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Palermo & beyond food tour experience in 4 days

My personal highlight: Eating warm ricotta cheese liquid and fresh coming directly from the pot – a foodie’s once in a lifetime experience

Planning a trip with a friend bringing you to his hometown means: be ready for plenty surprises. It’s the best way to discover a place. Who loves the feeling of getting lost and feel welcomed from locals. Read more about what happened to me during the trip in Sicily this may.

My friend asked me what I would love to do and see in Palermo. My reply was simple: it has to do with food! That is why the city welcomed me with a traditional brioche gelato! Have you ever tried a soft sweet bread filled up to the top with artisan ice cream? Well, than that is the first thing to do in Palermo! Ice Cream Sandwich! Get the best one at Brioscià. What you get here is absolutely outstanding. Don’t forget to ask for a special topping! That is what makes this brioche gelato unique.

Streetfood & morning stroll at the food market ballarò

Welcome to Palermo! Here the duty is to go for snaking through the city blocks southeast of Palazzo dei Normanni. I guess it’s Palermo’s busiest street market. The mix of noises, smells and street life is fascinating. It’s the cheapest place for fresh prepared food, souvenirs, Chinese padded bras. Get regional and national food products as olives, salami or cheese. The absolute must try and healthy snack is a long pumpkin with lemon juice on top.

Palermo: A splendor of an Arab-Norman-Byzantine Culture

Strolling through the city makes you understand how many different cultures have influenced the city. 2 1/2 centuries of Arab rule (from 827 BC at the end of the Eleventh century) gave to the city of Palermo magnificent palaces, mosques, minarets and gardens. After the Normans took possession of this splendor. Today, the heritages of these two cultures are intertwined and indistinguishable. Creating the so-called Arab-Norman style. The influence is reflected also in the food. This makes all my discoveries vey precious!

Palermo has a unique flair, there is no lovelier experience than sitting on a square in front of one of the beautiful churches, be surrounded by live musicians making you forget time.

Where to have artisan & local made Sicilian dishes

Osteria Mangia & Bevi – La cucina che parla siciliano (The kitchen that talks in Sicilian)

Get a diversity of typical dishes as the Pasta fritta (fried pasta served in a pan) or the Bucatini con sarde alla Palermitana, this is dedicated to sardine lover!

If you like to stay with a starters plate choose out of their veggie, fish or meat appetizers and order different plates to share!

Antica Focacceria San Francesco – Panino con la milza (Sandwich with veal spleen)

The street food of Antica Focacceria San Francesco is suitable for any time of the day: Here is where you need to try the Palermitan Speciality made following a tradition from 1834 called Focaccia Maritata (married focaccia) It’s a soft bread filled with veal spleen, fresh ricotta and caciocavallo cheese. The spleen is prepared in a big pot, slow cooked for hours until it gets super tender. It was my first spleen ever eaten in my life! Absolutely recommend this dish! If you love to go for a classical snack, take the Arancina with ragù  (fried, rice stuffed with meat ragout and peas).

Travel suggestions – how we did it

Fly from Zurich to Palermo or take to train to Milan, enjoy a half day in the city and fly to Palermo from there. You will spend max 150 Euro depending on the time of booking. I always love to use skyscanner to check my flights in advance by the way! For the accommodation I recommend to use airbnb, there are really lovely apartments

More discoveries in Sicily: the village of Castelbuono

When traveling big cities there is always the desire to see small authentic villages. Having the privilege that my best friend Annasole is from Castelbuono gave me perfect excuse discover this spot on my Sicily journey, too.

Castelbuono is a 10’000 hab medieval village in the Park of Madonie. It’s about 90 km from Palermo and very close to the Thyrrhenian City of  CefalùThe old town is still well preserved and captivates you from the very first moment. The town develops around the castle of Ventimiglia, near a Byzantine hamlet called Ypsigro. The village is a paradise for foodies. Beside excellent Michelin Star restaurants as Nangalarruni or Palazzaccio you can find the well-known pastry producer Fiasconaro. They’re famous for excellent nougat, creams and  panettone filled with delicious creams made of the mana ash-tree or pistachio.

Visiting Castelbuono with a local friend made my wish come true. I got introduced to the production of ricotta cheese. Standing in the small cheese dairy San Nicola with the father and son of the company was my personal highlight. Yes, the smell is intense, but the taste of this still hot and liquid creamy cheese reaching my mouth, indispensable.

An other adventure on the private food tour was the visit of the biscuit manufacture Tumminiello.

Italian have a typical way to make breakfast, a coffee and some biscotti! This is how I grew up.

Tumminiello uses all local ingredients, less sugar and aromatize mostly of their biscuits with Sicilian products oranges or lemons. Find all of their selection here.

A funny fact about Castelbuono you should know

The village is the only one in the world that uses a very unique way to clean-up their waste. It’s a Zero Waste project by the help of donkeys! They have managed to develop an innovative system to marry sustainability, social work and economics. A traditional donkey-breed from Sicily called Ragusa collects waste in narrow streets!A funny fact about Castelbuono

In the mood for a cost trip – Choose Cefalù

Cefalù is notable for beautiful sunsets and unpretentious charming restaurants located in beautiful alleys. One of Cefalù’s magnets for tourists is the duomo. An imposing two-towered Norman cathedral. This building mighty dominates the historical centre. The piazza with restaurants and coffee’s invites to have a stop and enjoy the vibes of the city. Find plenty artisan shops, too around the village to buy your favorite souvenir.

In the mood to read about my travels and get inspired? Find more stories here!

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Orange blossoms, Neomoorish architecture & smiling faces: welcome to Seville

moorish

My personal highlight: Colorful palaces, blooming orange trees and delicious fresh fried fish smell

Sevilla was one of the last Spanish Cities on my bucket list. I saved the best for the last. As you do it with your the bite of your favorite dish. A 4 da trip is the perfect amount of time you need. For the flight I recommend edelweiss air from Zurich. There was a black Friday special for 120 CHF!

