Halfway through our trip round the lower Cilento region, two hours south of Naples, we were invited to lunch at the Nido della Luna guesthouse and working farm, home of farmer Rafaello, at the foot of towering, rugged Mount Bulgheria and over-looked by the ghostly medieval hill village of San Severino.
We pulled up in the driveway of a large farmhouse complete with vegetable patch, stables, and billy goats bleating in a field. In the open porch under a brilliant sun, a smiling old lady in apron and slippers stood, in front of an open brassier with a cooking pot hanging over a roaring wood fire. This was Rafaello's mother, and as a means of sharing some traditional recipes of the region with us she'd lit the fire in the outdoor kitchen and laid a large oak table with traditional cooking utensils for us to play with. This is how I'd really like to cook everyday!
On a large wooden platter were heaps of sliced local aubergines and a pot filled with stuffing mix. We were to make Melanzane M'buttanate, a simple peasant dish packed with the rich flavours of creamy home made ricotta cheese, fresh eggs and fresh parsley.
She guided us through the cooking process, all the while bringing bits and bobs to the table for us to sample as we fried the aubergines: local bitter strawberries jam, honey from their backyard, still warm mozzarellas from the neighbour and a basket of mushrooms and wild greens picked in the surrounding hills with which to make a soup.
We ate with the family, two silent, but softly smiling old goat farmer in flat caps and checked shirts - Grandpa and Great Uncle, Rafaello and his wife, and the parents, who refilled my wine glass with their own-grown thick, nectary red so often I barely remember arriving at pudding! Had we stayed longer, we would have been taught to make ricotta, helped with fruit picking and no doubt cooked up some more delicious Cilento peasant dishes.
In payment for this feast, we were asked only to recommend their beautiful farmhouse b&b to others, so here's the mention. I can't recommend their hospitality and the delightful setting in Italy's most prized secret region enough!
Il Nido della Luna
Via Stazione, 24
Cilento - Salerno (CA)
Tel: (+ 39) 0974/934093-(+39) 347/6540872
You can get a train to Centola from Salerno, or Naples. Driving, take the A3 motorway Salerno - Reggio Calabria, taking the Battipaglia exit, SS. 18 in the direction "Costiera CIlentana".
THe nearest beach is the exquisite Palinuro.
Tucked into a secluded corner of beautiful Parasporos beach, is a rare treat. A restaurant serving top quality international and Greek dishes sourced entirely from local produce. The menu changes seemingly daily, (at least it did every time we visited), so there is always something for even the most jaded of palates, and with the wide selection of beers and wines it's easy to spend the whole afternoon eating, whilst drinking in the view of the sea as it laps at the edge of the beach, mere feet away.
Shirley Valentine would love it!
To the side of the big beach bar at the northern end of Parasporos Beach approx 2km from Parikia.
Either go by foot along the road to the airport and take the turning for Delphini beach, and keep going alomg the track for another 500m or so, or take a cab (about 5 euro from Parikia)
Melbourne is getting a collection of great little restaurants along its bay and Vincents is another one. It has fantastic views across Port Phillip Bay and the surrounding bayside suburbs from the upstairs dining room.
The menu is mediterranean based and of course offers lots of fish choices.
The pastas were great as were the home made dips. Service was smart and efficient. BYO and also licenced, Vincents is just a nice place to go and have a meal
My few days in La Rioja, one of the richest gastronomic regions of Spain, was a feast of the senses and has deepened my love of all things Spanish. We didn't expect the concierge of a five-star hotel to recommend an eatery situated in a petrol station – “There are bright green neon signs outside and it looks a bit like a brothel, but don’t worry,” she said, quite seriously.
So we arrived: petrol station, inside a room full of men and the room went silent. We shared a salad of pigs’ trotters stuffed with foie gras (yes, it really was a petrol station). The waitress seemed fascinated by the fact that we were there and was delighted to recommend her favourites on the menu and described passionately how we must eat each dish: with the lamb we were to “take a mouthful of the lettuce with every bite”.
