Tuesday, August 10, 2010

TIme to reflect a bit: wonderful quote that I just read

"to laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons...to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one's self; to leave the world a bit better...—this is to have succeeded.
     ~ ralph waldo emerson  

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sangria recipe (one of many you can mix and combine)

One of the beauties of Sangria recipes is that you can use a variety of different wines in the recipe mix. just atke the one you used the previous day or one cheap wine (in Spain we use the tetra brick wines :-)

The beauty of the basic Sangria recipe is that it is as delicious as it is easy, and it only gets better as you spice it up with your own additions!so go out and start trying and mixing and changing some of the ingredient
For example you can change the red wine for white or cava and you will have an interesting variation that will always surprise your friends

All in all it will take you 5 minutes to do it, so what are you waiting for ?


  • 1 Bottle of red wine (Rioja or VAldepenas rules), however white wine or cava will also do
  • 1 Lemon cut into wedges
  • 1 Orange cut into wedges
  • 1 peach, apple or nectarines will also add amazing flavour 
  • 2 Tbsp sugar (or maybe 2,3 or 4 if you prefer a sweet one)
  • 1 Shot brandy or cointreau or rum could also do (whatever you have handy)
  • 2 Cups ginger ale or club soda (fizzy water will do) - You could also do orange or lemon soda and don't use then much sugar as the flavour sodas have already much sugar on them
  • Lots of ice cubes


Pour wine in the pitcher and squeeze the juice wedges from the lemon and orange into the wine. Toss in the fruit wedges and add sugar and brandy. Chill overnight (a couple of hours and lots of ice cubes will also do, but then try to have the wine in the fridge ahead of time, but the flavours of the fruit will not be capture that well).

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Brunch in Vilnius

If there is something we love is having brunch on Sunday’s. I would not call Vilnius the Paradise of brunch but it does offer a good number of options. Here is some of the selection (beyond myself cooking brunch at home, not a bad option either once in a while

The luxurious: Radisson Blu Astorija Hotel.
Didzioji 35/2, Vilnius LT-01128
Tel: +370 5 212 0110

Not your every Sunday brunch, pricey specially for Vilnius standards (35 Eur per person). However it has a very elegant environment (most of the people do dress up to come here), buffet quality is superb combining a good selection of hot mains (meat, fish, rice, veggies), seafood and cold platters. The dessert selection is excellent and the juice selection and coffee and tea comes also with a glass of nice champagne

The (Sunday) early riser: Shakespeare Hotel.
8/8 Bernardinų gatvė
Tel. 85 2665885
The location is superb, among the cobbed streets of Vilnius and near the lovely St. Anne church. In the lovely and classy bar of the hotel, it welcomes both hotel guests and visitors, but more often that not there is at a maximum a couple of tables occupied. This is an oasis of tranquillity, with lots of light coming from the windows on a sunny day. You order from a la carta menu and it is rare to spend more than 15 Eur per person even if you order 2 plates. Great omelettes and English breaklfast, Lithuanian eggs (if you like fried eggs style which I don’t L) and some other egg combinations, including eggs and steak for the very hungry. Furthermore good selection of sweet plates (pancakes, portridge, fruit salad). And amazing enough 10% discount if you pay with Amex. Only issue is that they close at 1030 (although you can stay much longer chatting and getting coffee)

Cosy, kids friendly and great outdoors (in the summer) – Pizzeria Uzupio
3 Paupio gatvė
Tel. 8~5 2153666
Almost in front of the Angel statue, in the middle of the Bohemian Uzupis neighbourhood, what looks like a nice but just a pizzeria is a great option for brunch. Apart from their pizza and pancakes menu (huge, large and lovely ones), there is an entire range of eggs and omelettes to choose from on Sunday for brunch. Even if does have a home speciality of  omellete on a pizza, ideal for vegetarian or for the very hungry. Their terrace is great on any sunny day and it is a very cozy and homie place in the winter (which you can add a soup to your selection then). Difficult to spend more than 20 eur per pop

Cheap and reliable– Double Coffee (for brunch ideally in Gedimino prospectas)
Gedimino pr. 5, Vilnius, Lithuania
Tel. +370 656 778 61
Nothing fancy or too special on the menu but very reliable. Service is just OK (have not seen them smile too much to tell you the truth). Large selection of pancakes and other potatoes plates, good coffee and nice atmosphere. Ideal to then do some shopping walking along the Sunday’s market in Gedimino or the busy shopping streets around. 15 Eur

