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The months of researching where to eat in Paris had resulted in a long list of restaurants to try.
What I hadn’t realised was that our hotel was in a fabulous position for many of these restaurants. In the streets nearby, Japanese and Chinese restaurants flourished, and gauging by the queues that formed outside many of them, there are some very good ones.

At the end of the street was the restaurant, Les Bistronomes. After our fabulous day exploring the King’s private apartments at Versailles and Marie Antoinette’s Playground and Hamlet, this cozy little bistro was a perfect choice for dinner.

Small and intimate, we were immediately made welcome by one of the owners, Sylvain, who quickly found our table marked with a small blackboard with our name on it. A novel idea for reservations.

When I’m in Paris, I like to try different terrines and pâtés. I was not disappointed here. The pâté, wrapped in a pastry crust, had a knob of foie gras and a slice of duck breast in it. It was served with tasty pickled vegetables. Fabulous.

Pâté en Croûte at Les Bistronomes, Paris

Pâté en Croûte with pickled vegetables

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A beautiful red

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Merlan with Artichokes at Les Bistronomes, Paris

Merlan with Artichokes

How could I resist the lemon meringue tart!

Lemon meringue Tart at Les Bistronomes, Paris

Lemon meringue Tart

Another popular restaurant, La Regelade Saint- Honoré was just around the corner in Rue Saint- Honoré. Unfortunately we could not get a table but I’m mentioning it so that you can add it to your list!

A bit further from the hotel, but still in the 1er Arr, is the restaurant ‘Spring‘. I was so excited when the hotel emailed me to say that they had been successful in making a reservation. This was no mean feat. Spring is one of the hardest restaurants in Paris to get into at the moment. Since its reopening in 2010 after moving from the 9th Arrondissement the buzz surrounding Chef Daniel Rose’s cooking has not stopped. You must literally ring on the day, one month prior to when you want to go, to make a booking.

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On the way to your table, you pass the open kitchen at Spring. We kept popping up during the night to check what was happening but chef Daniel Rose (on the right) had it all under control!

The kitchen at Spring in Paris

Chef, Daniel Rose supervising in the kitchen

The kitchen at Spring, Paris

Another view of the kitchen

It’s always an interesting experience when the chef decides the menu! This is the case at Spring, where set menus prevail and each course is a surprise.
The lobster tail in fish soup starter set the bar very high. The seafood bisque had obviously been simmering for a while and had been reduced to a fabulous soup for the perfectly cooked lobster tail.

Breton Lobster Tail in Fish Soup at Spring, Paris

Breton Lobster Tail in Fish Soup

The Vegetable Torte was an unusual course but at the same time, so perfect. Filled with roasted tomato, capsicum, zucchini, beetroot and enclosed in a pastry case, it was a tasty surprise.

Vegetable Torte at Spring in Paris

Vegetable Torte

Bonito Tuna at Spring in Paris

Stunning Bonito Tuna

Chicken Cheeks at Spring in Paris

Chicken cheeks and leg with bacon

Just when you think you can’t possibly eat another morsel, out comes not one, but two desserts
Needless to say, every crumb disappeared!

Rasberry & Chocolate Mousse at Spring, Paris

Raspberry & Chocolate Mousse

Coconut Icecream with Pistachios at Spring, Paris

Coconut Ice cream with Pistachios

I wonder what the menu will be for our next visit!

Do you like to plan your restaurants or do you prefer to ask the hotel to make a suggestion?

Spring
6, Rue Bailleu
Paris 75001
Tel: 33 01 45960572
Spring 

Les Bistronomes
34 Rue de Richelieu
Paris 75001
Tel: 33 01 42605966
Les Bistronomes 

La Regelade St Honore
123 Rue Saint- Honoré
Paris 75001
Tel: 33 01 42219240

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Choosing where stay in Paris is always fun. We usually stay on the Left Bank where there are many fabulous small hotels, but this time we thought we would like a change.
Time to go to the other side!

