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Archive for August, 2011

As we travelled through Sicily, I was always plotting and planning the restaurants for our next stop.

In Modica, the owner of our B & B was from Milan, so the inevitable question was asked- what restaurant would you recommend in Milan

The answer was Osteria del Binari.

Hiding in the Porta Ticinese area of Milan, this traditional restaurant is worth the taxi ride.

The unassuming entrance is easily overlooked.

Entrance to Osteria del Binari in Milan

Entrance to Osteria del Binari

As we walked inside, the front rooms were empty so I started to worry but, thankfully, I spotted the table of home-made tarts and knew there was no reason to do so!

Home made tarts at Osteria del Binari in Milan

Beautiful home-made tarts

I was later told that, in winter, these front rooms are lit by a large fire and are very cosy and warm. As it was a stunning summer night, we were eating outside in the garden. Perfect!

Dinner in the garden at Osteria del Binari in Milan

Dinner in the garden

After being seated, glasses of prosecco arrived together with an appetiser of terrine and fresh cruditè

Knowing I would be ordering dessert, I ordered the proscuitto and buffalo mozzarella for antipasti whilst my husband chose the eggplant and cheese mousse with fresh tomato.
The italian menu was far more appetising than my translation!

Proscuitto crudo di parma with mozzarella di buffala at Osteria del Binari in Milan

Stunning Proscuitto crudo di parma with mozzarella di buffala

Sformato de melanzana con scamorza e velluta di pomodoro fresca at Osteria del Binari in Milan

Sformato de melanzana con scamorza e velluta di pomodoro fresca!

The decision of what to have for Primi piatti was hard. Choices included homemade pasta with veal ragu and porcini mushrooms, Agnolotti del plin (a piedmontese speciality), calamari with baby scampi, zucchini and tomato or the risotto alla milanese.

Pasta fresca al torchio con ragout di vitello bianco e funghi porcini won. It was sensational!

Pasta fresca al torchio con ragout di vitello bianco e funghi porcini at Osteria del Binari in milan

Pasta fresca al torchio con ragout di vitello bianco e funghi porcini

When in Milan , you must try the cotoletta alla milanese, so this was ordered for secondi – uno per due!!

These are great little words to remember for when you would like to share the dish.

Cotoletta alla Milanese at Osteria del Binari

Cotoletta alla Milanese

I already knew what I was having for dessert!

Home made lemon tart at Osteria del Binari in Milan

Home made lemon tart

My husband continued his quest for the perfect tiramisu. Very close!

Tiramisu at Osteria del Binari in Milan

Another tiramisu!

After dinner goodies at Osteria del Binari in Milan

After dinner goodies

We’ll be back!

Eat

Osteria Del Binari
Via Tortona, 1
Milan
Tel: 02 89406753

Osteria del Binari

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Milan’s magnificent Duomo stands tall and proud in the centre of the city.
Roads circle the Duomo and radiate out from here. Everything is measured in time from the Duomo. La Scala is 2 minutes from the Duomo, the Brera is 5 minutes from the Duomo, the Last Supper is a 10 minute walk from the Duomo

Duomo in Milan

Milan

Construction began in 1386 and took five centuries to complete.
Learning that there are 135 spires and nearly three thousand statues, you can understand why it took this long

Outside the Duomo in Milan

Outside the Duomo

Closeup of the doors of Milan's Duomo

Closeup of the doors

Inlaid marble floor of Milan's Duomo

Inlaid marble floor

The organ is the largest in Italy. Duomo in Milan

The organ is the largest in Italy

The light streams in through the magnificent stained glass windows

Magnificent stained glass windows in the Duomo in Milan

Stained glass windows

Stained glass window in the Duomo in Milan

Another stained glass window

Whilst there are many treasures inside the Duomo, it is the roof top that is the star.

The Duomo has recently undergone a huge cleanup and once again the magnificent pinnacles and spires that dominate the skyline, sparkle
A walk on the roof is not to be missed. The views are fantastic.
You can choose to either walk up the stairs or take the lift. Tickets for the lift can be purchased at the kiosk outside in the back right hand corner (facing the Duomo) and the lift entry is in the back left hand corner!

Spires on the roof of the Duomo in Milan

Some of the 135 spires on the roof

View of the flying buttresses on the roof of the Duomo in Milan

View of the flying buttresses

View over the rooftops from the Duomo in Milan

View over the rooftops

View from the rooftop of the Duomo in Milan

Statue on the roof of the Duomo in Milan

Statue on the roof

The Madonnina, Giuseppe Perego’s gilded bronze statue, stands on top of the main spire

Madonnina statue on the top of the Duomo in Milan

Madonnina Statue

Looking down on the sculpture in the Piazza di Duomo, Milan

Looking down on the sculpture in the Piazza

The Duomo in Milan at night

The Duomo at night

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Australia’s national flower, the golden wattle, on the banks of the Yarra River in Melbourne.

