Traditional Bolognese Fare at Ristorante Nicola

 

Walking in Bologna was like visiting the past and seeing present Italy in a whole new light. It is home to the oldest university in the world, the University of Bologna, which was founded in 1088 and is still functioning to this very day. Surviving many wars and reforms, it is a great feat that the city has been preserved and its rich cultural heritage can still be seen today.

Known for its architectural and artistic history, Bologna’s towers and medieval gateways are must-sees. There might be little compared to before but the towers still represent Bologna’s top spot in many arenas back in the day.

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Asinelli tower (the higher twin of the Due Torri)

So we didn’t have a plan that day on where to go…we wandered aimlessly, ending up on streets with graffiti much elaborate than the one below, on abandoned cobblestone streets, passageways with a lot of parked bicycles and tables outside pizzerias waiting for their diners.

It was a lovely walk back in time…a feast for camera snaps and cultural drinking. And just as hubby predicted, we will find a lovely restaurant from a string of them and have authentic Ragu al Bolognese.

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graffiti defines Bologna’s inner streets

Zigzagging here and there we ended up in a restaurant full of outside diners. It was fully-seated alright, but just outside, in the inside there was only a whole family dining to their heart’s delight, a couple diners and a lonesome mister who seem to be a writer so engrossed in his reading material…with all the pens and papers laying on the table along with his plate.

Where we’re seated, we could see how busy of a night it was. One pizza after the other gets  stacked on them plates…brought to their respective tables along with other dishes. It’s a good sign – means a lot of people trusts that they serve good food. Right? A server came to us and took our orders. Hubby got Bolognese but in spaghetti…normally, bolognese is served with thicker pasta but this one was with spaghetti so all is good. It was served with complimentary bread, different from the ones we munched on while waiting.

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Bolognese sauce on spaghetti

For so many years I haven’t had one of my favorite fish on my plate – spada, or swordfish. I was torn at having salmon or this but knowing I can have salmon when we get home I went for the grilled swordfish and I was not disappointed. Grilled to  perfection, squeezed with lemon and sprinkled with some herbs on a bed of arugula…the buttery, melt-in-the-mouth texture brought back childhood memories – then when we often had this… And hey, it was a big serving too…so I was overall happy! ^_^

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spada (grilled swordfish)

And to finally cap everything off, I wanted to compare the panna cotta I’ve known to the authentic one. So I asked for it as dessert. Didn’t disappoint! Creamy goodness and a hint of chocolate for every spoonful…it was rightly sweet – not overbearing that you’d ask for more. Well, I didn’t – I’m already full.

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panna cotta

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setup – look for the eager reader 🙂

Nicola’s Pizzeria
Piazza San Martino, 9
Bologna, Italy
+051 23 2502


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A Fusion of Flavors at Brasserie Hudson Quay

 

North Yorkshire’s most famous town would probably be Harrogate, with its healing spas, parks and gardens, it is one of the top choices for tourists. But, the county has a lot more to offer, with picturesque towns, districts and boroughs comprising it wholly. There are a lot worth seeing in the region; International Centre for Birds of Prey Duncombe in Helmsley, Swinton Park Cookery School in Masham, Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, the National Railway Museum in York and of course, Saltholme Wildlife Reserve & Discovery Park and the historical Transporter Bridge in Middlesbrough.

Transporter Bridge

Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge

Situated on the south bank of the historical River Tees, Middlesbrough is a lovely place to visit. It could get up to 20 degrees at most, which is perfect for people like us who loves  to walk around, exploring towns and cities. A quaint English architectural frame describes the town’s landscape. It’s a sight to see and enjoy! Also, experiencing the Transporter bridge is like etching yourself in history… The Transporter bridge, as the name suggest, carry a travelling ‘car’, or ‘gondola’, suspended from the bridge. This particular architectural feat goes across the river in 90 seconds. The gondola can carry 200 people, 9 cars, or 6 cars and one minibus! (Aight, that much!)

Temenos Sculpture

Area-wise, Middlesbrough is not as big as other North Yorkshire districts. Hop on a bus and you can get to the majestic town hall, walk a bit and you’ll find yourself at the Dorman Museum and the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima). To get a fix of high-art, break away from the town centre and visit Middlehaven. There stands the Temenos sculpture, steel structure, consisting of a pole, a circular ring and an oval ring, stands approximately 110 m long and 50 m high and is held together by steel wire designed by sculptor Anish Kapoor and designer Cecil Balmond.  (It’s a £2.7 million.) There are a lot more to see in this humble town but all the walking and that would definitely bring your stomachs to growl and Middlesbrough has a lot to offer on this category, Michelin or not.

