DISCOVERING TURIN

I spent 4 fantastic days in a fantastic city: Turin, capital of the Piedmont Region, Italy.
Turin is a remarkable treasure of history , arts, culture and…great food.
Let’ s start with the history. Many venues to visit, so I choose two of them and I adventured myself in a fascinating journey through the Royal Palace and the Savoy dynasty. The breathtaking apartments, the Royal Library, the Royal Armoury, the Savoy Gallery, the Archaeological Museum and the close Guarini’s Chapel of the Holy Shroud  recently reopened to public.
The next day I went to Venaria, the monumental Savoy Royal Residences and gardens, housing one of the most important centers for art and culture in Italy.

 

 

 

 

 

You will be amazed by the enchanting Hall of Diana, the huge complex of the Stables, the famous golden ship Bucentaur and much more.

 

The venue hosts several great exhibits, including Easy Rider, a glamorous exhibit that celebrate the magical world of motorbikes, evergreen symbol of “leaving the world behind”, “freedom”, and “speeding into the unknown”. and a great photo gallery showcasing the amazing work of Elliott Erwitt. 

 

 

The current exhibit Hercules and his myth focuses and illustrates the figure of the Hero with a selection of extraordinary paintings and art objects created in classical antiquity and between the 16th and 18th centuries and literally surprising the visitor with an unexpected selection of those pretty tacky 60’s-70’s movies and their posters, starring the very first Superman.
Looking for a unique museum?
National Museum of Cinema, located In the iconic Mole Antonelliana, symbol of Turin.

 

 

 

It runs vertically, up the ramps that line the inside of the building while exposing historical archives in film history, costumes, wigs and elements that have been used by great artists, and impressive screens showing films.

 

 

On the year commemorating the centenary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth, one of the biggest composers and orchestra conductors of the 20th century, the NationalMuseum of Cinema organised a large multimedia exhibit  Soundframes that investigates the complex relationship between music and moving images.             

From the first musicals, to impressive scores created by great composer such as John Williams, Ennio Morricone, Hans Zimmer, etc.The exhibit is exclusively made up of screenings winding along the Temple Hall’s helicoidal ramp. Visitors to the exhibition will be provided with wireless headphones that are necessary for a 360 degrees immersion. To complete this emotional journey into the universe of music in cinema, the last part of the itinerary consists of 6 rooms with highly interactive features.

 

Into modern art?
Here two beautiful museums:
GAM. In addition to its rich collection, starting Oct 26, the museum will host THE MACCHIAIOLI Italian art moves towards modernity, an exhibition that focuses on the antecedents, birth and highly successful debut period of Macchiaioli painting, spanning the experimentation of the 1850s and the masterpieces of the 1860s, exploring in-depth the artistic dialogue established between 3 Italian Regions: Tuscany, Piedmont and Liguria. MEF is hosting 100% ITALIA, a journey through the three great wars that have changed the world and its perception and, above all, an accurate account of Italian creativity.
The show proposes a selection of exceptional works never exhibited. masterpieces that are usually kept in private collections and that are hardly exposed to the public     .Welcome to Turin, Capital of taste!

 

On my arrival night, lovely Silvia from TurismoTorino.org took me to one of her favorite restaurant, Tre Galli, located in the heart of the Roman Quarter, one of the oldest areas of Turin.

There I became 100% Piedmontese!

 

Boiled tongue with the traditional salsa verde (anchovies, parsley, bread soaked in red vinaigrette, garlic and egg yolk) .

 

 

Then panissa risotto with beans and bacon, a traditional peasant dish also known as paniscia depending on the local dialect, and here served in a metal can. Silvia ordered Agnolotti alla Piemontese, that are fresh pasta dumplings, similar in shape to ravioli and stuffed with tender fassona meat. I tried one: it was rich, generous and tasty.>

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To follow, a delicate flan with leeks and fonduta of Toma Montecauri cheese.
Sweet finale with a bonet (peach stuffed with a creamy fusion of Chocolate and nuts.Shall we lunch ?

Caffè Elena
Established in 1800, right in the heart of the magnificent Vittorio Veneto.

Here furniture and atmosphere have remained unchanged.Ideal for breakfast as well as the lunch break or a later aperitif paired with  high quality tapas made on the spot. I sat at the small table by the window, the one preferred from Emilio Salgari the world best pirates stories writer.

 

 

I had handmade potato gnocchi with sausage and sheep cheese, then grilled fassona (super tender meat) with arugula salad and parmesan cheese.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For dessert, I had panna cotta
made with a historical recipe, adding Vermouth Carpano, a bitter drink invented in Turin ,
cacao and hazelnut crumble. Yes, You need a long walk after that lunch.
Chiodi Latini
‘We are a vegetale–integrale restaurant’, told me Antonio Chiodi Latini, the quite bizarre owner and creator of this minuscule venue in the center of Turin. ‘No meat, no fish, no derivates, not at all those sad unflavored vegan dishes. We don’t want to be a trendy place, We like to research , experiment and have the right knowledge of raw materials, their benefit, their taste. We propose a new approach to healthy food, whole foods, paying attention to plant-based ingredients, placing them at the center of our dishes in all their simplicity’.
At lunch, the menu offers 5 choiches, Business, Image, Premium, Whole and Experience (to be booked in advance)

 

Under Antonio’s authorisation, I mix matched some of the choices, Starting with a porcini and cream on stale bread, followed a velvety watercress and Swiss chard with roasted pumpkin seeds, a broccoli cream, then the signature dish called  ‘PA-PO-BA,we can’t do without it’ (that’s PAsta, Pomodoro, BAsilico)


and ending with the ‘chilly’ sorbet Freddoloso (90% fennel, cardamom, cream of parsley.) As drinks a healthy kombucha (fermented tea , pine needles and cones) and a delicate smoothy with fennel extract, celery. green apple, lemon, ginger and zucchini squash.
Pizza maniac?
Tasteit
An unusual concept for making pizza. It is called ‘gourmet pizza’ and you will be the creator! You have the possibility to have ‘your’ customized pizza, choosing between the selection ‘earth’ or ‘sea’. In the first section there is a great presence of parmigiano cheese because the manager Domenico made a long culinary experience in Emilia-Romagna, Parma ham or Ghirardi reserve smoked scamorza, the famous culatello di Zibello, porcini mushrooms, pesto of parmesan rucola in poppy seed crust. Any sea proposal? There is no lack of unusual couplings, such as the amberjack fillet paired with spinach, guancialino slice and porcini or a tuna and shrimp tartare with kiwi, orange citronette and grapefruit zest, or low temperature cooked octopus, mashed potatoes and taggiasca olives.
The most popular? W
ith stracciatella, pork fillet cooked at low temperature, lard from Colonnata,  sprinkled crispy bacon and sesame seed vinaigrette. For lunch, the menu takes on a more business format with the choice of two first and three seconds. I chose amberjack risotto with tomato and cheese stracciatella. Perhaps because of
the late hour (it was almost 2.00 pm) to my taste, the rice was a little overcooked.

The score went up  with the arrival of a slice of pizza scampiamola which takes its name from the raw scampi paired with a delicate guacamole just flavored with shallots, pepper and just a drop of tabasco (thank God! I hate  guacamole full of garlic, coriander and onion !)

 

Fancy some tapas?
Languorini

Cosy little bar that will delight you with its creation. I tried the one called  Maialino nel panino (semi-sweet bread, pork strips cooked at low temperature and the chef’s sauce) the always classic black bread and Mediterranean anchovies and ‘U pulpo’, crispy octopus, scamorza cheese and herb mayonnaise. To drink, a FOG crafted white beer.

Chocoholic?

 

Your destination is the store of Guido Gobino where you will find the cremino al sale, a chocolate praline enriched with integral sea salt and extra virgin olive oil, was awarded in 2008 as the Best Praline of the World from the prestigious London Academy of Chocolate.Are you a coffee lover?
Do not miss Nuvola Lavazza Museum. Lavazza is one of the oldest Italian factory producing coffee since 1885. The museum is a  multi-layered journey through the world of coffee, from the first grocery store where Luigi Lavazza invented the concept of blending, to the characters from advertising campaigns to yearly calendars, shoot by renowned photographers such as Helmut Newton, and Annie Leibovitz.
To end the journey at the bar where you would tray some experimental coffee drinks or food, like the amazing coffee sprinkled chips.
Did you say burger?
Check out  M** Bun, first ‘slow food’ burger of the history .
They use only meat processed in the Scaglia farm in Rivoli, strictly Km.0 obtained from animals raised and fed with cereals and fodder grown in their fields, to guarantee a unique taste and consistency at every bite.
In addition you can find different raw tartare  (plain, with capers or olives.
     The menu is a fanny mix between Italian and Piedmontese dialect, burgers here are oven grilled, chicken, fassona, pig. and a daily winter soup. The potatoes are to die for: absolutely fresh-cut and grilled to perfection. (forget those greasy fast food fries.) To drink artisanal beer from Susa, local wine and Molecola, a home-made alternative to Coca Cola. I got one and took me a minute to realize that even here the name is playing with words, mixing Mole ( the symbol of Turin) and Cola, as per the drink….

My favorite restaurant with traditional Piedmont cuisine?
Porto di Savona. 

