Ubud offers a wide choice of restaurants, from cheap places serving local cuisine to trendy fusion joints. New places open every month, but not all of them stay open that long, and often it is the places that have been around for years that are the most reliable for quality of food, innovative cooking and price. Balinese cuisine can be refined, surprising and utterly delicious, but Ubud also has its fair share of bland western fast food – pizza, pasta, tex-mex, even fish and chips. Avoid them and discover the delights of authentic satay, suckling pig, grilled fish and local vegetables served at these places.
Ibu Oka Warung
Tucked away in a spot opposite the former Royal Palace, Ibu Oka’s shanty cafe is an Ubud institution that draws both locals and food lovers from around the world. Babi guling is Balinese roast suckling pig and that, and only that, is what everyone is here to feast on. The restaurant opens at around 10.30am and the tables fill up quickly. The roast pigs themselves – they get through around 30 each day – aren’t cooked on the premises but arrive by motorbike, precariously balanced on a tray. Swiftly sliced up, they are served in big chunks in a rattan bowl with rice, fried intestines, spicy vegetables and Ibu Oka’s secret sauce. The pork is unbelievably succulent and the crackling is the best you will ever taste, all for a grand total of £2.
• Jalan Tegal, +62 (0)361 976435
Padang food comes from the Muslim island of Sumatra, so it is halal, with no pork on the menu. But it has become immensely popular on Bali, with a couple of stalls in every village, setting out a feast of up to 20 dishes at lunchtime and dinner, to be eaten on the spot or taken home. Puteri Minang has both the best quality and the widest selection of Padang in Bali – to tempt the most adventurous foodie: sambal prawns, curried fish, deep-fried baby eels, spicy rendang (coconut beef), plus a dozen vegetarian dishes such as aubergine, okra, jackfruit and tempeh. It is very easy to get carried away with the self-service system of Padang food, but even if you end up with heaps of food you’ll still pay less than a couple of pounds.
• Jalan Raya Ubud 77,+62 (0)361 975577
Bebek Bengil means the Dirty Duck Diner, and the anglicised name is used by locals and tourists alike. It is difficult to imagine a more beautiful, relaxed place to savour Bali’s most famous dish, bebek tutu (smoked duck). The whole menu here is almost entirely dedicated to the humble duck – crispy fried duck, duck in chilli sauce, duck fried rice – but the speciality, smoked duck, has to be ordered 24 hours in advance. Smothered in Balinese spices and wrapped in betel leaves, it is slowly smoked for a whole day. Served with rice, satay and vegetables, a whole duck for two people will set you back £13. There is a main restaurant building, but it is fun to reserve one of the traditional bamboo pondoks, raised huts with a long table and cushions, looking out over the rice fields.
• Jalan Hanoman, +62 361 975489
Although Cafe Lotus has opened restaurants all over the island, none can compare with the original location, created in 1982 as a bohemian meeting place for local artists and backpackers. Prices have gone up significantly since then, but so has the standard of the food, and this remains one of the most beautiful places in Ubud to have dinner. The cafe looks out over an immense lotus pond bordered by tall flowering trees, and beyond that is the Pura Saraswati temple, which at night comes to life with performances of Balinese dancing accompanied by a gamelan orchestra. Be aware, though, that if you reserve a front-row table during the dance, the price of the performance is added to the bill. The menu here is eclectic to say the least, with dishes ranging from Balinese be-pasih goa lawah (fish marinated in turmeric, lemon grass and ginger then steamed in a banana leaf) to tuna carpaccio or the vegetarian favourite, lentil and shitake soup. If you have a glass of wine as well, the bill will come to £10-15.
• Jalan Raya Ubud, +62 (0)361 975660, lotus-restaurants.com
Although this restaurant has been around for a long time, the cuisine has changed over the years, and today dining at Ibu Rai is full of surprises, with dishes that blend Asian, European and Pacific Rim flavours. On the main menu, try the spicy Thai beef coconut salad or a delicious Balinese chicken avocado salad. Also check the blackboard for specials such as plump honey and ginger glazed prawns sautéed with garlic. Main courses like this cost around £4. Although it is on the busy Monkey Forest Road, the restaurant is set back and the tranquil open dining room is surrounded by plants, flowers, antiques and stone statues.
