Wapa Tapa restaurant

Our last night at the Palm Oasis Maspalomas, and on the south side of the island for that matter, we decided to head for the Wapa Tapa restaurant that had got some great reviews. 

Wapa Tapa is located in the touristy Yumbo shopping center, and was a little bit tricky to find among the other restaurants and shops in the mall. But there are signs pointing the way fortunately. When we eventually found the place we were imnediately seated by the extremely, and I mean that in the best of ways, friendly co-owner that also gave us a run-down of the menu and also some suggestions of what to try. There was a chef’s choice menu with wine included for €40 a head, but we decided we wanted to choose ourselves.

Canarian papas arrugadas, the island’s ‘national’ dish. This one was made with a  breed of potatoes locally grown on Tenerife, that originally was from Peru. Served with great mojo rojo and salsa verde sauces. Both deliciously garlicky with a hint of cumin.

Hand-carved, acorn-fed Iberico pig jamón. That is, the best damn ham I ever had. So nutty, fatty, tender and awesome. To the right are a bunch of almost equally good cod croquettas (much like the bolinhos de bacalau we had in Rio last year). Crispy and delicious.

Another great dish: Grilled king prawns with a squeeze of fresh lime and sea salt.

There are plenty of South American references on Gran Canaria (or lots of Gran Canarian references in South America). Here was one of our faves from last year’s South America-trip: Grilled Provoleta cheese, that we had lots of in Buenos Aires. This was even more delicious with an amazing grilled cheese crust covering the melting cheese. Served with crusty bread and tasty tomatoes. Mmmm…..

Then it was barely enough space in my belly for a small dessert. This was a pot au chocolat with white chocolate shavings. We also tried their sticky toffee pudding. Both were muy bien, but not as muy bien as the spectacular tapas dishes we had. If you find yourself near Wapa Tapa, book a table (several drop-ins were turned away during our visit) and eat some of the best tapas you might ever had.

Price: €€

We paid roughly €100 for two with 7 shared tapas, dessers and 3-4 drinks each.

Location: Yumbo Shopping Center,

CC Yumbo Centrum Local 232-12

Playa del Inglés 35100

Wapa Tapa’s website

Canary Islands part two: Palm Oasis Maspalomas Hotel

After our first two days in Playa del Inglés, we managed to make a last minute booking for the Palm Oasis Maspalomas. Their cheaper studio apartments were sold out, but instead we secured a 70 sqm apartment for about €120 a night, which I found very affordable given the hotel’s ratings, the apartment’s size and the general luxurious feeling of the place. In the taxi from Playa del Inglés going to the Palm Oasis, I saw a palace-like structure and secretly wished it was the actual hotel, which it was.

In room-cooking

A very nice aspect of the hotel was the fully equipped kitchen. I usually never cook when abroad, but hey, we were in the Canary Islands for 8 more days than planned, so why not save some money. Above is our apartment-made green olive tapenade ‘pintxos’ and a chilli-butter-red wine slow-cooked meat sauce served with spaghetti and parmesan cheese. The kitchen was extra convenient since the Palm Oasis Maspalomas has their own supermarket within the hotel (with slightly but not that much inflated prices), as well as there is a Spar supermarket a 3-4 minute walk away on Calle Einstein with a proper deli, quite an assortment of wine and beer and so on.

The room/apartment at Palm Oasis Maspalomas

Above is the view from the terrace that came with our apartment. You could see all the way to the Maspalomas dunes as well as the pretty pool area just to the right in the above picture. There were also two sunloungers so you could laze around your room all day still getting a tan. Our apartment also featured a big flatscreen tv with great picture quality; well-functioning wifi; a separate bedroom, and a bathroom that even had a jacuzzi hot tub.

The main restaurant

On two occassions we tried the hotel restaurant. Not much to write home about, but the food was decent enough. Above is from the ‘Gran Canaria night’ buffet which featured local delicacies such as the wrinkly Canarian potatoes ‘papas arrugadas’ with mojo rojo and salsa verde as well as grilled food, a few salads and some not-so-Canarian desserts. Some of the dishes (especially grilled entrecôte, chorizo and papas) were actually quite tasty, but most was standard buffet stuff.

Location

The location is a bit off from the beach, but the hotel has solved this with a free transfer bus to Maspalomas beach that leaves four times a day and also return back to the hotel in the afternoon. To reach the Faro lighthouse and its restaurants or eg. Yumbo shopping center (both close to beach and restaurants) is about 4-5 euros with a taxi that the hotel happily order for you.

