ORVIETO, ITALY (THE ITALIAN WINE REGION) ~Day Trip from Rome~

On our trip to Italy, we had limited time to see the outskirts of Rome but I was determined to do a day trip some where in the country. Having watched several programmes such as ‘Location Location’ where people sell up to move to the Italian Country, I felt I needed to see it. As I was travelling with my partner and it would be my first holiday to Italy, I romanticised about the image of sitting in terraces with a large glass of wine in my hand, and a fork into fresh pasta with the other. Watching sunsets, listening to the chatter of the local dialect in the mist of greenery and history and beauty and art. Within this idyllic vision was a visit to a true Italian Vineyard, something reminiscent of the current Blossom Hill adverts teamed with a portrait of the rolling hills of Monet. When researching Orvieto it seemed to offer all these spectacular things in one very neatly and rustic sculptured parcel.

And so we set for the Italian Wine Region of Orvieto, by train just some 1 hour 30 minutes from Termini Roma. We pre- booked a 10 am excursion to the Tripadvisor #1 Thing to do= Decugnano Dei Barbi Winery. We hoped to have a slightly later visit as it was abit too early to be sloshing down the wine, but it was the earliest time. It was 45 Euros Per person and 70 Euro for a taxi to and from the main train station. We were picked up from the station by a man who then drove us to the winery. Whilst I had researched Orvieto I was not prepared for how gorgeous the views would be. 30 Minutes of driving up the winding hills of the Umbrian Region, looking out to acres and acres of rolling hills, vineyards, and farms. From the hill top we saw what was the historic city of Orvieto perched on steep plateau amongst the countryside, it was breathtaking.

We eventually drove up to the Winery, a small quaint building right at the peak, with a secondary building at the back followed by endless vineyard all the way down the steep hills.

CIMG2941

We met our tour guide, Anna who introduced herself and the winery. We noticed on arrival that we were the only couple there. It was refreshing to have a secluded 2 person tour rather than being dragged around in herds and Anna explained the importance of giving attention to detail on their tours to make the experience memorable.We were explained the history of the wine region, the history of the Decugnano Dei Barbi, and its produce. This crisp and delicate wine was something of a rare breed in that it was not sent for export and was namely purchasable on the Roman market. This winery was the smaller of the nearby ones, limiting their production to closeby regions.

CIMG2925

The difference between red and white wine is not the colour of the grape or the fermentation period but instead, is dependent on which part of the grape is used. For Decugnano, red and white wine use the same grape, but the red wine is with skin of the grape where white has the skins removed. The skins contain tannins that effect the colour pigmentation as well as flavour and ageing times.

After visiting this we then took a lovely stroll down the hill towards the cellars. It was so lovely as the morning air was still crisp and fresh. The October season meant that the vines were a beautiful auburn, looking similar to that of the leaves of a tree on an autumns day.  The shades of the vines against the blue sky and the greenery of the surrounding area made this area as beautiful as a painting, and a perfect representation of the vision I had before arrival. No disappointment what so ever.

CIMG2939CIMG2961CIMG2963

When arriving at the cellar Anna informed us of the waiting time on each wine, how it is kept, and temperatures as well as the importance of the barrels. The cellars were cooling from the warm summers day.

CIMG2949

On finishing we were taken to the second building where there was a dining table with a fine array of antipasti and wines. Anna made us a selection of cheeses, olives, fresh olive oil, bruschetta, and a selection of fresh meats. It was at this point we got to know our host better as she explained occupation and her life. She told us of her marriage with an English man, and their move to the Umbrian countryside where they had a farm. She told us of her experience and current masters course in Wine. It is at this point I wholeheartedly understood her passion for Wine and found myself appreciating it in a completely new light. We were given a glass or red, white and sparkling which were all very easy to drink considering I am not usually a fan of red wines.

CIMG2983

Admitedly, I wouldn’t recommend it for a person wishing to go for a heavy amount of alcohol though as this is about wine appreciation. Strict timeframe and busy schedules means there’s no topping up, no extra glass or even time to do so. Not that this was a problem for us but some may feel this price includes unlimited wine or at least more than 3. If its about drinking lots I recommend a bar instead.

At the end of the tour we bought more wine to take back with us. We bought around 5 bottles. When we got back to the UK we opened our sparkling, and the magic was not lost. It was a truly memorable experience and some damn good wine.