It was fabulous. My roast leg of lamb was perfection. And bless them: rather than the delicious looking chips all the other diners (a lone woman arrived just after us) were eating, they served our main courses with ‘proper’ potatoes and vegetables. But much more importantly, my lamb came with a wonderful crisp green salad.
The simplicity of this showed an element of sophistication I’ve learnt not to expect from some of the best restaurants, let alone a roadside petrol station. The other main course of Magret of Duck was equally sensational: simply seared and perfectly pink, it was served with chestnuts, warm ‘marmalade’ and a cranberry sauce.
To finish we shared a cheese flan and feeling very full we were careful not to say we were sharing in case, as she had with the starter, brought not one to share, but one each. But to no avail: sure enough, she came proudly out of the kitchen carrying two full-size portions. And, I’m ashamed to say, we both polished off the lot – it was just, just wonderful.
Av de San Raimundo,
outside of Baristeri,
The Liébana area of the Picos de Europa is one of western Europe's last natural Edens and refuge of the wolf and Cantabrian brown bear. Cork oak forest and vines make clear a Mediterranean climate, but the cable car at from Fuente Dé takes you 800 metres up to spectacular Alpine scenery and great hiking.
Afterwards, on the way back to Potes from Fuente Dé, hungry walkers can satisfy body and soul at the Restaurante del Oso in Coslaya. The portions are huge and the local beef and vegetable stew ("cocido lebaniego") is simply wonderful.
Fuente Dé is reached from Potes, the toruism hub for the Picos de Europa in Cantabria.
More information and guide to the area:
Terrazas de Los Andes can be found in one of the most picturesque places in South America. I travelled through Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Brazil, and Mendoza has to be one of my favourite places from my visit. The winery itself is incredibly tranquil, set in the mountains, away from main roads, you can't help but lose yourself there. We were given a very informative tour around the winery and then sat down to the most delicious three course meal, each course accompanied by a different wine. We spent the entire afternoon there, chatting over the wine, enjoying the food and ended up snoozing on the swinging hammock in the garden. I would recommend visiting between January and February when it is lovely and warm.
Thames y Cochabamba, Perdriel,
Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza
Tel: (54 261) 488 0058
Fax: (54 261) 488 0614
Absolutely delicious Keralan food served in a delightful way. This branch specialises in vegetarian and seafood and we had the feasts in both and both were fab. By 7pm they were turning people away so best to book or get there early.
5 Charlotte Street, London, W1P 1HD. www.rasaresaurants.co.uk tube - Tottenham Court Rd or Goodge St
The wonderful Neszmely Vineyard is now Hungary's most successful wine producing estate with 560 hectares of grape vines.
It still retains the family business atmosphere and we stayed in the delightful 'Borhotel and etterem' (wine hotel and restaurant) with views of the mighty Danube.
The Hilltop company only started in 1991 but already produces some of the best whites in Hungary. The Neszmely Irsai Oliver 2006 is an absolute classic: crisp, fruity, all those cliched white wine flavours really do come true with hints of straw, spice and summer.
The Irsai Oliver grape is a relatively new hybrid and a relative of the Muscat grape.
It's eminently quaffable and very good to drink on hot summer evenings by the Danube!
Also recommended are the:
Neszmely Olaszrizling 2006(Italian riesling) and the Premium Neszmely Grigio 2006
Situated 75km east of Budapest, near Tata.
Ady Endre utca 11-13
Tel +36 1 336 2220
Tucked away in Kensington Gardens in the North Laines, The Gardens cafe is quint-essential Brighton. With its quirky artwork throughout, a lovely upstairs balcony looking down on the lanes, and a menu that takes up two whole walls, it is definitely a place you would come back to for its good vibes and comfortable feel.
The food at this place isn't the finest cuisine, but it's location makes up for this. The balcony is a prime people watching spot. You can see right the way along Kensington Gardens which is particularly good on a busy weekend.
