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/

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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.

Two memorable days in Pula

I would like to thank the lovely ladies Viviana Vukelic and Adriana Bajic from Ente Nazionale Croato per il Turismo in Milan and the super cool Goran from the Tourism Office in Pula, Chef Deniz Zembo and my amazing guide Rossana. They truly contributed to make my Pula’s visit memorable, fun and wonderful.
For more info
ENTE NAZIONALE CROATO PER IL TURISMO
https://croatia.hr/en-GB
TOURISM OFFICE PULA

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

 

 

 

 

Crazy, dreamers, revolutionaries. ‘Donne’ are the women of Milton Fernandez


 

Milton Fernàndez, writer, poet, director, editor who since 2011 is also artistic director of the Milan Literature Festival, has collected them in his volume Donne. Crazy, dreamers, revolutionaries published by Rayuela Edizioni.

I had the pleasure to attend to the book presentation at the sumptuous Sala Della Musica, located at second floor of the magnificent Ca’ Sagredo in Venice.

                                                               The author ranges from 17th century France to Mexico in 1910, from the mid-nineteenth-century slave-making America to Argentina in 1977, in an attempt to understand the many ways in which men have written and determined the history of women over time.
The stories are short and very intense, the lives of the protagonists are all real, those of women who silently or publicly have marked the history of all.
There is Clara de la Rocha, colonel and Mexican revolutionary; Martine De Bertereau pioneer of French mineralogy; Sojourner Truth, the first black woman in history to bring a white man to court and win the case;                                                                ; Azucena Villaflor, one of the Argentinean mothers of the Plaza de Mayo; Lilly Parr, English champion of a sport that has always been the exclusive preserve of men; Rose Mapendo, founder of Mapendo International, an organization that helps refugees from African wars and bring together broken families.
Fernàndez is a man who with deep respect seeks to enter the mystery of women, with eyes and pen full of amazement at what they have endured and overcome.
There is so much gratitude in these stories, as if the book were a way of thanking them for the moral and intellectual lesson they gave the world.
But there is also a lot of bitterness and pain; the stories of yesterday resemble tremendously those of today and the parable has not ended:

 

 

 

The Sabines are kidnapped by Romans led by Romulus, as they are necessary for the birth of a nation.
Innocent women assaulted, molested, victims.

I found astonishing example in the Ca’ Rezzonico Gallery, Venice , in the glorious painting Susanna and the elders by Stefano Ricci, where a young girl Susanna  molested and blackmailed by two older liars.
 In another room I found Felice Ficherelli’s painting picturing the horrible story of Lucretia, legendary heroine of ancient Rome  .Her tragedy began when she was raped by Sextus Tarquinius, son the king of Rome. After exacting an oath of vengeance against the Tarquins from her father and her husband, she stabbed herself to death.What Boko Haram has done, recently in Nigeria, with the kidnapping of 20 girls. News that has been held for a few days on the Western news, but then take refuge among the inevitable facts of existence.
Rummaging in the memory we will always find an important woman, like my grandmother, strong temper, 14 boys to grow up, says Fernandez, who cites the movie Sliding Doors, where the fate of the protagonist could suddenly change and what could she become?

Dancers/Choreographers Pina Bausch and Isadora Duncan also appear in the book, as the first women who had the courage to stage dance as a form of freedom. The author underlines the importance of dance in his life, as a maestro d’ami , he was a master of weapons, like a choreographer of swords.Leonardo Da Vinci, continues Fernandez, described life as a series of moving figures and even the tragic final act of Shakespears Hamlet where all the characters die should be an example of a choreographed moment’.

Thirty-four stories of women who, through the ages and countries of the world, together tell the feminine condition in a complete historical vision.
Milton Fernande Women. Crazy, dreamers, revolutionaries.

