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Found 21 results

  1. "Six Arrested after €100M Wine Fraud Ring Uncovered" by Phoebe French on thedrinksbusiness.com
  2. Arguably (my favorite word these days!) Barcelona and San Sebastian where they have "eating societies" are the two of the most exciting places on earth to dine. eGullet has several extraordinary threads with detailed photos of numerous restaurants and tapas bars in both cities. Past issues of Saveur have also had excellent articles featuring both cities as well as Madrid and others. (http://www.saveur.com/destination_search.do lists several of these) This is one of several recent threads from eG on Barcelona: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=59553 There are two schools of thought on El Bulli, by the way. While many people have raved about it (including Phyllis Richman) there are others who have found it disappointing. There was a 100+ page thread on eG which in part discussed this. If you've never been Barcelona is a fantastic city. Whether Ramblas, the Old Town, the topless beaches around the harbor or Tibidabo which is a 100 year old amusement park at the top of a mountain and reachable only by tram-it overlooks the entire area with a 100 km view on a clear day-this is a wonderful destination, maybe my favorite of any large city in Europe. This is Tibidabo's website-it is in English. There is also a small photo which shows the view from a 1920's era Aeroplane Swing where riders can look out over the mountainside, the city several thousand feet below and the Meditarranean encircling and fading in the distance beyond it. This is not so much an antique amusement park as it is a "Twilight Zone" type of experience which truly feels surreal and unlike any other. http://www.tibidabo.es/eng/coneix.htm There is also a very special city about 90 minutes south of Barcelona called Tarragona. It has a 2000 year old crumbled coliseum, exquisite bathing beaches, a walled Old Town worthy of exploration and excellent restaurants. South of Madrid is Rando which is built on the side of a sheer cliff. Literally looking out the window of a particular hotel room might have you looking straight down the wall of a cliff to the bottom twenty stories below! This is one of the most interesting and visited cities in Spain, also worthy of a daytrip if you are in Madrid.
  3. Unless I've missed it -- which is possible -- there doesn't seem to be a dedicated thread for Andalucia or any of the delightful Spanish cities located therein. My girlfriend and I spent five days in April drinking sherry and enjoying cheap, delicious tapas in Sevilla, Granada, and Cordoba before heading up to Madrid and Barcelona. I've given my recommendations for the latter half of our trip elsewhere in this forum, so here are some of my favorite places and impressions from our too-brief time in Andalucia! (I'd love to make it back and explore more of the region, as I felt we barely scratched the surface.) I thought we were really fortunate to find a number of places that had that ineffable combination of great food and drink, great value, and great atmosphere that made me want to come back again and again (which, in several cases, we did – despite my having compiled a long list of places to try for each city). We spent two nights each in Seville and Granada, one quick night in Cordoba, and then four nights each in Madrid and Barcelona. Every one of the cities was awesome in its own way -- Cordoba was probably the least fun because we weren’t there for that long and because I ended up getting sick that night, but I still enjoyed it a ton. If pressed, I’d probably favor our experiences in Seville slightly over Granada and Madrid slightly over Barcelona, but I would have happily spent another month or more just exploring all the places we went. The history there is just incredible; it may be unfair of me, but so much of the U.S. feels so plastic, anodyne, and characterless by comparison. Wandering down a random narrow alley and finding Roman walls or a 500-year-old church, or stopping at a random town for lunch and being the only tourists in a gorgeous 1300-year-old fortress…we just don’t have anything like that here. I love it. I wish I’d been sooner. I wish I could go everywhere. Sevilla The Alcazar was stunning, but my favorite part of Seville was the labyrinthine network of streets; every seeming dead end turned out to have a couple of picturesque alleyways splitting off from it in one direction or another. We stayed in the Hotel Casa de Colon, a renovated boutique hotel with an absolutely perfect location and a very reasonable price. I highly recommend it, but only if you pay the extra 10 euro or so and get one of the larger rooms with a balcony; I think the standard rooms are a little small and dark, but ours was spacious and airy. Our favorite places to eat in Seville: the back bar at Casa Morales (run by the same family since 1850; we went there twice, amazing atmosphere and everything was delicious, especially the imperial anchovies and the tortilla); the counter in the back of the grocery at Casa Moreno; Las Golondrinas II across the river in Triana (not much ambience, but phenomenal carrillada – pork cheeks – and the radishes are insanely tasty); Las Teresas in Barrio Santa Cruz (we went here twice also; I loved everything about it starting with the dozen legs of ham hanging directly over the bar seats – I highly recommend the secreto iberico and the boquerones fritos); and, for breakfast and atmosphere, Bar El Comercio (I