• Monkey Forest Road, +62 (0)361 973472, iburai.com
Warung Rai Pasti
Try to get one of the tables hidden away at the back of this newly opened warung: they have fabulous views over the rice paddies. Rai Pasti is well-known as Ubud’s finest tailor, and she has moved her workshop off the main road and turned the place into a cheap and cheerful cafe. But it is worth noting that if you want clothes made, she is still the person to go to. This is the place to try simple Balinese classics, like soto ayam (chicken noodle broth), ikan pepes (fish with spice paste steamed in banana leaves), and tempeh goreng (bean curd fried with a sweet sambal sauce). You’ll see babi guling on the menu too, and this is a great place for suckling pig – which comes direct from Rai Pasti’s sister, the famous Ibu Oka – except here you don’t have to queue to be served. Main dishes £2-3.
• Monkey Forest Road, +62 (0)361 970908
Naughty Nuri’s Warung and Grill
Driving along Jalan Raya you can see the clouds of smoke and smell the irresistible aroma of barbecue long before arriving at Naughty Nuri’s. This is a favourite expat hangout; no one can say the food is Balinese, but anyone who doesn’t grab one the wooden tables in this rickety shack is missing out both on a slice of local life and some of the best ever barbecued spare ribs, lamb and pork chops, and fresh tuna. The atmosphere is always riotous, because the dirty martinis are as good as the food – celeb chef Anthony Bourdain claims they are the best he has drunk outside of New York. The bill should be reasonable, with a plate of ribs costing £4.50, but who knows how many martinis you might order.
• Jalan Raya Sanggingan, tel: +62 (0)361 977547
Warung Nasi Be Tutu
Tourists visit Ubud’s market by the busload, and all they see is store after store on the main street selling Balinese arts and crafts. But down in the basement is a lively food market whose food stalls that will provide an adventure even for the bravest foodie. The place is very dark, with shafts of brilliant sunlight occasionally breaking through, and there is always a crowd of market workers and shoppers hunched on small wooden stools around Wauring Nasi Be Tutu. Kuming serves the food while her mother tends pots and grills on charcoal braziers at the back. The menu is limited but very tasty – simple roast duck, chicken and pork satay smothered in spicy peanut sauce, and soto ayam soup. This Balinese brunch will cost little more than a pound, but come early as everything is finished by around 11am.
• Ubud Market, Jalan Raya
If you are going to splash out on one gourmet meal in Ubud, reserve a table at Mozaic. The stunning cuisine of Franco-American chef Chris Salans would be garlanded with Michelin stars if this were Europe or America. Eat here in the evening, as a meal can take several hours, and tables are laid out in a magical candle-lit tropical garden. Diners are presented with a choice of two tempting six-course tasting menus that change daily. Salans cooks what inspires him in the moment – sometimes he creates recipes during the evening and doesn’t even tell the waiters, proposing dishes like beef tenderloin and ripe jackfruit in a vermouth and balsamic reduction or grilled yellow-fin tuna with a kaffir lime leaf dressing, and then a ripe tomme de savoie cheese from France, with black truffle honey and apricot sorbet. You’re sure to have a memorable evening, but the tasting menus cost £45-£60 a head, before you’ve ordered wine.
• Jalan Raya Sanggingan, tel: +62 (0)361 975768, mozaic-bali.com
If Mozaic seems a bit steep, there is an alternative for a memorable dinner. E xpensive by Ubud standards, but a bargain compared with back home, Lamak is a funky diner of the kind you’d normally find in Bali’s hip Semanyak neighbourhood, just north of Kuta. You can sit outside in the lush tropical garden, looking out at the bustling open kitchen, or at a romantic table upstairs in one of the few air-conditioned dining rooms in Ubud, should the heat and humidity get too much. The menu is filled with enticing dishes like sweetbreads with crusted asparagus and turmeric sauce, seared goose liver on glazed apple with a cranberry sauce, and a wonderful Balinese bouillabaisse of barbecued seafood in a tangy starfruit and lemongrass soup. The five-course tasting menu costs £20.
• Monkey Forest Road, +62 (0)361 973482, lamakbali.com
Endless snacking: one of Taiwan’s most beloved traditions. Traditional street stalls and tiny restaurants litter the streets, and some of the most famous attractions are night markets jam-packed with vendors hawking snack-sized portions of fried chicken and tempura With a veritable glut of delectable choices, focusing your appetite can seem an impossible task. Let a local get you started with 10 traditional snack food (小吃) suggestions essential to any Taiwan visit.
