Category: Nat’s Restaurants

My first night, we decided to have a drink at the W hotel. The W Barcelona opened recently and is designed by world-famed architect Ricardo Bofill. If you are not familiar with his work, he has also designed the city’s airport who received the award for the best airport in Europe.

“W”, located along the famed boardwalk La Barceloneta, strangely reminds you of the Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai.

When you enter to the hotel, you notice it is very modern. Like almost all the W hotels are, it is very dark with some bright purple lights. It is beautiful, but didn’t make me feel comfy and homy.

It was too windy, and they didn’t have warmers at the terrace, so we sat at the indoor bar. Half full, with a DJ playing with a way too loud music . Let me tell you, I am happy that we stayed at the Hotel Arts.

After a quick drink, we all went to Botafumeiro. This restaurant, has opened its doors more than 25 years ago, and serves amazing seafood. It has a long bar where you can also eat. We opted for a table.
As Magician and Twinkie were not hungry, we ate our food and theirs…

You know how they say, “your eyes are bigger than your stomach”; well, we wanted to taste everything so we ordered a bit of everything. We have started with seafood croquettas, calamaris and don’t laugh a Russian salad (come on we are with the Russian Ring Ding) which was revised Spanish style. Oh without forgetting a spider crab gratin.

The next plate was a seafood platter and, off course, we had to try the paella. As we couldn’t make up our mind, we opted for one with calamari and squid ink, and one with seafood.

Everything was yummy, but between us, we shouldn’t have lost our time and appetite with the appetizers and start straight with the seafood platter. Then maybe we could have eaten the paella.

After three and a half hour hard work of eating and drinking… we couldn’t move anymore. Even when the mariachi’s came to play for us, I think the only part of my body that could move was my eyes.

I am ashamed to say that, it didn’t stop us to try the cream Catalana.

What do I think about the restaurant? A bit touristic, great food, lovely service and as usual amazing company. Next time (if I ever go back), I will definitely sit at the bar and enjoy a seafood platter with a chilled white wine.

On the other side, we are in Barcelona with so many great addresses, so I guess during my next trip I won’t lose my time and calorie count there, and go to another tapas or seafood restaurant.

That night we were hoping to hit the Casino and gamble a little… but seriously, I am just happy that I managed to walk to a cab….

Let’s talk about the serious stuff and Barcelona – Food.

My day of arrival I joined the Marmelades for tapas at Paco Meralgo. For the ones who haven’t met this mythical family the Marmelades live in NY. Lady Fleur and Ring Ding (the parents) have two sons Twinkie and Magician. The parents are known for their famous terrace M in summer and the kids for their killing looks.

When I arrived at the restaurant they had already eaten but were waiting for me to finish the second bottle of wine and some freshly ordered tapas… I didn’t have time to take pics as I was starving.

Just one word: “delicious”. I had some seafood croquettes, fresh tuna carpaccio, grilled foie gras on toast, some fresh anchovies, and the region specialty, “Pa amb Tomaquet” (toasted bread with fresh tomato paste and olive oil). The whole experience was thrilling; I just wished I wasn’t stuck in traffic that long and order more food before they closed.

After our 4pm lunch, we went to the hotel for a nap, in other words digest so we could eat dinner. You know, in Spain, the dinner starts very late…. Around 10pm. I know it is far from early bird in the States, or regular dinner time in Switzerland.

In Spain, every meal is later than the other countries. They start with a light breakfast between 9-11am, have later lunch between 2-3pm, and dinner only after 9pm.

How does people do when they work? Well the working day usually starts between 8 – 9am, lunch break is around 1.30 – 2pm until 3-4pm (the time when Swiss stops working, lol). They finish work around 6 – 7.30pm. (when we have dinner in Switzerland)

According to this schedule, working in NY is slavery as I remember I used to arrive at work around 8ish and leave around 7.30pm, and will have a quick salad in front of my PC for lunch.

Hmmmm, I wonder why I didn’t move to Barcelona as my first instinct ;)

We decided to celebrate my mother’s birthday at Chateauvieux with some friends. Unfortunately, the  chef’s table was already booked, so we opted for the second best solution, in the main room.