This is the first in a weekly series of postcards from around the world that I hope you will enjoy.

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It’s time to leave Sicily!
The history, the contrasting landscapes, the people and the food have been amazing.
We’ve loved every minute of our trip.
Here are some of our memories.

Iconic Etna was erupting whilst we were in Sicily. Smoke plumes wafted over the sky for days

Mt Etna, Sicily

Donald, our trusty Fiat Doblo, took us everywhere!

Fiat Doblo in Scicli, Sicily

From stunning Siracusa, with it’s maze of alleyways……

Siracusa, Sicily

Where laundry fluttered in the breeze……

Drying denim in Siracusa, Sicily

To the fishing villages of the south……

Fishing boats, Sicily

Where the three wheeled Apè was constantly in use……

Apè in Mazzara, Sicily

From mountains villages, where rooftops created their own memory…….

Roof tops in Sicily

To the clear blue waters of San Vito lo Capo……

San Vito lo Capo, Sicily

Through fields of flowers……

Olive trees and poppies in Sicily

Dotted with stone walls……

Stone walls in Sicily

Past vineyards……

Grape vines in Sicily

Spotting wild fennel growing everywhere……

Wild fennel in Sicily

To the Nebrodi mountains to see the famous black pigs.

Black pigs of the Nebrodi Mountains in Sicily

We loved the markets with all the fabulous selection of fresh food and fish

Ballaro Market, Palermo

Tasty Pachino tomatoes
Pachino Tomatoes, Sicily

Blood Oranges

Blood oranges, Sicily

Choose your fish.

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With raw ingredients of this quality, we ate at fabulous restaurants, from simple trattorias to Michelin starred restaurants.

Star treatment at La Madia in Licata

La Madia, Sicily

Simple, stunning seafood antipasti at Sakalleo in Scoglitti

Seafood antipasti at Sakalleo in Scoglitti

Sicily’s own pasta with sardines at Duomo in Ragusa.

Pasta wih sardines, fennel and pine nuts at Duomo in Ragusa

Stunningly tomato salad with pasta and mussels at La Conchiglietta in Marzamemi

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Amazing antipasti selection at Zia Pina in Palermo

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Zuppe di Mare at Per Bacco in Siracusa

Zuppe di mare at Per Bacco in Siracusa, Sicily

Pane cunzato at Da Alfredo in Lingua, Salina

Pane cunzato at Da Alfredo in Lingua, Salina

Local festivals were a highlight.
La Festa di Capperi in Pollara, Salina

La Festa di Capperi in Pollara, Salina

La Festa di San Giorgio in Modica

La Festa di San Giorgio in Modica

Meeting friendly locals who were always wanting to know where we were from, what we were doing and where we were going.

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Beautiful Marino in Trapani

Marino the net repairer in Trapani, Sicily

Making cheese with Guilio in the Madonie Mountains

Making cheese with Guilio in tbe Madonie Mountains, Sicily

Everywhere we went, we were surrounded by history

Golden mosaics at Monreale Cathedral, Palantine Chapel in Palermo, Piazza Armerina and the Duomo in Cefalu

Mosaics in the Monreale Cathedral, Sicily

Modica- one of the many Baroque towns of South East Sicily

Modica, Sicily

Temple ruins at Segesta, Selinute and Agrigento

Temple at Agrigento, Sicily

Lets not forget the sweet treats

Granita ni Sciacca

Gelato

Gelato con brioche in Palermo, Sicily

And the best- Cannolo

Cannolo at Mazzara in Palermo

Thankyou Sicily
We’ll be back!

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The sweet treats of Sicily shine in Palermo.
Here, we have been constantly tempted by some of the best cakes, pastries and desserts in Sicily

Pasticceria Cappello, near the Porta Nuova gate, is in the perfect position for a quick stop after visiting the Palazzo dei Normanni or before catching the bus to Monreale.

Inside this unassuming shop are myriads of taste sensations

Pasticceria Cappello, Palermo

Pasticceria Cappello

Cappello are famous for their Torta Setteveli, the cake of seven layers named after Salome’s dance of the seven veils for Herod. A chocolate overload, it is made by alternating different layers of chocolate and hazelnut, mousse and a combination of these. Pistachio and strawberry cakes are also available but the chocolate is the best!