still wish I’d picked up a bottle of the murky green olive oil they sell here, and their collection of antique cocktail and sherry bottles is something to see). Granada We rented a car and drove from Seville to Granada; the AirBnB we rented in Granada had both a spectacular view and a free parking space, which is pretty key in a city where automobile traffic into the historic center is strictly regulated. The Alhambra was everything it was made out to be, and the old Moorish quarter was very fun to walk around in (if a little steep at times), but the most enjoyable thing we did there had nothing to do with history. There’s a particular street artist in Granada called El Nino de las Pinturas, and we found a map online of the approximate locations of a lot of his pieces and then spent a morning going from one to the next in a sort of street art scavenger hunt. So much fun, and some of the photos we took are gorgeous. Favorite bars/restaurants in Granada: the snails were pretty decent at Bar Aliatar Los Caracoles; we had a great Moroccan meal at Tajine Elvira (get the eggplant dish that’s sort of like a hot baba ghanoush, and get the chicken and vegetable tagine as well); the wine bar at Taberna La Tana was awesome and the free tapas that came with every drink were generous and delicious; but my favorite place was probably El Tabernaculo, a tiny hole-in-the-wall run by the proprietor by himself and festooned with religious regalia everywhere (everything here was delicious; I didn't realize until after the fact that this was one of Anthony Bourdain's stops for Parts Unknown -- he sat in the same seat I did, but that's unsurprising since there were eight barstools at most). The N42 and Cordoba We drove from Granada to Cordoba along the N42, which is incredibly scenic. Along the way we stopped at Alcala la Real, a picturesque town of 22,000 that’s towered over by a Moorish fortress built in the 8th century. This is where we wandered through the fortress for a couple of hours and were literally the only tourists there; I was really, really impressed by how good (and high-tech) the exhibits were. Anywhere in the U.S. this would be a top tourist attraction that would be jam-packed from morning until night (not least because it would be pretty curious for an 8th century Moorish fortress to turn up in America). From there we took a slight detour to the mountain town of Zuheros, where we had a lunch of chuletitas (little chops) from milk-fed baby goats. I feel no remorse; they were delightful. In Cordoba we stayed at the NH Collection hotel, which was very nice except for the fact that our room was inordinately warm and there was no air conditioning, so they had to move us – at 1 in the morning, with my stomach feeling terrible – to a much smaller and less nice room that was, at least, cooler and more comfortable. We spent that evening (before I started feeling sick) at the Cordoba annual Cata del Vino festival, where for a 10 euro ticket you could enter a large covered pavilion and sample a fair amount of Montilla Moriles fortified wine, which is that region’s version of sherry. It was a lot of fun; there were literally thousands of people there and I think we might have been the only ones who spoke English as our first language. It’s basically an excuse for friends to dress up in going-out clothes, get together, and drink wine in a big tent, and I was surprised at how young the average person was. (I was also vividly reminded that Spain’s legal drinking age is 18, as several of the people we passed were definitely wearing braces.) Unfortunately my stomach starting acting up so we didn’t stay as long as we might have, and despite my having the names of half a dozen places that are supposedly amazing for dinner, that wasn’t in the cards and we ended up just making an early night of it. The next morning we spent a free-admission hour at the Mezquita – stunning, breathtaking, amazing – and then caught the train for Madrid. Places to eat in Cordoba: I never got to try them, but Blanco Enea, Bodega Guzman, Casa Rubio, and Taberna San Cristobal all looked excellent when I did my research, and they will be my first stops if I'm ever in town again.
  4. There are far too many wonderful tapas places to get lost in in Madrid. Avoid some of the expensive joints right around the Plaza Mayor unless you're simply into the outdoor scene and checking out the people. The only exception to that would be to try "toro tapas bar" (I'm unsure of the name) [La Torre del Oro] that's right in the plaza. It's got pics of bullfighters all over, bulls heads on the wall and black and white checked tiles. Our favorite tapas crawls revolved in the area that stretched from Plaza Mayor down towards the Prado, around Plaza Santa Ana. Chocolateria San Gines, while popular, is a worthy late night (early morning?) stop for chocolate and churros. Also in Madrid, the Asturian cider at Bar Neru. My two biggest recommendations would be: 1) Hop on a bus to Chinchón, about a half hour or so outside Madrid. Aside from being an incredibly beautiful small town frequented by Madrilenos on weekends, you'll find the most incredible roast lamb at Meson Cuevas del Vino. A surprisingly huge place when you compare it to the unassuming entry door. Visit the wine caves downstairs and drink the house tinto. 2) Lots of travel help can be found at Madrid Man's website, which is where I frequently get help on travel to Spain such as the type you're asking for. If you're heading towards Salamanca, I have another restaurant recommendation.
