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Padaste, Alexander: Estonian Beauty in Da Very Secret Place™.

Kesküla, Pädaste, 94716 Saare maakond, Estonia / 17 марта 2017

Let’s drive there from Riga (although it’s closer from Tallinn, but who cares?). Let’s go there in autumn.

Past Saulkrasti, Pärnu, some half-forgotten empty villages and towns. The sea is flashing through the pine trees and old ladies are picking up mushrooms. There are fields of lingonberries, and the heather is blossoming, setting the horizon on fire and creating a sort of purple haze beneath the pines. The more we move North, the brighter is the orange flame of the trees, though birches are still green, and the lemon color bursts here and there; it’s bright. The sun is low, we take a ferry, 20 minutes of the always cold sea; it’s windy, woods again, country road (this year it’s got paved), Muhu island, woods. And there’s no one in the woods.

Suddenly, there appears an orange (no, of carrot color) crossing barrier with a color barcode. The combination of colors, size/composition of the stripes and the overall awkwardness of the very fact that this art object is here make you understand on the subconscious level that further on everything’s going to be all right.

In short, this is one of the best places on earth.

No more, no less: “either believe me, or just go check it”.

The Hotel.

Come on, you won’t call it a hotel. It’s totally wrong to name it this way. It’s more like you pay a visit to someone who’s got a perfect taste, sufficient funds and time.

This is a renovated mansion located in the dense woods. It’s all about the details. Whether it is the electronic locks with a chomping sound, which function in advance as soon as you bring up your card. Or the wooden floors from Belgium, from some ancient houses, 300-year old wide boards, turned into semi-stone, which make you wanna walk barefoot. Overall, the design: bathroom mirrors, inclined from the wall at 10 degrees, with matte, warm, circular light, make you feel good about your reflection in them; wildflowers intertwine with tree branches into some timid shadow-bouquets in each vase; the staff has good posture and speaks Elvish Estonian language. They serve breakfast on the multilevel porcelain in the orangery. Outside there are some 16-storey ash trees and spindles. And from inside your windows always overlook the woods. And memories are all around, sometimes talking even about the future.

There you fucking feel like crying because of this unbearable northern beauty and all that has happened to you on this island and will happen again since you did manage to reach it.

It’s physically impossible not to return.

Besides, the best in the world (I’m not joking) Nordic spa. Everything’s based on herbs and smells. Leshy (local forest deity) should be called up. There’s a sauna with a cold tub on the terrace above a pond and a hot tub on the coast. Then comes the bay, the boat, the woods and infinite reeds, blackberry, sea buckthorns, Mayday tree, owls, again a mixture of flowers; and there’s something in the air… sort of glassy as if after the autumn, right tomorrow, there would be spring again.

And they have the #1 restaurant in Estonia, holding this title for the past 5 years.

There’s no menu, but a set of 3-5-7 courses. Each day the set is different, from Monday to Sunday.

Slow cooking, duckweed from the marshes, vacuum, petals and hot stones for blueberry bread – all this had been invented right here, long time ago, long before it all became fashionable.

And you always precisely know what’s ahead of you: there’ll be a long, drunk, fucking-tasty™ night with huge stars hanging above those super-trees, laughter and the chattering of a robot lawn mower with semi-blind LED, a cigarette for some reason, and kisses on the neck.

Haven’t you been there yet? I’m jealous.

UPD: sep’17 – I haven’t been here for a year. It hasn’t become any worse. The new chef slightly “simplified” the food, made it less “foamy”, but did leave it as perfect as it used to be. Each dish became more thoroughly though out, sort of there’s nothing accidental in any plate.

Their minimalism became more radical: the 5-course menu never changes, the 3-course one is new each day, the 7-course set is to be ordered in advance, 24 hours before excluding Monday and Tuesday (hello!) and is served on the new chef’s table in the main hall.

However, you can order an extra dish from the 5-course menu. They have room service and a “tent” near the bay so you won’t die of hunger. And I have to repeat, it’s perfectly delicious.

Among the new stuff there are some fucking great dishes like red cabbage juice, tartare and barely smoked eel, ice cream, made of some creamy-silk mustard seeds and cabbage foam on top. Besides, there’s the gastro-bomb, poor looking but various in temperature (cool/really cold) – fois gras pâté with ginger and additives. It’s incredibly delicious.

The Holy Crab: Dirty, Tasty, Fucking Awesome.

The Holy Crab, Bali, Indonesia / 14 марта 2017

I really hate food in Bali (99% is trash, Jimbaran is INFERNAL TRASH). These people just shouldn’t be allowed to grill. It is like making a straight guy watch gay porn (doesn’t apply to girls though:)))). Ok, but this place is beautiful indeed.

