Moved…

Sofa in VilanovaI’ve moved to Spain.  Permanently.  (I think)  I’ve been meaning to tell you but I didn’t know what to say because I’m not quite settled.  The past year has seen me (and my 3, now completely exhausted and exhausting children) live in Berlin, London, Berlin, Dubai, Berlin, Amman and now Barcelona.

We are still living in rented accommodation with rented furniture while I hunt around for a house.  The other day I showed up for my 12pm appointment and when I rang the real estate office to ask which shop number they were the woman had the temerity to ask me if I could come back at 1?
“No, I can’t because it’s 12 now and I’m here.”
“Ah ok, then just wait in the cafe next door until 12:45″ was the response.
Well the…I walked over to Engel and Völkers for some good old Teutonic reliability but they didn’t have much in the way of houses so…I just asked my short-term let landlady if this could be more of a long term thing.VilanovaSo what am I doing here?  I’m shaking sand out of every conceivable crevice.  No, the big picture is we thought it would be better for the kids.  To grow up by the sea, learning Spanish and French.

I have to rename this blog.  Suzy Eats is taken.  But I could do Suzy Ate At.  Out with Suzy. Or what about Suzy Has a Screw Loose and Needs to Stop Moving Her Kids or Else Face Monstrous Psychologist Bills in the Future?  Too long, maybe?  What about Curiosity and Satisfaction?  Because this blog is all about me getting a hunger itch and scratching it, usually with good results.

Barcalona fan buying some churrosAnd what about all of you that read Foodie in Berlin because it’s about Food in Berlin?  Well, I hope you stick around to see what the food is like around here.  I will post about Berlin but not as frequently as in the past.  Remember, you really are spoilt for choice with blogs in Berlin.  You have Sylee (Berlinreified) who I have said on countless occasions is the original blogger of Berlin.  Luisa’s Berlin blog (Berlin on a Platter). There is Stil in Berlin, who seem to have taken a decisive move into food blogging.  And finally Paul’s Slow Travel Berlin which is a wonderful portal into everything and everyone Berlin.

In the next weeks, I will be putting up the new blog design thanks to the wonderful Daisy Lumley.  Sorting out the name and cleaning up my archives.  And once I have child care sorted, I will be in Berlin, trying out and writing about everything I’ve missed in the few months I’ve been away.

xx Suzy

Out and About in Barcelona – Spain

BarcelonaThis last-minute trip to Barcelona was not meant to be about eating but of course with me: food always finds a way in.

It started on the first night, my husband and I went to meet my father for dinner somewhere, only for the two of us to be whisked off to the 2 Michelin starred Enoteca as my father grinned mischievously and waved us off “You two don’t spend any time alone together!” (It’s true, we rarely do. And I’ve read on all those blogs about the importance of date night but getting my roots done is equally important and I never get to do that either!)

At my insistence, while my husband stared wistfully at the listing of a simple plate of Jamon Iberico, we went for the tasting menu. (My reasoning being that it was better value.) The tasting menu was inspired by the Mediterranean so my husband suffered through quite a few for professional-gourmet-eaters’-only type of dishes. Like a mollusk injected with liquid so that it spurted impolitely when placed in the mouth, followed by what looked like a donut (yay!) but turned out to be filled with a warm reduction of shellfish (gah! even for me, that was challenging). After sitting through 8 courses of that, I looked at my husband, cheeks filled with bread as he tried to dull the vivid seafood impressions and thought, “Wow, this guy must really love me to sit through all this!”Enoteca

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Ruman in Amman, Jordan

Apricot chicken skewersI missed the memo that it was Ramadan, (or I ignored it more likely). So for the past month we’ve been firmly planted at my father’s home in Ruman, Jordan (Ruman means pomegranate in Arabic, lovely, isn’t it?).  The kids and I have been living on our pomegranate hill, which is planted not with pomegranates but with figs, grapes, apples, stone fruit and citrus trees. Read more of this post

Restaurant Story, London Bridge

Restaurant StoryThe purpose of my trip to London is ostensibly to have my yearly dental check up. That I am able to breakfast, lunch and dinner with old friends is a bonus. And treating myself to Dinings, Yashin, La Fromagerie, Rose Bakery and ‘white hotRestaurant Story is – who am I kidding? It’s the best.

