Travels with V
We admit, willingly, that we’re foodies (you who have read our blog probably guessed this already) and we love to taste the richness of the local food whenever we’re on the road. It doesn’t in any way have to be fancy dining, although we do that too, sometimes. We present here some of our most excellent food experiences around the globe.
ARCTIC GOURMET, SWEDEN
Arctic Gourmet Cabin is probably the smallest gourmet restaurant inte world. There’s only seating for four persons, at two tables. But if you managed to book yourself into it that’s no disadvantage. It’s like sitting in a friend’s kitchen, a friend that happens to be a formidable cook. You chat and have a good time while the food is prepared.
But when the food is served there’s no talk, just sighs of pleasure. The chef Johan Löfgren and his wife Malin who runs the place deliver some sensationally good stuff with locally produced ingredients. They should have had at least one Michelin star.
The Cabin lies very remote in a village called Kaalasjärvi, some 23 km from Kiruna. It’s just four huts in Johan and Malin’s garden. One is the restaurant and another a sauna (essential up here). The last two huts are lodges so you don’t have to say no to Malin’s wine selections. We enjoy a sauna bath and when we’re dry we get two glasses of champagne and sit by the open fire where Johan will be preparing the grilled reindeer sirloin.
Dinner starts with some m andel potato rösti with kalix roe, and for dessert there’s a wild berries sorbet. All made with perfection.
Link to Arctic Gourmet Cabin here.
Amsterdam is so close and so easy to get to, but you probably don’t think of the Netherlands as a gourmet country. Think again, here’s a surprise for you, just as it was for us. Remember, Amsterdam is a mix of peoples and cultures, and of course this includes cooking.
At Senses restaurant these influences are given a lot of attention, but the tastes and the ingredients are combined and mixed into something you didn’t think was possible but gives you a quite extraordinary tasting experience .
There’s a perfectly selected range of wines to go with the menu. When we were there we were able to drink a glass of La Rioja Alta Gran reserva 904, 2007, a wine so complex it almost broke us totally!
You’ll find Senses’ website here.
LA SELVA, ECUADOR
Pictured above is a great meal that we were offered visitng a community of the indigenous Kitchwa people. There are bits to taste of many typical jungle foods, grilled fish from the river, a piece of yuca, some salad of unknown origin. And mid-left in the picture, the clou of the plate. A grilled fat larvae that’s found on the palms in the forest. We had seen these larvae alive in the market in Coca, and also watched them being put on wood skewers and grilled.
Most of our travel companions leave this delicacy untouched on the plate, and so does V. But I can’t resist a bite and it’s so good I eat it all. It tastes quite similar to crayfish, and has a similar texture.
Read more about our jungle visit here.
DEN GOUDEN HARYNCK, BRÜGGE
A Michelin-starred restaurant in Bruges, Belgium’s most picturesque city. It’s a bit hard to find, situated in a narrow and winding street on the other site of the canal from Grote Markt.
We got a funny feeling stepping into the place. A classic eatery with yellow walls and white tablecloth, and where the staff talked whispering. The guests also whispers, if they said anything at all, most of what you heard was the sombre clinking of cutlery against plates.
But eventually the was some murmuring, rising to a buzz as the courses were presented. We started with a trio of langoustine, and then…actually the rest is unclear, the memories just say “fabulous!”
The restaurant’s website here.
FOOD CITY ANTIGUA, GUATEMALA
The city of Antigua in southern Guatemala is a natural goal for tourists. The low houses, the cobblestone streets, the bustling life and culture, all that’s attractive really, is here. Add to that a high level of gastronomy and a number of excellent restaurants, more than in any other city that we visited during our three weeks in Guatemala.
If you’re into mexican food, the tacos and the fajitas etc we strongly recommend Fridas on 5e Avenida Norte. A hip, crowded and fun place with the best mex food and a jolly bar.
For a more developed gourmet experience, Panza Verde is a must. Hiding behind a minimalistic entrance on a badly lit street south of the city centre this restaurant unveils a grand and stylish place. We’re seated by a pool, surrounded by old vaults and lush greenery. The food is sublime.
Lastly, if you feel like resting your legs in the company of a cured meat plate and a fresh local IPA, head to Antigua Brewing Co. just a block or two north of Parque Central. If the wheather is sunny, climb up to the roof terrace!
Link to Panza Verde here.
Link to Fridas here.
Link to Antigua Brewing Co. here.
CUBADAK ISLAND, INDONESIEN
Indonesia has a wonderful food tradition of grilled and well zested meat and fish. And we were presented with all sorts of variations on this theme in the restaurant of Cubadac Paradiso Village, a secluded lodge on the west coast of Sumatra.
At meal time a bell is rung and all guests rush in and are seated simultaneously at a large round table, and are introduced to 8-10 courses the chef has decided upon that day. Grilled fish, crabs, vegetable stews, deep fried stuff, and above all the Indonesian national dish Beef Rendang, that we immediately fell in love with.
Read about Cubadak here.
TRÄDGÅRDSGATAN 26, SWEDEN
Great dining is not found just in great cities. In Öland, one of the two biggest islands in Sweden, there are at least two excellent gourmet restaurants, both in the little “capital” Borgholm. And the one we chose and liked best (we were actually in both), is called “Trädgårdsgatan 26”. It’s a diminutive little gem found in the basement of an ordinary villa. Actually all houses in Borgholm are small wooden villas. There’s only five tables in this taste circus run by Jonas Åhman. Very intimate, very friendly and super proffessional, both in serving and food creation A link to their website is here.
You can read more about our Öland adventure here.
RAJA BOJUN, COLOMBO, SRI LANKA
We had heard that Sri Lanka’s capital has lots of good restaurants, but visiting we experience great problems even finding one. We ask a taxi driver to help us, but even he is unsuccessful. We drive around the area for half an hour looking everywhere, but with no luck.
Finally, by asking around, he finds one, on the second floor in an office building close to a couple of jewellery shops and a mall. We enter but are initially a bit sceptical because of the rather minimalistic furnishing of the place. But it turns out they have an outstanding curry buffet, with beef, pork, fish, vegetables and seafood. We try most of it, one dish is hotter that the other and we need a couple of beers to go with it. A great dinner!
LA CANDELA RESTÒ, MADRID
This magical place sadly doesn’t exist any more, but it is by far the most extreme thing we’ve ever experienced. Extreme cooking, extreme presentations, extreme tastes. There was no meny to choose from but you could pick either 16 or 21 courses, not knowing beforehand what would await you. Courses arrived, sometimes in parts, with strict instructions. First this part, then that.
There were strange liquid-filled bubbles we were instructed to carefully place on the tongue, then press against the palate, making tastes explode in your mouth. What looked like a slice of lime was actually a slice of frozen mojito placed in a lime peel. And so on.
Familiar ingredients were transformed into unrecognizable things like balls of foam or chips. All tastes were new and everything was surprise and joy!
It is truly missed.