The Umbrian Region clearly does not have enough credit or recognition for its fine wines. I recommend you try this still quite unknown wine before all the cool kids find out.

5 stars , highlight of orvieto!

>>> For my other blogs on Italy click one of the links below:

When in Rome

A Travellers Guide: Roman Cuisine, Reviews and Sharing a slice of Foodie Heaven

San Lorenzo, Rome

For More Information Click the Links Below:

Decugnano Dei Barbi Main Website

Wine Basics for Newbies by Ryan Snyder

Rediscovering Umbrian Wines

Ultimate Guide to the Umbrian Wine Region

San Lorenzo, Rome (Roman Street Art)

Dinner is served: @jamieoliver inspired hoisin duck lettuce wrap (15 MINUTE MEALS)

20130122-122230.jpg

Dinner Is Served!

I cooked this for dinner and it was DELICIOUS! Admittedly amended Jamie’s instructions here and there where it was fit, and took abit longer than 15 minutes but no harm done!

20130122-122206.jpg

What you will need:

  • Limes
  • Honey
  • Hoi Sin Sauce
  • Duck Breast (2)
  • Lettuce Leaves (Baby Gem)
  • Chilli Oil
  • Coriander
  • Sesame oil
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Chinese 5 Spice
  • Garlic

This is a real refreshing dish, so summery with a mixture between a vietnamese salad and chinese duck wrap dish. Since my Kate Eaten Livefit training I have been saying goodbye to all things oily, and carby and hello to healthy living. I love lettuce wraps because it is the rare time that I don’t seek bread. Lettuce is substantial in flavour, texture and shape to accommodate my meat with little need from anything else.

20130122-122215.jpg

First I diced my duck (skin’s on for extra crispiness, or off for a more healthy option). I then cut the bottom of the stork off of the gem lettuce, rinsed and drained the leaves and placed them in a circular shape on the plate. After this I start prepping the duck by seasoning it with salt pepper and Chinese 5 spice. I coat it and leave it while I fine chop garlic, put into a bowl with lime juice (as much as you want depending on how much you want it to counter the honey, I put 1 and a half limes) and 5 generous spoons of Hoi Sin Sauce.

After stirring this together you have successfully made your drizzle sauce. You pour olive oil into a plan on high heat and flash fry duck until crispy then lowering setting for it to cook through. If you have left the skins on and are finding the fattiness is make it stew rather than brown off, take it off the heat and place in the grill for a few minutes. I hate when skins are not crispy! Jamie did not tell me it may not brown if its too fatty! (15 minute meal timing = game over)

20130122-122156.jpg

When it seems cooked (Use judgement, ie. light pinky inner and brown outside), Remove off heat and take out all excess liquid to make it more healthy. Then add honey (as much as you want, I did it until all were coated with little excess at the bottom of the pan) mix and let simmer until adequately coated.

20130122-122222.jpg

 

Jamie says to add the drizzle at the end but I added the hoi sin mixture slightly during cooking drizzling the rest on the finished product. Add the drizzle (maximum of half the mixture) and sesame seeds to the duck. turns off.

Quickly boil wholemeal noodles (optional as you do not need carbs in this meal, My boyfriend ate the noodles I had the wrap with meat alone). Once cooked (3-4 minutes) drain and drizzle sesame oil to flavour.

To plate, place Hoisin Sesame Duck on each individual lettuce leaf in the middle for easy eatage. Then place the noodles in the middle (add the noodles to the wrap as you wish). Drizzle entire dish with left over Hoisin Lime dressing and douse with chilli oil for kick ( I use chinese fresh chilli oil which contains oil and red pepper flakes at the bottom, use the flakes for less oiliness)

(A Traveller’s Guide) Roman Cuisine: Restaurant Reviews and sharing a slice of Foodie Heaven

846

I felt Roman Food needed it’s own post as the variety was something I couldn’t quite share in a general Rome post. I find food the most important part of investigating a country, as it is the thing that brings us together and lets face it.. we do spend a lot of our holidays pigging out.

