We had a gameplan for our last morning in Portland. More on that later. First, we needed some coffee. Back in March, FOY (Friend of Yoso) "James" recommended Public Domain Coffee Never let it be said that I don't take recommendations seriously. Unlike many of the coffee shop in the downtown area which open later on weekend, Public Domain opens at 6am every day. Which made it an easy choice early on a Sunday morning.
They were doing some nice business at this early hour. Just a simple cup of coffee. Service was great and we enjoyed the place except for the two morons who blocked the condiment section....they kept adding cream, sugar, and whatever, then tasting their coffee, then adding more stuff...pouring off some coffee to compensate...wash...rinse...repeat....meanwhile a line was forming behind these two clueless, entitled knuckleheads...until we finally went, "excuse me, but can we get some sleeves...."
One other funny incident. There was an older gentleman, though perhaps life had made him look a bit older than he was, who was sitting on the sidewalk outside Public Domain. He seemed quite kind, asking for change, or a cup of coffee, addressing folks as "sir" and "ma'am". We got him some coffee and a croissant....and damn if he didn't give the Missus a bow and a flourish, finishing with what looked like a modified curtsy, which was pretty much worth the price of the cup of coffee and pastry.
Public Domain Coffee 603 SW Broadway Portland, OR 97205
We went back to our room and packed. Breakfast was going to be at....well, where else; Tasty n Alder, the decision was not up for negotiating. We travel light. On this trip, a single carry-on for both the Missus and I, a Tom Binh Aeronaut 45. Tasty n Alder doesn't open until 9am and out flight was at noon. On our visit the previous morning, we asked our server, who had also been our server on the previous two visits if she thought we could actually have breakfast here; catch the light rail, and make our flight back to San Diego. She believed we could do this. We'd have to be in line 20 minutes before the restaurant opened and she was sure we'd make it.
And so we got to the front door; with our bag, 20 minutes before the place opened. It was good advice. Within minutes there was a line behind us.
We got in and wouldn't you know it......we got the same server....I got her name...but sadly can't remember it right now. You know how the Missus enjoys the food here. All I've got to add is, that young lady was just on top of things, she was just amazing.
Besides the usual suspects, we also ordered the Watermelon Salad, which the Missus loved. This is what made ordering the Watermelon Salad at Risibisi a few months later an easy sell.
Which she brought with the check, knowing we were in a hurry. Touches like this mean that we'll always come back here....... We're just visitors....who knows when, or if, we'd ever be back. And still there's such a nice gesture.
Tasty n Alder 580 SW 12th Ave Portland, OR 97205
And of course we made it to the airport with time to spare.
Finally, at the beginning of November they opened to the public, albeit with limited hours - 6am to noon, Monday to Fridays. I'm only able to visit when I'm running late for work or on holidays.
Still, my visits have been fruitful. On the morning of Christmas Eve, I dropped by and was shocked to see they had brewed a batch of the iconic Panama Geisha. We'd previously spent ten bucks for pour over at Bird Rock, and while this was just drip coffee, it was worth way more than the $2.15 price tag. Smooth, almost too smooth, aromatic....very nice.
I also noticed that the Kyoto Drip tower had been set-up. The really friendly guys here....they love to talk about the various aspects of coffee....heaven for a coffee nerd like the Missus, told me they were "dialing it in"...... I'm hoping they have some nice cold brew the next time I drop by.
I was also told they were considering the possibility of weekend hours......which I'd appreciate.
Bird Rock Coffee Roasters 1270 Morena Blvd. San Diego, CA 92110
Pho Paradise Closes:
Right before the deluge hit, I decided to see what was up with Pho Paradise. I was somewhat surprised to see Eviction Restoration Notice posted on the door. Too bad. I once thought that the pho here had some promise, but my last visit here in November was quite disappointing.
One consistent thing about Convoy. There's no good pho to be had.
Thanks for stopping by to read mmm-yoso!!! on this beautiful day. Kirk (and his Missus) still have a bit of jet lag and Ed (from Yuma) just wrote a really nice post, so it's Cathy's turn.
