The One Hungry Pickle Guide to Lisbon–What To See

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SONY DSCI spent last week in Lisbon, Portugal, which, to put it plainly, was a dream. The tiled buildings, ethereal (and seemingly un-capturable) light, magnificent cobblestone streets and sea views would have been enough to entrance me, but add to that great hospitality, relative affordability and wonderful food and I was totally sold.

Without further ado, here’s a list (in no particular order), of the places, sights, and experiences I most enjoyed in Lisbon. Where to Eat and Where to Shop to come!

1.Pena National Palace in SintraSONY DSCSONY DSCI was completely taken with this magnificent multi-colored palace located just 30 minutes outside the city. Tiled walls abound, of course, in addition to yellow turrets and crazy sculptures and shapes everywhere. It was built in the 19th century at the direction of King Ferdinand II in the romantic style, but has both Moorish and Manueline influences–also there’s a real awesome courtyard. Why don’t I live here? The views are sensational, and the town of Sintra itself is charming (if touristy.)SONY DSC SONY DSCSONY DSC

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2.The tiled walls and cobblestones—duh!SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC
They are everywhere in Lisbon, so you can’t miss them. But make sure to pay attention to all the different varieties, shapes and colors both on the buildings and beneath your feet. Also, there’s a lot of very interesting street art, so keep an eye out!SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC

3.Jardim do São Pedro de Alcantara SONY DSC The whole area of Principe Real is a glorious place to stroll—great shops and even better views. We posted up at this expansive park to take in the views—right before a group of rambunctious Italian tourist teens showed up and I had to immediately vacate. Keep going up and head to the Jardim do Príncipe Real where you can see a huge, very old tree and the rest of the botanical garden.

4.Praça do ComercioSONY DSCJust a beautiful sight to behold—and so many lovely streets right around there.

5.Museu AntonianoSONY DSC Just go. It’s a quick walk through and gorgeously curated.

6.San Jerónimo MonestarySONY DSC We went at night and were so taken by the architecture. I can’t vouch for the inside, but…I mean…look at that! Plus there were no people and crowds are gross.SONY DSC

7. Lastly, if you’re in Lisbon before August 2nd, don’t miss the incredible Sebastião Salgado exhibit at the Galeria do Torreão Nascente da Cordoaria Nacional. His work is breathtaking.Salgado2 salgado 1

[Salgado photos courtesy of Unicos & Olhares]

….stay tuned for eats and shops in Lisboa!SONY DSC

Bienvenidos a Miami

welcome-to-miami-oSo, I’m back on the road again (as usual)…
Full disclosure, my trip to Florida was not as food focused as many of my others, as there were bloody Marys to be had, champagne corks to be popped, and outfits to be ogled. I did, however, particularly enjoy two meals in the city where the heat is on.

1. BodegaInterior-Bodega-1800-x-1200-1800x1200Although this funky, casual Miami beach eatery markets itself as a “taqueria y tequila” joint, we found no evidence of the latter. Luckily, the tacos more than made up for this deceit. There were inspired flavor combinations such as the “Camaron BLT” with shrimp, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and a chipotle-cotija dressing. The chicken taco with garlicky kale and avocado salsa verde was also a winner. We didn’t try their “tortas” (Mexican-style sandwiches), but the housemade popsicles, in both tropical and classic flavors, were super tasty, especially a mango-chile one. Basket-of-Tacos-1800-x-1200-1800x1200 1220 16th St
Miami Beach, FL
(305) 704-2145
http://www.bodegasouthbeach.com/

2. 27 at the Freehand
27 is a restaurant at a hostel. But don’t start envisioning greasy haired backpackers and dingy digs–Miami’s Freehand hostel is a chic, young spot, with options for both individual and shared hipster-decorated rooms (think colorful artwork and yoga class-style blankets.) Their bar, The Broken Shaker specializes in handcrafted cocktails and some of the best wallpaper I’ve ever seen. 1297_Freehand3_72-960x630Bar patrons spill outside to the many outdoor areas, around the pool and in old school lawn furniture. 27, the Freehand’s restaurant, serves really standout food–so good that I came back twice in one weekend (no joke, Friday and then Sunday.] 27The menu is comprised of small plates — shocker — but they really deliver, from their arepa platter served with gloriously umami ropa vieja to an ever-changing selection of roasted and pickled vegetables largely grown on the property’s garden. As much as it pains me to say it, the kale salad with miso and tahini is particularly off the chain:Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 3.07.05 PMDon’t miss the cocktails–particularly the Smoky Calabaza (Charred Calabaza with Garam Masala Spices, Fresh Citrus with Del Maguey Mezcal and egg whites with “27” emblazoned on it) and the Miso Old Fashioned with miso-honey reduction and mushroom (!) bitters.IMG_8869

2727 Indian Creek Drive, Miami Beach, Florida 33140
(305) 531-2727
http://thefreehand.com/miami/

*photos courtesy of Bodega and The Freehand, respectively.

