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The King of Full Breakfasts

Matt the Rashers in Dublin, IrelandThough both England and Scotland have their versions of the full breakfast, based on the version I had at Matt the Rashers in Dublin, Ireland can’t be beat.

The full breakfast at Matt the Rashers comes on a plate that has been precariously overloaded with: eggs, hash browns, bacon, tomato, liver, black pudding, white pudding, mushrooms, baked beans, and sausage.  It also comes with two slices of very hearty soda bread.  It’s the breakfastiest breakfast in the history of breakfast.  You can’t have more breakfast than that.  It’s physically impossible.

Full breakfast at Matt the Rashers in Dublin, Ireland

It’s amazing.  The white pudding and the liver are what differentiates this from the English and Scottish versions (though from what I can tell, the liver is more of a Matt the Rashers thing than an Irish thing).

White pudding is like black pudding, but without the blood.  It’s quite tasty, though it’s basically just a slightly blander version of the black.

Everything on the plate was super tasty, and the soda bread — which has a very dense, almost cakey texture — is a great accompaniment.

It’s not even close; I liked the other two full breakfasts a lot, but this one is hard to beat.

Pie and Mash and Eels

Goddards in London, EnglandThere are a lot of traditional British foods that you can very easily find back home — meat pies?  All over the place.  Fish and chips?  Yep, they’re everywhere.  But the type of eels that they serve in really traditional pie shops in London?  I don’t think I’ve ever seen those back home.

There are actually a couple of distinctive things about the pie shops here: the aforementioned eels, obviously, but also the greenish sauce that you can see here:

Pie and mash and eels at Goddards in London, England

It’s called liquor sauce, and it’s traditionally made with the same liquid they use to cook the eels, along with a generous amount of parsley.

It looks kind of like gravy, but tastes nothing like it — it has a bright, herby flavour that compliments the meaty pie really well.

As for the eels, they were ultra-soft — almost gelatinous — with a funky, fishy flavour.  I liked them, but I can definitely see why they’ve mostly fallen out of favour over the years.  They’re a little bit intense.

Eating and Drinking Like Charles Dickens

The Lamb and Flag in London, EnglandThere are roughly seven billion pubs in London, and a good chunk of them have long and storied histories.

One such pub: the Lamb and Flag, which has been around since 1772, and which was reportedly a favourite of Charles Dickens.

I have to imagine it was pretty different in his day — back then it was nicknamed “The Bucket of Blood” thanks to the bare-knuckle fights that were staged there — but it’s still standing.

The Lamb and Flag in London, England

The inside looks pretty much exactly how you imagine it’ll look.  It’s the classic British pub through-and-through.

I ordered the sausage and mash and got a pint of beer to drink (of course).  The food was actually pretty decent, particularly the very generously applied gravy, which was rich and satisfying.

The Lamb and Flag in London, England

As for that thing about the British drinking their beer warm?  It’s not true, but it’s not exactly false, either.  The beer definitely wasn’t warm — but it also definitely wasn’t cold.  It was more on the chilly end of room temperature, I guess?  But it was a stronger, more flavourful beer, so the temperature actually worked really well.

Like Fish and Chips, but Better

RestaurantSeafood is huge here in Hamburg — aside from the fact that the Elbe river runs right through the city, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea are both super close.  Notwithstanding a tragic incident involving a dropped fish sandwich worth 12 Euros, this was my first time eating seafood here.

And oh man, it was so good.

Delicious

I went to a place called Fisch & Co. and had the Pannfisch.  This consists of fried pieces of a couple of different types of fish topped with some kind of mustard sauce, served with a side of pan-fried potatoes and a salad.

That fish was absolutely perfect.  The breading was nice and crispy, but without ever distracting from the star of the show.  And the fish itself — which consisted of pieces of some kind of whitefish along with salmon — was moist and flaky and amazing, with the mustard sauce complimenting it perfectly.

The potatoes were really good, too — sliced thin to maximize the crispy-to-creamy ratio, they were basically like hash browns, but the best hash browns you’ve ever had.

Eyes on the Fries

So goodI have a thing about people lining up for food. If I see a line, I feel a very strong compulsion to stop whatever I’m doing and get in it. Because what do those people know that I don’t know? Following the mob isn’t always the wisest of choices, but seriously, what’s at the front of that line and how do I eat it?

So when I saw a line for a place that specializes in fries called Las Fritas when I was walking around in Barcelona, I was in that line almost instantly. I had never heard of this place, and French fries don’t exactly scream authentic Spanish food, but look at that line. It must be good!

(The line doesn’t look that long in the picture; it was actually quite a bit longer when I got there.  I just didn’t take a photo right away.)

There are times when the wisdom of the crowd fails me — this was not one of those times. These were spectacular fries.

So damn good

You can choose from a selection of sauces and toppings; in an attempt to keep things vaguely authentic, I went with salsa brava, which is a spicy tomato-based sauce that’s often found on top of fried potatoes in a dish called patatas bravas.  So this isn’t quite as inauthentic as you’d think (which is what I’ll keep telling myself to justify eating this about a billion more times before I leave Barcelona).

Though the fries were supposedly Belgian-style, they weren’t quite like any fry I’ve had before, Belgian or otherwise. Thickly cut and aggressively crispy, they were almost like a cross between a fry and a chip.  They were constantly dancing on the razor’s edge of being too crispy, but without ever crossing that line. It’s a perfect balance of crunchy exterior and fluffy interior.

As good as those fries were (and they were very, very good), it’s the brava sauce that really makes this something special.  It was slightly spicy, with just the right amount of vibrancy from the vinegar, a hint of smokiness, and a mild garlicky bite.

It was an absolutely perfect dipping sauce for fries. Where can I buy this sauce? Because I want to dip everything in it.  Everything.

Holy Crap, Look at that View

Good stuffI’ve eaten at restaurants with a nice view before, but I’m pretty confident that this one takes the cake.

It’s called Cantina das Freiras; it’s run by a local Catholic organization, and it’s one of those places that’s impossible to find if you don’t already know about it.  Here’s a picture of the alley you’ll find it in (it’s the first door on the right — note the complete absence of any signage indicating a restaurant is here):

Yes, there's a restaurant here

You go up a few flights of stairs, order your food cafeteria-style, then you’re free to carry your tray outside and take in the magnificent view.

I just pointed at the tray of the lady in front of me and asked for the same stuff (this is the sort of thing you have to do to save yourself the indignity of staring blankly back at a person after being asked something in a language you don’t understand).

Okay food, great view

So I wound up with a piece of pan-fried fish, some pretty basic potatoes, and a salad.  The food was fine, if nothing particularly special, but it was only €6.50, and did you see that view?  That alone is reason enough to come; the delightfully affordable food is just a bonus.

Check out some more pictures after the jump.