A San Diego institution, Twiggs has a long, zig-zagged history here, beginning in 1992. There are two locations and this one (on the North East corner of Adams at Idaho) is where The Mister and I have stopped for a few meals as well as baked goods.There is a food menu in the front window (as well as paper menus inside). It seems to be most crowded here for the Friday-Saturday-Sunday breakfast Specials menu.The beverage menus above the cash registers where you order and pay. Usually we stare at the menu and end up ordering a cup of coffee, because it is from Caffe Calabria, a local roaster we really like. Condiments are to the side of the ordering counter, as is more seating. Because the wifi is free, there are a lot of tables with only one person seated at certain times of the day. They all seem to be ordering something to drink and/or eat also, so that's cool. Asking what the quiche of the day choices were (A slice is $4.25; $7.50 with a salad), both mushroom and ham and cheese were available. This time I chose ham and cheese, an excellent choice. Because this location of Twiggs is also a bakery..well, the crust...it was heavenly. Flaky light, flavorful and a good crisp. The bottom stayed firm (sometimes quiche crusts are almost like raw dough) and the cheesy custard filling (a mix of cheeses) complimented the thick sliced chunks of a very flavorful, smoky ham. The mixed lettuce salad, with tomato, raw mushroom and green pepper comes with a side of raspberry vinaigrette, which I use sparingly...the salad veggies are flavorful on their own.The Mister has been curious about the tarragon chicken salad ($6.95) and this time it was his order. A large scoop (despite this photographic illusion) is served on top of the mixed salad (again, with raspberry vinaigrette on the side). Chopped almonds and tarragon complimented the chicken and mayonnaise; simplicity is all the flavoring needed. The lightly toasted (on a panini press) bread was just a perfect compliment for all the flavors. Never knowing if we will want a dessert, we waited until we were finished eating and walked over to the other side of the ordering counter, perusing the baked goods. (There is another refrigerated area with cakes and pies and their respective slices that I didn't photograph).Again, deciding simple would be best, we asked for one pecan sandy ($1) cookie to go and when we got home, were happy to see that there were two in the bag. There are bits of pecan in every bite of these lightly flaky buttery cookies.
Always a nice, neighborhood place to stop. You can pre-order some wonderful cakes, pies and cookies as well some very traditional Christmas items for the rest of the holidays coming up.
Twiggs Bakery & Coffee House 2804 Adams Avenue San Diego 92116 (619)296-4077 Website
I don't think a trip to Kyoto/Osaka would be complete without a short detour to Nara, once the capital of Japan.
It was a quick 45 minute train ride to JR Nara Station. From there, we decided to take a leisurely walk to Todai-ji.
It was a quiet and rather relaxing walk...... we passed an interesting looking "local-kine place" along the way.
We saw a branch of Ko Hi Kan Coffee along the way, so we decided to stop and get our caffeine fix for the morning. Pour-over of course.....per the Missus.
The women working here were very friendly.
It was a nice cup(s) of coffee, which energized our rather tired bones for the walk.
It was just a short walk to the Nara Park area.
We ended up spending the most of our time in a couple of areas; the first being Kofuku-ji, once the temple of the Fujiwara-shi, once one of the most powerful families in Japan.
The Pagoda here was undergoing repairs when we visited; but the grounds were really quite beautiful....in a stark and spartan way.
We soon entered the heart of Nara Park; famous for their temples...and of course the aggressive deer. Actually, I found the deer here to be much more mellow than the super aggressive deer in Miyajima. Though you might have a different opinion if you've ever read Lynnea's post on Nara. That last photo in that post is still a favorite of mine.
Just in case you hadn't been informed of the risks of screwing around with the rather cute four-legged friends....there are signs that explain the possible hazards of messing around with them.
I believed that the biggest draw to Nara would be Tōdai-ji.
Based on the crowds that lines the Main Gate, I'd say that my statement is pretty much correct.
The Daibutsu-den, which houses the world's largest bronze rendering of Buddha is quite impressive.
The bronze Buddha which is also quite impressive at 49 feet tall and 92 feet across at the shoulders! This is a image of Dainichi Buddha, the "Celestial Buddha", the source from which all other Buddha's emanate.
There's a lot to see here. There are other statues, like the rather mencing and imposing looking Komokuten; Buddha's Guard who is stepping upon a demon, yet brandishing a scroll and brush, symbolizing both the power and wisdom of the Sutras over ignorance.
To the right of the Buddha sits Nyoirin Kannon.
In contrast to the rather scary and imposing Komokuten, the Nyoirin Kannon represents compassion and boundless love for all.