  5. A major wildfire in Spain began when a pile of chicken dung spontaneously combusted in the heat. "Self-Combusting Manure at Spanish Chicken Farm Blamed for Devastating Wildfire" on thelocal.es
  6. This is sort of like the Northern Snakehead in reverse. "Maryland's Blue Crabs Reportedly Invade Spanish Waters" by Lillian Reed on baltimoresun.com
  7. Museo del Prado is celebrating its 200 anniversary throughout 2019. Located in central Madrid, the museum holds one of the great European art collections, with works by Goya, Bosch, El Greco, Peter Paul Rubens, and Titian, among many others. The collection has more than 20,000 objects, many drawn from the Spanish Royal Collection. The centerpiece of the collection is Las Meninas by Diego Velazquez. The collection also contains such masterworks as Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights and Goya's Third of May. If you find yourself in Spain this year, it will be a great time to visit the Prado.
  8. Similar to how I was inspired by John McGiver, I was watching an episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (S03 E34 - "The Crocodile Case") which featured Denholm Elliott in a rather fiendish role, and realized that, like McGiver, Elliott is often considered a "character actor" whose face you recognize like an old friend, but whose name you just don't know. Although most of us will recognize Elliott as Dr. Marcus Brody in "Raiders of the Lost Ark," his career is long and storied, having become interested in drama in the thick of World War II. His film career began in the late 1940's, and he received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor for the 1985 Merchant and Ivory period film, "A Room With A View." I hope people will feel free to post their memories of Elliott here, preferably with a picture of him in the role. Here's one of him with Harrison Ford, in the role of Dr. Camby in "Raiders":
  9. What happens when one of your favorite chefs, whose restaurants you’ve greatly enjoyed in the past, becomes more and more successful? And by successful I mean keeps opening restaurants all over the damn place. Well, I guess on the one hand you can be happy for that chef’s success and be excited to try all of those restaurants. I mean, there is a chef or two here in New York who have gone on to fame and fortune and I’m pretty happy to be eating in most, if not all, of their establishments. But what about the other side of the coin, where as your favorite chef opens a new restaurant, one or more of the previously opened ones turns out to be not so good? Okay, the chef I’m referring to is José Andrés. You probably know José; a great cook whose food I've always admired, wildly popular, got a bunch of TV shows, Spain’s greatest ambassador, etc., etc. He has that great accent. He’s a partner (in Think Food Group) and ostensibly the Big Kahuna Chef of close to a dozen restaurants. He made his bones working in some of Spain’s top kitchens, including that of Ferran Adrià, of…well, you know…that Ferran Adrià. And then when he embarked to the United States, rather than heading for New York City and all of it’s potential fame and glory, he headed for Washington, D. C. - and whatever it is you go there for. In José's case, it was to open restaurants. Jaleo, Café Atlantico, Zaytinya - all good, if not great restaurants, as a matter of fact. Highly touted restaurants, which gave him and his partners the ability to open more restaurants. These were and are fun, happening places with good food, good times and fairly gentle prices. Then there were more – Oyamel, another location or two of Jaleo, minibar by José Andrés, a restaurant or two in Vegas, one or two in Los Angeles – you get the picture. Just last weekend, I was excited to try a restaurant of Jose’s that has been open for a while now – Oyamel, in D. C. Even though I’d be warned off by a friend who knows his food, I was curious ( said friend said it sucked, btw). But it’s José's place, after all, so off we went. Now, to say I was put off a little by being seated in the bar area, even though I had made a reservation weeks earlier, would be putting it mildly. My mood was made (slightly) worse when my protestations fell of deaf ears, as we were told by one of the 3 or 4 hostetts that it would be another hour’s wait to sit somewhere else (like perhaps in the restaurant), and that they didn’t consider our table to be in the bar area, even though, ummm, it was in the fucking bar area. I don’t know about you, but sitting in the bar area of a popular restaurant on a Friday night isn’t my idea of fun. Because sooner or later someone’s ass is gonna be about an inch from my guacamole, and at $13.50 an order, I prefer my guac sans ass, especially when it’s the ass of some tourist douche from Iowa. Be that as it may, I guess all would have been forgiven if the food knocked me out; that way I could prove my friend wrong, which is always fun. It didn’t…as a matter of fact, other than a really nice fresh hearts of palm and avocado salad, nothing was that exciting - not even the ass guac (okay, the chips and salsa were fine). Then it struck me; my last meal at Zaytinya, a place I’ve blogged and raved about in the past, wasn’t that great either. I mean, sure, it was ok and all, but it lacked a certain zing that I recalled from previous meals. These were both meals, that once were finished and we walked outside, I said to Significant Eater: “We don’t have to go there again!” So perhaps there are two lessons to be learned. One is for José and that is - don’t forget about all your other restaurants when you’re running around the world opening new ones and flogging yourself on TV. And the second is for me and that is, listen to (some of) your knowledgeable food friends – they (sometimes) know of what they speak.
