Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Magnificent Melbourne and Viva España

Wow, It’s been over two months since I set fingers on my blog. Too many things have been going on. 17th of October was pretty special. It was my husband’s birthday. We enjoyed a quiet dinner together at an awesome Italian restaurant called Enoteca Sileno. I love their authentic Italian cuisine. They also have a store that sells imported Italian groceries. Delizioso it was!! 

At the end of the month, we also went to the Gelato World Tour. This event was organised by Carpigiani Gelato University. Can you believe that there is a gelato university? It's amazing. If I join, I'll probably gobble up all the gelato everyone makes. hahaha!! So in this sweet event, there were sixteen gelato artisans from all over Australia promoting their best flavours and competing with each other to win the number one gelato of the tour. This event clearly screams "Siddharth Mansukhani". My husband wouldn't miss such an event as he is crazy about this thing called gelato. I can't really blame him though. I don't really remember who won the tour but you can probably find out more about it on their website. I have also put up some of the photos here. The gelatos were all so rich, creamy and yummy. I am lucky Melbourne pampers their residents well. 

Next on the list was the Diwali celebrations in Fed Square. Gosh! It was massive. They had a stage with a line up of performances and contests. In fact, Sid and I were chosen randomly to participate in one of their contests - a turban tying competition. Oddly, we won!! Why do I say oddly? Well, it's because I had never even touched a turban before and yet I managed to tie it really tightly on Sid's head that despite his dangerous and sassy dance moves, the turban actually stayed on. We clearly won due to our enthusiasm and got to bring home a box of Maharajah's Choice selected products. YAY!! Oh, and of course, we also enjoyed all the scrumptious Indian food from butter chicken, aloo chat, curries, to gulab jamun, masala chai, mango lassi and much more. Yumm!!!!!!!!

Enoteca Sileno
Risotto of braised lamb, sage and truffled pecorino

Handmade croxetti pasta with pesto genovese, potato and green beans
Lamb, ricotta and chilli meatballs, pancetta and lemon. 
Spicy cacciatore salami and young Tuscan pecorino

The Gelato World Tour Melbourne 2013
Deconstructed Kaya Toast ice cream - from N2 Extreme Gelato 
Cremino - Salted caramel with Gianduia fudge
Italian Immigrant - Salted caramelised milk ripple, baked Sicilian Biscotti crumble and roasted Macadamia nuts.
 Vulcano - Toasted Hazelnuts, Cocoa, Cereals, Chocolate Glaze

The winner of the turban tying contest Diwali @ Fed Square Melbourne
Scrumptious Indian food
Happy happy Diwali it was!

My favourite Indian Sweets
And before we managed to burn the calories from all that hogging, it was already November and my wonderful partner in crime had planned a little surprise for our anniversary. He booked us a private bath session in the well known Peninsula Hot Springs. Fortunately, our anniversary fell on a Sunday so a weekend getaway was simply what we needed. It was two days of bliss - soaking in the views of beautiful Blairgowrie beach, enjoying the fresh air surrounded by breathtaking scenic lookouts of Point Nepean National Park while licking away Connoisseur Cookies and Cream on a stick. It was just divine. To top it off, we enjoyed a relaxing massage and spa bath at the Red hill on Saturday evening. Obviously that wasn’t enough for us so we spent a few good hours relaxing in the hot springs. Ah - tell me if that’s nothing but pure bliss!!!!!!!!!!! Here are some of the photos from our mini anniversary getaway.

Our anniversary getaway
Can't believe it's been a year!
Colourful bright beach huts
Now I am rejuvenated enough to continue sharing to my faithful readers about my honeymoon. Our last stop was Paris where we were clearly museumed out. Paris was undoubtedly gorgeous but we had to move on to the next destination - España. Honestly speaking, I had not heard a lot about Spain and was very eager to see what the country had to offer. The only thing Sid and I were absolute about was Spanish soccer. Since we were heading to glorious España , we knew we shouldn’t miss out on watching a soccer match. During the time we were planning for our trip, Barcelona was scheduled to play against Benfica in a Champions League match which was to be held in the massive Camp Nou stadium on the 5th of December 2012. Although I am not a regular soccer spectator anymore, not since high school, I do watch World Cup and Lionel Messi is one of my favourite players. Duh!! Not so surprising, is it? Plus, how can one go to Europe and not watch a soccer match?! We took the opportunity and booked our tickets immediately.