You have to know that The Domaine de Chateauvieux is in Satigny which is near the airport of Geneva. Even if it takes you 15 minutes for the airport, it took us almost 45 minutes to reach there (basically the time to go to Paris by plane). I mainly blame my Tom Tom (or the slut in the box) for that. I have suspicions that her job is to show me the “longest” way….

Chevrier, the owner and cook of Domaine de Chateauvieux has several restaurants under his belt. Café des Negociants and Le Vallon are only two of them. I love what he did with Vallon, but not such a fan of afé des Negociants. I tried twice since he took over and got disappointed.

Anyway, back to the birthday dinner…
When you enter the restaurant, you can see the kitchen as it is behind glasses… so all the cooks are like fishes in an aquarium; when you look at them, they get curious and look back at you, lol. The main fish, Philippe Chevrier, was very happy to see us (go figure why).

The main dining room is beautiful and spacious; quite busy I have to add…

No need to say, but just in case, if you are on a budget, don’t go to have dinner at Domaine de Chateauvieux. The appetizers start at 80 usd, the main courses go up to 230 usd (the lobster) and the tasting menus starts from 300 usd …

The wine list on the other hand starts at 290 usd…

We didn’t choose the tasting menus, some of us have started with the “Seared force-fed duck liver “foie gras” on stewed mango with lime and pepper caramel sauce”, and continued with the “Simmental filet of beef, braised shoulder, watercress with chanterelles and onion sauce”.

Some others took the “Ancelin n°2 oysters slightly cooked with vodka, sea water jelly flavoured with ginger and apple”, followed by “Pan fried filets of red mullet with baby squid and sea urchin sauce”.

Everything was delicious, but between us, I preferred the “amuse-bouches” they brought us before. I knew I should have taken the surprise menu and let Chevrier be inspired for my food!!!

No need to say it was an amazing evening; the company was delightful and we laughed a lot. On our way out, we finally met Chevrier who was charming and told us they will love to have us dine in the kitchen next time….He said the kitchen is a male’s world, and they always appreciate ladies eating while they cook for us

He just forgot to mention that you need to book way in advance to get that famous chef’s table, will keep you all posted when I will finally eat inside the aquarium 

The civil wedding took place on Thursday afternoon, near Milano Due. It was beautiful and then we hit the “Four season Hotel” for aperetivo.

The Fours Season in Milan used to be an old convent, and they kept some of the walls intact. It is a beautiful hotel between via Monte Napoleone and Via dells Spiga. In other words between my two favorite streets ;)

No need to say, the rooms are very cheap ;) you don’t simply pay the name of the hotel, you also pay the address… when I used to live in Milan, I liked their aperitivo as the food that came with was yummy.

You know in Milan, the happy hour is sacred; they bring you lot’s of food while you have your drink. Some places even have a buffet with yummy foods.

At the “Four Season Hotel” you don’t have a buffet, you have waiters bringing you the food. The tip is to tip them well, so the food never stops ;)

This time we took over the room in the back near the fire place. I guess the crisis even hit the hotels, because while sipping our bubbles they only brought breaded olives stuffed with tuna, and fried sage leaves. We had to order some mini sandwiches, which will have never happened in the past.

The crowd on the other side didn’t change, some guest having relaxed meetings and some shoppers, drawn under their shopping bags, having their drinks.
Let’s not forget my favorite clients: some Russian special ladies, sorry in Milan their code name is models, entertaining their “uncles”.

We had our fun, we were not there to eat just to celebrate the union of my girl and the wise man, and off course check out the crowd a little ;)

On Friday morning, after having my breakfast in front of the Duomo I hit the mother ship that common people call via Monte Napoleone. I had brought 4 options for Saturday night wedding reception, but was still not sure about my outfit.
Yeah that is my excuse to shop and I am sticking to it.

For lunch I met my spiritual son, his girl and their baby (does that make her my spiritual granddaughter???) and my mom at Trattoria Bagutta.

Wow, that was a nice walk on memory lane; I think I haven’t been there for at least 10 years. It is situated on via Bagutta (I know big surprise), which is by Piazza San Babila, and via Monte Napoleone. This trattoria is open since 70 years and you can see the caricatures of some judges on the walls, next to some paintings of various artists.

The menu is simply composed of everything we love… we started with grated artichokes and grana padano, fried artichokes (I know I am into artichokes these days) and tuna carpaccio. My friend and I then took a Milanese (breaded veal cutlets) and my mom and spiritual son took the pasta with mushrooms.