  10. Jul 24, 2017 - "The Mysterious Origins of Europe's Oldest Language" by Anna Bitong on bbc.com --- Basque Country (Al Dente)
  11. Because Portugal requested to modify the agreement made on May 4, 1493 via the Treaty of Tordesillas on June 7, 1494. That's it. That's the only reason why. If Portugal hadn't asked the Pope to modify the 1493 agreement (the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) moved things 270 leagues to the west), Brazil - the easternmost country in South America, and as-yet undiscovered - would be a Spanish-speaking country.
  12. The wife and I are off to Spain over the Christmas holidays. Most of our trip will be spent in Barcelona where I've been before, but we're going to take a 4-day road trip over to the area north of San Sebastian. We plan to stay in Hondarribia Spain right near the border. We'll hit San Sebastian, of course, but where else would you head for gastronomic adventures? Bayonne? Biarritz? Saint-Jean-de-Luz? Is there anything interesting inland? Also, are there any recommendations in the Aragon region? We may use one of our nights there on the way back to Barcelona. Feliz Navidad, Al
  13. Percebes are extremely expensive - you can also find them in Bordeaux, where they're called "Pouce-Pieds." Also, you may not want to hear this, but they're farming them now in Oregon, and you can buy them by mail.
  14. As if we won't have eaten enough in Barcelona.....it's on to San Sebastian! I couldn't find any recommendations here, so if you know of some...I'm all ears!
  15. This is so amazing that it needs commentary. It's Nadal vs. The Stalker: The Stalker gets ready to hit a heavy topspin serve: And kicks it out wide to Nadal's backhand, stepping in to stalk a short return: Nadal is pulled wide, and stretches to hit a backhand return, The Stalker is one-step closer in: Nadal is now *backwards* after hitting his return. The Stalker closes in even more: Nadal gets it back, and starts sprinting to the other side of the court, while The Stalker prepares to hit a volley: The Stalker wisely goes *behind* Nadal, who has committed to sprinting across the court, forcing Nadal to apply the brakes: Two words are going through Nadal's mind right now: "Oh, fuck." But Nadal is Nadal, and somehow gets his racket on the ball: And Nadal sends it cross-court, The Stalker moving accordingly, and Nadal beginning to change direction again: Oh, if The Stalker could have only kept this volley a foot lower: The slow, red clay lets the ball bounce high, giving Nadal barely enough time to get there: But can only scoop the ball up - once again, Nadal is at The Stalker's mercy: The Stalker steps around to hit a backhand out wide, sending Nadal on another impossible sprint: And I mean, Nadal is in *big* trouble, but do you see the mistake The Stalker is making here? Look at that hole on the left side: I've seen this shot several times, and I'm *still* not sure how Nadal is hitting it, but he somehow gets it back on one bounce, facing backwards: "Oh ... fuck ...": But, oh my God, The Stalker is lining up for something incredible: Yes! A between-the-legs shot with Nadal pulled off the court! But no, not even The Stalker can pull this one off. It's Nadal's point.