1. Oyster Omelet (蚵仔煎)
As an island country, Taiwan loves its seafood. Oyster omelets, which originated in Taiwan, are commonly considered one of the world’s most addictive dishes. Piles of fresh oysters dumped on top of crispy fried eggs and thickened with potato starch give the oysters a thick, chewy texture that both contrasts and complements the crunchiness of the egg. Right before they’re taken off the grill, the omelets are topped with cilantro and savory sauce to add layers of taste and texture. At Shilin Night Market in Taipei—one of Taiwan’s largest and most widely renowned night markets—numerous stalls peddle this tantalizing traditional treat.
2. Slack Season’s Dan Zai Noodles (擔仔麵)
A Tainan fisherman allegedly invented this pork-and-prawn dish a century ago when he decided to sell noodles during the slack season. Egg noodles are served in a shrimp-based soup with minced pork, bean sprouts and a sprinkling of coriander. His noodles were so popular that he gave up fishing to dish up dan zai noodles full time. His store, Slack Season (度小月擔仔麵), still resides in Tainan, a city known for its Taiwanese snack foods. Street stalls throughout Taiwan have adopted dan zai noodles as a national dish.
3. Iron Eggs (鐵蛋)
Iron eggs are quail eggs marinated in soy sauce until black and chewy. The eggs are repeatedly braised in soy sauce and spices over the course of several days. Iron eggs wer allegedly invented when a cook, Huang Zhangnian (黃張哖), decided to re-cook leftover marinated eggs after they had cooled. Her store, A-Po’s Iron Eggs (阿婆鐵蛋) is still running and is located in the bustling markets of Danshui, a seaside town north of Taipei. Eggs come fresh in boxes or vacuum-sealed plastic for you to take home as delicious souvenirs.
4. Tempura (甜不辣)
Don’t be fooled by the name—this is NOT the Japanese tempura famous in sushi shops across the US. Taiwanese tempura is spiced seafood paste molded into different shapes, deep-fried and boiled in broth. The fried tempura are eaten separately from the broth and smothered in sauce. The broth is then poured back into the bowl at the end to wash out the remnants of the sauce and tempura. Tempura come in various flavors depending on the seafood (fish, shrimp, octopus or scallop). The Keelung Temple Night Market in Keelung, famous for its fresh seafood, is the ideal place to try tempura.
5. Fried Chicken (鹽酥雞)
This isn’t your typical Colonel Sanders Kentucky fry. Taiwan removed the bones and chopped the chicken into bite-sized chunks for marination. The chicken pieces are deep-fried, seasoned with salt and white pepper and served as snack food. The chicken is usually fried up with basil for an extra layer of flavor. You can also mix your chicken with other fried foods. Some popular variations are mushrooms, fish balls, and seafood. Eat them on skewers as you wander the Feng Chia Night Market in Taichung, the originator of this addictive snack.
6. Scallion Pancakes (蔥抓餅)
Traditional scallion pancakes are comprised of flatbread dough folded with oil and scallions, fried up and served piping hot. Flaky with a crispy outer covering, scallion pancakes are sometimes served thin with an egg coating, slathered with sauce and folded for easy transport. Some stalls add meat and vegetables for a more filling meal. Other stalls fold fillings, usually scallions and pork, in the middle of the dough before frying. A popular snack across Taiwan, every stall has their own variations and specialities! Try scallion pancakes at any night market for a delicious start to your night.
7. Large Sausage Wrapped around a Small Sausage (大腸包小腸)
Think of it as a Taiwanese hotdog. Traditional Taiwanese sausages are generally pork-based and relatively sweet with emulsified fat and meat. The sausage is wrapped in sticky rice to form a huge sausage. Like American hotdogs, they are eaten with condiments—but not of the Heinz and French’s variety. Thick soy sauce and pickled vegetables make palatable add-ons. Find the biggest and tastiest sausages at Shi Lin Night Market in Taipei, thought to have invented the dish a couple decades ago.
8. Stinky Tofu (臭豆腐)
Stinky tofu is infamous. While its smell may be initially off-putting, this snack is worth pinching your nose. You may even come to like the fragrance after several bites. While variations of stinky tofu are found throughout China, Taiwan is unique in deep-frying the tofu on a skewer before piling on pickled vegetables and sauce. The vegetables cut the greasiness from the frying, while the sauce smothers some of the smell and adds a savoriness to the dish. Every stall has its own variations on the vegetables and sauce, so try it at any—or all—night markets. Just make sure it’s freshly out of the fryer when you dig in.