 

I started with a mix of traditional appetizers vitello tonnato ( cold veal with tuna sauce),

Zucca, which is my last name. In italian, it means ‘pumpkin. Long story short, I couldn’t resist to try a little bit of a very promising pumping creamy soup with robiola cheese and amaretti. It definitely was a good choice. Then a Turin must: Fritto Misto Piemontese. A fried mix of salty to sweet. Enjoy 9 different ingredients: sweetbreads, anchovies with green sauce, tomino cheese with green sauce (parsley, garlic, olive oil)) Vegetable flan with Parmesan creamy sauce, amaretto, fruits and more. Perfectly fried, crunchy, not greasy and super tasty
Then I had the opportunity to taste the Finanziera, a real Piedmont treat. Apparently it was born in the eighteenth century and offered by the peasants to the revenue officers, whose jacket inspired the name. y. It’s  an old poor recipe that used the less noble parts of slaughtered animals and the entrails, such as brain, lungs, testicles, sweet bells, liver and cock’s crest which were left to those who performed the slaughter and immediately cooked, prepared and consumed.Today the Finanziera is considered an elaborate and sophisticated specialty.

Where to stay?
I checked in at Genova Hotel, a four star Best Western Plus property, steps to Central Station Porta Nuova and all the transportation. Super central, excellent service, comfy bed, even a jacuzzi in my room!

 

The breakfast is generous and delicious. Among fresh cold cuts, a lot of cheeses, including my favorite tomini.
Lots of homemade cakes with fruits.
I loved the one with caramelized pears and
(of course) the traditional Turin gianduja chocolate.
I stayed 4 nights and I highly recommend it.

 

Get the Torino&Piemonte card!

Free admission in the most important museums and exhibitions in Turin, in the castles, fortresses and Royal Residences in Piedmont and discounted tickets for many attractions, events, rides, including the great City SightSeeing Torino bus 

 

 

 

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Bric Paradiso Roero DOCG Riserva 2013: memory of the sea

Among the vineyards of Nebbiolo at Tenuta Carretta, the storied winery in Piobesi d’Alba, those planted in
the Menzione Geografica Aggiuntiva “Bric Paradiso” in Roero are distinguished for their ability to showcase a particular, and lesser-known, face of this wine. The soils of marine origin – poor in organic matter and rich in mineral salts – the predominantly sandy composition of the soils, the steep slopes of the vines and the important daily temperature range which is accentuated in the last stages of maturation gives the Roero DOCG wines that originate here ample and intense aromas, structure, finesse and the elegance renown in the great wines of Piedmont. These characteristics are coupled with the distinct terroir of the Roero that may seem unusual in a Nebbiolo. However, it is just further proof that vines grown on the left bank of the Tanaro benefit from the soils left from millions of years ago, which we know from the abundance of fossils found, when the area was the seabed of the Padano Sea. All of this amounts to a Roero DOCG appellation, which also bears the label of “Riserva” due to a long ageing in barrel and bottle.

The 2013 vintage is remembered for an unusually late harvest, so much so, that the last of the Nebbiolo grapes were harvested in the first week of November. A spring with below-average temperatures and plentiful rainfall slowed down the vegetative growth of the vines and required attentive care in the vineyards to ward off plant diseases caused by the excess water. Then, in September and October, there were consecutive warm and clear days which helped to balance vine growth and ensure proper ripening of the grapes. This turn in climate resulted in a harvest of much higher quality than expected given the circumstances. In particular, the Nebbiolo grapes proved to be some of the best of that year, showcasing the aromatic terroir that distinguishes it. This is all thanks to the contrast of hot days and cool nights that occurred in the last phase of ripening.
Roero Riserva DOCG Bric Paradiso 2013
A limited-production label of only seven thousand bottles Roero Riserva DOCG Bric Paradiso is made from the best Nebbiolo grapes harvested within the Bric Paradiso Menzione Geografica Aggiuntiva in the municipality of Piobesi d’Alba. The particular terroir of the vineyard united with sustainable vineyard management and attentive winemaking result in a wine in which its elegance, finesse and drinkability overpower austerity and a heavy structure. Roero Riserva Bric Paradiso, after ageing for 18 months in barrel and another year in bottle, is a deep ruby red with garnet flashes and intense aromas of red fruits, black pepper, spices and licorice. The palate is balanced between structure, elegance and drinkability with a persistent, long, mineral finish

‘GRAND CHOCOLATE’ PANETTONE… IS COMING! Check for Brera Milano 1930

In on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of  extraordinary composer and good food lover  Gioachino Rossini,, the prestigious Milan pastry shop Giovanni Cova & C,  also distributed in the US under the label Brera Milano 1930,  pays homage to him, dedicating his panettone to his works. Renewed collaboration with Archivio Storico Ricordi also for next Christmas-2018.  The idea of ​​celebrating the 150th anniversary of the death of Maestro Gioachino Rossini stems from the meeting of Giovanni Cova & C., an icon of craftsmanship in the Milanese patisserie, and the Archivio Storico Ricordi, custodian of the works of the greatest Masters of Melodrama , and represents the opportunity to continue the cultural journey that unites music with Italian confectionery excellence. The Ricordi Historical Archive is the most important private music collection in the world. Here are preserved the immortal musical works of great artists who have left an indelible mark on the musical culture. The Archive, founded in 1808, is the historical memory of the musical publisher Ricordi, acquired in 1994 by the German multinational Bertelsmann, which has since guaranteed its conservation and cultural development. Its prestige lies in the variety of preserved documents, which offer a complete view of Italian culture, industry and society. Hosted at the Palazzo di Brera in Milan, the Archive collects scores, letters of composers, librettists and singers, sketches and sketches, booklets, vintage photos and Art Nouveau posters. IMG_3436.jpgA sweet tribute to the most famous Italian opera Composers, such as Donizetti, Respighi, Toscanini, the incomparable Paganini, or the great Rossini of which this year is the 150th from hid death ,
To enrich the Ricordi Line the 2018 cake will be dedicated Rossini with the Panettone GranCioccolato (Grand Chocolate) covered with lozenges of dark chocolate and chopped hazelnuts and enriched with thick drops of dark chocolate, greedy in the recipe and precious in the wrap wanted for the occasion with the reproduction of the autograph score of the work L’Italiana in Algiers of Maestro Gioachino Rossini honored in his 150th anniversary also in the famous portrait of Vespasiano Bignami.
Panettone

Grand Chocolate
joins the range to offer to all the greedy of the magic ingredient an unparalleled combination capable of mixing the acidulous tones sourced from the yeast with the
moderate bitterness of a fondant 47% rounded in closing by the fragrant taste of butter. A cake devoted to a scrupulous selection and combination of first-class ingredients,


from the first milk-processing centrifuge butter that arrives weekly from Northern Europe to strictly fresh eggs, from the flour mix selected in
80 years of mother yeast able to make the difference on a processing process of about 72 hours from the first delivery to the finished product.

With Andrea Muzzi, President IDB Industria Dolciaria Borsari, Italy

 

The hand wrapping gives an emotion capable of embellishing the Christmas table with an ode to the most extraordinary Italian musical culture, to be savored by capturing the aromas, for an experience of the five senses.

I tasted it, I loved it!

For more info
Panettone Grand Cioccolato
by Giovanni Cova & C
distributed in the US under the label Brera Milano 1930

LJUBLJANA CASTLE, STRELEC RESTAURANT: WOW-FACTOR GARANTEED! By Philip Sinsheimer

No proper visit of Ljubljana can be complete without a visit to the fortified castle way on top of the hill dominating the city. Easily accessible by tram, it rewards any visitor with breathtaking views of the city as well as a cultural journey into Slovenia’s history.
Don’t expect lavish ballrooms, the castle served mainly a military role, but various sections of the high perched citadel have small museum like spaces to visit, from Slovenia’s tormented history to a more anecdotal marionette collection.

 

 

Let’s face it, the view is the main draw for many visitors, but for the happy few, a meal at the revered Strelec Restaurant with tables both indoors or outdoors is the perfect way to admire at length the city below and enjoy one of the best culinary experience they will get to experience in whole Slovenia. It is pretty rare actually that a touristic hub is granted with a fine dining experience thanks to the talent of chef Igor Jagodic who is seen as a true reference in Slovenian fine dining. To top it all, this comes at a very reasonable price with tasting menus going from 44€ for 4 courses to 77 euros for the top of the hill 9 course experience. This is quite incredible for a chef already saluted chef of the year, winner of Regional Restaurants official selection.
Those who want to be free to chose can also pick à la carte from various Slovenian specialties, as humble as a Kranjka sausage served in the pot with freshly grated horseradish and sautéed potatoes.

But there are also chef’s creations with elegant plate compositions :
crispy octopus with young peas and strawberries anyone or would you rather experience the matured beef with goose liver, poached egg yolk and vegetable bouquet?