Among the restaurants in Middlesbrough, the relatively new fusion restaurant Brasserie Hudson Quay is getting a quick popularity by word of mouth. Situated near the river bank and very near the Riverside Stadium, it’s hard to miss. A modern atmosphere of European comfort  and smells of Spanish, French and Italian cuisines would welcome eager guests to this lovely venue.

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tempura king prawns, pepper pork belly, fennel and kohlrabi slaw

And because I rarely can eat fresh seafood where I’m from (landlocked Vienna is not so lovable in this sense)…my eyes were in for a feast. For starters,the  Tempura King Prawns, Pepper Pork Belly, Fennel and Kohlrabi Slaw, Soy and Honey was a tongue-tease! You would forget that they are starters, you’d be left asking for more. Growing up in a country were seafood and meat isn’t eaten together in a plate, I’m glad I broke from tradition (I was never one to conform to it anyway) and got this exquisitely made set. On a sidenote, I would have loved the Cinnamon and Star Anise Cured Salmon, Yorkshire Mixed Beetroot, Crème Fraîche & Coriander too! (Who would say no to Salmon?)

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Steamed Shetland Mussels, Chorizo, Harissa and Lemon Creme Fraiche Linguine

For the main dish, it was a battle between Steamed Shetland Mussels, Chorizo, Harissa and Lemon Creme Fraiche Linguine and Whole baked Lemon Sole, Lemon Gnocchi, Samphire and Chorizo…that was one of the moments I wished I had a bigger stomach to have them both! But, gluttony aside, I could not get a hold of fresh mussels that much so it was decision already half-won from the start. The spanish-african twist to this dish is…hmmmmmmm…well, just hhhhmmmm. “Too.much.yumminess.in.a.mouthful.”

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Sicilian Lemon Possit, Textures of Autumn Berries, Ginger & Meringue

And there’s the dessert list. I doubt if it would be easy for you to choose from the following:

– Dark Chocolate and Star Anise Gateau, Fig and Pistachio –
– Orange Marmalade Cheesecake, Salted Caramel & Cointreau –
– Sicilian Lemon Possit, Textures of Autumn Berries , Ginger and Meringue –
– Baked Vanilla Pod & Nutmeg Rice Pudding, Mulled Pear Compote –
 And choose from a Selection of Fresh Ice Creams or real fruit sorbets –
Your choice.

I say, whichever you pick is an instant winner!

whole baked camembert

Whole Baked Camembert, Charred and Marinated Vegetables, Chutney and Garlic Ciabatta

 Their deli boards and cheese platters are worth checking out too! Do these selection leave you wanting to have a bite?  Manchego, Yorkshire Blue, Gruyere, Blacksticks Blue, Lancashire Smooth Creamy Blue or Tomme de Savoie, wheat and oat crackers, celery,steeped grapes and home made chutney, Whole Baked Camembert, Charred and Marinated Vegetables, Chutney & Garlic Ciabatta and much more…

Brasserie Hudson Quay has so much going for it and it’s not just lip service. Theirs benefit the clientele in many ranges: accessible location; and comfortable, classy interiors, fresh food and a wonderful fusion of flavors, colors, and textures, truly memorable of a grand European dining experience. Come by when the sun is setting, such an awesome view!

cozy ^_^

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Vapiano – Freshness at its Best

 

Nuremberg

Wandering about in Nuremberg

Another city I explored on my ten-day-being-away-from-hubby was Nuremberg. It’s not my first time there, it is in fact a city I’ve often been to but, I always go about with the whole family. This time, going about alone, I searched for Albrecht Dürer’s house by myself…one on my bucket list for 12 years now and one that has finally been crossed out. ^_^

Chi va piano, va sano e va lontano. He who goes softly, goes safely; who goes safely, goes far…or go slow and you will reach your goals, safely. Simply put: slowly but surely (according to an Italian friend.) I don’t really see the connection of this proverb with food but, it is the tagline of a big chain of an Italian restaurant, Vapiano. On their website though, it says: According to an Italian proverb, “If you have an easy-going and relaxed approach to life, you’ll live more healthily and longer”.  Vapiano is actually German-owned, serves made-to-order Italian dishes – they will cook your food in front of you and you can pick from fresh herbs they grow on site and from pasta made straight from the machine…

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they make pasta!

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pastamaker

I always try to watch how they make pasta (just a bit) whenever I dine at one of their branches. These ones are in Nuremberg, very near the St. Lorenz church. Like their other branches, they have these cute scribbles with funny quotations, memorable movie quotes and sometimes life lessons done in chalk on boards. I try to enjoy each of these pieces of art whenever I wait in line or for my food.

