Sensi Bistro in Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

Wandering through the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona at night is like being in the Orson Welles’ noir classic “The Third Man.” The occasional passersby will cross your path in narrow, winding alleyways, casting long shadows across Medieval walls. You start to ask yourself, “Is this okay? Am I safe?” And then you realize that these aren’t alleyways at all. These curving paths, riddled with graffiti and darkened archways, are actual streets. You aren’t lost, and you (most likely) aren’t about to be robbed by a band of gypsies. This is just how you get places here. 

Barcelona, Spain

After a quick weave through this urban topography, we found ourselves slightly off the beaten tourist path at a place known for it’s tapas and paella - Sensi Bistro. The crowd here was younger and the prices far more reasonable than the overpriced fare to be found on Las Ramblas. 

Barcelona, SpainBarcelona, Spain

We nestled into the bar and ordered a small meal - salad, croquettes and seafood paella. Before this trip I didn’t realize that croquettes - crispy fried balls of usually mashed potatoes, cheese and meats - were so popular in Spain and Holland. The croquettes here were my favorite from this trip, apart from the cheap ones I found at Febo (more on that adventure later). The meat and goat cheese croquettes at Sensi Bistro were pillowy, silky smooth and nicely seasoned. 

Barcelona, Spain

The rite of passage every tourist must go through during a visit to Spain is to feast on seafood paella. I’m not an expert on paella, but I can say that I enjoyed it very much. The seafood wasn’t overcooked and the rice was tender with a nice bite to it. And you can’t beat this presentation. 

Barcelona, Spain

But honestly, does it matter? The food was great, but even if it wasn’t, all I had to do was look around me. Here I was in Spain, sitting in a relaxed restaurant located in a narrow gothic corridor, surrounded by beautiful Spanish people and European tourists, sipping wine at an unhurried pace. I’ve got nothing to complain about. In that moment, life was mellow and good. 

If you’re ever in Barcelona, put Sensi Bistro on your list. This foodie recommends it. 

Barcelona, Spain

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European Coffee Photo Tour

I’m back after galavanting through Spain and Holland for the last two weeks! And what a two weeks it was. I’ve had the best food, hands down, that I’ve ever had in my life. It’s as bold a statement as it is true. 

Let’s start with the coffee. I’m not normally a coffee drinker, but the Europeans employ some kind of brewing voodoo that makes their coffee so, so good. 

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Small Talk Cafe, Amsterdam

Cafe Pompa, Amsterdam

Cafe Pompa, Amsterdam

I had a hard time believing that the foam on top wasn’t milk. It’s just the way many cafes brew it - it’s strong without being bitter, and smooth and creamy without needing any creamer. Oof. 

In many places you can ask for “cafe Americano” which will come with a little bit of creamer on the side. 

Coffee @ Hans En Grietje, Amsterdam

Cafe Hans En Grietje (Hansel & Gretel), Amsterdam 

Barcelona, Spain

Cafe near Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

I love the tiny little cups! I learned quickly that ordering a coffee often means you’re going to get a strong little cup of espresso. No complaints here. 

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Dostrece, Barcelona

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Cafe Schilling, Barcelona

I miss the coffee already. If anyone knows how I can replicate this at home, please share! (Do I have to buy expensive machinery? Make a pact with the Devil? Offer my first born? Bury chicken feathers and the hair of a monkey in an ancient cemetery? Do tell.)

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Delicious Links for August!

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  • I interviewed “VahChef” Sanjay Thumma about his cooking show and the Foundation For Children In Need, a sponsorship program for students in India struggling to continue their education. 
  • You need to try these sweet and decadent Turkish Donuts In Honey that I made for PAPER/PLATES, inspired by Ian McDonald’s “The Dervish House.” 
  • Bad news for Nutella lovers. The kid’s reaction at the end of this video pretty much sums it up. 
  • Here’s why you never want to be called a “chocolate teapot” - a peek into the secret language of restaurant kitchens
  • I was convinced that Soylent was an elaborate hoax, but turns out it’s a very real thing. I imagine it’s like Ensure if Ensure had a menacing name and tasted like the color beige. 
  • And finally, don’t forget to check out my article and recipe for Masala Burgers in this month’s issue of The Cook’s Cook Magazine. 
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Turkish Donuts In Honey Syrup for PAPER/PLATES

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A stork rides the thermals in the early morning air above Istanbul during a heatwave. As the city “wakes with a shout,” the bird glides over a symphony of traffic jams, ship engines, air conditioners and gull cries. But this familiar song is broken with an explosion on a tram. Ian McDonald’s “The Dervish House” begins with a bang and we’re introduced to a kaleidoscope of characters whose stories contract and expand around an ancient dervish house… 