Finally not for brunch but I do have breakfast almost every day (as it opens at 8 am) at Fortas at Algirdo gatve. Great service, quick and always smilie and helpful. Great coffee, good freshly squeezed juice, you can choose from light breakfast (French breakfast, freshly baked croissant with butter and raspberry sauce), hungrier (American breakfast with sausage and fries) or the humongous omellete. You will not spend more than 8 Eur and be ready for a great day. In the summer you can have breakfast outside on the tables they set up for this

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Starting to discover Riga (I): a drink at night

I usually get to Riga on Monday night quite late and I had dinner in Vilnius. However it is always still time (specially in the  spring – summer time) to enjoy a drink. Some of the options I have discovered

Drink with a view: Sky Bar at Radisson LAtvija

Probably the best view in Riga as it is the tallest building on this part of town. Drinks (usually all cocktails are just average) and ambiance (way too many large groups and hotel guests) are not really at par with the view (superb in all angles) but you need to refresh your eyes once in a while here

A view with a nice setting for a chat: Albert Hotel Lounge
33, Dzirnavu  Iela, Riga

While the view is a bit more spectacular at the Radisson, the open terrace / lounge of the Albert see above) is still has a great view and it is a much nicer ambiance if you plan to stay for a long chat (which will probably required a blanket at some point). Terrace has about 6 tables (the inside part is much larger) and drinks are ok. Ideal for both before dinner or after dinner time and very central also

Old town great shots and live music – Shot

Shot, Torņa 4 (Jēkaba kazarmas), Ríga

Just at the entrance of the old town if you are coming from the park, with also an outdoor and indoor part (street level both) and for what I have heard great live music (on Monday there is no live music so I can just rely of what I have heard) . Large menu of different shots, each one of them more interesting (both in terms of the names and the combinations). It seems to be the place in the world where Bolts has managed to really make an entry with their different flavours. Order 2 or 3 shots and enjoy. Really worth a visit (and pace yourself with the shots)

Monday, July 26, 2010

My sporting idols - Mr Raul Gonzalez leaves Real Madrid today after 15 years

Funny to think that for 2 weeks in a row I found myself writing about sports (as an spectator) and its influence on my life. Today Mr. Raul Gonzalez, captain and Real Madrid player for the last 15 years announced that he is leaving the sporting club and will play his last 2/3 professional years in a foreign league (England or most likely Germany at Schalke 04)
For many of you who may not follow football or Real Madrid this may mean nothing. However for those football lovers (I don't even believe they need to be Real Madrid fans) Mr. Raul represent one of the se few players who stay on the club all their life and represent their values above all
For me Raul does and has represented many of the values that I respect and follow in life: passion, love for the shirt, professionality, commitmment, dedication
Obviously I will never forget his goals and the times that I jumped from my sit to celebrate them. Funny enough even if I like football since I was a kid I was much more of a basketball fun (specially when talking about Real MAdrid). However as I spent many years abroad, watching Real Madrid on the TV was many timse how I did re-connect with my country and Raul is in most if not all of those memories from Brazil, UK, Czech Republic, South Africa, etc... he will be part of my 20-35 life memories for sure

Link to MArca TV Video tribute to Raul career and goals
uff difficult to contain tears when reviving so many memories of joy

I remember how I did "strike" from the national team on the Euro 2008 (When we won!!!) as the national coach decided to not pick him even if he had been the second highest scorer of the League. For someone who did give so much for his country I am so sad he was not part of the 2008 and/or2010 national team achievements

I did join the entire Bernabeu each time when during the 2007/08 league he did score and we all shout "Raul Seleccion" (Raul national team) and "El 7 de Espana" (Spain's #7).

I remember how during your last 3 years I kept betting with my friend and another truly madridista Fran Gonzalez that you will score at least 15 goals and how you did each year except this last one. And how I felt that maybe it was better to not wait to buy a little key chain with the Real Madrid shirt, your number 7 and your name this year at the Real Madrid shop

A legend and an example of "madridista" leaves. Raul enjoy to the fullest your last 2 years and please come back. The biggest of this sport have only a place in this world and that is Real Madrid

See you soon (and I guess I will have to watch now the German League)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The feeling of having my country being World Champion