 

 

The service is truly first class.
As we asked if we could change tables to enjoy fully the experience without the sound of loud neighbors, our question was met with a smiling “of course” and an impressive efficiency to make it happen seamlessly.I also noted not only the incredible wine list which will enable you to sample some of the country’s best bottles, but the quality of our server’s knowledge on the wines and his capacity to describe them to match both food and personal preferences. His help was so important, because, especially among the native grape varieties. Quite frankly without his guidance, I never would have tasted (let alone pronounce it!) this beautiful white wine, Vitovska Grganja 2017 by Boris and Alen Lisjak (have a picture of bottle held, very dark label though), coming from the Slovenian region facing the Italian’s Friuli-Venezia Giulia.The perfectly cooked high-quality beef sirloin slices accompanied by a medley of both raw and cooked vegetables found a perfect match once again with a couple of Slovenian red wines. Having so far mainly tasted whites, this came as a beautiful surprise. If you re not dazzled by the view, you may well become dizzy by these exciting pours. See it as an educational experience, the last tram is there to get down the hill sound and safe!
For more info Strelec Restaurant, Ljubljana Castle 

 

 

 

The beauty of Ljubljana and the enchantment of Bled, Slovenia.

Ljubljana is the delicious, small, neat, clean, surprisingly lively and cheerful capital of Slovenia. The tiny, pedestrianized center, under the hill where the Fortress dominates the city, follows the curve of the Ljubjanica river and the walks on both sides are home to an impressive number of bars, restaurants and trendy clubs that are the heart of the nightlife.

To go from one side of the river to the other there are the three old bridges, Cevlarski most, the Triple bridge and basically the one of the Dragons.Turning around you will meet green electric cards with the words Ljubliana The Friendly City. They are free, for tourists and locals, and you can go up for a tour of the city or simply to move comfortably from one side to the other.

 

 

The best way to explore the city?  Rent a Bicike(LJ). bicycle.

 

Really convenient and practically free. The symbolic price (€ 1 for one week, € 3 for the whole year) covers the enrollment in the system. The first hour is free, if you want to cycle more, it goes from € 1 to a maximum of € 4.

 

For the lazy ones or simply for those who prefer a more sedentary transport, there is Urban, electric train ups and downs that runs throughout the city. € 8, ticket valid all day. Turning around you will meet green electric cars with the words Ljubliana The Friendly City. They are free, for tourists and locals, and you can go up for a tour of the city or simply to move comfortably from one side to the other.

 

 

 

You can also take a Boat Tour, a suggestive excursion in a boat open in summer and heated in winter, to discover the city from the river Ljubljanica.

An applause to Joze Plecnik, the greatest Slovenian architect and one of the most important pioneers of modern architecture in many European capitals including Vienna and Prague. It is a must to take a walk in the heart of Ljubljana and cross its famous Three Bridges. A riverside-night full of restaurants, bars, clubs, music at night. Maybe you did not know that Chef Ana Ros, winner of the 2017 World’s Best Chef Award, is from Slovenia! Ljubljana is a food heaven and offers the delicious Food Tour, a guided tour dedicated to anyone love good food and like to know the culinary history of this city.

 

Through shops, markets and typical restaurants, you will discovery (and taste!) a lots of local specialties. From the honey of Dobrote-Dolenjske, to the sausages of Klobasarna, to delicious cakes. Four green Dragons. The symbol of the city, will welcome you at the beginning and the end of the bridge.

 

 

 

People say that it brings good luck to stroke it and take home a dragon magnet, or a tshirt or one in pelouche  that you will find in the adorable Dragon Shop in the central Ciril-Metodov Street.

I suggest to visit these beautiful churches: the Franciscan and the Saints Cyril and Methodius, the streets Mestni Trg (which becomes Stari Trg) and then Gornji Trg, the Kongresni Trg on which stands the beautiful University and the near the Parliament.
A must see is the Ljubljanski Grad , the mighty fortress that dominates the city offering breathtaking views of the City.. Today totally renovated and ntegrated with modern elements. used for a different events, including exhibits, cultural meetings, shows and concerts. Don’t expect lavish ballrooms, the castle served mainly a military role, but various sections of the high perched citadel have small museum like spaces to visit, from Slovenia’s tormented history to a beautiful puppets collection.   On the terrace the excellent Strelec Restaurant offers traditional Slovenian recipes revisited by the famous Chef Igor Jagodic who is seen as a true reference in Slovenian fine dining. To top it all, this comes at a very reasonable price with tasting menus going from 44€ for 4 courses to 77 euros for the top of the hill 9 course experience. Those who want to be free to choose can also pick à la carte from various Slovenian specialties, as humble as a Kranjska sausage served in the pot with freshly grated horseradish and sautéed potatoes. But there are also chef’s creations with elegant plate compositions: I had an amazing crispy octopus with young peas and strawberries anyone or would you rather experience the matured beef with goose liver, poached egg yolk and vegetable bouquet.

Every Sunday the Flea Market is a collector’s paradise. There you can find vintage stuff, original items, paintings, ceramics and jewels, while the Central Market offers fruit, vegetables, spices, Slovenian specialties such as ham and the traditional prekmurska gibanica (my favorite is at Gujzina)) Ljubljana is a great city for shopping. Many in the Ciril-Metodov.

 

 

 

Among my favorites, there is the Catbriyur workshop-laboratory that supplies the cups even to Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth. Ladies and girls, here you will find unique ceramic jewelry, such as necklaces, brooches and earrings that will be envied by your friends.

For a special dinner, I suggest the new and innovative Bistro Monstera,, created by Bine Volvic, the judge of Master Chef Slovenia. It is a tiny restaurant with a traditional-alternative menu, where the law of ‘no waste’ prevails starting with the cutlery that is never changed.

Top night in Metelkova Mesto, former slums, became the most alternative area of ​​the city. After sunset, it hosts music and underground performances. A riot of graffiti, street-art and locals that are the point of reference for the young crowd.If you are in the mood for an out of town excursion, I suggest a…paradise.
Lake Bled. It is only an hour North of the capital Ljubljana to the North-West and can be reached by car or with a convenient bus (perfect wifi on board)
                                            
It is a charming alpine lake, in the center of which stands a small island with its Gothic church from the legendary bell whose toll is customary to express 3 wishes.Bled is also offering hot spring source and thermal waters.

Be prepare to find a postcard like dreamy locationa, and breathtaking sunsets. You can come and go in the day, or enjoy an unforgettable night in the historic facilities of the elegant Grand Hotel Toplice, famous since 1930’s with grand salons adorned with memorabilia pictures and bring all the comfort of modernity, including a lido, a superb spa with swimming pool and free boats to row with to the island,

A remarkable venue for its class, for the fantastic views you can enjoy from your room or from the terrace and for the excellent Julijana Restaurant, signed by the starred Chef Simon Bertoncelj.

 

Having dinner at Julijana, especially if the weather allows to eat outdoor, facing the lake is a moment of bliss: the quality of service, attention to detail and classic décor evoke a certain respect of classical elegance. This doesn’t constrain the cuisine to old classics, and the chef’s creativity and modern techniques seem to find their place very naturally in this elegant environment. Sweet final: the famous sweet Cream of Bled, an iconic cake, a heavenly millefeuille which recipe goes back to 1953 and and is still secretly kept by the Hotel. The result was up to the legend: two layers of perfectly crisp puffed pastry holding a firm custard covered by a layer of lighter whipped cream is to die for..Last bit not the least: The precious Ljubljana Card that gives free admission to more than 20 attractions, free travel on city buses, guided tour of the city, 24 hour internet access.valid 24, 36 or 72 hours will be a great friend that will guide you to discover the beauty of the City.

 

For more info on Ljubljana and Bled
http://www.visitljubljana.com/en/visitors/

 

 

 

 

 

 

LJUBLJANA SLOVENIA, VINOTEKA MOVIA. IS ORANGE THE NEW WHITE? By Philip Sinsheimer

Let’s be honest, before I set foot at the beautiful Movia wine bar in Slovenia’s capital, I had never heard of “orange wines”. Have you? If not, the best thing is to do is go right now over there and ask for an orange wine tasting. For 18€, you will get a flight of 4 of them, beautifully presented and explained by the great staff, possibly Leonard, the charming and oh so enthusiastic young sommelier in the making.
I received a royal treatment from Borut, the manager of the wine bar, located on one of the most passing streets of Ljubljana’s center. It was 10 pm and all the tables outside were taken, so we started our tasting inside, historic looking bar with wood panels and huge counter. But, wherever we were, I know you’re burning to know what in the world are orange wines?
The short and simple answer is that they are NOT of course wines made out of fermented oranges! No, they are white wines with a dark and deep yellow hue, some leaning towards a true orange color. Why this color? Because of the way they are made. In short, white grapes are crushed and left to macerate and ferment leaving the juices in contact with the skins and pits. For how long? It depends, up to a year. The process is very natural in a way, often no yeast or other additives need to be added. Since when has this technique been done? Only 5000 years ago, approximately, especially in the Caucasus region and what now is Georgia (the country). But, it’s only 20 years or so ago that the process made a big come back. Here we are, Slovenia having been with Italy one of the wine countries at the forefront of this revival. So, if in doubt, you are in the right place and in good hands to discover the world of orange wines.
Ok, how do they taste like? Imagine a light, pale, crisp, light pinot grigio from Veneto… well, it’s about the perfect opposite of that: mature, deep, with tannins reminding red wines (because of the skin contact) and complex. These are serious, bold, sipping white wines demanding to be served cold, but not chilled, definitely not the type of wine you serve in an ice bucket by the pool. To go with them, Vinoteka Movia also offers various plates of delicacies to round things up, including some gorgeous and perfectly sliced “pata negra”, the king of Spanish cured hams, but also local charcuterie, cheese and Italian mortadella, for example. Now, orange wines are not for everyone. Some may actually be turned off by their semi-oxidized aromas: instead of appreciating expressions of honey, tropical nut, cooked apple and hazelnut, they may think this wine has passed its age or has been left opened on the counter for too long, thus this wood varnish and linseed oil smell and flavor.                      It’s alright, no panic… You are entitled to your taste, Borut won’t hate you or eat you up! He is prepared with about every type of wine you may like in the house. And yes, all of them Slovenian wines. Go for a flight of white wines, red wines or a mix of both with a tasting of various Movia wines, Movia being a very large producer located in Ceglo, on the western side of Slovenia, close to the order with Italy. Trust me, Slovenia is THE “under-discovered” wine country. The diversity of the terroirs and wine styles may be actually their obstacle to global recognition, because it is quite difficult to any non-Slovenian to decipher what’s written on a bottle: what refers to the area, what to the grape varietal, what to the producer?         With its fantastic staff, so attentive and knowledgeable, the quality of the pours (and of the gorgeous glasses used), I can tell you Vinoteka Movia is THE place to go for both newcomers to the world of orange wines and Slovenian wines in general, and aficionados who already know a thing or two on the matter, ready to be wowed and ask for more!

