LOISON XMAS PANETTONE GETS A FRUITY ZEST

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THE ENCHANTMENT OF THE LANGHE

Destination Langhe Roero, Piedmont, Italy.
What a wonderful trip! Starting from the exquisite 5 stars boutique hotel La Ribezza located in Monteforte d’Alba, a suggestive borgo  on the hills of the Langhe, a territory  located in the southern part of Piedmont and encompasses the whole range of technical and economic processes relating to the winegrowing and winemaking that has characterized the region for centuries. The Langhe offer panoramas of carefully cultivated hillsides, following ancient land divisions punctuated with buildings that lend structure to the visual space: hilltop villages, castles, Romanesque churches, farms, cellars and storehouses for cellaring and for the commercial distribution of the wine in the small towns and larger towns on the margins of the vineyards.
The serial property is outstanding for its harmony, and the balance between the aesthetic qualities of its landscapes, the architectural and historical diversity of the built elements associated with the wine production activities and an authentic and ancient art of winemaking. 
The vineyards of Langhe-Roero constitute an outstanding example of man’s interaction with his natural environment. Following a long and slow evolution of winegrowing expertise, the best possible adaptation of grape varieties to land with specific soil and climatic components has been carried out, which in itself is related to winemaking expertise, thereby becoming an international benchmark. This landscape covers eleven little towns located in the  wine-growing areas with outstanding landscapes and the magnificent Castle Grinzane Cavour, an emblematic name both in the development of vineyards and in Italian history.
Back to the hotel: The pleasant surprises started from the reception (where a lovely lady offered to taste 4 different fragrances, in order for me to pick up my preferred and have all toilette amenities. like soap, shampoo, and shower gel  of the same fragrance. MY room was spacious, cosy, well equipped with TV screen, wifi, and tasty welcome fruit basket and a tempting bacio di dama (a two buttery hazelnut cookies sandwiched together with a dollop of dark chocolate) left on my pillow before the night, with a courteous prevision of the next day weather. How nice..
.La Ribezza boasts 20 rooms, a wonderful outdoor sauna-gazebo where you can relax while admiring the breathtaking view, Did I mentioned the view?…
The moRning after we left for an ‘simulated’ truffle huntIing with the expert trifulau Carlo Olivero and his dog Steel. Simulated means that a truffle was previously hidden on the ground (of course Steel didn’t know where…) Well, in less than 10 minutes the was able to locate one. Then Carlo took us for a little walk, when suddenly Steel went crazy over a spot and started digging, He was right! There another big one  (and not purposely hidden)  Everybody, Carlo included, very happy! Grand finale. Gala Dinner at 3 Michelin star Piazza Duomo.That was an  amazing gastronomic adventure with dishes created by resident Chef Enrico Crippaand guest Chef Támas Szell, from Stand, Budapest.
The remarkable menu
headlined the collaboration between the Italian and Hungarian  Bocuse d’Or Academies and the participation of the Hungarian Academy at the next edition (the 89th) of the Alba International White Truffle Fair 2019
The truffle is a sort of mushroom known since ancient times. The first testimonies come from the diet of the Sumerian people and from the time of Jacob the Patriarch, around 1600 – 1700 B.C. Truffle are known as a qualitative ingredient in finest quality kitchens. Their cost could reach up to amounts of one hundred dollars per kilogram!y
White truffle fair is held in the city of Alba, which is located in northwest Italy, for more than 80 years. The fair is held every Saturday and Sunday from the first half of October until the second half of November. It is a bonanza that celebrates not only truffles, but also the tipical products of the territory, from wine to cheese, to cakes, pastas and any kind of food produced in the Langhe. Visitors from everywhere, with particular attendance from Northern Europe, Germany, Switzerland, France, but with constantly growing presences also from the United States, Brazil, Australia and East Asia, in particular Hong Kong and Singapore, have confirmed the success of the 88th edition of the Alba International White Truffle Fair,
An edition, the one just ended, which took place “Between earth and moon” paying tribute to the satellite of the earth which, through the phases of the moon, is an integral part of the search path and which was also inspired by organizers and visitors. The vintage, quantitatively and qualitatively exceptional, has been lived intensely at the World Market of the White Truffle of Alba, the largest international exhibition of truffles from the Piedmont hills of Langhe, Roero and Monferrato. Here each single truffle has been checked by the special “Quality Commission”, available to customers for the entire duration of the Fair to guarantee quality and safety in purchasing. The season, which was hypothesized could be very interesting for the quantity and quality of the product, has surpassed the brightest expectations with about 700 kg of Alba White Truffle sold at the World Market of Alba White Truffle.
A celebration that offers a unique cultural experience. Chefs, vendors, experts and amateurs gather to have a glimp and possibly a taste of the precious mushroom. I was kindly invited to a yummy workshop featuring Chef Gabriele Boffa, from Relais Sant’Uffizio , Cioccaro , Asti . Gabriele, originally from Alba has an impressive curriculum: Yannick Alléno in France, Mugaritz in Spain, Pujol in Mexico, Piazza Duomo, in Italy,
He
prepared a Filetto alla Torrengo, with cooked radicchio, heart of lettuce, béarnaise sauce, smoked butter, onion water, fassona meat and, of course, white truffle.
Delicious! The yearly Alba International Truffle Fair is the most important food and wine event of Langhe Roero, increasingly open to the internationality of the proposed contents, will host, in fact, the Magogian food and wine tradition, thus contributing to promote two top-level enogastronomic traditions and consolidate the cultural relationships that bind the two Academies. In fact, both Academies are engaged in the preparation of the respective candidates for the World Final of the Bocuse d’Or, the most prestigious haute cuisine contest in the world, which will be held in the next 29 and 30 January, 2019  in Lyon. Between the many highligt of the trip I would like to mentin a dinner at Ca’ del Re, Verduno, a great lunch at  Wine Bar Barolo Friends in Barolo, the  wine tasting at Sordo Wines and and a visit to the exhibit Nina’s Tale in the suggestive San Domenic Church , where we got the chance to meet with the Artist Valerio Berruti.