9. Pork Vermicelli (米線)
While Taiwanese vermicelli is usually served with oysters, one of the best vermicelli places in the heart of Taipei removes the oysters completely and stews it with intestines. Ah-Chung Flour Rice Noodles in Xi Men Ding only serves intestine noodles, and it’s not hard to see why. Served in a thick, savory soup base, the noodles are tender and slurpable, and the pork intestines are soft but chewy. Splash in a bit of chili and black vinegar, and you have the best belly-warming food for a stroll through the bustling streets of Taipei at night.
10. Pork Ball (貢丸湯)
A helping of pork balls in clear soup makes a mouth-watering conclusion to a night of lip-smacking indulgence. These aren’t quite Western-style meatballs. They have a similar texture to fish paste balls and are typically cooked in a clear, bone-based broth with coriander leaves and green onions. The clear soup will cleanse your palate at the end of a long night, and the chewy pork balls add just enough flavor and texture to hold your interest. Hsinchu is famous for its pork balls, so have a taste at the City God Temple Night Market downtown.
Of course, the best way to enjoy these dishes is all together. Grab a snack-size serving of each dish and keep walking—and eating. I guarantee you’ll be full and satisfied by the end of the night!
Porto is where this trip all began; it’s where I had my first taste of Portugal. I instantly fell in love with its shabby chic exterior and was amazed by the friendliness of the people. Little did I know this was just a precursor for what was to come.
Faro is an excellent starting point for exploring the Algarve. There are no actual beaches in the city, you need to take a water taxi or bus to get to them, but it does have a lovely port and impressive old town (Cidade Velha).
Just a little over an hour away from Faro by train is Portimão. This is where I ended up basing myself during my time in the Algarve and where I thoroughly stuffed myself with the most delectable seafood I’ve had in a long time. Out of all the towns I visited in the south, this one felt like it was the most geared towards package holidaymakers. There isn’t much to see in the way of sights but Praia da Rocha, its most popular beach, more than made up for that with its seemingly endless stretch of golden sand.
Forty kilometers away from Portimão is Sagres, the most south-western point in Europe. There are several buses throughout the day that can transport you back and forth but to get out to Cape St. Vincent and some of its beaches, a rented car or taxi is the best way to go. Sagres is the spot in the Algarve where you come to surf and feel small. Peering out over the end of the world, literally on the edge of Europe, was one of the most unforgettable experiences I’ve ever had.
I’m not the first, nor certainly the last to have been won over by Lagos. It’s in between Sagres and Portimão, so also easily accessible by public transportation. Lagos really packs quite a punch for its small size in terms of beautiful beaches and vigorous nightlife. It was definitely my favorite spot in the Algarve and a place I could definitely see myself staying for an entire summer (though not sure how much I would actually get done!).
Out of all the stops I made while in Portugal, Madeira was the one I was surprised by the most. I knew it was an island, but had no idea how much it would feel more like a tropical island somewhere in the Caribbean than southern Europe. Its capital Funchal is quite cosmopolitan for island standards yet take a drive about 30 minutes to the north and you will find yourself in the middle of a UNESCO-protected laurel forest.
Lisbon is one of the sexiest capitals I have visited. Built on seven hills and situated on the Tagus, you can imagine just what kind of gorgeous views you can find around the city at any hour of the day. Taking a ride on Tram 28 is the perfect introduction to Lisboa – just make sure you get on early as these things get packed! I was lucky to have stayed in the heart of Alfama where I managed to acquire a Portuguese grandmother within a period of five days. Though she didn’t speak a word of English nor I Portuguese, I forged some kind of bond with the lady living downstairs from me that I can only hope will be rekindled somewhere down the line.
An easy day trip from Lisbon is over to Sintra – a hilltop town that looks like something straight out of a fairytale. Pena Castle is by far the most attention-grabbing with its pastel colors and dreamlike architecture. Oh, to have been a Portuguese queen!
Brazil has some pretty tasty street food. Not as crazy and varied as, say, Mexico or Taiwan. This makes sort of easy to rank the best street food, as any list like that by anyone would have more or less the same choices. But probably in a different order.
10 – Pamonha
Pamonhas are like tamales, except they’re made out of the corn itself, not out of corn meal. Brazilian corn is very fibrous and not too sweet, so the mashed corn can go into the wrapper and be boiled directly in water. There are sweet and savoury pamonhas. The pamonha vendor occurs in many forms and shapes. She can walk down the street playing a triangle, or drive a car full of pamonhas playing the chant through loudspeakers. The pamonha car drives people crazy, it’s so annoying. More about pamonha here.