Rayuela Editions

 

 

THE ORIGINS, THE SEARCH, THE TRADITIONS, THE SECRETS OF A REFINED CUISINE IN VENICE

INTERVIEW WITH CHEF DAMIANO BASSANO AT L’ALCOVA, VENICE
Damiano, originally from Salento, began his career in Paris and Strasbourg, followed by Spain and the United States. Traditional Italian flavors combined with unique touches are the distinctive elements of its cuisine. He loves experimenting and creating new combinations. Since two years he has been the as Executive Chef of the renowned restaurant L’Alcova, in the splendid Hotel Ca’Sagredo taking care not only of the restaurant and breakfast menu, but also the rich buffets of special events, such as the one tonight, for the presentation of the book ‘Women’ written by Uruguay born Milton Fernandez.

 

On these occasions, will your menu be inspired to the theme and atmosphere of the event?
Certainly. Today, as a tribute to the latin author, I prepared finger food with roast beef and lime, mini tacos and small empanadas that remind me so much of the tiny Pugliese panzerotti.

 


Let’s talk about fish.
Where do you shop?
At the Rialto market. I rely on seasonality and suggestions from my supplier.
From there I decide the menu of the day and make fish dishes that maintain the typical Italian cuisine, always keeping an eye to our international clientele, often with different tastes from ours.
Today, an elderly Venetian told me that this market is becoming increasingly scarce and less stocked. It’s true?
Unfortunately, yes, slowly it is reducing in extension and presence of sellers, a bit like the real Venetians that today are only around 50,000. Even the fishermen confirm that the fish choices have changed and the variety has shrunk. Delicacies like the schie … have become a memory. Today the request is primarily oriented on mussels, clams, sea bream, sea bass, king prawns, tuna, sword.. in other words ‘universally known fish’, available everywhere but preferred by tourists who generally fear experiencing tastes that they do not know.
Sad, right?
Yes, because I think it would be nice to let the customer try the local typicality. I find it genuinely useless to propose in Venice some American scallops, easily available even in New York!
Fruits and vegetables?
Amazingly good. We are supplied by the island of Sant’Erasmo, whose sale and removal was so successful that the Consorzio di Sant’Erasmo opened a sales outlet right here in Venice. We hope for good … too much success sometimes spoiled.
A fish that you love to cook but which you gave up, given the doubtful reception of the international customer?
I have no doubt; the spatula, which I would love to cook especially after my Sicilian experiences. Even my supplier told me ‘Damiano, the spatula is not so difficult to procure, but there is no request, I am sorry … pick up another fish’.
It reminds me a bit of the phenomenon of globalization. There are no artisan shops because of the large chains promoted by consumerism. So mothers or grandmothers who cook in a trattoria, are not there anymore?
Well, I find them when I go back to my Salento. There is still some small osteria without a specific menu. Grandma cooks daily 2 or 3 dishes according to what she found at the market. And they are all spectacular!
Do you cook at home?
Almost never, I prefer to go out with friends, I rarely make a salad and if I am really  in the mood, I make my favorite dish: spaghetti tomatoes and basil. I love simplicity!
Never in your fridge …
Prepacked mayonnaise and mustard.
Always in your fridge …
Cherry tomatoes.

 

The top dishes of tonight’s menu?
Spaghetti, zucchini and wild mint creamed with bottarga, then fresh sea bass sauteed with salt, oil and thyme and served on a summer panzanella with red onion and fresh gherkin.
So there is a touch of Mediterranean heritage in your kitchen for the Serenissima?
Of course, here I revive perfumes and tastes that I always keep in my heart, naturally adapting them to an international clientele of a certain level.
About the Mediterranean thing… try my semifreddo with basil and my apricot mousse with rosemary ….

DINNER AT THE ALCOVA, THE RESTAURANT OF THE LUXURIOUS HOTEL CA’SAGREDO, VENICE
Prosecco on the table, (with which I adopted with throughout the all dinner) and small varied sandwiches, including a delicious black fennel bread.                                                                 
As a starter a pie of beets, figs, almonds and mini melon balls. I’m not a big lover of sweet and sour, but I found it pleasant.

 

Here is comes a more determined and tasty stewed moscardino with polenta, a typical Venetian dish. As pasta dishes, I tried the spaghetti with zucchini and mint, creamed with bottarga. Honestly I found the flavors a bit ‘disjointed, perhaps not very connected, I definitely preferred spaghetti with cuttlefish ink served with crispy cuttlefish, al dente, tasty, light and not too saturated of fishy flavor.                                                                              Then a chef recommendation: fresh sea bass served on squares of a slightly acetate panzanella bread garnished with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and red onions.

