A weekend of eating in Helsinki with a visit to Ravintola Saaga

 

Last weekend I visited the Finnish capital Helsinki for a 70 year birthday party. Since Helsinki is such a short flight from Stockholm (approximately 45 mins) you can go straight from an (almost) full day work and still have a decent evening out. Many airlines fly this route so you’re usually able to score decent priced tickets during campaigns. We flew Norwegian and just barely had times to finish our sparkling wine before landing (not included in ticket). The only gripe is that Helsinki’s an hour ahead, so you’ll lose an hour due to the time difference, although you get it “back” on your return.

 

For our first night I was so lazy so I just scanned google maps for a good-rated restaurant near our hotel Glo Hotel Arts. I managed to find Ravintola Saaga or Saaga restaurant, which is a semi-fancy and sort of touristy Lappish restaurant. We started with a glass of sparkling wine topped with cloudberry liquor and some free nibbles from the kitchen consisting of reindeer jerky on rye crispbread with horseradish cream and pickled onion.

 

For main, fried sea pike with king crab from the Arctic Ocean, roasted butter sauce, cauliflower purée and crisp malt bread. I also had a delicious slow-cooked reindeer shank with mushroom purée as well as pickled mushroom, the picture of it in the dimly lit restaurant however, wasn’t as delicious.

 

For dessert we had iced cranberries in an ice bowl. The bowl was, as the name implies, made out of ice, which was a quite cool (sorry) feature. The caramel-liqourice sauce that came with it was delicious. The main problem with this dish was when the sauce started to cool (sorry) and was poured over the even cooler (sorry) iced cranberries. It of course did not defrost them as the general idea of the dish was, and that meant you had to eat frozen cranberries with cold caramel sauce for the last part of the dessert. Great idea though, and very tasty as long as the sauce was warm. Eat fast in other words.

 

We also tried the Lappish squeeky cheese with a pine-tar cream, cloudberry crumble and cloudberry sorbet. This was also a very clever and unique dessert with the tar flavour shining through the dessert’s different components, giving a tar-y smoky taste, contrasting the sweetness of the cream and sorbet. The cheese did not taste that much but had a nice texture.

Price for a meal €€+

Prices were semi-expensive, but not that bad considering Helsinki is a quite expensive city. We paid about €130 for 2 mains, 2 desserts, 2 glasses of sparkling wine with cloudberry liquor and a bottle of the least expensive wine on the menu.

Service was friendly but a little bit slow.

Website (menus and online booking in English available – through a form)

 

The rest of the trip was spent walking Helsinki (above is the beautiful Helsinki Cathedral) and attending the birthday party.

 

Where we stayed

We stayed at Glo Hotel Art a few blocks from the city center. The rate was about €90 and we had a very small but comfortable room with wifi, motorized bed, shower and flatscreen TV as well as breakfast included.

Website

Chez Minnà Corsican restaurant in Paris

Since we were arriving Paris quite late, in fact we both worked until Friday afternoon and then took the Arlanda Express airport train before boarding a SAS flight for Paris, we opted for dinner at a restaurant close to our hotel. Fortunately most of the restaurants around our hotel, Hotel L’Echiquier Opéra Paris MGallery by Sofitel, seemed great, so we chose one of the closest; Chez Minnà, a Corsican restaurant.

We arrived at Chez Minnà around 9 pm and I was happy the restaurant was pretty much exactly how I always has been imagening a busy Paris bistro on a Friday afternoon. It was busy, loud (in a good way) and the staff was friendly and efficient in a relaxed way. After realising we did not speak French, they also presented us with an English menu, which we had not expected. The interior was cozy – you’re quite close to the next table. Not that close, though.

The food, then. First, we tried their croquettes. Stuffed with Corsican cheese and ham. The crispy croquettes were served on a bed of mixed leaves with a dash of a tasty vinaigrette and some standard cherry tomatoes. It was tasty and had nice texture.

For main we had the tagliata. Tagliata is sliced steak on a bed of salad, a dish I usually relate to Italy. In this Corsican version, the steak and salad was complemented by fried sliced potatoes and a pesto-y sauce made with Corsican cheese. Rustic and delicious. We had both dishes with a tasty Corsican red wine, that I unfortunately have forgotten the name of.

All in all, Chez Minnà provided an authentic Parisian experience with nice interior, good service and prices, and of course, most importantly: good food.

Price and website

We paid €70 for two with a shared starter, two mains, four glasses of wine and a large bottle of sparkling water.

Website (in French)

Bonjour, Paris!


Last weekend we visited a place I should’ve visited a long time ago. By some reason, the closest I’ve been to the City of Lights is seeing the Eiffel Tower from a plane, when transiting at Charles De Gaulle airport. But now it was time, at last, for Paris! Since we’re as usual saving up on our vacation days, we left straight from work Friday, and got back home late Sunday, so it’s possible to do a weekend in Paris (at least from Stockholm) without using any of your precious days off. I though I’d share a couple of pictures from our short weekend visit.