So, our Spain itinerary was as such - stay one night to watch the Champions League match and catch a train the next day for Madrid, stay in Madrid for three nights until the 9th of December before heading back to Barcelona and stay for another three nights because one night in Barcelona is obviously not enough. 

The Spanish siesta culture was probably more profound in us than any Spaniards I can think of. Seriously, all we wanted to do in Spain was eat and relax. The food in Spain was mind blowing, the people were amazing, the culture was rich, their hotel rooms were way bigger than the other cities we visited and did I mention that their food was mind blowing? Sid and I were taken aback by the food in Barcelona and Madrid. Everything we ate was remarkably delicious. From the sandwich shops, small cafes to all the famous restaurants we tried, nothing was ordinary. Honestly, we did nothing but shop, relax and hog. We were so tired from Paris and Spain literally pampered us. I loved the fact that every subway station had an escalator so lazy old me wouldn’t have to climb tedious boring stairs. That can get extremely tiring you know. :(

When we reached Barcelona and got settled in the hotel, we were already starving and wanted to grab early dinner before heading for the soccer match. We used the TripAdvisor app on our phones to find out about the best restaurants near our hotel. Lucky for us, we were staying in a great area and it wasn’t difficult to find food. We passed by Zara and Mango stores and cafes that sold huge Churros with different kinds of stuffings before we found the restaurant we looked up on TripAdvisor. The name of the restaurant was La Pepita. My dear faithful readers, please embrace yourself as I shall be taking you on a gastronomical journey of fabulous Spanish delicacies. 

La Pepita is situated on Carrer de Còrsega, 343, 08037 Barcelona. When we reached the restaurant, we were greeted really nicely and were attended to by a very friendly waiter named Fernando who patiently explained to us about their menu. We ordered onion soup, croquettas and one of their pepitas. Pepitas are small sandwiches consisting of thin crusty bread with different kinds of fillings. They may sound regular but they tasted far from regular to our palates. 

The amazing chicken croquettas - I believe it was called croquetas de pollo con salsa romescu on the menu 
This was the onion soup that we first thought was a wrong order. We thought this was some kind of dessert but was blushed when Fernando told us that this was the soup we had ordered. haha. What a presentation! More than that, what a taste, definitely a must have!
This was another one of their croquettas.
And this is what a pepita looks like! "Slurp"
Next up was dessert! Being the chocolate freaks that we are, one chocolatey dessert was definite. Upon recommendation of Fernando, the other dessert we decided to try was homemade corn ice cream with caramelised popcorn. Wow! sounds so corny, doesn’t it? Well, one thing I can say for sure is that it was one of the best ice creams I have ever tasted. The flavours were so unique and tasted great till the last bite. The chocolate mousse was also so rich and decadent.

Need I say more? Really?
We were so so content after this fantastic gastronomical feast. La Pepita has excellent food and pretty impressive presentation. Their tapas are light yet satisfying. Their desserts are creative and you can never go wrong when choosing anything off their menu. Their staff were very friendly and patient. Their place was pretty cool as well. Their walls are mostly covered with tiles and they literally allow us to "vandalise" these tiles. They provide some coloured markers and us hoggers are free to write whatever we want on these tiles. 

Fueled up real good, Sid and I headed to Camp Nou Stadium, bought some Barca scarves, sat like good spectators and watched Messi and the boys play. Sad to say that, no goals were scored that night and we had expected more of a world class match. Ah well, it was still a marvellous experience that nobody can deny. 

Barcelona gave us an amazing first impression and we couldn't wait to get back. Madrid now awaits us. Let us see what Madrid has to offer. 

Marvellous Madrid - coming soon on Viva España Part 2

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