The Hotel Thérèse is in the 1st arrondissement, just off Rue Richelieu. As is typical of most Paris hotels, the rooms are tiny but the hotel is charming and the staff friendly and helpful. I would recommend that if you stay here, book the deluxe room!

Sitting room at Hotel Thérèse, Paris

Sitting room

Sitting room at Hotel Thérèse, Paris

Another sitting area near the lobby

The position is fabulous!
Right next door is the Palais Royal with it’s beautiful gardens and arcaded shops. At the end of Rue Thérèse is L’Avenue de L’Opéra which leads to the Opéra and on to the famous department store, Galeries Lafayette.
The Louvre and the Tuilieres Gardens are a five minute walk away whilst the Marais is a bit further in the opposite direction

Shopping heaven is close by!
At the end of the street is Rue Saint-Honoré, lined with some of the world’s most famous shops. First stop is Colette, a fabulous shop with fashion on the first floor, boy’s toys, gadgets and trinkets on the ground floor and their famous ‘Water Bar’ in the basement.

Not far from here, we make a detour into the Rue du Marché St-Honoré and find ourselves in the local food shopping street. The market is in full swing.

Rue du Marché St-Honoré market

Rue du Marché St-Honoré market

Flowers at the Rue du Marche St Honore market, Paris

Beautiful Flowers

Summer fruit at the Rue du Marche St Honore market, Paris

Summer fruit

Fabulous asparagus and radishes at a Paris market

Fabulous white asparagus and radishes

There’s some great little places in the street.
First stop is Le Rubis. This little wine bar is a Paris institution having been here since the 30’s. Step back in time for a wine and plate of charcuterie standing at the zinc bar or join the locals gathering around the wine barrels on the pavement.

Le Rubis, Paris

Le Rubis with their wine barrel tables

Cooking in your apartment? Try the local butcher.

Mon. Barone the Artisan Boucher in Paris

Mon. Barone the Artisan Boucher!

L’Écume St Honoré is amongst the best places in Paris for oysters. Sit at one of the high tables and choose from the fabulous display of oysters, scallops, crabs and lobster. They even have the sound of seagulls playing in the background!

L'Ecume St Honore, Paris

L'Écume St Honoré

Seafood display at L'Écume St Honoré, Paris

Seafood at L'Écume St Honoré

From here we walk a little further along Rue St Honoré passing the fabulous display of roses at the florist’s shop in the trendy Hotel Costes.

Roses at the Hotel Costes florist in Paris

On the corner of Rue St Honoré and Rue Royale is Laduree, famous for their macarons and pastries. I resist the temptation to go inside. Thank heavens the windows are always a treat.

Laduree window in Paris

Macaron anyone!

We could have continued our walk along the fabulous shops of Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré but instead we walked down Rue Royale to the Place de la Concorde to take a leisurely stroll home through the Tuileries Gardens.

Walking through the Tuileries Gardens in Paris

Walking through the Tuileries Gardens

It doesn’t matter how often we walk this path, it still feels like our first visit to Paris.
I love seeing the Louvre……

I.M Pei's Pyramid at the Louvre

The Louvre

The Louvre

Another view of the Louvre

……and walking along the bank of the Seine where booksellers line the path.

Booksellers in Paris

Dinner that night was at Ze Kitchen Galerie on the Left Bank, so we had to cross back to the other side.

On a beautiful summer’s evening it was an easy stroll across the Pont des Arts.
This metal pedestrian bridge is popular with lovers who attach an initialled padlock to the bridge and throw the key into the Seine as a sign of undying love. The government is not quite as romantic, claiming the padlocks are eyesores and haved removed quite a lot of them. Debra from Bagni di Lucca and Beyond recently wrote about this trend that is occuring in many countries, questioning whether it is a romantic gesture or vandalism. You can read her thoughts here.

Pont des Arts, Paris

Pont des Arts

Locks on the Pont des Arts, Paris

Undying love!

