The home of tapas, Spain is hardly unaccustomed to the concept of small and fast when it comes to food. But at times the idea of tapas far exceeds the reality of salty fish swimming in brine, or meat that has been sitting out on a counter all day long. But at Sagardi you get the benefit of small portions and loads of variety, but all freshly prepared and full of flavour. It’s a bite-sized treat.
Address: San Vicente Martir 6, Valencia 46002.
Location: Just off Plaza de la Reina.
Telephone: (34-96) 3910668
I was in Harrogate for work; my son had started at Bradford University the week earlier. We met up for me to hand over his new laptop which had arrived the day after he left for uni. I offered him lunch at Bettys, where we had last eaten when he was still in a high chair, but the queue out the door was too daunting.
Then that evening he just missed one train back and had a long wait so, rather than dive into the nearest pub, he opted to try Bettys again and we found it still bustling at 8 o'clock in the evening but with the teeniest of queues.
Greeted with heartwarmingly friendly service and the tinkly tink of the pianist who plays every evening, we each demolished a brown bread ice cream sundae before he dashed for the next return train back to student land and I headed back to my hotel.
Situated along the walk from the Rynek Glowny to Wawel Hill the restaurant Balaton at ul Grodzka 37 provides excellent value Hungarian and Polish cuisine.
The surroundings are simple but pleasant, white walls, wooden chairs and benches, black and white photos on the wall and an array of hanging wooden fishes. The menu comprises a variety of soup - brought to your table in a metal dish suspended over an open flame from which you ladle it into your bowl – herrings, salmon and salami for starters followed by main courses of meat - including veal and wild boar goulash - poultry and fish dishes many incorporating potato cakes and dumplings. There is, however, only one vegetarian dish, potato cakes with mushroom sauce.
Service was understated but friendly and with a touch of flourish, for instance, when a main course of chicken Hungarian style was brought out sizzling from the kitchen and served ceremoniously from a platter onto the plate. As for the food itself it was great, tasty, filling, well cooked and well spiced. The main course of trout was perfectly cooked, crisp skin with melt in your mouth flesh underneath. Each main course also came with a side order of refreshing carrot, red and white cabbage salad.
And the price for two people for two courses, beer and vodka each – 99 zloty including a tip (approx. £17.00/$33.00). Excellent.
ul. Grodzka 37
Tel. (012) 422 04 69
An idyllic little spot tucked away in a beautiful part of England on the Welsh border. This is the hotel Al Gore stayed at when he was at the Hay Festival last year. As well as the hotel, though, there are also two comfortable and stylish self-catering apartments in an old threshing barn, on one side of the hotel's courtyard garden (sleeps two or three). We stayed there with our 10-year-old son last year - it's very special place.
A meal at Daphne Lambert's Award-winning Penrhos organic restaurant was our treat of the year. A welcome organic goodies pack was good, too. We had a week of magnificent countryside, on-top of-the-world views, hidden valleys, picnics by streams, great walking, castles, sunken lanes... it is truly glorious but this part of the world remains a closed book to most British holidaymakers. When we told people we were going to Herefordshire for a holiday, several of them asked where it was!
Do you Brits ever go anywhere except Tuscany, Venice and Rome?
Skip those tired, overrated and overpriced places and try Sicily. Besides spectacularly beautiful landscapes, the island offers some of the best, most interesting and unusual food to be found anywhere in Italy.
If you want outstanding pastry and gelato, then Pasticceria Scardaci in Catania is a must. The pistacchio gelato is reason enough for a trip. Fantastic locally grown pistacchios, in a superb gelato base - It is to die for. Try the wonderful pastries, too, especially the sheep milk ricotta cannoli, biscotti, and crostate.
Scardaci's also is a great place to hang out while enjoying your gelato or pastry and espresso and mingling with the hip and young crowd (many students and artsy types) often to be found there.
V. S. Maddalena 80
Santo Spirito, as i think a few have pointed out, gives you a welcome breather from the tourists yet it can only be a hundred yards from the Ponte Vechhio.
It is popular with students and with the locals (nearby are some delis and whatnot so you actually see Florentines) and comes to life after nine or so in the evening.
At the top of the square is Brunelleschi’s spectacular church - as well as having a crucifix by a very young Michelangelo, it was studied and admired by many including Da Vinci and it is easy to see why. It is especially pretty when the facade is lit at night.
There are a few restaurants and a couple of bars in the square, the type of spots where, if you drink too many amerettos, they give you a tequilla on the house - the atmosphere is friendly at all of them.
Istayed at Antica Dimora with a friend but it would be especially nice to go there romantically - ask for a room with a little balcony. You can watch (and listen!) to the market being set up in the morning. The rooms are huge with lovely wooden beams and, maybe vaguely kitsch decor but it feels like you’ve been to Firenze! It’s a short back street walk to the wonderful, wonderful Bobili gardens too.
piazza santo spirito no.9
t. +39 055 2658376
If you've eaten enough tortilla (I love the stuff, but one has a limit!), then head here for some great veggie tapas and also main meals.
Closed on Sunday and Monday for dinner.