For more info Vinoteka Movia

 

 

LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA, SVETI FLORIJAN: RESTAURANT AND MORE!

Welcome to one of the most recent addition to the up and coming Ljubljana dining scene! Sveti Florijan is one of a kind, as it as actually more than a restaurant. The creators have given a lot of thought into this multi-area venue where one can come to spend time at the wine bar featuring an eclectic selection of wines, 95% of them being “natural”, with basically no additives. Many of them are Slovenian, but shelves make place to some bottles from neighboring Italy, Austria and Croatia. If you feel in love with one of them, you can buy a bottle to take home along with a few goodies, the space serving as a wine shop as well as a delicatessen. Latecomers may bypass the bar area and head downstairs to what appears as a cozy jazz and cocktail nightclub, with a little scene for musicians to perform on given nights. Early and latecomers alike would really miss big if they were to bypass the restaurant which occupies the largest part of the ground floor, across from the wine bar. The atmosphere is warm and inviting.: small tables are an invitation to a romantic tête à tête, while larger ones welcome groups of friends wanting to spend an intimate, joyful moment. Cleverly, the choices are limited, so diners don’t spend hours picking, but are invited to jump in and have the party begin. The weekly wine list is composed of 6 references and the menu limited to 15 dishes, including desserts. It feels more like a homey private club than a restaurant per say.

The order was taken by a hip young man who appears more like a warm and friendly adviser than a waiter per say and the dishes are brought to your table by kitchen crew members, in our case the chef Matija Kostanjevac in command that night.
This absence of formal separations between front and back of the house gives a fluid sense of true hospitality.

We started off with the daily amuse-bouche made of a crisp chip, tender smoked trout and a touch of cool homemade sour cream. A perfect match with the 2016 Cattunar malvazija crisp white wine.

 

Another seafood appetizer came in the form of a tuna tartare mixed with a few diced strawberries, deftly seasoned with a hint of curry and the acidity of buddha’s hand citrus. Early on, you realize there is a lot of thinking going behind each creation, but one can also feel emotion and personality being involved here.

 

The rabbit pâté came to the table and revealed itself to be a homemade mousse of hare liver, sweetened by onion, butter and apricot. Lovely on great bread, no fuss, just great flavor. The slow cooked octopus with buckwheat, squid ink and tomato ragu was also a dish expressing heartfelt cooking, rather than any form of cerebral creativity.

The sweet touch came in the form of a sheep’s yogurt with white chocolate and raspberries, almonds and a dash of cardamom, a symphony of color, texture and flavor without unnecessary complication. Elegant, yet relaxed, thought through, yet soulful,Sveti Florijan has a truly unique offering in town. One feels that, from one evening to the other, it could be a totally different experience and it’s probably the case because, each patron here is left free to shape his evening as he sees fit.

                             A CHAT WITH THE CHEF

 

Matija, where have you previously working? 
Many different venues in different European cities, including a long period in Berlin.
How would you define your cuisine?
I would say contemporary European Slovenian, you will find different influences, from Austria to Italy, Croatia, Hungary. I like to mix the real fresh products that I found in the Ljubljana  market to European accents, creating a contemporary Slovenian menu.
You left the kitchen to chat with us, is that common?
Yes, I like to interact with the costumers, and, time permitting, seat at their table, perhaps have a glass of vine with them.
The most popular dishes here at Sveti Florijan? 
The octopus or the beef tartare.
If you were invited as chef guest at the TV Master, what would you prepare?
(smiling) I would snob the event, and serve a hot dog or fish and chips… 

What always in your refrigerator?
Some bottles of
Union beer and A bottle of Swedish Hernö gin!

For more info
Sveti Florijan

LJUBLJANA FOOD TOUR: A MUST TASTE! by Philip Sinsheimer

You just don’t realize how lucky you were when your join the guided 3,30-hour food tour organized by VisitLLjubljana.com managed by the Tourism Office of Ljubljana until you experience it.          

They offer numerous guided city tours  including the Historical City Centre and Ljubljana Castle revolving around history, art and landmarks, whether on foot, bicycle or on a boat cruising the river.

There is no other way to sample the incredible diversity of Slovenian food in so little time and in such a fun and well-paced way.
Slovenia is a small country yes, but it counts no less than 24 gastronomic regions.

Ljubljana, reminding me of Paris in a way, is pretty much in the center of the country and, as a capital, has attracted many food vendors and restaurateurs to benefit from the largest concentration of population (and tourists) of the country. But, right off the bat, let me tell you that, at no point, do you feel shepherded to a pasture of touristic traps you would have found on your own. The choice is balanced between food shops and restaurants, clearly very carefully picked.

Also, it isn’t a gorging party:
at the end of the tour, you feel satiated, without ever feeling over full!. As all good cooking requests, things started with the sourcing of ingredients: the market!
And Ljubljana is blessed, right in its center with a human sized, yet substantial farmer’s market, with one section dedicated to only certified organic vendors. I had noticed on my way to the tour some beautiful chanterelle mushrooms, as well as yellow broad beans that I had never encountered before. Lucky enough, I was able to find them again and was met with the most charming smile the seller could have shared.

Then, we got to visit the permanent covered market, a beautiful building along the riverbank. That was like entering a world of its own. Gorgeous charcuterie, cheeses, breads (got a loaf of this dark and dense bread, yet moist and oh! so tasty). A separate section is dedicated to fish, perhaps for temperature and odor control. Whatever the reason might be, I was really impressed by the display of fish available and the absence actually of any strong fishy smell. Slovenia is known mainly as an inland country, but it does have a little bit of coast on the Adriatic Sea and they sure know how to source the best of what can come out of it. Everything looked so fresh, a real temptation for any cook.
But carrying fish on ice for the rest of the tour was NOT going to happen!

 

 

We met our lovely guide Simona in Ciril-Metodov, the cobblestoned main street. She took us at Klòbasarna, where we had the first tasting: a warm smoked sausage form the Carniola region just South of Austria, in other words at the Northern end of Slovenia. Made of the finest pieces of pork, this sausage neither greasy nor too dry, just hit the spot accompanied by a light red wine, a little horseradish and mustard which I loved.

 

 

Simona took us in more that 7 venues, specialized in different specialties, from the syrups and the honeys of Dobrote-Dolenjske,  to the traditional cake prekmurska gibanica homemade at
Gujzina

I won’t be going in the detail of all the things tasted, either in gastronomic shops or in restaurants… I want you to go and experience it for yourself. Besides beef tongue, fried chicken, honey (Slovenia is Europe’s largest producer per capita), my heart will go for this humble dish of mashed potatoes with sautéed onions and bits of bacon that we tasted at a very special restaurant, Druga Violina, where all the members of the staff suffer from some form of disability or another. It felt really good to contribute to this effort to support the community and, let’s be frank, it also tasted soooo good, just by itself. With influences coming from all neighboring countries (Italy, Austria, Hungry and Croatia), tucked between sea, plains, forests and mountains, the small country of Slovenia is rich of diversity and, if this three-hour tour cannot cover everything, it sure serves as the best introduction one can hope to taste in this timeframe!
Tours priced at 52€ everything included,
To make a reservation
For more info www.visitLjubljana.com

GRAND HOTEL TOPLICE, JULIJANA RESTAURANT IN BLED, SLOVENIA

Slovenia. Bled, about an hour North of the capital Ljubljana to the North-West of Slovenia. Rather than the town it is the beautiful lake that gives the name Bled, famous among the European elite as early as the 1930’s with the construction of a luxurious hotel providing  natural hot spring source knowned for health benefits.I am talking of the Grand Hotel Toplice, a venue that boasts a rich history, a magical location, gorgeous alpine and lake views and sumptuously comfortable, elegantly styled rooms.

 

Each of the rooms and suites at Grand Hotel Toplice has its own unique character and are traditionally styled with beautiful parquet floors, rich furniture and beautiful paintings with many of the rooms benefiting from breathtakingly beautiful lake views. The hotel has been recently renovated and restored to its former glory and is one of the best hotels in Slovenia as well as being a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection.