 

 

All of that embraced by the beauty by the enchanting Langhe!

INFO
International White Truffle Fair
Boutique Hotel La Ribezza
Academy Bocuse d’Or Italy
Academy Bocuse d’Or Italy  Press Office
Bocuse d’Or

THE LEGEND OF THE MILANESE PANETTONE

There are several legends about the birth of the milanese panettone.
The most common dates back to the 1476. It tells of Ugo, a young falconer
who worked for Ludovico il Moro, the Duke of Milan.

6_Anonimo

The boy was secretly in love with Adalgisa, daughter of Toni, the most popular baker in Milan. To spend more time with her, Ugo managed to become a pastry cook apprentice. Christmas was coming, and Ugo wanted to give a twist to the usual bread.He sweetened up the dough, adding sugar, butter, eggs, raisins and chopped candied fruits, then he cooked and shaped it like a giant muffin.

The novelty instantly became the talk of the town. Everybody wanted the new Toni’s bread (pan de Toni) soon named panettone.

The history goes on
After centuries, the panettone is still the delicious centerpiece at many festive tables,
In 1930, two well-known patisserie masters, Mr. Agostino Panigada and Mr. Giovanni Cova came together to create their first workshop in Viale Nurzia in Milan. Here the real “Panetun di Milan” was born.
Traditional Panettone generously filled with  raisins and candied fruit peel (including a lot of squared oranges that I love) The “Milanese” pound (Libbra) is an ancient unit of measurement of Northern Italy – it corresponds to 1120 grams. Breramilano. have adopted this peculiarity to highlight the prestigious “Milano” line, where the combination between taste and art reaches the most impressive outcome. This line, called BreraMilano1930 (now widely distributed in the US)  is characterized by making use of a special paper, rough to the touch, that takes its stylistic inspiration from their original 1930s collections.  Breramilano produces superior quality confections particularly their Panettone and Pandoro which are known as the undoubted symbols of Milanese confectionary art all over the world. For this company, remembering and respecting the past means keeping alive the ancient confectionary art traditions, respecting old recipes and checking every single ingredient for quality. Their aim is to keep alive the flavors of the past as time goes by.
Finally, like in the old times, this panettone is rigorously hand
wrapped exactly like they use to do in the old Milan …Foto. Cesare Zucca

 

 

 

 

LOREDANA ‘I am no Lady’ BERTÈ CONQUERS MILAN

IN ONE OF HER MAJOR HITS SHE DECLARES ‘NON SONO UNA SIGNORA’(I am no Lady) THAT’S HOW THE FLAMBOYANT ITALIAN ROCK STAR LOREDANA BERTÈ LOVES TO INTRODUCE HERSELF

Text by Cesare Zucca
Album Photos by Giovanni Squatriti
Concert Photos by Cesare Zucca

Last night, all the ‘hip Milan’ packed at the Teatro Nazionale, in occasion of the comeback concert of Loredana Bertè, the undiscussed Italian Queen of Rock. Not a real come back: Loredana did not disappeared from the stages and the press, but she is not been recording a new album since 13 years.
The sold out concert was introducing ‘LiBertè‘ the very new work of the Artist where Loredana’s scratchy voice pours out all her anger, sleepless nights, bad thoughts, disappointments and disillusions.
The second part of the concert opens with Liberté (that gives the title to the whole album) with Loredana wearing a straight jacked (exactly like on the CD cover)
In a tour de force performance with song signed by great authors like Fabio Ilacqua, Davide Simonetta, Maurizio Piccoli, Ivano Fossati, Enrico Ruggeri, Pino Daniele, among others. Supported by a great band and her longtime backsinger-friend Aida Copper, Bertè scored her rich repertoire that includes hits like Dedicato, Mare d’Inverno, E la luna bussò,
Among new songs and previous hits, there was one that particularly touched me, rearranged with a new rendition. It is titled ‘Stare fuori,
while  the big screen was showing he original ‘messy prison’ bed video that I worked for as a stylist ..and I still love!   I would like to point out Anima Carbone (Soul charcoal) which is absolutely my favorite track of the album. The lyrics( (by Loredana Bertè) and the music (by Fabio Ilacua) are strongly pairing in a screaming confession.
The text says:
I’m not tired of making mistakes
And to burn up the time
To step on every morality
And then throw it away
If God has cheated on my disgrace
He’s got to settle the bill
With my charcoal soul
Of meat and anarchy
I so wish that Loredana’s new album would be released worldwide and her concert would perform not only in the Italian venues, but also abroad.  I am pretty sure that a lot of European and oversea rock lovers would be mesmerized and captured by her flamboyant personality and her music.

