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

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NEW YORK, TAKING YOUR KIDS TO THE MUSEUM…

 

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 

 

 

 

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 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

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

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?

 

 

 

MATERA, Italy. The city, the Sassi and the best Lucanian dishes


Matera is one of the oldest cities in the world. By day the sunlight enhances its white. At night, it looks like an immense nativity set up under the starry sky.
Its quarter I Sassi, ancient dwellings dug into the tufo, where the roofs serve as a base for the houses that have developed on higher levels. These were dug entirely into the rock and represent one of the most striking examples of exploitation of natural resources to obtain suitable conditions for the life of a large community. In the caves often lived more families and despite the lack of space, almost all daily activities took place in the cavities of cave-houses: from handicrafts to weaving, from food storage to animal care (dogs, chicken, pigs, horses and donkeys were living with the family as primitive source of heating). The temperature was constant and guaranteed by the characteristics of the sea tufo , so the inhabitants did not suffer too much from the cold in winter and found a shelter from summer heat. This way of life for years has been seen as a sign of backwardness and incivility. The inhabitants of the Sassi were often considered as primitives living like animals. In 1952 Sassi was considered “the Italian national shame”and abandoned in the late ’50s, Sassi was able to be redeemed until they became Unesco World Heritage in and will be the 2019 European Capital of Culture. Its amazing scenario has been used s a set for Mel Gibson “The Passion” Pier Paolo Pasolini “The Gospel According to Matthew “King David”, Christ The Lord: Out of Egypt “, and the remake of “Ben-Hur “.

I took the Gran Tour of Sassi,
an intense 3 hours guided tour and I learn so much about the history of this amazing city. The tour begins in front of the Cathedral, in the upper part of the City, and then goes deeper into the tangle of narrow alleys, caves, cellars, churches, small gardens, tiny squares and districts. I was able to discover in detail these unusual dwellings partly carved out of the limestone. It s a long walk, so wear comfy shoes.

Matera is also well now for its cooking tradition, a classic example of Italian peasant cuisine, using free ingredients combined with a fair amount of labor and know-how to  turn an odd edible food into a delectable dish.
Here my choices:
 ll Terrazzino  
View, ambience, real food, rich menu, moderate prices and …did I mentioned the view? Welcome to Il Terrazzino, one of the oldest deck restaurant in Sassi Eustachio Persia welcomed me with a dish of local cold cuts, including my fav lampascioni, bulbs of a common wildflower in southern Italy, then I ordered lamb, and…surprise! iIt came wrapped in yellow strawpaper.
This place used to be a cantina, told me Eustachio, just wine, no food.So people used to cook it at home and take it here, all wrapped up in paper tto keep it warm, then tear the bag and eat it paired with a nice glass of wine.Then came the crapiata a soup of different legumes, cereals and potatoes typical of the Basilicata cuisine of rural tradition, prepared in great quantity every year on the first day of August in the district La Martella, close to the cultivated fields and served to the inhabitants. Eustachio took me downstairs, to the 17 century cellar, which incorporates the typical architecture of the Sassi and was refurbished to retrace moments of daily life of the peasant life,

Baccus
Simple yet elegant restaurant Located in the Sassi area, Baccus is well know for its Chef Carlo Pozzuoli who likes to reinterpretate typical local dishes and flavors of the past  in a modern way.

 

 

Starting with super crunchy chips of red peppers, followed by fagots of ziti with cream of yellow and red peppers, bundled in a slice of sweet scamorza cheese topped by goat ricotta curlS.

 

 

A soupy Dish with tagliolini pasta with black and white chickpeas, considered ideal fro pregnant women, since it contains a lot of iron.
The menu dedicates an attentive search of local herbs, like the cicoriella, the sivone and other fresh leaves variously used in cooking: in salads, minestrone, simply boiled with oil and lemon, or as a filling of ravioli and pansotti or excellent omelettes.

 

 

 

Carlo and his wife Mariella were wonderful hosts. Not only keeping me company at the table but also surprising me with a taste of a sweet heart shaped Sporcamuso, (begrime the face) a dessert so full of cream that I inevitably ended up with hot pastry cream all over my face.

 


Da Mario
‘We represent the tradition. My family managed this restaurant since the 50’s’ told me Anna, owner of the popular Ristorante Pizzeria Da MarioSince then we are always been loved by the people from Matera and from all over the world. Many celebrities have eaten here: Richard Gere, Mel Gibson just to mention few’                                         

 

 

