Archive for ‘Food & Wine’

March 19, 2012

Marlborough Farmers Market

by Johnny

Our week of hard work and fun (mostly just fun, though) at Windsong Orchard culminated at the Marlborough Farmers’ Market.  Jennie and Bob helped start the Marlborough Farmers’ Market and are still very active in running it, so we all got up at the crack of dawn to set up.  We’ve been to dozens of farmers’ markets on our trip, but we’ve never thought about all the hard work that goes into setting one up before this.  I don’t think we’ll ever look at a farmers’ market the same again.  At around 9:00am, the crowd started to trickle in.  Anna helped bag and sell plums (the last three varieties out of the 25 Jennie and Bob grow), blueberries and table grapes at the Windsong Orchard booth while I helped out Chef Chris Fortune at his breakfast booth, from which all proceeds get invested directly back into the farmers’ market.  Unfortunately, I nearly sliced off my thumb while chopping tomatoes (I guess there’s only room for one chef in this family), so it was back to the Windsong booth and selling fruit with Anna, which was just fine with me.  Like Anna mentioned in our last post, we had really reconnected back to our food source while working on the orchard, and it was truly enjoyable to be able to talk to and educate customers on what they were buying.  Personally, I loved the face to face interaction with the local community…something that’s often missing from my job back home.

The Marlborough Farmers’ market is more than just a place to quickly grab some fruits and veggies.  It’s a place to bring your kids, grab a freshly brewed cuppa, listen to some live music, catch up with your neighbors, and, yes, buy some delicious local food.  It definitely had Anna and I inspired to get more involved with our farmers’ markets back at home.  Here are some scenes from a great day:

We can’t thank Jennie and Bob enough for an amazing week and a perfect way to end our time in New Zealand, and we hope to bring some of the lessons learned at Windsond Orchard back home with us.

March 18, 2012

WWOOFing at Windsong

by Anna

There couldn’t have been a better way to conclude our tour of New Zealand than with our week-long WWOOF stint at Windsong Orchard in Renwick. For those unfamiliar with WWOOFing, it stands for “Willing Workers on Organic Farms,” or “World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms,” and New Zealand with its bountiful agriculture is chock full of amazingly hearty and scenic spots to WWOOF. While having the opportunity to learn about organic farming practices and gain a more intimate local experience of the community, a WWOOFer volunteers his/her time in exchange for lodging, food and knowledge from their WWOOF hosts.

We have to thank Kate and Matt of TwoPackedBags for our discovery of Jennie and Bob and their orchard. Kate and Matt WWOOFed there last May, and upon reading their post, we knew we had to experience this place!

First off, Jennie and Bob are two of the coolest, headiest and kindest people we’ve ever met, and their passion for their fruit (which is, by the way, insanely delicious), their local community and working towards a sustainable future is immediately contagious. So are their fun-loving spirits and appreciation for the simple pleasures life has to offer. We loved listening to stories of their adventures.  They met in Mexico…Bob was down there sailing and Jennie had hitchhiked her way there from Canada…and since then, they’ve spent their time sailing the world (they spent 1 year and 1/2 sailing from California to New Zealand when their kids were younger), teaching ski lessons in Mammoth, CA and throughout New Zealand and beginning Windsong Orchard. Bob is a SoCal native and Jennie a tried-and-true Kiwi, so they now spend their time split between Renwick and Santa Barbara…not a bad combo!

Needless to say, Jennie and Bob made us feel at home right away, and quickly got us acquainted with our “blueberry cottage” attached to their work shed and surrounded by blueberry bushes on one side and plum trees on the other. The cottage was stocked with every type of spice and cooking ingredient, as well as home-grown veggies and herbs from their garden and fresh eggs from their chickens. Each day we’d throw on some gumboots and meet Jennie and Bob in the shed at 8:30am. We’d then go to work, which included tasks like planting new blueberry bushes, trimming table grapes to get them market-ready, picking and grading the quality of blueberries and plums, and a little weeding. At 12:30pm, we’d head across the lawn to Jennie and Bob’s place for a delicious spread of Jennie’s home-baked bread, scones, plum and blueberry muffins, and her home-made hummus, chutneys, etc. Then the rest of the afternoon we were free to explore the surrounding vineyards and breweries either on foot or on Jennie and Bob’s bikes. In the evenings we’d cook up a storm with all of our delicious, fresh ingredients and read our books while watching the sun disappear behind the plum trees. Could it get any better?

