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I have already told you in my previous posts about my home town: Mersin in Turkey.

Mersin (population of 1.5 mio) is a major commercial city and shipping port on Turkey’s eastern Mediterranean coast, but not a major tourist destination.

It is a beautiful city near the sea, great weather with palm trees along the roads. It is also a city where nothing much happens. I love it, cause I have so many child memories, and I have my brother, niece and nephew who live there, as well.

There is another reason why I love Mersin: “Tantuni”.

Tantuni is a dish born in Mersin, and it became known all around Turkey. It is meat wrapped in lavash bread (a flat bread that is the equivalent of a tortilla).

It started to be a dish for people without much money, they will place the meat cooked with lots of lungs and fat into a roll and eat it. With time, this wrap became the most favorite street food of Mersin.

The preparation is a whole ritual. They grill thin strips of beef and keep them warm on the side of a massive circular pan with a concave depression in the middle. When they need to prepare a wrap, the cook scoops some of the beef up and reheats it in the middle of the pan in a steamy combination of oil and water, creating thin gravy.

He places the meat in the lavash bread (that he soaks with the meat’s juice), adds some tomatoes, onions (not for me), parsley and a combination of spices (sumac, red pepper, cumin…). Once all the ingredients are in the flat bread, he rolls it.

To the idea, I am salivating… I highly advise to eat it with some lemon on top.

If my friends from Mersin reads that, they will probably laugh cause everybody knows that I am hooked to Tantuni. I think whenever I go to the city, I have to have at least once a day that delicious wrap. I buy always from “Sabit Tantuni”, whom I believe does his yearly income thanks to me ;)

The good news is that I hooked up my niece as well; so besides the fact that I enjoy my yummy wrap, I share it with her!!!!

When I was a kid, every Sunday we will have family lunch. My father will keep a booklet and put grades on all restaurants. He loved to make new discoveries, and we will return to the ones we liked.

Those days, I wished I was hanging out with my friends, but now I wish he was still around so we could make the discoveries together…

The other high point of our Sundays was to be lost on our way to the restaurant. Off course, the GPS didn’t exist then, and let’s admit my father didn’t have a great sense of direction… I guess now we know from whom I inherited that quality ;)

This week-end with my mom we decided to give another shot to one of my father’s restaurant. Auberge Communale de Presinge. This Italian restaurant revives so many child memories, and the food was always very good. The owners finally decided to retire and sold it to an adorable couple.

Our first surprise was to arrive there, without getting lost… Thanks God I have my Tom Tom (GPS); even though she annoys me sometimes, and we have fights…. I have to admit she is very helpful.

The last time I was at that restaurant, my nephew wasn’t even born, so at least 6 years… So I was nicely surprised that the place didn’t change at all. The menu, well it actually changed a little. I didn’t see their famous risotto.

I decided to start with the beef carpaccio and my mom with the smoked salmon. I continued with the beef tagliata, and she took the sea bass again. I hate writing this but: “it was really bad”. My carpaccio was cut very thick, it seemed it was bought from the cheap super market. My mom’s salmon was not good either, it seemed to come from a package.

My beef tagliata was good beef quality, but had no taste what so ever, my mom’s fish was ok. We ordered a lasagna and gnocchi to go for my sister, she said they were with no taste..

The worst? We paid a lot for this food. I am sorry that the food doesn’t happen there anymore: they are a lovely couple, the terrace is great, and the restaurant is full of souvenirs. Such a shame.

Will I return, I seriously doubt…

As I am still craving for the filet of perches, I decided to go to the last place where I had the most amazing ones: Le restaurant du Lac in Versoix.

This restaurant situated by the lake has a great terrace, and you never get disappointed with their food or with the service. The sunny day made it even better.

The main inspiration of the menu is fish; although they offer an amazing selection of meat as well… All products are seasonal and fresh. We decided to start with red label smoked salmon marinated with citrus fruits and virgin oil. Then the sea bass and off course, I took my filet of perches….

OMG (oh my god) they were so good. You’ll tell me with that amount of butter even a shoe sole will be delicious… lol.

