Sicily: Hotel Food

We travelled half board and had breakfast and dinner at the hotel.

Some reviewers on Tripadvisor were commenting about the frequent repetition of some dishes, but I cannot possibly see what`s wrong with that when there is so much choice, and everything is so delicious!

The breakfast bar includes all the usual item including a vegan counter, champagne (see that before, but you`d pay a small surcharge – here, it was free) and cake:

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Dinner was three different meat and two different fish dishes, two soups, five pasta (incl risotti) with additional oils with various flavours, two counters of salads with a huge selection of dressings, three of cooked antipasti (warm and cold), lots of bread, one couter with raw fruit, two with cakes and one with icre cream:

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Further full lunches, snacks and drinks were available at really reasonable prices at the pool, and we treated ourselves twice to their amazing house salad (EUR 6.oo), which came with five rolls and so was enough for two people.

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We like to go out for food when abroad, but actually, we didn`t (apart from the trip to Mount Etna, which included a lunch), apart from a few ice creams and a sandwich (which was easily beaten by the ones in the hotel!)

Really recommending Hotel Olimpo, of which there will be pictures of the lovely views and sceneries shortly…

Please Praise the Chef! and: A Restaurant Review

Last night, we`ve been to Dal Patino again, a new and wonderful Italian Restaurant, which recently opened here in Musselburgh.

Up until that day, we had two Italians (a quite down to earth one which specialises in pizza and pasta, and a very swanky one which we can`t afford to eat at regularly). Dal Patino is a small family run restaurant, which finally managed to close the gap and offer something to people like us, who like nice food in a nice ambience, but don`t want to have to keep this for special occasions.

We were walking past by pure chance a couple of weeks ago, peckish and talking about what to have for dinner, when my other half spontanesously suggested to go in and give it a try.

I had grilled sea bass (two fillets!!) with so much on the side that I would have foregone my obligatory side salad, if only I had known. Apart from more salad, potatoes and a whole twig of grilled tomatoes with herbs, there was a large vegetable cake that was so delicious I pointed this out to the waiter and asked what was in it.

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Just a few weeks prior, I had a rather interesting discussion with the chef at my work, and we concluded that people like me are more likely to speak up if they want to complain about food rather than praise it, and therefore, by default, people like him are more likely to hear comlaints rather than praise about their work, which they usually do with a lot of love and passion (This particular conversation was about a lady who had particular dietary wishes, had something special made for her twice a day and liked neither.). After this chat, I promised to myself to really make waves the next time I ate out and found something oustanding. And this vegetable cake sure was.

 The place is small and the waiter waved to the chef (open kitchen), whose face almost split with a grin that went from one ear to the other. He told me a wee bit of what was in it and seemed happy when I said I could eat those cold as well, and they should sell them at lunch time to take away.

Anyhow, with the bill came a brown bag, and guess what was in it:

For me. Just like that. 🙂

I looked over the waiter`s shoulder nd saw the chef waving. Really made my day, and then again the next morning when I had those cold, for breakfast.

When we came back yesterday, we were greeted like old friends, and once again, served a dinner which was both delicious and incredibly photogenic:

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Anyway, bottom line is: Please could you praise the chef. You`ll make for a nice change. 🙂

Lisbon – Part II

I still haven`t quite sussed out why it is only the tram (carreira) 28 that everybody is so obsessed about, but I guess that`s because it has the most beautiful route, between Alfama and Bairro Alto. It would have taken us home, but everything is close, and if it is not too hot and if you are able bodied, I recomment walking. Lisbon is a steep walk for sure, but you always see something beautiful, plus, the trams are usually packed like a can of their famous sardines…

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Somewhere, I also have a video which I took from inside one, from our first visit in summer 2014. I have to dig this out…

More Carnival, and all rather civilised in comparison to Germany, where there is just too much drink involved…

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Canned sardines – Portugal is famous for its salt cod (which I wouldn`t try for money!!) and canned sardines, all (apart from the first one, which is from the best souvenir shop in town!!) photographed in the gorgeous and very athmospheric Conserveira de Lisboa, which sells nothing but canned fish – mainly sardines in different sauces and package designs, but also some tuna, mackerel, anchovies…

The sardines are available in souvenir and gift shops all over the city, but some are actually more expensive, and Conserveira de Lisboa boxes theirs beautifully and add a little card with a rather nice pictures of their shop – the perfect gift!