1 Kensington Gardens, Brighton BN14AL
We have just returned to France from a week's holiday in Amsterdam. I have a few suggestions for other travellers. We had previously stayed at www.hoteltoren.com. Great place. Very charming and family run (which we like). This time around we rented an apartment through www.apartments-for-rent.com/amsterdam.
We booked an apartment in the Jordaan area on the Prinsencanal. We were very lucky to meet some young guys the first day we arrived. They run a small boat rental business called www.boothurenamsterdam.com (which translates into boat rental amsterdam) The guys who run it are amazing and give us a whole list of fun things to do in the neighbourhood. We did not leave the Jordaan area except for a brunch at the www.bakkerswinkel.nl in the Westerpark.
The boat rebtal guys suggested little Amsterdam gems like www.tazzina.nl and www.cinemaparadiso.info/
Great part of the city - lots to do. I found some fantastic tapas restaurants. It is unmissable if you are spending any time in Palma. You can find it in the centre near the Palma Cathedral. One restaurant was particularly good, La Boveda, the tastiest olives I have found anywhere before or since. I stayed at the Catalonia Majorica Hotel which had beautiful views.
You can find it in the centre near the Palma Cathedral.
When in Bocas del Toro you've got to stop by Toro Loco bar and restaurant. It's an American-owned bar that offers free Wifi, darts, delicious bar food including burgers, quesadillas, chicken fingers and wings and chili - all $6 and under. They also have five televisions around the bar that carry sports all day long! Free popcorn for everyone and happy hour is everyday from 3-6pm. A great place in town to have a cold beer and catch up with old friends or make new ones.
Located on Central Avenue, just behind the park in the middle of town.
Great food at a great price. No main was more than €10! Wine was about €8-€9 a bottle.
We don't normally go to the same restaurant twice when we are on holiday, but we came here three times when we were here in Madrid in summer 08.
There were queues into the place on some evenings.
Plaza El Ángel 12
28012 Madrid, Spain
+34 913 691 059
Great restaurant in Prenzlauer Berg area of Berlin.
Seemingly this was visited by Schroder, Clinton & Albright during a visit to the area in 2000.
German / French /Swiss dishes on menu.
(€7 - €17)
Nearest metro Eberswalder Str.
As you wind your way up into Italy's Sibillini Mountains, between Le Marche and Umbria, you will come across this dazzling tourquoise lake with its dramatic Mountain views.
If you arrive early in the morning you are likely to see boar and deer sipping from the shallow waters but as the heat of the day arrives you will be unable to resist the urge to dive in and sample a swim in the crystal clear pools.
In fact, if you take a snorkel and mask you can even view the medieval village and its church that was submerged during the last century.
There are also a number of beach areas one with a bar, a gelateria selling home made ice creams and a lakeside village with an osteria and pizzeria.
There are many marked walks nearby that take you around the lake, or high up onto the peaks and ridges of this dramatic part of the Italian Appenines. Great for building up a sweat before that wild swim!
San Lorenzo al lago, Macerata, Le Marche, Italy
Fantastic restaurant and bar, very popular and full of locals so get there early. Lovely atmosphere, good food, reasonable prices, limited but satisfying menu including vegitarian option. Proper Venetian feel with uncomplicated service - not fleecing tourists.
Calle del Pistor 3912, Near Ca' d'Oro, Cannaregio
The perfect place for a late afternoon or evening drink is from one of the terrace cafes by the castle overlooking Zante town. Great view and you can see the lights of the town twinkling and the whole bay stretching before you.
There's a beautiful little church there which isn't always open, but if it is take a look inside at the gilding and chandeliers - it's a favourite for weddings and christenings.
You can also climb the cobbled lane up to visit the stone Venetian fortress perched on the hill. There's a rather trendy nightclub on the way up if you want to mix with the beautiful people.
Take a taxi or drive up the hill at the back of Zante town and follow the signs - there's a big car-park nearby.
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com