 Following the tradition of those majestic ‘No Lady’ Artist like Nina Hagen, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Dolores O’Riordan, gritty and charismatic queens of the stage, soloists and frontwomen who gave to rock music a feminine imprint, revolutionizing the world of music. Some were true pioneers, eradicating stereotypes with their provocative performances and feminist texts. Others have collected this important legacy, adapting it to time and change, always leading the woman power forward.
Long life to Freedom, viva la LiBertè!
LiBertè tour will hit road till summer 2019 .
Check the schedule and if it happens that you ‘ll be in Italy, do not miss it!
More info for dates and venue
LiBertè Tour 2018-2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW YORK, TAKING YOUR KIDS TO THE MUSEUM…

 

From NY to Italy. Life is a marathon for Pier…and the others.

DUBAI CELEBRATES WORLD PASTA DAY 2018

26 members representing 18 countries (Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela) and the two Federations European industrial pasta manufacturers (UNAFPA) and industrial Semouliers. Among the most important activities promoted by the IPO, the organization of the World Pasta Day, a fixed appointment every October 25, since 1997, celebrates the important role played by pasta to nourish the world and its ability to adapt to every culture. Every year a different city is elected as a “world capital” of pasta to welcome producers, representatives of the scientific and gastronomic community, institutions and stakeholders from around the world.
The Kingdom of Pasta will be celebrated worldwide on October 25 in Dubai!
I am a pasta lover and here are my choice for this big event.
Good pasta hunting!

Egg specialty SQUID INK LINGUINE and MACCHERONCINI ny Campofilone

SPAGHETTI A MATASSA Artisanal pasta by Cav. Giuseppe Cocco in Fara S.Martino, Abruzzi

 

World Pasta Day has been celebrated o since 1998 with promotional initiatives and parallel events held throughout the world. 2018 marks its 20th Anniversary!

3 GREAT SPAGHETTI from Rustichella d’Abruzzo, Pianella, Pescara. CHITARRONE, PRIMOGRANO, SPAGHETTI DURUM WEAT BRONZE DRAWN,and TRITICUM farro bio-organic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The event is organized by the IPO (International Pasta Organization), for which Aidepi has taken care of the Secretariat since its foundation in 2005.

The first  World Pasta Day was held in Naples in 1998. Since then, this event has been held every year, moving to Genoa, Rome, New York, Barcelona,  Mexico City, Istanbul, New York  Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Moscow,  São Paulo and .Milan EXPO 2015

LE LIMONCINE by Campofilone, with essential lemon oil.

the unbelievable SPAGHETTI RAPIDA by Rustichella d’Abruzzo.It cooks in 90 seconds!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Organisation and AIDEPI (Italy) in Dubai, with the support of ITA (Italian Trade Agency).
The event aims to maximize promotion of an extraordinary, good, healthy, nutritious, accessible and sustainable food, a pillar of the Mediterranean Diet, recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

CASERECCE bio farro by Vis Vita, S.Martino , Padova

 

RUOTE PAZZE by Benedetto Cavalieri. Maglie, Lecce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MISTA CORTA by Gentile, Gragnano, Naples

CANDELE LUNGHE by Pastificio Di Martino , Gragnano, Naples.

SPAGHETTATA EXPRESS. a gift box created by Rustichella d’Abruzzo celebrating the World Pasta Day. It contains durum wheat semolina spaghetti, tomato and basil sauce and the traditional wooden fork.

 

 

 

 

Authoritative experts and opinion leaders will be invited to delve into scientific, economic, technological, cultural and gastronomic aspects linked to pasta in front of an international audience made up of pasta makers and supply chain operators, representatives from the economic sector, academics, institutions and media, to reaffirm the truth about pasta starting from its roots and outlining its path between past, present and future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attending or not to the Dubai event, October 25 will be a great excuse to eat more than one pasta dish…wherever you are!for more info
http://2018.worldpastaday.org/

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? The istorical Porto di Savona opened in 1863 and still one of the most representative venue in Turin.

 

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 

 

 

 

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. A 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. 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.

                                  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