Just five minutes from San Gimignano is a cookery class, run by Katia and her uncle Fulvio. With vineyards and the towers of San Gimignano as a backdrop, you can learn to make authentic Tuscan food in the kitchen attached to their hotel, Il Vicario.
We started with the preparation of bruschetta and panzanella (bread salad). Tearing up fresh basil and chopping up sun-ripened tomatoes instantly reignited an appreciation of Italian flavours. Next, we got stuck into hand-rolling ‘pici’ pasta, along with two sauces – tomato and cannellini bean. Finally, we prepared a chicken dish in an orange sauce to complete our lunch menu.
This is a really enjoyable format, as Katia takes you through the steps and explains Tuscan traditions, including the jaw-dropping quantities of garlic and olive oil used for each dish! The highlight is sitting down at a long table to eat, drink Chianti wine and chat with Fulvio, Katia and the other participants.
The half day class is very reasonably priced. We also recommend accommodation within walking distance, so you can ‘roll’ back in the afternoon sun.
The perfect place for your first taste of Bangkok's famous street food. Some of the best and cheapest smoothies, phad thai and mango and sticky rice I have had in Bangkok.
The start of Sukhumvit Soi 38, nearest Sky train/BTS: Thong Lor
Google map: bit.ly/yUwYlh
For stunning views of seven kilometres of unspoilt, golden sand and sparkling blue sea, look no further than this family-run bar with real Spanish atmosphere and a great selection of meat and fresh fish from the BBQ. Grilled and split langostinos in season are great value and an absolute must, and there's a terrific selection of tapas served from about noon onward. Elevated slightly from the beach, and with a partially glassed-in area to protect from sea breezes, it provides a perfect area to relax over a cerveza or the excellent house wine. Late evening it's buzzing, often to the accompaniment of live music.
A tasty Venetian snack of freshly made bites of bread topped with different variations of fish paste/cheese/onions/peppers/anchovies served with an 'ombre' or a glass of wine. The best places to go are off the beaten track. My favorite is Vini Al Bottegon otherwise known as Cantine del Vini gia Schiavi, a tiny standing room only wine bar, where you crowd around the food bar and wait for madame to patiently pick out the cicchetti you fancy. Each slice with it's topping is a reasonable one or two Euros and you ask for a full plate of five or just the number you want. Standing room only and a fab atmosphere!
992 Dorsoduro, Venezia, VE 30123 30123
+39(0)41 523 0034
Google map: bit.ly/ygctDw
This is a really nice little restaurant serving unpretentious Lyonnais food.
The service was good, although obviously being a bit away from the tourist area there was no English spoken. This did lead to us ordering calf's brain by mistake, but we couldn't really send it back, and it was actually quite tasty.
The wine good, as expected, and the bill was fairly reasonable.
One I would recommend, although it might be worth looking out your phrase book if you're not confident of your French.
You’ll need to arrive earlier than the Spanish to ensure a table and tapas in this thriving,
buzzy Asturian community centre, open Friday to Sunday evenings and staffed by volunteers for the last 20 years. Inside older community members prop up the bar, and tables of Spanish speakers alternate with other nationalities, all happily gorging on generous plates of gambas, ham, cheese, sardines and calamares – washed down with beer for 1 euro or Asturian cider, poured from a great height to get the air into it. Past the bar with its photos of landscapes and Asturians proudly wielding their prize-winning cabrales cheese, the centro gives way to a village hall atmosphere, complete with functional tables and plastic chairs. Last time I was convinced our table of seven had over-done it: we’d ordered nearly everything on the menu, twice! But we still managed to finish everything – and three bottles of rioja - for the princely sum of 20 euros per head.
Open Friday and Saturday evenings and for lunch on Sunday.
171 rue Haute/Hoogstraat, 1000 Brussels
+32 (0)2 511 05 59
Google map: bit.ly/ysbmVR
Bec is our Been there local for Brussels. You can view her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/brussels-local-rebecca.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/Becinbrussels
Over the past ten years, Jeffrey Street’s La Garrigue has steadily built up a loyal following of regulars who don’t need Gordon Ramsay’s endorsement to tell them that this is French food made to the highest order. And then 12 months ago, La Garrigue opened a sister branch on the other side of town, so I popped along to see if the food there was up to scratch.
There is a friendly, welcoming atmosphere and La Garrigue’s whole ambience is similar to sitting in a friend’s front room. Offering wonderful service and mouth-watering dishes, three courses for £30 is exceptional value for the fine ingredients and culinary skill. Be sure to take your appetite.
14 Eyre Place, Edinburgh EH3 5EP
Google map: bit.ly/ydGkYf
* Rachel is our Been there local for Edinburgh. You can view her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/edinburgh-local-rachel-brown.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/RachelBrown
If you want authentic high-quality cooking by one of France's greatest chef's, but for a fraction of the price, then make sure you book a table at Alain Ducasse's traditional bistrot in Paris, Aux Lyonnais. As the name suggests all dishes are traditional Lyonnaise fair, including Quenelles a la Lyonnaise, sauce Nantua (yum) and Tarte et île flottante aux pralines roses (even more yum). With set menus for lunch costing as little as 30 euros, this really was a gem of a find. Tucked down a quiet side street, the 1890 decor makes for a sumptuous setting that was clearly good enough for Hollywood, as it recently featured in Woody Allen's film Midnight in Paris.