Once I secure a lunch time reservation at Restaurant Story, I email my friend Paulina: “Wanna be my date for this?”  Somehow she finds time in her crazy schedule (she’s the head pastry chef at Ottolenghi) and brings me along an epic goody bag that includes homemade cordial.  (Yay!)  Lucky for me because lunch with a nerd in arms is infinitely more enjoyable than dining alone or with someone who eats solely for sustenance or worse still someone on a…a diet.  We  nibble on radishes Peter Rabbit style and suddenly she whips out her iPhone to show me a picture of Daniel Patterson (Coi), Rene Redzepi (Noma), Alex Atala (D.O.M), when they were promoting “Cook it Raw.” in London.  Like I said, nerds. Paulina's picturesRestaurant Story is unique in many ways. Its location, on a traffic island, means I walk past it without registering it. Once I am seated on one of the squat plush chairs, a table side candle is lit (a candle made of beef dripping which I will eat later) and before I’ve even figured out where the menu is (in the book on my table) tiny dishes start cluttering our table.  The sweetest most succulent green peas I’ve ever eaten, interspersed with orbs of black truffle, savoury oreo style cookies, a flopsy flower with a blob of green mousse in its center.  It’s strangely topsy turvy, even for a seasoned eater such as myself.PigeonWith a later engagement looming, we order the 6 course menu (£45) which leaves me staring wistfully at the tables who are on the 10 course menu (£65) – there is no a la carte option.  And it doesn’t matter at all because the place is at fever pitch.  Eating for sport, for pleasure, for culture: it’s very London.  A fact that the adjacent table of 6 men or the couple next to me, iPhone’s coming out with for every course – illustrate perfectly.  If the young staff is irked by this, they don’t show it but continue to smile and explain the layers that make up the deceptively simple looking dishes.  Sometimes one of the chefs comes out to give us even more anecdotes about our ingredients.  Like our potato that has been grown by a man who has been growing tubers for 20 years and excels at making potatoes taste of: potatoes.  There are miniature purple nasturtium leaves and many other herbs besides that have been foraged by the kitchen staff. Read more of this post

Goodbye Dubai!

Goodbye Dubai

It’s been grand. Really it has.

When I left Berlin, post babies, in the middle of  winter (which I hear is still going on despite it being Spring now) and bout after bout of sickness – I was feeling low. I blamed it on motherhood. I blamed it on hormones. I blamed it on the weather. I blamed it on Berlin. I blamed it on whoever was in my line of vision at the time of blame attribution.Lunch at our favorite LebaneseTwo months of sun, help with the babies and friendly locals have done wonders. This morning I was speaking to someone about opening a shop with adorable baby clothing handmade in Burma.  A  little while later I sent an email off to a friend about travel plans. Anything seems possible, again.

I don’t know who those guys are by the way.  They simply walked up to us and asked to be photographed with the twins.

This is what the Middle East does so well.  Friendliness.  Hospitality.  Fun.  Irreverence.  Lots of silliness. The Lime Tree CafeIt’s why they can have places like Scoozi, a restaurant that serves Italian and Sushi.  Neither are particularly good-by the way but sometimes food is just food.  I eat the avocado maki and complain that the tempura is all uncooked carrots and onions until my husband tells me to pipe down because I am giving him indigestion.  He’s right sometimes it’s about having a good time, somewhere close to home, where the twins can sqwuak and flap like baby birds and liter the floor with breadsticks.Arabic breakfast at The Lime Tree Cafe Read more of this post

Peshwa, Maharastrian food, Karama – Dubai

Peshwa“Yemeni, Maharastrian or Malwani for lunch?” Arva asks me.
All of it! I want to say. Despite my palette being unable to conjure impressions of what any of that food will taste like. 1 hour of googling later and I still have no idea.
“I’ll leave it to you.” I answer.
She choses Maharastrian, a South Indian kitchen with an emphasis on vegetables and fish.