 

The pairing with the panzanella didn’t really appealed to me, but I respect the intentions of Bassano, who’s Salento’s origins like to add to the menu a little of Mediterranean cuisine and the aroma of the local herbs, as in the grand finale:
a mousse
with basil and a spectacular rosemary semifreddo.
Fresh and refreshing, with an extra point to the rosemary!

 

Restaurant L’Alcova

Hotel Ca’Sagredo

Hacienda Chichen: discover the most revered Mayan site the smart way!


Chichen Itza, located inland of the Yucatan Peninsula, about 200 km East of Cancun, is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico with over 2.6 million tourists in 2017.
Do the math…                                                   .That’s on average over 7000 visitors a day. Even though the site is not limited to the iconic Kukulcàn pyramid (photo 1) and covers a very large area (over 300 hectares), that is a lot of human flesh roaming around! Especialy when one considers that the most popular way to visit the Unesco world heritage site is via tour operators organizing day trips from Cancun or Merida, creating a huge influx of fully loaded buses arriving around 11 AM or so every day. Arriving with the sun at its hottest among hordes of tourists had always been a deterring idea to me. I had sacrificed the visit of wholly site during my passed 3 visits of Yucatan, favoring the ruins of Tulum and Cuba, less crowded and still awesome examples of the might and splendor of the Mayan civilization. For this fourth visit this last spring, I was determined to visit the legendary Chichen Itza in the best way possible. Staying overnight at the Hacienda Chichen revealed to be the smartest answer possible. Smart because by staying overnight in this historic hotel located a few hundred feet from the archeological site enables to start exploring the grounds as early as 8 AM, before the arrival of the crowds. Smart, because the hotel combines genuine elegance and great service while respecting authenticity and ecological responsibility. Follow me, let me show you the way…When I arrived from Tulum around noon at the Chichen Itza bus terminal, I was left at the main entrance of the site in one of the largest parking lots I have ever seen: hundreds of buses still unloading their loads of tourists from every continent. The line to the ticket booth was long, the heat dreadful. Instead of joining the frenzy, I hopped in a cab and 10 minutes later, I was discovering the old-world charm of the Hacienda Chichen. The check in was a breeze and the welcoming cocktail made of pineapple and Chaya leaf juice refreshing as heaven (pic 3). I was later to learn that it had been freshly made from the organic garden of the property, providing a lot of the fruits, vegetables and herbs used by the kitchen

 

The front desk offered to arrange the purchase of my ticket to visit the site the next morning, without any surcharge, avoiding the hassle to wait in line. They also offered the possibility to have a legitimate private guide for the visit, but as usual, I declined in order to feel totally free and visit at my own pace. The afternoon was mine to relax and enjoy what the Hacienda had to offer. The 28 rooms set in a total of 12 cottages spread out on the lush grounds were originally built to host archeologists who helped excavate the site. Now they are opened to all offering soothing air conditioning, large bed, beautiful sheets, large bathrooms, fresh flowers and hammocks on the front porch for those eager to adopt the Mayan way to take a nap at the sound of singing birds

 

 

 

Another way to relax in a horizontal way is to indulge in one of the treatments at the Yaxkin spa. And that’s exactly what I did, with the 45-minute Pakal treatment, a Maya healing ritual focusing on the head and the upper body. The soul is also soothed by an initial prayer in Mayan language by my charming therapist.