  16. Since I waxed poetic (or waned pathetic, take your pick) about my little wedge of Comté, the largest-production A.O.C. Cheese in France, I figure I might as well do the same for my little wedge of Manchego, the largest-production D.O. Cheese in Spain. I purchased this El Trigal ("The Wheatfield") Manchego from Whole Foods, at the same time I purchased my block of Comté. These legendary cheeses are both semi-firm, and are more resilient to damage than soft, buttery, cow's-milk cheese (Comté is made from cow's milk, but isn't "soft and buttery"; Manchego is made from 100% Manchega sheep (both words, Manchego and Manchega, mean "from La Mancha"). "Quesos Corcuera," (<--- click for their website, which has a wealth of information available in English) makers of El Trigal, was founded 70 years ago in the town of La Puebla de Montalbán, near Toledo, in the region of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain, by a gentleman named Don Eusebio Corcuera. It has been passed down, and is now run by his daughter, Carmen, after his sons, Ramon and Carlos, passed away. It is now one of the five-largest producers of cheese in Spain, and one of Don Eusebio's grandchildren is actively involved with the company. There are currently 27 D.O. ("Denominación de Origen")-regulated cheeses in Spain, and as stated above, Manchego is the largest-production D.O. cheese in Spain (A.O.C. and D.O. are each country's version of essentially the same thing: government-regulated and protected cheeses (as well as other products)). Again, instead of merely copying down the D.O. requirements, I'll link to them here. The term "P.D.O." is an EU (European-Union) term that's similar to - and might be the same as - "D.O.," but D.O. was around long before P.D.O., so that's the one I tend to focus on; I suspect there's just another layer of bureaucracy associated with P.D.O. status. There are at least three different "ages" of Manchego, all of which are produced by Quesos Corcuera: 1) Semi-Curado (around 3 months) 2) Curado (around 6 months) and 3) Viejo (around 1 year). Manchego *must* be aged between 60 days and 2 years (it can be aged only 30 days for cheeses weighing less than 1.5 kg). The aging requirements are covered in the D.O. link in the above paragraph. There's also a "Fresco" that's produced for local consumption, which is aged for about 2 weeks, but to the best of my knowledge, this isn't found outside of Spain, and isn't a D.O. Manchego. This is the equivalent of drinking a Beaujolais Nouveau - something fresh, fruity, and quaffable; not meant to be scrutinized too closely, but perfectly fine for everyday dining at home (at least, that's my guess). If you put a piece of Comté and Manchego side-by-side, and are told which is which, there's nobody in the world who couldn't tell the difference between the two. If you're a complete cheese novice, you may want to do this as an exercise - you'll see that you "get it," and I promise you that you'll identify them correctly each and every time. There's no "roughness" whatsoever in a Comté, whereas there's no "smoothness" whatsoever in a Manchego - and I'm just talking about texture and appearance. Why *not* embark on your newfound hobby with these two cheeses? They're found everywhere, and despite their ubiquity, are world-class cheeses that even the most insufferable cheese snob would respect and enjoy.
  17. We just booked tickets to Paris for mid-November. Now we're wondering what we should do once we land at Charles de Gaulle. Originally we were planning to fly into Barcelona or Madrid, and focus on Spain. But from Paris the possibilities widen up substantially - we could still focus on Spain/Portugal and tag on a few days in Paris, we could tour France and add on Northern Italy and Switzerland, we could see the low country, or maybe even Central Europe or the Balkans. I've never been to Europe and +1 hasn't been there in more than a decade. So we have no idea what to expect or what to see, and we're open to anything since it'll all be new to me. There are obviously tons of guides and lists talking about the virtues of various itineraries, but we're certainly value the opinions of people who care deeply about what they eat while traveling. So my question to the well-travelled and/or well-daydreamed DR posters - where would you go with 2 weeks in mid November, starting and ending in Paris? Are there anything that you love and must see?
  18. Here's another curiosity I found in my Wikipedia "random article" habit: The War of Jenkins' Ear I have foggy memories of sitting in history class going over the various North American battles involving England, France, and/or Spain before the good old USA told King George to fuck off but I don't recall this war with the catchy name. It's interesting how a conflict in one part of the world can impact a seemingly irrelevant situation in another part of the world. I mean, have you ever heard about Georgia (England) and Florida (Spain) attacking each other because Prussia and France didn't like the idea of Maria Theresa being the top Habsburg?
  19. I first picked up a bottle of this in San Juan before a cruise, and it was a pretty damn good wine for $16. This weekend I found a few bottles of this at Wegmans, for $12. It's a nicely aged Rioja, maroon red, fairly full-bodied but balanced.
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