The atmosphere in Seville is unique of its kind. The orange trees filling every alley with life, colorful painted walls of the houses and the serene but lively attitude of the Sevillians made me immediately feel home. People have a smile on her face and are always in a relaxed mood.

I am happy to have chosen my trip end of January, the temperature being 20 degrees and streets not full of tourists made my trip smooth and easy.

Where to sleep in Seville

Seville is small and easy to to by walk. Strolling without plan is my plan! Sometime it’s ok to spy on google maps but that’s it. You can’t get lost. My airbnb was situated in the old town, 5 minutes by walk from the cathedral of Saint Mary. It’s the perfect location to get around.

Why I absolutely recommend to use airbnb and stay at Juan’s place? When entering this house you feel thrown back to an arabic country. The neo-moorish style is adorable. Colorful, floral and so charming. The Moorish architecture is the articulated Berber–Islamic architecture of West North Africa (Morocco and west Algeria), Al-Andalus (Spain), and Al-Garb Al-Andalus (Portugal).  Juan’s place offers all you need. I paid 30 Euro a night. The place is super clean, cozy and as mentioned super centrally located. My host is the best tapas tour guide! If you are lucky you got to try the hand made chocolate, since he is chocolatier. Juan revealed a how Sevillians enjoy their Tapas. I was surprised seeing them standing all the time and seldom sitting for dinner. He mentioned, Tapas you enjoy standing. You crawl from bar to bar. Every Tapas Bar has its home specialty. Since you always walk in between you get to digest perfectly what you eat!

Getting around in Seville – my favorite spots to see

1 – A stylish and architectural pearl: Plaza de España

This neo-moorish style can be found in lots of Sevilian sights. A must visit therefore is the Plaza de España designed by Aníbal González. It’s a magical place with a style that recreates de Arab constructions of 10 centuries ago and emphasizes the regions of Spain and its union with America.

How to get there: access Parque de Maria Luisa from Glorieta de los Marineros, walk inside the park through Avenida Rodriguez de Casso, than you will reach Plaza de España at the end of the road. The architectural achievements and unquestioned charm have converted this place into one of the most important symbols of Seville.

2 – Stroll into one of the most beautiful Universities feel student for a moment

The Real Fabrica de Tabacos de Sevilla was built in the 18th century and used to be the tobacco factory until the 1950s. Today here a part of Seville’s University is located. The factory was the largest industrial building of the world at the time. It took 42 years to finish it. Get your history walk and admire the huge wooden doors and the fountain in the centre of the building. Entrance is free.

The address: Calle San Fernando, 4, entrance is for free.

3 – Discover Triana where back in time Flamenco had its birth

Triana is the former Gypsy area. It sits across the Guadalquivir river away from the city’s main tourist attractions. Here is where influential flamenco artists and bullfighters of the last couple of centuries came from. This area is well-known for its lovely handmade ceramics. The walls here are plastered with old bullfighting posters and photos of flamenco artists.

A most do while you are here is the Mercado de Triana

Mercado de Triana offers the most typical choice of Spanish products. The mercado is built on the site of a medieval castle. Find a colorful cluster of fruits as oranges, local avocados, specialties as saffron or sweet and chilli pepper. Find plenty of meat, fish and cheese stalls. It’s a great place to stop for tapas and a cold beer or get your souvenirs! Here I found my Bellota ham to take back home. This ham is from free-range pigs that roam oak forests (called dehesas) that eat only acorns. The taste is nutty and sweet, earthy and floral. Whatever words you use, its flavor is unique! In Zurich you can order this fabulous ham at Luma Delikatessen.
If you are in the mood of a bocadillo Iberico, absolutely stop by at Seefeld at Casa Teresa for a traditional Iberico Sandwich!

Cooking Traditional Sevillian dishes at Mercado de Triana

Inside the market is the Cooking School Taller Andaluz de Cocina. They offer daily hands-on Spanish and Andalusian cooking classes, food market tours and Sherry wine tasting. If you are up to cooking absolutely try their Cooking class. That is where I learnt about  Sevilla’s cuisine. We cooked two traditional Seville Tapas: Spinach with chickpeas, the Salmorejo tomato soup and the Paella Valenciana, that is the most traditional Spanish Paella.

Course costs: 55 Euro for 3 courses incl. Market tour (total 3 hours)

The address: Mercado de Triana, 6 Calle San Jorge, Seville, Spain

My favorite dish: Spanish spinach and chickpeas (espinacas con garbanzos)

After having tried them in the oldest Tapas Bar in Seville (since 1670) called El Rinconcillo  I was absolutely motivated to learn how to prepare them by myself! It’s the must-try Andalusian dish and so easy to make at home, too.

This is what you need: (For 6 people)
900g (30 oz) fresh spinach, 150 g (5-6 oz.) chickpeas, 1 medium size onion, 2-3 garlic cloves, 5-6 spoons tomato puree, cumin, salt, sherry vinegar, olive oil and 1-2 slices stale white bread.

How to prepare it

  1. Boil the spinach for ca. 15 min
  2. Roast the garlic until it is golden – on low heat to caramelize it
  3. Roast the bread by using the same oil, it will taste fantastically garlic-icious
  4. Use a mortar to mash the bread, add the garlic, a pinch of cumin and salt
  5. fry the chopped onion with a pinch of salt until it is caramelized.
  6. Add 5-6 tablespoons crushed tomatoes/tomato puree and cook for 2 minutes
  7. Add the boiled spinach with some of the spinach water
  8. Add the bread paste, a pinch of salt, cumin to taste and a teaspoon of sherry vinegar
  9. Stir in the chickpeas, mix well and cook until the liquid reduces
  10. Taste and add salt or more cumin if you like

What else to discover…

Alameda de Hercules district – much history and bit Boheamian

This area is where on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon you find all locals having a coffee, beer or wine talking to each other or dancing on the street. It’s a lovely and lively neighborhood to discover. The alley was originally fully surrounded by Alamo trees, that give the place part of its name “Alameda“. On the center-side of the Alameda you find two giant Roman pillars. One of which bears a statue of Hércules, who according to the legends, was the founder of Seville! Who else can be on the pillar than Jiulius Ceesar. The district has a certain Bohemian air, which cannot be found in other areas of Seville.