They brought French fries and veggies next to it. Normally I don’t like the French fries, but they were damn crispy and good. The sea bass looked very good and fresh, but I wasn’t into grilled healthy fish… I was more into buttery delicious mini fish with French fries ;)

We finished the lunch with a crumble to share…. Ahhh where is my chica ? My all time “crumble” partner ;)

The service was perfect; I guess our waiter noticed that we had some Lebanese blood in our veins, because he tried to bond and started to put Arabic words in his sentences, lol. I don’t speak Arabic, so his efforts were worthless.

The restaurant du lac is not cheap, but is worth every penny… I will definitely return there, actually I have a feeling it will be my summer great lunch spot ;)

With the beautiful weather that we had, the week challenge was to think to restaurants with nice terraces. Most of the classics like the restaurants in place du Molard were fully booked, so one had to be creative.

We opted for “Le Lacustre”. For the ones who don’t know it is situated just by the parking of Mont Blanc across the lake. The parking elevator is at the door of the restaurant… so not much for a walk to digest, lol.

Le Lacustre, makes part of Molino pizzerias, so you have all the pizzas and pastas… but you have a great selection of fish, as well. I was dreaming about the filet of perches; unfortunately, they didn’t have any.

After long hesitation for a pizza, I opted for the beef carpaccio, so I could take “la torta de la nonna” as a dessert. The others had the fish.

The service was very slow; they managed to take our order only 25 minutes after our arrival. Our waiter was lovely, but didn’t speak one word of French. You know I love Italian, but don’t you think it will help the communication if he could speak French… in the Frencg speaking part of Switzerland????

We are not in Lugano, but in Geneva… and even though sometimes it gives the charm of the restaurant when they throw you few words of Italian… People are at Lacustre to have a quick lunch before going to work… so they cannot pretend to be on vacation in Italy and lose their time in communication…

Thanks God, I don’t work in an office and I speak Italian… but my poor sis left without eating as it was too late for her.

She missed a good lunch. The carpaccio and the fish were good. My torta della Nonna was yummy. The best? We had the beautiful sun smiling at us…

So if you are looking for a great terrace with decent food in town, Le Lacustre is your address… just bring your Italian- French dictionary if you don’t speak Italian ;)

Geneva is a city where everybody likes to go to their same old places to eat. The classics never die… Everybody says they want new, but let’s admit we rarely give a chance to the new spots.

For few months now, I hear about this new Italian restaurant called “Asseyez-Vous”. The general idea is, the food is great (everything organic), but overpriced.

I finally decided to try it out; it was for the birthday of Patou. B & B girls, meaning my mom, sis, Patou and her mom are like me good restaurant critics, and let’s admit very harsh critics, lol. Whom else I could chose to try this new spot ;)

Although everybody is disappointed with the décor, I personally liked it a lot. The good thing is the menu changes every 2 -3 days; which shows that the cook gets inspired by the fresh products he buys. On the down side, when he decides a dish, you have no chance to change it… or our waitress is scared of him cause every time we asked for a minor change, she kept saying, “the cook won’t accept”.

We started with a cold salmon soup, and I think from far it was the best dish I had there. I liked it because it was very original and tasty. For the main course, we all asked for the pastas. We had the option between two pastas, spaghetti with lobster, and squid ink ravioli filled with mussels and grated bottarga on top.

We wanted to share both dishes and asked our waitress if she could split them and off course she refused… apparently it won’t go with the cook’s dish concept…

I opted for the one with lobster; it was too salty and garlicky for me. I tried the other plate which was a bit too dry and waaaay to salty as well. They say if the food is too salty, it means the cook is in love… actually it was right, because the cook’s love interest works there as well, and they don’t hide their affection ;)

They somehow caught up with the desserts; much better than the main courses, tiramisu and panna cotta.

I seriously don’t know if we made the wrong choices; the “cote de boeuf” (T-bone steak) looked amazing.

But let me tell you something, everybody is right… it is way too expensive. For a cold salmon soup and a pasta dish, with a bottle of wine and 2 desserts, we paid 100 usd per head. I guess if we had the t-bone, it will have been even more expensive…

I was so excited to try this new restaurant, but will I return there? I doubt.
I think the cook, should continue his love affair, but slow down on salt and be a bit more flexible…

Thanks god with the B & B girlzzz we always have a great time, so made the best out of it… Patou I promise you, next year I will make a better choice ;)

Have you ever heard of Comerc 24 in Barcelona? No??? Have you ever heard of El Bulli at Cala Montjoi? Well if you haven’t heard that one either than you should wonder what you are doing reading my blog…. Cause every foodie (and most of non-foodies) knows about El Bulli.

