Here’s where we’d like to get into the nitty gritty of who we are–as Angela and Gwen, with our foodie interests and our fetishes. We have favorite hangouts in the U.S. and Europe, favorite books for work and general reading and activities that we like to be involved in. We hope these references may be useful for you too.
We love to travel! We’ve stayed in everything from luxurious hotels to youth hostels. Our current favorite choice for lodging is AirBNB. Basically, people rent out anything from a room in their apartment for two days to an entire house for a month. Prices and level of accommodation vary but you have a good idea of what to expect from pictures and from the ratings hosts (and travelers!) get. We’ve used the service in NYC, San Diego, Boston and Amsterdam.
We are food freaks, thanks to our parents. Our father would take us down to Cheese of All Nations on a Saturday afternoon to stock up for a party. Imagine a room crammed with cheeses from everywhere: heaven! Or he’d drive over to Brooklyn to pick up a cheesecake from Junior’s. Both our mothers were creative cooks. Clipping NY Times recipes was a favorite pastime.
Here are some cafés and restaurants in Madrid where Gwen likes to meet people for coffee or a meal.
Cacao Sampaka – a wonderful chocolate shop and café.
Diurno – One of the first open-space NYC style cafés, located in the funky neighborhood of Chueca. It’s a great standby to meet for a quick coffee and pastry. They also have a video club and a few take away dishes and drinks. Very low key and comfortable.
Mama Framboise – The new kid in town. Highly reminiscent of the Le Pain Quoitidien chain, with a common table in the center and general “campagne française” rustic design. However, I would venture to say that the pastries are significantly better–the most representative one being, of course, the raspberry tart that gives the café-restaurant its name. Located in a chic area of the city, that combines old bookstores, traditional businesses left over from the early twentieth century and high end fashion boutiques and outlets, there is plenty of foot traffic. From what I can see, they also offer a catering service. The fare is fresh and good and what you would expect: quiche, salads, coffee in big cups, and a wide variety of mouth-watering desserts.
Taberneros – one of my favorite standbys, for tête-à-tête, family, groups. Sometimes the service isn’t the greatest, but the menu is interesting, with unusual tapas and other dishes for sharing, and a terrific wine list. The neighborhood is also wonderful, for strolling and window shopping, right near the Royal Palace.
Sudestada – my newest favorite. South East Asian food–Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia. Not fusiony, though. You have to book a table weeks ahead of time. The owners have another restaurant in their native Buenos Aires and clearly have a niche, with some delicious signature dishes, like their calf cheek red curry which is outstanding, and signature drinks, decorated with cilantro and pomegranate seeds. They’re so busy right now they don’t even have a website.
El Cisne Azul – Who knows why this hidden jewel of a place dedicated solely to wild mushroom dishes is called the “blue swan”. Don’t let the simplicity of its appearance trick you. The food is fresh and delicious; the service is fast and attentive and the place fills to the brim before you can blink at lunch and dinner time. Best to arrive as soon as possible. They don’t take reservations.
El Poncelet Cheese Bar – Thankfully, they were not content to just have a fabulous cheese store, but they also opened this wonderful restaurant, with great cheese and other food pairings, cheese plates, cheese desserts…you get the idea. Good wine list too. Beautiful, open space where you can spend long hours over your meal and drinks.
Restaurants (New York)
Now that Gwen is traveling back and forth from NY more and more often, she has the opportunity to find out about new great places. Below are some recent favorites to add to the list:
Peacefood Café – It’s a vegan restaurant and bakery, but definitely for non-vegans too! The food is downright delicious and you leave feeling great. It also helps that the atmosphere is cozy, and the staff fun and quick on their feet. I had their their chickpea fries and shanghai-style dumplings, and shared the tiramisu and raspberry jam spelt crumb bar for dessert. But only those two because I didn’t have room for more. A neighborhood place to go out of your way for. It’s open from 10 to 10, so no excuse not to go.
Tamarind – Delicious Indian food in a calm, comfortable environment, just around the corner from Gramercy Park. The ginger martini is delicious!
A few favorites of Angela’s, in no particular order:
Boca, in Dallas. Fresh local food inventively cooked, in a great neighborhood (Oak Cliff). I like to have dinner then stroll through the Bishop Arts District.
Celebration Cafe, also in Dallas. Emphasis on simply cooked, local food (noticing a pattern?). Served family style. To-die-for carrot cake.
The Green Table, New York. If you’ve got a craving for pot pie, chicken or vegetable, this is the place. The freshest of salad greens. Plus they’re in the Chelsea Market, which is worth a visit on its own. Inventive cocktails.
The Farm on Adderly, Brooklyn. Where I’ve had a couple of the best meals of my life, including a tasting dinner focused around Fleschier’s meat. Fleschier’s was founded by a couple, one of whom is a former vegan. So you know the animals have been treated humanely and professionally.