Since we had not planned on staying in the Canary Islands for more than three days we had no real idea what to do. One of the days though we went for a whale and dolphin tour with Spirits of the Sea tour company. It was actually very worthwile. We paid roughly €30 per person including hotel pick-up and got to see loads of dolphins playing around the boat. No whales unfortunately. Still a great trip though with a friendly crew.

The hotel in summary

Nice rooms, great pool area, and friendly staff. A bit far from the beach and good restaurants, but I would stay again given the easy and free transfer bus to the beach and affordable local taxis.

¡Hola, Gran Canaria!

January, probaby my least favourite month of the year. Mostly because it is usually (very) cold, without the ability to tell yourself to think of it as ‘christmassy’ to make it a bit more bearable. It’s also the starting point of a very long stretch towards Spring which hopefully will happen somewhere in late March/April. In this time we also talk about the seven setbacks. Meaning that when you first think that Spring might actually be happening, a massive snowfall will take you down to earth. And then you relive this moment of agony seven times. That is January to March in Sweden. Hence, I travel.

This time the plan was to visit the Gambia. I recently visited Cape Verde which I really liked, and since I like to visit new places and have a newfound fascination for Africa, Cape Verde’s semi-neighbour Gambia sounded like the right place. The plan was also to visit neighbouring Senegal and possibly, if we were feeling extra adventurous, visit also neighbouring Guinea-Bissau. Then came an election, democracy was on the horizon for Gambia. But unfortunately, to this date that hasn’t happened. The neighbouring states in the Ecowas has threatened Gambia’s incumbent leader with a military intervention if he doesn’t step down. So far he hasn’t and therefore we decided to not go. Instead, we’re on the Canary Islands. The idea was to fly here from Sweden, stay two days and then fly on to Banjul with regional airline Binter Canarias. But now we’re here for ten days instead, and fortunately were able to secure the last room at a very nice hotel. Anyway, below is a couple of pictures from the trip so far.

Food onboard SAS’ Plus class (which is sort of an inbetween of premium economy and business class): brisket, roast root vegetables, horseradish cream and French bubbly (no champagne though) in a nice airplane-adapted glass from Swedish design company Orrefors. Might also have had a small bottle of Italian Zinfandel as well as a Danish Mikkeller craft beer. I really like SAS’ cooperations with Nordic high quality brands to add to the onboard experience. 

Playa del Inglés, where we stayed our first two days at the Sentido Gran Canaria Princess. Great rooms, lousy wifi, decent breakfast and dinner buffet.

Dunas de Maspalomas. A small desert-like area along the beach. We walked there for three hours without sunscreen meaning we are now charmingly pink. Such morons, but we were angry over not being able to go to Gambia so we forgot.

Beach.

The we decided to stop whine and start to wine (sorry). Well, at least drink. Caipirinhas at Sentido’s pool bar.

Buffet dinner at the Sentido GC Princess hotel. Padronés, asparagus and jámon.

Yesterday we met with my sister who is currently living here working. She took us to Misbah, an Indian restaurant in Meloneras where had a really nice Indian dinner as well as a surprisingly good sangria. I tried their murgh makhani, or butter chicken, with naan, pilau rice and mint sauce. Slightly expensive, but in a nice location. Worth a visit if you crave Indian food while visiting Gran Canaria.

To be continued.

Swedish Christmas

Just got back home a couple of kilos heavier after three days of Christmas celebrations with family. 

Swedish Christmas is mainly celebrated on ‘Julafton’, which is Christmas Eve the 24th of December. The day is usually started with some kind of Christmas breakfast. Then many people watch the 3 pm Disney’s Christmas or “Kalle” (from Kalle Anka, meaning Donald Duck). So did we, but this year we substituted the glögg (mulled wine) and gingerbread cookies with champagne and Skagen mix on Finnish rye crisps.

After ‘Kalle’ and exchanging Christmas gifts it’s time for the main event, which of course is the traditional Swedish julbord (literally Christmas table). The julbord is a buffet (smorgasbord) of various Swedish Christmas foods. We served gravlax salmon, meatballs, mini ‘prince’ sausages, cream sauce, creamed kale, red cabbage, Jansson’s temptation, pickled herring, potato salad as well as a couple of Finnish vegetable baked ‘casserolles’, since my family originally is Finnish. With this we had Christmas beer, red wine and a soft drink called julmust. For dessert a British Christmas cake as well as chocolates and Christmassy candy. On the 25th of December you basically do it all again with the leftovers.

Now it’s time to reload before the upcoming new years celebration and give heart and liver some time to recover.