El Bulli is one of the best restaurants in the world where finding a reservation is more difficult than having tea with the Queen. Ferran Adria, the chef, has been acclaimed the best chef in the world.

Carles Aballan, chef of Comerc 24, used to work with Ferran Adria at El Bulli, until he decided to continue his own adventure. In 2001, he opened Comerc 24 in Barcelona which became rapidly one of the best known tables in the city.

His concept is simple; he took all the tapas, and revised them with his creativity and worldwide influence. The result? Amazing.

The Marmelades have already been to Comerc 24 during their vacation week. The experience was so great that, they decided to go back and share the yummy food with me.

Thanks to his social skills, Ring Ding managed to find us a table for Saturday night. I think I have never seen Magician and Twinkie so excited about a restaurant, lol.

When you first sit, they open your appetite with four different olive oils… Everybody already knew what they wanted. The parents and I took the festival menu, where you have the chance to taste a bit of everything. Twinkie and Magician opted for fewer plates, their tuna tartar looked amazing and when you see the speed it was gone, I guess it was delicious as well.

Let me tell you the highlights among the dishes…

Pizza 24, on a bread crust they put anchovies, mozzarella bites, ruccola salad, strawberries and some truffle oil… as the Magician pointed out “each bite is an explosion of different tastes in your mouth”.

The filo Parma, lemon and basil and the monkfish were also incredible. The famous “kinder egg” (not the chocolate with a surprise in it), was very interesting as well. It was filled with truffles and very interesting taste.

On the main plates, we had some seafood dish: the Dashi with cockles, razor clams Yakisoba and Lavaneres peas and potera squid. Then they brought us a rabbit and an ox sirloin.

My favorites were the seafood dishes… I don’t eat rabbit, and the sirloin wasn’t that impressive.

And also let’s be honest… even if the portions are tiny, after the 8th dish you are not that hungry anymore.

Well you will think that, but when the desserts arrived, the appetite came back…. My favorites among the five deserts (yes five… without counting the petit fours)?

Bread oil, chocolate and salt… I loved the combination of this extra virgin olive oil on the chocolate and the salt just made it better. As Twinkie and Magician pointed out, their “oreos” were amazing was to die for. Instead of two cookies they had two caramelized sesame toasts, and it gave another dimension to the “oreo”.

We accompanied our dinner with this amazing wine, Scala Dei Priorat Cartoixa 75. The sommelier took a good ten minutes to open it. And believe me, it was worth the wait….

While we drank our wine, Twinkie and Magician (especially Twinkie) finished their water reserve, lol.

After 4 hours of food festival in our mouth, we left the restaurant very satisfied.

I advise everyone to try Comerc 24, the décor is very modern and the service is impeccable. Some people say that it is too expensive; let’s say it is not cheap, but worth every penny of it.

One of the other attractions of Barcelona is the weather and the promenade by the beach. We decided to take a walk and have a nice lunch by the beach.

Magician and Twinkie wanted to rent bikes… Since 2007, the Barcelona city council launched the innovative bicycle borrowing scheme called “El Bicing.”. Unfortunately, these bikes are only for residents, the tourists need to rent from bike shops.

We finally found a shop, and they rented their bikes… why I didn’t rent a bike? Well, I am ashamed to announce that I don’t know how to ride one…. And seriously do you see me on a bike? Where would I put my purse, and how can I bike with heels? And then the bike has to be in matching colors with my outfit… too complicated.

The boys proposed me to teach (I guess they wanted to laugh), I proposed them to put a basket in front of their bike and sit on it (as I am so tiny, lol)…

We finally decided that it will be wise to skip biking for Nat, wonder why? Lol.

All the restaurants seemed to have the same menu, we opted for “Bestial” (thank you wifey for your advice). This restaurant situated near the beach with a great terrace offers Mediterranean cuisine with an Italian twist.