Vapiano has a different system of dining, so to say. Upon entering the premises, customers are greeted at the counter and are given each an RFID chip card. You swipe the card upon ordering food and drink and then you hand it back at the counter before exiting to pay.

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mi aiuti un po con mio libro di ricette? (help me a bit with my cookbook?)

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basil on my table

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olive oil and company near me

The cooks will make you choose your pasta, all pre-packed to serving sizes, when you order. There’s a menu, alright, but you have the choice of mixing and matching the sauces as well as adding additional flavors to your dish. For starters, you’d be asked if you’d like garlic with your olive oil…and upon plating you will be asked if you would like cheese – different for each too as ricotta, parmigiano and the likes.

They also have different seating arranged in the restaurants. Barstool high wooden chairs and tables, cozy sofa sets and even al fresco are available. Most of the tables have different herbs on them you can enhance your food with. I always pick a table with basil on it.  ^_^

In Nuremberg, I had Salvia on Campanelle (below photo). Campanelle are mini pasta tubes shaped like bells, campana being bell while salvia is sage. There’s semi-dried tomatoes, sage of course, feta cheese and olive oil. I opt to have it topped with parmigiano being the cheese-lover that I am. ^_^ Fresh sage goes so good with feta, this dish is a real winner for me! Vapiano servings might be too big for a little person like me so if you ever get to dine there, consider the portion sizes.

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Salvia on Campanelle

Closer to home, the branch that I get to visit more would be at the newly opened mall at Vienna’s central district. It is one of the biggest among their chains and I could sit comfortably to myself whenever I dine. It’s also conveniently accessible, what with the train station Landstrasse just below the mall. Funny that on the many occasions I was here, I never took a photo of the whole or the outside. ^_^

I have had many dishes in this particular branch and I could only say that each and every one of them is worth a bite, what’s with all the freshest ingredients and those would you not love?

garlic and companyLove fresh herbs...

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Patrick asked: ricotta? I answered “yes please!”
There, a mountain of ricotta! (on Pomodoro)

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waiting in line (top – black boards and doodles)

Then there’s Vapiano’s coziest joint at Vienna’s shopping district, particularly at Theobaldgasse. I always take the scenic route finding this particular branch – snapping pretty corners as I go. Well worth it too coz I’d be so tired (I always go on foot, walking about 20 minutes or so ^_^ )…I’d be d*mn hungry whenever I’m there – I feel I could finally finish a biggie serving! (Unfortunately though, I still couldn’t …eheheh).

This Vapiano branch’s dessert station is a must try too! Offering Italian dolci, you can either sit comfortably while working (lappy please) or take your treat home too. Panna cotta, rice pudding, tiramisu, cheesecakes, crema di fragola and death by chocolate along with a handful flavors of ice cream and Italian pastries are waiting for sweet toothed diners.

dessert station

Dessert Station

Granchi di Fiume

Granchi di Fiume – with linguine

The last time I dined at Vapiano I had Granchi di Fiume on linguine. That’s crayfish and vegetables in a Vapiano lobster sauce. The pasta may look overcooked – I think it’s given since it was cooked directly after being made but I would have loved it al dente but, I won’t really complain much as taste-wise, it’s yummy and one of the dishes I would have again and again.

vapiano

Theobaldgasse 19, 1060 Wien

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1. Königstraße 17, 90402 Nuremberg, Germany
+49 911 2146330

2. Landstrasser Hauptstr. 1b, 1030 Vienna, Austria

3.Theobaldgasse 19, 1060 Vienna, Austria
+43 01 5811212

http://de.vapiano.com/en/home/

 

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Pizza from Where it Originally Is

 

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Alighieri’s statue at Piazza Dante

Naples would be one of the city that surprised me…and not positively. Compared to the other European cities we’ve been to, it is quite unsightly – but, maybe because it is quite an old city, aged to experience and history. It has a busy urban landscape feel and you might feel unsafe as you walk by but no, we didn’t encounter anything untoward (gott sei dank!) during our stay.

Apart from wanting to see Dante Alighieri’s statue at the plaza named after him (pictured above), hubby made clear his intent to eat pizza from where it originally came from – that is, Naples. So, any pizzeria, the establishment that makes and sell pizza would do, I presume. It was unknown to us then that Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba, the pizzeria widely believed to be the very first one was just a few steps away from the plaza. 🙁 (I truly regret not having researched before this trip…blame my excuse of too much blogging.)

Museo Archeologico Nazionale Naples

Museo Archeologico Nazionale Naples

So walk we did, as we reminisce how very familiar the surrounding ought to be. It was like walking the old roads of Quiapo. Dust clinging on to walls, clothes hanging out to dry, old buildings with peeled paints and lots of people walking around and waiting for vehicles – well buses, not jeepneys. It was all too familiar, like walking there was something I had done so many times – to buy rolls of film or just take photos of Manila life, only…I was sure we were still in Europe.