Calle Salvador Giner 6, near Plaza del Carmen (north of Barrio del Carmen).
Minori is a small town 4 kilometres from Amalfi. It is much cheaper for everything - food, drink and accommodation - and is a beautiful small town. It is ten minutes by ferry, a great way to see the coast, and a ticket costs about 4 euros. Well worth it. A great spot with very friendly people, particularly the staff in Antares restaurant, and beautiful food.
For accommodation check www.amalfivacation.it
This is a walled, Tuscan hill top town on a small scale. You can drive up to the town, park your car in the shade beside the town wall, gaze out over the valley below and walk five minutes through cobbled streets to a town square with a selection of good restuarants.
This is a very pretty little town that is worth a visit and is out of the way enough to not be crawling with tourists. And still only a few minutes drive from A1, the main motorway north from Rome. I've driven up here to eat in the past, rather than stop for lunch at a motorway services.
Also the setting for Under the Tuscan Sun, apparently.
Consider going to a restaurant where the locals dine for your Peking Duck. Ok, you may not get the fancy furniture and uniforms that you will get in the touristy restaurants, but what you will get is a restaurant full of character and, of course, local people.
Think about it, if you have been to any of the advertised Peking Duck restaurants for tourists, have you seen many locals ? Of course the answer is probably no. The reason is probably due to the costs involved.
Myself and a few friends went to a restaurant close to a Hutong and had Peking Duck for three people. It cost less than £7.50 for the whole meal including beer and cola, not bad for three people. The portions were very large and we couldn't finish what was served.
Do consider trying a local restaurant, you will be amazed at the reception you will get and the locals will enjoy you as much as you will enjoy the experience of dining with them.
Last year three friends from uni did the organic cooking and farm tour holiday and loved it. A great mix of eating, drinking, cooking, seeing cute farms, lying around and sightseeing.
The cookery courses take place in La Selva, a small hamlet around half an hour from San Gimignano.
Organic bar and restaurant. Excellent vegetarian and non vege food. Good if you are a vege and non vege couple. Very reasonable for centre of Paris too. Also organic grocer next door.
47 bd St Germain, 75005, Paris. M. Maubert-Mutualite.
Tel: 01 44 07 36 99
Milan (Bergamo) Airport is miles from Milan but only 5km from the insanely beautiful and romantic Bergamo. Stay in the Citta' Alta and dine at La Colombina: small, local, friendly, delicious trattoria. Tricky to find but well worth it. Plenty of other things to see, do and eat as well.
La Colombina, Via Borgo Canale, 12, Bergamo Alta. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
A Cafe-cum-restaurant on the Piazza del Popolo. Very cheap, great tasting authentic food and civilised atmosphere. It has the best beef lasagne I ever tasted for a very reasonable price. Also has great desserts.
Piazza del Popolo. Nearest metro station is Flaminio. It is located on the side of the piazza nearest to the Borghese gardens.
Sawadee cap, must visit place is the 360 bar on the top floor of the Millennium Hilton. Great view and see the sunset. Make sure you be there around 17.30 hr, have a cocktail and enjoy the view of Bangkok and Chaopraya river.
After this have dinner at Spasso in the Grand Hyatt in Erawan. At 10 pm the live band starts, so if you are already in, you do not have to pay the cover charge of Baht 650.
Also try the lunch buffet at the Four Seasons Hotel and dinner Buffet at Novotel at Siam Square. The food and desserts are out of this world. Buffet at the Four Seasons is about 600 baht and at Novotel 650. But it's worth it. If you are looking for good DJ music than QBAR is your place.
Anyway Bangkok is a very polluted city but you can enjoy yourself very much. Watch out for the Tuk tuk seafood and jewelry scam and beware that if everybody is trying to making a living and tourists are part of it.
Four Seasons: Poenchit Road
Grand Hyatt: Poenchit Road
Novotel: Siam Square
Do not miss this if you visit Vienna - just a short and cheap underground ride from the centre and main attractions, Naschmarkt is a great place to explore for fun, or simply to eat very cheaply. Choose from a wide range of specialist food stalls (lots of cheese, olives etc) from around the world. A great multi-cultural experience if you get the chance, and even better if you're on a budget!
Google map: tinyurl.com/nrq52s
Enoteca Fontana, in Parma, has to be one of the most atmospheric wine bars in Italy. You enter by a small doorway under the arches in Via Farini, and bottles of wine surround you on every side. For around £4 you can buy a glass of wine and a toasted panini (I recommend goats cheese and sun dried tomatoes) and find yourself a place on the wooden benches in the back room to eat and drink, whilst chatting to the locals.
Enoteca Fontana, Via Farini 24, Parma. Tel. 0521 286037
Almost a town in its own right, it's on the Asian side, a pleasant place reached by ferry from Kadiköy. A very Turkish resort and a stop-off point for the unmissable Princes Islands. It also has the best fish soup this side of Atlantic! Find it at the Yildiz Yakamoz restaurant right in the centre. The squid was pretty amazing too.
On the edge of the Sea of Marmara, on the Asian side of Istanbul.
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