I loved the fact that the room was very large, not one of those cubicles where on feels locked up. The outside garden was present in the room with the use of various herbs and plants, including a refreshing aloe vera jelly applied on the face.Totally relaxed, I finished the afternoon by lingering by the superb swimming pool, large and square as I like them to do laps at length. .Recycled and chemical-free water added a guilt free sensation to the overall pleasure. Time went by and before I knew it was time to meet the general manager for a grand tour of the property, including the restored church where weddings can be organized, surrounded by the beautifully maintained vegetation).
No wedding the evening of my stay, but I still felt like a very special person, enjoying an evening drink on the beautiful front patio at the sound of a traditional trio singing deep from the heart local ballads.
For dinner, I ventured across the street to the humbler Villas Areological hotel (http://www.villasarqueologicas.com.mx/chichen-itza.html)
that I wanted to check out for its restaurant serving a variety of traditional dishes from Yucatan. The best, by far, was the cream of Chaya soup and I appreciated the selection of Mexican wines. The night was young, but the day had been long, so I was eager to return to my beautiful room for a good night sleep. At 8:20 Am, I recuperated my ticket to visit the site and was guided to the private entrance specific to the Hacienda. I was alone when I crossed the gate and after a ten-minute walk, I was facing the beautiful Mayan pyramid with the company of a couple of iguanas, but not another human soul. 

 

 

The morning air was cool, and the silence only broken by singing birds. All the merchants on the way were focused on unpacking their things, leaving me unburdened. Besides the famous pyramid, I loved walking through the gigantic ball game field practically alone

As well as discovering the sacred cenote (sinkhole) and the perfectly aligned columns without the eye sore of groups of tourists ruining the geometry of the monuments.    After three hours of walking at my own pace, I went back to the Hacienda, walking against the growing flow of visitors and the solicitations of the souvenir vendors, they were in full swing mode, trying to sell their T-shirts and miniature statues probably made in China!
The heat had risen and a last dip in the pool after a refreshing outdoor shower felt like pure bliss. At noon I was packed and ready to leave this magical place.                                       
A short taxi ride took me to the small town of Piste where I tasted a delicious and original pozole de coco, lightly sweetened and perfectly chilled (pic 20), then hopped on a collective to reach Valladolid after 24 hours of total serenity, visiting the most famous Mayan site in the best way possible…
the nontouristytourist way!

Text and photos by Philip Sinsheimer

 

 

HACIENDA CHICHEN RESORT AND YAXKIN SPA 

http://www.haciendachichen.com

Tel: +52 999 920 8407

 

 

 

A ‘HYGGE’SUMMER IN COPENHAGEN

In summer Copenhagen is an ideal destination: favorable weather, long and sunny days, smiling, polite and serene people. It seems that everyone here discovers the secret of happiness: hygge, a Danish word that invites you to enjoy the simple pleasures of life and live alone or with friends, at home or outside, special and happy moments.
Find yourself singing on the beach around a bonfire, have a nice picnic at the park, attend an outdoor concert, participate in a street festival or take a bike ride … these and more are the little pleasures of life that feed the hygge spirit in the life of the Danes.

To find out right away just do this test . The result is a real personalized treatment based on hygge, released with all the tips on how to get it on a trip to Denmark.
Useful and precious, a true friend! I’m talking about the Copenhagen Card, a pass that allows you to visit as many as 86 museums and attractions, use all public transportation for free and benefit from discounts on tours, bars and restaurants.


I also used it for a tour of the canals and the port. 1 hour, audiogude in all languages, a show of ancient and modern architecture, a sea of photos. passing the numerous bridges of the city. But pay attention to be seated: the bridges are very low and the risk to bump your head on it, it s quite possible.
 Tivoli

 

 

The oldest playground in the world. You will skip over breathtaking roller coasters,you will be projected into space, you will remain suspended in the air more than a thousand other rides in the charming gardens where the oriental facade of beautiful
Hotel Nimb stands out.

After the aerial acrobatics, I finally relaxed in the Brasserie, famous Nimb restaurant,
French cuisine, refined menu, excellent wine list, good service and relaxing atmosphere (apart from the crowded side room that celebrated a noisy birthday…) I tasted the Chef’s specialties, a delicate mollusk bisque served with scampi and carrots, a crunchy turbot à la meunière, sprinkled with lemon drops, ending with a puff pastry stuffed with strawberries and cream, all paired to my favorite Sancerre Domaine de La Garenne, deliciously fruity, In short, a dinner worthy of the unique atmosphere of the location.
Copenhagen history boasts of royalties and magnificent castles,Here my favorites
Amalienborg Palace, a must for anyone with a taste for royal history and the life of Denmark’s royal family who still resides inside the palace. Experience royal history at the museum and sense the present of one of the world’s oldest monarchies from the beautiful palace square where you can watch the changing of its famous guards called Den Kongelige Livgarde. Every day you can experience the changing of the guards, as they march from their barracks in 100 Gothersgade by Rosenborg Castle through the streets of Copenhagen and end up at Amalienborg, where the changing of the guard takes place at 12:00 noon.
Christiansborg Palace famous for its hall covered with 17 giant tapestries, which tell 1000 years of Danish history, It is a gift from The Danish business community in occasion of Her Majesty Queen Margrethe 50th birthday,. Bjørn Nørgaard painted the full-size sketches upon which the tapestries were woven. These impressive royal rooms host the official receptions in the presence of the Queen, between a sparkle of uniforms and great evening gowns. Better to avoid arriving by car or taxi, the protocol prefers that the guests present themselves in a carriage…