I still remember being in the streets of France during the past world cup in Germany after France and Portugal just made it to the semifinals. Lots of people in the streets of Paris (there is a large Portuguese colony in Paris) celebrating, just happy to be from their country and what their football team has achieved
I remember sending then an sms to 2 of my best friends (Philippe and Fran) telling them that "...one day the streets of Madrid will be having such celebration"
True that months later Spain become basketball world champion in Japan and we had a similar celebration but being basketball Spain's second most popular sport and probably also the world's second, it is not the World Cup, aka the football one

Little I knew that only 4 years later Spain will be World Champ. Yes not only we did pass the quarterfinals, our biggest enemy until date, not only we beat Germany on probably our best game and against probably the team that played best football on the world cup, but we WON THE FINAL
On this opportunity as with most of Spain greatest achievements in different sports in the past 4 years I was in a foreign country. So the celebration is mostly personal (apart from sharing it with Andrea and a couple of Lithuanian friends that were supporting Spain also)
I jumped after the goal, I screamed and I look at the sky. The last 2 minutes I was in my knees, all those previous defeats were on my head, I remember almost each of them since I was a child (the penalty from Eloy at Mexico 86, Raul injured in Korea and the ref invalidating 2 legal goals, and so for so on) but now tears (or cold sweat?) were there, and a feeling of great joy, of achievement or national pride. I knew that many years from now I will always remember where I was that day that Spain won the World Cup
I sent SMS to many many people, I responded to tons of friends' that send me congratulations messages (thank thank very much to all of you)and I did enjoy immensely seeing Iker Casillas, our great captain, raising the World Cup, an image I have many times envisioned on my head but never pictured me in Vilnius (Lithuania) happening like this
I have been wearing the Spanish National Team shirt (old one because the new one has now ONE start of World Champ :-) and the Spanish Flag around my neck for the last 2 days. I will keep celebrating and enjoying for a long time, the feeling of joy does not leave you

As my very good Brazilan friend Gustavo Fonseca says, "...enjoy it because it does not happen very often. I was born after 1970 so I missed Pele's 3 titles, so I waited 21 years for Brazil to win (and not only that but Argentina won 2 titles in the meantime). We won it twice but we never played as Spain did this time. Spain has revived the dogma that you need to play well (not pretty but well) to win the World Cup".

So here we are ready to enjoy for a long time (and hoping that the basketball team will win again the world champ in Turkey in September :-)

And singing  "La copa ya esta aqui, la copa esta en Madrid" (The cup is already here, the cup is in Madrid) and ready to buy my new Spanish National team shirt that will have from now on and forever at least one star of World Champ

Thank you for this great memory for life 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

My Gazpacho Recipe

There are many Gazpacho recipes, almost every cook has its own. And then you have the ingredients, likely every time you cook gazpacho it will taste a bit different. Here is my version

Some good wine choices to buy at Madrid Airport - Reds (II)

When we talk about the red wine selection you can always play safe and spend your money in "classics" (but always amazing ones) as Rioja's Marques de Caceres and Marques de Murrieta or Ribera's Protos to name a few.
However maybe you want to try something different or you want to be spending a bit less, here you have some recommendations for 3 wines that I think could make you happier when you open them back home or you give them as a present:

Some good wine choices to buy at Madrid Airport - Whites (I)

One of the things that I really hate with the security rules after the famous Shoe Bomb incident is the ban on liquids (which BTW if you want my opinion is total BS and just a way to increase sales at the airport and manage the people's fear management) . So I used to buy 6-8 bottles and just curry them with me on my hand luggage. Now I am forced to buy some of them if I can / want to check in my bag or to buy them at the airport

The good news is that at least on Madrid airport at the Aldeasa shops the wine selection is not that bad (probably the biggest complaint is lacking some interesting wine regions as Bierzo, Madrid just to name a few). Let me give you some of my recommendations (Cuatro Rayas, MAr de Fredes and Santiago Ruiz) :

First tips on our new city: 5 restaurants I like in Vilnius (I)

We have been living for now over 3 months in Vilnius so we start having some OK knowledge on restaurant and places, although I am sure this will only improve with time :-)
Being a rather small city (500,000) and not being Eastern Europe among my culinary destinations of choice, I was a bit worried about the range of choices. I have been in the city for consulting or BD work several times, but my experience was reserved to 2 or 3 top restaurants, mostly French. But the city has exceeded my expectations, which is nothing but great.
I am not going to put all contact details (you can find most of them on http://www.balticsworldwide.com/tourist/lithuania/restaurants.htm or trip advisor) but my personal notes on them