My secret hint for tapas here is Antigua abaceria de San Lorenzo. Get the probably most tender and aromatic artichokes of Seville spiced up with some tasty Iberico ham pieces. I ended up drinking the super delicious broth in the bowl. I also had best Tempranillo wine.

The address: Calle Teodosio, 53, 41002 Sevilla, Spanien 

Plaza major – Metropol Parasol – Admire the city from above

If you are in the mood to get the whole picture of Seville you need to get up here. The Parasol is a wooden building that was completed 2011 from a German architect Jürgen Mayer.  It has dimensions of 150 by 70 metres and an approximate height of 26 metres. It has the shape of a giant mushroom. Some say it is the largest wooden structure in the world. The building is popularly known as Las Setas de la Encarnación (Incarnation’s mushrooms). Get to the top with an elevator from Plaza Major for 3 Euro entrance and enjoy the spectacular view over the city. That is where you recognize how many beautiful church towers Seville has.

The address: Pl. de la Encarnación, s/n, 41003 Sevilla open 10am – 10.30pm Sun – Thu, to 11pm Fri & Sat

Where to go for a healthy breakfast all hand made

The coffee shop called Filo offers great fresh salads, bagels and excellent bread and croissants. I had a bowl of müesli with delicious dried and fresh fruits and home made granola. The shop is cozy , be lucky to gather  your spot since it is always very full. I recommend to stop here!

The address: Calle Hernando Colon, 19, Sevilla

Where to get specialty coffee in Seville

Stop at Torch Coffee! I found this spot through a online coffee guide. It’s located  right by the Guadalquivir river on your way to the Triana Market. Torch Coffee Roasters are part of a cooperative that has its roots in the US and puts great emphasis on connecting people and building a community in the coffee business. The coffee shop offers great space to relax after your city tour or perfect start to zip on your flat white before any tourist program.

The address: aseo de las Delicias, 3 , 41001, Sevilla open Mon to Fri 9am – 8pm, Sat & Sun 10 am – 8 pm

In the mood to discover other travel stories of Lovefoodish as Barcelona or Bilbao? Get more here.

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25Hours Hotels The Royal Bavarian Munich

My personal highlight: Learning more about Munich’s history, the Bavarian Royals and their traditions in a modern, fancy and glorious interpreted way at 25 Hours Hotels Munich

How do you book your hotels? Which criteria do matter for your booking? How much do you know about 25Hours Hotels available in Germany, Austria and Switzerland? Let me introduce you to the new 25Hours HotelThe Royal Bavarian” in Munich. Get more insights on other 25Hours hotels on my accommodation guide here (Zurich) or here (Hamburg)!

I experienced 25 Hours Hotels this year the first time in Hamburg. I have to admit, before traveling to a city after having had excellent experiences with them, I first check, if a 25 Hours Hotel is available.

The Royal Bavarian opened its doors just recently and is brand new in Munich. It’s located 2 minutes from the train station and offers all high level standards and services known from other 25Hours Hotels.

What makes The Royal Bavarian Hotel in Munich special?

Anne one of the hotel staff members guides me through the house and explains to me significant details that were used to create this Bavarian surrounding. I see myriads of ironic and iconographic allusions to Bavarian history and its royal legacy. I love the story, that the Managers and the architect went for a guided sightseeing tour through Munich, to best grab and understand relevant details of its history. The goal was to transmit them into the design concept and interior to make the place authentic and real. Special elements as the ancient sledge, the swan chair or the furniture in the Boilerman Bar feature selected, materials. They create affectionate nods allover the place. This is the signature experience of this hotels.

The hotel is situated in a ancient building from the year 1800 ca. a former Imperial Post and Telegraph Office on the forecourt of the Central Station. That is why for example you find some ancient original typing machines in the hotel alley. Hotel guests have the opportunity to type their own letter, feel thrown back in time, and mail it to the wished address afterwards.

The catchy topic of the hotel is the Royal Bavarian History. I notice lots of Swan and Elefant elements all over the hotel. These were favorite animals of farmer royals. King Ludwig II of Bavaria, also known as the “Fairytale King was one of them, he lived in the castle called Neuschwanstein. Neuschwanstein literally means “New Swan Castle” referencing of “the Swan Knight” one of the Wagner’s characters.”. King Ludwig was a great admirer and supporter of Richard Wagner, the world-renowned composer.

This is 25 Hours Hotel The Royal Bavarian in a glimpse

  • 165 rooms in 6 room categories on 4 floors
  • Price start as of 150 Euros
  • meeting space for up to 20 people in the “Muschelkammer”
  • NENI Restaurant with eclectic east Mediterranean meze inspired by Chef Haya Molcho
  • Boilerman bar with fancy Highball drinks
  • Sauna
  • ue boom bluetooth speakers
  • free of charge mini car and bike rental (bikes from Schindelhauer)
  • a hearty and service oriented staff that makes you feel home away from home

Accommodation

Find 165 modern and stylish designed rooms. Every category has its own theme and design. It starts with the Single-Box-room, than the “Chambers” and the Grand-Chambers. There are two suites available, one is the Swan-Suite the other the Peacock-Suite. Natural materials as wood and fabrics are combined with warm colors and stylish, functional furniture. Find all details for booking a room here.