The views of the Seine, were beautiful as the sun set. I never tire of looking at the Pont Neuf and the Île de la Cité

Pont Neuf and Île de la Cité, Paris

Looking towards the Pont Neuf and Île de la Cité

 Pont du Carrousel, Paris

Pont du Carrousel

Paris at night

Paris at night

Paris at night

Paris at its best!

Where do you like to stay in Paris?

Hotel Thérèse
10 Rue Thérèse
Paris 75001
Tel: +33 1 42961001
Hotel Thérèse

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After our fabulous lunch at All’Enoteca we drove east to our accommodation at La Villa Hotel in Mombaruzzo, a small town near Canelli and Nizza Monferrato in the north western part of Piedmont. It was great to be back in the hills of Piedmont, surrounded by beautiful vineyards.

Vineyards of Piedmont

Stunning scenery

Chris and Nicola Norton opened La Villa Hotel in 2005 after renovating this seventeenth century villa . They have created a beautiful and stylish home into which you are warmly welcomed.

Entrance to La Villa in Piemonte

The entrance

Sitting area of La Villa Hotel, Mombaruzzo

Sitting area

All the rooms are tastefully decorated with great views over the valley or the beautiful gardens.

Bedroom at La Villa Hotel, Mombaruzzo

Bedroom decor

Gardens at La Villa Hotel, Mombaruzzo

Beautiful gardens

Garden at La Villa Hotel, Mombaruzzo

Another view of the garden

The pool provides welcome relief in the summer

Pool at La Villa Hotel, Mombaruzzo

The pool

La Villa have their own chef, Martin Teplitzky, an Australian who previously has worked in Glasgow and Sydney. If you don’t feel like going to a local village for dinner, you can eat in every night except Tuesday.
Breakfast in the courtyard or loggia is a perfect way to start the day

Outdoor tables at La Villa Hotel, Mombaruzzo

Outdoor tables set for breakfast

Hydrangeas in the loggia at La Villa Hotel, Mombaruzzo

Colourful hydrangeas in the loggia

Tables set for breakfast in the loggia at La Villa Hotel,

Tables set for breakfast in the loggia

Fresh fruit salad, plates of salami and proscuitto, fresh breads and croissants as well as a tempting plate of frittata and freshly squeezed orange juice is waiting for you each morning

Breakfast at La Villa Hotel, Mombaruzzo

fabulous breakfast

Breakfast at La Villa Hotel, Mombaruzzo

Selection of cold meats and cheese for breakfast

Outdoor tables at La Villa Hotel, Mombaruzzo

Home sweet home!

After a day exploring the local villages, it’s always great to return back to this tranquil haven.

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La Villa Hotel
Via Torino,7
Mombaruzzo (Fraz Casalotto)
Tel:+39 0141 793890
La Villa Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

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The Brera is one of my favourite areas of Milan.
Found just beyond the Duomo and La Scala, it is an area full of fabulous art galleries, fun shops, excellent restaurants and small B&Bs.

The Pinacotera di Milan, Milan’s famous art gallery is in Via Brera. The gallery houses a world renown collection of renaissance art.

The atmosphere of the Brera is best reflected in Via Fiori Chiari. This cobblestone street, with it’s planter boxes is lined with boutiques, restaurants and antique shops. My favourite shop, ‘Candele Mum’ at No 16 sells beautiful candles of all different shapes and sizes.

Via Fiori Chiari in Milan

Via Fiori Chiari

Cobblestone Streets in the Brera in Milan

Cobblestone Streets in the Brera

Welcome Mat at Torre di Pisa in Milan

Welcome Mat at Torre di Pisa

Another cobblestone street, Via Madonnina leads off from here at Ristorante Il Cestino, winding past intriguing shops and buildings, eventually taking you to the Church of the Santa Maria del Carmine and it’s piazza.