Setteveli at Pasticceria Cappello in Palermo

Strawberry, Pistachio and Chocolate Setteveli

Setteveli at Pasticceria Cappello in Palermo

Torta Setteveli

Cassatinas are smaller versions of cassata. They are perfect for one person to enjoy the taste of this sicilian cake made from sponge filled with ricotta and then covered with pistachio paste.

Cassatina at Pasticceria Cappello in Palermo

Cassatina

I love seeing the colourful marzipan fruits displayed.
Known here as Frutta di Martorana, the name originated from the Church of Martorana in Palermo when nuns from the nearby Benedictine monastery used these fruits of marzipan to decorate the bare trees in the garden of the convent for the visit of an important person.
The fruits are so realistic. It is hard to believe that this is almond mixture shaped and painted with food colouring to resemble the different fruits

Frutta di Martorana at Pasticceria Cappello in Palermo

Frutta di Martorana - Marzipan fruits

Other sweet treats at Cappello include

Crostatine di Fragola-Strawberry tarts at Pasticceria Cappello, Palermo

Crostatine di Fragola - Strawberry Tarts

I was also tempted by one of the tiny fruit jellies. Thank heavens for the smaller tastes that Cappello make. Pure fruit heaven.

Fruit jellies at Pasticceria Cappello in Palermo

Different flavoured fruit jellies

Jam conserves at Pasticceria Cappello, Palermo

Love the packaging on the conserves

Chocolate meringue cake at Pasticceria Capello in Palermo

Chocolate and meringue

Not far from Teatro Massimo is another well known pastry shop, Mazzara

Mazzara is famous for their cannoli, so I had to try one!!
Cannolo is one of the most famous sweet treats in Sicily. I’ve never tasted a bad cannolo but there is something special about Mazzaras’ cannolo

Cannolo at Mazzara in Palermo

Cannolo at Mazzara

Cannoli and Beigne at Mazzara in Palermo

Cannoli and Bigne

Cassata, Cannoli and Bigne at Mazzara in Palermo

Which one would you choose?

Setteveli at Mazzara in Palermo

Setteveli

Crostatine di Fragola at Mazzara in Palermo

Crostatine di Fragola - Strawberry Tarts

Let’s not forget gelato!
Enjoyed at any time of day, Palermo’s best are eaten ‘con brioche’

Mini strawberry gelati cones at Pasticerria Capello in Palermo

Mini strawberry gelati cones at Pasticerria Cappello

Gelato con brioche, Palermo

Gelato con brioche

Pasticceria Cappello
Via Colonna Rotta,68
Palermo
http://www.pasticceriacappello.it
Pasticceria Cappello

Pasticceria Mazzara
Via Generale Magliocca,15
Palermo

Pasticceria Alba
Piazza don Bosco,7
Palermo
http://www.pasticceriaalba.it
Pasticceria Alba

Pasticceria Oscar
Via Mariano Migliacco,39
Palermo
http://www.oscarpasticceria.it
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The Palatine Chapel in the Palazzo dei Normanni in Palermo is one site you should not miss.

When the first of the Norman rulers, Roger II came to power, he restored the palace, originally built in the 9th century for the Arab emirs, and built the Palantine Chapel.
Though it was finished in 1140, the decoration of the interior took a lot longer. The fabulous mosaics were finished at varying times. Over the years, and with successive rulers, the chapel has been restored and the mosaics renewed, the latest being the mosaics outside the chapel which are 19th century

Mosaics outside the entrance to the Palatine Chapel in Palermo

Mosaics outside the entrance

Closeup of mosaics outside the Palantine Chapel in Palermo

Closeup of the mosaics outside the entrance

Inside, fabulous mosaics, a painted honeycomb wooden roof and marble decoration on the lower walls show the mix of the Arab-Norman-Byzantine style of the 12th century

The large mosaic icons of the central apse and cupola (dome) both represent Christ the Pantocrator
In the main apse, Christ appears above the Virgin Mary with St Peter and St Paul in the side apses

View of the main apse and side apses in the Palantine Chapel, Palermo

View of the mosaics in the three apses

Christ the Pancrator icon in the main apse of the Palantine Chapel, Palermo

Christ the Pancrator icon in the main apse

Whilst in the cupola of the sanctuary, Christ appears with angels, archangels and prophets with the Apostles in the four corners

Christ the Pancrator icon in the cupola of the Palantine Chapel

Christ the Pancrator with Angels and Archangels in the cupola

The nave mosaics depict scenes from the lives of St Peter and St Paul as well as scenes from the Old Testament

Christ with St Peter and St Paul in the Palantine Chapel in Palermo

Christ with St Peter and St Paul

Mosaics in the nave of the Palantine Chapel in Palermo

Mosaics in the nave

In the nave stands a 12th-century, fifteen foot high, Paschal candelabra carved with figures, wild animals, and acanthus leaves.