Mumbai, Kochi, and more Eastern eats

DSC_0407Following our Myanmar sojourn, we headed West, to Bombay (Mumbai), for more hijinks in a post-colonial country. After some much needed family time, a Bollywood New Years Eve, a trip to the caves in Elephanta (where we spotted this gem): DSC_0308and lots of eating (not pictured, sadly—but I’ll include our go-to spots at the end), we went South, to Kerala. I’d never explored South India, and was very excited for a new experience in the country I visit each year. We began in Kochi, a port city on India’s West Coast, and traveled throughout the region…DSC_0341We spied a local man making biryani (rice and meat cooked together) in large quantities:DSC_0360 DSC_0362 DSC_0364 DSC_0366 DSC_0368

We also spent a glorious day and night on a houseboat cruising through the Keralan backwaters.DSC_0369 DSC_0373 DSC_0410 DSC_0411DSC_0398 DSC_0407 Having spent much of my time in India in Bombay I wasn’t as familiar with the coconut-infused flavors of the South. The local cuisine displays both the more tropical surroundings and Portuguese colonial influence in many dishes which are often heavy on ultra-fresh seafood. While on the boat, we stopped by a local floating storefront to pick up some just-fished shrimp and other necessities:DSC_0387 DSC_0390 DSC_0393 DSC_0396

On the boat, one of our first meals featured (from far left moving clockwise) yogurt-coconut curry, fried roots and coconut pieces, sautéed greens with, yes, more coconut slivers (seen in more detail after this photo), and a raw cabbage and coconut salad. DSC_0377 DSC_0383Simply spiced and fried fish:
DSC_0384Deep fried banana slices served with tea:

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Our travels in Myanmar and India only excited me for more trips to come…who knows where! For any of you heading to Mumbai, here are a few of my family’s favorite spots.

Kebabs n Kurries: While the name doesn’t have the minimalism of many restaurants in the West, this restaurant in the ITC Grand Central hotel is a stand-out. The black dal and Chicken Malai Kababs are my go-tos. It’s kind of far out for us (we live in South Bombay), but we always make the trip or come on the way back from the airport!
No.287, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Road, Parel

Trishna: This fish restaurant is a favorite with locals and tourists alike. The food is rich, but delicious–get the butter-garlic prawns or fish and the chili crab.
Bamanpuri, Kanti Nagar, J B Nagar, Andheri East

Swati Snacks:
For excellent vegetarian fare, go to Swati, which specializes in street food without the threat of, well, what comes along with Street Food. There’s usually a wait in this tiny no-frills spot, but it’s worth it. Go for the dosas, sev puri and panka chatni (“savory rice pancakes steamed in banana leaf.)
248, Karai Estate, Tardeo Road, Opposite Bhatia Hospital, Near Javji Dadaji Marg, Tardeo

Kala Ghoda Cafe: 
For Mumbai, this sandwich shop is nothing short of hipster. It’s a cool cafe vibe with very good coffee in a tiny lofted space.
10, Ropewalk Lane, Opp Krishna Restaurant, Kala Ghoda Fort

Khyber
This is an oldie but a goodie, and my family has been coming to this restaurant for years. The kababs are delicious, and my father always orders the brain cooked in an omelette with green chutney. Not quite my cup of tea but everything else is excellent.
145, Ground Floor Mahatma Gandhi Road | Kala Ghoda, Fort Near Rhythm House

Winters in Rangoon…

DSC_0133 Apologies for the silence (and Austin Powers reference above) and here’s to a new year of gorging myself day in and day out! Quentin and I spent the last two and a half weeks on a whirlwind trip through Burma (Myanmar) and India. Needless to say, much Asian food consumption ensued. First, I’ll regale you with tales of the fascinating adventures in Myanmar.DSC_0219

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We stayed in Yangon (formerly Rangoon), the acting (though no longer official) capital of Myanmar. Quentin’s sister lives there at the moment, and showed us an absolutely fabulous time. I fell in love with Yangon—the calming Buddhist sensibilities, fascinating street life, and magnificent (and plentiful!) gold pagodas—I vowed to return and explore more of the country as soon as possible.DSC_0135

Burmese food is an interesting mix of South East and South Asian food (think rice noodles side by side with spiced curries.) Street food is ubiquitous, with communal cauldrons of bubbling soup, meat both grilled and freshly butchered, fresh sugarcane juice presses, and immaculately peeled fruits sold on seemingly every corner downtown.