Church of the Santa Maria del Carmine in Milan

Church of the Santa Maria del Carmine

Near here are a couple of my favourite spots, both in Via Cusani.
Da Claudio: By day, it is a fish shop and quick lunch stop. At night it becomes a popular bar where prosecco is on tap and seafood antipasti available. In summer the crowd spills out on to the pavement

Ristorante Da Claudio in Milan

Ristorante Da Claudio

Antonio: Over the road from Da Claudio are three fabulous shops under the name Antonio – Antonio Shoes, Antonio Donna and Antonio Uomi – all displaying the latest fashions

Window at Antonio Uomo in Milan

Window at Antonio Uomo

Milan has a fabulous aperitivo culture. Bars offer a selection of antipasti with drinks, none more so than those in the Brera. The Brera comes alive at night, especially on the weekend. Restaurants and bars are full and people are window shopping or perusing the street markets that line Via Fiori Chiari.

Aperitivo in Milan

Aperitivo snacks

Via Solferino is another busy street in the Brera. There are some interesting shops here. Look out for Jamin Peuch for fabulous bags, AG Spalding & Bros for luggage accessories and L’Artigiano di Brera for great flats. Further up the street, you will find Antica Locanda Solferino, a popular B&B.

Fioraio Bianchi Caffè, is not far from here. Dine amongst the flowers or relax with coffee and cake.

Fioraio Bianchi Caffè in Milan

Fioraio Bianchi Caffè

On Monday or Thursday morning, the Via San Marco markets take place.

Fruit and Vegetables at the San Marco Markets in Milan

Fruit and Vegetable stall

Zucchini Flowers at the Via San Marco Markets in

Zucchini Flowers

On the outskirts of the Brera, Corso Como is where you will find Milan’s eclectic fashion emporium,10 Corso Como. This is also another interesting area with many boutiques, bars and restaurants.

Inside Dieci Corso Como, Milan

10 Corso Como

To get here, take Corso Giuseppe Garibaldi which borders the Brera on one side.
On the way, stop at Radetzky Cafe for coffee, lunch or aperitivo. I can highly recommend Sunday brunch!

Radetzky Caffe in Milan

Radetzky Cafe

Don’t want to explore the Brera on foot. Hire a bike instead!
Like many European cities, Milan has their own bike sharing programme called BikeMi. Dotted around the city are many bike stations where you can pick up or drop off your bike. Hire it for as long as you like, it’s a great way to get from one spot to the other. The first thirty minutes are free!

BikeMi station at the Duomo in Milan

BikeMi station at the Duomo

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Position, position, position is the catch cry for all things real estate.
This especially applies to where you stay in a city.

Our home in Palermo, BB22, was in a great position as we were to find out over the next four nights. Often called a boutique B&B because of it’s stylish decor and personalised service, this 7 roomed B&B in the 15th century Palazzo Pantelleria, is run by Milanese couple Patty and Max. As well as the restaurant guides found in your room, they are only too happy to help with the final decision on where to go, what to see and how to get there.

There are two rooms and a suite on the first floor with the remainder on the third floor (no lift) together with reception, the breakfast area and an enclosed terrace where nightly drinks are offered.

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Standard room at BB22 in Palermo

Standard room

Deluxe room at BB22 in Palermo

Deluxe room

Every morning, a breakfast of fresh fruit salad, meats, cheeses, cake and pastries is served on the third floor

Breakfast at BB22 in Palermo

BB22 is hidden in a back street in old Palermo, behind the Piazza San Domenico on Via Roma.

Church of San Domenico in Piazza San Domenico in Palermo

Church of San Domenico in Piazza San Domenico

Turn right on Via Roma and it is an easy walk to the Teatro Massimo, the Politeama and shopping central.

Teatro Massimo in Palermo

Teatro Massimo

Teatro Politeama in Palermo

Teatro Politeama

Turn left and you come to Via Vittoria Emanuele which runs from the Porta Nuova to the water.

Porta Nuova in Palermo

Porta Nuova

 

 

At the intersection of Via Maqueda and Via Vittorio Emanuele is the Quattro Canti, the four corners that divides Palermo into quandrants. It is marked by different sculptures on each of the corners.

