Rifugio Blitz, Craveggia, Piemonte, Italy

A weekend in the Italian mountains, visiting some old friends in the most BEAUTIFUL setting. 45 minutes from Lake Maggiore, we are in for a treat! After a day on the lake on Saturday, we took it easy on Sunday, and had lunch at a local mountain restaurant.

We started off with the local charcuterie, which included salamis, coppa, prosciutto, and lardo… my favourite! Alongside this, some grilled aubergine (that didn’t have tons of taste) and a very nice bowl of white beans with celery which was pretty good.

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Then, as a main, we ordered one of each of the meats on the menu and a side of polenta for everyone. Check out that polenta, it looks like huge scoops of ice cream!

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And the meats…  There was a sliced pork in a brown sauce, a minced veal ragu, a veal in a citrusy, orange sauce (this was my favourite, and the one at the bottom of the picture, served with the slice of orange), and a beef dish, with a heavier red sauce. All good with the polenta, but the only standout was the veal with orange!

For dessert, fresh blueberries with whipped cream and an espresso. Apart from being the only vegetables or fruit I’d had all weekend (!!) this was the perfect end to the meal!

After this, a hike up to the top of the mountain to see the other side, along with grasshopper catching along the way… what a gorgeous afternoon!

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Pharma, Mykonos

On our way to Alemagou, one of my favourite places on Mykonos, we saw that they were having a private party and going to kick us out after an hour at the lunch table… so instead decided to try the new restaurant, Pharma, that had opened up on the same road. It claims to be the first farm to table restaurant in Mykonos.

We started with some freshly-baked bread…

Then went for the Greek salad. As all of their vegetables are grown in their garden, they are quite local… the waiter went on and on about the tomatoes, which would be the best I’d ever tasted… and you know what They hardly had ANY taste at all! Pretty surprising…

But, sprinkled with feta and seasoned with peppers, onions, and large, juicy capers, the salad was still very good.

Here’s Andre at the restaurant, he isn’t super impressed by the tomatoes either…

And then, the local “pizza,” which was thick with roasted tomatoes, onions, and herbs… it was pretty good, but I found that the thickness of the dough outweighed the taste of the veggies… they probably needed to put more on!

But both main dishes were slam dunks… at the waiter’s suggestion, we ordered the pork belly souvlaki. I usually am not a huge fan of pork belly, but this one was amazing, with the fatty bits not too overpowering, and the meaty bits perfectly juicy and moist. With the spice rub that they used… this was absolutely delicious.

Their aubergine dip was also quite good, and we used the extra bread from the “pizza” to sop it up.

And finally, the rabbit. Cooked in a tomato sauce, it was also delicious, perfectly tender with an earthy taste to the sauce… yum.

You can see their garden behind the row of tables…

Definitely a place to come back to, as the food was good and the menu (and specials, as we ate mostly from the specials list!) was large.

Sol y Mar, Mykonos

Back in Mykonos for a few days, we decided to hit up a few of our favourite beaches and restaurants! Sol y Mar is really one of the best for food… so we went all out with a lunch feast!

We started with some fresh sea urchin….

And the Mykonian salad, which was topped with a huge piece of grilled haloumi and some samphire.

And the roast octopus leg… Andre was annoyed as it was definitely frozen octopus. When we asked the waiter about this, he said that they had always served frozen octopus there.. hm…

I still liked the crunchiness that cooking it on the grill made

Some mussels (yes, this was truly a feast…) served with fennel and feta

And the piece de resistance… the picanho steak that you cook yourself on the hot stone.

This was very fun to do, and you were able to cook the steak exactly as much (or little) as you wanted. They served it with regular salt, lemon salt and mustard that you could add to season the meat – delicious!

Here we are, surrounded by food… but what a meal!

L’Uzine, Vieux Port, Nice, France

The night before the Iron Man, Andre and I left his friends to go have a crazy night out, and we went out for a chilled dinner before an early bedtime (and a subsequent 4:30am start the next morning!)

… as ready as every, with his bracelets allowing him into the participants area, and his number tattoo on his arm…

We went for a few nicoise specialties, for the courgette flower stuffed with marscapone and mozzarella cheese. These were okay, but they had managed to mostly stuffed to stalk, not the flowers themselves, and they hadn’t seasoned the cheese mixture… To be honest, I have done better at home!