 

As a food lover, I could not resist the temptation to descend into the legendary Royal Kitchens to discover the background of an official banquet, browse the Queen’s recipes and admire one of the largest collections of copper crockery in Europe.

 

 

To be or not to be…
I recommend a small excursion outside the city. Helsingør 30 minutes by train.
The famous Castle of Kronborg, better known as Hamlet’s house, reigns there. In fact, here Shakespeare set his drama. Gossips say that the writer had never been there, but would have been an actor in his company to tell him about this mighty fortress, from whose park, littered with cannons, you can glimpse Sweden. Suddenly the walls resound with the voices of the characters of Hamlet, which appear, like ghosts, perfectly interpreted by talented actors who bring to life the tragic events of the drama, You could spend a whole day in Kronborg, and live many experiences, guided tours through the casemates and the halls, explore the passages and towers, see a play and relax admiring the sea – but if you prefer, you can get an idea Kronborg concrete even in just one hour. Kronborg is open all year round (except 1st January, 24th, 25th and 31st December) from 11am to 4pm. In the summer (June, July and August) the schedule is extended: from 10.30am to 5.30pm.
After all that drama I needed a…great meal and I went to the renowned restaurant Brasserie 1861, where I met the Chef. His name is Casper Stuhr Sobczyk I can describe him as a gentle viking with the sweetest smile and… smoked sardines tattooed in his arm.
They called him ‘the king of herbs ‘for his passion for vegetables and fresh products from the field. His passions are: fish, molluscs, entrails as lamb’s brain, (not so popular in the quite skeptic Northern Europe), He started with French cuisine, passed to the molecular and ended up with mixing them two styles. ‘I like to play with the ingredients, says Casper, like for example, pairing strawberries to balsamic vinegar. I worked in Danmark a lot, including the Copenhagen National Library. I got good reviews and I started my new adventure here at Marienlyst Hotel, In my my fridge at home, there is always place for eggs, probably because my wife loves them, lot of vegetables and of course several max sizei Pepsi. I Love Pepsi… ‘His friendly Verona born partner Fabio Ciccarelli started serving a surprising appetizer: a revolutionary version of the traditional blini, made with caviar white sturgeon, to be mixed to crème fraiche on herbal waffle. The ingredients just melt perfectly together.

 

 

 

 

                                                             Then a salted unusually cooked burned salmon, followed by a mackerel with foie gras, green peas. As a main dish , I tasted halibut with asparagus that burned for few minutes to maintain the crunchiness.

Every dish was so intense, so fresh and so herbal.
No wonder why Chef Sobczyk is the ‘king of herbs…
’In the summer, Denmark is a foodies paradise with its festivals and gastronomic events Do not miss the Copenhagen Cooking & Food Festival from August 24th to September 2nd, during which Copenhagen becomes a huge Nordic restaurant and definitely stop at the new street food Reffen, an urban playground recently opened, that mixes crafts and culture.

Reffen is a place where the people of Copenhagen are invited to take part in the development. 54 start-ups in the form of food stalls, bars and creative workshops many confirming the dogmas “Reduce and Reuse”.

