Café Sant Jaume

It’s a good feeling when you stumble upon a travel gem without even trying. Café Sant Jaume is our small find in the old quarter of El Carmen – only later do I read of its enviable reputation as one of Valencia’s best bars. On the café terrace in the late winter evening, people sip cocktails, cervezas and wine. We step … More Café Sant Jaume

Bodega Casa Montaña

Bodega Casa Montaña has achieved legendary status in legion guides and little black books. Many proclaim it to be Valencia’s top tapas bar, and it’s certainly one of the oldest. It opened its doors as a grocery store in 1836, establishing itself by selling wine and oil to merchant ships moored in the nearby port. The bodega’s reputation for keeping an excellent and extensive wine cellar endures today. And the food is … More Bodega Casa Montaña

Horchatería de Santa Catalina

Horchata de chufa or Orxata (in Valencian) is an unmissable ice-cold treat in Valencia. Cafés that specialise in serving it (Horchaterías) are everywhere, but we head straight for one of the oldest and best-known in town, the Horchatería de Santa Catalina. It’s bustling, and prettily-tiled in a traditional style. Eventually we bag a seat, and order the sugary beverage that … More Horchatería de Santa Catalina

A Lesson in Spanish at Bodega LaPeseta

I wait pathetically, unnoticed and hungry, yet half-amused by my inability to attract attention. My pitiful Spanish renders me invisible – I can’t call out … anything. I know not what to do. My daughter is cautious and unimpressed. Peopled by pretty couples perched on stools, families spread across tables, and gangs of friends catching up, Bodega LaPeseta in the east … More A Lesson in Spanish at Bodega LaPeseta

Lisbon in Five Words

Three days in Lisbon, and a lovely stream of whatsapped photos. It been a brightly-hued break for my husband and youngest son. Which begins with a great deal of excitement. A hop, skip and a jump via the metro … … to their temporary home – a light and airy Airbnb flat (more on Maria’s place here). First port of call … More Lisbon in Five Words

Pastéis de Belém

Pastéis de Belém (or Nata) – a sweet case of custard perfection (but not too sweet). Pastéis de Nata were first made by monks in 18th century Belém at the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos – they used yolks left over after egg whites had been used for starching clothes. In 1820, the Liberal Revolution threatened the future of … More Pastéis de Belém

Maria’s Lisbon

When travel accommodation works out well, everything else seems to fall into place. So it was for my traveling twosome in Lisbon. Maria’s Airbnb flat was immaculately clean and flooded with light – a welcome retreat when sightseeing legs grew sore. Thoughtful touches, like a complimentary bottle of wine and a shiny red coffee machine (with a good stock … More Maria’s Lisbon

Happiness is Orange

I ask No. 4 what he thinks ‘happiness’ is, as he’s suggested the word as a title for this new post. “Well, Happiness is Orange.” A pause from us both, but I don’t stop slicing cucumber for his lunchtime sandwich. I need soft questions, nothing too direct. Maybe just a little eye contact. Best to unwrap the surprise of his answer gently. Slowly, No. … More Happiness is Orange

Crazy Ronda Tapas

The chef-owner of De Locos Tapas looks at each of my children, one by one, until his intent gaze forces their eyes to meet his. He advises them to banish their phones. If they don’t, he will – because they are here to engage in conversation with their parents, and share and enjoy the food that he will bring us. Half-laughing … More Crazy Ronda Tapas