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Posts Tagged ‘Accommodation’

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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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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There is no escaping the fact that Taormina is a tourist town but it is saved by the stunning views it offers. Snow capped Mount Etna, with it’s smoking plume from the recent eruption, adds another dimension.

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View from our room at Villa Belvedere

One of the main tourist attractions, the Greek Theatre, was hidden under seating ready for the summer performances but the back drop was as beautiful as ever.

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The main street, Via Umberto, follows the original “Valeria” road linking Messina and Catania.From Porta Messina to Porta Catania it winds past historical sites, churches and many shops and bars.

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Porta Messina

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Pasticceria Etna

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Almond and chocolate biscuits

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Marzipan Fruit

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Tomato and Mozzarella

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Street leading down from Corso Umberto

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Fruit shop

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Clock Tower in Piazza IX Aprile

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Corso Umberto

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Piazza Duomo with it’s Baroque Fountain in front of the Duomo

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Home Sweet Home

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Isola Bella can be reached by the funicular from Taormina to Giardini Naxos, the beach below.

Above Taormina is the town of Castemola.
You can walk here but it is best to catch either the bus or a taxi and walk back.
Piazza Duomo is the main square adjoining the small beautiful church. The restaurants in the main square are all owned by the man behind the famous Bar Turrisi. Make sure you pop into the bar and see why it is famous!

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Piazza Duomo

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Bar Turrisi

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View from Castermola

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Even the dogs ride scooters!

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Stay
Villa Belvedere
Via Bagnoli Croci,79
Taormina
Tel: +39 0942 23791
http://www.villabelvedere.it
Villa Belvedere

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From Trapani, you can go almost anywhere.

Combine Segesta and Erice for an easy day trip
Segesta and Selinute were constantly at war with each other. Unlike Selinute, the temple and the theatre at Segesta are well preserved.
Buy a ticket for the bus to take you to the theatre with it’s amazing view to the north

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The Temple at Segesta, built in the 5th century BC, can be easily reached on foot.

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Sitting on top of Monte San Giuliano, the drive to Erice, on a clear day, offers spectacular views.

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Erice is the quintessential tourist village. Meander through the paved alleyways and narrow streets to see the small churches and stone houses.

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Corso Vittorio Emanuele, the main street, is lined with souvenir and pastry shops, none more famous than the Pasticerria di Maria Grammatico.

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Mamma Maria

On another day visit Favignana, the largest of the Egadi Islands, a thirty minute ferry ride away. It’s clear blue waters, especially at Cala Rossa, have been receiving a lot of publicity lately as the place to visit. Marettimo is the most isolated and unspoilt island, a little further away. The weather must be perfect to visit Marettimo for a day trip as the ferries will not run if the sea is rough. Levanzo is the smallest island of the group

The main square of Favignana is a short walk from the port. Hire a scooter, take a taxi or jump aboard the small tourist train to explore the bays around the island.

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San Vito di Capo has been voted the best beach in Sicily. In forty minutes you could be lying on the white sand and swimming in clear blue water. Take a book, hire an umbrella and lounge, and relax.

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From here it is an easy drive to the northern entrance to the Zingaro National Park and the walks that start from here.

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If you haven’t already visited Marsala, it is only thirty minutes away. Return via the Salt Route.
In just over one hour you could be in Palermo, eating street food found in the Ballaro markets.
No wonder Ryan Air, who fly into Trapani, are very busy with weekend visits!

Stay in San Vito di Capo

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B&B Le Biciclette
Via C. Gulfi, 3
Tel: +39 3456707437
http://www.bblebiciclette.it
B&B Le Biciclette
Rooms are small, but it is clean and cute. Great breakfast on the rooftop.

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Trapani was full of surprises.
Not having planned to stay here, the first surprise was that we loved it.
We were also surprised that it was an elegant town with wide streets lined with baroque churches and villas and surprisingly sophisticated shops.

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Corso Vittorio Emmanuele is the main street of the old town, starting at the fishing port and ending at Via Torrearsa.

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At this intersection is Palazzo Senatorio where the local men gather morning,noon and night.

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Via Torrersa is a paved shopping street leading from the port to the beach side.
Here menswear shops outshine the women’s shops
Hidden behind the clock tower of Palazzo Senatorio, is the entrance to another maze of streets with Via della Cuba leading to a group of interesting shops in Piazzetta della Cuba.

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In Trapani, you are never far from the water. Water surrounds the old town with the sea walls on the beach side and the port on the other.

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Whilst staying here we had an excellent dinner at Osteria La Bettolaccia

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Mixed seafood antipasti

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Grilled fish

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Busiate pasta with seafood. Busiate is traditional pasta of this area

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We enjoyed an excellent bottle of Zahir, a Nero d’Avola from Abbazia Santa Anastasia in the Madonie Mountains

Osteria La Bettolaccia
Via General E Fardella, 25
Tel: 0923 21695
http://www.labettolaccia.it

Eat

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Tentazioni di Gusto
Via Badia Nuova 27/29
Trapani
Tel:+39 0923 548165

A good dinner, but not as good as La Bettolaccia.

Stay
It’s not easy choosing where to stay in Trapani. There are many B&B’s but no standout hotels.
All Trapani needs now is a small boutique hotel.