Since we are silver level members of Accor’s Le Club programme we were treated to a complimentary drink in our hotel’s, Hotel L’Echiquier Opéra Paris MGallery by Sofitel, 1920s style “Le 38 Bar Lounge“. We were very delighted to find out that champagne was one of the possible selections, and we ordered a glass each of  Veuve Clicquot to start the party.

Our hotel had a very nice breakfast, that was served in the same room as the bar was in during night time. The spread was great, and what I had hoped for would be included on a Parisian breakfast buffet. There were numerous French cheeses, charcuterie, great bread (very important), decent scrambled eggs, bacon, fried mushrooms, fancy French butter in little paper wrappings and nice juice and coffee. Definitely my kind of breakfast. Très bien!


Since we only had one full day in Paris we had pre-booked Louvre tickets through Viator to save some time. I think the price was a Euro or two more a person than buying a ticket at the actual museum, but using this method, we could walk straight in (after the security check) instead of course queing to the ticket booth in the museum.


A famous lady in the Louvre.
After the Louvre, we walked to the small island on where the Notre-Dame de Paris is located.


The Eiffel Tower, or in French: Tour de Eiffel, opened in 1890 and a symbol for Paris and France. It was quite a walk from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower. But we walked mainly along the Seine and enjoyed the views and the walk despite there was actually snowing. So much for my idea of “meeting Spring in Paris” when I booked the tickets last fall. This shot is taken from Trocadero, where you get a nice elevated position for a good picture of the Eiffel Tower and views over Paris in general.

After the Eiffel Tower, we walked to the next sight, the Arc de Triomphe and the fancy boulevard Champs-Élysées. At this points our feet hurt and the step-tracker showed roughly 30000 steps or 20 kilometers. It was time to use the Paris Metro. We bought one single ride ticket each (€1.90 in 2017) and navigated our way back to our hotel.


Feet resting-champagne on our hotel room’s Parisian balcony.


Day two we sort of cheated and took an Uber X (worked really well in Paris by the way) to the Sacré-Cœur where we were treated to grey but great views over the city. Again, a great place to snap some pictures over Paris. We were told the area was a little bit rough, but we walked down through Montmartre towards the more central parts and thought it felt very safe.


Our walk ended at “Paris’ answer to Harrod’s”: the Galeries Lafayette department store. Here we found Angelina where we had an okay but honestly a bit dissapointing steak tartare with pommes frites and salad. The tartare was served quite cold, and felt a little bit soggy and almost wet. I might be wrong but I think I noticed a hint of ketchup in the flavour. I was not impressed, but on the other hand my travel companion liked the tartare.

One for the road. A final cocktail at the hotel bar before our transfer back to the airport and reality of another work week.

Two days of eating in Las Palmas

 

Our final days on Gran Canaria was spent in the capital city of the island, Las Palmas. After deciding to catch a bus from Maspalomas to Las Palmas, our taxi driver, taking us from our hotel to the bus station, catched us in our laziest baggage-hauling moment and offered us a only for you my friend-price for a door-to-door delivery to our hotel in Las Palmas. The seats were comfy, the price felt okay, and hey we were already in the taxi. So we took the offer of 56 euros for the trip and arrived about an hour later at the Santa Catalina hotel.

Santa Catalina Hotel, Las Palmas

The Santa Catalina is, I guess, the ‘grand olde lady’ of Las Palmas hotels, which we hadn’t really realized when booking. The exterior was impressive, as can be seen above with the magnificent 1890s building which was fronted by a nice garden. This felt like a place where presidents and kings (at least used to) stay. And apparently for instance Winston Churchill had done so fifty odd years or so ago. Our standard room at the Santa Catalina was a bit old and worn, but at the same time with a certain ‘old world’ charm such as actual room keys in addition to more recent stuff such as decent wifi and a flatscreen tv.

Segundo Muelle, Las Palmas

After a bit of exploring in Las Palmas, we needed food. As the Santa Catalina is a bit away from the city center, we were happy to find Segundo Muelle, a Peruvian restaurant, nextdoor to the hotel. Segundo Muelle is, as we found out, apparently a global restaurant chain with outlets in Miami, Lima, Quito (Ecuador), and of course, in Las Palmas.

 

When in Peruvian restaurants, drink Pisco Sour. Also featured in the picture is toasted salty corn. NO, it is not popcorn!

 

Ceviche with corn, cilantro/coriander, onion, chilli and possibly the star of the dish: a glazed, baked piece of sweet potato. 

 

I almost always eat lomo saltado in Peruvian restaurants. It’s so good in its simplicity as is it great in the clever combination of two of world’s greatest kitchens. It’s woked beef fillet with chilli, tomatoes, sweet pepper, onion and potato chips(!), served with rice. Asia meets South America. Yum.

 

To finish some kind of yummy cake with chocolate, peanuts and praline.

 

No bed-going before a night cap dry martini if you live in a hotel built in the 1800s.

 

No breakfast without cava and lots of delicious food on gold-plated… Err, plates, had with golden cutlery. When, exactly, staying in hotels built in 1890. Our time in the golden days of travel was now over. Back to the 2010s.