Food & Drinks

As in every 25Hours Hotel the NENI Restaurant spoils its guest also in Munich with the food philosophy of Haya Molcho and her 4 sons. Find an eclectic east Mediterranean cuisine inspired by a Street food style from Telaviv and the world. Get a variety of light and flavorful lunch and dinner menus.
Try the Balagan style, which means that you order several plates and share them together! Enjoy the open space or the tranquil private room. Enjoy some hand made sandwiches or other food to take a way at the NENI Deli.

The house bar Boilerman offers a sociable and cozy atmosphere. It’s an inviting place to linger and relax. Find delicious highballs – precisely mixed short drinks that are stirred and not shaken.

Thank you for using the Lovefoodish food and travel guide.

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Hotel & Restorant Lej da Staz Celerina

My personal highlight: Waking up early in the morning at Lake Staz observing the mist moving mystical & magical around me – This is a must experience hideaway in the Engadine

When it comes to travel to the Swiss Alps, Engadine is the destination of my choice. This region is not only famous for its Swiss Indian Summer in autumn. Here you enjoy hospitality on a phenomenal and very personal level.
On top, the food and dishes you get are of excellent quality. Coming here during autumn you encounter colorful pine and larch trees that are unique in Switzerland.

What to expect at Lej da Staz

The surrounding is unique at Hotel & Restorant Lej da Staz. The house is embedded in a protected natural area not accessible by car (7 minutes by car from St. Moritz main station) directly at the Lake of Staz. Enjoy absolute privacy and tranquility in the middle of a forest surrounded by the alps. The peak you admire from the terrace is the Mountain Piz Julier (3380 m). The hotel is managed by Anja & Hans-Jörg Zingg and a lovely super friendly staff.

Use Promocode Lovefoodish to get a delicious Engadine Appetizer plate with your booking!

Accommodation

The hotel offers 10 cozy bed rooms. All rooms are decorated with an authentic alpine style and offer good standard comfort. Obviously the room facing the Lake is the first choice of the house, book it if you have the chance! The view over the lake brings you to a fairy tale you have never been before.

Walking inside and outside the house you recognize that there has been put a lot of attention to details. The surrounding is maintained with love and make you feel like home. Take the advantage of being out in the middle of the nature, stroll through the forest and observe the squirrels swing from one tree branch to the other.

Getting spoiled at Lej da Staz Hotel

  • The staff is there to spoil you with attention. Use the included transfer that picks you up in St. Moritz.
  • Use their e-bikes or mountain bikes to discover the fabulous woods.
  • Are you planning a seminar or a family party for a weekend? Rent the whole house and have it all on your own. They have special rates. Get in contact with the hotel or visit their website here to find out more about.
  • A cozy sauna house  just a few steps distant from the Lake is a must when you stay there.
  • The terrace invites to relax. Lean back in one of their sun basket and enjoy the sun going down after your  hike or bike day.
  • Get special rates when the weather is cloudy or rainy, find more about these special rates, here.
  • The hotel offers a big play ground for kids and is vey family friendly. Special spectacles and entertaining programs are available. On the stage kids can listen to fairy tales.
  • Are you planning a hike to the alp and want to see more of the Engadine? Absolutely stop by at El Paradiso alp restaurant. This restaurant belongs to the same management and offers exceptional alpine atmosphere up at 2181 meters. Their food choice is excellent, try the Paradiso Cremeschnitte! A dream all made of vanilla cream and puff pastry. They’re baked fresh every day!

Food at Lej da Staz

Great local and home made prepared food choices are available at Lej da Staz. Choose out of three food places: The restorant, the Stazer Club Stubä ( a cozy private room) or the Take away kiosk Quickquito located outside (available during sunny days).

Enjoy local hand made dried Engadine meat specialities or goat cheese specialities from their local cheesemaker.
I absolutely recommend their risotto. It comes with fresh mushrooms and local alp cheese that makes its taste intense and creamy.
The cheesecake is a must try and signature dish on the menu, it’s made of goat cheese. Their Saazer Moorechopf – sticky sweet chocolate marshmallow kisses are finger licking.

Want to spent more time in the Engadine?

Explore the region for great hikes, biking, sailing or skiing in winter.
A must do to get the whole picture of the Engadine Lakes is to visit Muottas Muragl. The view up here is astonishing, you can reach it by cable car or hike up/down.

Find more information and travel suggestions on this region on the site of St Moritz Tourism www.stmoritz.ch. Or get inspired in an other blog story of mine discovering the region by mini cabrio.

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Sailing the Balearic Sea with 10 random people

My personal highlight: 10 random chosen people feeling like a family on a 15 meters long yacht enjoying the beauty and power of the Balearic sea.

When it comes to choose how to spend summer holidays I love to go for an adventure trip on a sailing boat. I experience the sea as a space to feed my soul and mind with fresh energy.

A journey on a sailing boat offers all the unexpected you desire. You have tranquility on one hand, while out in the middle of the sea listening to the sound of the waves. You follow the sun and admire the huge red glowing ball setting down at the horizon every night. It’s my favorite live TV channel on board! On the other hand, you depend on the power of the weather and nature deciding the intensity of the journey. This combination gives you the extra portion of excitement if the sea gets rough.

On top of that you have the crew. We were 10 people on our yacht. Sounds a lot but worked perfectly. Taking care about each other felt like being on a trip with a family.

Our boat was a solid, comfortable yacht from the boat-builder JeanneauSUN ODYSSEY 509 with a length of 15.38 meter, 5 cabins. 2 cabins even had an own toilet!

How 1o random chosen people manage well together on only 15 meters

I guess what united our spirits on board was the pleasure of enjoying the moment of peace out in the deep blue sea. Everybody detached from the daily routine left at home very fast.
Sailing can mean anchoring in a bay, staying away from busy harbors, sleeping on deck admiring a sky full of stars or waking up in the morning for jumping into the sea before breakfast on deck.

When all of this is given, you don’t really have arguments to feel stressed. And yes, the chemistry between people can even contribute to a relaxed atmosphere on board, too.

What you need on board is good music and good food. This gives the extra chilling feeling!

How to find a sailing boat?