 

Mermaid yes or no?
The most celebrated mermaid statue of The Little Mermaid from Hans Christian Andersen’s children’s story, sitting on a stone at Langelinie in the harbor of Copenhagen, Denmark. Honestly I saw her from the boat and I have to say that the invading ‘selfie addicted crowd’ didn’t appeal to me… So I went at night, and here she was, alone, shining on the dark, mysterious and looking like wanting to splash in the water any minute,
That, I call a magic encounter with Miss Mermaid…for more info
#visitdenmarkstories @govistdenmark.

 

Why I loved Hamburg, Germany and why I want you to love it too!

I started my Hamburg experience with an avalanche of photos and selfies on board of the Stadtrundfahrt double-decker bus, providing earphones in all languages. In a couple of hours you’ll know the city, get off when you want, visit and get the next one. An indispensable tour, also in a mini-cruise version with Harbor Cruise You will enjoy the aquatic view of the city, of the immense port and of the colossal cargo ships with gigantic containers.
Hamburg means bricks, red bricks, so my next stop was Speicherstadt.

 

Almost a kilometer of old warehouses with typical red bricks, used as storage for incoming goods: oriental carpets, tea, raw coffee, cocoa, tobacco, spices. Among the attractions: a kaffeerösterei, an old coffee roaster, where you can also enjoy decadent cakes with strawberries and cream.

 

 

 

Chocoversum,  a true chocolate triumph,
Manufactumtrendy shop and the Spice Museum  where you will find and taste everything: European spices, Asian and Indian flavors, exotic perfumes, 50 varieties of pepper, cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, mustard seeds and the most expensive ones: orchid vanilla and saffron.

 

Miniatur Wunderland Models of trains and landscapes in miniature? I was doubtful …well, I was amazed. Two huge floors where landscapes and cities of all the world have been meticulously reconstructed with airports, motorways, railways in great turmoil and crowded by a thousand minuscule people, including a team while washing Pope Francis car…

 

 

 

Travel and read.
130 bookshops stocked with second hand books! Passengers are allowed not only to read them during their journey ,but also to take them home.

 

Elbphilharmonie
Extraordinary glass structure, with windows that look like eyes. With its perfect acoustic, hosts concerts and shows. You get there with a spectacular 82 meter escalator that runs through The Plaza, from which you can enjoy a great view.
Perfect location for a drink or a snack at the Beer & Dine and a little shopping in the well-stocked book, music and souvenir store. Tickets can be booked 18 weeks in advance and children up to three years do not pay.
Hamburg and its museums. I chose two. Kunsthalle, 700 years of art, from the great masters of the Renaissance until 1800 with Manet, Caspar David Friedrich, up to the German expressionism (which I adore) and the contemporary avant-garde .
MKG  Great museum with unusual exhibits: famous deco posters, precious vintage pianos, sketches and 30s dresses, a space dedicated to design furniture, photo galleries avant – garde and much more.
It is true that the hamburger was born in Hamburg?
The most famous meatball in the world is ‘made in the USA’ or ‘made in Hamburg’?
The name would leave no doubt, but the Americans boast its paternity.
The Germans claim that it was cooked in the houses of Hamburg and then it was exported to the USA, while for the Americans it would be born in the port of Hamburg, a municipality located in the state of New York and the inventors would have been the Menches brothers who in 1885 would propose the first sandwich stuffed with meat during the country festival Erie County Fair.
Legends aside, here you will find space burgers. The best from Burger Lounge, Jim Block Jungfernstieg, Dulf’s Burger , Otto’s Burger Grindelhof and Schanze .
HafenCity. It is the new futuristic district of Hamburg, area of ​​creatives and artists,
To get there they have specially built the metropolitan U4 line. in 3 stops from the center you have already arrived. Here you can breathe fresh air, the spaces are open and many Hamburgers get away from work to go for a drink or a snack.

 

I stayed at the brand new 25 Hours HafenCity Hotel where I had a great time. I felt like a sailor, the rooms look like a ship’s cabins, with prosperous painted models on the bathroom walls.

 

Here atmosphere is easy and relaxed , The motto says  COME AS YOU ARE! There is also free access to a spectacular spa in stones and wood. In the morning a rich buffet breakfast is set up, there you can find everything, including rote gruetze, my beloved raspberry, blueberry and cherry sauce served on lean yogurt. Yummy!