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We were also lucky enough to visit a local grocery store—one of my favorite things to do anywhere—where we came upon many very colorfully-named products: [I just want to make it clear, the spicy lobster pringles were nothing short of amazing and should be exported here immediately]

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Due to some pretty wild food poisoning in Yangon, I didn’t get to experience as much of the local culinary scene as I would have liked—and was chiefly disappointed not to visit Port Autonomy, a super-hip pop up restaurant, part of a group of happenings in Yangon. I was, however, largely cured by a delicious homemade rice porridge made by Nwe Nwe, Quentin’s sister’s lovely housekeeper. She cooked the rice until soupy, and served it with cilantro, lime, and flash fried shallots. I accessorized with a bit of soy sauce, and behold: the ultimate panacea.(null)

I did, however, still get to try some fabulous local delicacies at a cool new spot called Rangoon Tea House which serves traditional foods in a chic, modern atmosphere.DSC_0222DSC_0232Mohinga, a classic Burmese dish, is a brothy fish soup with rice noodles, most often consumed as a breakfast dish. It has a pleasantly sour taste, reminding me of pho, and I particularly enjoyed the accoutrements—especially the crunchy corn fritter seen at left.

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This is a chicken curry, served with a variety of pickled and preserved condiments. The top part of the tray had an exceedingly pungent preserved fish which was a bit intense, even for seasoned and adventurous eaters like me and Quentin.DSC_0229

We got two salads: Tea Leaf and Pennywort (a soft leaf). Tea Leaf salad is also very common in Burma and I really loved the freshness of the cuisine—something that is often sadly lacking in Indian eats. And also…fresh coconut water AND a tea matrix on the back of the menu!
DSC_0230DSC_0223DSC_0227Myanmar, Burma, no matter your old or new name, I’m coming back for you as soon as I can!

Places to Visit 
1. The Shwedagon Pagoda 
This enormous gold temple/collection of temples in Yangon is an absolute must-see. It was built to store 6 hairs from Buddha’s head, and is absolutely magnificent and impossible to miss. Go at dusk when it’s not too hot, or else your feet will burn (you have to be barefoot to step inside.)                                                  2. Bogyoke Aun Sang Market This indoor stalled market is a wonderful place to buy gifts and the like. Unfortunately, the jade is procured in horrifying work conditions, but it is plentiful here. Longyis (the traditional Burmese garment) are also available here in a multitude of colors. Go upstairs and visit the Naga Shop for amazing textiles.                   3. The Secretariat and surrounding area The old colonial buildings are wonderful to stroll around and look at.

Places To Eat
1. Gekko
37th Street, Yangon, Myanmar
http://gekkoyangon.com/
This pan-Asian restaurant in a historic downtown building has a lot of delicious izakaya (skewered) offerings. The spicy Korean beef noodles and octopus salad are particularly tasty. Get a table upstairs if you can.
2. Port Autonomy
Lanthit Jetty, Oo Pa st, Seik Khan Tsp
http://ts1yangon.com/port-autonomy/
Helmed by famed Bangkok Chef Kevin Ching, this pop up restaurant serves uber-satisfying fusion cuisine (think Soft-Shell Crab Melts and Hot Fried Chicken with “Burmese Buffalo Sauce”) in an iron bunker-style space right on the water. I couldn’t have been more disappointed to miss this one.
3. Rangoon Tea House 
https://www.facebook.com/RangoonTeaHouse
77 Pansodan Rd, (Lower Block), First Floor, Kyauktada Township Yangon,Myanmar
This new fun restaurant features traditional Burmese dishes served in a lovely, light atmosphere. Definitely try the Mohinga, a traditional brothy fish soup, with a fresh coconut juice on the side!

Rainy with a chance of Seafood

DSC_0163Growing up in London (and summering there after we moved to the U.S.), I spent many a lovely holiday with my family in the English countryside–specifically the coastal area called Dorset. Returning to England with my family after a number of years, we decided to revisit Dorset for lots of hilly walks, bracing cider, and heaps of super-fresh seafood.DSC_0227While the weather was English summery (read: chilly with a constant backdrop of ominous rain clouds), it was a glorious trip, and we visited many of the fabulous local eateries which all served fish straight from the nearby waters.

A few highlights:DSC_0139 Ploughman’s Lunch: My kind of lunch:DSC_0181More REAL DEAL fish and chipsDSC_0190 Incredible fresh local lobster:DSC_0222DSC_0235

The Hive Beach Cafe (highly recommended):DSC_0238 DSC_0240 DSC_0257We also loved:
The Anchor Inn in Seatown
Our hotel, the fabulous (and 700 year old!) Bridge House