9 – Espetinho de camarão
Of all the numerous skewers you can get in the street in Brazil, from chicken hearts to succulent beef, from spicy sausage to cheese, the shrimp one in my favourite. Usually sold at the beach, I always have to get one or two, throwing all my health concerns out in the ocean.
8 – Queijo coalho
Image Credit: ligafcc.com.br
OK, this is the other kebab I get at the beach. Fresh cheese grilled in front of you. It tastes like it should, so it’s not out of this world, but it’s there, you’re hungry, and you get to chat with the vendor and it’s relaxing to see it being made, I guess.
7 – Empadinha
|Image by Flicker user charles. c|
Every culture in the world has some version of this: a seasoned meat with vegetables packed inside some dough and baked. In Brazil our little pies are empadinhas, and they have the traditional fillings of shrimp or palm hearts or chicken (people experiment a lot with non-traditional fillings). Found mostly at beaches and at the corner bar or bakery. And in my house: my empadinhas are killers.
6 – Tapioca (cuscuz)
A type of tapioca pudding made from tapioca balls (like the ones used for bubble tea, just much smaller and transparent), grated coconut, coconut milk and served with condensed milk on top, it pleases immensely the sweet teeth out there. I’m getting into a sugar coma just by writing about it. It’s called tapioca in São Paulo (which causes a considerable amount of confusion with tapioquinha, see below) and cuscuz in Rio (don’t get me started with this confusion – there some 78 dishes called cuscuz in Brazil, all very different).
5 – Caldo de cana
|Photo by Flicker user kawanet|
Sugar cane juice or garapa, freshly squeezed, is also a bomb of sugar. Very pleasant “herbal” taste. Drunk pure or mixed with lime juice or pineapple juice. Found at the feira (farmer’s market), a place that equals paradise in my little universe.
4 – Tapioquinha
A delicate crepe made with tapioca starch. It’s sort of magical seeing the flower (polvilho), just by itself, with no grease or any other ingredients, turning into this crispy and chewy little crepe just by pan grilling it. My favourite filling is cheese, but coconut and condensed milk is also popular. This is native food, directly from the jungle to the streets and farmer’s markets of Brazilian urban centres.
3 – Acarajé
Acarajé is so important in the culture of the state of Bahia that I cannot really make it justice in one paragraph. It’s a deep fried ball filled with a wonderful dried shrimp stew called vatapá. The dough is made through a laborious process of mashing black eyed peas. The vendor is always a woman who dresses in a particular way, called “baiana.” They’re officially considered “national immaterial cultural heritage.” The dish is Afro-Brazilian and it has many religious connotations, so much so that some born-again Christian acarajé vendors in Salvador refuse to call their dish “acarajé,” calling it instead “Jesus balls.” I know.
2 – Tacacá
Another food institution, this time from the North. Tacacá mixes African, Portuguese and Indigenous ingredients in a bowl of happiness. It’s a complex mix of manioc juice (the broth itself takes days to prepare), dried shrimp, tapioca starch and a green vegetable called jambu that makes your mouth tingle and literally water due to the presence of the chemical spilanthol.
|Image by flicker user Fernando Remedios|
It’s sold in the streets of cities in Acre, Amazonas, Pará, and Rondônia by the tacacazeira.Tacacá is not only my favourite street food, it’s probably my favourite food, period.
1 – Pastel
Image Credit: Wikipedia
No one knows for sure the true origins of pastel de feira, but the speculation is that Japanese immigrants invented this when they came to São Paulo over a century ago. It’s basically a giant deep-fried dumpling. It’s mandatory to have a pastel in the feira (farmer’s market) when you go to São Paulo. The typical “barraca de pastel” (pastel stall) is still mainly operated by Japanese-Brazilians. Twenty years ago, there were four or five kinds: cheese, ground beef, shrimp, pizza (cheese, tomato and oregano), and palm hearts, but now you can find something like 20 kinds, including chocolate. The dried cod one is to die for. Wash it down with sugar cane juice.
See when she pokes a hole in the pastel? That’s to prevent the eater from having third degree burns with the hot steam.
