Sea Me

Lisbon, Portugal is home to a unique restaurant that offers a one a kind hands-on experience. Literally. Sea Me is a Japanese restaurant that specializes in seafood with the fun twist of you being able to hand pick your dinner! It’s a whole new take on ordering whatever you want off the menu!

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My parents, having gone to Lisbon a few years ago, raved about Sea Me upon their return home. As a result, when I told my parents I too would be traveling to Lisbon, they evidently insisted I make a reservation for me and my friends. Not being a huge seafood fan, I was a bit hesitant but agreed partly because of their enthusiasm, and also because of the unique opportunity and experience it offered. A few of my friends were hesitant as well, but luckily at least one of my seafood-loving friends Saige, agreed!

Saige and I entered Sea Me, and were instructed to walk to the back of the restaurant where they beautifully displayed various types of fish and seafood. Being from a coastal town in Massachusetts (USA), I am used to a lot of seafood; however, I was thoroughly impressed and surprised at the range of options they offered. After examining the vast display, I finally decided upon sashimi, but struggled with the decision to get tuna or salmon, and eventually decided to get both! I then was able to pick the exact pieces of the salmon and tuna used that would be used to make my Sashimi. My friend Saige opted for an absolutely enormous crab she had spotted on the left side of the glass display. We returned to our table and waited for them to prepare our choices. And, even though we personally handpicked our meals, we certainly did not anticipate what was coming.

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My salmon and tuna sashimi was beautifully presented on a black stone slab. The huge pieces of tuna and salmon were cut seamlessly, and organized perfectly, topped with caviar and completed with ginger, and sea weed sides. I almost didn’t want to eat it because it was arranged so nicely!

Saige’s crab, however, was the big surprise of the evening. Being a small girlFullSizeRender-2, only 4’9 herself, the dish seemed to absolutely overpower her small features! As you can see by the photo, the dish is extremely large and she was more than excited to crack into it!

 

Although it was a messy meal, both of our dinners were exceptional. The seafood really, could not be fresher, or more perfectly hand-picked (by us of course!)

I will say Sea Me was a bit pricey so if you’re planning on going be prepared to pay more than you usually would for fish or crab in a restaurant. However, although the prices were a bit higher than I would have liked, the experience made it more than worthwhile. I would highly recommend visiting Sea Me if you find yourself in Lisbon. After all, like my parents said, “When’s the next time you’re going to be able to hand pick your fish to order in Portugal?!”

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Trattoria Za Za

Upon arriving in Florence, Italy this past weekend I was met at the airport by one of my best friends Danielle, who is studying there. Once we had gotten through the initial hug and catch up, we began discussing our plans for the evening, and she enthusiastically turned to me almost screaming, “we HAVE to go to Trattoria Za Za for dinner tonight, it’s INCREDIBLE” and Danielle was indeed, correct.

The two of us, along with three of her roommates made a reservation for 8:00 pm and were extremely relieved we had when we saw the line at the door upon our arrival! Trattoria Za Za is located in a quaint, colorful, and historical plaza, called Piazza del Mercado Centrale and has been in business since 1977.

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Piazza del Mercato Centrale

The atmosphere was vintage and cozy, very comfortable with mismatched furniture and chairs and winding rooms which continued to empty out into even more spaces, the restaurant literally appeared to keep going “back and back” Evidently, the extensive space was necessary for every table inside and outside was completely full, and the line to get in stretched around half the block! And it was only a Tuesday night!

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Trattoria Za Za’s menu was extensive, at least 10 pages long completed with every food option imaginable-from steak, to fish, to more traditional Tuscan cuisines such as pizzas and unlimited choices of pasta, they had it all. After much contemplation, I finally decided upon the Tagliatelle with Truffle sauce. Unknowingly to me before giving my waitress my order, truffle oil and truffle sauces are actually one of Trattoria Za Za’s specialities!

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The dish was indeed, special. The truffle sauce was rich and creamy but not over bearing, or too heavy, a problem I usually have with truffle dishes. One of Danielle’s roommates, Abby, got the Grilled Beef Tenderloin, and that did not disappoint either. An absolutely ridiculous size, the steak was served on a large wooden slab, looking almost medieval. Unfortunately they were out of the rosemary potatoes, which usually accompanies the tenderloin, but it was more than okay. The dish was instead served simply with lemon, putting emphasis on the taste of the beef specifically. The moist, tender meat was more than enough on its’ own, and I found myself asking her for multiple bites throughout the meal!

Following our entrees, we all opted for a lemon liquor sorbet to cleanse our palettes, also known as “Zaza very light lemon liquor sorbet” It was indeed light and refreshing, exactly what we needed after our extremely large meals. It was the perfect ending to a delicious meal.

I would highly encourage anyone visiting Florence to take a trip to Trattoria Za Za, but ensure to make a make a reservation ahead of time!