Kothimbir WadiWe are here specifically to try the Bombay duck, which is actually a fish that also goes by the name bummalo- you wouldn’t want to meet this fish walking home at night.  They don’t have it that day, Arva discoveres after chatting with the waiter in Urdu.  She orders the Kingfish instead, which comes in thin steaks, battered and fried with a coating of notascrunchyasitshouldbe semolina batter.  A small ceramic tub of tamarind sauce accompanies it.  And we can help ourselves to the tins of sliced onions, cheeks of the miniature lemons they eat here and a chutney.  I take a spoonful of the chutney and shove the whole thing in my mouth. And visibly recoil from the pungent pickle.

“Ah – you are just supposed to dip into it.” Arva explains.

I deploy a more cautious approach for the remainder of the dishes.

Pithla, bharli wangi, jack fruit 'salad'

The neatly lined up squares of gram flour fritters or Kothimbir Wadi are crunchy and hard to stop eating.

My favourite dish is Pithla; bright yellow, coloured by turmeric and chickpea flour and cooked to the consistency of smooth porridge. It’s riddled with mustard seeds – an indication, Arva tells me, that we are moving further South in Indian cooking. As it sits on the table and cools, a skin begins to form. I’m a big lover of skins be they on Romanian ciulama, cornflour thickened Spanish hot chocolate, custard and now Pithla.  I eat and eat – sigh (from pleasure and exertion) and eat some more.

“This is a kind of comfort food.” Avra smiles.

It certainly makes me feel better. Read more of this post

Frying Pan Adventures, Food Tour, Dubai

Avra serving Egyptian falafelI hesitate before booking Arva’s North African Food Safari because it’s in the evening and I can’t justify disrupting 3 children’s night-time routine just so I can eat for curiosity’s sake. Luckily for me, my husband has no such qualms and books the tour for me. (That’s one of the reasons I picked him- he may not be a house husband and he’s probably only changed 30 diapers in the 4 years and three children we’ve had together but he has a knack of recognizing that critical point where I need to be given a nudge or more likely a shove).

Delivery from Al AmoorI meet the group in the bachelor section of Deira. An odd collection of restaurants with garish signs which are interspersed at regular intervals by bustling barber shops. I feel like the only woman on earth, circling the restaurant waiting for the group to appear.

Arva counting down the top 10 spices in Moroccan foodThen I see the blur of movement that are Arva’s arms as she excitedly explains something to the two women in sensible walking shoes flanking her, oblivious to their surroundings as she draws them in with countless anecdotes.

We settle down to our first tasting. Crunchy brik stuffed with tuna and an egg, its yolk oozing out brightly as we cut into it. While we eat, she hands out her iPad so we can watch a video of a woman making warka pastry.

IMG_1729The tour is 350 AED (€73) for 4 hours.  I was expecting an informal evening, where Arva would show us her places and we would chat.  Instead it’s an extremely well-organized tour.  We are given a branded Frying Pan Adventures bottle cooler, wet wipes and a pamphlet of illustrated vocabulary words that we encounter during our eating adventure.  It doesn’t stop there, Arva peppers all her explanations of food with relevant historical facts.

At the Egyptian restaurant Al Amoor over a plate of fava falafel and koshari one of the women in the tour turns around and asks me if I am ok because I am very quiet.  I get even quieter.  Normally you can’t shut me up, I interrupt frequently and rarely realize in time to apologise but around Arva there is so much to learn that I even – wait for it – take out a pen and paper to jot down some notes.

IMG_1719At Tajeen Alfassi she asks to smell the Ras El Hanout and the men that work there start smiling. “They will always smile when you say Ras El Hanout because it used to contain Spanish Fly.” There is a murmur of laughter from the group. I open up my notebook and jot down Spanish Fly?.  (It’s an aphrodisiac)

IMG_1738We try Omani Halwa which is a rose scented sweet not unlike the gunge that sticks to your teeth after eating Jelly Beans.  At first I think, “No.” but it’s surprisingly moreish.  “They eat it for weddings and funerals.” Arva tells us.  I eat it for dessert the next day with yogurt and the contrast of sweet room temperature stickiness with the cold sour yogurt – heaven – two better bedfellows never existed. Read more of this post

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