And, for those who want enlightenment.....you can try to pass through a hole in one of the pillars deemed Buddha's Nostril. Passing through the hole means that you be granted enlightenment....though I believe it doesn't happen until your next life. Plus, I read that it's only about 20 inches wide....the size of Buddha's nostrils.......better leave this to the one of the school kids; many of whom still struggled to get through.
It was fun watching all the school kids trying to pass through the hole....each one had a photo taken...proof that enlightenment will be bestowed upon them. Personally, I did gain a bit of enlightenment....but it happened in the form of the restroom sign. I learned the power of a single space...where Gentleman....became "Gentle Man". Now that's powerful, right?
Kids of all ages came to visit Tōdai-ji. This group of really young ones seemed so cute and charming. They were so little, that a few of them needed help going down the stairs.
And of course, they sell "senbei".....crackers for the deer...which means every group of school kids became a feeding frenzy.
It was starting to get really crowded. Which meant it was time to "hele".
It definitely is a must see if you're in Kyoto or Osaka.
Initially, the plan was to have lunch in Nara, but we decided to head back to Osaka. Just a few blocks from the busy arcades of Dotonburi resides Kuromon Market.
Along with the numerous shops were countless food stalls, selling everything from live blowfish to Kobe Beef. And there was even a good sized supermarket in the middle of it all.
It was quite a variety. We then decided to just buy a couple of items and have lunch in the market.
It also wasn't easy deciding on what to get. We actually did a walkthrough of the entire market area before making our selections. It was hard resisting all the Kobe beef....especially since you could "burn your meat after ordering"....
In the end I chose some really nice toro from one of the market stalls. The woman sliced everything quite nicely and provided me with wasabi and shoyu.
The Missus chose a selection of nimono and ohitashi for a nice meal from the very friendly folks at another stand.
It made for a very nice lunch.
After finishing up, we headed to the market to grab some beverages and snacks for the evening. At first I was just going to grab 2-3 items, but ended up with quite a load. While walking the aisles I felt a tap on the shoulder. I turned to find a kind looking, elderly gentleman smiling at me. He had two shopping baskets in hand....and passed one of them to me. Such a thoughtful gesture. You gotta love Osaka.
mmm-yoso is primarily a food blog. Kirk posts the most here, and Cathy also posts often. But today Ed (from Yuma) posts about a new eatery (in Yuma).
The late summer and early fall are good times to launch new restaurants here in river city; it gives them some time to practice their craft before the influx of winter visitors and ag workers. One interesting new venue is The Press, featuring soup, salad, and pressed sandwiches.
Located on W 24th St. between Vista Moving and Mayflower Moving – the restaurant is kind of hard to find. The signage is at the eastern edge of the parking lot, so the cars in this photo are not on the property:
and the building itself is totally nondescript:
Inside, however, it’s unique. A lot of comfortable chairs and dark wood tables:
Empty coffee sacks (as well as acoustic ceiling tile) keep the noise level reasonable and make this a nice place for conversation:
There's usually some pleasant music (reggae or Beatles or such like) lightly playing in the background. They provide free Wi-Fi and two comfortable chairs and a couch for people who want to hang out, drink coffee, do homework or even grade papers:
Along with bottled water and some sodas, three kinds of coffee and real iced tea are available:
True to the name of the restaurant, one other beverage choice, the sweet and cacao flavored Mayan tea arrives at your table in a press:
Standard procedure is to grab the menu and look at the daily soup or fruit choice – and any specials on the blackboard behind the cash register. That's where you place your order:
The menu is both simple and clear:
You can choose from a number of different salads or pressed sandwiches for $7.95. The sandwiches come with your choice of chips, pasta salad, or fruit. On my first visit I had the Yuman sandwich with fruit:
On that day the fruit was a sliced half of a ripe pear, which was a real joy.
The sandwich itself was pretty good. A few slices of deli turkey, bacon, and avocado covered with a lot of goopy avocado dressing:
The herbed focaccia bread had a lot of flavor, but the texture of the bread itself was not outstanding. More like supermarket focaccia than Italian bakery focaccia.
For that reason, I like to pair half a sandwich with either soup or salad ($7.95). Here's a Telegraph sandwich with an excellent lemon chicken soup with orzo:
The sandwich had some sliced chicken, tasty roasted red peppers, cheese and guacamole:
Half an egg salad sandwich (the Bantam) with clam chowder:
This was a very tasty combination. The herbed egg salad has a nice rosemary flavor and the clam chowder was different from most chowders. I could detect no salt pork/bacon taste, nor any cream. There were abundant tender clams, but the spuds dominated, adding chunkiness and thickness and a true potato taste.