Quattro Canti in Palermo
Quattro Canti

Quattro Canti in Palermo

Just behind here, in Piazza Prettoria is the Town Hall and the Pretoria Fountain.

Palermo's Piazza Pretoria with the Town Hall on the left and the Dome of Santa Caterina on the right.

Piazza Pretoria with the Town Hall on the left and the Dome of Santa Caterina on the right.

If you walk further up Via Vittoria Emanuele, you pass the stunning Cathedral on your way to the Norman Palace and Palatine Chapel.

Palermo's Cathedral

Cathedral

Entrance to the Palatine Chapel in Palermo

Entrance to the Palatine Chapel

The markets are all in easy walking distance from BB22. Not far from the Quattro Canti is the fabulous Ballaro Market whilst to reach the the equally fabulous Capo Market, you follow Via Bandiera which is opposite Piazza San Domenico
The Vucceria market is even closer. Just off Piazza San Domenica, this market is now very touristy and not what it used to be though the Sant’Andrea Ristorante remains popular.

Hole in the wall bar in the Vucceria, Palermo

Hole in the wall bar in the Vucceria

BB22 is not far from La Cala, the small fishing boat and yachting harbour. A walk down the back lane offers a shortcut to here and on to the interesting areas of Piazza Marina and La Kalsa.

La Cala, Palermo

La Cala

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Stay

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BB22 – Bed and Breakfast
Largo Cavalieri,22
90133 Palermo
Tel:+39 091 6111610
http://www.bb22.it
BB22

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Salina, the green island, is known for it’s capers and malvasia wine.
I love capers and wine so this has helped make the decision to spend five nights here, relaxing and exploring the island.

The Hotel Ravesi is the perfect base for us
This small charming three star hotel is a family hotel, owned and run by the Ravesi family.
Family photos in the bar show the history of the hotel. It is the result of restoration of houses and farmhouses built after the war as well as the original farm lodges

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Ravesi family photo.

The hotel is in Malfa, home to a rosticceria takeaway bar, fruit and vegetable shop, hairdresser, pool hall, hardware shop, three restaurants and two churches and a small harbour at the bottom of the hill. What more do you need?

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Hotel Ravesi with the town centre just down the street

The family are always around the hotel, chatting to guests and making sure everyone is happy.
The rooms are simply furnished and most have wonderful verandahs with sea views or outside sitting areas overlooking the beautiful gardens. Breakfast of fresh fruit, meat and cheeses, breads, pastries and often a cake or two is beautifully presented in the bar area near the pool.

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The view from our verandah

The pool area is stunning with magnificent views to Stromboli and Panrea

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Pool area set up for a wedding.

There are many nooks and crannies in the beautiful gardens to escape to with a book or in the evening a drink and some of the fabulous snacks that are offered

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Outside sitting area

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View back to the bar and rooms

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Fishing boats at Malfa harbour

During our stay, we try all the local restaurants.
Close by, “A’Lumeredda”, a pizzeria and restaurant offers local cuisine using olives, capers and caperberries grown on the island. Fresh seafood, grilled meats, pasta dishes and woodfired pizzas are served on an alfresco terrace.
Next door at “Cosi Duci”, you can buy home made Aeolian pastries, biscuits, fabulous jams and honey.

Next to the hotel is the pizzeria “U Cucunciu” serving a similar menu of pasta dishes and woodfired pizza.

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Pizza Aeolian at U Cucunciu

But the best is yet to come.
Just round the corner is the 4* Hotel Signum. Owner and chef, Michele Caruso has created an enviable reputation for the hotel’s restaurant.

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The restaurant terrace overlooks the hotel and gardens.

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We start with lightly fried pumpkin flowers with anchovy and ricotta.

