Author: Bubbles

Bubbles goes to the Basque Country

Hello everyone. It has been ages but Daisy convinced me to make a come-back too.. so here is an ode to the wonders of Spain’s Basque region.

Firstly, lets talk tapas.. or as they are called here, pintxos. I want to start with an apology as due to the overwhelmingly finger-licking, food orgasmic inspiring propensities of basically, everywhere I visited, I did not photograph much. Plus, you tend to eat standing up, cradling your wine glass in the crook of your elbow!

My hit list for San Sebastian:

Bar Borda Berri: Try the asparagus if in season, the kebab which is misleadingly labeled for such a perfect pork spare rib, the entrecote and if someone with you is NOT gluten-free, have them order the risotto (made with orzo pasta) just to watch them drool.

Gandarias: croquettas para celiacos.. need i say more? On their website, they have a list of gluten-free options available. croquettas

Ganbara: Anything grilled seafood. I had some truly spectacular langoustines. Be sure to specify you are a celiac so they only give you suitable stuff! Also the wine list here was really interesting. And it was fun sitting on steps across the street, people-watching.

Fine dining

Now it would be a shame to visit this region without making a try for some of the michelin-starred, world’s best restaurants list-makers and generally all round super foodie destinations.


Lobster..with bee pollen..served on a tablet playing a video of waves crashing on the beach

Arzak Lobster

Asador Etxebarri

Smoked everything…below are the oysters..and the setting and scenery..rugged mountains, stone houses…plus the donkeys across the street. This was an experience in purity of flavour.  And be warned..while almost every dish arrived in tasting-sized portions, the meat course of a simple steak, was massive and melted on my tongue. So good.

AE Oysters


The town of Hondarrabia is a super scenic twenty minute drive from San Sebastian. To note, many young chefs here trained in the starred restaurants and returned here to open their own places. We tried to eat at Gran Solo but did not realise that a 24 hour notice was needed for gluten-free as it is a degustation menu. The chef was super nice and suggested some other places in town and we lucked out with a table on the very pretty terrace at Alameda. This was the amuse bouche – the corn soup on the left was pleasant but the chocolate covered foie on the right was so melt in your mouth, dessert mixed with savoury tasty good.



On my last evening, the restaurant Rekondo was a lovely counterpoint to the nine-course tasting menus. Food was simple, true to the ingredients and fresh. As a plus, it has one of the prettiest terraces and a wine list bigger than an encyclopaedia. None of my photos did it justice. And I also had one of the best prawn carpaccios ever! And  they share their recipes..

Kiss kiss


Holistic holiday: Como Shambhala Bali

By the middle of January, following a series of rather over the top nights out, too much rich food and a lot of alcohol and late nights, mixed in with work that continued to pile up, life felt a lot overwhelming. My sleep patterns were a mess, I was burnt out and starting to loathe my thesis despite just needing one last data chapter and my inner snark definitely made plenty of appearances while grading student papers. My solution… Find a holiday to reset everything.

It took me two days to decide on Como Shambhala in Bali and flights and wellness program booked, I arrived in Bali to start my week of rebooting my body and mind.

The estate is around a two hour drive from the airport, located in a village outside Ubud. The backdrop is a mix of forest and terraces of rice paddy fields, with rooms set within separate residences, each with their own common areas for dining, lounging and swimming. My room felt a lot like being in a tropical jungle tree house. With the windows open, i had a light breeze, sounds of cicadas and birds and the very relaxing river burbling below.

The Como takes care of food allergies at a whole other level. Not only had all the restaurant and room device staff been briefed by their in-house dietician, Eve Persak, but I had an entire menu written up for me, for both the restaurants, for all meals, with so many different options that despite eating three course meals for seven days, I didn’t have enough time to taste more than half of the selection! In addition, Eve met with me to ensure the choices included food I liked, explaining their experience with celiacs and sharing her own food allergy woes (MSG in Asia). I felt entirely spoilt for choice and so well looked after.
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20140129-084717.jpg< Looking at that menu, I was a little worried I'd come back from my week off very full and well-fed but not any healthier. Luckily, they look after that problem too. The estate offers group yoga classes, qigong, mat Pilates and a gym. As well, walking up and down the few thousand stairs to get between classes, the spa, the restaurants and the swimming pools (there are four plus all the private residence and villa pools) or joining the morning estate walk ensured a sufficiently calorie-burning break combined with enough quiet time for introspection and watching the world go by, very slowly. All in, I arrived back in Kuala Lumpur a kilo lighter, a whole lot healthier, pretty well relaxed and am already planning my next trip there. I did want to pack up Amy, the Pilates instructor and David, the traditional Chinese medicine expert in my suitcase but sadly, that wasn't a viable option. Kiss kiss, Bubbles <