The walking was a good idea as we were getting tired and hungry, teehee! We ended up at this bright red building, the Naples National Archeological Museum. Since it was getting late already, the museum has been closed – unfortunately so we decided to look for a place to eat instead to fulfill hubby’s goal.

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interior, peaceful and so….red! ^_^

We didn’t walk far to find a pizzeria, they actually abound like lined palm trees on Santa Monica’s Palisades Park. The first one at the corner street was rather inviting. Scroll down please to see my chunk of reality: a table setup outside the establishment, the windows and the lights coming from the pizzeria spelled cozy. It’s sign read Ristorante Pizzeria F. Aiello, just across the Museo Archeologico Nazionale.

 So in we go, the traditional stove can be seen from the entrance along with various ingredients and from there, you’d be assured that everything would be served fresh. We were served an antipasto of crunchy tiny fish reminiscent of our dilis (anchovy) or it might actually be anchovy mixed with some others. (The menu was in Italian). This dish was served with lemon and pepper and having finished half, I already felt full.

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crispy fishy

Expectedly (or not), their serving variety is of Neapolitan. That’s a special blend of wheat flour, natural Neapolitan yeast or brewer’s yeast, sea salt and water kneaded accordingly and baked on a definite length of time and degree in an oak-wood oven to achieve that thin, crispy but tender bite. It is typically topped with San Marzano tomatoes harvested near Mt. Vesuvius and mozzarella cheese from a particular type of buffalo raised in the Campania region (Naples is Campania’s capital).

From this base, other variants can be made and there are only three listed official variations to it. What we had were two same variants. (Blame my lack of interest to learn Italian, I didn’t learn it before the trip,tsk!) We had wanted something different but, the server might have understood otherwise, teehee. I am not sure about the other accepted variants of the Italian food association but what we had was topped with toasted eggplant along with other veggies. It was right on the bat crunchy, thin and tasty.

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toasted eggplant

Mind you, they serve pizza in a rather humongous plate, I’m guessing 40cm (that’s 16 inches) and I didn’t notice if they offer the 33cms. Imagine how full we were ( I had two slices) having finished the antipasto earlier and gulping a pint of iced tea (mine) and beer (hubby) as we go. We had the other whole pizza taken back to the hotel. ^_^

It was a dinner so satisfying (read: burp full), we went walking for hours afterwards. I was warned that Naples wouldn’t be so safe like other Italian cities and that’s how I felt arriving (as mentioned above) but that night proved to be a safe and lovely one. Walking on long hours, we were able to capture Naples’ beauty and charm at night, will post those photos soon.

pizzeria out

Almost dusk


 
 
 
 
 
 
Ristorante Pizzeria F. Aiello
Via Santa Maria di Costantinopoli 12 80135 Napoli, Italia 081 441909


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Coffee, Tea and Cakes at the Vienna Marriott Hotel’s Garten Café

 

Rarely, as mentioned earlier, do I get to go out with a friend who could accompany me around the city in the mornings. When I do, I would end up eating with her or with him somewhere. One of my favorite spots to have tea and some sweets is at the Vienna Marriott Hotel. So what’s with all the walking and sweating when you are bound to gain a few more pounds after enjoying a slice of heavenly cheesecake? I believe, it’s the time spent that matters.

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my clear cup waiting for Morgentau tea

Most of the time, I get tea. Well, every time. Sweet and nostalgic they may, coffee isn’t for me. 🙁 I still try every now and then especially if tea’s not offered. Among the selection that the Garten Café offers, I often take the Oreo Cheesecake or the other cheesecake, double chocolate. ^_^ They also offer traditional Viennese Apfelstrudel which comes with vanilla ice cream on the side, tiramisu, black forest cherry cake and other yummy treats…each a slice of heaven.

Will often dream of this heavenly oreo cheesecake slice.

Apfelstrudel + vanilla eis, oreo cheesecake and my little date somewhere (son 2).

I’ve not yet tasted a lot of cheesecakes, known around the world. Sometimes, I bake it myself but, I can not really compare it with what other foodies rave about yet I’m sure, the one at the Garten Cafe will fare well. Decadent in every bite, you would want more wanting to discover its components in every bit. Makes you forget about your workout and have it as a staple everyday…

The apfelstrudel is not to be undermined. The sugar, cinnamon, raisins and apple combined inside soft baked dough will send you asking for more. Take half a spoonful of ice cream when you dig and I bet however chaotic your table is, you will clearly decide to come back  to this café all over again. Just as I did.

Chaotic coffee.

Chaotic coffee (a friend’s).

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