Picking up my Lonely Planet guide to Rome and doing quite a bit of research on Tripadvisor, I came up with a selection of places I wanted to try on my journeys. In addition, I found my own gems along the way. Romans eat like true British foodies eat, they have generous but not ridiculously portioned meals, with flavour and appreciation for good fresh dishes, eating out not because they are celebrating but because every meal is meant to be done amongst your closest friends and family, dining in true Italian style. In the evenings the main piazza’s are booming with life, couples, families, and friends gather around a good wine whilst they graze on antipasti and order their meals on their outdoor seating. Live Music is heard and shops remain open until late hours to accommodate the hustle and bustle of the city streets.

Its a dining atmosphere I wish Britain embraced a little more. Most people I know have a budget and the question is:

Do I eat a decent meal tonight or do I buy that amazing beer offer at Tesco’s?

Sad to say… The latter prevails. Many do not cook whether due to lack of knowledge, practice and time. Sociable dining is put on hold for more important things like overworking, getting drunk and sleeping. It’s sad that less importance is placed on the family meal. Few friends go to dinner together unless in celebration. What about going out to dinner for no reason but the appreciation of good food and company?

That being said we do not have the same gorgeous weather, and with that comes the lack of lovely outdoor seating. It’s a shame, isn’t it?

What is Roman Cuisine?

Most of us are familiar with Italian Cuisine, especially with the hundreds of Italian restaurants dotted around the streets of London. I would say Roman Cuisine is somewhat similar to what we eat but with a difference in that the ingredients used are fresher, the flavour and textures more delicate. Beautiful Grocery stores display a fine array of fresh cuts of meat, cheeses, fresh made pasta and antipasti vegetables to purchase. The ingredients are so beautiful that I desired such a thing to exist on more street corners of London. It is something we have lost to the monopoly food giants of Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco’s, the homemade, fresh goods of the family run businesses. It was spectacular. I tried to eat my way through Rome by tasting all they have to offer. The fine pizza’s, pasta, and meat dishes. Bellisimo.

915921
920
1127
Photos taken in a lovely store just a few minutes walk away from Piazza Di Spagna. (Spanish Steps District)Rather than buy an elaborate picnic box from one of the very over priced restaurants in the area, we chose a selection of meats, cheese and bread to take on a little picnic at the Villa Borghese Park at the top of the Spanish Steps. I could live in this shop, the smells, the splendour of the products and the service was like no other. 

Restaurant Reviews

Restaurants In Campo De Fiori

Campo De Fiori was my go to place for an evening meal. Trastevere district was full of shops, bars and restaurants all nestled down narrow winding alley ways. The atmosphere was something I couldn’t find in any other district in Rome, and found myself back there time and again.

RJ Numbs: Restorante Campo De’ Fiori

Location: ✰✰✰✰✰                                        Food:✰✰✰✰✰

Service: ✰✰✰                                                   Price: ✰✰✰✰

CIMG3143CIMG3142

This lovely restaurant is positioned right in the heart of Campo De’ Fiori square, Rome’s most buzzing part of the Trastevere District. Placed in such a touristy position, my expectations were quite low. You tend to find such areas offer inadequate food for extortionate prices. This is one of the reasons why I was so taken back by the quality of the place. On top of being in a hotspot for people watching a live music in the evening, the food is delicious!

CIMG3145

I ordered a pizza with Bresaola (air-dried salted italian beef), Parmesan and Rocket. The ingredients were so fresh, placed upon the dough in such a way that it was like having a giant salad Bruschetta, perfect with a glass of crisp Prosecco on a warm summers day. It took slightly longer to arrive but it was worth the wait.

My Partner had a soup for starter which he loved, followed by the Lamb Cutlets. He is a lamb addict, and scrutinises the quality of the meat, and how tenderly it is cooked. He said the seasoning was perfect as was the cooking of it. Simple but tasty.I would say this restaurant was one of my best dining experiences in Rome, and that I would not hestitate to go again.

The only downfall would be the service. Very difficult to get their attention but this was partially due to how busy they were, given the location.

More Reviews at: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g187791-d3488008-Reviews-RJ_Numbs_Campo_De_Fiori_Restaurant-Rome_Lazio.html

Aristocampo

Location: ✰✰✰✰✰                                        Food:✰✰

Service: ✰✰✰                                                   Price: ✰✰✰✰

CIMG3060

CIMG3051I was immediately drawn to this restaurant because of it’s very traditional Italian decor. It had a cabin feel that made it quirky and kitsch. The hanging chilli, the candles and the paintings on the wall teamed with a dim lighting made it the perfect setting for a quiet romantic meal. It was placed on one of the alley’s leading up to the Campo De’ Fiori main square, a very busy street with many dining options next to it. The choice was endless so the deciding factor was how welcoming it seemed.