 

Hotel Reina Isabel, Las Palmas

Our last hotel of the trip, booked six months in advance in a time when we thought we’d spend our last night of vacation after seven crazy days in West Africa in some Gran Canarian style. Oh well, the Reina Isabel was a really nice hotel, despite being our fourth in the same island in 9 days. Views from the rooftop pool and bar was amazing over both the city as well as the Las Canteras beach, as seen above.

This day was also my dear girlfriend and travel buddy’s birthday, and hence we needed another good place to eat. Fortunately, we found El Churrasco.

 

El Churrasco is an Argentinian steakhouse, just off the Las Canteras beachwalk on Calle Olof Palme. We started off Spanish with a bunch of really (really, really) delicious, fat and juicy prawns sizzling in a chilli and garlic oil as they were delivered at our table together with warm, crusty and also delicious bread. 

 

Next dish was, maybe not that surprisingly, steak. A very good steak should be added. I actually called it one of my top five steaks ever, and that could actually be true, even though I’m writing this without any red wine infused passion. The great steaks (we had Argentinian entrecôte and a bife de chorizo) were served with surprisingly bland and under-fried chips (still edible though) as well as a fortunately tastier chimichurri sauce. Everything was washed down with a nice bottle of Rioja.

 

To finish we shared a dulce de leche filled pancake with an unusually tasty scoop of ice cream.

A great dinner. Despite the chips.


Then it was time to bid Las Palmas adiós (and almost our lives since our airport taxi driver drove like he was mad). That was that. Next stop is Paris, a first for me, in a couple of weeks.

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 immediately 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 have.

Price: €€

We paid roughly €100 for two, with 7 shared tapas, 2 desserts 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.

Dinner at Gaggan Bangkok

DSC_0220

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.
DSC_0226DSC_0230DSC_0236DSC_0239DSC_0241

DSC_0240
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.

DSC_0249

“Say cheese”: Hot soufflé of cheese and crispy rice cereals, green chilly oil. Probably my least favourite dish of the night. Still good though.
DSC_0251

Sandwich: Foié gras mousse, onion water baguette, onion chutney and hazelnut candy.

DSC_0244

Keema Pao sliders.

DSC_0257

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

DSC_0261

DSC_0264

Charcoal: “Be surprised! We wont tell you what it is.” (It was seabass)
DSC_0273
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.

DSC_0277

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.
DSC_0282

Made in Japan: Matcha tea cake with wasabi.

DSC_0286

“Magnum”: homemade icecream cake pops.

DSC_0293

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.

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)

Thomas Cook Airlines’ Sun Class (sort of a review)

Just got back from our trip to Cape Verde. We traveled there with Swedish tour operator Ving, which is part of Thomas Cook Northern Europe. Hence, we flew with Thomas Cook Airlines for our 7 hour trip (actually 6 hours, 40 minutes) to Cape Verde.

I will write more about the actual Cape Verde trip (and the food) in a separate post. UPDATE: Here it is – a guide to what to eat in Sal’s Santa Maria.

Anyway, as the cost for upgrading to Thomas Cook Airlines’ Sun Class was quite affordable (600 kr or about €60) return, we opted to go for it. What it gave us was basically another 10 cms of space and our own front of the plane-cabin. Otherwise food, personal tv screens and service was the same as regular economy. So this “review” pretty much covers that as well, for the interested.

Seats
The whole plane, an Airbus A330-300 felt quite new and clean. The personal screens were HD and was one of the best I’ve seen on any flight. You had to pay to access movies (35 kr/sek) and some of the other content. However using the inflight map, listening to music and viewing some of the other content was free. You could also plug in your own headphones and charge your USB-device through the screen which in my mind is a huge plus.

dsc_0043 dsc_0047

Food and drink
I eavesdropped to a conversation about the food between one of my fellow passengers and one of the flight attendants. Apparently Swedish pre-fab food company Dafgårds handles the inflight food catering for Thomas Cook Scandinavia. The food was quite good for being on a plane actually. Everyone was served the same dish which on the outbound trip was chicken salad followed by pannbiffar (Swedish burger patties) with peppercorn-cream sauce and mash as well as a standard airplane dessert. Warm, really fresh (best on a plane I’ve had I think) bread was also served. On the return we had Skagen mix (it’s supposed to be shrimps in mayo – this was more likely surimi or something similarly awful), followed by a really (for an airplane) tasty beef stroganoff. The finale was a tasty but very sweet chocolate mousse.

Drinks were sold, and you could get a small bottle of Pommery Champagne for 90 kr, or a glass of nice New Zealand Pinot Noir or Sauvignon Blanc (3 Wooly sheep) for 65 kr. There was also a less expensive wine as well as a couple of drink packages. We opted for the “Bon Voyage” with one bottle of Pommery Champagne, one bottle of whatever wine you prefered as well as snacks and water for 150 sek.

This meant we got pretty much a Intra-Europe business class experience (with more legroom) at the cost of roughly 1000 kr or €100 extra per person. It was surprisingly nice to be honest and for a total of almost 14 hours in the air, quite a bargain according to me. Now they just need to install wifi, and I’d be thrilled to fly Thomas Cook Airlines’ Sun Class again. 🙂