Thursday, 3 June 2010

Eats around Bilbao

The bummer with booking your own accommodation online usually means no breakfast included with your room. Luckily for us, one of the cafes which Cha Xiu Bao (cheers, Josh!) had recommended on his blog for brekkies was the Cafe Bar Boulevard, almost next door to our hotel, woohoo! Breakfast in Spain is not usually a large meal (think coffee.......and a cigarette, despite the fact that they have a law that bans smoking in public places, grrr!!) so we had to find some other ways of padding out our breakfast from the plates of goodies by the bar.
So, cue some freshly squeezed orange juice, a ham and tomato mini roll and a small custard tart. If you're feeling a little more adventurous, there are some pintxo offerings with copious amounts of mayonaise!!

The cafe is from another era and is a good base for breakfast......the only bummers are that the waiters aren't exactly the most friendly bunch, there is no menu (if your Spanish is a little patchy, best to sit by the bar so you can point to everything you want to eat!) and the thing we found the hardest to tolerate, people smoking!! Still finding it difficult to understand why the Spaniards have decided to completely ignore the law.....mmmm.....

Of course, one cannot come to Bilbao and not pay a visit to the iconic Guggenheim museum. It is a must-do and for me, one of the best art galleries I have been to in the world!! The building itself (both inside and outside) is impressive, there are some very interesting pieces of artwork to view and the museum was not that busy when we arrived giving us lots of time and space to fully appreciate each piece - a real luxury especially for peeps who have ever been to the Tate Modern or the Louvre for example....there was an exhibition by Anish Kapoor on when we were there which was excellent - managed to stimulate my interest in modern art which I found impressive!!

We did not manage to eat at the resto there but rested our feet after the visit outside on the terrace with a chilled beverage, some mini sambos and cake whilst basking in some Basque sun :)
Mini sandwiches: jamon, sardine with ratatouille, anchovy and green pepper and red pepper and jamon.......yum!! Also some cake,  a rice tart (which I preferred) and plum and pear cake (JD liked this one more).

Finally, a visit to another Bilbao institution, Cafe Iruña. We popped in here for a spot of lunch and on a plus note, the cafe is split into smoking and non-smoking parts which felt like heaven!! To make things easier, we sat by the bar again so it was easier to order the pintxos - this time, our waiter (what a character!!) served us except for the house speciality, lamb kebabs. For these beauties, you have to wander over into the smoking section where a chef is manning a barbecue and you order from him - there is a sign in the bar saying that they are the best in the world, pretty good alright!
Mmmm.....lamb kebabs marinated in a variety of spices, grilled over a barbeque and then doused in some freshly squeezed lemon juice :)

Sparkling mineral water......the Basques have some really funky water bottles!!

Various pintxos - anchovy with ratatouille, mini eels with smoked salmon, fried fish and roasted green pepper and jamon with croqueta.

Classic tortilla - buen provecho!

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