When not working at the orchard, we helped out with set-up, selling, and break-down of the Windsong booth at local farmers’ markets in Blenheim, Nelson and the awesome market in Marlborough that Jennie and Bob helped found (more details to come on this later…). It was such a fulfilling experience to see the process come full circle from soil to table, and have the opportunity to interact with the local community, which is truly passionate about supporting their local growers.

Johnny and I definitely left with a new admiration for the hard work and time that goes into organic farming and the local markets that benefit both local growers and the community. We were also inspired by Jennie and Bob’s way of life and loved feeling reconnected back to the land and earth. It was good to get our hands dirty!

Windsong: Jennie & Bob’s house on the left and our cottage on the far right
Beautiful blueberries
Outside the shed, next to the caravan Grape vines and the window to our bedroom
Loading up the van for the market
Our kitchen Fresh produce gave us plenty of cooking inspiration!
We even cooked up mushroom “puffballs!” Entering our cottage through the shed
Feeding scraps to the “chooks” Our cozy cottage
Johnny’s green (or should I say brown) thumb
Windsong’s fruit stand on the main road Certified organic
Trimming grapes by the quince tree with my helper Nalu the cat
Blueberries! Picking “Delights”
Johnny collecting his blueberry bounty
Bob grading blueberries So many antioxidants!
Jennie’s home-made frittata
Jennie and I workin’ the booth in Blenheim “Don’t be a bum, buy a plum!” – Johnny
Biking around Renwick
Jennie and Bob’s neighbors
So many lovely vines… Wine tasting at Mahi
Vineyards at Forrest
Beer tasting at Moa More brew tasting at Renaissance
Our local watering hole, Cork & Keg Grabbing an evening beverage with the locals
March 8, 2012

Good Eats

by Anna


While being in such close proximity to Chef Jay during our stay in Queenstown, there was no lack of good eating to be had! On his day off Jay graciously invited us over to his new “cottage in the countryside” for dinner. After a quick stop to check out the quaintly-preserved mining town of Arrowtown on the way, we drove further into the hillsides and sheep pastures, past a hand-written sign advertising “Horse Poo” and down a narrow dirt track to Jay’s place. His new ‘bachelor pad’ that he’s sharing with his friend Vaughan could seriously be in the pages of Town & Country magazine. The most picturesque little cottage greeted us, surrounded by green rolling hills, sheep and the jagged peaks of ‘The Remarkables’ in the distance. Jay, being the debonaire host that he is, had even put bouquets of wildflowers on the table to welcome us. We had such a wonderful afternoon, enjoying the sunshine and some bottles of Amisfield wine, while Jay brought us smoked salmon with cucumbers and dill yogurt on baguettes…I LOVE having a chef in the family! Following the appetizers Jay presented the main course of lamb with roasted vegetables…yum! Everyone oohed and aahhed over every bite, and there was not a single drop left of sauce or lamb when we were finished. We could have stayed all night, but alas, we had to head home before the dirt roads got too dark…plus, we didn’t want to put the neighboring sheep in jeopardy of being in Big Red’s way.

Jay’s new home
The Remarkables in the distance Jay’s “backyard”
Bouquets of wildflowers made it all the more charming
The chef’s notes The chef’s bounty
Clearly, I was having an awful time!
Jay prepares smoked salmon appetizers Jay and Vaughan hard at work
Mouth-watering lamb with roasted veggies
Enjoying the sunshine Great food + great company = happy people

Our culinary treats didn’t end with our evening at Jay’s house. Seeing as our first lunch at Jay’s restaurant, Amisfield, had been so amazing, we decided that it was necessary to pay it one more visit while in Queenstown. After we drove the scariest road of all time along the edge of a gorge for a little wine tasting at Chard Farm and stopped off to see bungy jumpers flying into the gorge from the Kawaru Suspension Bridge, we settled back in at Amisfield for a lunch fit for kings. Rabbit rillette with apricots, bruschetta with carmelized onions and broad beans and crispy pork belly were just a few of the delectable treats that graced our table. Jay also surprised us with some items we didn’t order, and we ate everything down to the last crumb. Johnny and I savored every bite, as we knew we’d soon be back to peanut butter and honey sandwiches as our standard meal!

