Category Archives: EUROPE

Colazione2 Hotel Lupaia – Tuscany, Italy EUROPE Hotel Italy  Tuscany montepulciano Magic Italy Hotel Feature

Hotel Lupaia – Tuscany, Italy

Colazione2 Hotel Lupaia – Tuscany, Italy EUROPE Hotel Italy  Tuscany montepulciano Magic Italy Hotel Feature
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Reception Hotel Lupaia – Tuscany, Italy EUROPE Hotel Italy  Tuscany montepulciano Magic Italy Hotel Feature
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Hotel Lupaia

(+39) 057.766.8028
Località Lupaia 74 – 53049 Torrita di Siena, Italy
www.lupaia.com
@Lupaia

Magic Magic Magic Magic!!!!!!

Tucked in the hills of Val d’Orcia, staring at the city of Montepulciano is the Tuscan gem, Hotel Lupaia. Lupaia is everything you dream about when searching for a hotel in Tuscany. Nestled into the perfect 1600s Italian farmhouse, this charming Tuscan hotel has abundance flowing. The joy is easily found in the staff, rooms, views, location, grounds, everywhere you look – everything is what you wish it to be.

Lupaia-Montepulciano-005-1080x407 Hotel Lupaia – Tuscany, Italy EUROPE Hotel Italy  Tuscany montepulciano Magic Italy Hotel Feature

Service is extraordinary from the moment of booking. For instance, we promptly received a very informative email outlining the different routes and attractions for our drive through Tuscany. Their suggestions  were perfect for us, and as a result, we found several lovely spots along the way.

On arrival through the wandering hill-top drive (follow the cute well place signs!) we were welcomed with a lovely glass of local wine (Remember, here local is Montepulciano !) and a tour of the garden. The staff is attentive to your every need and mood. Each area being attentive in its service, from the restaurant (delicious) to the gardens. Everyone is looking out for you well being in mind and body.

Owners Heidi and Christopher Müller,  have perfected  the Tuscan fantasy. The rooms are individual and comfortable ( We especially thank you for the beds!!) We loved Lupaia so much that we extended our stay. After that decision, we were blessed with a Turkish Bath in our new room. At the end of our long explorations, coming home and relaxing in the hot steam was the best way to end the day. What an incentive to out and come back!

The hotel has a quite a fine restaurant and top breakfast. You do need to book ahead as it is very popular with the entire surrounding community. Remember to give your dietary preferences ahead of time. With our vegetarianism, the kitchen was very accommodating, Note that dinner is  three course menu,  so if you are a light evening eater,  mention this at booking time for smaller options 🙂

In short, Lupai makes it to the top of our list of European destinations. With Hotel Castigno, SoprArno and Les Cols.


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lepetit Petit Comité  -  Barcelona, Spain Barcelona Spain  Spain Food featured Barcelona

Petit Comité – Barcelona, Spain

GarrettZiegler-1 Petit Comité  -  Barcelona, Spain Barcelona Spain  Spain Food featured Barcelona   above photo © Garrett Ziegler

Petit Comité

(34) 93 – 550 0620
Passatge de la Concepció, 13
Eixample District
08008 Barcelona, Spain

www.petitcomite.cat

Open Hours:
13:00 – 16:00   Lunch Everyday
20:00 – 23:00    Diner Everyday

When in Barcelona, consider a visit to the informal restaurant of Michelin stared chef Nandu Jubany .  You can learn more about Jubany as he is a member of the “Science & Cooking” talks at Harvard University.

The restaurant itself is of modern design, with clean lines and a general air of significance.   A combination of formality and professionalism abound.

Our amuse bouche was a calamari salad and potato pillows.  They were quite elaborate via the effect of double frying at different temperatures.

Of course,  we had the Catalan staples of cocas con tomate (bread with tomato), and  escalibada,  (grilled vegetables) with anchovies and romesco sauce. (Though we would probably order a bowl of the Romesco if possible!)

The grilled octopus with  mashed potatoes and cayenne were good, but what we liked best was the esqueixada bacalla  (fresh flaked salty cod)  with tomato. It was very fresh and tender (and didn’t give me my Octopus guilt trip).

The Truita de botifarra   (open omelette)  with morels, goat cheese and tomato bread sounded better on the menu, as the eggs were too dry and the effect was lost.