Amarre 69

One of my favorite restaurants here in Barcelona is one that I feel is often overlooked. I actually stumbled upon Amarre 69 by accident with some friends back in March. We had spent a majority of the day at the beach and after watching the sunset, we were all starving after having lost track of time. We opted for a restaurant right by the beach that  looked warm and inviting, and had displayed a menu with a lot of different options for our varying tastes.

We sat at a comfortable table outside and even though it was a bit chilly, the outside heaters, along with the complimentary blankets and seat cushions made it more than comfortable and toasty enough for our meal. The outside sitting area was decorated with plants and soft lighting to tie in the inside and outdoor area and was extremely pleasant, and aesthetically pleasing, and ultimately led us to the restaurant in the first place. After all, there are a row of what seems like endless restaurants by Barceloneta, but Amarre 69 stood out. With it’s vibrant sign, lit candles, and funky furniture, it caught our eye.

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I was with three of my friends from America, who were visiting me for their Spring Break. Although the menu had a variety of delicious options, I decided we first needed a pitcher of Sangria, and some Patatas Bravas to start us off, after all, we are in Barcelona.

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My friends, of course, loved both of my choices. Then, it was time for entrees. Two of the girls ordered the Grilled Chicken Sandwiches, that came complete with avocado, mozzarella, and basil, and raved about it. My other friend, Nicole, ordered just the nachos as her entree! It may seem a bit strange to order as a meal, but she is a nacho fanatic and when her large dish arrived topped with cheddar cheese, jalapeños, fried beans, spicy sauce and guacamole she could not hide her excitement. According to her, they tasted even better than they looked! Lastly, I ordered the Cheeseburger.Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

 

And I can honestly say, IT WAS THE BEST BURGER I HAVE EVER HAD. The
cheeseburger was almost the size of my head, stacked with gooey cheese, onions, bacon, lettuce, tomato and finally topped with an egg, with the yolk runny, my mouth, along with everyone else’s at the table completely dropped when it was put in front of me. Although I had a lot difficulty trying to fit the monstrosity into my mouth, it was more than worth it. The burger was juicy, perfectly seasoned, and the numerous toppings only added to it. I made my friends try it too; and it was, in fact, the best burger they had ever had as well.

 

 

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We enjoyed Amarre69 so much we ended up going inside to grab some drinks at the bar, and spotted a comfortable sectional in the back corner which we lounged at while a live guitarist performed in the corner! It was quite a unique, fun, and young atmosphere, and would highly recommend it to anyone, especially after a day at the beach!

Da Greco

I found a little piece of Italy right here in Barcelona, and it is called Da Greco. Upon my family’s arrival this past weekend, I was looking into new restaurants to try in Barcelona. My mom, brother, and myself, all love Italian food so I figured I would narrow down my search with that. While looking online, I stumbled upon a restaurant called Da Greco, and although they didn’t have an official website, it was continuously talked about extremely positively on Yelp, Facebook and other restaurant review sites. I decided to look up the menu and found some of their popular dishes on Foodspotting. They all looked delicious so I called and made a reservation for Friday night.

My family and I arrived at nine pm, to an intimate, white furnished building, completed with pleasant mood lighting, and elegant Italian decor. We were sat almost immediately despite the crowded, business of the restaurant, and I was evidently pleased with myself for making a reservation ahead of time.

Our waiter was both friendly and attentive, and spoke English very well which helped a lot. Everything on the menu sounded absolutely delicious, and I struggled to make a decision. I was torn between the  Gnocci al la sorretina, Fettucine al gorgonzola, and Spaguetti a la putanesca originally. However, I continued to change my mind before finally  deciding upon the Risotto al parmigiano.

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I realized my earlier struggle to decide what to order was unnecessary once our waiter brought us our food; and this was for two reasons. One, upon trying my parmesan risotto, I knew I had make the right decision. And secondly, Da Greco does an incredible thing that makes it unlike any restaurant I have ever been to before.  For each entree the table orders, a plate is brought to each person with samples of everyone else’s dish. Having to ask people to try their food, and then awkwardly attempting to transport a bit of your food to another or vice versa, was no longer an issue. I got to try every member of my family’s food and it was arranged neatly on a plate personal prepared just for me.

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My mom ordered Raviolis con setas ceps y queso parmigiano (top left), my brother ordered the Spaghetti putanesca, and my dad not much of a foodie, simply ordered Spaghetti with pesto. Although all distinct and delicious in their own sense, my risotto was by far the best, and both my brother and mom agreed. The creamy, thick parmesan sauce of the risotto was so rich, I had trouble finishing it all. Luckily, my family was more than willing to help out. Although extremely full from our entrees, we all decided to split one dessert, and ordered per suggestion of our waiter, the Tiramusi. It, just like everything else was absolutely wonderful, stacked high with light whipped cream that complimented the coffee flavoring perfectly, the dessert was a great  ending to an already memorable meal.

