Italian Roadtrip – Continued

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My second stop on the roadtrip was nearby Florence. After a drive through the beautiful hillside on the Autostrada A1 I arrived at the hotel Villa Le Maschere located in a small town in Tuscany.

(Note: Between Bologna and Florence you can choose to drive either the scenic route – which I did on my way to Florence – or the fast route mostly consisting of tunnels – which I took on my way back)

Unfortunately my room had a small window, due to booking category and due to the historic building which only has small windows at the top floor rooms. In the end I didn’t want to upgrade to a higher category, because I was staying at the room only for sleep anyway. Except for the window I had a comfy stay at the hotel and I used the poolside extensively for sunbathing. The view from the pool, breakfast and also dining area is wonderful as you can see the valley through the trees that surround the hotel area (which even has its own park!).

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The morning after my arrival I decided to visit Florence, where I stayed only 3 hours in the end, since it was too hot to walk around and the streets where filled with too many tourists and just because I had already seen many of the sightseeings several years ago I could afford to enjoy a few bites here and there of good Italian food and drinking some Italian coffee and leave the city behind. But not without purchasing something. So I acquired maritim-styled Italian handmade and hand-painted plates which my dinner-guests can enjoy as souvenirs on my table. Small souvenirs are always good for memories.

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The obligatory shot:

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But talking about memories. What I will always remember is my drive to Florence on that day – which was an unforgettable experience: I wanted to drive to Florence as early as possible, since I prefer to experience cities during the morning hours, when people are hustling to work, shop owners open the doors and coffee shops are still in the cleaning process before their first customers arrive. I love the morning vibes of any city, you feel them and although being just an observer, you can learn a lot of a city’s attitude during the morning hours. I also like to breathe in the morning air – it’s fresh with lots of optimism and hope. Have you ever soaked in the dizzy sizzling morning air when the dew is still fresh?  Anyway – I’m drifting off from my experience: I started at the hotel after an early breakfast in a good mood was driving along the countryside road to the highway. Then took my toll ticket from the highway toll station (note: Italian highways have a toll system, where you take a ticket when you enter the highway and pay when you leave them) – still in a good mood – then drove the driveway to the highway – still in a good mood – and —boom — it hit me (not literally) – panic – I realised that I forgot my wallet at the hotel safe. So no money, neither coins nor credit cards, with me to pay anything in Florence and even worse nothing to pay my toll at the exit of the highway. Also no passport that I can identify myself. The next exit was about 10km away – the longest 10km drive of my life so far – where I was already seeing me at an Italian police station where I would be in an interrogation of the situation and my identity. So I had bead of sweats on my forehead when I was opening my window at the exit toll station. I tried to explain the situation a bit too fast to the officer there – he interrupted me and said I should repeat slowly and then when he understood my situation he smiled friendly, nodding with compassion, but ensured me in a relaxed way that this could happen and they have a normal procedure for this. So he took note of my license plate and I got a bill with the information that I should transfer the due amount within 15 days.  And thats it. So, all my worries were unreasonable. If someone had only told me before. So I’m sharing this with you, in case you will experience similar in the future.

Of course I drove back to the hotel to get my wallet for the visit to Florence- but I drove on the countryside, which is unbelievable beautiful and included a mini-serpentine with an amazing valley-view on the top of the hill.

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To end the story of my second stop of the trip – I’m concluding this with the two dinners I had at the hotel – I wanted to eat at the hotel, because I could have a wine with the food (if I had eaten in Florence or else, I would still have had to drive back). The food at the hotel restaurant was excellent. On the one hand yummy local dishes, such as Pasta filled with a potato-cheese mixture topped with ragout bolognese

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and on the other hand other Italian classics with a twist: Gnocci made out of purple potatoes.

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Only the dessert menu was too innovative for me, no classics were represented. If you have been following my blog, you maybe have noticed already that I am a dessert-conservative. I’m an open minded foodie and even love molecular tongue games, but I don’t like experiments with desserts. Sometimes I have the feeling there are too many patissiers who try too hard where they don’t have to. A dessert menu – in my opinion – must at least offer one of the classics. It is the grand final of the meal, whether lunch or dinner. Even after having experienced an innovative meal, I want to conclude the dinner with a rather simple chocolate cake or tiramisu or panna cotta or flan or cheese cake or creme brûlée or gelato etc.. The list can go on and on and on. Such desserts can be spectacular and unforgettable in taste so that you won’t need any innovation. So, I was a bit disappointed not to find anything I desired for in the dessert menu at the hotel restaurant. Nothing that I would have  preferred for the conclusion of an excellent meal. But this, like I said, has to blamed to my personal taste.