Back in 2014 I walked to the Marina of Bali and found my crew directly there. This option requires time and flexibility. An other option is to get a yacht by having a skipper friend.
If all of that is not the case, here is the solution: Book your holiday with Join the Crew. They are experienced in organizing this kind of trips, great people included. Their choice of sailing destinations is excellent.
Caribbean Sea, Seychelles, Thailand and plenty of destinations in Europe as Greece, Spain, Croatia, Italy, France and the Baltic sea. Find more details here. They have access to modern yachts and skilled skippers.

Sailing from Palma to Formentera and back

Our trip started in Palma de Mallorca. We sailed to Ibiza and Formentera where crystal clear waters waited to be discovered . The longest leg From Palma to Ibiza was about 12 hours. Kind of challenging but for sailing lovers a real adventure. For your first sailing trip it may be more ideal to choose a destination with a less long sailing leg. On our trip we anchored in marvelous bays. If we wer in the mood of touching a bit of land it was fun to take our dinghy boat and get a refreshing cocktail at a beach bar!

What about the costs?

A week of sailing in the Mediterranean Sea costs around 800 Euros. (food on board and diesel incl., excl. flights).

The sailing week in a glimpse, useful hints

  • Check in advance how strong your stomach, try a day trip on a lake or sea. Bring some seasick medicines or use the sea band, they seem to work well. More details on that product here.
  • Bring your favorite music playlists, you will get home with new followers!
  • Bring life stories to share with your friends on board
  • Share your recipes and cooking skills, keep it simple.
  • Once at the harbor, create a shopping list with your crew and go shopping together for your week on board. Create teams and focus on your strengths! Buy some junk food, sweets and alcohol, you are on holiday!
  • Be prepared for the unexpected, bring patience and flexibility. Sometimes you have strong winds, and you are active on the boat. Some days you have weak wind and you enjoy chilling on deck.
  • Bring your sleeping bag if you love to sleep on deck. It can get chilly at nights.
  • Don’t forget your rain jacket, yes, it can get stormy!
  • Adapt to the natural move of the waves and let yourself swing into sleep.

Need some inspiration on what to cook on board? Read my article of Greece sailing 2016!

Find more stories about my travels here and get inspired. See you out there somewhere.

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Weekend cabrio ride Caumasee & Chiavenna

My personal highlight: Cruising with the open deck of my mini cooper cabrio in between impressive Swiss Alps

Once upon a time you just need to do crazy things. I have a wish: drive the Julier and the Maloja Pass all by myself by a mini cabrio.

I hoped to find powdered mountain peaks on my way, since the Julier Pass is stretching up to 2,284 m above sea level. End of May seems perfect to do the trip. The chosen car a mini cooper s cabrio, incredible fun factor, safety and a comfortable ride included. Perfect to enjoy all curves and maneuvers to the max.

Having the Lake of Cauma (Caumasee) in Flims, Graubünden on my bucket list, practically located on the way towards Maloja, it was the perfect reason to do a weekend trip out of it, combining lake and mountains.

Swim in crystal clear waters at Caumasee

It’s one of the most breathtaking mountain lakes in Switzerland, they call it the pearl of Flims. You need to experience this with your own eyes, pictures alone won’t make it.

Embedded in a forest you find turquoise blue and crystal clear waters. Water temperature in summer is at an average of 21 Celsius, with a maximum around 24 Celsius. I guess I had the pleasure to enjoy 15 degrees end of May! Around the lake you have spots to relax, you can even rent inflatable boat or bring your unihorn!

How to get to Caumasee

Get there from Zurich in 1.30 h (140 Km) by car. Everything is super organized there. The entrance fee for adults is 12 CHF, kids pay 6 CHF. Find different areas for barbecue or just enjoy their restaurant for drinks & food. The car parking is close (15 min) to the lake so you can make it easily by walking with your picnic equipment.

Continuing the trip all the way to Engadine

On the route of the Julier Pass your next stop after ca. 1.30 h drive (84 Km) can be lake of Silvaplana or Lake of Sils. The Julier Pass is located in the Albula Range of the Alps. Romans built it in the year 1820 to connect the Engadin valley with the rest of Graubünden.
Lake of Silvaplana is a must experience among kite surfers. For Sailors I recommend the small but extremely windy Lake of Sils. Winds here are considered strong and unpredictable. I love sailing. Plan extra time for that. I absolutely recommend the Engadine Sailing school. The school is located at Plaun da Lej. This place has a hotel and restaurant, in front of your sailing spot. It’s well-known for sea food and fish. They prepare it really exquisite.

An other  top choice, bit closer to St. Moritz in Celerina is the Hotel Rosatsch. This is a real foodies paradise. Read my story here for suggestions on that spot.

From Silvaplana Lake to Chiavenna in 1 hour

To give a maximum of pleasure to your trip don’t miss the pass called Maloja. It leads all the way to Italy. It begins where the Julier pass ends. Its scenery is breathtaking, too. It connects two fascinating landscapes: the Upper Engadine Lake District and the Graubünden’s southern valley of Bergell. The beautiful play of light and shadows has attracted world famous artists like Giovanni Segantini, who choose Maloja as his last home and subject for many landscape paintings.

On my way to Chiavenna

Sun shining through my sporty minicooper. Having my deck open, my spotify play list on I feel freedom. I breath in every single minute in this Alpine surrounding. I pass by little rivers, cascades and untouched nature, ancient villages. On the way are plenty of food and panorama stops to enjoy.

Chiavenna itself is worth staying for couple of nights. Depending on your schedule. The city is close to Lake of Como (45 min. drive). Giving you even more options. Strategically it’s situated lovely for trips to Como and Milan.

What to do and where to eat and sleep in Chiavenna

Chiavenna has a bit for everyone – nature, culture, history, hiking and culinary tradition.

