiration for meals and flavor sensations that I hope to share in the coming weeks.