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Cereal Killer Cafe

Cereal Killer Cafe was truly a childhood dream come true. Located in London, England, and with two locations, one in Camden and more recently in Birmingham, the cafe is truly a one of a kind experience. Decorated with bright colors, childish furniture, and 80s’ and 90s’ memorabilia, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic about my own childhood. My friend, Abby who was with me, even looked at me and said “its’ like we just went back in a time machine.” The Cafe offers over 120 different kinds of cereals, both British, as well as imported, 30 varieties of milk, and 20 different toppings. The options are beautifully displayed on a vintage chalk board, in bright, colorfully assorted writing. The milk alone varies from traditional types such as whole milk, and even almond and soy milk, and then continues on to unique flavors such as Salted Caramel, Banana, and even Bubblegum. The cafe does offer a menu of specialities such as the “Stacked Hot Chocolate,” and the “Lucky Charm Milkshake” but the best part is being able to customize your order. The cafe allows you to build your own cereal masterpiece with all your favorite additions, and although the endless options were a bit overwhelming I finally decided upon Frosted Flakes with chocolate milk, whipped cream, nuts and caramel.

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The presentation was more than impressive in itself with the large glass mug seeming to be overflowing with whipped cream, drizzled nuts and caramel, and perfectly finished off with a vintage blue and white straw.

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The combination was evidently like nothing I have ever had before. The sweet mixture of the various flavors was overwhelming sweet, but incredible because of it!  To say eating it gave me a sugar rush, would be an understatement.

Besides the absolutely delicious cereal creations, part of the reason my experience was so pleasant was because of the environment. The retro furniture and brightly colored rooms looked like something out of a comic strip, and made the Cafe that much more inviting and enjoyable. This feeling was evidently exactly what they were striving for, because they actually have a “Cereal Killer Cookbook” they sell at the cafe, and online! The book features two silly characters, displayed on the cover eating and seeming to be literally inhaling a large bowl of cereal. The book features cereal recipes, games, and other humorous cereal-related content such as the “important rules of eating cereal-slurp all you want, make sure you choose a deep bowl to avoid spillage on the way to the sofa.” Other products included vintage corn flake notebooks, “cereal killer cafe” stickers and even their very own set of trading cards the “the cereal killer trading pack”.

The Cereal Killer Cafe was a unique, fun, creative, and above all tasty experience! I highly recommend it if you find yourself in London, and I look forward to someday going back,  maybe when I have kids of my own!

Check out their FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for more information, pictures, and updates!

The Pancake Bakery!

Amsterdam is a spectacular city full of endless tourist attractions and hundreds of”must-see” locations; just one of these is The Pancake Bakery. Located in a two floor historical warehouse, and with a beautiful view of the Prince Canal, The Pancake Bakery with its abundance of historical charm, lives up to its’ reputation of timeless quality, variety, and excellence.

The Pancake Bakery evidently specializes in Dutch pancakes, but they offer much more than just the traditional pancake served with maple syrup and powered sugar. The extensive menu is separated into several categories including Omelets, International Pancakes, Traditional Pancakes, and then “Our Specialties-for the pancake expert.” Within this heading there are two subdivisions depending on your preferred taste, savory, or sweet. Sweet pancake options range from bananas with chocolate, to pancakes with peaches, cherry liquor, and even ice cream. The savory section of the menu includes various meats, cheeses and vegetables including chicken, bacon, tomatoes, onions and mushrooms.

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Pictured above: (Left)-Caprese: Pancake with mushrooms, onions, melted mozzarella cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, and fresh basil. (Right)-Pancake with pineapple, banana, and chocolate sauce.

With the menu displaying countless options of both sweet and savory tastes, I evidently had to get one of each. Although I struggled with the menu, fluctuating between what seemed like endless options, I finally decided on two. The two humongous plates were brought out together within approximately twenty minutes, and piping hot. I decided to first try my savory order, The Caprese, as my main meal and then would proceed with my sweet pancake for dessert. Well, that was my plan originally, but I could barely get through half of the first one before I realized I still had a whole other pancake to eat! Although the pancakes are thin, they are extremely filling. The Caprese was absolutely delicious with fresh vegetables, and warm, melted cheese completed with a delicious herb seasoning. Next, for my sweet pancake. I ordered it with pineapple, banana, and chocolate sauce, and it exceeded my expectations. The pineapple and bananas were thinly sliced and baked into the pancake and even topped with it as well. Completed with chocolate sauce and my personal addition of powdered sugar and maple syrup, the pancake was absolutely heavenly. I can confidently say these two were some of the best pancakes I have ever had.

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The traditional, cozy atmosphere, largely in part to the 17th century building its located in, along with it’s large menu, quality products, and friendly wait staff made for a wonderful experience. And, regardless of your taste preferences, The Pancake Bakery is sure to have something for everyone to enjoy! Next time you’re in Amsterdam, make sure to put The Pancake Bakery at the top of your list for breakfast or lunch spots, you will not be disappointed!