After eating I found that this was not as traditional as I might have hoped. I turned out that it was a chain as I noticed a few of the same establishments dotted around Rome. What acted as a family-run cutesy restaurant was actually more like the Bella Italia’s of the Italian Restaurant business. This did not make it less charming but did effect it’s appeal somewhat.

We ordered a lot of food on our visit as we were feeling keen to try dishes we had not tried before, and had done a lot of sightseeing during the day. So we did it the true Italian way: Antipasti, Main Courses, Sides… The table was like the embodiment of the Last Supper.

CIMG3054

CIMG3056CIMG3058CIMG3059

We ordered Roman Meatballs in a tomato Ragu, Roman-Style Chicken and Roman-Jewish Style Artichoke. The artichoke was a big mistake. I love vegetables but did not anticipate how much I would hate artichoke! I was not sure if it was the way it was cooked or the vegetable itself but it had a very bitter off flavour I couldn’t quite get to grips with. We ordered it as Tripadvisor said it was a must try, I would said tripadvisor is not always right. I had one bite and left that aside. The meatballs I thought were a safe choice as It would take a lot to mess a meatball dish up. It was tasty but very very salty. So much so that the rich saltiness made it hard for me to finish. I found that all their dishes had this issue. They had a problem with overseasoning, which I guess is not as bad as being very bland but still meant I did not finish my meal. My boyfriend enjoyed his chicken.

I thought the food was okay, but that is lacked freshness, flavour and depth. It did the job but considering the competition, I am sure the others may have been better. Salt is not a flavour I desire in heaps. I must have known they wouldn’t be amazing in that their menu was so overwhelmingly long, it would be impossible to do them all well. The service was okay.

All in all and average restaurant not worth going to but not utterly horrible if you find yourself going there for a bite.

More Reviews at: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g187791-d801765-Reviews-Aristocampo-Rome_Lazio.html

Ristorante La Canonica

Location: ✰✰✰✰✰                                                 Food:✰

Service: ✰✰✰✰✰                                                   Price: ✰✰

We chose this restaurant as it was both very busy and had a very lovely atmosphere. Perched in a small alley on its own, this cute little CIMG3158restaurant had everything a trattoria should need a buzzing atmosphere, live music and an appetising menu. The menu is something you see through most of Rome as the dishes tend to be very similar everywhere you look. The thing that drew us was that people were queuing for it and the Turkish way to tell a good restaurant would be to see how many people go there.

CIMG3159We sat down and a lovely chubby older waitress came, she offered us our menu’s and spoke little to no English, but she smiled and laughed a lot so we immediately felt well looked after. We ordered a basil, tomato and mozzarella salad and meatballs to share. I couldn’t ask for cheese to put on top because it was too busy to get their attention and to be honest, this was the blandest ugliest dish I had eaten in Italy. No flavour, and what only could remind me of heinz tinned Spaghetti. It had no decadence, no flair. It was basic, but not in a simplistic beautiful kind of way.

CIMG3177

My Salad was beautifully presented but let down by the produce used. One thing I can’t stand is unripe flavourless tomatoes (like the tesco value kind), orange coloured, watery and tasteless. Considering the abundance of beautiful vegetables and fruit, and the amount of gorgeous fresh tomato dishes I tried, I did not understand why they gave us such a pitiful excuse for a tomato.

I would say the attraction to restaurant must have been the live music, and the fact that a load of people made a bad decision, and a load of ignorant diners saw them and followed suit.

Restaurants Around the Vatican City

Pizzeria Amalfi

Location: ✰✰✰✰✰                                                 Food:✰✰✰

Service: ✰                                                  Price: ✰✰✰

The Vatican was a nightmare to find food in, as for some reason all the restaurant’s we visited had closed after lunch period. We had finished St. Pauls, The museums and were dying for a bite to eat. We went through the Tripadvisor one by one knocking off all possibilities until we found this one, saw it open, so stuck with it. It was very quiet when we visited but in a pleasant location very close to the main attractions. We sat down and ordered Pizza (It’s a pizzeria, you have to!) and a variety of antipasti such as mozzarella, bruschetta, bread sticks.

