Friday, 6 April 2012

The Last Sea Bream

Fourteen months ago I started food blogging, one of my first recipes was a traditional Madrid Sea-Bream recipe, today I cooked the same Sea-Bream recipe to celebrate the last post of KitchenVoyage, I am restarting my professional IT career.
I would like to say thank you to the 30.000 visitors that I had in all these months, I hope that everyone has enjoyed reading like I did writing and learning about cooking, blogging on social media, really was a pleasure and a great experience

Here are my conclusions about my food blogging experience

Cooking at home

1. Eating at home is healthier and the best way to lose weight. Before I started I used to "cook" or just heat from M&S or Waitrose easy cook or ready meals, since I cook at home I lost 8 kilograms having 5 meals a day including pasta twice a week, home-made pizza and cream and butter based dishes.

2. Eating and cooking at home will develop your palate and you will have a most accurate sense of flavours and food cost and learn when an ingredient is at its best.

3. With the time you will get more selective when you are eating out and you will appreciate the skills of a good chef and understand which top restaurants really are worth visiting.

4. Traditional local British food can be very tasty and healthy like Mediterranean cuisine.

5. Eating healthy, organic and local has a cost, but a good shop planning switching between your supermarket and local food store can be the key to becoming a greener consumer.

Food blogging

1. Amateur food blogging in Europe is economically unsustainable and very competitive, a company will pay you to have a banner or promote their products in your blog, for me it is a mistake because this kind of blog are the closest with the clients. But writing is the only way that they will get in touch with you and you will receive offers for joining their social media team.

2. Dont just write your blog, you need to Tweet often, have a facebook page or Google+ make interesting comments in another foodpages and activitly participate in at least 2 food blogging communities and when more local you can be more popular. It took me a while to understand but for me was a 200% increase in my visits.

3. Reply inmediately and listen to your followers and learn how to use Google Analytics and you will see which are your strong and weakest posts, when you reach that point focus on your best. I didn't and that was one of my problems to get more visitors. Funnily enough when I started I tried to make a blog about British and Spanish Food, but my most popular blog are about travelling and Japanese recipes, but I didn't change my subject and I reach a ceiling level of visitors.

4. Many social media say that the content and find a niche market is half of the job done, and it is true but when you are writing recipes the most important is the photography by far, shot professional pictures has a cost.

5. The last one more than a conclusion is some advice. For the Spanish speaking food bloggers just let you know that the American, British and other countries that speak or understand English are very keen to learn about your local cooking, so will be very good idea to translate to English all your food heritage instead to make them to read the food interpretation of out culture of the marketing teams of Jaime Oliver or Rick Stein (for example). The other advice is for the American/British digital marketing companies, Spain and mainly South America are catching up and growing fast with the new technologies and are a really big market with a big number of companies and business that with a good local digital marketing platform can be a good investment.


Friday, 30 March 2012

Affordable and Tasty Barcelona Tapas Bar

Poble Sec area. Photo by Jaume Meneses
Kiosko Burger Bar

Kisoko Burger Bar, yes! Because Barcelona is a modern and trendy city they also have a fantastic gourmet places like Kiosko burger Bar that have organic burger for just € 8  with tasty toppings and excellent bread. The burger bar has a simple young and trendy design.

La Tieta

La Tieta reminds you of an old spanish tasca but actually is a fresh little wine tapas bar that has delicious gourmet tapas like salmon tartar or classics like the Spanish omelette, and all can be washed down with very affordable good quality wine for 2 or 3 euros a glass.

Views from BellaVista Restaurant. Photo by CPGXP
Bodega Cal Marino

Bodega Cal Marino is another great place with very good food in the trendy Poble Sec, the Barcelona area where the locals and established Barcelona visitors mix together. Cal Marino offers different topped toasts which are very popular in Barcelona, croquets, and plenty of seafood to have a light and tasty meal at a very good price for about 10-12 euros and with plenty of space!

Bella Vista Restaurant

Situated in the Mediterranean forest that is above the hills areas of Barcelona, the Bella Vista restaurant is totally informal with paper tablecloths in the open air, but with astonishing views and with a surprising good service. They serve one of the favourite’s dishes of whole Spain, roast chicken with fries (roasted to perfection) and tasty and natural Mediterranean salads with cold beers for the hot and pleasant day of the Mediterranean summer overlooking one of the most exiting cities of the world.