 

 

 

What does a real Hamburger drink?
Beer, of course! It has been produced in Hamburg for over a millennium and has become an icon of German culture. Here some popular ones.
Ratsherrn, one of the city’s most famous artisan breweries From pilsner to light beers. Galopper des Jahres, popular and animated. The members of the staff are true fan of craft beer, so be sure to ask for their recommendations: they know what to suggest for every taste and palate. Blockbräu, a terrace with a wonderful view.
My favorite? Altes Mädchen An incredible variety of excellent local and around 70 international beers, also combined with tasty German specialties.Remember, the real Hamburger does not drink Coca Cola!

The preferred alternative is fritz-kola, rich in caffeine and lemon. It was born in 2002, invented almost for fun by young friends Lorenz and Mirco and produced with a really amateur process. Imagine: the labels were photocopies and they were glued by hand on the bottle …
Today it is the national soft drink.

 

 

Red lights …
night and day!

The St. Pauli district was once a bad area full of noisy pubs, frequented by criminals, sailors and prostitutes. Today the taverns have become artistic skyscrapers, like the Dancing Towers, which seem to really dance, while the smoky haunts of the past have become fashionable places.

But the raunchy survived: sex shops, theaters, striptease, burlesque and the inevitable bouncers who invite you to enter. In addition to the ‘sensory’ attractions, the neighborhood is full of super-trendy shops, new boutiques, hip clubs and bars

Keep walking around the St.Pauli district,
head towards Markstrasse and the surroundings of KarolinenvIertel.

There You will find small bars, self-managed restaurants, flowers, perfumes, mini boutiques and lots of vintage. If you are ‘bio’ dive into the Rider Markt Halle, and a relaxing drink from Zoe the bar of the different sofas. For more chic and exclusive products, head to Hole Bleichen.

 

 

 

Then it comes the time for…
beauty and relaxation.

After a long walk, it is right to take a relaxing break in Jungfernstieg, in the heart of Hamburg with a fantastic view of the Alster river. Here Nivea Haus awaits for you, this is the official store of the famous face cream, born in Hamburg in 1929. Here you can find classic or brand new creams for face and body, cosmetics, revitalizing treatments, relaxing massages, as well as manicures and pedicures.

 

Plus a really cute souvenir: your ‘Nivea’. You ‘ll be photographed and in a second …you’re on the cover of the famous blue box. I couldn’t resist …

 

 

So, what do you think?
Am I fine for a cream cover?

 

 

 

Are you a pizza lover… but intolerant to lactose ?

So many of us cannot deal with lactose or have difficulty digesting milk and dairy products …Here the solution!
‘A pizza, the brand made in Naples that distributes homemade artisan pizzas at home and throughout Italy, launches a lactose-free pizza margherita, which can be consumed in complete safety without having to give up the unmistakable taste of Neapolitan artisan pizza margherita and a red pizza, or oil and tomato. Margherita pizza without lactose ‘A Pizza is prepared with lactose less than 0.01% soft wheat flour 00, water, tomato, extra virgin olive oil, salt, basil. It has a long leavening dough prepared by the skilled hands of the master pizza makers. The proposal for intolerant people is also enriched by the Pizza Rossa: one of the most traditional and traditional flavors, to be consumed as it is or to be seasoned with the most diverse ingredients according to personal taste.
These pizzas preserve intact the nutritional values, the taste, the taste and the fragrance of the True Neapolitan Pizza.
The distribution of ‘A Pizza covers the whole national territory through the express courier: the product is packaged in a special “frozen pack” that allows you to maintain the right temperature for 48 hours. In the main cities’ A Pizza is delivered within 24 hours of its shipment.
Enjoy your healthy pizza!

Making tasty dishes without salt, fat and sugar ?