You sit down.

They wrap you up in an apron, and here you are a “woman-bag” from Arab countries.

Further. They cover the whole table with paper cloth…

… and off we go!

Everything in a heap: Mussels, potatos, lobster, sauce, crab, deep fried shrimps. A huge heap.

So you sort out this mess, you feed each other. I have to admit it is well cooked without over frying/ over drying. It comes hissing, half-alive.

You can spend a very cheerful and tasty night there. Make sure you take along your beloved ones. Otherwise, it would go up the spout.

Enoteca Del Duca: One Love.

Ristorante Enoteca Del Duca, Via di Castello, Volterra, Province of Pisa, Italy / 12 марта 2017

18 (1999) years ago, we were ragged and happy, making our way from Venice to Rome.

We had $4000 (for three weeks) in the pocket and hysterical, free love all around us.

A train, then some kind of two-car carriage to Cecina; the platform was all curvy in the sun mirages, and poppies, wild leek, and we were starving…

We reached Fatoria ******* by taxi (horribly expensive, 30 000 liras) at the very time when lunch has ended really long time ago and dinner was not even about to start.

«Giovanni, is there any grub left?»

“Si, si! Prego! Cinque minuti!”

So we sit there, fucking stoned by those hills, day-dreaming. We count the number of times the cuckoo croaks. We look at each other. We try to make something out of poppies. Wreaths, as it seems to us.

We are craving for some grub, increasingly unbearably.

They bring it. A wooden tray, salami chunks, ricotta, honey, pecorino, bread, and a clay jug.

I gulp greedily right from the jug, and the it all comes back as a fountain: fuck, it’s wine!


“But you’ve asked for a drink, but not for a wash (c).”

That’s how my Tuscany began.

And in the evening we went to a castle on a mountain. To a city where the promenade street is above clouds. I’ll certainly write about this city later. One can start an entire blog about the city, not just a few paragraphs. VOLTERRRRRRA!

We were introduced to the owner (I have no memory for names) and so… we’ve been coming there for almost 20 years already.

I’m always looking forward for such a night.

I’m not sure what should I say about the food: to tell you how my colleague, a tough guy from Vladivostok…  shed a tear, having pierced a mozzarella ball with a fork and tasted it, like, really pathetically mewled:

“What the hell is thissssssssssssss?”

Or how my bf swallowed pieces of florentines without chewing them from greed, and we realized he was suffocating only when he became blue spotty; or how another seasoned friend of mine, while consuming a ricotta and spinach pie, was quietly rejecting/rejecting incoming calls from a very important chamber?

Pasta, pheasants, porcini, ultimate tomatoes, florentines, lentils soup, wild boar ragout, wild pigeons, oh to hell with that!

Everything’s so REAL, it makes you wanna bite into the tabletop.

Mar Do Inferno: The World’s Best Seafood in a “Tent” above the “Jaws of Hell”.

Av. Rei Humberto II de Itália, 2750-642 Cascais, Portugal / 09 марта 2017

This one is simple – see the title.

That’s right. I dare to allege it. That summer I’ve travelled down the entire coast, even up to Morocco. I’ve tried everything and everywhere. It was good, I don’t ague… yet…

It seems like a number of factors came together in here: OCEAN, cold water, wild fish only – delivery is twice a day, and good hands of the owners and cooks – otherwise the restaurant wouldn’t have been here for more than 50 years.

So, having visited dozens of fish places, I recall nothing as vividly as… a banal wild sea bass in salt from the “tent”.

The tent looks like any tent except for Rolls-Royces and Bentleys that bring here Cascais’ luxury grannies for lunch. They’re fed on oysters, wear Chanel and pearls (according to my theory, they just sleep all nights long and that’s why they get out of their shells-villas only on weekends and only for lunch).

Everything’s very simple inside. Some cheap forks. Tableware is like canteen’s one.

All the food is cooked also as simple as possible, quickly and without any flossing: salt, grilled, boiled, pan-fried, raw – that’s it.

At the entrance there’s a stall with shellfish, around 3 meters high; in the back there’s another one with fish. All the fish is of different size, all wild. Sometimes you can find there up to there-kilo sea basses, just lying there with their eyes glittering.

Though you should go for one of 2 kilos at most – if more, something happens to them and you won’t have that magical taste of its flesh that you’re expecting: instead just a plain sea bass.

Over all those years I’ve never read the menu (although they do have it). It was always as if we’d starved for days: we used to order a lot of everything, all dealt per weight, and then also some fish. And desserts. And Muscatel. Drop the curtain.

It was here that for the first time I’ve learned A: prawns aren’t decorative; B: each species has its own taste.