More: Gourmet Barcelona


Barcelona for foodies

The new iconic W Hotel. Photo by by xavi talleda

Three Gourmet Restaurants

Sant Pau Restuarant

Sant Pau Restuarant is at just only 48 kms from Barcelona in the charming Mediterranean village of Sant Pol de Mar where Carme Ruscalleda has built a food temple working closely with the food products of the Catalan Maresma Region which she cooks in a natural and traditional way but with a lot of imagination and full of contrasting textures with some touches of Japanese cuisine. Carme Ruscalleda is the first woman chef to achieve 6 Michelin stars. Now she has opened with her son a new venue in Barcelona - Moments Restaurant where their team cook the best seasonal products in the finest way.

The charismatic Carme in Sant Pau Restaurant. By Monmar
Abac Restaurant

Abac Restaurant and Lasarte Restaurant are the two Michelin start restaurants of Barcelona. I recommend you to try to book a table in Abac in one of the quietest and rich areas of Barcelona mainly because the famous restaurant is now in hands of what many critics believe will be the best chef of the world. Jordi Cruz only 33 years old is in charge of the restaurant establishing a new era in Catalan cuisine; even though he respects and admires profoundly the Catalan cuisine in their signature menu you can find real gems like mini spheres of soya beans and orange or cylinders of pork feet with humus.

Bravo Restaurant

I know you will visit Bravo restaurant because it is situated in the last icon of the city the W Barcelona Hotel, even if you are not staying yet you must to visit the W Hotel, the landmark building has the best Spa and bedroom views of the city, the sea and mountains and also contains the last signature restaurant of chef Carles Abellan who create the definition of “glocal cuisine” where every cuisine in the world contribute to the skills of the chef. In the beautiful rooms and breath-taking terrace of the Bravo restaurant you can find a party of Catalonia flavours cooked with innovative and modern global gastronomic techniques where most of the seafood or meats are cooked over oak coals.

Three Gourmet Tapas Bar

Albert Adria in the Tickets Kitchen. Photo by Petits et Maman
Tickets is much more than a gourmet Tapas Bar, it is real Avant—garde cuisine; Albert Adrià former Creative Director & Pastry Chef at their brothers brother Ferran Adrià El Bulli is now the head chef of Tickets, where the food is served in a theatrical atmosphere where deconstructed tapas or a simple and traditional pan tumaca are made with refined skills. The good news is that the Adrià brother’s new adventure is a relatively affordable restaurant where you can find all the flavours of Barcelona and el Bulli for about 50 euros and you can book online. The late serving turn (after 10:30pm) is where you meet the locals

Dos palillos

In the famous Raval neighbourhood you can find Dos Palillos (Two sticks) where the traditional Spanish tapas get all the flavours of Asia thanks to the creativity of also former Bulli chef Albert Raurich. Dos Palillos doesn’t have a wow factor decoration- it’s even a bit kitsch and minimalist but in the Asian counter you can watch the kitchen in full action cooking real delicacies like won-ton of meat and vegetables (Chinese ravioli), razor clams Thai style or a kind of very crispy chicken nuggets and also the Japo Burger, a mini ox burger with black sesame seeds on the bread.

La Boqueria fresh market

The Boqueria is a festival of colours and flavours. By Mariano
La Boqueria market is a temple of the Catalonia food, sometimes a tourist spot, but is a must stop for any foodie where you can appreciate all that the Mediterranean sea and the mountains surrounding Barcelona can offer and understand part of the lifestyle of the city. Also the market has some very good places that serve very fresh tapas like the familiar tapas bar El quim with specialties like fideuá and black rice or just opposite Pinotxo bar where they cook just fresh food, so fresh that they don’t even bother to have a menu. If you find them too busy, just go to Llegums Cuits (stall 317) a stall that sale legumes (vegetables) but also have tasty legumes take away dishes

Three Gourmet Shops

Woki Market is around the impressive Cataluña Square. Photo by xn44
Woki Organic Market

Woki Organic Market is just around the corner of Catalunya Square where you can find plenty of organic Spanish products to put in your luggage, because when you go to Barcelona for sure you don’t want to come back empty handed to your kitchen. Also have an organic tapas bar managed by Michelin start chef Xavier Pellicer (now in Can Fabes) or before you go to Barcelona you can book some cooking courses.