All I have to say is that if you ever find yourself in Queenstown, make the trip to Amisfield, because the food is unreal (and you’ll also get the added bonus of seeing Jay in action)! Thanks, Jay, for everything (including all of our bottles of Amisfield wine!).

Rabbit rillette with apricots Mom & Dad
Savoring every bite! Bruschetta with caramelized onions and broad beans
Zucchini & tomato salad with home-made cheese Crispy pork belly with figs
Dessert smorgasbord
Compliments to the chef!!
February 29, 2012

Chef Sherwood

by Anna

As Johnny mentioned in a previous post, we lucked out timing-wise on the New Zealand portion of our trip to see his brother Jay! Having just returned home from a three month cooking stint in Northern Italy, Jay was only in California for a couple of weeks when his fellow chef and friend Vaughan, a Kiwi whom he had met while cooking in San Sebastian, Spain, called him to see if he’d be interested in moving to New Zealand to work at Amisfield, a winery just outside of Queenstown. And with that Jay became a temporary New Zealand resident three weeks ago!

Since we had just missed Jay’s move to Italy by a couple of weeks on the European leg of our trip back in October, we were ecstatic that we’d finally have the chance to see him…and in New Zealand to boot! We were looking forward to lots of quality time with Jay once we got to Queenstown, but upon realizing that our drive from Lake Tekapo to Te Anau would take us right past Amisfield, we decided we had to make a surprise visit.

It was a rainy day, and Amisfield was packed. Once the friendly host, Tom, discovered that we were related to Jay, he gave us a wink and nod and told us he’d finagle a table for us just as soon as we’d tasted some wine. After 10 months, we couldn’t have been happier to see Jay’s face, and it was especially cool to get to see him in his element – the kitchen! He took us on a quick tour through the kitchen, garden and vines, and then used his employee perks to get us six bottles of the delicious wine that we had just tasted. We then proceeded to have the most delicious lunch of all time with a fabulous bottle of Pinot Noir. Everything was amazing, but the best part was obviously getting to see Jay!

It wasn’t too sad to have to say goodbye, because we knew we’d be seeing much more of Jay once we got to Queenstown after a few days at Te Anau and Milford Sound.

Chef Jay!
Hungry men Ladies who lunch
Zucchini bruschetta
New Zealand lamb is simply the best!
Before After
Johnny and Jay post-lunch with our bounty of wine
January 7, 2012

Market Madness

by Anna

Throughout our travels we’ve always enjoyed checking out the markets, with some of our favorites being Les Halles in Avignon, France, the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market in Istanbul, Turkey and the Neighbourgoods Market in Capetown, South Africa. Southeast Asia has not let us down so far with its many, often crazy maze-like markets and prices that can’t be beat! Luang Prabang, in particular, has kept us enamored by its lovely, slow-paced food and handicraft markets.

The first market we discovered upon arriving to Luang Prabang was the Night Handicraft Market, which lines the main street beginning at 5:00pm every night. Th Sisavangvong is closed down for several blocks along the perimeter of the Royal Palace complex, and vendors pack the street with beautiful lanterns, jewelry, scarves, antiques, hand-stitched linens, embroidered bags and clothes, paintings and hand-made journals, to name just a few of the offerings on display. Even when we’re not shopping (or more accurately, when I’m not shopping and Johnny is waiting patiently nearby), we love strolling through the market at night on our way to and from dinner to watch the men and women at their stalls quietly embroidering, painting watercolors or hammering jewelry. It is such a relaxed, calming atmosphere, that it is hard to believe we’re actually in a market at times.