Overall, it was quite a nice meal and we were happy and satisfied!

Petit-Comite_002 Petit Comité  -  Barcelona, Spain Barcelona Spain  Spain Food featured Barcelona   amuse bouche; potatoe pillows
Petit-Comite_003 Petit Comité  -  Barcelona, Spain Barcelona Spain  Spain Food featured Barcelona   esqueixada bacalla  (Fresh flaked salty cod with tomatoe)
Petit-Comite_007b Petit Comité  -  Barcelona, Spain Barcelona Spain  Spain Food featured Barcelona   escalibada (grilled vegetables with anchovies and romesco sauce)
Petit-Comite_011 Petit Comité  -  Barcelona, Spain Barcelona Spain  Spain Food featured Barcelona   grilled octopus with  mashed potatoes and cayenne
Petit-Comite_009 Petit Comité  -  Barcelona, Spain Barcelona Spain  Spain Food featured Barcelona   Truita de botifarra  –   Open omelette with morrells, goat cheese and tomato bread
Petit-Comite_012 Petit Comité  -  Barcelona, Spain Barcelona Spain  Spain Food featured Barcelona   Bomb Xocolate (chocolate and olive oil ice cream)  a bit heavy
lepetit2-1024x683 Petit Comité  -  Barcelona, Spain Barcelona Spain  Spain Food featured Barcelona   above photo © Petit Comité
lepetit Petit Comité  -  Barcelona, Spain Barcelona Spain  Spain Food featured Barcelona   above photo © Petit Comité
lepetit3-1024x683 Petit Comité  -  Barcelona, Spain Barcelona Spain  Spain Food featured Barcelona   above photo © Petit Comité  
LesCols_Hisao_00 Les Cols  -  Olot, Spain Barcelona Spain  Vegetarian Friendly Spain Olot Michelin Garrotxa Food

Les Cols – Olot, Spain

LesCols_Hisao_00 Les Cols  -  Olot, Spain Barcelona Spain  Vegetarian Friendly Spain Olot Michelin Garrotxa Food   above photo © Hisao Suzuki – Les Cols

Les Cols

(34) 69 – 981 3817
Avinguda de les Cols, 2
17800 Olot, Girona, Spain

www.lescols.com

Open Hours:
13:00 – 15:30    Lunch  – Tuesday to Sunday
20:30 – 22:30    Diner  – Tuesday to Saturday

In the remote town of Olot  in la Garrotxa, a volcanic area in the north of Catalonia; chef Fina Puigdevall – with the help of RCR Architects –  put forth  Les Cols;  a stunning two star Michelin restaurant; voted most beautiful in the world by a handful of publications.

Puigdevall’s culinary proposals are rooted in the surrounding landscape.  The majority of the ingredients are grown and raised at the restaurant, maintaining an ultra local and organic practices.  It is beyond “farm to table” as the table is at this beautiful 13th century farm.

Our three hour long meal started with a glass of cava and mini hot cheese buckwheat crust sandwiches in the garden, them we where guided to our table

Dishes were paraded through the golden room to vanish soon after!

Buckwheat spaghetti in a smoked broth turned out to be a gelatinous signature dish.
Early spring brought us calçots in a charcoal tempura with beetroot romesco (Catalan nut and red pepper based sauce).  This is a Catalan delicacy – and truthfully we coud have repeated this for a few more plates!

The lovely Pumpkin 5 different ways, was educational and delicious!  It turns out the five was are: grated, cold xantana, crouton, soup, & a sliced with black olive oil !

Overall service was good, attentive, and knowledgeable … not to mention patient!  We asked all the questions and  they indulged our curiosity, even letting us explore the entire place, including the kitchen.

Keep in mind this is a really large meal, so don’t eat a big lunch!  Afterwords, we couldn’t move much and sort of rolled back to our hotel!  (Also beware the herbal liquor if you are not used to it .. it is where curiosity crosses to indigestion!)