Cacao Sampaka

Delicacies of Cacao Sampaka Barcelona. Photo by Yuichi Sakuraba 
Barcelona is one of the chocolate capitals of the world, where their chocolate master always has been in the avant-garde of the industry like the new chocolate architect Oriol Balaguer, Enric Rovira a deluxe chocolate maker or the  Escursell family that opened its first chocolate shop in 1897
Cacao Sampaka is one of the best chocolate shops in the whole of  Europe that produce more than 100 chocolate varieties in an elegant shop including herbal and flowers chocolate collections or chocolates with spices like saffron or Jamaican black pepper.

Food Cultura

Food Cultura is an art space where food and art mix together, you can find pop art kitchenware, food posters, weird kitchen appliance or extensive recipe book bibliotheca, but Food Cultura is not a food museum and not even an art gallery, it is a place to explore the universe of food and art through workshops and different art  activities. If you want to go, please first contact them at


Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Spanish Easter Sweet recipes


You need: 80g sugar – 250ml full fat milk (lukewarm) 8x 10mm slices of stale white bread (preservative free) 4 eggs (beaten) – 1 tsp of ground cinnamon - About 240ml oil for frying – Honey to serve

1. In a big bowl or dish mix 50 g sugar with the milk. Leave the bread slices to soak 5 minutes. Turnover and let soak 3 extra minutes.
2. Then in another bowl get ready the beaten eggs, and dip in the bread slices until all well cover with egg.

Soaking the bread

Frying the bread

3. Heat in a medium heat, the frying oil, when is hot start to cook in batches the bread slices, until golden brown in both sides. Set aside in a dish with kitchen towels.
4. Mix the remaining 30g of sugar with the ground cinnamon and sprinkle over the bread slices with some honey.

Buñuelos the Spanish Easter doughnuts

You need: 200g plain flour – 50g butter (chopped) – 4-5 eggs – 500ml milk – 200 ml water – 2tsp grated lemon peel – Sugar and ground cinnamon for serve – Oil for frying- Wooden spoon

1. In a sauce pan in a medium heat mix water, milk, grated lemon peel and a pinch of salt. Add the butter
2. When the butter is totally melted and the milk is going to boil add all the flour in at once. Quickly stir with a wooden spoon, lowing the heat to minimum, until the flour is well mixed with the wet ingredients
3. Heat up again and keep stirring until the mix start to separate from the sides of the saucepan and you start to have a kind of dough. When the dough doesn’t stick anymore to the sides of the pan, means that the flour is cooked.
4. Remove from the heat and let cool down for 5 minutes or until the dough is just warm.

When you add the eggs the batter will
be a bit runny

You need a dough that does not
stick to the pan

5. Crack the eggs one by one, mixing, stirring and incorporating the eggs to the dough, until you have a running and smooth dough. Set aside in the fridge for one hour or so.
6. Heat your frying oil until a medium high temperature (2 inched deep will be enough) . Remove the batter mix from the fridge and start dropping 1tsp of the batter to the hot oil. The buñuelos should be turned over alone, and move them around until golden brown. Remove and set aside in a dish with kitchen towels.
7. Mix some sugar and bit of ground cinnamon and sprinkle over the buñuelos when they still hot.
8. Serve them with hot chocolate and a strong tea or coffee


Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Traditional Spanish Easter Recipes

Semana Santa in Leon. Photo by Jaus
The Holy week of Castilla y León in North-West Spain that traces its history to the medieval kingdoms is characterized by seriousness, order and the artistic quality of its carvings. The silence of the public is only interrupted by the bands of trumpets and drums; the astonishing sounds fill the Gothic or Romanesque styles churches and the medieval street of every city of town of Castile and Leon. In cities like Zamora, Salamanca, Leon or Burgos were set the big procession. The passion and fervour are the common denominator of all processions in Spain, perhaps the big difference with the famous procession of Seville is that in Castile and Leon everyone is solemn instead of showing their passion like most of the South of Spain.
Also another big difference for me is the weather, when in Seville and whole Andalucia the weather is almost like spring, in Castile and Leon the last winter days are still harsh. I remember once how a good and nutritional garlic soup helps me out to go through to the most profane of the processions the Genarin burial (Thursday night) in Leon or how a big spinach and chickpea stew comfort me after seeing the slow advance of a procession under the cold shadow of a Salmanca church. But also the Holy Week is full of energetic sweet and pastries, like Buñuelos, Torrijas o aceitada served with hot chocolate.
Even though I am not catholic, the holy week (Semana Santa in Spanish) for me is a time to think and travel around Spain to discover the ancient traditions of the country.