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But my disappointment was made up for by the very satisfying breakfast, especially the sweet part of it:

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With this – I like to take you along to my next stop with my next posting…


P.S.: Further songs from my playlist, also worth listening to:

Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits

Go your own way – Fleetwood Mac

Mr. Blue Sky – Electric Light Orchestra

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Italian Roadtrip – First Stop

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My roadtrip was wonderful. So many new experiences and an amazing scenery during my drive. It is truly unbelievable what the world has to offer – and you neither have to fly to America nor Asia – the wonders of nature and beautiful surroundings lie ahead a short drive from Munich. Even if I have driven the main part of my route already many times – this time I had such a pleasure, because I soaked it up all by myself without talking to any co-drivers.

Snow, Mountains, Greens, Rocks, Wine Grapes, Zypress, Olive trees, Sun, Lakes… all on one drive to Florence. Unbelievable beautiful images that occurred in front of my eyes – although I couldn’t enjoy them fully as I had to steer the car.

Nevertheless, I loved driving the car down to Italy. You have to know that I am a roadtrip type of person, thats why far distances have never mattered to me. But I wanted to do the travel in 3 different stops, since I didn’t want to drive down the whole route to Florence and missing my favourite town on the way: Bolzano (why: click here).

As usual when I’m in Bozen, I was staying at the Laurin Hotel.

The hotel contacted me already in advance of my stay apologising for the inconvenience they will cause during the night of my stay, because of a Food Festival was happening in their garden. Several local award winning cooks did in total eight dishes – each on their own “food station”. However, to me this was a “Jackpot” – of course I didn’t mind the inconvenience – quite the contrary: I reserved me already a ticket for the food festival in advance!

And this was also the highlight of the day in Bozen. After having had the obligatory gelato, a walk through the city center and some sun-bathing, I was among the first persons on the festival. There were a lot of wineries present who let you try several wines and of course I took advantage of this (but since I was travelling alone I only took a few sips each) and I learned about a winery I didn’t know yet (Eisacktaler Kellerei) which I will definitely visit during my next travel to Italy.

But now to the food: It was “fair & local cooking night”, and the cooks were creating a diverse menu that included local ingredients but also fair trade items from all over the world. Everything was prepared barbecue style in the garden of the hotel. All tasted delicious and each course was exciting, also because every cook prepared something different in style from each other. Now some of the courses in pictures:

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Tomato gazpacho with grilled char and kataifi.

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Risotto with artichoke with scampo on charcoal  and crunchy quinoa.

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Barbecue-Ravioli filled with suckling pig on bock beer creme, pointed cabbage bouillon and wild fennel.

Unfortunately I didn’t took any pic of it, but I especially loved the dessert with Raspberry Tapioka, grilled marshmallow and a safran-tamarind-macaron. Tasty!

All in all, the trip had already started very good with my first stop and I was wondering then if this even can get any better. Well, it did… but about the other days of my trip in my next posts.


P.S.: My top 3 songs from my roadtrip playlist:

  • Su di noi – Pupo
  • You belong to me – Bryan Adams (maybe the best one of his songs ever?)
  • Mr. Jones – Counting Crows

 

Weekend in May

As mentioned a few posts earlier, I don’t know how to continue with the format of this blog – it became quite boring for me to only write about where to eat and what to eat or where to travel or what to do.

Today I still don’t know what will happen, but I just keep writing, maybe in the hope that the blog will find it’s own way during the next couple of posts.

Why not write about my current weekend. Isn’t this what a blog – an online diary – is about?