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Bucatini fatti in casa con ragu biance a mare (home made pasta with seafood sauce)

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Filetto di ricciola con zucchina alla trifolata menta (Ricciola with zucchini cooked with parsely, garlic and mint)

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Torrone cassata finishes a stunning meal

If you want to venture further afield for dinner, you will need to hire a bike, scooter or car from the friendly people at Tourist Service S.A.S
Tourist Service S.A.S
Via Roma, 112
Malfa
Tel:+39 090 9880174
http://www.touristservicesas.it
Tourist Service S.A.S

Stay

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Hotel Ravesi
Via Roma,66
Malfa
Tel:+39 090 9844385
http://www.hotelravesi.it
Hotel Ravesi

Eat

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Hotel Signum
Via Scalo, 15
Malfa
Tel+39 090 9844222
http://www.hotelsignum.it
Hotel Signum

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A’Lumeredda
Via San Lorenzo,1
Malfa
Tel:+39 090 9844130
http://www.alumeredda.it
A’Lumeredda

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Pizzeria U Cucunciu
Via Roma,81
Malfa

Cosi Dolci
Via San Lorenzo,9
Malfa

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Lipari, Salina, Panarea, Stromboli, Vulcano, Alicudi and Filicudi.
Once just names, they now have meaning. They are the Aeolian Islands, a group of seven islands just off the north eastern coast of Sicily, formed as a result of volcanic activity many hundreds of thousands of years ago.

Lipari is the largest and main island of the group. Salina is known as the green island whilst Panarea is the party island and Stromboli is famous for it’s active volcano. As the name suggests, Vulcano was once an active volcano whilst Alicudi, with it’s donkey transport and Filicudi are the smallest islands, a bit further away from the others.

All are different but all have the same black beaches and rocky coastlines.

We travel by ferry from Milazzo to Lipari and arrive at one of Lipari’s two marinas, Marina Lunga

Just around the corner from the hotel is Marina Corta, the small fishing port for the local fisherman and tour boats
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Here in Piazza di Sant’Onofrio, fishermen repair their boats and nets, tour operators tout for business and tourists fill the cafes.

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Shop lined Via Garibaldi leads from the piazza towards the citadel that overlooks the town.

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Walls of the Citadel

The steps at Via del Concordato lead to the citadel with Cathedral di Saint Bartolomeo, the Archaeological Museum and Archaeological Park.

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Via del Concordato steps

Take one of the streets leading off Via Garibaldi and you will arrive in tree lined Corso Vittorio Emanuele, the main street.

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Fish shops compete with the local Ape vendor.

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Street food flourishes at Mancia e Fui. Your choice!

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Flower lined side streets

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Closer to home, we explore the residential streets round the Hotel Meligunis.
At the end of the street is the small piazza and Church of San Bartolo.

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People take pride in their homes. Colours are bright and everywhere there are flowers.
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One piazza has fabulous trompe l’oeil walls.

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I love this pizza oven!

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Each night we join the locals for passeggiata followed by aperitivo.
Bar La Precchia in Via Vittorio Emanuele is the place to be. It is in a perfect position to enjoy a beer or a cocktail or three and watch the passing parade.
I love the way the Italians always offer plates of snacks.
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Filippino Restaurant has for years been synonomous with Lipari. It celebrated it’s 100th birthday last year. I am slightly hesitant to go, thinking it will be very touristy, but we are encouraged by our hotel manager, Sylvia, who promises an excellent meal.
Thank heavens we went!

Our couscous with vegetable starter was fabulous. Cooked in a strong tasty sauce, the grains and vegetables were perfect.

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We have eaten a lot of Fritto Misto this trip but Filippino’s stood out. A selection of fresh calamari, gamberi, acciughe and spatola was lightly fried. Delicious.
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My grilled mupa was simple and very tasty. Presented and then deboned at the table, it was served with a delicious tomato and caper salad.

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Tiramisu completed the best dinner we had on Lipari.

Eat

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Ristorante Filippino
Piazza Mazzini
Lipari
Tel:+39 090 9811002
http://www.filippino.it
Ristorante Filippino

Stay

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Hotel Villa Meligunis
Vico Marte 7
Lipari
Tel:+39 090 9812426
http://www.villameligunis.it
Villa Meligunis

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