Towards the end of the Night Handicraft Market, food stalls start to pop up and intersperse with handicraft stalls. Baguette sandwiches, fruit shakes and the scent of grilled bananas begin to fill the air. Turning down a small alleyway, you enter the wonderful world of the Night Food Market. The crowded, bustling tables piled with food, opposite communal tables crammed with patrons, the Night Market snaps you out of the daze from the Handicraft market and gets you back on your toes to pick out the perfect meal for the night. For about $1.25, you can get a plate and pile it high with as many dishes as you like from a buffet-like Laos offering, or you can get a BBQed whole fish on a bamboo stick, or you can have a fresh papaya salad chopped up, or you can indulge in my and Johnny’s favorite find, some delicious soup from “Mrs. Noodle.” Not only is “Mrs. Noodle” the sweetest, most lovely woman, but she also slings some mean noodle soup. Similar to pho, she piles noodles of your choice plus fresh herbs and veggies into a divine broth and then gives you a plate piled high with other herbs, limes and chilies to personalize your flavor. We will most definitely miss sipping soup and Beerlao at Mrs. Noodle’s table. Our other favorite offering at the Night Food Market is the coconut rice balls. They are steaming, sweet little bite-size morsels that are crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. With the ability to buy 6 for around 50 cents, we’ve pretty much developed a nightly habit of eating these tasty treats.

Last but not least, Luang Prabang’s morning market is a wonderful place to walk through first thing in the morning. The bountiful selection of herbs, fruits and veggies are displayed beautifully, big fish flop around in metal tubs, live chickens await their fate and there are of course all sorts of meats and animal parts to choose from.  All the freshly-picked fruits and veggies reminded us of the smell from our CSA farm basket back home.  Our first visit to the Morning Market was around 7am after we had attended the alms giving ceremony along the streets with Vong. At 7am the market had obviously already been bustling for hours, making me wish I was more of an early riser!

November 5, 2011

The Winelands

by Johnny

Seeing as how we’ve already visited the wine regions of France, Portugal, Italy and Croatia, we thought it only fair to add South Africa to the list…strictly for comparison purposes.  Only about an hour northeast of Cape Town lie the Cape Winelands, South Africa’s most famous wine producing area.  Fun fact…South Africa has the oldest wine industry in the world outside of Europe.  We drove through the university town of Stellenbosch before arriving at our home base of Franschhoek.  Franschhoek was settled over 300 years ago by French Huguenots, who brought with them their love of food and wine.  Today it is know as the culinary capital of South Africa…and we decided to take full advantage of this fact.

We had an absolutely amazing dinner at the locally-recommended Reuben’s on our first night before settling in early to get a good night’s rest from some serious wine tasting the next day.  We woke up to our first cloud-free day in South Africa, ate some breakfast, grabbed our map and set off on foot to some of the nearby wine farms.  We were happy to discover that 1) South Africa has some tasty wines, and 2) wine tasting in South Africa is pretty cheap.  At each wine farm, we were able to taste any four or five wines of our choice for 15 rand (about $2).  “Umm, yes, I’ll try the five most expensive, please.”  We really liked the Merlot and Pinotage (the region’s signature grape…a cross between Pinot Noir and Hermitage) at Chamonix, the view of the entire valley at Dieu Donné, and our mouthwatering wine and lunch combo at Mont Rochelle’s Country Kitchen (one of Anna’s favorite meals of the trip).  It was an amazing day, even if we ended up only visiting three of the five wineries we planned on and were too pooped to go out to dinner later that night (imagine that!).  Although it feels a little more like Napa than Africa, Franschhoek is definitely worth a night or two to enjoy some of the best food and wine South Africa has to offer.

The view from Dieu Donné
We picked up some goodies at Mont Rochelle Red wine for Red Beard
Lots of roses and pretty buildings in Franschhoek Church in Franschhoek
Pork belly from Reuben’s…mmmmm
Clouds creeping over the mountains
October 23, 2011

Time For A Kebab

by Johnny

Do you know how hard it is for a meat-eating male to travel in Europe for nearly five months without eating a kebab?  It’s extremely hard.  They’re on nearly every street corner, tempting you with cheap awesomeness.  Did I give into this temptation?  No way.  I ignored these delicious hunks of meat on a stick with unrivaled willpower, determined to experience my first kebab in the world’s kebab mecca, Istanbul.