 

 

 

 

 

It has hosted many eminent guests and is frequented by celebrities such as  Vivian Leigh, Arthur Miller, Pablo Neruda, King Hussein of Jordan, Paul McCartney and…me, with my best friend-chef-writer Philip Sinsheimer, graciously hosted by Sava hotel and resort group that manage the venue.

Starting from the impeccable reception. the hotel boasts luxurious accommodation, few restaurant, a bar  and the enchantment of Lake Bled. All rooms and suites are individually decorated in an enchanting and traditional style, lavishly equipped with an excellent range of facilities, a relaxing thermal swimming pool and benefit from different saunas, wellness services and a solarium among a private lido, where Philip (expert swimmer) dived in the limpid lake water while me (lazy man…) was indulging in a relaxing sunbathing. We dedicated the morning ( when the light is best) to row to the island where the minuscule baroque chapel.I was anxious to hear the bells rings, because  I knew about the legend wich narrates that around the year 1500, the leaseholder of Lake Bled at the time, Hartman Kreigh, disappeared. People said he was killed. Sad for the events, the Lady of the Castle collected all of her precious golden jewellery to be melted down and casted into a bell for the chapel on the island of the Lake, so that the bell would toll in remembrance of  beloved companion. They say the bell has a magic power, when it rings, you should make 3 wishes and wait for them to become real.  We did 99 steps and finally we arrived at the church, where the view is really breathtaking and, yes, we waited for the bell… Not sure my wishes are becoming a reality, we ll see….

A true wish coming true was the  splendid dinner we were invited for dinner at Julijana Restaurant where Chef Bertoncelj prepared a great dinner.
I leave Philip the privilege of writing about it, since he is a chef and a food blogger.

IMG_E5440
                                  GRANDE CUISINE BY THE LAKE
This historic landmark now called the Grand Hotel Toplice, operated by the Sava hotel and resort group, has managed to preserve the relics of the past with grand salons adorned with memorabilia pictures and bring all the comfort of modernity at the same time.This delicate balance between past was brilliantly reflected in the cuisine of the executive chef Simon Bertoncelj and the whole crew under him. Having dinner at the gastronomic Julijana Restaurant, especially if the weather allows to eat al fresco facing the lake is a moment of bliss: the quality of service, attention to detail and classic decor evoke a certain respect of classical elegance. This doesn’t constrain the cuisine to old classics, and the chef’s creativity and modern techniques seem to find their place very naturally in this elegant environment.

The mise en bouche consisting of a delicately baked oyster and a buttery giant shrimp had all the signs of what you can expect in a palace restaurant: prime quality ingredients simply treated. This seafood opening was in synch with the view of the water even though it wasn’t the sea. As I were to learn later by the chef, unfortunately, as beautiful as it is, the lake doesn’t often yield the quantity of fish needed to take place on the menu.

 

The mushroom cappuccino with porcini had the depth of flavor one can only get in top notch restaurants, served piping hot but adorned with the freshness of a few micro greens scattered on top rather than the old habit of a dollop of cream and a few chives. Fresh too was the vitello tonnato inspired salad, bright and lively. Here, as in all the great restaurants experienced in Slovenia, the wine list paid homage to the country’s fine wines, such as the 2017Verus Chardonnay from Stajerska, the western part of the Podravje region in the North of the country. At last a chardonnay that can showcase both concentration of flavors and freshness in the palate with a mere 13° alcohol content.The shining fish course was a thick and moist turbot filet, perfectly cooked and adorned by a beautiful composition of vegetables and foamy grapefruit sauce. Here again: classic base and modern composition. Though generous, nothing was heavy, and the beautiful matured saddle of veal served pink with a herb crust was still welcome.

To finish, the iconic Bled Cream Cake, which recipe goes back to 1953 and is secretly kept by the Sava hotels group. The result was up to the legend. Even though I really do not have much of a sweet tooth, and I have had my share of mille-feuilles in France, this raised version of the classic with just two layers of perfectly crisp puffed pastry holding a firm custard covered by a layer of lighter whipped cream is to die for…

Chef Simon Bertoncelj, who has worked under the commands of Gordon Ramsey, seems rather poised and discreet, but if you really want to find out, he opens his kitchen to a guest table of 2 to 6 people for a 7-course menu cooked and served, right before their eyes…and ears!For more info
Julijana Restaurant
Grand Hotel Toplice
Cesta svobode 12, 4260 Bled, Slovenia
+386 4 579 10 00

Contact

Cesta svobode 12, 4260 Bled, Slovenija

Reception

+386 4 579 10 00

Reservations

+386 4 579 16 00

 

 

LJUBJANA, MONSTERA BISTRO:HIP MEETS FREEDOM AND GOOD TASTE by Philip Sinsheimer

Engaging bearded chef with tattooed forearms, check. Sleek modern space with minimalist wall and plate aesthetic, check. Local sourcing and seasonal inspiration, check… All the basics of a trendy, hip 2018 restaurant seem met at Monstera. Could it be anywhere in the world? Absolutely not, you are in Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia and chef Bine Volčič makes sure that his vision is not an empty box, a mere concept, but yields to a unique experience. Why ? Because, beyond the trends, he has done everything possible to be and remain a free chef. Let’s step in… The restaurant is in the center of Ljubljana, one quiet street away from the riverbank where tourists abound . The place is small, really small, elegant, but humble… Especially when you get to learn the chef’s accomplishments which could have led him to seek grandeur, instead he chose intimacy. In case you didn’t realize, you’ve just entered the restaurant of a celebrity chef who has participated in four seasons of the Slovenian version of Master Chef.
His pedigree is flawless, determined to become a chef as soon as 7 years old, he jumpstart his professional ambitions by a formal training at the Cordon Bleu school in Paris, leading him to work at some of the French capital’s most prestigious restaurants (Apicius, l’Arpège…) and work for such big name as Joël Robuchon. Back in Slovenia, he ends up running the restaurant of a 5-star hotel in Bled. Add to that a TV boost and you have the perfect recipe for the rise of a flashy, expensive gastronomic restaurant. No, not for chef Volčič! What all this brought him: freedom, absolute freedom! Rather than slapping his name on top the bistro he opened two years ago, he chooses the rather risqué name of “Monstera”. No monsters to be found here, but a personal wink to the exotic plant that was so prevalent in 1980’s, when Slovenia was part of communist Yugoslavia. This mundane decorative plant has its secret: an unsuspected fruit with aromas of pineapple, kiwi, strawberry and banana, thus the scientific name Monstera deliciosa and nicknames such as “fruit salad tree”. The metaphor behind the restaurant’s name: behind the unassuming appearances, there can be hidden treasures and a symphony of flavors. OK, now, how does that translate itself onto the plate? We are getting hungry here! Don’t look for a long menu to pick from, there is none. The menu changes every few days, at the chef’s will, composed of two appetizers, two main courses and two desserts, with vegetarian options. The dinner goes free-style with a 5 or 7 course tasting menu and you are in the chef’s hands, which was our lucky experience.

 

The opening was a homemade buckwheat cracker (hello gluten-free eaters!) covered by beautifully tender, lightly marinated red trout, an “eye catching” half-globe of lemon jelly and a touch of smoky mayo (pic). Wow! Simple, creative, light, delicious .Among the other things tasted were a beautiful deer carpaccio (locally sourced of course, forests and mountains aren’t far), charred cauliflower, wild flower and herbs. Bingo!

 

 

In honor of neighboring Italy, a couple of beautiful tortellini (pic) with a creamed porcini mousse and a genius tarragon oil, a wink to the French ubiquitous herb which traditionally used in Slovenia in sweets such as the potica rolled pastry.

As dishes come along, were invited to taste some fantastic “natural” Slovenian wines,  meaning made from grapes organically, hand-picked grapes, fermented with no added yeast and no added sulfites. The unfiltered Marof Sauvignon from the Prekmurje Eastern region bordering Hungry, was outstanding in its depth and minerality. For the amateurs, there is also a local craft beer, of course, and homemade herb and fruit syrups to pair with pure Ljubljana water.

Certain of the chef’s creations are really off the chart, such as this combination of tempura of jerk marinated tripe with fork tender grilled octopus (pic), served
with a combination of the two ingredients cooking juices.

The finishing touch came with a fruit forward dessert with an unforgettable ice cream with a distinctive almond flavor that came from integrating in the tiny “nut” inside the cherry pits.

 

Genius!

 

 

This is a no waste restaurant which goes along with ecological responsibility, but also serves as a creative incentive and flavor boost. Vegetable peels, for example, are dehydrated and then turned into a seasoning powder.

Don’t judge a book by its cover, the saying says. As tiny and unassuming as the restaurant can appear from the outside, Monstera will elevate you to high spheres and get you to taste the unmistakable freshness of freedom at its best. Reserve now!