1. Inlagt sill (pickled herring)
Herring was staple fare for the fishing communities in the islands, inlets and archipelagos off the West Coast of Sweden. A watch would be kept for the plentiful shoals off the coast and the boats sent out to bring in the herring, which would be smoked, pickled or salted to sustain families through the long, hard winters. Many of the coastal towns also had factories and canneries that packed and preserved the herring and provided much of the local employment. In Gothenburg, especially in the winter you’ll find herring served in endless varieties with spices and sauces – everyone’s granny has their own family recipe that’s been handed down from their mother to daughter. At hotel breakfasts and buffets you may notice large bowls with different styles of herring and you can look out them at the counters in the Feskekörka fish market in Gothenburg. We enjoyed this fish and herring platter with four different types of herring at Restaurant Gabriel in the Feskekörka.
On high days and holiday, at Easter, Christmas and during the summer crayfish parties and practically any time there’s an excuse, the Swedes will bring out the Snaps. It’s an aquavit with attitude that can be flavoured with fruits or drunk just as it comes. O.P Anderson is a favourite brand and the snaps goes particularly well with the herring, cutting through the rich, oily flavour. You can hear a traditional Snaps drinking song on my podcast about Gothenburg. If you’re not a great drinker like me then a sip will be enough to warm you through, but a true Swede will knock back the Snaps with a hearty Viking toast, Skol!
We were in Gothenburg in December which is the perfect time to try the ultra-fresh oysters caught off the West Coast of Sweden. There are many fantastic seafood restaurants in the city but we tried our oysters at Restaurant Gabriel in the Feskekörka Fish Market (literally the Fish Church). The owner Johan Malm was the World Champion Oyster Opener in the 2010 Championships held in Galway, Ireland so I reckon that he should know a thing about oysters. Johan told us that although there are many ways to serve oysters, he always prefers them as natural as possible with just a squeeze of lemon to bring out the metallic taste of the sea. The trick is to make sure that you don’t just swallow them down but chew properly to get the full flavour. You can hear my interview with Johan Malm with all his oyster stories in my podcast about Gothenburg.
4. The Christmas Table or Julbord
In December and the run up to Christmas, many hotels and restaurants serve the Julbord or Christmas table – a buffet where you can try all the traditional foods that would be served at Christmas. There’s an emphasis on the pickled and the preserved that would keep you going through the winter, with plenty of herring, smoked salmon, cured meats and stuffed eggs. The old Swedish tradition was always to keep a pig and then kill it near Christmas. The Julbord can be eaten over an extended lunchtime or in the evening and is especially popular at weekends for families and groups of friends, to get you in the festive mood. We enjoyed the spread at our hotel, Elite Plaza served in the Swea Hof restaurant and I’ve also had a local Gothenburg recommendation for the Julbord at Sjömagasinet, situated at the mouth of Gothenburg harbour as well as Salt & Sill which is 40km north of Gothenburg, and would be one to try if you have a car or are touring West Sweden.
5. Herring from a cart
If you’re on a budget and want to try a classic Swedish fish dish then make sure that you are in Magasinsgatan around lunchtime on a weekday to find the Strömmingsluckan herring cart open (it’s in the courtyard right by Cafe Da Matteo). The owner Thomas told us that these street food carts are very common in East Sweden but there are not so many in West Sweden so they decided to open one to serve traditional fried herring with creamy mashed potato and lingonberry sauce – it was yummy – if you don’t believe me watch the video!
6. Take a Fika break – coffee and cinnamon buns
If you didn’t realise the Swedes are great drinkers of coffee, you’ll work it out as soon as you get to Gothenburg. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafts from coffee bars in alleyways and courtyards – in winter a cosy place to get out of the chilly winds and in summer a place to relax in a courtyard or park. Fika is what they call it in Sweden – to have a Fika is to have a coffee break, a chat with friends and pass the time of day, perhaps sustained with a cake or traditional cinnamon bun. The cinnamon buns are ENORMOUS swirls of sugary-spicy sweetness, reputedly invented at Cafe Husaren in the heart of Haga – you can’t miss them piled up the window on the main street of Haga Nyata.
In the neighbourhood of Nordstaden, not far from the port there’s Cafe Kronhuset in the courtyard next to the oldest building in Gothenburg, an old artillery store with copper shutters and some craft shops around the courtyard. Then there’s the local’s choice, Cafe Da Matteo with a small branch in the courtyard at Magasinsgatan and across the courtyard a larger branch where they make the bread and grind the coffee as well as a small branch in Viktoriapassagen. In the old working neighborhood of Haga you’ll be spoiled for Fika choice. We tried Cafe Kringlan, marked out by the golden bagel outside and the stunning selections of cakes, pastries and buns inside and then right at the far end of Haga Nyata we came across Le Petit Cafe with sea green chinoiserie wallpaper and vintage knick knacks – so very olde worlde Swedish.