Carved figures on the paschal candelabra in the Palantine Chapel in Palermo

Carved figures on the paschal candelabra

Painted ceiling in the Palantine Chapel in Palermo

Painted honeycomb ceiling

Today, the Palazzo dei Normanni is the seat of Sicily’s regional govenment

The Appartamenti Reali (Royal Apartments) are on the second floor. Even though the Palazzo was rebuilt in Spanish times, the Sala di Ruggerio (Roger’s Hall) remains covered with mosaics depicting hunting and animal scenes as it did in Roger’s day

The Sala di Ercole (Hall of Hercules), where the Sicilian Parliament now sits, is just as it was when used in the Middle Ages.

This floor is only open on Monday and Friday when Parliament does not meet.
Check the opening hours before you visit

On the walk back, you will pass the Cathedral of Palermo. As a result of additions, alterations and renovations over the years, this 12th century Duomo now incorporates many different architectural styles.

Cathedral of Palermo

Cathedral of Palermo

Another view of the Cathedral of Palermo

Another view of the Cathedral

Via Principe di  Belmonte is a pretty street, closed to traffic with flower vendors,bars and restaurants spilling into the centre. We were here for dinner at Gigi Mangia but as Caffe Spinnato was over the road, we stopped for a quick aperitivo

On a beautiful night, sitting outside was the place to be. The restaurant service was perfect and the food matched.

La Cassata di Pesce Spada at Gigi Mangia, Palermo

La Cassata di Pesce Spada

Fantasmagorica-pasta with sea urchin, mussels and prawns at Gigi Mangia in Palermo

Fantasmagorica-pasta with sea urchin, mussels and prawns. Delicious

Grilled Spigola with tomato and olives at Gigi Mangia in Palermo

Grilled Spigola with tomato and olives

Eat

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Gigi Mangia
Via Principe di Belmonte, 104d
Palermo
Tel: +39 091 587651
http://www.gigimangia.com
Gigi Mangia

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It was time to explore another of Palermo’s markets – the Ballarò Market

This 1000 year old market is hidden in side streets around Piazza Carmine, in the old part of town between Via Marqueda and Corso Tukory.

On first glance, you notice the sea of umbrellas and tarpaulins, mainly red, covering the stalls

Ballaro Market, Palermo

Ballaro Market

Ballaro Market, Palermo

As with the Capo Market, locals shop here for new seasons fruit and vegetables, cheeses, spices, fresh fish and all cuts of meat.

Welcome to the meat market, Ballaro market, Palermo

Welcome to the meat market

Cherries under the red glow of the Ballaro Market, Palermo

Cherries under the red glow of the market umbrellas

Tenerumi are the vines, leaves and tendrils of a cucuzza, a long, thin, sicilian squash. They are often used in pasta dishes or soup.

Cucuzza - Ballaro Market , Palermo

Cucuzza

Tenerumi - Ballaro Market, Palermo

Tenerumi

Lumache - Ballaro Market, Palermo

Lumache (snails)

Ricotta - Ballaro Market, Palermo

Ricotta

Ricotta fresca with olives, Ballaro Market in Palermo

Ricotta fresca with olives and pistachio

Anchovies - Ballaro Market, Palermo

Anchovies

Fishmonger in Ballaro Market, Palermo

Swordfish & Tuna at the Fishmonger's

Sausages - Ballaro Market, Palermo

Sausage decoration

The market is also a street eaters delight.
Pane con panelle, arancine, pane cu’ la meuza and sfincione are readily available

In the middle of the market, this panelle stall does a roaring trade. The panelle, which are slices of a dough made from chick peas are deep fried along with aubergine slices, and then put into the freshest panini to make a stunning roll.
You must try one!

Panelle stand at the Ballaro Market in Palermo

Panelle stand

Deep frying panelle in Ballaro Market, Palermo

Deep frying panelle

Pane con panelle - Ballaro Market, Palermo

Pane con panelle - delicious!

Pane ca’ meuza is another popular snack. For this, the bread roll is filled with beef spleen and topped with grated caciocavallo cheese.
Not for me, but they are very popular.

Pane ca' meusa

Ready for the pane

Just outside the market, this sfincione cart was hoping for business. Sfincione are slices of focaccia like base topped with a mixture of tomato and herbs

Sfincione cart, Palermo

Sfincione cart

These vendors were enjoying a quiet moment playing the Italian card game, Scopa, which is all about taking tricks.

Playing the Italian card game Scopa in Palermo

Playing Scopa

It’s easy when you can bring your own table!

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