MONSTERA BISTRO
Gosposka ulica 9, Ljubljana, Slovenia
+386 (0)40 431 123
For more info
http://monsterabistro.si/en/

Hotel Hellsten, Stockholm. Memories of an exotic journey

Hotel Hellsten is located in the heart of Stockholm and is the ideal starting point for all those who are visiting the City, since the attractions and sites of interest are reachable by public transport within easy reach including the subway that is just round the corner.
The next street is the busy Sveavägen, Stockholm”s only real boulevard. The hotel is just around the corner from the underground (metro) stop Rådmansgatan. The locality is one of the most exciting in Stockholm, with a multitude of different restaurants within a few minutes walking distance. It is also a short walk from Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s historic and beautiful old town. I loved the area, and the next busy street Sveavägen, so alive and full of restaurants, shops and…barbers & haidressers,don’t ask me why, but very useful…

The rooms are divided into various types depending on the services they offer, mostly in different styles, some have canopy bed, some are equipped with the classic Swedish fireplace called kakelugnar, light rays, wooden panels, even a private sauna,

 

 

 

The walls are painted with warm colors that span from orange to red, to blue, to purple.

 

 

All rooms have private new bathrooms, TV, telephone, free wired internet access and a hairdryer. They are non-smoking as well as the entire structure.

 

My room had a cosy little terrace.

Here and there I found exotic touches, my guide explained that Mr.Hellsten, owner of Hellsten, Rex and the newest Hellsten Glashus, is an enthusiastic traveller who likes to collect items from his trips. I loved the african masks !

 

 

 

You have a colonial-style bar where coffee and tea are served 24 hours for free. Great idea! Every Thursday Hellsten Earth Bar transforms into one of Stockholm’s premier jazz venues. Exciting live acts on stage at 8pm and on the last Thursday of each month you are welcome to jam with the band, just bring your instruments or vocals, and the entrance is free.. Comfy beds and an excellent breakfast buffet that included pancakes, cold cuts, cheeses, eggs, lots of fruits and the traditional Swedish meatballs and served in a sunny and spacious veranda.
Add Hotel Hellsten on your next trip to Stockholm!
For more info
http://hellsten.se/en/Hotel_Hellsten

 

London.Trangallán: the truth about tortilla…

Trangallán is a word from Galicia, Spain for a kind of bohemian artist.
This so called ‘gastro-cultural space’ certainly has that bohemian feel, with its shabby chic-flea market furniture contrasting with rich glass chandeliers and vintage objects all around. The menu changes frequently boasting imaginative dishes revealing a good deal of skill and creativity. Add an easy-going welcome from the stuff and the super cool owner–chef, who came at my table to say hello while sipping a delicious 2016 Albarino Igrexario de Salar and snacking some succulent Manzanilla olives.                                                        I followed his suggestions and went for a very traditional tortilla made of eggs and potatoes. Perfectly browned on the outside, still tender within and served at room temperature. I asked if that is the way that tortilla should be served, medium warm not hot. They told me that is a Spanish tradition to cook tortillas in the morning and let them rest till the meal so, yes, the temperature should be room temperature, Good to know. Then I tasted a more winterish dish of judion, a butter beans & piparras, followed by a perfectly roasted octopus with saffron potatoes and wilde samphire.                                  If you’re looking for a ‘not so commun’ tapas restaurants in North London, or Spanish food in Stoke Newington then you must try this cool venue.

For more info
Trangallán  
61 Newington Green, Mildmay Ward, London N16

LONDON, A HOT DINNER AT UKAI

Outdoor, a flashing red neon sign says Japanese Gastropub, just below a mysterious face of a mysterious woman. Is she a geisha? Is she crying or praying? Let’ s go inside. Previous doubts ended as soon as I found myself embraced by UKAI’s cosy and warm atmosphere . A welcoming bar to the front and an open kitchen restaurant in the back. It looked loke a nice mixing of Japanese design with Italian flair and some traditional British pub features black and white photo portraits give an art gallery feeling, while Japanese artwork and foliage painting decorate walls and ceilings the rooms adorns the walls; furnished with causal wooden tables and filtered by an amber lighting that warms up the rooms.

 

The big surprise was to briefly chat in italian with the head chef Alex Verros or should I calling him Alessandro, as he’s Italian born, like me.

Alex, who previously worked at Roka and Nobu, told me about his passion of mixing different cultures and ingredients, like his native land North Italian truffles, to South Latin accents, to British influences, not afraid to combine simplicity with complexity. I started with a warm, inviting and comforting wonderful salmon miso soup, served with tofu, seaweed and spring onion. Then I beg Alessandro to surprise me. And he did. Between his choices, my favorite were the kampachi salad, with thin slivers of tender cobia white fish, drizzled with yuzu truffle and rocket, a dish that Alessandro likes to pair with galapeno and the prawn tempura maki. From the menu, I would like to mention also some signatures dishes as the truffle white tuna tataki, the lobster tail tempura and his ceviche, where Japanese flavours meet South American tradition. In addition to a generous choice of sushi, sashimi and nagiri and of course the beef robata dishes that Alessandro loves to cook in person, lighted by the fire grill fireworks .

 

 

 

 

Impossible not to ask such a nice host a souvenir picture…
‘Let’ do it at my robata grill, said Alessandro, it is my favourite spot in this place’ ‘Certamente!’, I enthusiastically answered, and, both risking a fire attack, I shoot the pic.
A hot moment of an unforgettable dinner.For more info
UKAI
240 Portobello Rd, London W11
Phone: +44 20 7792 2444

London, discovering Seven Dials. TREDWELLS with an interview with Chef Chantelle Nicholson

                                                              London.
Welcome to Tredwells, a Marcus Wareing restaurant and winner of AA’s London Restaurant of the Year.
Great location, excellent service and a breathtaking menu signed by the charming Chef Chantelle Nicholson, Tredwells showcases the very best in British seasonal produce  Located in the trendy Seven Dials area, right in the heart of Covent Garden, the venue boasts two bar areas serving seasonally inspired cocktails, cementing Tredwells’ reputation as one of the best drinks venues in Seven Dials. the restaurant sets over three floors, while the mezzanine and lower ground floors are available for exclusive hire.

Potato and rosemary bread, salted whey butter

 

 

I went for lunch, tried several of Chantelle proposals and found them all perfectly cooked and pleasantly tasting, starting from the beginning with a great potato and rosemary bread with salted whey butter till the end, indulging in a delicious fig mousse.

 

Fig leaf panna cotta , peach

 

 

I noted, and photographed my choices and my recommendations.

 

After lunch, I meet with Chef Chantelle, obviously in her kingdom,the kitchen, and chatted oh her life, her love for cooking and her first solo cook book Planted.

Where your passion for food comes from?
It’s all because of the love of my New Zealand garden, so rich of herbs and vegetables and my two aunties who were great cooks Probably since that tender age I wanted to be a Chef, but…story of my life, I went to university to become a lawyer.
So you forgot your culinary passion?
Not really , while studying, I got a job at the local café, waking up at 6am on Saturday mornings to bake muffins, then proudly becoming a kitchen hand in the restaurant of a small hotel that also had a garden…
A garden? Here you go…
Yes, my passion for fruits and vegetables was there again, learning about seasonal food, how they grow, and the ecosystem of the garden. I remember picking up herbs super early in the morning…

Slow cooked lamb belly, beetroot, brioche

What happened to the lawyer?
Well, I passed the bar in my law exams and ready to become a layer , but the still enchantment of the kitchen was always in my head…Coincidentally I enrolled the amateur cooking competition Chef Search, run by Gordon Ramsay. I made it to the final six, and was offered to work at The Savoy, London.

Sweetcorn mousse, cornbread, pickled mushroom

After that?
I have co-authored Marcus’s cookery books and in 2015 worked with him consulting on the movie Burnt. Then Marcus Wareing asked if she’d join Pétrus, his two-starred restaurant, as a junior sous chef in 2006, followed by The Gilbert Scott in 2011 and from 2014 I was in charge of as group operations director of the entire range of Marcus Wareing restaurants. Now I am back to my passion: cooking! I am proudly the chef patron at Tredwells created by the genius of Marcus Wareing.

Swiss chard pancake, turmeric, coconut, cashew

Your new book ‘Planted’
Is not a book about veganism, it is about tasty dishes, made without animal products. You will find recipes for a plant-based cooking, focusing on plant based cuisine that deliver taste and creativity. I like to celebrate produce, seasonality and food that taste good.

Gloucerstershire pork collar, bacon jam, peas, broad beans, courgette

Chantelle, what will I always find in your fridge?
Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables and a bottle of a great New Zealand Chardonnay!

 

Monday – Thursday
Lunch: 12pm – 3pm
Dinner: 5pm – 10pm
Friday
Lunch: 12pm – 3pm
Dinner: 5pm – 11pm
Saturday: 12pm- 11pm
Sunday: 12pm – 9pm

Tredwells
4A Upper St Martin’s Lane
London WC2H 9NY

for more info
www.tredwells.com

 

OXO TOWER, London at your feet and taste on your your table.

London. I happily experimented the OXO TOWER restaurant located at the eight floor of the OXO Tower. Relaxed atmosphere, good service and … the view. The menu boasts dishes so-called ‘contemporary British’ with European accents spanning from Spain with a gazpacho with sardine paté, to Italy with bresaola paired to a watermelon carpaccio. I tried a rich yet delicate soup of Scottish langoustines, spaghetti style chopped squids, tomatoes, fennel, and lobster- It tasted rich yet delicate, not too spicy or garlicky (I hate too much garlic…) Notably the langoustines were nicely straight, not curvy at all, My very nice Italian born waiter, told me that the secret is simply to put them in the freezer for about 40 minutes.When you take them out, the shell will be solidified, you would easily break it and extract the langoustine in all its fullness and horizontality. As a main dish, I followed Guido’s suggestion and opted for a John Dory fish, served with lobster, celery puré, oil and herb sauce with little white beans.