829Service: The one major thing I unfortunately, have to point out was the very bad service. Waiters held themselves with a sort of arrogance (that’s what tripadvisor does to people it seems). The first guy took our order, we placed it and waited 20 minutes at which point we questioned the whereabouts of our drink. They said they had forgotten and brought it to us. Then after 45 minutes had past, we wondered where our food was. Not one waiter was to be found, and when we eventually found a guy it was not the one we placed our order with, he told us sorry but he did not know our order. We then saw our original waiter in his clothes, off out and assumed, shift over, he did not give a crap. Our food was not ordered, we had to replace it, after waiting so long, and whilst the other waiter was apologetic he also was quite arrogant. For a royal cock up of this kind we assumed they would be abit more sorry. 824

The food came at long last and it was just what we needed. The pizza was average but still hit the spot and tasty, very few toppings made me thing they were very stingy especially considering the toppings at other pizza places were far more abundant. I do not think it deemed itself worthy of mention in a travel book but it definitely was good enough for me. The starters were stodgy and filling. They felt more like a take out service food than a dine in restaurant in that the way the selection was presented and what I ate much reminded me of the stuff I would pig out on in Dominos in the UK after a heavy night. After all our walking it was definitely what we needed, but a true Italian restaurant it was not. This is far more for tourism, but given the location it makes sense.

I would go here again if I was at Vatican as it is easy to find and does the trick but I would not go out of my way to eat here again.

Restaurants in San Lorenzo

Pommidoro

Location: ✰✰✰                                           Food:✰✰✰✰

Service: ✰✰✰                                             Price: ✰✰✰✰✰

I am still very upset about the loss of the photographs from this evening, we just can’t seem to find them anywhere! We chose to find this place after reading Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet:

Throughout San Lorenzo’s metamorphosis from down-at-heel working-class district to down-at-heel bohemian enclave, Pommidoro has remained the same. A much-loved local institution, it’s a century-old trattoria, with high star-vaulted ceilings, a huge fireplace and outdoor conservatory seating. It was a favourite of controversial film director Pier Paolo Pasolini, and contemporary celebs stop by – from Nicole Kidman to Fabio Cappello – but it’s an unpretentious place with superb-quality traditional food, specialising in magnificent grilled meats

It was a bit of a walk to find this little gem as it was in a little investigated district of Rome, down the back streets of Rome’s Grungy student district. Termini was very close to San Lorenzo so it was not too far to find the area. At first glance it seemed as though we were in the middle of no where with no atmosphere and everything closed, we started to doubt we would find such a rave review restaurant. It was later we realised that this district wakes up at the late hours of the night, and that the town was still sleeping until at least 11pm. We found the restaurant using our much needed map and in relief asked for a seat. Indoor was full of what seemed to be large group of gathering of the Locals. We chose to sit outside which did not have the same ambience but was worth it. Indoors downstairs was like a little cavern with low hanging ceilings and wooden tables and chairs. Upstairs hosted a lovely warm cottage feel trattoria with a nearby grilling station like a pizza oven where you could see the cooking of the meat and smell the delightful aromas.

image taken from: http://www.asureviews.org/romeagm.php

  We unfortunately, did not get to order too much as the waiter was unable to speak english and the menu’s were all in Italian, you could tell this was for locals from that alone! We stuck it safe and I ordered a pasta with wild fresh collected mushrooms and beef. It was to die for. The vegetables were in eye view, all dirty and fresh they looked like the owners had foraged them just before our meal. That freshness was tasted within the food itself with delicate notes of butter, garlic and herbs. The dishes were elegantly places, and the food was not huge but adequate. We wanted to try grilled meat so bad but I opted out as it seemed they liked offal and unusual cuts, not knowing what I was ordering put me off. If you are willing to try though, these dishes all were true Roman. If its a real Italian meal you want this is the place.

More Reviews at: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g187791-d1319857-Reviews-Pommidoro-Rome_Lazio.html

Restaurant’s in Termini

Florin’s

Location: ✰                                                  Food:✰✰✰✰

Service: ✰✰✰                                             Price: ✰✰✰

This place was a gem of a find. The location was food in that it was close to Termini Station, but horrible in that it was basically on a giant roundabout with alot of ongoing traffic, So romantic and peaceful were not words for it. That being said, the food was delicious considering other restaurant’s in the area were horrible. We walked through many Termini restaurants and walked

CIMG3181

away because the food look dull and tasteless. Catering for tourists who chose to stay near the station this district is not a foodie heaven.