  • Visit Palazzo Vertemate Franchi & Cascata dell’Acquafraggia
    It’s a stunning Renaissance villa only 5 min. car drive from Chiavenna in Prosto di Piuro.
    Find a perfectly-preserved fresco portraying stories from Ovid’s Metamorphosis, stucco decorations and wooden ceilings. It was built in the second half of the sixteenth-century. It’s the only house surviving one of the worst landslides in history in 1618.
    On this way stop at this beautiful cascade where you enjoy powerful nature and a fresh shower! The park there is super relaxing.
  • Have lunch at the restaurant Crotto ombra
    Crotto means “cave” in Chiavenna dialect. These are small subterranean caves with airflow, common in the region. They are used to age cheeses, cure meats and brew and store beer. The first brewery in Italy, was “Spluga” here in Chiavenna, which opened in 184o.
    At Crotto ombra you need to try polenta, which is prepared authentic and flavorful just pure with funghi. An other to recommend: the “gnocchetti chiavennaschi“. These are small dumplings covered in local cow milk cheese.
  • Strolling around the city 
    Admire unpretentious alleys and enjoy an ice cream or a coffee. Walk over the Mera River bridge to capture your  instagram moment.
  • Sleep at B&B Casa Selvatica
    Casa Selvatica is located in a peaceful and quiet alley in the middle of the historical center of the town. The house is an 300 years old traditional palazzo that offers comfort and space. Gabriella took over the house from her parents and renovated it with attention to detail.
    Choose one of 3 rooms with different sizes and comforts. King bed size or a room with two single bed. My room had a kitchenette and a lovely chimney. Every room has its own charm. Breakfast is fresh and with local products. Gabriella is a hearty, spontaneous person and absolutely open to give you plenty of suggestions for your stay. Sleeping here reminded me bit of living a fairy tale. Get more details on the B&B here.

From Chiavenna a new journey can start. I drove back the Alpine roads because I love the scenery. Of course lake of Como is tempting, too. Drop me a line for some more suggestions, I am happy to assist.

Thank you for reading the Lovefoodish travel and food guide! Want to read a travel story about an other European destination? Get one here!

 

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Iglu Dorf Davos Klosters

Loving challenges, I thought: why not sleeping 2600 m above sea level in an Igloo?

It’s the first time I overnight in the middle of a Swiss Mountain, in winter, in an Igloo. Can you imagine how you feel lying in a 42 ° hot Jacuzzi and admiring a sky full of stars before cuddling yourself in a warm sleeping bag? I was speechless. Only trying it by yourself can make you such this experience richer! You even have electricity and no minus temperatures! I finally had a cheese fondue in the ideal setting!

Igloo Village Davos Klosters

I love skiing in Davos Klosters and you pass by at the Igloo Village coming down from the mountain Weissfluhjoch. I always saw that snow houses but could never imagine what a stylish and well-equipped Winter Hotel is hidden underneath. Every angle of the Igloo Village is built with love and on purpose. A tunnel system connects the igloos to each other. You feel the passion put in this project when you talk either to the Village Manager in Davos Elias Torgler or the guide Adrian. But also once standing in the middle of the bar or in the Igloo rooms with open eyes and mouth.

Igloo Villages around Switzerland and the world

Amongst breath-taking mountain scenery, wonderful snow palaces emerge every winter at seven locations to include Davos KlostersGstaadEngelbergStockhorn and Zermatt in Switzerland, the Zugspitze in Germany and one in Andorra/Pyrenees.

Every Igloo village has its only design concept, a Village Manager and an own staff with dedicated guides. The construction and maintenance of these villages need time, power and exceptional efforts. The guides are often included in the construction phase taking about 3 weeks. They work day and night even during snowstorms and at very low temperatures to make this project happen. The igloo is open for daily visits and overnights in winter season.

This is real snow art!

Each room features a different design. International artists decorate the interior spaces of the Igloo-Villages with careful attention to detail, creating enchanting fantasy worlds in snow and ice art. It takes up to 15 h per room to create this incredible characters and artwork. They carve large and small ice sculptures by hand and transform rooms into glittering fantasy worlds.

Accommodation Igloo Village Davos Klosters

There are 14 sleeping rooms available of different categories. You find suitesstandard rooms or group rooms for example. The rates start at 159 CHF and include food, breakfast and hot tea, no alcoholic drinks. Some rooms have an own Jacuzzi and toilet. All other rooms have toilets to share. Some rooms do even have a power station to recharge your phone. Ask for the special package including outdoor adventure programs, too. Get more details or your reservation here. This Igloo Village can host up to 120 persons.

Food, Drinks & more

Take an aperitivo in a stylish ice bar. For dinner there are ice dining rooms where you get cheese fondue or pasta. A warm blanket to keep you warm is included. Wine and drinks are available, too.

An absolute must is the wellness area. The Jacuzzi overlooks the mountains. There is a wooden stone sauna, too here in Davos Klosters.

A cozy Swedish Cottage with a chimney that is used to warm you up with a coffee or wine before going to sleep is the best place to end your day. The space is ideal for group events, too.

The overnight includes a snowshoe walk after dinner, the super warm sleeping bag and snowshoes if needed.

My personal highlights

Staying over night at the Igloo hotel is an adventure. It’s the whole program setup that makes this stay unforgettable.

  • Meeting new people and sharing most of my Igloo moments together.
  • Getting an aperitivo surrounded by stylish ice sculptures and great music.
  • Gourmandizing a delicious fondue having a warm blanket on my legs
  • Enjoying a homemade cinnamon bun for dessert that got warmed directly on the fire in the Swedish cottage Kota.
  • Taking a bath in the 42 ° Jacuzzi under a sky of shining stars in the plain nature and the 35° wood sauna.
  • Waking up early morning, admire the distinctive Engadine Blue sky and be the first skiing on the untouched slopes.

Why building an Igloo village back in 1995?