 

 

I must say all the ingredients were in perfect fusion and the broth maintained its freshness thanks to the acidity of the vegetables. I paired with a very fruity Albarino Atlantico white wine from Galicias, excellent!

 

As a side dish, a kale salad, sprinkled with a powder of beets and pumpkin seeds and seasoned with a Caesar dressing.Delicious finale: English strawberry and basil mousse.
Not to mention the spectacular sunset view that made my dinner unforgettable.

 

For more info
https://www.harveynichols.com/restaurant/the-oxo-tower/

For reservations
Call 020 7803 3888 or
email oxo.reservations@harveynichols.com

Call them CUOCHI (cooks) …not CHEFS !

Great party on October 13th,14th at the picturesque village Villa Santa Maria (Chieti) located on the top of the beautiful region of Abruzzo, Italy.
The patron of the village is San Francesco Caracciolo, born here in 1563, considered to be the patron of all the cooks of the world. As a matter of fact, in 1560 the Caracciolo family built the first cooking school, the idea was born from the practice of the hunters to challenge themselves in the kitchen as cooks and waiters returning from hunting. The goal was to train the court cooks and the nobles of the time. In Via Roma you can visit the museum where you can retrace the history of the school.
The 2018 FESTA DEI CUOCHI (Feast of Cooks) is celebrating this year its 40th anniversary and will boast the best of the local and international cuisines along with music performances,, meetings, show cooking and well-known Italian TV celebrities and of course the cooks who will prepare their best dishes in the central square of the village.
Here we are at an important birthday – says mayor Pino Finamore – the 40th anniversary of the Feast of Chefs! A satisfaction for the whole country and for all the Abruzzo that has managed to keep intact such a beautiful tradition. The long history that embraces Villa Santa Maria is an element of great culture, a heritage that we must carry forward and deliver to future generations, so as to celebrate many other birthdays! “.
As always, there will be the usual appointment of the “Open Doors” at the prestigious Istituto Alberghiero Giovanni Marchitelli, national excellence that is based in the Abruzzi area: this school, founded in the early 1900s, professionally trained chefs who bring the kitchen Italian around the world.
Do not miss the calendar of meetings and show cooking! At the Festa dei Cuochi there will be the last winner of the Masterchef program, Simone Scipioni who will prepare a recipe that is still top secret. Also scheduled a “Salotto del Gusto” with the nutritionist Corrado Pierantoni who will give an overview together with the beloved Rocco Pagano, former player of Serie A of Pescara, entitled “We train at the table”: a chat about the correct diet to follow and on the secrets that all athletes must respect to be always fit and full of energy. Following the inviting aromas of the kitchen of Sabatino Lattanzi, executive chef of Zunica 1880 Ristorante & Hotel: a show cooking in which will be presented a kitchen that will amaze and conquer all palates, even the most demanding.
Sunday, as usual, will start with a visit to the Istituto Alberghiero Marchitelli and demonstrations of the skill of the students followed by their teachers. At the same time, the main street of the town will be filled with stands, tasting tables and products all made in Abruzzo: a long corridor full of sweet and savory regional delicacies! In the afternoon there will be a particular …
Test of the Cook: four mayors of the area, two of the hinterland and two of the coast, will challenge each other by preparing a typical mountain recipe and a typical recipe of the sea; the winning couple will be chosen by a special jury, led by chef Pino Finamore, as well as mayor of Villa Santa Maria. Also on Sunday, you can attend an interesting meeting on the history and preparation of traditional recipes that see among the main ingredients the native wines of the region.I had the opportunity to participate at last year edition , had a great time and finally asked to ‘cuochi’ what would be the difference between a cook and a chef .The chef prepare complicate dishes that look amazing and appeal to the view…We, cooks, make our traditional dishes that just taste great!
Between the sponsors, the famous Pasta De Cecco, a world-renowned brand for the production of durum wheat pasta and the great Tollo Wines, one of the largest wineries in central and southern Italy, now a leader in numbers and quality for organic wines in a BIO variety of white, red and rosè.
see you at
LA FESTA DEI CUOCHI October 13th,14th
Villa Santa Maria (Chieti)
Italy

Industrial or design? A posh stay in Hamburg

In my last trip to Hamburg I got the chance to visit and stay in Hotel Gastwerk and The George, two great properties owned by Fortune Hotels Group.
They have different style and decor, both friendly, welcoming and worth to spend one (or few) nights there.Let’s start with the industrial red bricks Gastwerk. The name says it all, It was a squared and rigorous red bricks gas factory. Roughly 120 years ago, the old gas plant provided light to the streets and houses in West Hamburg. In the impressive and carefully restored industrial building, built with brick and steel, modern design and historical architecture form a fascinating harmonic setting. Gastwerk is first Hamburg’s design hotel.

The building welcomed me with a large hall with a wide, meticulously well lighted reception and two unforgettable metal elevators, one red and one yellow lighted.                                                 The industrial adventure was already starting…

 

 

 

 

 

 

141 rooms, lofts and suites, some with modern walls with a contemporary feeling, some with bricks walls (I love them), like the loft-like one where I was staying, giving the perfect atmosphere of and warehouse.

In addition to that Gastwerk boasts a configurable conference area, the Mangold restaurant (I didn’t dine there, so no idea of the food) the L.BAR, the beautiful SPA, free parking spaces in front of the hotel and underground.   Here and there you’ll discover classy touches of fresh flowers, old  black and white pictures, original gas machines, and a splendid old water boiler.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second Fortune Hotel is The George, located in the hearth of the vibrant Saint George area.                                                        This venue is a triumphant tribute to the apotheosis of a ‘boutique hotel’ concept, where design meets furniture, lighting and that smell of trendyness…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This reinterpretation of English style in Hamburg results in rooms swathed in warm colors ranging from cocoa to Champagne, lamps with delightful pleated shades and stylish wallpaper in a variety of designs.                             Super comfy mattresses, a nice view of the Lake Alster, not to mention that sweet & cute ‘Welcome Cesare’The George Hotel is a four-pearl property flush with a Great-Britain-in-the-’60s design, with 125 stylish rooms that all have flat-screen TVs, minibars, and free weight, a party-vibe bar, the supercool rooftop Campari Lounge in the terrace with a spectacular view of the Alster, a defined breakfast buffet that included a fine selection of cold cuts, imported cheeses, fruits and vegetables, and…

 

Yes! there is Da Caio, italian restaurant (where I could not resist peeping at the menu, which I found correct in dishes choices and…right spelling, which is always a good sign for an Italian eating in an Italian restaurant abroad…

Here info
Hotel Gastwerk
The George,
Fortune Hotels Group.

LET’S TALK ABOUT PORCINI MUSHROOMS!

Chef Stefano Maddalin, cadorino by birth, after 5 years of hotel school and various experiences around Italy, he is currently taking care of the restaurant La Žìria, located at the Hotel Monaco Sport Hotel, Santo Stefano di Cadore, in the province of Belluno,Italy.
I met him in his native village, a magical location in the heart of Val Comelico, ideal to spend the holidays in complete freedom, surrounded by wilderness of the majestic Dolomites Mountain.
Stefano showed up with a beautiful basket of porcini mushrooms just delivered minutes before.
Our conversation went obviously right to the ‘king of mushroom’ Let’s talk about porcini then.
Where to find?
Preferably in the fir woods.
How to catch?
Simply use your hands and a small knife. first digging the heart, then reaching the root and cutting with the knife.
How to carry at home?
Use a wicker basket, possibly with wide intercom, so the spores can pass through  the cracks and return to sow the ground.Never store them in plastic bags.
How to clean? Remove the earth with a small knife, then brush the remaining dirt with a small brush. Never throw them underwater because they get damaged.

 

How to cook?
As you prefer: deliciously raw in salads, cut very thin and garnished with fresh lettuce, cherry tomatoes or simply sprinkled with parmesan, salt pepper and lemon or the way I cooked them tonight, as a stuffing, with ricotta and onion

 

 

to fill our traditional casunzei, home-made pasta ravioli seasoned with poured butter and a little scratch of poina, typical smoked cheese from our territory.
A local dish to pair porcini ?
Typically cervo in salmì, dear slowly marinated and cooked with red wine and spices, to take away that wild taste, a common mistake is to sprinkle on some lemon, I don’t like that, I prefer to garnish or top with cocoa, raspberries or blueberries.
Let’s imagine that you are the guest of honor on the final episode of TV Master Chef, what would you create to impress the audience?
Well, I worked in starred restaurants, where the dished and the presentation could be very laborious, but personally I prefer the simplicity, a dish where the ingredients are synonymous of reality and they  are not disguised by other flavors.
So, what is never in your fridge?
Frozen foods, preservatives, I love my cuisine to be the most fresh, real and natural as possible.
A twist of your traditional mountain cuisine?
Canederli as a dessert. Canederli are bread dumplings and can be considered part of ‘cucina povera’ (cuisine of the poor), as they are made of simple and inexpensive ingredients: stale bread moistened with milk and bound with eggs and a small amount of flour. I sweeten them and topped with berries jam and elevated them to a tasty dessert.Text and photos by Cesare Zucca

 

 

 

 

PORTICO DI ROMAGNA. Chef’s Paradise.