Scampi, carabineros, pink ones, berings, small striped ones, huge burgundy deep-sea ones, and more, and more, and more. And then percebes, snails, scallops.

And their atomic potato, and spinach, and that one – what was the name again? – AI-O-LI. Mayonnaise is homemade, you can safely have even some plastic with it.

Overall, it’s a narcotic place.

Besides, if there’s a storm, and sixteen-storey high fountains of water hurl against the rock wall in the Devil Bay, rising up into the sky like foamy pillars, and that rain of water splashes falls above you, pours on the top of the roof – then you’ll also be provided with free decorations that are just as it’s supposed to be.

PS: They also have… shhh! a LEMON-MERINGUE cake. It’s just fucking sheer heaven! It’s like an atomic bomb in your mouth. Look for it at the dessert table.

Gaggan: Number One “Number One” in Asia.

68/9 Soi Sarasin, Khwaeng Lumphini, Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330, Thailand / 08 марта 2017

First, you have to come up with a corruption scheme, which would let you reserve a table.

No one answers the phone, email would just say:

“Wait! It’s busy.”

Afterwards, you shouldn’t eat the entire day, entire day! Put all the unnecessary stuff out from your pockets (the night runs the risk of being long), have a nice and ice-cold glass of champagne and off you go.

There’s a radiant Rolls-Royce floating out of the dark, dirty, narrow alley – that’s where you’re going.

The restaurant is a transparent mansion with some fancy fountains and sparkling people on both floors. They all shine in the Maryino/Butovo like darkness.

You come in and graciously sit down. You look around.

There’s a menu in front of you: a set of dozens emoji. “Ok,” you say to yourself, “Right, some narcissistic crap about the fresh beginning will start.”

But then you see your sommelier from Bratislava (do trust him!). Then you have your first explosive dish, then Gaggan himself approaches and he talks as if you’re still watching the movie:

“I was born in India, in Northern India!”

And then it’s gay manager’s turn. He wears a mask with rhinestones.  He sits down on your knees and pours you some breathtaking wine right from the decanter. And suddenly it turns out that the «respectable people» at the next table; whom with you were arguing about Putin, are some Australian barons and producers of this very wine you are drinking, hello! …

Everything is gaining momentum, the bombs are falling one after another at your plate, and they all are equal.

“More champagne?” Of course! Everybody’s outside, with glasses and cigarettes, sitting on the parapet, dressed in evening gowns that have trains that sweep the floor.  Then back inside.

“Does anybody wants more crab curry?”

“Everybody! And more champagne, please!”

The last blast of taste explosives, which are stunning, hit strongly your mouth, right in your palate, and so there you are happy and dead drunk and suddenly find yourself…

… at the entrance of the restaurant, brazenly inscribing yourself into the book, right between the lines, behind your back you hear a chef’s voice:

“Guys, what’s up!? Ah, come on! OK, sure! You can come… at 21:30, OK?”

It’s worth flying to Thai just because of this place. This can be your only destination.

UPD Sep’17: Oh well, it’s 8 months since and it is still the #1 restaurant in Asia and #7 in the world and the place worth flying to Bangkok for. No other reason needed.

A list of a few “the best” dishes (to my taste) out of 25 nano-courses from the updated menu:

Simulations of oysters made of watermelon,

Chuttoro sushi on sweet meringue,

Carrot caramel, foie gras, and yuzu,

Complicated composition of raw scallops,

Shrimp head (to be eaten entirely, with eyes) and sea urchin caviar.

PS: Oh dear… All of 25 courses are excellent, these are just the most fucking awesome ones.

Pizzeria Lisboa: The Best in Town.

R. Duques de Bragança 5, 1200-026 Lisboa, Portugal / 07 марта 2017

At the end of the street that from one side confronts «Sea Me», passes by the square with «Belcanto» and through the chain of their more simple establishments, just before the turn, in which you have to dive down. Right where the tram makes his «Ding». In the row of doors — our door into here.

Gosh … falling inside from the January «frost» I immediately realize that my sniff radar didn’t fail me. Two dry white ports are gazing from the bar at the oven’s mouth, which is like really huge with pizzas, pizzas, pizzas inside. Just like you wanna get there as well — such are the pizzas.

«Everything is the way we like it» — ​​thin crunchy dough, cheese, truffles (useless), pears and gorgonzola, throng, noise, incredible risotto with portobello, and great carpaccio doesn’t matter if it is a meat one or a tuna one. The most important is that you get here a simple pasta: spaghetti / tomato / tomato sauce / basil. You won’t get it like that anywhere else.

Everything is delicious, fast, inexpensive. The trams behind the windows scatter glare and scratches. People around are very understandable.

In general, my place.