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Residence La Gancia
Piazza Mercato del Pesce
Tel:+39 0923 438060
http://www.lagancia.com
Residence La Gancia

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Ai Lumi Bed & Breakfast
Corso Victor Emmanuele, 75
Tel:+39 0923 872418
http://www.ailumi.it
Ai Lumi Bed & Breakfast

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I Colori del Vento
Viale Regina Elina, 62
Tel: 3472504630 or 0923 1890531
http://www.icoloridelvento.it
I Colori del Vento
Alessandra has access to a simple but adequate apartment in a good position.

Hint
Be careful parking your car overnight on the street by the port.
Monday night, the city side of the road is swept and cars will be towed away
Tuesday night, the port’s side of the street is cleaned.
Parking charges start at 8am but you can pre pay this the night before and leave the ticket on the window. Parking in the white lines is free whilst if you park in the blue lines, payment is due. There is free parking in front of the coast guard office.

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There are two reasons we want to stay at Mandranova
First is it’s close proximity to Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples and secondly, Sicily’s best restaurant, La Madia at Licata is close by.
Now there is a third reason – to experience the hospitality of Silvia and Giuseppe.

Mandranova is an award winning olive oil estate.

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It has been in Giuseppe’s family for six generations. Additions a few years ago mean they can have a maximum of forty people to stay in four different buildings but at this time of the year, there are only eight people. Perfect!

Our room over the Frantoio, is large and surprisingly modern with Culti products in the bathroom and a large terrace.

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There are plenty of places to relax throughout the grounds
Lounges are dotted around under olive trees, in loggias or on verandahs.

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A short walk away, the pool tempts sun lovers.

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Inside the main building are two sitting rooms decorated with family treasures and the dining room.

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Silvia is a fabulous cook and Giuseppe’s advice on the local wines is expert.
At dinner on the first night, we enjoy rigatoni with red tuna, tomatoes and peperoncino sauce, involtini and eggplant. We drink a lovely Cottanera syrah, Sole di Sesta, from the Mt Etna region.

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Dessert is the most amazing lemon cake

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Breakfast does not disappoint.
As with most Sicilian breakfast’s, there is an array of fruit, yoghurt, bread, cheese and cake

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The next day, Silvia is giving a cooking class and we cook our own lunch.

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The pork is put on to simmer slowly whilst we chop the cooked eggplant for our capponata starter.

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The cassata is then made. The day before, Silvia had made the lightest sponge for the base. We combine ricotta and chocolate and spoon this over the sponge which has been sliced and laid on the base. After a while in the fridge, it is covered with icing and left to set.

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Finally we cook the broad beans for our pasta dish.

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Accompanied by a light Nero’Avolo red from the Vittorio region, it is the perfect lunch.

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Azienda Agricola Mandranova
Contrada Mandranova
S.S.115 – km 217
92020, Palma di Montichiaro
Tel: +39 393 9862169
http://www.mandranova.it
Mandranova

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Ragusa is one of the best known of the baroque towns of South Eastern Sicily.
It is divided into two communities- the old Ragusa Ibla and new Ragusa.

We want to explore old Ragusa, so head towards Piazza Duomo, the centre of Ibla.

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The Duomo of San Giorgio stands at the top of a flight of stairs.

After icecreams at Gelato Divini, we continue down the main street, past the Circolo di Conversazione,a private club with a neoclassical interior and the Baroque Church of San Giuseppe (currently being restored) towards the Giardino Ibleo, the 19th century public gardens which are still beautifully kept.

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We wander back through the town looking for the stairway that joins old and new Ragusa.

If we climb the 340 stairs, we will be late for the real reason for our visit, lunch at Ristorante Duomo, the Michelin starred restaurant of chef Cicciio Sultano.

We may need the stairs after lunch!!

A beautifully presented taster of raw swordfish with an orange and pistachio sauce is an indication of what is to come.

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Layered languostine and smoked potato puree is topped with a deep fried snail. Sounds terrible but was great!

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Entrees included Saffron Ravioli with ricotta and marjoram and topped with a small meatball of black pork.

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Pasta with sea urchins and wild asparagus.

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Pasta with sardines, sicilian style with tomatoes, pinenuts and currants.

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A stunning red wine from the Gulfi Winery at nearby Chiaramonte Gulfi complemented the main courses.

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Red Tuna with a sauce of broad beans and wild asparagus.

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Sicilan Lamb with crunchy vegetables and cumin sauce

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Yes, we had dessert. The lightest and tastiest cannoli disappeared before a photo could be taken!

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Ristorante Duomo
Via Boccieri 31
Ragusa Ibla
Tel: +39 0932 651265

Eat:
Another suggested restaurant in Ragusa is ‘Ai Lumi’. Unfortunately we did not have the opportunity to see if they lived up to their reputation as the best fish restaurant in the area.

Trattoria Ai Lumi
Corso XXV Aprile,16
Ragusa Ibla
Tel: +39 0932 621224

Stay:
At Locanda Don Serafino, a small hotel of 10 rooms in historic Ragusa Ibla. It also has an excellent restaurant.

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Locanda Don Serafino
Via Febbraio XV
Ragusa Ibla
Tel: +39 0932 220065
http://www.locandadonserafino.it
Locanda Don Serafino

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