Swedish Christmas recipes

If you need some Swedish Christmas recipes, visit my old Scandi recipe site Scandinaviafood.com.

God jul (Merry Christmas)!

Dinner at Gaggan Bangkok

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Gaggan Anand is an Indian native that established Gaggan restaurant in Bangkok in 2010. The restaurant serves molecular style food based to a large extent on Indian cuisine. It has been named the best restaurant in Thailand as well as in all of Asia. 

We went to Gaggan restaurant in Bangkok last year (and Nahm which I’m hoping to write about too) and it was spectacular. Given the low price compared to a similar (probably less good) experience  in say Europe, Gaggan is almost a must if visiting Bangkok and enjoying (amazing) food. Gaggan was an experience in both terms of food and fun. Clever and creative dishes mixed with some good old tastiness made our dinner there one of the best I’ve ever experienced.
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Indian street food bites. For instance you ate the whole bag, plastic and all, of nuts. Then you realised that it wasn’t actual plastic even though the first bite made you think and feel so. Instead the “plastic” evaporated in our mouths and elevated the spiced nuts. So good, and so clever.

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“Say cheese”: Hot soufflé of cheese and crispy rice cereals, green chilly oil. Probably my least favourite dish of the night. Still good though.
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Sandwich: Foié gras mousse, onion water baguette, onion chutney and hazelnut candy.

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Keema Pao sliders.

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Down to Earth: Summer vegetables (asparagus, morels, mushrooms, artichokes) with a 62C egg yolk and truffle chilli.

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Charcoal: “Be surprised! We wont tell you what it is.” (It was seabass)
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River king: fresh water prawns grilled in the tandoor with  curry leaf infusion and mango chutney. This dish was great, despite that the manager came and fed me a part of the prawn that I’d missed. Shame on me, I guess.

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Angry bird: slow cooked country Thai native chicken in an Indian style curry. Maybe the most ‘ordinary’ dish of the night. But still so good.
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Made in Japan: Matcha tea cake with wasabi.

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“Magnum”: homemade icecream cake pops.

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And of course, no “coffee candy” without dry ice show off when at a fancy ‘molecular’ restaurant.

All in all as mentioned above, a really fantastic experience. Well worth a visit in my mind. Visit Gaggan’s website for reservations and menus.

Recipe for perfect spaghetti cacio e pepe

One of my favourite pasta dishes (okay I admit that most pasta related dishes are my favourites) is the simple yet delicious Roman dish’cacio e pepe’. Cacio e pepe means cheese and pepper, and that is pretty much the dish, with the addition of spaghetti and a splash of cooking liquid.

Despite being a quite simple dish in terms of ingredients and time comnsumption, it’s kind of hard to get that perfect silky coating of cheese ‘sauce’ around the spaghetti. My previous versions have been a bit “lumpy”. But recently I fortunately learned a great trick: mix the grated cheese with cold water before mixing with the pasta.

Ingredients

Spaghetti (I use Martelli or De Cecco)

Pecorino cheese (in emergency use parmesan, but won’t be the same)

Black pepper

Cooking water

Salt

Preparation

1. Set pasta water to boil. Add lots of salt.

2. Mix about 2/3 of the pecorino cheese with a little bit of cold water to form a thick “paste”.

3. Cook spaghetti quite al dente (will cook some more in the sauce).

4. Drain spaghetti, but save a deciliter/half a cup or so of cooking water.

5. Combine the drained cooked spaghetti, a splash (maybe half) of the cooking water, cheese mix and a proper amount of black pepper in the cooking pot. Add heat and stirr (I use a kitchen tong) until most liquid has evaporated and the spaghetti is coated by a velvety, ‘glossy’ sauce. If needed, use the back up cooking water.

6. Serve immediately topped with remaining cheese and extra black pepper.

Fancy kebab at Meat on a Stick in Stockholm


Finally paid a visit to semi-posh kebab joint “Meat on a Stick” in Stockholm. The place was founded by a kebab lover that’s been traveling the world eating lots of kebab trying to find the perfect one. That, generally positive reviews and my own love for kebab brought me there yesterday for an early dinner.

We arrived maybe five minutes past their opening time (on a Friday) 17 o’clock, and were immediately seated by a friendly waitress. When we left an hour later the place was almost full. The restaurant is pretty small, so it fills up quite quickly.