I met Marcello in Venice a while a ago, Back then he introduced me to his revolutionary concept La Cucina del Senza® a non salt-sugar-fat cuisine.
So, it is possible to make tasty dishes without the addition of salt, fat and sugar ?
YES! According to Lucia and Marcello Coronini, journalists, food critics and life companions and authors of the new book MANGIARE CON GUSTO E VIVERE 100 ANNI  EATING WITH TASTE AND LIVING 100 YEARS       Researches have selected different foods with substances able to improve the quality of life and lengthen their life. Several books have been written on the importance of these foods called smart, longevity or life saving, able to protect against diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems, hypertension, tumors, etc.
70 recipes carefully studied by the authors who inserted 80 LIFE SAVERS ingredients
into the dishes, a splendid marriage was born with La Cucina del Senza, eliminating fat, salt and added sugar, balancing the metabolism, disinfecting the body and helping to eliminate excess fat naturally, the use of life savers enhances the effects on health. Coronini himself lost 5.5 kg without going on a diet and his pressure has normalized.
Some lifesavers will surprise the reader like the coffee that you do not expect or the bargain that everyone thinks is rich in sugar, while in reality it contains only 4 g in 100, and then the caper that has incredible properties and to finish the dark chocolate and “authentic” mustard. In addition to that, you will find new ways of cooking that simplify and lighten the preparation
Here one of my fav
HUMMUS WITH BEETROOTS AND CHICKPEAS
Hummus is a vegetable sauce that has Lebanese origins and is widespread throughout the Mediterranean (Egypt, Greece, Syria, Turkey and Israel). This version, of a beautiful cyclamen color, contains ingredients with important nutritional properties. If not consumed immediately put it back in the refrigerator in an airtight container, it will be stored for a couple of days. The thaina sauce is a sauce made from sesame seeds.
INGREDIENTS AND HOW TO COOK

500 g of drained canned chickpeas
or 300 g of dried chickpeas
200 g of already cooked beets
100 g of thaina sauce
2 cloves of garlic
1 small red onion
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 tablespoon of spicy paprika  or spicy chilli powder
3-4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil of olive
1 lemon
1 tablespoon of thyme or parsley

Cook the dried chickpeas if you use them in water without salt added after have left them soaking for one night, if for reasons of time instead you have to use chickpeas in box, wash them under running water warm or immerse them for 3 minutes in boiling water (that will go away light taste of closed and you will eliminate the added salt); drain and remove them the external skin. Cut the beets into pieces and put them in the mixer with chickpeas, the thaina sauce, the private garlic of the soul, the chopped onion, lemon juice, paprika, cumin and oil. Add little with little water to give the right consistency: it must not be neither too hard nor too soft. Blend at intervals Sprinkle with fresh thyme or parsley. This sauce is perfect with bread croutons, hot wholemeal bread and paired with cooked vegetables.

MEET THE GRILLO AND CHOOSE HAPPINESS

The seasonal climatic conditions in 2017 were normal. Winter was relatively cool and dry as was Spring, leading to an early budding of the vines. Temperatures in the summer months were typical for the region, with the exception of a small four-day heat wave at the beginning of August when highs reached up to 44°C. The grapes were left thankfully healthy in spite of the spike in heat.

The plants had developed a balanced state between leaf and cluster due to the normal conditions throughout the year, so the grapes were sheltered with enough shade from the leaves to withstand the sun while still ripening very well. The aromatic and phenolic properties of the grapes were perfect

 

 

Today I choose Grillo Costadune Sicilia DOC 2017 

Grillo It is a white grape variety that is native to and widely diffused across Sicily, but particularly favoured in the Western regions of the island. It grows medium-sized clusters of spherical grapes that have a particularly thick skin. The vines grow best in high sun exposure and sandy soils, which helps it develop a high sugar content. Harvest generally takes place in the last two weeks of September. The wines end up with a higher alcohol level, a pleasantly wide range of aromas and great structure and minerality in the mouth.
A native white variety that grows in vineyards overlooking the sunny beaches of Southwestern Sicily. It is a wine with a typical Mediterranean character, intensely mineral yet fresh due to the medium textured calcareous soils and altitudes ranging from 80 to 200 m above sea level.Ageing takes place in steel for three months and then bottle for another three resulting in a fresh and mineral wine with strong notes of citrus and basil.  It hits the mouth with intense flavours of the seaside, fresh fruit and an underlying sapidity.
It is best paired with those spectacular sicilan grilled sardines, roasted vegetables, fresh cheeses and white meats.

 

 

 

 

for more info
mandrarossa.it