7. Chocolate with sea salt
For chocolate with an unusual salty sweetness, seek out one of the Kanold chocolate shops . The one at the end of Viktoriapassagen is a cross between old fashioned candy store and boutique chocolatier with striped candy canes, marzipan pigs and melt in the mouth chocolate truffles with sophisticated and unusual taste combinations. The house speciality is the “Gothenburg Truffle’” invented by the boss of Flickorna (The Girls) Kanold, Jeanna Kanold, a charming lady who I found serving in the shop on the Sunday before Christmas that I was there. She told me how she invented the Gothenburg truffle which has a soft truffle centre topped with flakes of sea salt because she wanted a flavour that epitomised the taste of West Sweden with the ocean and the seafood.
The Cafe Kanold just around the corner is elegantly styled with sparkling chandeliers and washed out Swedish blue woodwork. I can recommend the hot chocolate with chili flakes to keep out the cold and send you out with renewed energy for exploring Gothenburg. I’ll be amazed if you leave without buying a few of those tempting chocolates and cakes at the counter.
8. Michelin Star Restaurants in Gothenburg
I can’t go without mentioning that Gothenburg has a huge reputation as a gourmet destination and was recently crowned the Culinary Capital of Sweden with no less than 5 Michelin star restaurants to enjoy. We were lucky enough to eat at Basement, where I met the Head Chef, Camilla Parkner to find out what makes the food in Gothenburg so special. You can read my account of our meal at Basement and my video interview with Camilla in my article about Gourmet Gothenburg.
Of course, eating at a Michelin star restaurant can be expensive and something that most of us would reserve for a special treat or celebration meal but if you’re looking for the gourmet experience then do make a reservation at one of the top Michelin star restaurants in Gothenburg. They often offer a more reasonably priced lunchtime menu, or a cheaper pre-theatre or bar menu so you can still try them out if you’re on a limited budget. In addition to Basement, the other Michelin star restaurants in Gothenburg are;
28+ (Just next door to Basement) which started as a cheese shop; Kock & Vin for classic dining with Swedish ingredients and in the basement is a popular bistro and wine bar Bjorns Bar; Fond in a glass building by the Gothenburg Museum of Art and Thörnströms Kök for modern Scandinavian and regional cooking
Paris may have some of the best (and most expensive) restaurants in the world, but for those hoping to save a little money or looking for something a little bit different while about town, here are the top five spots for street food in Paris.
Ah Paris: the land of soufflés and escargot, of fine vin and decadent fromage. Yet, for those of us who aren’t living on Cloud Nine, life isn’t all snails and cheese. The real world of Paris isn’t entirely clichés out of your grandmother’s cookbook, and thus there are many low-budget, comparatively exotic alternatives to the high-end world that ends up in most travel guides. So Voila! The street food of Paris is waiting to be tasted.
Gyros of Saint Michel
Just a stone’s throw away from the grand Notre Dame Cathedral is a winding road of humongous Greek eats. An “Extra Pita Grecque,” for 4.50 euros, is the best fast food around. A large pita is stuffed with predominately chicken shawarma, cut from a rotisserie of meat at the window, then lettuce and tomato is added, and finally the pita is filled to the top with French fries. If you’re lucky, you’ll get extra “sauce blanche,” or tzatziki, a creamy yogurt-based cucumber and garlic sauce. There are variations of the “Grecque” at these stands, but your best bet is the massive sandwich, to be eaten inside if there’s room or taken on-the-go to continue your tour of the Left Bank. To fit in like a true European, eat the fries inside your sandwich with a fork.
Directions: Metro Saint-Michel. With your back to Notre Dame, facing the Saint Michel fountain, the winding street is your first left.
Felafel of the Marais
From Greece to Israel, the Jewish Quarter’s renowned Rue de Roisiers is unparalleled for its falafel variety. A 5-euro falafel can be yours at one of many restaurants along the street, though be prepared to pay more if you plan on dining inside. Hummus generally comes pre-spread inside along with vegetables and the trademark bean patties. Spicy sauce is almost always available, whether at your table, at a buffet-style cart, or on-demand at the window. With the diversity of options and the competitive pricing, Rue de Roisiers is the go-to spot for a falafel craving . . . or any hunger pang at all.