If you want half a sandwich with a salad, you can choose any of the sandwiches and any of the salads. I loved both the Cobb salad and the Italian sandwich on this plate:
The Cobb came with a blue cheese vinaigrette – here's what it looked like before I dug into it:
The sandwich was a good rendition of an old favorite – nicely flavored pepperoni and salami, a small slice of provolone cheese, a couple of tomato slices, and red onions and banana peppers. It also came with Italian dressing. The meats and spices worked together and made the whole sandwich very flavorful:
Also for $7.95, you can combine a cup of soup with half-size portion of any of the salads on the menu. I thoroughly enjoyed the garden salad balanced with cream of asparagus soup:
The soup was creamy and very savory, with long thin pieces of asparagus spear adding texture. The garden salad was also excellent. The mix of romaine and baby lettuces provided an excellent background to the chopped tomatoes, zucchini slices, shredded carrot, green pepper pieces, and rings of red onion. The Italian vinaigrette served on the side had just the right note of red wine vinegar to highlight the flavors of the greens and veggies.
Here is the krab bisque with a Blue Holler salad:
It's hard not to like apple chunks, blue cheese crumbles, Craisins, and toasted slivered almonds on a mix of greens accompanied by balsamic vinaigrette.
The bisque was mild, rich, and sweet flavored. It was also full of shreds of surimi:
While The Press may not be everybody's cup of coffee – I enjoy it a lot. My only gripe would be that it is sometimes a hassle for us older folks to have to get up to grab napkins or a pepper shaker, particularly when the place is busy. On the other hand this is one of those great little restaurants where the owners are personally involved with the operation, and their attention to detail shows up again and again in the food and ambience.
I'd planned on having one "walking" (aka death march) day in Portland and this Thursday was to be it. Little did I know just how much walking we'd do.....on this day and the next because of some unplanned detours.
Things started as planned. Just a block or so away from the hotel is Case Study Coffee Roasters. Very chill and mellow.
The Missus got a pour-over, which was nice, and She decided that I should get the Lavender Infused Cold Brew...which seemed kind of, well, feminine.....but was nice with a refreshing clean finish.
Case Study Coffee 802 SW 10th Ave Portland, OR 97205
The plan was as follows...the Missus wanted to walk, so I'd decided to head to Mount Tabor, via the Hawthorne Bridge and Hawthorne Boulevard. A decent 4 - 4 1/2 mile walk. We'd take our time and have lunch at Cheese Bar on SE Belmont Street, then catch the #15 Bus back to the hotel for a nice afternoon nap before walking another couple of miles to dinner. As we left case study, the Missus decided that we needed to try Tasty n Sons. We'd gone to Tasty n Alder twice during our last visit to Portland and She wanted to see how TnS lined up.... So let's just add another 4 miles total to things shall we? One does not argue with the Missus when She gets into "mission mode".....
So off we went. The Broadway Bridge was undergoing some work as we crossed so the bike lane and pedestrian walk area was a single thin path. Folks were biking to work so we'd stop and move under the scaffolding to let them pass. I'd forgotten how friendly and nice folks in PDX were. Every bike rider who passed us and there were many smiled and said "thank you"......
We crossed over the I-5 over to N Vancouver, then to N Williams Avenue. Man that part of North Williams near the Emanuel Medical Center is kind of depressing....but you soon get close to NE Fremont Street with the ton of bikes (3,000 bike commuters on this street daily is what I read), businesses, and gentrification. We'd arrived.....
The building Tasty n Sons is located in is quite interesting, it's named the Hub and contains almost every single type of new-agey business you can imagine, even a Naturopathic Vet!
Anyway, we were seated quickly upon entering the restaurant....we found the service here to not be quite as friendly or efficient as Tasty n Alder or even Toro Bravo (an upcoming post). Still, we sat at the counter facing the street and had a nice meal.
Seeing Shakshuka on the menu, we couldn't resist...and of course, there's the Missus's love of runny eggs...and my love of grilled bread.
