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Outside Taller de Tapas, L’Argenteria, en El Born

Ever since I started seriously reading through Andrew Coleman’s Catalan Cuisine a few years ago with its gentle rejection of the tapas culture found elsewhere in Spain, the quasi-misnomer of Barcelona Wine Bar here in CT (and now Atlanta!) has kind of bugged me. If tapas aren’t a big thing in Catalunya, then why name a tapas place after its capital city? Fortunately, Andy and Sasha answer that question within the first pages of their cookbook:

We chose the name Barcelona because, while we planned to offer an authentic tapas experience, we wanted to feature a wide-ranging selection of Mediterranean food and wine. Spain’s Barcelona is a cosmopolitan, pan-European city that reflects this outlook.

It’s true: you do see a very wide variety of options in the city of Barcelona, but it’s very easy to get the tapas experience if that’s what you happen to be craving. And frankly, when it’s in the mid-80s and it’s humid and you’re definitely a little parched because there aren’t enough 1.5L bottles of agua sin gas to properly hydrate anyone, tapas are really the best alternative. And if you’re going to go for tapas, why not follow the advice from the best place to get them on the East Coast? Read More

View from the Thames, including St. Paul's Cathedral

The weather in London is incredibly erratic: what started out as a grey morning turned into a soaking mess by the time we were around Picadilly Circus, and since my flip-flops had no tread whatsoever, I was slipping around on the smooth slate sidewalks…everywhere. Eventually I found a pair of cute, cheap espadrilles at an Urban Outfitters outpost that would prevent me from falling on my face, but by then the rain had cleared and we were treated to a day of dynamic clouds that should have opened over us, but somehow we avoided them for the rest of the day.

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View from the Ten Bells Pub

As much fun as we had in Oxford (especially at the wedding), we were more than ready to leave by the time the sun rose on Sunday morning, and so with tired feet and not nearly enough caffeine we hauled our bags across town and boarded a morning train into the City. Our friend C (of the Pimm’s Cup and other delicious stories to come) happily met us at Paddington, quickly ordered a cab and directed the driver to the Battersea section of London to her awesome, amazing flat.

Not that we stayed there too long–a change of clothes, a bit of food to eat and we were quickly on our way into the heart of town to start our tour. Read More

Curry and Fra Diavolo Chickens with Grilled Tomatoes

I’ve been remiss with recounting the rest of our London escapades, what with distractions like Eataly and Coney Island diverting me too much–but no more! Our first day in London culminated with a visit to Asda, otherwise known as Walmart in the U.K., to pick up some provisions for our hosts and ourselves for dinner. I was pretty insistent on making a visit to at least one grocery store while we were in England (yes, I’m a nerd–carry on!) and so why not a visit to the Big Bad Blue Behemoth’s English cousin?

ASDA: the English Wal-Mart

This isn’t C’s primary grocery store–as we walked through the car park she mentioned that the store isn’t that great and wasn’t very big, and subsequently was floored when she saw it for the first time post-renovation. The addition of a loft-like second floor seems to have opened up the place a bit, and the produce section resembled more of Target’s PFresh rather than what you’d normally see at a Walmart here in the States (though, in all honesty, my experience with Walmart Supercenters is limited and only based off of a few visits to random ones over the years). We didn’t spend a crazy amount of money, though, and bought some pretty sweet produce–easily on par with what we’d find at Fairway with regards to selection. The only complaint I had was that my desire to replace our heavy Tesco reusable shopping back with one from Asda was all for naught because the bags were very flimsy indeed.

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To fully explain how awesome this afternoon jaunt to Philly was on Friday, a little backstory is necessary (due to the passage of time, dialogue may not be 100% accurate):

SCENE: INT. UNCLE MICHAEL’S CAR, driving through WEST PHILADELPHIA into FAIRMOUNT PARK, FALL 2001. ELIZABETH and MICHAEL are seated within, along with MICHAEL’S cousin J (who is also UNCLE MICHAEL’S second-eldest son).

J: So you know how my dad did a lot for the mural program here in the city–it’s funny, because now we pass by random murals and he’s the first to mutter “another damn mural!” under his breath.

UM: No, no, no, no, no! I didn’t say that. I said I wished that they would do fewer, more artistic murals, instead of…well, random ones.

ELIZABETH and MICHAEL: ::laughing uncontrollably::

[END SCENE] Read More

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