That is why I was pleasantly surprised in finding Florin’s. It put all the other restaurant’s in the surrounding area to shame. The carbonara was one of the best I have ever had. Fullsome in flavour, yet light and delicate. It did not have that heavy feeling you have from thick and creamy english carbonara. Instead it had a light buttery texture with just enough cream to make it tasty and fullsome without overly bloating you. It was bliss on our first night of being in Rome and was the perfect meal before bed.

 

Hungover Monday: A hearty Chinese Hotpot, The Ultimate Comfort Food.

20130115-014003.jpg

I know I have called it hungover Monday, but to be clear, this is not a new weekly special, I have no intention of being hungover every Monday. Yesterday was a heavy night as it was my works staff party, belated for the Christmas but fun anyway. Many glasses of wine (bottles) and a few lemoncello’s later we were well and truly wrecked. I awoke to that deadly heavy headed feeling you get after far too much wine. What does the hungover mind crave? Comfort food. Now many find themselves drawn to burgers, pizza or a fry up but I have a very different hangover cure/ craving. A Chinese Hotpot.

When living in China I had many a hotpot. In fact I believe I have mentioned it in my blog previously because its so good it has to be mentioned twice. I eat it with a hangover but regularly the Chinese eat it drunk. Its a social occasion as the hotpot bowl is shared amongst as many as 8 people alongside a chilled beer. The hotpot restaurants are like a Seven Eleven, they are open 24 hours for your catering needs. After clubs when we had munchies we headed straight for the hotpot joint, got ourselves private room and munched out.

20130115-013956.jpgThe Chinese Hotpot is nothing like a British One, its not a casserole its like a big boiling broth for sipping and dipping. Eating is not just a meal, its an experience. Its entertainment as you spend time popping food in with chopsticks, mixing a variety of herbs and spices in your personal bowl for dipping fun, boiling your food and removing it. If you like playing with food this is for you, it is cheese fondue to the oriental diner. I find its the only time when I spend time eating. Usually I eat so fast that I barely breath through mouthfuls, the work during the eating process of popping in, waiting to cook, removing, dipping then eating slows the process ensuring a far healthy pace.

Nothing beats a hotpot on a cold winters day. Funny enough today was both snowing, and I had alcohol in my system, so this was quite possibly the most perfect moment to have it.

Me and my boyfriend started on our preparations for the meal. One half of the hotpot 20130115-014018.jpgwill me hot and numb broth, the other a simple chicken broth.

HOW TO MAKE IT

(1) we cut and washed our choice of vegetables. Washing all our greens and leaving mushrooms unwashed to reduce goopiness. My favourite vegetables to use are a selection of mushrooms (Oyster & Enoki are the best!), Chinese Cabbage, Pak Choi, and Chinese Greens.

20130115-013938.jpg

(2) We then prepped the broth. The broth is a mixture between our own ingredients and a pre made hotpot mixture that we purchased from Loon Fung Oriental Wholesaler. The own ingredients were:

the frying of peppercorns, anise, spicy bean paste, chilli flakes, dried chilli’s, and dried oriental mushrooms mixed with a premade spicy hot pot broth package. Sichuan Chilli and bean paste go well too. The other side of the broth is less spicy and is made with: The chicken broth was also with premade package, spring onion, Goji Berries (optional), coriander, garlic, and Chicken Stock.

(3) Leaving it to boil and infuse, we pull out all our additional material such as the cutlery (chopsticks, small dipping bowls, hotpot spoons) and our extra dipping sauces such as Chilli Oil, Bean Paste, Soya Sauce, Coriander, and chopped Garlic.20130115-014030.jpg

When it is hot, and left to stew for abit, food is served. For meat thin slices of meat such as beef and lamb are recommended. We get hotpot lamb from the Loon Fung which is extremely thin making it easy to cook and infuse the flavour in the meat. Alternatively, thin sliced meat would do the trick. Other optional add ons are Noodles, and at the end of the meal, cracking an egg in the broth is yummy. The egg retains shape in the natural chilli oils and is yummy! Its delicious, fun, and you definitely receive at minimum of one of your five a day.