So far, my weekend has already been filled with a lot of nice things. Although it began with me being annoyed:

Being back from a travel to Berlin… I wanted to spontaneously go out for breakfast while also enjoying the sun. In Berlin this wouldn’t have been a problem. A dozen of cafés would pop up in front of my way through the streets of Berlin. However, Munich doesn’t offer a variety of good breakfast places with an al fresco option. I mean there are options where you can sit outside and enjoy the start of the day, also good ones, but honestly I can count them up to 3. And if you haven’t reserved any table – no chance for a spontaneous breakfast.

So I had the hope, wandering around the streets with no exact goal, finding a new good spot in Munich to have breakfast al fresco. After almost two hours (!) I gave up and went to one of my favourite places: Stereo Café. In the end a good decision, but it was already lunch time and I was hungry as hell.

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With my stomach being satisfied and having soaked up the sun on Stereo Café’s terrace, I did then the only to do I had for this weekend: Pre-travel shopping.

I’m getting more and more excited about my trip next week. And since I am traveling alone, I had to buy something that I would have laughed at just a couple of weeks ago: a selfie stick. But hey, I do not hand over my phone to complete strangers to take pictures and maybe run away with all my data…

Since I was already at the electronic shop, I also got me a new SD card, a power bank, a mini-tripod  and a cleaning wipe for my system camera. So – I’m perfectly prepared for my travel.

On my way home I grabbed a coffee from Starbucks – why am I telling you that? Because, for a non-coffee drinker I realize with every day, that I turned to a semi coffee-drinker – but only the coffee with a lot lot lot of milk and a sweet flavour shot in it. Does that already count a drinking coffee?! Anyway – lately I have gotten me a coffee a Starbucks and was surprised that my name can actually be written wrong in a way I have never seen it: Flurita – what the ?!?!?! – of any letter that can be spelled wrongly in my name, how can it be the “o”? So now I am just saying my nickname “Flo” – this is so easy, but hey, I am waiting for the day that even someone will invent an alternative spelling for it.

So basically my day went on without any greater excitement – after a short nap and hitting some golf balls at the range (which got me frustrated again….grrr) – I found some time for home cooking and made a very standard Summer Pasta dish: Asparagus, Prawns, Rocket, Tomatoes and Pasta.

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As I didn’t feel like going out, I ended Saturday with a semi-funny French movie. Since it was only semi-funny I’m not mentioning it’s name here.

After having experienced the frustration of finding a new breakfast spot yesterday, I decided to just grab something from the bakery today and have a breakfast on my rooftop terrace. Where I am still sitting right now – typing this weekend-story 🙂

Sometimes this is the best – home sweet home.

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My day is going to be continued – maybe with a round of golf, some running and a coffee with friends… let’s see. Anyway – I wish you all a nice remaining Sunday and hope that the weather is as good as here in Munich!

 

Counting the days

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First stop on my trip will be in Bozen/Bolzano

I hardly have ever counted the days for any travel. Normally the excitement about my travel kicks in when I am packing my luggage the day/weekend before and I start to realise that wonderful days will lie ahead.

This time it’s different. My upcoming Mini-Roadtrip is in my mind all the time now. Maybe because it’s a trip I do completely on my own or maybe because everyone whom I’m talking to about it, is also excited. People start relating it to a mini “Eat Pray Love” travel or are giving me a lot of recommendations for small towns on my way, eateries or wineries. Even though I just don’t know how to fit them all in for the couple of days I’m on the road, I’m happy that I will have a lot of choices.

Recently I have also started creating a playlist and keep adding songs to it. But for the poolside or evenings, I still have to find a good read. And because winter has just ended, I also will bring the car to a check up for the breaks. Then, enough of precautions, I’m ready to go 🙂

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Bozen Summer 2016

Breakfast on Sundays

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Whilst I hardly have time for a proper breakfast on weekdays (I survive with only one of these: either Müsli, fruits, yogurt or bread) it is the opposite on weekends. Especially on Sundays, which usually is my leisure day -> no appointments and no obligations.

Sundays are meant for extensive breakfasts which in my case can also easily extend to a two-three hour brunch with discussions or just a newspaper at hand (Welt am Sonntag!).

If I am doing a homemade breakfast the table will usually be packed with various eats and for more than a year I have been influenced by breakfast posts on Instagram and one of my Sunday favourites is following breakfast dish now, consisting of Poached eggs and Avocado on bread. Already for some time it seems to be kind of a favourite for the so called hipster generation. However, I can’t help myself and I love it as well.