I went there for lunch and followed Anna’s suggestions, starting with a tasty orecchiette alle rape with anchovies and toasted breadcrumbs, then I tried home made strascinati pasta with cardoncelli mushrooms and garnished with the typical crunchy peperone crusco, fried red pepper. Da Mario is know for its pizza. I tried a baby Margherita, perfectly cooked. ‘I love my town, peaceful and quiet, I run the restaurant a cosy BnB called Sassi Belvedere although sometimes I need some noise… some that’s why I have a place in Milan, where I go , like an escape little vacation, but then I am happy to be back in my Lucania ( the ancient name of Basilicata) Sorry I still call it Lucania.. perhaps it’s because I like the old things…
I don’t blame her..
Where I stayed.
Residence San Gennaro, located in the inner courtyard of the old “neighborhood”, once the fulcrum of the days of the inhabitants
Super friendly host Francesco delighted me with anecdotes about the city, gave me tips took me to the prehistoric hypogeous cave below the residence, embellished with a precious Nativity and prepared a great breakfast that included fresh local products. I stayed in Guerricchio suite, that has a kitchenette, a delightful double bedroom, a private bathroom and a cute little balcony to enjoy the view on the enchanting Sassi of Matera. It is At the entrance an artistic work of great value welcomed me. “Girasoli di Guerricchio”, a Lucanian artist to whom the suite is dedicated.

I also loved

Casa Noha
An amazing gateway” to the city, charting its history thanks to an innovative communication project, where the walls, the ceilings and the floors will take to an extraordinary journey through the history of Matera from its origins to the present day.

MUSMA
(Museum of Contemporary Sculpture Matera)
This unique museum provides the perfect environment for the symbiosis of sculpture and the characteristic carved sites in the Sassi; the exhibition galleries, in fact, consist not only of the rooms of the Palazzo, but also the vast hypogea, where the works of art are revitalized by the strength and beauty of the surrounding rock hewn spaces

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discovering ALIANO, Basilicata.


My dear friend Stanislao De Marsanich, President of Parchi Letterari Italiani (Italian Literary Parks) invited me to a unprecedent destination in the Basilicata Region: Aliano. Why did I said unprecedent?
Aliano is probably the less populated village in the Southern Italy I have ever visited. 600 inhabitants, mostly older men and older women still wearing the traditional black long dress , with their hair wrapped in a black scarf, two small bars, few stores , that close in the afternoon for a long siesta, the amazing nature around , populated by calanch wich are deforested, sandy soiled, rocky hills, a church, two restaurants (Locanda con gli occhi and Sisina Contadina). Aliano is a little village n the province of Matera, located in one of the most unusual, scenic, magical and spiritual places of Basilicata. The surrounding clay landscape is characterised by naturally eroded gullies and ravines, typical of this part of the region. This is the rough, moon-like landscape of Calanch.
I walked along those ridges of breathtaking cliffs, In the silence of the badlands and I hear nothing but the sound of my own footsteps.Loliness, abandon, misery, poverty and the lunar scenario were crucial source of literary inspiration for Christ Stopped at Eboli”, Carlo Levi’s 1944 memoir about his long exile in the area. Carlo Levi was born in 1902 in Turin, Piedmont, to wealthy parents. His father was Jewish and a doctor and his mother was the sister of Claudio Treves who was an important socialist leader in Italy. After attending to the University, young Carlo pursued is passion: painting. In 1929, Levi co-founded an anti-fascist organisation called Giustizia e Libertà for which he was arrested in 1935 and exiled to Aliano, a timeless place where ancestral customs reign: witchcraft, love potions, charlatanerie, He lived the for nearly a year, painting, working as a doctor and observing the daily hardship of the villagers that he would later narrate about in his book, ‘Christ Stopped at Eboli On those days, the malaria was decimating the population, already living in dire poverty and Levi tells what he lives, what he sees, the life of its inhabitants, their customs, painting a region abandoned to his sad fate and writing beautiful pages about their hunger, heir fear ad their beliefs. When Carlo Levi arrived in Gagliano , supposed to stay there for three years under house arrest, he said he had “the impression of having fallen from the sky like a stone in a pond”. The book tells the story of suffering and injustices, where the peasants have more confidence in their tribe, and in their family, and have very little respect for institutions that do not bring them any security or well-being. The toddlers mortality was enormous, nearly 50% died simply because their parents could not afford medical assistance.Dispate all the negative things, Levi fell in love with Aliano where he asked to be buried. In Aliano.The Literary Park s dedicated to him as well as a museum that offers personal letters, documents and drawings related to the period during which Levi lived in Aliano. I Walked around the city center, where venues and places his book relive in plates reporting extracts from. In the silence of the badlands, I hear nothing but the sound of my own footsteps.

 

 

Let me tell about Aliano’s houses…

 

They have facades somehow mysterious , sinister or curious, they look magical with some sort of exoteric message.The most famous is La casa con gli occhi (the House with the Eyes) which the small windows create a gloomy wing, beyond which the gash due to the roof’s falling down allowed the pale sun to enter.Aliano has its own dialect, “Alianese”, and the population keep many old traditions. One particular example is that, during Carnevale (a catholic festival that takes place a few weeks before Easter) village men, dressed in paper mache masks, hats covered with streamers, wearing long underwear and cow bells, march down the town’s main street, throwing flour at gathered crowds and making grunting noiss.Very interesting the Museum housed in the old oil mill under Carlo’s confiscation house, with the original millstones still present, and all the home furnishings, work tools and much more. Aliano recently opened a Museum dedicated to American artist Paul Russotto whose parents were originally from Aliano. He is known for his paintings and drawings that examine the subject of time and the vacillations between the abstract and the figurative. His subtle over painting creates dense textures which often seem to be clearly aware of the historical range of abstraction and the way it brushed up against figurations, from the cave paintings through contemporary figures. I stayed at La Casa De’’Americano a cozy two bedroom family managed bed & breakfast, and had my meals at their restaurant called La Locanda con gli Occhi. Dishes are simple and respect the alianese cooking tradition, from yasty cold cuts to hearty fresh vegetable soups, to lamb,

 

to ferrizzuoli pasta with fried breadcrumbs topped with the typical peperone crusco,
the local sweet red pepper, served dried
and crunchy.