20130115-014039.jpg20130115-014056.jpg                                                                              The hotpot paired with my Chinese Flowering Tea made this feast a perfect beginning to the week.

I had been saving my flowering tea that I bought in Shanghai for a year for the perfect occasion, and this was definitely perfect. Hangover gone.

 

A Michelin Star for top notch service alone – Benares, London

20130115-010659.jpg

I went here for my birthday. After sampling some of Atul Kotchars cuisine at Taste Of London food festival we were completely won over and didn’t hesitate in giving this restaurant a try.

Location

Nestled on a square in the heart of Mayfair, this restaurant is in luxurious territory and owns this.

On entrance it is large, elegant and modern with perfectly dimmed lighting. The ambience was perfectly romantic and warm though the high air con made this statement far from literal. Girls, bring your shawls to place over your gorgeous dresses “.

Service

We arrived at 6.30pm which was relatively early so the restaurant was not too busy. We were 30 minutes late but were not received with a bad attitude and were kindly seated immediately.

The service was delightful throughout and was by far the best I have ever seen. Quick service, quick food delivery and very friendly attentive staff. When I finished my last sip of water it was no more than 5 seconds before it was recognised and refilled.

The staff were on their toes to ensure it was perfection. Even when needing directions for the toilet I was walked to door in the form of a waiter relay in which one passed me on to the next member of staff until I reached the door to the bathroom successfully.

Food

The Food was just as good as the service- and well exceeded expectation. portions were adequate with a good selection of sides if the meal does not suffice. I ordered the Chicken Tikka Pie with Berry Compote and the Black chicken. The pie was different to what I expected as I had seen this same thing on the taster menu at the festival and was given a tikka pie come shepherds pie mix, whereas this one was more a tart. Nonetheless spectacular flavours.

20130114-162708.jpg

20130114-162952.jpg

The main was my favourite as the chicken leg had a great deal of meat, juicy and tender, with aromatic coriander marinade. I was not a fan of the yoghurt pastry given on the side but was happy without.

I also helped myself to my partners lamb which was also lovely. We had a side portion of naan, potatoes and chick pea though I had wished I had ordered less as I was rather bloated by the end!

Price

The food (2 starters, 2 mains, 3 sides & a birthday desert) paired with a crisp bottle of champagne made this meal well worth its bill, which was a hefty £200 pounds. Whilst pricey it was worth the price tag. I was also given a lovely Happy Birthday desert by the chef, an unexpected end to the evening.

A memorable experience- try it you won’t be disappointed.

http://www.benaresrestaurant.com/  

12a Berkeley Square HouseBerkeley Square, MayfairLondonW1J 6BS

Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday and Bank Holidays12.00 to 14.30 and 17.30 to 23.00SundaysClosed

Reservations 020 7629 8886

 

 

20130114-162922.jpg

20130114-163009.jpg

20130114-163024.jpg

20130115-010903.jpg

When in Rome

Rome is without a doubt the most romantic city in the world. The mixture between the smells of fresh sliced meats, warm bread and pasta, prosecco free flow, and artwork scattered at every corner makes it inexplicably charming. I ventured to Rome with no prior research on the city and low expectations. I was left quite unimpressed by the ‘amazing’ Paris so held no expectations to what Rome might be like. Nonetheless, my love for good italian food (and dishy men) meant that I was more than willing to give it a go.

And when in Rome, what did we do? Do as Romans do.

ALL PHOTOS OWNED AND COPYRIGHTED BY AYSE AVCI

When in Rome…

Visit the Colosseum 

260

332

378V

Visit St. Paul’s Cathedral

628

633

576

594

603

602

611

Eat Italian Gelato

1116

1122

Walk the Roman Forums

403

470

427

Look at one of the most famous works of art in the world… The Last Judgement

813
784

Walk through the Art Museums (Especially the Mural Room)

695

679

696

People Watch In the Square Campo De’ Fiori (My Favourite) and the other major Piazzas

1083

1103

1114

1010

Go to the Pantheon…

1061

1054

1040

1031

1007

Have a picnic in the Villa Borghese Park (Must do)

Visit a local store for fresh produce. Save yourself 30 euros and make your own antipasti with fresh cuts of cheese and meats, a refreshing bottle of prosecco.

951

929

938

Sit on the Spanish Steps (and window shop, pretend you can afford prada)

850

856

876