The main reason why this idea came up to the founder of Iglu-Dorf (Igloo Villages) Adrian Günter in is because he loves snowboarding on untouched, fresh prepared slopes. How can I be the first early in the morning to touch the snow? By sleeping up in the mountain, he thought. That is how the first igloo ever built was a simple hand shovelled one only to host a few of his friends. Out of this idea the future business offering a real Igloo Village originated. Iglu-Dorf has been building hotels out of snow and ice for 20 years.

How to build an igloo

I have this image of stacking snow cubes, but I have been taught different. Usually around beginning of December when the first snow falls and the slopes are ready the local mountain railways furnish the Igloo Village with technical snow from the snow cannon. Technical snow has perfect properties for the igloo construction since it is compact and resistant.

A big air blown balloon made of a resistant canvas is used to create the dome shape. After only few hours the balloon is destroyed and the ideal shape for the igloo remains. Now the hard handwork begins. All the superfluous snow is shovelled away to the final needed size and shape of the igloo. Tons of snow is used. Hundreds of meters of wire providing electricity inside and around the igloo. Electricity is needed for various stations as the kitchen or the rooms.
Some of you may have seen the Igloo Sport Studio built in St. Moritz for the Ski World cup 2017. Thanks to Iglu Dorf this unique sport studio came to reality!

Watch here how this Igloo got built! 

Thank you for getting inspired by the Lovefoodish accommodation guide.

www.iglu-dorf.com

 

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EuropeTravel

Lovefoodish in Wonderland at St. Moritz Gourmet Festival 2017

Why I had one of the best food blogger experiences enriching my view and knowledge about farm to table cuisine

St. Moritz Gourmet Festival has it all

Where to begin to summarize this unique experience in the Swiss Alps. My journey started in a cute village close to St. Moritz called Celerina. Here the Hotel Chesa Rosatsch is located with 3 different restaurants. A detailed review is available here. The rest of my time was dedicated to the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival.

What happens at the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival?

10 American Master Chefs are invited to St. Moritz for sharing culinary experiences with local Chefs of their partner hotels. Together they enthrall the festival guests with culinary delicacies one week long. Tickets are available online through the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival for everybody. Additional special events as the Kitchenparty or the Chocolate Cult at Badrutt’s Palace take place during the week. Due to my interest in the farm to table concept my choice fell for Chef Melissa Kelly located at the wonderful Nira Alpina Hotel in Silvaplana.

Sweet sensations at the Chocolate Cult, Badrutt’s Palace

My festival visit starts with a glamorous chocolate afternoon. The legendary Chocolate Cult at the Badrutt’s Palace. Can you imagine what chocolate lovers feel when entering the elegant corridor of this beautiful classy hotel? And that smell of real pure chocolate? You find chocolate art paired with lots of experience and passion. Delicious fresh made pralines, tarts, creams and pastries. Only tasting can explain!

Why Chef Melissa Kelly gathered all of my attention at NIRA Alpina in Silvaplana

The farm to table philosophy is something that surrounds me since my childhood. The idea of having an experienced Women Chef in Switzerland to share her life and cooking philosophy was reason enough for me to attend the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival. The fact that she has Italian roots was very exciting to me, too.

Melissa Kelly started cooking with the age of 5 in her grandmother’s kitchen. Her Italian roots are from the beautiful city of Bologna. It’s the one and only place where real good and traditional pasta comes from. This explains the exquisite homemade linguine she prepared for us. Her Signature dish is the Nonno Primo’s Pork Saltimbocca named by her grandfather Primo was the absolute highlight.

Chef Florian Mainzger, the home Chef at Hotel NIRA Alpina had a challenging task to gather all of the ordered ingredients to follow Chef Melissa’s farm to table “religion”.  He did a great job she compliments. There is a lot of planning and communication between the two Chefs beforehand, plus cooking on altitude is an additional challenge, confirms Chef Melissa. She brought some special herbs and even pork products all the way from the US to prepare the dishes as authentic as possible. The staff at NIRA Alpina made this unique event possible. The cozy and warm ambience in the Trattoria matched perfectly to the dinner setup. Hotel NIRA Alpina offers an outstanding service. I appreciated their help and kind availability for example by always offering me help for transfer when needed to St. Moritz.
Gioannis from Nira Alpina told me, that he drives every morning to get some fresh goat milk for one of his guests. Absolute lovely!

Diving into the 5 course dinner prepared by Chef Melissa and the team

The courses taste puristic and very fresh. Her creativity is very healthy! She integrates a variety of vegetables that make the courses light and colorful for the eyes. I love the Mediterranean flavors and Italian touch she combines in all courses.

The starter is a fig stuffed with Marcona almond and candled orange. It comes wrapped in pancetta with local chicories. The Gorgonzola filling of the fig is a real surprise.

The next plate is a perfectly spiced Brittany Scallop with a cauliflower panna cotta, caviar and a very light herb spuma.

Hand made Squid ink linguine with a spicy tomato sugo are served next with a Broccoli crema and calamari a la Plancha.

The last course is a pork saltimbocca with roasted garlic potato purée, spinach, prosciutto and a wild mushroom Madeira sauce.

My absolute preferred desert as of now is the Butterscotch budino with salted caramel and rosemary shortbread. This combination gave me such a happy belly feeling, really mouth-watering.

The micro gap still available in my belly got filled by a south Italian traditional sweet! What a surprise! Super soft and fluffy fried Zeppole. I love this fried dough turned in sugar and cinnamon. It reminds me home! In Italy you get them especially at Saint Joseph’s day that is celebrated in March.

Living farm to table as a life philosophy

“Eating and cooking healthy is not a lifestyle, it’s a life philosophy”, says Chef Melissa. This explains why she is running Restaurant Primo in Rockland, Maine since more than 18 years. Living on a farm is the way she grew up. Primo’s staff is involved in the whole gardening and farming activities. There is a lot to do on a 4 acre property. This involvement is necessary to make her life philosophy completely understandable. This is how 400 pounds of garlic come together for example. By not using chemicals and pesticides, their flowers and produce are helping to maintain rich soil without depletion and degrade for generations to come.
They frequently teach kids about farming and healthy food. I liked the story from Melissa about the kids asking if the plant is the place where the chicken come from.