The eggs were wonderfully runny, the bread nicely charred and smokey. The shakshuka could have had a bit more zip; both in terms of heat, sweet red pepper, and tangy tomato flavors. Of course, since we make our own at home quite often, we have a certain expectation in terms of flavor and prep. Still, this was good.
The real winner was the Moroccan Chicken Hash and of course, yet another egg for the Missus.
The spice-salt-earthy flavors was just what we were craving. The chicken was nicely seasoned and the creamy sauce brought everything together.
During the recent hot weather, I've been making a nice chilled heirloom tomato and mozzarella salad with aged balsamic and Arbequina Olive Oil, which is so delicious. So we were excited to try the Heirloom Tomatoes. Well, you can't claim false advertising as it is heirloom tomato slices.
To our tastes it was a little low on both the acid and sweetness scale and the kitchen had been a bit too liberal in the application of salt.
Overall a nice, hearty, but not too heavy breakfast. I had encouraged the Missus to order the Radicchio Salad here, but for some reason She decided not to. Something She'd regret later.
Tasty n Sons 3808 N Williams Ave Portland, OR 97212
And so with some cajoling I got my butt in gear and we headed east on NE Fremont, then down MLK Boulevard. On this day, the temps were supposed to hit the high 80's (the next day would go into the 90's) and it was getting pretty warm by the time we got NE Belmont. The walk was slightly uphill, but not too steep.
There are quite a few interesting places along the way.....
Over 5 miles later, we got to the place I'd originally planned as our lunch stop; Cheese Bar.
We've really been enjoying cheese over the last couple of years. Cheese Bar along with the new "Chizu" in downtown are retail/cheese-wine bars owned by Steve Jones former winner of the National Cheese Monger Invitational Contest.
I was pooped, hot, and rather sweaty. Strangely, I was also a bit hungryl. Cheese Bar serves up cheese boards, charcuterie boards featuring Olympia Provisions products, sandwiches, beer, wine, and salads. We just ordered two cheese boards and had some highly restorative mineral water.
The House Cheese Board featured three Spanish Cheeses, chutney, and crostini ($11).
Really nice aged Sheep's milk cheeses. From right to left, a Mahón Reserva, a Buenalba, and a very nutty Zamorano. The Mahón seemed a bit behind the other two in terms of assertive flavors. But after letting the flavors open up as it reached room temperature the sweetness of the cheese became apparent.
We also got the "Stinky" Board with Crostini ($8).
The Grayson (on the left) is slightly ripe, though quite mild in flavor. The Vulto Creamery Ouleout has a wonderful texture, a slightly ripe smell but was also a bit mild for our taste. I guess we've gotten used to Harbison.
This was a nice stop for a light lunch. If we'd been doing some self-catering, we'd surely have gotten a couple of cheeses and a baguette.
Cheese Bar 6031 SE Belmont Portland, OR 97215
I really looked like "Ji-chan" as I stood up....geez, I'm surely not getting any younger.....especially after taking a "nice" over 9 mile morning walk! The Missus was nice enough to allow us to return to downtown on the #15 bus. I crawled back to our hotel room, showered....and then it was time for a short nap. Which I hoped would be restorative since we'd be walking to dinner!
Thanks for stopping by to read mmm-yoso!!! This is a blog about food. Today, Cathy is writing because Kirk and Ed (from Yuma) are busy with things.
Azucar opened in Ocean Beach in 2008. Its owner, Vivian Hernandez-Jackson, is Cuban, classically trained in Europe and seven years ago realized her dream to open a Patisserie with a twist in Ocean Beach. Located on the Northwest corner of Newport at Sunset Cliffs (just across the street from Village Kitchen), the small storefront seems unassuming.Step inside and be prepared to be overwhelmed. The descriptions and selection of what is available that day are fascinating (as well as delicious).
A cup of coffee along with a cheese roll (pastelito de queso) and coconut-almond florentine (each $2) one day was a relaxing and enjoyable respite of flavors and textures. The delicate pastry surrounding the cream cheese filling topped with coarse bits of sugar is delightful and the chewiness of the coconut and crunchiness of the almonds is so satisfying. Many people order specialty coffees here, but I find those too sweet and interfering with the already natural sweetness of the pastries.There are also five sandwiches on the menu. Above, the Cubano ($8). Slow roasted pork, thin slices of ham, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles. Pressed and toasted on freshly baked organic bread and served with a side salad. This is the way a sandwich should be. Those items in the refrigerated section are larger and each is around $6. Always wanting coconut flavors, our selection one day was the Artemisa: coconut cake, coconut syrup, pineapple, rum, custard and whipped cream. Topped with toasted coconut shavings. Yes. Dense, deep flavors and wonderful.