Then, the roasted red peppers… these were much better, soaked in a brine and then seasoned with scallions, olives and garlic, they had a nice, subtle flavour.

As a main, we each got the fillet mignon de porc, tender pork in an apricot sauce. The pork was well cooked, it was not too dried out and the sauce made it extra juicy… and important to me, the sauce was not too sweet… but as it was a sweet and savoury dish, it wasn’t my favourite.

What I did love was the puree (mashed potatoes) that came with it, there’s really nothing more delicious than French mashed potatoes, made with tons of butter and cream!

Golborne Deli, North Kensington

Up in my new favourite hood (Golborne Road) again for lunch, we tried a place that we had walked by tons of times but never tried. We tend to come to Golborne for dinner more than lunch, and this deli is open all day until dinner.

Andre went for the special breakfast… that had scrambled eggs (check out that colour!), beans (what I appreciated was that it was a mix of three types of beans, not just your typical Heinz), sausage, bacon, tomato, and, at the bottom of the plate in the picture, what they called a veggie ball. No idea what it was exactly, but it was nutty and delicious, it basically tasted like what you eat when you have a nut roast (instead of actual meat) for your Sunday roast. Plus, extra points as it was in the shape of a star.

I went for a simpler breakfast, just going for the scrambled eggs with crispy pancetta on ciabatta bread. And the same sliced tomatoes. I liked that they give you English mustard and ketchup on the side, I tried to find ways to incorporate them into the dish but found that it really didn’t need it, just a bit of salt and pepper!

So, the breakfasts were fine… but the real winner seemed to be the sandwiches, all served on ciabatta and pressed into what looked like pseudo-paninis, the sandwiches looked super fresh and healthy, and the bread looked thin and crispy. That’ll definitely be my pick the next time we come here!

The Onslow Arms, West Clandon, Surrey

A beautiful Saturday, so we decide to head to the countryside and do a loop in Surrey. The road along the way is tiny, at times a small winding village road, and we pass many different pubs with people sitting outside, enjoying their Sunday roasts in the sun. And finally, we pick one to sick down at as well…

And what a good choice it was! We shared the goat cheese and red onion tarte tatin to start… and it was delicious, if a bit small for two… but gave us each a taste to start with some greens!

And then the Sunday roasts, Andre went for the lamb shank, which was apparently very well cooked, not overcooked… And I got the chicken. Half a chicken, to be precise. And it was also perfectly cooked, succulent. It was served with a chicken stuffing sausage (see the square sausage bit at the upper right of the plate)… I tried one piece of this and went back to the chicken itself, which tasted a lot more natural… but there was still enough that Andre had to help me finish!

And on the side, a plate of veggies… some of Britain’s finest. All steamed, they were perfect with a bit of salt and pepper, and made the whole meal feel a bit healthier!

After a coffee, we were back on the scooter to head down to Box Hill and continue our ride!

Yooji’s, Zurich

A day trip to Zurich, the weather was gorgeous as I walked around…

I found Yoobi’s as I walked along a long road with many restaurants, each that had their outdoor terrace and was welcoming the lunch crowd… I decided that between Greek, Italian, pizza, sushi, Thai or Swiss German food, sushi was really what sounded best to me.

The menu is quite easy to use, and you write down what you want to order… I got several pieces of sashimi and a “platter” that included a summer roll, a few sushi roll pieces, and a few nigiri.

The restaurant has its own soy sauce, either the regular kind, or a yuzu-flavoured kind, depending on what tickles your fancy…  And finally, my meal: the five pieces of sashimi, two tuna, two salmon and a yellowtail, were all super fresh. I had two pieces of salmon nigiri (fine), two pieces of summer roll (a spicy prawn summer roll, something I’d never had before, that was delicious), and four pieces of roll sushi: two of a salmon flower roll, which was raw salmon served with chives and some flowers on top (very tasty!) and two of a Caesar spring roll, served with pieces of what I thought was cooked tuna, but I guess were cooked chicken, in a sauce.

Overall, the perfect amount of food, and look at those colours! This was a great selection/value for lunch.