On one of our travel days a little while ago, Anna and I were watching the Istanbul episode of “Anthony Bordain: No Reservations.”  He raved about this hole in the wall kebab place that made both of us drool on our computer, and I thought, “Yes…this is where I will have my kebab!”  With some flimsy directions, we headed down a couple side streets, up a couple alleys, and finally made it to Durumzade.  Let me just say, it was worth the wait.  We ordered a spicy lamb durum (Turkish kebab wrap), which is the specialty of the house, and watched the grill master work his magic.  The best part was that he would periodically smother the cooking meat with the bread, soaking up all the juice and spices.  He wrapped the meat up burrito style with some tomatoes, onions and more spices and delivered it to our table.  I tore into this thing like a five year-old into his first present on Christmas morning.  It, like nearly every single thing we’ve eaten in Turkey, did not disappoint.

How can a place with smiley faces for U’s be bad? Choice of meats on skewers in the window
Cooking up our lamb on the grill All the fixin’s
One happy camper…who looks a little pooped from staying out ’til 4:00am the night before
October 2, 2011

Top Chef Florence

by Johnny

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting Johnny’s homemade pizza or Brian’s homemade meatballs, you’re probably thinking to yourselves, “Why in the world would you guys take a cooking class? You should be teaching one.” We know. But we figured it couldn’t hurt to pick up a few pointers from some real Italian chefs. Plus, we were promised free wine and cool aprons.

We met our instructors and the rest of our group (which consisted of some Canadians, a couple newlyweds from England and the Netherlands and a group of about eight Australian women) at 10:00am and headed to Florence’s Mercato Centrale to pick out our ingredients. One thing I love about Europe is going to a different shop and/or market for each specific ingredient. You get your eggs from the egg guy, your bread from the bread guy, your veggies from the veggie guy…and on and on. Today was no different. As a bonus, we got to taste about five different balsamic vinegars. That will wake up your palate.

I think we can find some stuff to cook with here
Balsamic tasting Brian was entrusted with carrying the eggs…a serious job
Ready for action

Armed with our ingredients, we headed over to our workshop. On today’s menu was bruschetta, homemade pappardelle with meat sauce and tiramisu. Because it needs a couple hours to chill in the fridge, we started with the tiramisu. It’s actually way easier to make than any of us thought. The hardest part is the very beginning, where we had to separate the egg yolks and egg whites. After that we added some sugar to the yolks, whisked, added some mascarpone cheese and then whisked some more until smooth. Then we whisked the egg whites until they were fluffy and folded them back into the mixture with the yolks. Then we just layered this mixture with some cocoa powder and ladyfingers soaked in coffee. Piece of cake, errr tiramisu.

Whenever Anna and I make bruschetta at home, we chop up some tomatoes, mince some garlic and toss it all on some toasted bread.  Pretty standard.  We did it a little bit differently in our class, and it was actually easier than at home.  Once the bread was nice and grilled, we rubbed raw garlic on both sides.  The garlic disintegrates on the bread almost like butter would.  And instead of chopping the tomatoes, we just sliced them and placed them on top of the bread.  We topped it off with some salt, dried oregano, olive oil and creamy balsamic.  Simple and delicious.

Marisa and Johnny whisking away while Aussie women look on Brian and Anna chopping bread
Bruschetta looking good! Dusting our tiramisu

Next up…meat sauce!  We chopped a red onion, sliced some garlic and added it all to a hot pan with olive oil and some chili flakes.  After a couple minutes, we added the ground beef and ground pork sausages we got at the market.  When the meat browned, we added some red wine and let it simmer for a few minutes.  Next, we added some sea salt, tomatoes and basil and let it cook on the stove for about 45 minutes.  It was hard to concentrate on anything else with the smell wafting in from the kitchen.