There are breakfast items here (quiche, Spanish omelet, croquette) as well as a good selection of coffee based beverages. A nice place to stop on your way to or from the beach.
Azucar 4820 Newport Avenue Ocean Beach 92107 (619)523-2020 Open Mon-Sat 7-6 Sun 8-5 Website
Thanks for stopping to read mmm-yoso!!! Cathy is writing today; Kirk and Ed(from Yuma) are busily researching places and food items.
Some days, I just want a simple meal-sandwich or salad, maybe a coffee. Ending up at Panera, Subway or Starbucks makes for a dull post. I've taken photos of every food item consumed for almost a decade, those don't necessarily show up on the blog but this time, simple foods from a locally owned place are worth sharing.Just a few weeks ago, while driving along 163 South, we noticed this signage over what had been a Starbucks, turned briefly into Pizza Studio (another one of those 'customizable' pizza places) (which, after six months, had a 'Closed for Remodeling' sign on the window). (I did write a post about Pizza Studio, but it was very negative and proven by the sudden closure so it was deleted). Lil' Farmers Cafe is in the same parking lot as Mitsuwa Marketplace,Chopstix Too and (soon to be open) Nishiki.The ubiquitous, hipster, reclaimed wood wall was already there......as was the walk along refrigerated glassed in area.The simple menu (nothing is priced over $5.99 except for the 'to go' organic beverage packs which serve 12) is pretty much all customizable.You can choose your bread and toppings for a sandwich......as well as salad ingredients if you want something added or not included in the menu selections.The beverage selection is interesting (as is the pricing variance between 12, 16 and 20 ounces) and I really like the organic coffee. The concept of a Bacon and Bean salad ($5.49) is interesting. For the first order, I wanted my personalization to be the lettuce choice and the salad dressing (Oil and vinegar, which was mixed thoroughly and in a perfect proportion). Lettuce, bacon, garbanzo and kidney beans, fresh tomatoes and Parmesan. This was very large, very fresh and just right (I am always afraid when the lettuce is already mixed in with dressing, but the technique used here is correct, with no excess 'pooling' at the bottom of the bowl). The Mister ordered a Farmer Panini ($5.49) Roast beef, cream cheese, tomato, onion and (our addition) sprouts. Panini'd and on sourdough, this was a really good sandwich. We ended up speaking with the manager, a very nice lady, who told us the owner is a former San Diego Socker. We've seen him in the restaurant the times we have visited; he is keeping an eye on things and looking for feedback and ways to improve the menu.Another visit had me craving a simple salad. Farmer Greens ($4.49), a nice mix of arugula, spinach, red pepper and roasted tomatoes (I chose sesame dressing) is very good (roasted tomatoes would be a great salad add-on in the future; such great flavor) and hit the spot. The Mister had another menu item in mind, the pesto-chicken flatbread ($5.99). The flatbread (a whole grain dough; very nice) is first warmed, then the items placed on top, then it's all placed back into the small oven for about one minute to melt the cheese and warm the chicken and the flatbread gets a bit crispier. Pesto, chicken, Mozzarella and shaved Parmesan are the only ingredients and truly is all that are needed needed. Again, the flavors are just right.You may or may not have noticed a small area at the bottom of the small menu. Ice cream. 99¢ a scoop ice cream. Only chocolate, strawberry and vanilla flavors (which can be made into a shake). Excellent, extra creamy, 'old fashioned' (to my tastebuds) ice cream. It reminds me of the 10¢ squared/not round scoops of wonderful ice cream from Thrifty's. The bottom of the menu 'flatbread' choice is a sweet version ($4.99). Again, the bread is first warmed, then spread with Nutella and sliced banana, folded over itself, warmed a bit more (the bread is almost toasty) and topped with caramel and chocolate sauce. This was good, if not a bit too sweet (I think a dollop of fatty whipped cream might cut the sweetness, but really have no complaints).
Each visit we've shared a cup of the organic coffee, which is very good. There are no claims made about other organic items here; the freshness on each visit has been remarkable. It's nice to have a local place to enjoy a good, simple meal.
