Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Global Cuisine: Berlin, Melbourne, Oslo and Zurich

Tapas in Toledo, Brats in Bremen, Pizza in Palermo......one would think, right?  Oddly enough, there are times along my travels that my taste buds less desire the cuisine of the city I'm in, but something totally different.  Familiarity often overrides my not so curious taste buds.  When in Tokyo I had Irish, in Berlin it was French Vietnamese, in Melbourne I found tapas, pizza in Oslo and most recently Mexican in Zurich.  Sometimes it happens.

Here are a few restaurant picks that I feel in love with, wished I could pack in my carry bag to take home, and in my opinion, just simply offered great food.  Given the opportunity to experience these amazing eateries, I hope you'd agree:

Berlin, Germany:
  • Monsieur Vuong -  I highly recommend this busy hot spot in the"Mitte" district in Berlin, not just for the cuisine, but also the ambiance.  This French Vietnamese restaurant is a true delight. The flavours of the food and drinks are outstanding.  My choice was the special of the day, a chicken dish with mango and coconut curry with shredded greens and toasted shallots on top, an iced green tea with lychee, mint and lime and the chicken salad starter with dumplings.  My palette was sooooo excited and drowning in flavours, that it was a virtual party in my mouth.  Yum!   I'll miss not being in a position to access this little spot, with a big vibe, regularly.  Until next time Berlin.  

Melbourne, Australia:
  • MoVida Tapas y Vino - This small joint was so packed that I couldn't be accommodated the first time I set foot in the door.  Now, being even more curious, lured by the decor, energy of the place and patrons willing to wait, I made a second attempt returning the following day.  I was lucky to be offered a spot at the bar where seating was on a first come, first serve basis, since the reservation list was again full.  It was a tapas restaurant unlike any I'd ever been to.  The food was brilliant, but not plentiful.  The servings were artful and small and the presentations photo worthy.  I recall a sliver of onion that was so flavourful and amazing that I still dream of it to this day.  The tapas selections I made were the spiced chicken escabache on a crisp crouton, the beetroot with buffalo milk curd and onion, marinated green olives with citrus, garlic and thyme and the salt cod in a pastry with egg.  Not your typical tapas selections, right?  In this case, change is good.  Don't bypass MoVida Next Door, the more casual sister restaurant adjacent to MoVida.   I had no time to take it in on this visit, which simply means, there will be another time. 

Oslo, Norway:
  • Eataly - I remember it being a brisk evening in Oslo, as I walked alone looking for somewhere interesting to eat, when I can across this busy and well established restaurant, Eataly.  Eataly is not your small Italian mom and pop restaurant, but instead offers locations worldwide.  After spending a bit of time with the menu I decided on the pizza with prosciutto and mushrooms, always a favorite.  To my expectation the thin crust pizza cooked in a wood burning oven was amazing and memorable to this day.  The ingredients were fresh and the setting friendly.  Though is was chilly outside, the patio was open and equipped with heat lamps, sheepskin chair bottoms and throw blankets in case you weren't deterred by the weather.  I washed my pizza down with a nice glass of Chianti and called it a night.  That evening is a moment not forgotten.  

Zurich, Switzerland:

  • Tres Amigos - This cozy Mexican restaurant was just what I needed.  The food was comforting and the margaritas sufficiently strong and yummy.  The decor is festive with burgundy and mustard walls.  Mexican tiles drape the stairs and appropriate Mexican style trinkets and souvenirs placed throughout help to create a warm and inviting space.  For starters there were  chips and assorted salsas, followed by a well spiced chicken fajita entre and chicken enchilada.  I must admit, having traveled the world, realizing how difficult good Mexican cuisine is to find, Tres Amigo held it's own.  To my surprise, I can honestly say that Tres Amigos was well worth the visit.  By the look of the fully packed restaurant, it was evident that I was not alone in thinking so.

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