Meat sauce ingredients
Cooking away Brian working his meat

I have a newfound respect for those little ladies you see in the back of shops and restaurants in Italy making homemade pasta.  The ingredients are simple (eggs and flour) but the work is backbreaking.  Even super buff dudes like Brian and me got a little winded during the pasta making process.  First, we very slowly combined the eggs and flour, whisking the entire time to thicken up the dough.  It’s a forearm exercise if there ever was one.  After maybe 30 or 40 minutes, we finally had a ball of dough ready for kneading.  Kneading is the process of strengthening the dough by further mixing the ingredients (so says Wikipedia), and it’s tough work as well.  After only about five minute of it, I seriously “kneaded” a nap.  Haha…get it?  It’s a play on words.  OK, back to the food.  Once we finally had our dough ready, we flattened it out with our rollers, folded it and sliced it to make our pappardelle.

Johnny breaking some eggs in our flour crater
Brian and our newlywed Danish friend mixing the dough
Our chefs Andrea and Giovanni show us how to knead
Marisa gives it a shot Johnny loses his wedding ring in the dough
Time to roll out our pasta
Marisa and Brian show everyone how it’s done

We had such a blast at our cooking class.  The chefs were awesome and our group was hilarious.  We’ll definitely be taking these recipes back home with us.  Of course the best part of the class…enjoying the fruits of our labor.

Pasta time
Some well-deserved wine after a hard day’s work
Marisa and Brian enjoying their pasta Tiramisu time

What an incredible three days in Florence with Marisa and Brian. All the city’s beautiful sights, our cooking class, our scooter ride in Chianti…it was all amazing. However Anna and I both agree that our favorite moments from our time in Florence were when we were just sitting in our apartment or at dinner having some wine and talking with our great friends.

September 3, 2011

A Day In The Life

by Johnny

Lately I’ve been getting a ton of emails asking, “Johnny, what are the five best days of your life?”  No, not really.  But I’m going to tell you anyways.  Here they are, in chronological order.

July 11, 1989 – Anaheim, CA:  1989 MLB All-Star game at Angel Stadium with my dad, Grandpa Joe and Papa; Bo Jackson crushes lead-off homer to center field.

July 20, 1998 – Ventura, CA:  My first Phish concert at Ventura County Fairgrounds; monster 21-minute, funked out “Bathtub Gin” opener had me hook, line and sinker (pun intended).

August 14, 2004 – San Francisco, CA:  I move to San Francisco and start work; feel truly independent for the first time and lucky to live in my favorite city on the planet.

August 15, 2009 – Santa Ynez, CA:  My wedding day; best party of my life.

September 3, 2011 – Hvar, Croatia:  See below.

I’m just kidding.  I couldn’t possibly rank the best days of my life, but today was definitely up there…one of the more memorable ones of this trip for sure.  Now, if you only check in on this blog once in a while, you may have the impression that our trip is full of lavish meals and endless wine drinking.  That’s far from the truth.  It’s actually full of cheap meals and endless wine drinking.  Just kidding again…Johnny’s on fire!  Actually, most days we make a tea and have some granola in our room for breakfast, wander around town, have a baguette and some fruit for lunch, wander some more, make some pasta or find a relatively cheap restaurant for dinner, wander again, go to bed and then have leftover pasta for three meals the following day.  Well, after a few days of this routine here in Hvar, Croatia, we decided to treat ourselves to something special.

Our day started like most do with some granola for breakfast on our deck, and since awesome decks are commonplace here in Croatia we were spoiled with a fantastic view.  We ran out of our usual green tea, so we decided to get some kava (coffee) in the old town (what a treat!) and found a tiny, authentic coffee shop.  The shop has been in the same family for generations, and the woman who runs the place still uses her grandma’s original recipes.  We enjoyed our coffee sitting on some cushions on old stone steps.