Chef Melissa is as a very authentic and approachable personality. This explains the happy and relaxed faces enjoying their time in the kitchen. Chef Jenna reveals that they feel like a little family. Well done, I really like the group spirit!

Nose to tail for everybody in Rockland , Maine – Annual Pig Day extravaganza

I am happy to see how Melissa offers this tradition to her guests at Primo Restaurant. During the month of November the Pig Day extravaganza takes place at Primo restaurant. Last year more than 180 people spent their day with processing the just-slaughtered pigs raised on the Primo farm. After working everybody eats the food. 4,200 pounds of pork were processed into prosciutto or pates. It’s a unique way to feel Chef Melissa Kelly’s philosophy. Primo’s Pig Day is a focal point of the restaurant since 2009.  Special seven courses nose-to-tail tasting menu are available with exotic delicacies as pig’s ears, pig’s tails, trotters and headcheese.

Where to find Nose to tail in Switzerland

Luckily I discovered the Hotel Rosatsch and their food philosophy. They offer these delicacies, too. You do not need to travel that far! Visit the beautiful Engadine and make a stop at Restaurant Stüva Rosatsch. Try their Slowfood or Nose to tail menu!

Around Zurich you can get in touch with Slowfoodyouth. Their activities published online include interesting projects with special excursion to farms. Join their eat in every first Wednesday of the month to get in contact with local nutrition aware foodies. Or just check online and let me know by email if you find interesting places!

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EuropeTravel

Berlin Berlin – Crazy vibrant foodish

Get infected by the multicultural vibrant vibes of Berlin

I love to get inspirations about food and lifestyle in this city. Berlin has it all. The city is vibrant and full of hidden little places to eat and drink. What I admire is the multicultural vibes. They are in every angle of the city. The combination of cultural attractions, rounds off your city trip.

Honestly, I think we can let some of this colorful vibes flow into our Zurich food and coffee scene! It’s not only the atmosphere in a coffee, that makes you feel like Alice in Wonderland it’s also the way food and drinks are prepared and presented. There is no limits to creativity! The mix is fantastic, you have a high class coffeeshop with lots of luxury on one side, next to it a professional little pasta place that has it’s own manufacture in the restaurant where you can shop and eat.

Where to go and what to eat in Berlin

Getting around

  • Get a paper map or download a pdf of the map on ooohBerlin They have a selected choice of places to eat and shop divided by “Kiez” or let’s say areas of Berlin. Small places you wouldn’t find by yourself.
  • Book an airbnb, there are many! Choose Prenzlauerberg if you like a more quite area, but it’s full of great coffee shops and vintage lifestyle shops. Berlin Mitte is great, to stay, too. It’s obviously more central. But lot’s of shopping and food around here, too.
  • Go visit the East side Gallery  and the Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer and get involved into this important part of Germany’s history. Get also to the Brandenburger Tor, it’s worth.
  • Go visit die Hackeschen Höfe. They are in the historic “Scheunenviertel” or “barn district” in the Spandau suburb of Berlin-Mitte and represent the largest courtyard area of Germany. They are under a preservation order since 1972. The courtyards located across from the Hackeschen Market  a great street market. Find cool lifestyle brands and great food stores in the building complex. The famous coffee shop Ben Rahim is there, too with it’s amazing specialty coffee.

Coffee shops, drinks, food

  • Get your breakfast at Suicide Sue. Their spreads of fresh red beet or avocado peppermint are amazing. The bred is fresh and absolutely tasty. Find also a great selection of pancakes. It’s located at Prenzlauerberg.
  • An other place to have breakfast is the Bekarei also located at Prenzlauerberg. An absolute must try if you love pies and cakes and fresh bred. All is homemade and absolutely excellent.
  • For drinks in the evening I absolutely recommend the bar Chaostheorie Berlin also at Prenzlauerberg. The ambience is super fancy, colorful and crazy kitsch. Their selection of drinks has it all. Order your Pussiedrink without feeling ashamed.
  • My absolute favorite place to eat is the pasta factory and restaurant Tosatti also located at Prenzlauerberg. You can watch how pasta is made live and after 10 minutes you have it on your plate. All fresh made and with lot’s of love.  Get introduced to the many types of Italian pasta and shapes! The ambience is very cozy, you feel like eating at Mama’s house. Order a coffee and get it in a small moca pot all for yourself. Absolutely recommend it! The staff is lovely and makes your food experience unforgettable.

What else to discover…

  • Visit the Food Market Markthalle neun at Kreuzberg. On Thursdays is the street food day where you get international food from all over the world as well as a great selection of traditional German food. It’s absolutely worth exploring. Once you are there, explore the Kreuzberg area!
  • Get a currywurst! It’s a must, I love it! If there is a long queue in front of the shop it’s a good sign, go for it, there are plenty in the city.
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The best Kanelbullar ever are in Göteborg

kannelbullar

Food blogging in Göteborg – What makes a Kannelbullar unique?

Swedens signature dessert

This famous cinnamon bun is my favorite sweet in winter times. Go for a cozy authentic coffee place named Café Husaren. These Kannelbullar are the most giant and soft ones I ever tasted in my life.

Göteborg is a fascinating city with many handcraft shops. The area I love to walk and stroll around is called Haga. I absolutely recommend it if you like little hand craft shops, no tourist crowds and authentic local products. I bought myself a handmade soap called HÄRLIG!

Where to go for dinner

  • The Taverna Averna, absolutely delicious good local food, fresh fish. At the bar you get great cocktails
  • For traditional food or good drinks go to the restaurant Le Pub.
    I had a tender piece of beef with smoked bacon, mashed potatoes with a tasty red wine sauce.
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