Lil' Farmers Cafe 4240 Kearny Mesa Road San Diego 92111 (between Ross and Trex, just across from the In-n-Out) (858) 430-6554Website Open Mon-Fri 8-6, Sat 10-6
How do you top dinner at Azurmendi? Well, you don't really. You just get up the next morning and get breakfast.......
Then walk around town killing time until you check out at noon and catch your bus to San Sebastian at 2pm.
The Missus decided that we should go to Casco Viejo, the Old Town. We decided to walk along the riverside...... Of course, we first had to pass "Fred".
The morning looked overcast and in fact it drizzled off and on until midmorning.
It seems that all dogs walk off leash here....they are very well behaved. Here's a really friendly one!
Most just mind their own business......
The walk from the Guggenheim to the Arenal Bridge, which crosses over the Nervion River takes about 20-25 minutes or so.
This was a quiet Sunday morning......
That's the Teatro Arriaga in the foreground, which greets you as you cross over the river.
We soon found ourselves at Plaza Nueva. This being Sunday, vendors were setting up for the weekly market of used books, stamps, coins, and other miscellanea.
There's something for everyone it seems. If you loved birds, there's a stand for that.....
What, you don't like birds? Not to worry. The very next booth sells slingshots.....
If you're in the Old Town, all streets lead to Santiago Cathedral. It is said that a church was originally built on this site back in the 14th century. There were additions made to the church at different periods and you can see the variations in styles. The church was declared a cathedral rather recently; in 1949.
It's actually fairly difficult taking a photo of the cathedral since the surrounding buildings are rather close. This being Sunday, and rather early in the morning the cathedral is closed to visitors.
As you can figure out by the name; the Cathedral Stands on the Northern route of Camino de Santiago, the Way of St James.
We noticed a little café that was doing some pretty good business and decided to stop for a "caffe" (espresso).
As we sat and relaxed, I noticed the place getting a bit more busy. After paying and leaving, we noticed much more activity in the little alleyways and small arteries in Old Town. Of course! It was Sunday, folks were on their way to church......
We headed out back across the bridge; past the Renfe Train Station....by now I had pretty much finished taking photos. We were just walking. We found ourselves back in downtown....and I knew where we were! Wouldn't you know it, I finally had directions figured out in Bilbao just in time for us to leave!
Oh well. We hadn't seen everything. And there were many more places that I had on my list to eat at. When travelling we always treat a place like we'll return someday....we see the things that are high on our list and don't stress the rest. So maybe.......
Anyway, we returned to our room, packed up a bit, and decided to take a short nap before checking out.
Morning in Madrid is pretty calm. I guess that happens when most folks end their day at midnight. We were in fact, quite pooped. We awoke, had like three cups of espresso a piece and slowly woke up. The Missus had our day pretty much planned by the time we left.
We of course started at the Missus's favorite location the previous day, Puerto del Sol.
Strangely, I don't have a day time photo of the building which faces the Tio Pepe sign and the statue of Charles III. It was the first Post Office in Madrid and is currently the Governor's Office. Right in front of the building's main doorway is this marker on the ground.
This is "Kilometer Zero", which represents the center of Spain. So I guess this is where we were supposed to start, right? A good part of these walks were distilled by the Missus from Rick Steves Guidebook to Spain. The Missus will often combine all the walks into a single long one. We headed left and up (down?) the street and through Calle de Postas, a street that's been around since medieval times. Some of the building here were quite striking.
Like the display on this Watch Shop named Antigua Relojeria, which has been around since 1880.
This little street leads right into Plaza Mayor.
Pop out of the plaza and you end up at the very popular Mercado de San Miguel. Though not open at this early hour.
We weaved through streets, past buildings until we came to this memorial. This statue marks the spot of an assassination attempt on newlyweds King Alfonso and Princess Victoria by Mateu Morral. The statue memorializes the 15 people killed in the assassination attempt. No the King and Queen were not killed.
Further down the street is Almudena Cathedral. Construction started in 1879 and the cathedral was consecrated in 1993.
That's a 114 years!
Right across from the Cathedral is the Royal Palace of Madrid.
We had thoughts of visiting, but the Missus was on a tight schedule here, so maybe next time. East of the Royal Palace is Plaza de Oriente. We saw Mounted Police getting ready for their shift when we arrived.
It's a very nice green space.....
The street we were walking on is named Calle Arenal.