Directions: Metro Saint-Paul. Rue de Roisiers can be found to the right of the carousel.
Citywide French Pastries
Despite the international nature of Parisian street food, there are still affordable French feasts to be had. For the starving artist traveler, there is nothing more cliché (or less expensive) than a baguette to make a filling meal, ultimately washed down with cheap red wine. A baguette of bread is a quintessential side to a complete French meal, like a glass of water — if there’s no baguette with dinner, then it’s not dinner.
However, it must be said that the nearly lawful nature of baguette is confining. A true Parisian would never eat a loaf of bread as the meal, even if imagining dinner without bread is equally absurd. Instead, they nibble on sweets and sandwiches. Any Patisserie or Boulanger (pastry shop or bread baker) will have a comparable variety to any of the touristy sit-down institutions. Affordable macarons, viennoises, and occasionally specialty sandwiches are almost always under 5 euros.
Macarons and viennoises are the two quintessential French sweets. A macaron is a small, almond-based round cookie with two medium-to-hard exterior halves framing a creamy middle. Macarons (pronounced mack-a-rawn in French, with emphasis on the last syllable but not on the “n”) come in a variety of “parfums” or flavors, and vary from place to place. Vanilla, coffee, chocolate and pistachio are the more common flavors. Try a brightly colored one for the more unlikely taste.
A viennoise (which translates to a “Viennese,” or a local of Vienna) is a soft, sugary bread, best filled with chocolate chips. Ranging from around 1 to 2 euros, they can be anything from a handheld guilty pleasure on the go to a “pain viennoise,” a large, ripple-topped bread roughly the length of an arm.
These delicacies are easily found at one of many patisseries and boulangeries around Paris, but each one is slightly different. For a hulking and delicious pain viennoise chocolat (a viennoise-style bread with chocolate chips), try the Patissier at the end of Avenue Carnot, Maison Hardot, a quiet destination near the bustling tourist traps near the Arc de Triomphe. The famous arch is the star of many avenues beyond the Champs Elysees, and Carnot is a safe haven that’s only five streets from the Champs, where thankfully tourism is not a draw. The bread here is always fresh due to the demand of locals buying their dinner bread on the way home from work. Patissier is an escape to the real world of the working Parisian, even with the epic Arc de Triomphe within walking distance.
On a nice day it’s worth toughing out the occasional line at the boulanger on Rue Vavin, where the hand-held viennoises are brimming with chocolate for only 1 euro. Vavin Boulanger also has an excellent and ever-changing variety of sandwiches for under 4 euros. This nameless Vavin Boulanger has friendly service despite the crowds and is adjacent to the resplendent Luxembourg Gardens, so you can take a comfortable stroll with your treat around the beautifully clipped greenery, both a favorite for locals and visitors alike. If you’re up for some walking, the garden provides a shortcut across to Boulevard Saint-Michel, where the Greek and Tunisian options abound.
Directions: Maison Hardot. Metro: Charles de Gaulle Etoile, Sortie Ave Carnot. Continue straight from the metro until you come to the large, blue corner-building directly in front of you.
Directions: Boulanger. Metro: Vavin. Sortie: Boulevard Raspail. Cross Raspail and bear left on the first side street, Rue Brea. Turn right onto Rue Vavin. It’s towards the end of the street, just before the Luxembourg gates.
Street Crêpes of Montparnasse
In Paris, crêpes can be eaten any time, any place, any where. There are breakfast crêpes and dinner crêpes; restaurants serving high-end crêpes and corner crêpe stands. The quick and easy solution is a street crêpe, especially late at night. Starting at under 2 euros for a plain sugar option, crêpes of all flavors are served at all hours. Sucré (sweet) or Salé (salty), the boulevard Montparnasse has stand after stand of budget crêperie options, rarely exceeding 6 euros. The best thing about street crêpes is that they’re often served extremely late. So after a late night out, a 3-euro crepe may be just what you need. Deliciously decadent favorites are the nutella and banana combination, and the “Chantilly Maison,” or the “house whipped cream.” Crêperie Henri is particularly delicious, with a second stand that opens in the evenings just to serve the surplus party crowd. Churros and gaufres (waffles, sometimes covered in chocolate or cream) are also available.
Directions: Metro Montparnasse, Sortie Boulevard du Montparnasse. Crêperie Henri is directly to the left of the exit.