Postcard from Zaragoza, Spain: Seductive scallops and marisquerias

Above: Zamburinas at Marisqueria Tony

Faithful making the long Camino de Santiago pilgrimage crossing from France through Spain, perhaps a 500-mile hike, wanted to return with a souvenir as proof of the arduous journey afoot. A shell found commonly on the Galician coast just beyond the route’s destination of Santiago de Compostela became that evidence, a variegated or calico sea scallop, zamburina.

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Postcard from Bordeaux, France: French and other worldly flavors

Above: Grilled fresh sardines at La Pointe Chartrons

We’ve taken you to eat, virtually only, in Bordeaux’s Marche des Capucins and along Rue du Ha, so now we’re going to wander willy-nilly through the city for a final wrap-up of restaurants we sampled.

Located along the Quai des Chartrons, Pastel was among our favorite contemporary French restaurants in Bordeaux. Lunch requires reservations, and, waiting late, we only succeeded in obtaining those once. The soft lemony cheese appetizer with eggplant and tomato confit was particularly refreshing and memorable.

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Postcard from Malaga, Spain: Flavorful alternatives add depth to food scene

Mariscal, Peruvian-style marinated seafood at Aborigen Restaurante

More than any other location we visited in Andalucia, Malaga seemed willing to embrace global food influences. There were several South American restaurants in the center of the city that took full advantage of the city’s fresh seafood, translating into great ceviche. We made multiple visits to and recommend both Aborigen Restaurante and Andino Gastrobar.

Alexso Restaurante delivers an intimate contemporary experience with excellent service on a level that should soon merit stars, yet without the high prices that characterize those discovered restaurants. Our lunches there included such dishes as moist sea bass perched atop seafood rigatoni, succulent suckling pig and white chocolate flan with violet ice cream.

The Italian restaurants we tried were good as well. The pizza and the saucy eggplant emerging from the oven at U Siciliano Bar Ristorante; the only disappointment was the supply of arancini had run out when we visited. The bruschetta and pastas at Radici Osteria Italia were perfect and the outside tables on a primarily pedestrian street were pleasant, but do not expect lightening-fast service.

Plus Malaga has some vegetarian options. Locals pack Vegetariano el Calafate for their multi-course lunch specials, so reservations are advisable.

The biggest surprise was hidden amongst a row of restaurants lining one side of Plaza Mercedes. The outdoor umbrella-shaded patios provide pleasant people-watching spots so attract a high number of tourists and drinkers. The fresh vegetarian dishes emerging from Canadu were a higher caliber than the offerings of many of its neighbors and inexpensive for such a prime location. Apple and pine nut croquetas, Persian rice, asparagus and mushroom risotto and mountainous fresh salads made us repeat customers.