Coffee break

When Anna and I talk about “treating ourselves,” it basically means we search out some unknown restaurant with incredible food and stuff our faces.  Today was no different.  We had read on some foodie blog about a restaurant called Dionis located somewhere in Pakleni group of islands right off of Hvar.  We called ahead because it’s encouraged to make reservations…not because it’s overly popular but because they need to know how much food they are going to make that day.  We jotted down some confusing directions from the blog and grabbed a 30 minute taxi boat over to the cove of Palmizana on the island of St. Clement.  While this may seem like a lot of effort just for a bite to eat, this was only the beginning of our journey.  Our directions basically said “find the red sign to the village of Vlaka and follow the blue markers all the way to Dionis” and, well, that was exactly right.  Little did we know, however, that these blue markers took us on an hour long hike through the center of the island on an incredibly overgrown hiking trail.  Even though we’re sitting here with scratches all over our arms and legs, the beautiful views and best meal of our trip (no joke!) were well worth it.

Red sign to Vlaka…so far so good Follow the blue marks…piece of cake
Is that a blue mark?  I think we’re lost. Blue mark on a tree?  Now I’ve seen everything.
Yep…definitely on the right track now
With views like these, who cares if you get lost?

After navigating the rocky, narrow path for about an hour we cut inland for a little bit and finally laid our eyes upon Dionis.  With its setting in the middle of vineyards and olive trees and with views of a bay in the distance, they could’ve served chicken nuggets and I would have been happy.  The setting only got better when we got inside.  There were about six big, wooden tables under a thatched roof with an open wall towards the vineyards…a perfect, rustic setting.  We were definitely the only English speaking people in the place, but another group loved us and would cheers us every time they took a drink of wine (which was often).  It was great.

We made it!
Getting closer Inside of Dionis
We’re hungry!
View from our table
Our new buddies

I don’t pretend to be a food critic, and I’d run out of adjectives talking about how delicious the food was, so I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking.  Everything was super fresh and simply prepared with olive oil, garlic, lemon, rosemary, chives and parsley.  And the coolest part is that everything we ate came from within an eye-shot of those pictures you see above you.  Warning:  Looking at the following pictures will make you hungry and jealous.

Bread, olive oil and white wine…all homemade
Eggplant isn’t our favorite, but we loved this aubergine pie Dalmatian cheese and olives
Anna asked the waiter about the fish, so he showed us the morning’s catch
Grilling up our grub More grilling
Anna’s Scorpaena fish and grilled veggies
Johnny’s grilled squid and veggies

After a couple hours we finally and reluctantly peeled ourselves away from the table.  We were so full that we contemplated just sleeping somewhere in the vineyards so we wouldn’t have to make the hike back, but we pressed on slowly but surely, stopping at a couple of the coves we saw one the way in for some dips (some of the skinny varietal).

Nice little spot for a dip
I ate so much my boardshorts literally exploded off my body…good thing I had some nudist friends across the bay
Some cool flora on the hike back Beautiful

We made it back in time to catch our boat back to Hvar, and Anna made a new buddy during the ride.  Too stuffed to eat anything for dinner, we wrapped up our amazing day with some red wine on our deck, and I couldn’t help but smile knowing that we have many more of these types of days ahead.

Anna and her new friend Coffee
Dusk from our deck
July 21, 2011

Top 3 Tapas

by Anna

My mom always pokes fun at me because whenever I come back from anywhere, the first thing I talk about is what I ate…..and usually something that I ate was “one of the best things I EVER ate!” It’s true. I love food, and luckily Johnny loves it as much as I do…if not more:) With that said, I wanted to be sure to record our top three tapas restaurants that we ate at in Spain, in case any of you happen to be in the same place at some point and want a delicious meal. You never know; it might end up being the best thing you ever ate!
**Eslava and Alaljibe both had more expensive restaurants attached, so we made sure to ask for the tapas only menu. All three of these had the most inventive flavors and prettiest presentations of the places we went to while still being really well-priced.

Traga Tapas, Ronda
Favorite tapas: Grilled asparagus with shredded Manchego cheese and marmalade, Patatas Bravas, Curried chicken skewers

Eslava, Sevilla
Favorite tapas: Smoked salmon on toast (with some delicious secret sauce!), Grilled chili relleno stuffed with white fish, “Solomillo” pork in some delicious sauce with roasted potatoes

Alaljibe, Sevilla
Favorite tapas: Salmon ceviche with ginger, Tuna tataki with grilled vegetables, Curry shrimp with basamati rice and coconut milk
**We also had our favorite Sangria here!