For more info

VENICE. THE HANDS OF THE SPLENDID CA’ SAGREDO

                                                                               Buongiorno Cesare, sorry I literally have 5 minutes, i got to run to Mestre to sign the extension of showing ‘Support’.

They accepted our proposal, therefore Lorenzo’s sculpture is going to stay, It’s a victory!”

 

 

I am in Venice and I am meeting the flamboyant Lorenza Lain, general Manager of Hotel Ca’Sagredo,
The sculpture she is referring to is the amazing (and controversial) ‘Support’  an artwork by Lorenzo Quinn, an Artist known to sculpture body parts, and especially hands. as these two giant hands rising from the waters of the Grand Canal ideally aiming to protect the façade of Ca’ Sagredo, one of Venice’s most beautiful and iconic buildings that risks sinking due to a changing climate. At the same time, however, they could destroy it and let the city sink at any moment, because “A hand could hold so much power, said Quin, the power to love, to hate, to create, to destroy. “Venice is a city of floating art that has inspired cultures for centuries, said Quinn, but in order to continue to be like this, it needs the support of our generation and the future ones, because it is threatened by climate change and the decay caused by time”.Inaugurated on May, the sculpture was supposed to remain there until November., but thanks to the combative pressure of Lorenza and her team, it is still standing and it will stay longer.
The sculpture created a controversy: are the hands symbolically saving Venice from the threats linked to climate change or may be interpreted as instruments capable of destroying the city ? I walked on the small streets of the city and asked few locals (wasn’t easy to find some real ones, they were mostly tourists…) I got different answers:
The younger guys see the art as a positive message:.”Sure  those hands are protecting our city” “Can’t you see? Venice is sinking, needs a support, I wish the hands would stay forever and I hope to see more of them to protect other buildings” Someone, more cynically  went like “Nah, to me is the symbol of the invasion of too many tourist getting their hands on Venice and trying to steal its beauty”  Finally an older lady told me ” C’mon the hands are innocent! those are baby’s hands!
I guess she is right, the hands are the ones of a boy, as the model was Lorenzo’s son Anthony who is eleven years old.
Ca’ Sagreto benefitted of a huge amount of pics, videos and selfies, stimulating the curiosity to visit and stay in the hotel . I did, I spend a great night in one of the room , facing the canal. I was happy right from my arrival, welcomed by an
enchanting lobby and a high-level reception where you can find all the information you need to be guided to discover the magic of Venice. My room was charming, with Venetian glass lamps, white marble bathroom, comfy bed, a private little terrace and a complimentary tempting selection of chocolates and truffles.

In the morning I took a tour of the venue, excited to discovered the magnificent palazzo, which is the only Museum-Hotel of the City. The venue is a meticulously renovated 15th-century palace, with its lavish pink façade, between Ca’ d’Oro and the Rialto Bridge on the spectacular Grand Canal. I took me time to discover the extraordinary artworks throughout the palazzo.It is a real gem, half hotel, half museum with important works of art by 17th and 18th-century artists Sebastiano Ricci, Niccolò Bambini, Pietro Longhi and a beautiful Giambattista Tiepolo‘s canvas dated circa 1740. From every room and Suite you can admire the beauty of the lagoon city, the passage of Venetian gondolas and the roofs of romantic Venice. All accommodations have the most modern comforts from A/C to Wi-Fi. The rooms and suites are ideal both for a romantic visit to Venice and for a family to discover the Arts and Cultures of Venice.

 

 

 

 

 

The breakfast was essential, but made with fresh and quality food, and served in the amazing Sala del Doge, where the ceiling holds a painting by Nicolò Bambini, depicting a glorious god Apollo from which the other characters try to find shelter.Unfortunately I had no time Ca’ Sagredo’s restaurant  L’Alcova with its splendid panoramic terrace on the Canal Grande, featuring Chef Damiano Bassano who has worked in Paris, Strasbourg, Spain, USA and Spain in the three-star Michelin-starred restaurant Ferran Adrià, in Catalonia.
Damiano’s kitchen is a laboratory of traditional Italian flavors combined with unique touches are the distinctive elements of its cuisine, such as “Marsala scented tuna medallions” and t”Carnaroli risotto with prawns, burrata and almonds
I will definitely go back to Ca’ Sagredo and try his dishes,
and please…keep those ‘hands’ on!                           Ca’ Sagredo
is one of the  Small Luxury Hotels on the World.