My versions of the Avocado-Egg-Combo are also simple but yet also very effective:

Dark bread, Cream Cheese with Horse Radish, Avocado, Tomato, Salmon and Poached Egg

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or Dark Bread, Avocado, Tomato, Green Asparagus and Poached Egg (photo below is just from yesterday!).

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(and if I’m too lazy, I will replace the poached egg by a normally cooked one 😉 – tastes also good, is just less exciting)

Have a great week!

 

Long time no see

Hello again! Long time no see.

Before I start, I wanted to let you know that this blog entry won’t be about any past food or travel experiences as usual – but instead I’ll tell you about a travel experience I will have in the near future. Because I am already too exited about my next trip!

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North Italian Highway (2016)
As I love driving, it will be a short road trip to Italy – with a final destination in Tuscany. Actually I wanted to enjoy driving some serpentine roads on my way, but they are still closed until June. It’s a pity, but will give enough reasons for future road trips 🙂

Anyway, I am looking forward to enjoying some Italian wine and food, maybe wandering around in Florence and Verona and of course taking a lot of pictures. I booked hotels I haven’t been before yet and even for an experienced traveler, I was unprofessional booking my last day stay, because I did only check the details of ratings after I booked the hotel. The hotel got my interest, because it is an art hotel, has a big garden and mainly because it is situated between Verona and Lago di Garda. The hotel itself shouldn’t be to bad, general ratings are good – but in the details people “warned” other travelers that they could be offended by the very liberal art exhibitions which are not suitable for children – let’s say it this way. Hahaha – will definitely keep you updated about this hotel.

Good thing is that I have already been in all the cities on the way of my road trip, so I have time to experience different things than classic sight seeing. It could be as simple as walking along streets, discovering food places only visited by locals or just enjoying daydreaming next to the pool. So, you can already see, I am really looking forward to this trip in May and promise to put some pics online.

Have a great week!

Blackbird

When I flew to Barcelona last weekend, I was reminded myself about this post. I read in the magazine of Handelsblatt (a German newspaper) about To-Dos in Chicago. And to my surprise it included the restaurant I also visited: Blackbird.

A michelin star restaurant in an upcoming trendy area.

I took the tasting menu. Their very natural inspired decorations (flowers and leaves) and their variety of vegetable ingredients were noticable. It were ten courses, of which I ate only nine – I will also explain why with the last course.

After having had some wine and yummy Sangria at the Godfrey (you remember from my last posting: here), I was in the mood for another lovely wine pairing accompanying my dinner. The day was so well, Chicago put me in the mood. With every course and every new sip of wine my mood got better of course 😉 and I must say that the menu was fantastic.

Here are some of the courses:

“spring onion brownie. uni ice cream. smoked strawberry. almond. green garlic”

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“green garbanzo. asparagus. sesame.”

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“potato. seaweed. lamb.”

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“ahi. smoked pork. fava. meyer lemon.”

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“mate.mint. green almond. fernet. ricotta”

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This was the last course. Which I unfortunately couldn’t finish. Well, on the one hand, I may have been tipsy…but acutally I tried everything on my plate…I may have been full, because I had a couple of hours before many dishes already at the Godfrey…but hey, this usually never stops me from eating desserts, even after 10 courses, I will manage a dessert…or two…so, it definitely was that I don’t like mint in my desserts at all! A decorative mint leave is still ok, but everything tasted too minty. Other people might love it and I’m sure many would have loved this dessert. Which was cleary the optical highlight of the dinner and had all textures I would want in a dessert: creamy, crispy, soft, chewy, melty, cold – I just don’t like it too minty. But this is just something personal (me, who even doesn’t like the tiny tic tacs with mint flavour!), so I’m 100% sure that you, dear reader, would have enjoyed every bite of it.

All in all the presentation, the well chosen ingredients, the beautiful platings and the composition of the texture of the food are excellent. Besides that I only had a few spoons of my dessert…I liked, loved and licked everything until the plates were more than clean!  This is a top location and I will stop there again on my next visit in Chicago!

 

Where? 619 West Randolph, Chicago    http://www.blackbirdrestaurant.com