By this time; we had almost circled back to Puerto del Sol and were in need of a break. Some espresso seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. There's a charcuterie and cheese shop named Ferpal (strangely, we didn't even read about it in the guidebook until later - though RS's recommendations are in our opinion somewhat suspect for our tastes) on the street.
What looks like a coffee counter takes up half the shop....and folks were lining up for their morning (late morning) fix. So we decided to join in. The staff at the counter are rather diner worthy. As in grumpy in a somewhat humorous way. You still get served and everything works fine....for some reason, it just reminds me of a diners here in the states.
While waiting to order our "caffe" I noticed a couple of items on signs. The first was a plate of Lomo Iberico Bellota for a mere 4 Euros, which of course we got.
The Missus actually enjoys the less salty, leaner, more meaty cured pork loin (lomo). This was a nice little brunch item for us. I also noticed something on the menu board behind the counter. Under the heading "Sandwichs". Yes, not "sandwiches", but "sandwichs", the "crema" category were the words "foie gras". For .9 Euros, basically a buck. I had to try this.....
It was a nice little half sandwich, with the crust sliced off, just like mom would make. This was basically a light foie gras mousse. It was quite tasty and filling which we enjoyed it with our "caffe".
Ferpal Calle del Arenal 7 Madrid, Spain
We took a short shopping bread at El Cortes Ingles, the huge multi-floor department store. There's a supermarket in the basement of all El Cortes Ingles as far as I can tell.
The next leg of the walk was up Madrid's version of Broadway; Gran Via.
An interesting study in early 20th century architecture, what makes the street even more interesting is that the buildings were built in groups starting in 1910 and ending in the 1950's. So buildings on blocks were built around the same time.
At the end we took a break at Plaza de Espana and watched these dogs having a great time.
We noticed that the dogs in every city seem to have distinct personalities. In Madrid, they were a rambunctious bunch, having their own mind, pulling their masters along.
Coming full circle we ended up back at Puerta del Sol. We were hungry, it was lunch time. Along the arteries stretching out from the square are tons of eateries. We looked in several of them, a few of which I had on my list and settled on La Oreja de Jaime.
It was quite interesting. There were tons of tourists outside the place, but only Spaniards in this little joint. On occasion someone would walk in, order a Caña...a small beer...polish it off in one large gulp and head on back out. For lunch this was a one man operation; Jaime took orders, cooked, served the drinks, bussed the tables. You name it. There were a couple of older folks eating and having drinks. We simply requested a couple of cañas and ordered from the chalkboard. No crazy equipment here, just a deep fryer, a stove, and a wonderfully seasoned flat top which you can see from the streetside window.
We started with some Padrons.
Thrown in the deep fryer, we quickly found out that Jaime does not go easy on the salt....it was good sea salt. Nice and almost sweet if a bit high on the sodium scale.
You'll notice the name of the place "Oreja"......so what else would you get from here but orejas....ears.
The orejas were only 5€, so we were flabbergasted at the portion size. Get a media (1/2) racione if you go here. These were simply done on the griddle, which, by the flavor, smoky and almost sweet is highly seasoned by who knows how many orders of pig ears. These were crunchy, wonderfully gristle-y, and chewy, with a pretty hefty amount of olive oil, a touch of smoked paprika, and since we love pig ears, quite enjoyable, though the Missus couldn't bring Herself to eat the hairy portions.
The champignons with camarones was also pretty good.
The shrimp was quite tasty, full of that nice shrimp flavor that folks in the states seem afraid of. It was a bit on the oily side, but I'm not complaining.
Man, the prices were quite cheap and we left stuffed. Even more impressive was the couple who walked in after us. Apparently, they come here often as Jaime knew them. The woman, who appeared to be in her 60's polished off an entire order of patatas bravas, as did her husband, they polished off a plate on pardons, another plate of something else I couldn't make out, and then, the husband having fallen by the wayside; the woman devoured a plate of orejas, while enjoying three beers. Not small caña sized glasses, but three bottles of beer...and some olives to boot!
Jaime is quite friendly, always smiling, even though he's a one man show. The prices are quite reasonable and this was a pretty good and simple lunch. No messing about, just good grub.
La Oreja de Jaime Calle de La Cruz 12 Madrid, Spain
It was getting quite hot and I was starting understand the how's and why's of how things are done here. At least I understood the necessity of a siesta......