Welcome to Al Vecchio Convento a so called Albergo Diffuso, which best can be translated to “Spread out Hotel”, situated in Portico di Romagna a medieval village , in the Appennine Hills between Florence and Ravenna in Tuscan Romagna.
In the kitchen you’ll find the men of the Cameli family: dad Giovanni with his two sons, Massimiliano and Matteo and the flamboyant mamma Marisa


Their cuisine is real, simple, never boring.
I tried a Matteo’s masterpiece:
a creamy tagliatelle alla canapa with basil, literally melting in my mouth.
Then the amazing crema di ortiche, a nettle soupy cream enriched with potatoes , onions and fresh herbs. The hotel is famous for his restaurant and the real , simple yet sophisticated menu, not to mention those Marisa’s cakes…
Experimenting a Albergo Diffuso means living the town the nontouristytourist way having as neighbors local inhabitants and letting yourself being absorbed by the relaxed rythm of local life. I met with Chef/Owners Matteo and Massimiliano Cameli, who not only manage the venue, but also promote the territory while organizing cooking courses that provide the Guests with the amazing discovering of the great local food culture  and learning how to make typical, Italian recipes such as home-made pasta, risotto, truffle, mushrooms, home baked bread and pizza while Massimiliano will take you on wine and gastronomy tours discovering local wine and olive oil producers,They organize horse-riding, trekking, cycling in the National Park, excursions to the Art-city Ravenna.and all levels Italian language courses, in the suggestive old Canon’s house, on top of the village, not to mention the exciting truffle hunts guided by Matteo and his dogs. Every year Portico hosts Chef Sotto il Portico. The event, organized by the Pro Loco Portico di Romagna in collaboration with Al Vecchio Convento, is a cuisine bonanza featuring a valange of international chef sharing their culinary creations with visitors. A festive meeting of different culture and tastes. In this year team Laura Verhust, pastry chef of Madam Bakster https://madambakster.be/ in Gant, Belgium prepared two vegan dishes, lemon avocado pie with almond crust and rusberry coulis .A warn rice pudding cooked in homemade almond milk, fresh vanilla and wild berries. Both no gluten, no sugar, no fat, no lactose, no butter, no eggs and…miracosly delicious. Argentine born Carlos Horacio Gimenez representing Ryotek Restaurant in Rykiavick, Iceland, served a shared tuna with avocado, picked melon, fresh coriander and amarillo pepper that he brought with him from South America. Omar Gallego from Barcelona cooked a crunchy taco with pork cheek cooked in red wine, coriander, tomato, garlic and ajoli. I wanted something easy to eat, easy to go, he said, that could perfectly go with a nice beer.
From Stockholm, Axel Zuber food scientist, restaurant Kitchen inspector of kitchens loves to cook , For his fifth time in Portico, he created a piatto per bambini a colorful dish for kids: kinda a homemade hot dog style sausage in a salted croissant happily paired to colored vegetable cubes made with vegetables.
Encocado de bacalao was the cod dish made by Marco Alvarez who likes fusion between dishes of different nationalities like Thailand and Ecuador. His dish was garnished with pea pureè, spicy coconut, corn sauce in Aonoriko seaweed crust.
Fabio Jesus, from Sintra, Portugal, works with known Bartlett catering. He prepared a Vino Santo and peach cheesecake, watermelon sorbet, fresh raspberry sauce and roasted white chocolate. You have a lots of different textures, says Fabio, a bit sour, a bit sweet, some alcohol… to party!

Stuli, from Iceland created a summery dish with a lobster and crabs patè floating in a dark green cucumber gaspacho
Was fun to check people s reactions. Some ‘experiments’ were much loved, some…less.
I am talking of Finland Mikael Mihailov’s spicy papaya salad, served with tomato-chilly foam,  caramelized nuts, nitro kaffir lime drops, crispy rice and dried vinaigrette with seaweed. Great intentions, nice presentation, interesting prospectives, but to me the contrasting ingredients were not going anywhere…Some Chefs became instantly popular, like Scottish Scott Forte his ,,, was super requested and pretty soon sold out…So I tried it the next day (there is a lunch time repeat) I wasn’t very impressed, perhaps because the heath of the day didn’t really suit the quite winterish dish.
Let’s go to my favorites!
Croatian Toni Milos, manager of Martinis Marchi restaurant located in a historic castle in Maslinica on the island of Šolta’s west coast, eenchanted the guests and me with his perfectly coocked octopus, pan roasted with leeks, red onions and served over arrugula. (I loved, I had it twice… To British George Gordon Brandford, now adopted by Vecchio Covento, goes my ‘Most Suprising Dish Award’. A vegan watermelon steak served with cucumber, gin granite and crispy tonic water. The watermelon slices were first carefully barbequed then ignated, to obtain an unknowen substancy. The technique was just amazing. I never tasted something like that. Bravo Gorgon!
Last but not the least!
Matteo Cameli
from Al Vecchio Covento. To me Matteo in more than a chef, he is a visionary and a poet. His challenging dish was a risotto al fienoI like to run in the morning, Matteo told me, in a very cold day, I had the vision and the comfort of a warm hay essence. I made it, distilled bio hay, added herbal essential oils to obtain a concentrated broth to be cooked with a 7 years old arlecchino rice, garnished by tasty crusty layer of burned goat , garnishing with wild herbs and flowers. I made it, I closed my eyes, tasted it and yes, the aroma of my fields in a sunny day was all there.
I tried his risotto. I rated 9, then I had a bite of those crunchy goat’s milk croutons and the my score went up to 10!
Beside the hotel activities, the venue offers various initiatives like Italian language classes, excursions, vistit to local oil and wine producers, exciting porcini and truffle hunts, cooking courses for the guests who are interested in discovering some secrets of the Italian food culture. It’s possible to do just 1 lesson or 2 or 3 or the whole cooking-week.
A venue, a village and a vacation to remember….
for more info
Al Vecchio Convento, Portico di Romagna, (Forlì) Italy

 

 

 

 

Discovering beauty: Nobis Hotel, Copenhagen

Nobis Hotel Copenhagen is housed in a historic 1903 building that hosted the Royal Danish Academy of Music since 1972. Back then, at Christmas time, an orchestra used to play on the reception level, while the magnificent marble staircase was filled with a chorus singing carols that would ring through the entire space creating magical moments.
                                                                     The building’s imposing sense of space and elaborate detailing gives the interiors a natural grandeur. Here neoclassicism meets a contemporary design created in collaboration with celebrated architectural firm Wingårdhs under the leadership of star architect Gert Wingårdh. Furniture, lighting fixtures and the abstract rugs were designed exclusively for Nobis,

“We shave been looking for some years to find the right location for Nobis Hotel Copenhagen. Finally when we stepped into this building it all felt exactly right” says Alessandro Catenacci, founder, owner and CEO at Nobis Hospitality Group. As a frequent traveler, I want a hotel to be elegant, comfortable, friendly and efficient, but I don’t need all that unnecessary excess and artificial service still often associated with luxury in the traditional sense’.
The hotel boasts generous high ceilings, original details such as delicate cornices, hardwood oak floor in chevron pattern, the bathrooms are clad in grey Bardiglio marble from Italy                                                                                     Every room is furnished with a curve-shaped special designed dresser and desk made by Wingårdhs, window details, contrasting abstract patterned rugs, angular poster beds in steel with lush cotton sheets, placed in the heart of the room creating a majestic center-piece.
Nobis, offers different room categories:
Nobis Suites, comfortable sitting area, a spacious sofa, armchairs, a luxurious bathroom with a spacious shower, a relaxing bath tub and separate toilet in addition to that you will find a dining area seating up to 6 people suitable for casual meetings. Private Nordic influenced meals made to order can be delivered from the restaurant.
Deluxe and Superior Suites boast exceptionally high ceilings, deep arched window niches creating a light and graceful atmosphere.
Junior Suites, spacious living with exceptional ceiling height. Thoughtfully placed in the corners of the building, they have two large windows with deep niches facing two directions.
Looking for more categories?
You have the Superior Suites, where the hardwood oak floor in chevron pattern together with deep window niches and flowing drapes in subtle colors gives the room a soft elegance. Finally two gorgeous Penthouses giving that luxurious loft feeling with charming rafters. Thanks to eight windows facing multiple directions, they offer an outstanding view over beautiful Copenhagen. The full penthouse floor takes up 240 square meters and is available upon request.                                                                                                  You will find a well equipped wine room, the simply luxurious SPA made in pink marble and natural wood with sauna, steam room, relax area in seducing shapes of gray. A minimalistic yet chic breakfast is served both in the lounge or outdoor terrace. You will find fresh vegetables and fruits, from avocados to berries, an excellent selection of cheeses and cold cuts, including a yummy patè de campagne
Nobis location is great: next to Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen Central Station, City Hall Square. Right in front the breathtaking Glyptotek Museum, currently hosting a magnificent exhibit High on Luxury  I spent a marvelous afternoon getting lost in those beautiful galleries.
A venue not to be missed, exactly as the Nobis, where I found authenticity, quality, care and richness in details.

for more info
Nobis Hotel Copenhagen