To finish we wanted to share a “Torta della Nonna”, and it was my least favorite… it seemed they have done it few days ago  what a shame as Bagutta is famous for its antipasti buffet and dessert carriage….

Well let’s be positive and say less calories, and no sugar rush as I had a very busy afternoon. I had to raise Milano’s economy and shop till I drop. Between you and me, mission accomplished ;)

Instead of a rehearsal dinner, my friend organized a rehearsal drink at Armani/Nobu. Well it makes sense as she met her man there 7 years ago ;)

I was really shocked to see the bar so empty on a Friday night. Apparently not only Geneva, but Milan is also empty on week-ends during winter (everybody goes to ski). I don’t know on what they will ski as this year we don’t have any snow… but anyway.

We were already 20 people, so didn’t really care about the rest and had our own fun. Instead of the food on the buffet they brought us bento boxes with no very attractive food. One thing really attracted my attention in the bento box: Tacos.

I thought it was a mistake or they were tacos revised Nobu style, but nope. It was tacos with beans and meat…

And the worst? When we sat for dinner, it was written on the menu.

What happened to Nobu? Isn’t it Japanese anymore? Am I gonna see a kebab sandwich on my next visit? Or maybe a couscous … And let’s ask the most important question: “is Nobuyuki aware that they are serving Mexican food in his Japanese restaurant in Milan?”

Maybe when you fuse Japanese in Italy, it comes out Mexican….

Anyway, after dinner, sat at the bar with my friend, we had to catch up…. The service at the bar is… nonexistent. I have never been ignored that much by bartenders, I seriously don’t know what their function is. They don’t take your order, and they are not even cute so they have no excuse to be brainless and inefficient. Another mystery.

On the other side, I have to say the bar is really a pick up place, and I have to add also that it is full of desperate ugly men. I don’t know if we were losers’ magnet or it was the vibe in the bar, but we had several “no way Men” who approached us.
What happened to the days where Nobu was a hip “Japanese” restaurant, where the crowd was full of hot boys and girls and the bartenders were yummy (and efficient).

As i have mentioned in my previous post about Nobu in Milan, Armani invested in these high power ventilation systems so we can smoke downstairs.
Between you and me, it was so powerful that my contact lenses were too dry and had to non-stop blink to water my eyes…

Thinking about it, that newly earned tic is maybe what attracted the losers around the bar, lol.

Saturday was the second shopping day marathon… after emptying some stores we decided to have lunch at Paper Moon. Another Milano institution. When I lived in Milan, it was my Friday lunch spot.

They first announced us 45 minute wait to actually sit us right away between grumpy and piggy (the lovely names i gave to my table neighbors…)
That should have been the first sign to make us leave… It has always been a touristic place as well, but it became way too commercial and touristic.

I ordered my fix Carciofi e Pana (artichokes and pana cheese) then asked for a parmesan risotto. My mom took their special of the day, pasta with meat and artichokes…. Her pasta was swimming in olive oil; my risotto was bland. We ate in 25 minutes, paid a fortune and left the place unsatisfied.

Note to myself; don’t ever go back to Paper Moon in Milan. Better to eat at a café a Panini than being ripped off and disappointed. I always have Bagutta, Cova, or Saint Ambreous (i know not the cheapest spots) if I want to eat when I hang out in the shopping area….

Thanks god, the shopping was not disappointing, how can it be with all these amazing merchandise???

We finished the day with a coffee near the Duomo before going to the hotel and get ready for the partay !!!!

I am sure you remember from my previous posts in Milan, the restaurant Bistrot. A yummy restaurant where my friends always go and love. The owner opened a new place called “Ristorante Giacomo Arengario” just on the left side of the Duomo, on the top of the “Novecento Museum”.

When we arrived at the bottom of the museum, they were a line for people visiting a museum. We took the other door and after giving our name to the doorman, took the elevator to the 3rd floor.

The elevator doors opened to a jazz music band and people drinking and talking. It seems first quite small, but you start walking and arrive to the bar, where you see the beautiful bride and the broom (or as we call him the wise man) greeting.

We right away took a glass of bubble and continued to discover the place. One side of the restaurant has wall to wall windows and looks at the newly cleaned Duomo.

The weather was perfect, so the view was even more breath taking. We right away assured a table with a view close to the main family table.