Les-Cols_010 Les Cols  -  Olot, Spain Barcelona Spain  Vegetarian Friendly Spain Olot Michelin Garrotxa Food   truffles in chanterelle mushroom royal sauce
Les-Cols_012 Les Cols  -  Olot, Spain Barcelona Spain  Vegetarian Friendly Spain Olot Michelin Garrotxa Food   grilled lettuce with lemon- apple vinegar
Les-Cols_005 Les Cols  -  Olot, Spain Barcelona Spain  Vegetarian Friendly Spain Olot Michelin Garrotxa Food   artichoke with tangerine mayonnaise and artichoke chips
Les-Cols_011 Les Cols  -  Olot, Spain Barcelona Spain  Vegetarian Friendly Spain Olot Michelin Garrotxa Food   grilled Brussels sprouts with olive oil and potato puree
Les-Cols_008 Les Cols  -  Olot, Spain Barcelona Spain  Vegetarian Friendly Spain Olot Michelin Garrotxa Food   sweet onion crumble from Croscat, with cheese from Farró and fried herbs
  Les-Cols_018 Les Cols  -  Olot, Spain Barcelona Spain  Vegetarian Friendly Spain Olot Michelin Garrotxa Food   vanilla, thyme, rosemary and orange ice cream
Les-Cols_019 Les Cols  -  Olot, Spain Barcelona Spain  Vegetarian Friendly Spain Olot Michelin Garrotxa Food
Les-Cols_027 Les Cols  -  Olot, Spain Barcelona Spain  Vegetarian Friendly Spain Olot Michelin Garrotxa Food
Les-Cols_029 Les Cols  -  Olot, Spain Barcelona Spain  Vegetarian Friendly Spain Olot Michelin Garrotxa Food
Les-Cols_030 Les Cols  -  Olot, Spain Barcelona Spain  Vegetarian Friendly Spain Olot Michelin Garrotxa Food
LesCols_Hisao_01 Les Cols  -  Olot, Spain Barcelona Spain  Vegetarian Friendly Spain Olot Michelin Garrotxa Food   above photo © Hisao Suzuki – Les Cols
LesCols_Hisao_03 Les Cols  -  Olot, Spain Barcelona Spain  Vegetarian Friendly Spain Olot Michelin Garrotxa Food   above photo © Hisao Suzuki – Les Cols
Les-Cols_035 Les Cols  -  Olot, Spain Barcelona Spain  Vegetarian Friendly Spain Olot Michelin Garrotxa Food
Les-Cols_040 Les Cols  -  Olot, Spain Barcelona Spain  Vegetarian Friendly Spain Olot Michelin Garrotxa Food   Les Cols event space
Les-Cols_043 Les Cols  -  Olot, Spain Barcelona Spain  Vegetarian Friendly Spain Olot Michelin Garrotxa Food   Les Cols event space
Les-Cols_047 Les Cols  -  Olot, Spain Barcelona Spain  Vegetarian Friendly Spain Olot Michelin Garrotxa Food   Les Cols event space
Les-Cols_049 Les Cols  -  Olot, Spain Barcelona Spain  Vegetarian Friendly Spain Olot Michelin Garrotxa Food   Les Cols event space
Les-Cols_042 Les Cols  -  Olot, Spain Barcelona Spain  Vegetarian Friendly Spain Olot Michelin Garrotxa Food   Les Cols event space

 

 

Bosphorus_008 Istanbul  -  Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Istanbul

Istanbul – Turkey

Istanbul_000 Istanbul  -  Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Istanbul   Sultanahmet

 

Istanbul is a truly massive metropolis.   With a population of almost 14 Million inhabitants, spread across 2 continents,  soaring minarets and massive mosques, it is a city that sits at the cross-roads of the world.  Please check our list of detailed posts here.  We really loved our time in this wondrous city!

So just know that the traffic is crazy and by far the best – and most fun – way to get around is by ferry.  You can traverse up and down the Bosphorus for cheap while seeing all the wondrous sites from the water.  Not quite as economic, but much more fun, is the water taxi aka speedboats for hire.  There are a few different companies and your hotel concierge can advise.

We recommend the ferries and then walking.  There is a mini metro system that works mainly in Sultanahmet; with one line going over to the Asian side and a couple others towards the Tunel and Nisantasi districts.

Locals are overwhelmingly sweet and attentive.  Every time we got lost someone would walk us all the way to our destination and answer all our questions.  Being naturally untrusting New Yorkers, we were always looking for the catch; the “what’s in it for them”.  However, in the end we had to admit that there was no catch.  People were truly helpful, polite and caring!