As for the food, I opted for the most “standard” choice according to me, with an “Ararat” featuring a mixture of lamb and veal meat, sliced döner-style from a rotating spit of meat. There was also a garlic creme, jalapeno sauce, a tomato based sauce, pickles, lettuce and onion. The kebab was generally very good. The meat had great taste, the pita-style bread withstood the meat’s juices almost all the way and started breaking only when I nearly had finished. The vegetables added a nice freshness, the pickles some acidity as well as crunch, the sauces heat, and, of course the to Swedes important sauciness. :) The meat had a bit more bite to it than your regular street food kebab, but it was still quite tender.

My dinner companion tried a “Hanoi” which is a Vietnamese inspired chicken kebab with coriander, Sriracha mayo, radish, cucumber and carrots. Also a very nice if quite spicy kebab (the waitress warned us when ordering).

We also tried their fries with truffle dip which was a really nice addition to the kebabs. A glass of South African red worked really well with the above Ararat. A nice place for a tasty, fancy-yet-affordable kebab dinner.

Price

Price: 120 kr for an “Ararat”, a glass of red from 95 kr, fries with truffle dip 30 kr.

What and where we ate in Santa Maria on Cape Verde’s Sal Island

The country of Cabo Verde, or Cape Verde in English is a small group of islands (10 that counts), situated approximately 450 kilometers from mainland Africa. The country gained independence from Portugal in 1975, and hence you’ll find a few Portugese influences in the local food. Since we visited Santa Maria on the island of Sal, the article will only cover that area of Cape Verde.

The local fare is quite hearty. The national dish is catchupa, a stew with vegetables, sweet potato and for instance, fish, pork, chicken, chorizo or all, or some of them. The national cocktail is, as in other former Portugese colony Brazil, the utterly delicious caipirinha. But instead of cachaca liquor, the local spirit “grogue” is used. The result however, is equally delicious. Since Sal and especially Santa Maria has a lot of tourists visiting, many restaurants are quite international in their offering, and you’ll find Italian restaurants, British pubs, Indian restaurants in addition to the local Cape Verdean food.

Below is what we had during our week in Santa Maria.


Leonardo Cafe

An Italian restaurant in Santa Maria town, quite close to the pier. We went there after craving pizza and red wine for our Sunday dinner. Leornardo Cafe delivered just that for decent prices, about €9/900 CVE for a pizza, and €4 for a glass of wine. I tried their pizza diavola with spicy salami.
Website (with menu)


La Tortue at the Morabeza Hotel
Since we stayed at the Morabeza Hotel, we visited La Tortue, that is located within the hotel a couple of times. Food quality is actually quite good with for instance a nice take on the local Catchupa stew as well as grilled meats and fish, international and local dishes, and desserts. Try their local cheeses with papaya jam if you want something local.
Website with menu


La Tortue tapas
La Tortue also have a tapas menu which we found was the best they served. Delicious mini burgers, Canary Islands “papas arugadas” potatoes, coconut prawns and a nice cheese board. Bonus tip: visit between 6.30-7.30 pm for a 50 percent discount on house wine, local beer and delicious caipirinhas. Added bonus is the tasty fried dough snacks that are served complimentary with drinks.


Les Palmiers at the Morabeza Hotel
The other of Hotel Morabeza’s main restaurants. Menu similar to that of La Tortue above. Prices are slightly higher. We had the catch of the day, which actually were four different choices of fish, including tuna. Prices were around €12. When you select a grill item from the menu (this also applies to the Morabeza Beach Club below) you will get a ticket that you bring to the grilling station where you will get your meat/fish/lobster and where you also pick your condiments such as rice, fried potatoes, veggies, sauces and mayo by yourself. The other a la carte dishes are brought to the table by the service staff though. Food quality is good, but nothing out of the ordinary, what you can expect from a 4-star resort.
Website with menu


Chez Pastis
The fancy restaurant on the island according to most people we met and what we also read about in advance. Since the restaurant is tiny – it’s located in an alley a block from the main street in Santa Maria, Chez Pastis is a place where you actually need a reservation. Numerous people walked in and were sent away since they hadn’t reserved a table during our visit. We made our through our hotel three days in advance. The restaurant is run by an Italian man and has both Italian dishes as well as a focus on Brazilian premium beef. We tried both the pasta as well as the steaks and everything was quite delicious. The food is rustic and not very refined, so it’s nowhere near a Michelin star kind of place, but tasty and quite reasonably priced compared to other restaurants in the area.
Website (no menu)


Morabeza Beach Club
The third place owned by Hotel Morabeza and only open for lunch. They serve quite straightforward food such as pasta, salads, club sandwiches and also the local grilled lobster. As mentioned above, you’ll receive a ticket when you order grilled food to pick up yourself. The lobster is quite pricy at about €35, but for that you’ll get a whole lobster and there was no problem to split it on two persons. Condiments for both was included. The other dishes are priced around €10.
Website (with menu)


Caipirinha bar
Situated on the beach, between Morabeza’s Beach Club and the Santa Maria pier, the feeling is quite Copacabanaesque. It might have something to do with the Brazilian flag, the guys playing volleyball nearby and that you sit down on plastic chairs in the sand and drink tasty caipirinhas (€3) and fried salty dough snacks.