Our hotel told us that it was like a Mc Donalds…

I don’t know if the Mc Donalds are very fancy in Barca, or they have never seen one, but this restaurant was far from one. To start with the decor is minimalist and modern, and the food is far better.

I guess they don’t take a commission from the restaurant…

Anyway, as we couldn’t make up our mind, we didn’t do any reservations… we tried all the tricks to get a table, they restaurant side was full, so we sat on “the lounge side”.

Let me translate that, we couldn’t sit at a proper table and order from the menu, but sit at the comfy couches and order only appetizers. This is where I see, Barcelona has become very popular. In the past, they will do everything to be pleasant and helpful…. Now the attitude is: “you are not happy, you can leave”. If we were in Turkey, they would have even proposed the menu of the adjacent restaurant.

I decided for once “to not have” a fight and we ordered our food. We had mushroom and truffle croquettas, some Spanish ham, calamaris and two mini pizza, one of them with cheese the other one with sun dried tomatoes and ruccola. All this with a rose, that looked more “fushia” than rose…

Everything was delicious; the service …. nonexistent!!! I don’t know if you are considered as a second-class citizen when you sit at the lounge, but our waiter never came to see us. Once our plates were on the table, he decided that we were done… We had to chase him. The worst? When he literally told us that we cannot order the other dishes from the menu, he served them to the next table…. Guess what I finally had my fight!!!

Thanks God for them, the restaurant is well located with good food, and it was an amazing day and great company… Thinking about it, maybe that’s what the hotel was implying when they said it is Mac Donalds… it is a self service ;) )))

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 ;)

My friends from NY, “The Marmelade’s”, have decided to go to Barcelona for a week during spring break.

I went to Barcelona couple of years ago, and loved it, so I decided to take Swiss (better than easy jet) on Friday to join them.

I had the feeling to be in Turkey, as almost each passenger had two bags, and we know you are allowed to have only one. They indicate the flight to be 1h30 minutes… but actually the flight is not more than 45 min and the company spends the other 45 minutes to measure and weighing the bags. They also take away the extra ones.

Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t this the job of the check-in? I guess they are more concentrated to check on their makeup, than check in your luggage 

Finally, when I arrived at Barcelona, took a cab for the hotel. The distance from the airport to The Hotel Arts is 35 minutes, but I think in Spain people start the week-end early, cause we had huge Friday traffic jam at 2.30 pm. Let me tell you these Spanish know how to live, between good weather, the amazing food, quality naps and long week-ends, no kidding they are smiling more than the Swiss… they have a better life.

It took me more than an hour to arrive at the hotel, and another 50 minutes to arrive to the restaurant and join my friends. Let me tell you for a 45 minutes flight, I left home at 11 am and arrived at my destination (the restaurant) at 4 pm… Thanks god it was yummy ;)

I will talk about the food a bit later, let’s step back a minute to talk about my hotel.

The Hotel Arts Barcelona is one of the most popular hotel in the city. Owned by the Ritz Carlton group, it is situated in the marina of Port Olimpico. The hotel is literally steps away from the beach. Did I tell you all the happening restaurants and bars are on the beach????

….and minutes away from the city center (if no traffic).

The hotel is very modern, with great rooms. The down side… at the lobby they offer you water and candies all day long. Excuse me who goes to Spain to drink water and eat candies… even kids want to experience more exciting things.

Another thing that I should point out… I understand they are all about the service, they want to satisfy the customer and get feedback to improve… but they should stop harassing their guests… especially when you put a “do not disturb” sign on your door. I received two calls: The first one was to make a satisfaction survey during my nap…

And the second one was from housekeeping. Apparently they saw the do not disturb sign, and wanted to make sure that I don’t want them to open my bed…. Guess what I am already in bed, and if I put the sign out, it is “NOT” to be disturbed….

Ohhh, and without forgetting the several e-mails that I received since I left the hotel, from the general manager and from the satisfaction survey.

I know I am a “VIP”, but it kind of feels that the hotel is my new harasser, lol. What would have happened if I were a real celebrity? Will I find someone back In Geneva to ask my experience at the hotel?

Joke aside, the hotel is great and I will definitely return there. I checked out the new W hotel while I was there, beautiful, but too impersonal. Hotel Arts is modern, but has also this comfy style that makes you want to hang out.