We never had an incident, but that doesn’t mean one should bring the guard down.  Istanbul is what it is because of it’s strategic location between two continents, and is the main hub for human trafficking worldwide.

Like most hyper-touristic destinations, beware of taxi drivers overcharging,  In Istanbul, some taxi drivers might triple and even quadruple the fare.  It’s always good to check with the hotel for estimated taxi fares.  If you feel you are being abused, just step out of the car  and tell the driver you are calling the police – there are standing police everywhere – that will usually take care of the situation and the driver quickly change the rate !

For a magical afternoon, take a casual Sunday stroll in Kadikoy while  watching the people fish along the Bosphorus and marvel at the blue blue water and jellyfish everywhere!

Bosphorus_003 Istanbul  -  Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Istanbul   Sultanahmet

Bosphorus_009 Istanbul  -  Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Istanbul

Bosphorus_010 Istanbul  -  Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Istanbul

Bosphorus_008 Istanbul  -  Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Istanbul   above Kadakoy

Bosphorus_015 Istanbul  -  Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Istanbul

Jelly-Fish_001 Istanbul  -  Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Istanbul

Jelly-Fish_003 Istanbul  -  Turkey Istanbul Turkey  Turkey Istanbul

Santa Caterina Market – Barcelona, Spain

Dan-koniak-staCaterinaMarket Santa Caterina Market  -  Barcelona, Spain Barcelona Spain  Spain Markets Food Barcelona   above photo © Dan Koniak

Santa Caterina Market

(34) 93 – 319 5740
Avinguda de Francesc Cambó, 16
08003 Barcelona, Spain

www.mercatsantacaterina.com

Open Hours:
7:30 – 14:00    Monday
7:30 – 15:30    Tuesday, Wednesday & Saturday
7:30 – 20:00   Thursday & Friday

Santa Caterina Market, is the oldest covered food market in Barcelona, it was built in1865 on the site of the Convent of Santa Caterina.

It was remodeled in 2005, by Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue, into a modern structure  with a mosaic tile  undulated roof.

We like the Santa Caterina Market as it is much less touristic then the Boqueria.  Here you actually see locals byung groceries – as supposed to the Boqueria’s packs of bus tourists!

The wares are pure Cataluña, with fresh seafood in all its forms dominating the scene. If you are lucky enough to have a kitchen in Barcelona, The Santa Caterina food market is a great place to stock up!

Santa-Caterina-Market_002 Santa Caterina Market  -  Barcelona, Spain Barcelona Spain  Spain Markets Food Barcelona

Santa-Caterina-Market_005 Santa Caterina Market  -  Barcelona, Spain Barcelona Spain  Spain Markets Food Barcelona   Mackerel
Santa-Caterina-Market_007 Santa Caterina Market  -  Barcelona, Spain Barcelona Spain  Spain Markets Food Barcelona
Santa-Caterina-Market_008 Santa Caterina Market  -  Barcelona, Spain Barcelona Spain  Spain Markets Food Barcelona   cigalas
Santa-Caterina-Market_013 Santa Caterina Market  -  Barcelona, Spain Barcelona Spain  Spain Markets Food Barcelona   cintas (cepola macrophthalma)
Santa-Caterina-Market_012 Santa Caterina Market  -  Barcelona, Spain Barcelona Spain  Spain Markets Food Barcelona   Monkfish
  Santa-Caterina-Market_010 Santa Caterina Market  -  Barcelona, Spain Barcelona Spain  Spain Markets Food Barcelona   angulas
Santa-Caterina-Market_009 Santa Caterina Market  -  Barcelona, Spain Barcelona Spain  Spain Markets Food Barcelona   sepias (cuttlefish)
Santa-Caterina-Market_003 Santa Caterina Market  -  Barcelona, Spain Barcelona Spain  Spain Markets Food Barcelona
Santa-Caterina-Market_001 Santa Caterina Market  -  Barcelona, Spain Barcelona Spain  Spain Markets Food Barcelona
Rick-Ligthelm Santa Caterina Market  -  Barcelona, Spain Barcelona Spain  Spain Markets Food Barcelona   above photo © Rick Ligthelm