During the cocktail, the waiters passed with trays of several Italian appetizers. It was so delicious that they couldn’t make 2 meters their tray was empty and had to go back to the kitchen. Finally, we all sat down, and the food festival started…

They were so much food that at a point I decided to eat less and drink more ;) We started with sashimi of scampi, followed by 3 different pastas, then fish and then veal… I think my friends were afraid that we will be starving.

During dinner, we had a belly dancer who put a silly smile on all the boys’ face and collected good money so she didn’t know how to leave, lol. I think she set the mood, and nobody wanted to sit and eat anymore, but wanted to dance and drink…

We had an incredible evening, the broom was so happy that he was no longer a wise man… he did some pretty wild things, looking forward to see the pictures ;) the Bride, my girl, although she was carrying my future fiancé, didn’t stop dancing. Well we know she is a rock star!!!

When the music finally stopped, I think we were all ready to pass out… I heard some saying let’s go to Armani Prive to continue the evening… I continued the party in my bed, couldn’t feel my feet anymore.

I love every food that comes out from Giacomo’s kitchen, always tasty… used to love his restaurant Bistrot , and now I am in love with his new spot: “Giacomo Arengario”. Apparently you can have lunch as well, or as my friends, organise private parties.
And I have to say the staff was amazing as well, they did an incredible service and never left me without bubbles ;)

Thank you guys, it was an amazing evening, and I wish you lots of happiness!!!

I know that I am late for some posts, but now that I am back to Geneva, let me write you a little about it, before adding my NY Food Festival experiences.

This time the return was harder, as I am still jet lagged. Yesterday it was the birthday of my friend that we call the President, so we decided last minute to get together and have a drink at Capocaccia. I have told the Yeti (girls he is the new guy in Geneva, yes we have fresh meat in town, lol) to join us as well, so he could meet some of my peeps.

After few drinks, we were all hungry so headed up to Quirinale… The last time that I was at Quirinale was the night before my trip to NY, and it was a long night. Everybody was there including Metro and my Greek girls. The night ended very late at the new B Club, and I only had an hour to pack before going to the airport… still drunk, lol.

As usual Quirinale over packed, but haven’t seen that many people that I know… even the special ladies were not there!!! What’s happening in Geneva? I leave the city for a couple of weeks, and everybody changes their habit????

Ok we got it; it is the new year, so everybody has a resolution such as quit drinking, quit smoking, quit eating…. bla bla and bla. We all know that these resolutions won’t last long. WE are in Geneva, how do you wanna survive to the winter depression without drinking? Anyway, nobody was in the “party” mood… so we lost basically everyone. The last man and woman standing were the Yeti and I…

Fun night, fun discussion… but I seriously need new places to discover in Geneva. I know it is gonna be a challenge, but my 2011 will be dedicated to that.

Did you ever hear about Blue Hill restaurant in New York?

Well if you haven’t let me give you a brief history about it… it opened in 2000 in the village and the food is provided by nearby farms, who respect artisanal techniques. In other words, it is fresher than bio and organic food (that between us has no guaranty that it is that natural).

When the Carlyle group invited me I was so happy to finally taste it. We had a table at the second service, but it was worth having a late dinner. If it is your first time, you better look well, as it is hidden few steps below the street. It is a small room with few tables and a bar where you can also eat. While waiting for my friends to arrive, I heard the bar guests advising to others the veal and the venison…

We had our table with a little delay, and finally decided to have the tasting menu composed of 5 dishes… They assured us that it was not large portions… seriously they could even have said they are five bites … We had a soup, an egg, a bite of lamb and two deserts… thanks god they had brought some homemade salamis, and their farm fresh butters with the warm bread. Otherwise, we would have left the restaurant hungry.

The service was lovely, and it was a very “calm” crowd, composed of locals and dates … Let’s say it is not a restaurant to pick up your mate, or get wild. You go with him or her, or with another food lover. It is a restaurant to eat delicious fresh food… that is deliciously expensive.

I would definitely go back and either order 2 tasting menus, or select dishes. Blue Hill is a definite A++++ but they have to revise their portions. I understand it is fresh, and so rare to find in the states, but come on…
They say best things come in small sizes but they forget to say it is frustrating…

….and we all know that it is total BS, “size do matter!!!!” ;)