I contributed to PAPER/PLATES this week with a recipe for Turkish Donuts In Honey Syrup inspired by one of my favorite books, “The Dervish House.” To read about this novel and to learn how to make these syrupy donuts (which are a street food known as “lokma”), click HERE

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DELICIOUS CHIPS! (How To Make Potato Chips)

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I’m gobsmacked. Not only have I always wanted to use that word in a sentence, I’m also shocked that it took me this long to actually feature a chip recipe. My blog is called DELICIOUS CHIP. Come on, now! This simple guide to making perfect, crispy, delicious potato chips is also a small celebration of my new, hipper site banner. So without further ado, here’s how you can make your own delicious chips: 

  1. The thinner the chip, the crispier it will be! Start by slicing your potatoes with a mandolin slicer. (A food processor with a slicing attachment also works well, though the thickness may not be adjustable.)
  2. Once your potatoes are sliced, soak them in cold water for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. 
  3. Heat vegetable oil to 375 degrees. I highly recommend using a thermometer or a deep fryer that has a temperature gauge and basket. This is for safety and will prevent your oil from getting too hot. 
  4. Carefully fry your chips in small batches until golden brown and crisp. This should take between 3-5 minutes. Once ready, drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. 

It’s that easy! I like to top my chips with seasoned salt. I also like to dip my chips in ketchup. And here’s a good chip idea: Grub in Hollywood makes chocolate chip cookies sprinkled with crushed potato chips. Salty and sweet - sounds amazing, right? 

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An Interview with VahChef Sanjay Thumma / The Foundation For Children In Need

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Chef Sanjay Thumma, also known as the “VahChef,” has a genuine enthusiasm for the food he cooks and a positive attitude that’s led to him having one of the most popular cooking channels on YouTube with over 100 million views. When he’s not whipping up easy-to-follow traditional Indian dishes, he also shows us how to create healthy alternatives as part of the AAPI’s “Be Fit, Be Cool” campaign which raises childhood obesity awareness.

But it’s not just food that the VahChef is passionate about. Sanjay has been involved with the Foundation For Children In Need for the past 12 years. Founded by Dr. Geetha Yeruva and Tom Chitta, the foundation provides a sponsorship program for children and college students struggling to continue their education in India. The foundation also provides health care and medicine to people living in rural villages, as well as care for the elderly. 

With his involvement with the Foundation For Children In Need and “Be Fit, Be Cool,” he’s truly cooking for positive change. Sanjay is my absolute favorite chef to watch on YouTube and I was excited to speak to him last week about both the foundation and his love for cooking. 

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How did you become involved with the Foundation For Children In Need?

Dr. Geetha and Tom were very old friends. They used to come to my restaurant and discuss ways to help children. In many organizations, the amount of money going to a child is a lot less than what is given because of adminstrative costs and what not. So they wanted to start a foundation where the child would benefit more from what is being given. I really liked what they were doing.

At first I just used to provide free food for their meetings, but when I came back to India and visited the schools, I saw the happiness of the children there. These children would have to struggle to come to school, and at the foundation they would be taught how important education is. I make yearly visits and I’m a soldier for them to raise funds and get sponsors for these children. You get so much happiness from being generous. I myself sponsor over 20 children. I get more excited by this than when people make my food!

FCN-India

Your YouTube channel is one of the most popular cooking channels in the world. What do you think the future holds for the VahRehVah TV show and YouTube channel? 

When I first started, I wanted to do everything my way. I wanted to be in control of my show. But many channels wanted to control and do things their way. I agreed to do my show for a local TV channel that broadcasts in Telugu. After the first week we aired we got the highest ratings the channel had ever had in 7 years. I actually wanted to make changes, but the producers said no. 

If the formula works!

Yes! I wanted to make it more exciting, but they said, “Don’t change a thing!”

Have you thought about doing a travel show? I think your audience would love to see you sampling street food or trying out other local cuisines. 

I would love to do a road show. But these things can be so expensive to make. It’s possible to make money on YouTube, though. The thing is, so many shows out there do the same old recipes. I call it “burger cooking.” Many people want to open 2 or 3 packets and be finished. I want to do something different. I want to do authentic recipes. So we’ll see. 

I’d definitely watch your road show! My last question: What is your favorite dish to make at home?

I’m Hyderabadi, so I love to make biryani at home. But I cook everyday for my show. So when people ask me what my favorite dish is, I tell them it’s the food in my pan. It’s whatever I’m going to eat next. It’s hot, it’s fresh and it’s sizzling.

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A big thank you to Chef Sanjay Thumma for his time! To learn more about the Foundation for Children In Need and how you can help, click HERE. To visit VahChef Sanjay Thumma’s website, click HERE

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