Cretcheu
At the beginning of the Santa Maria pier, Cretcheu is situated. They serve both lunch and dinner featuring stunning views (from the second floor) of the Santa Maria Beach and serve a local Portugese:ish fare. We went for lunch and had the lobster club sandwich which was decently tasty, but not great for the price (€15). We also went for dinner and had a tasty filet mignon with Portugese style chips. Cretcheu does also serve the volcanic Fogo island Chã wine by the glass which is the only place we visited doing that. Since it’s quite pricey for Cape Verde (€6,5 a glass), this is a good chance to try it without having to order a bottle.


Odjo D’Agua restaurant
This was a pre-booked “Cape Verde night” through our tour operator Ving. I mention this though, since the food was really good. Probably the best we had on Cape Verde. I also heard that Odjo D’Agua run standard (open for anyone) Cape Verde buffets that I guess feature pretty much the same food. Despite the bad quality pic, everything was so tasty with fresh grilled tuna, chorizo, rice, sweet potatoes, grilled chicken and pork, salads and catchupa.
Website (with restaurant menus)

Recipe for homemade truffled spaghetti carbonara

The other day I went to have dinner at one of my favourite restaurants in Stockholm; Urban Deli. There, I found that they sold fresh Gotlandic autumn truffles. The lady working the deli part of Urban Deli kindly allowed me to have a sniff before I decided to go ahead and buy the tiny but great smelling truffle.

When that was done, the mission was to figure out what to cook with it. I was craving carbonara, and since truffle is good with eggs, and sort of mild flavours, I’d thought I give a truffle spaghetti carbonara a try. Below recipe is my go to for a ‘normal’ carbonara. So it’s very much usable without any truffle. :)

What you need for the carbonara (2-3 portions)

300 grams Spaghetti (I used Martelli)

4 good quality eggs (I only use the yolks)

About 100 grams of guanciale, pancetta or bacon (preferably in quite thick slices)

Cooking water

1 deciliter of grated pecorino cheese, or parmesan cheese

Olive oil

Salt and black pepper

1 black truffle (optional)

How to cook

1. To start with, add quite a lot of salt to water in a cooking pan and set to boil.

2. Combine the four egg yolks with about 3/4 of the grated pecorino/parmesan cheese. Add a bit of salt and some black pepper (but not too much so the truffle is overpowered). If you’re not using truffle, go wild with the pepper though. 

3. Slice guanciale/pancetta/bacon in to quite thick cubes. 

4. Cook the spaghetti al dente, before draining the pasta reserve a deciliter/half cup of the cooking water in a cup or similar.

5. Put the cubed pork in a cold pan before putting on heat. This will make the fat render, which you’ll need to make the creaminess. Fry until crisp and set aside.

6. Gently combine spaghetti, egg-cheese mix, cooking water and fried pork, including the fat from the frying, over low heat, continously folding/stirring so the eggs won’t set. When the spaghetti is coated with creamy sauce and most liquid’s gone, immediately remove from heat and serve.

Top with grated or shaved truffle if using, and an extra sprinkle of the remaining cheese. Enjoy!

Chips with dip 2.0

I’ve heard about versions of this chip and dip ‘dish’ throughout the years, but haven’t got myself to try it until recently. 

The flavours of this decadent little nibble are very Swedish – it’s sort of like a small condensed version of Midsummer. When you, after a day of schnaps and singing realise that there’s only leftovers remaining after the herring feast, and you’re having cravings after something nourishing. You find chips, you find some leftover sour cream, “oh, there’s löjrom (vendance fish roe) in that half empty bucket”, and you also find dill and chopped red onion. What to do? You scoop everything up with the chips you found, of course.

There you have it, (Swedish) chips 2.0. Below is a guidline recipe for a slightly less brutal version.

You need:

Kalix löjrom (Vendance roe from Kalix)

Finely chopped red onion

Sour cream/creme fraiche/smetana

Finely chopped dill

Salted potato chips (preferably a bit thicker)

Place a bit of every ingredient on nice sturdy potato chips (see picture above). Enjoy with a glass of bubbly or a good quality beer.