For those who want everything a classic French Cafe/Bistro has to offer, including atmosphere, Tour de France cyclists in full gear (on a Sunday morning anyway) and right at the base of South London's Eiffel Tower (i.e. The Crystal Palace Communications Antenna), look no further than the complelely brilliant Cafe St Germain. The menu is authentic too, and you can light up your Gauloise on the terrace whilst watching Gay Palace stroll by.
I recommend Brula as an authentic and exquisite French Bistro experience in St Margarets, south west London. It has an amazing interior with stained glass windows and original block wood flooring. A delicious seasonal menu of traditional French classics with a twist keeps things fresh. If you're with a group I'd book the private dining room upstairs. I had a great evening with all the family on the eve of my wedding as they do a superb set menu and on a warm summers evening with the sash windows flung wide open, candles lit and champagne flowing. Magnifique!
A lunch time visit to La Cigale enroute back to the UK lifted our post vacation spirits. La Cigale dates back to the 1890’s and the décor is truly breathtaking.
Ornate tiling between the wooden panels and gorgeous mosaics. The white-aproned waiters were straight out of Allo, Allo.
The Cigale can be seen in various poses in the tiles and mosaics. Apparently the cigale plays and eats all summer, a creature of the moment. The ambiance of La Cigale coupled with the delicious food, sea food is a speciality, encourages you to live in the moment.
After winding your way through the Marais district, behind the Place des Vogues on the corner of a street, is a small bistro bursting with colour, ambience and delicious food. You can wait for a table by the bar, which has a fabulous range of Provencal wines and then nestle into one of the chairs or benches, under large bright prints with scenes from the French Riviera. Starting with some tasty olives, the food is fantastic, especially the classics such as the mussels, steak and duck; somebody at your table (even if it’s for one!) has to have the chocolate mousse. Although very popular, this bistro seems to be off the tourist track, humming with local chat and is so quintessentially French, it has become a favourite place to visit in Paris.
This is a warm and friendly French bistro that we found by accident when walking away from the tourist crowds through the back streets of Montmartre (we almost walked past the wooden frontage of the restaurant!) It's a lovely little spot with a great atmosphere, reasonably priced and very tasty classic dishes (around 15 euros for a main course). The wine list has a good unpretentious selection of wine too. Make sure you try the chocolate parfait for dessert! We went around 9pm when it was quite buzzy, and it seemed to go on until quite late - we loved it as the clientele were pretty much all French with the odd tourist dotted around (presumably they had got lost and found it by happy accident like us!)
Karim's is a legendary 100 year-old Mughlai restaurant in the Jama Masjid area of old Delhi. The Roti and Kebab's are unbelievably delicious. You haven't visited Old Delhi until you eat at Karim's or at least enjoy some take-away food.
Typically we stumble on the best restaurants on the last night of our trips, and invariably they are right under our noses. Such was the case with Le Basilic. It is intimate, atmospheric, inviting and affordable with a three set menu for 23 Euro's or the Parisian staples of escargot and duck from the a la carte menu. After feeling ripped off in the majority of Parisian eateries, Le Basilic restored our faith in French bistros, especially considering its location within a mile of Moulin Rouge and Sacre Coeur (both of which are worth a post dinner stroll). We first found Le Basilic in 2000, were delighted that it was still open when we returned to Paris in 2008 and we make a beeline for it whenever we are are near Montmartre.
A fantastic stop off on your way down through France. A beautiful village in the Beaujolais region. The bistro is situated in the Georges Dubœf Wine Museum serving all the latest wines from this amazing French wine king. The food is simple yet delicious, the cleanliness of the restaurant is exemplary and I guarantee you will not be disappointed. It is just a step off the TGV station or not far from the A6 Autoroute. The museum is also well worth a visit if you have time.
I discovered Lahloo tea a few years ago at a small food festival and have been hooked since. When I heard that they had opened a specialist tea shop in Bristol, I was eager to visit!
Lahloo pantry is an independent modern tea room serving the most delicious home baked teas, cakes, tarts and savory dishes.
I was delighted by the passion and enthusiasm behind the shop and the place has a lovely, warm, relaxing atmosphere. We had the afternoon tea for £13.50 per person, it was fun, beautifully executed and a real special treat. I'll be back on a weekly basis for their macaroons!
It's a little gem in the heart of Clifton village.
It is a small welcoming French bistro in a side street in the 11eme, a bit off the tourist track
The menu is short and the food good and the wine list has something for every pocket.
We discovered the Auberge des Peintres in the picturesque hamlet of Saint-Ceneri -Le-Gerei on an overnight stop in Normandy. Situated on the main square in a building dating back some 300 years, the bistro’s wood panelled walls were hung with canvasses of local painters, continuing a long association with writers and artists including Baudelaire. All the old favourites were on the menu. Starters included rilettes de maquereaux, ouefs cocotte, pates and salads. Juicy pave de boeuf, pink magret de canard, creamy gratin de mer, andouilletes, boudin noir, and cote de boeuf were but some of the mains. The joys of chocolate fondant, charlottes and tarte tatin followed. Prices were reasonable for the excellent cooking. Best visited in the evening when day trippers have left and a pre-dinner stroll takes in the frescoed, Romanesque church, a beautiful stone bridge under which kayaks glide, wild flower gardens and Les Jardins de la Mansoniere, a garden in which candlelit classical music concerts are hosted in summer.
Le Bourg, 61250 St Ceneri le Gerei, France
Google map: bit.ly/wMIn2g
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