Garlic Soup or Castile Soup Serves 4-6

You need: 150g Serrano ham (chopped) – 40g of garlic cloves (peeled and sliced) – 10 slices of stale home-made bread or free of preservatives bread from the bakery (35-40g in total will be fine) – 2200ml of your favourite stock – 50ml olive oil – 2tbsp of Spanish sweet Spanish paprika. 1 egg by serve – 1 laurel leaf.

1. Peel and slice the garlic and the bread. The bread slices between 7mm and 12mm is the ideal.
2. In a pan with some depth, start to heat the olive in a low heat with the garlic inside, stirring very often, until the garlic starts to get a slightly brown colour, avoiding any burning or your soup will be ruined. In the middle of the process add the Serrano ham. Mix very well.

Coat very well the bread with the oil and paprika
3. Then add over 5 slices of the bread, leave for a minute or so that absorb some oil and turnover the bread. Now remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle over the 2 tbsp. of sweet Spanish paprika (if you like you can use the spicy one as well). Stir everything very well until the bread gets well coloured. Put back the pan in a very low heat for 2 minutes and then add the stock with the laurel leaf. Simmer for 20 minutes, and never allow to boil
4. After 20 minutes, season with salt and pepper and add the remaining bread, let soak in the simmering water for another 3-5 minutes, until the bread has softened. Add an extra tablespoon of olive oil.
5. Crack the eggs and introduce them in the simmering water, let them cook for 2-3 minutes or just how you like to have poached eggs.
6. Remove the laurel leaf. The traditional way of serving is piping hot in an earth bowl! But with any soup bowl will be simple delicious.

Quick Lent Stew or Chickpea Stew. Serves 4

Sometimes I like to top the stew with a chopped boiled egg
You need: 400g canned chickpeas (washed and drain) – 500g fresh or frozen spinach (washed and roughly chopped) - 1 laurel leaf – 2 garlic cloves (peeled and sliced) – 2 white onions (chopped very finely) 1 tbsp Spanish paprika – 2 tomatoes weaving around 150g (peeled and chopped very finely) – 150g cod fillet in chunks – 1tbsp of plain flour – 1tbsp of chopped parsley

1. Heat in a pan with some depth on a medium low heat one tbsp of olive oil, then add the chopped onions and sliced garlic. Sauté 3 minutes and then add the tomatoes, and let simmer for 5 extra minutes. Add to the pan the flour, stir, then add the paprika and without stop stirring cook another extra minute.
2. Add the cod chunks and the laurel leaf cover with 1 litre of cold water or fish stock and let simmer for 15 minutes. Season
3. Add the spinach and parsley; let simmer for another 10 minutes. Finally add the canned chickpeas, simmering for another 4 minutes.

Note: Traditional in Spain they use dry chickpeas soaked overnight and then cooked in simmering water with a laurel leaf. Also traditionally they use salted cod, which as well they leave unsalted overnight for about 36 hours. In Easter they use cod, because the Holy Friday in the Catholic religion you can´t have meat like a sacrifice. On another day is also popular make the same stew, but instead of cod you are using pancetta, black pudding and chorizo; which you remove before adding the spinach and serve them like a side dish.

More: Spanish Easter Tea Time Recipes


Friday, 23 March 2012

Riddle and Finns Fish Restaurant

Riddle and Finns is possibly the best fish restaurant in Brighton. In the small dining room you sit at marble topped tables adorned by silver candlearbras. On the weekend we visited the place was packed but service was friendly and prompt
Being on the coast the fish is clearly fresh and perfectly cooked. There is an extensive wine and champagne list and this reviewer had champagne and guinness served in a silver tankard.

Oyster are prepared in several forms, cold or warm and always delicious, and you always need to take a look of the board were generally you can find the best catch of the day in the locals water where the source and the freshness of the ingredients has been one of the best reason for visit this tinny and atmospheric restaurant.

Another things that I really like in Riddle & Finns it is the bread basket, no just served with with good quality butter but also with fish pâté and tabasco
To eat we had brighton scallops with chorizo to start followed by tempura prawns and smoked haddock fillet with colcannon, poached egg and champagne sauce.
Having eaten here many times I cannot recommend this venue highly enough.

Reviews of the Best Restaurants in Brighton