I would however not be a very considerate blogger if I didn`t issue a word of warning: Sadly, they were confiscated at the airport.

They are over 100g, and even though they are sealed, we were sternly told “Nao pasa!”, and she didn`t mellow at the sight of my beetroot face. The choice was between leaving them, checking them in (at £40.00 with Easyjet) or mailing them to ourselves for “5 Euro or so”, which it was not. They seem to encounter this issue a lot, for there is a vending machine where you can pick a pre-franked envelope by size and destination, and then address to yourself and put it in the postbox next to the vending machine. Instructions are in Portuguese, pens are not provided, EUR 20.oo notes not accepted, and once you have inserted money, you will not get any change unless you purchased something (but after that, your full change will be provided).

A small selection of canned sardines is available from the duty free – at a somewhat inflated price, but they are the cheaper option, if you are flying hand luggage only.

Just saying. The selection and boxes from this shop (who did not pay me for this blog!!) are exquisit, but I`d feel negligent if I didn`t.

A Study of my Drink (A Blog about Photography)

I have a confession to make: I`m a serial offender for ordering my food and drinks for their looks, so I can photograph and, if I find them particularly appealing, post them on social media.

The prices in certain places used to annoy me, but ever since I started photographing, I have become more lenient, considering all the added value I`m getting.

Worst thing (apart from dealing with the impatience of fellow diners) is usually to determine which ones of all those many shots of the same thing are actually any good. The following are 10 out of 29 shots of the same white sangria I enjoyed in our favourite wine bar in Lisbon at the weekend – Bar Bica half way through, and with a stunning view onto, the very famous and much photographed Ascensor da Bica (and with free WiFi seducing you to post the first picture right away, which, of course, I did :-))

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All photos were made on an Iphone 7 Plus (with the background blurring portrait mode, which was a major selling point) and, apart from Chrome and said Portrait Mode, not edited.

Feedback would be much appreciated – while I do think I progressed in both technicque and composition, I often seem to have no idea of what a good photo is. (It always amazes me on Instagram how people like the pics I was not sure about and almost ignore thoe ones I`m particularly pleased with).

Jerusalem: the Jewish Food Market

On Thursday, I decided to travel to Tel Aviv. I originally planned to go by train, but Bandora explained where to find very reasonably priced private buses, which left, whenever they were full. So I was treated to a lovely morning walk through the Russian an Jewish Quarters, feeding a rather hungry group of cats, and just when I started to feel ready for breakfast myself, I saw this on the other side of the road:

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I had discovered the Jewish Food Market!

Of course, I entered – and thought I`d never see Tel Aviv!! I let Wikipedia do the rest and explain through pictures only:

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1.000 Paper Napkins…

… (that`s 7kg!) arrived within a massive parcel from Good Old Germany today.

Bought largely unseen, this beautiful collection once meant for crafting will now be used for my food photography… One different napkin every day for three years – theres all sorts of themes – summer, elegant (just look at the black and white photo of the cutlery!!!), Christmas, Halloween, even football. I`m feeling inspired and also a bit pushed. 🙂

Now that all my colleagues had their holidays and while I`ve also got my EMA (End of Module Assignment) from uni due mid September, I expect to be working a little less over the month of August, and I plan to really use this also for my cookery (which, in my case, always includes taking photographs).

BTW, I still haven`t blogged about the course I`ve been taking in February (!) about receipe writing (morning) and food photography (afternoon), have I? I must!!

I `ve been working halfheartedly on my cookery book for about a year now (I started in July 2015), so now it` s time to move it to the next level, refine the receipes and photographs, start writing them up “properly” and maybe (but probably not yet…) make some first attempts at designing the pages.

At the weekend, I`m going to have another go at the tomato and feta stew, and, beside a little surprise, I`m going to post this in my food blog (and link it to here!) if I finally end up happy with it 🙂

Once again, ganz, ganz vielen lieben Dank fuer all das tolle Material, liebe Ruhrpottperle!!

That`s it! I`m on a diet (pardon: healthy eating regime)

 I`ve subscribed to a calorie counting app today, and I bought a calorie counting book. Too much sugar recently, which makes me want to eat more garbage all the time, so I gained weight. Friend rolled her eyes when I said how much. I know, but there`s a reason why I`m the size I am: because (after 34 years of yoyo-dieting) I now take care of myself and nip it in the bud.

I wonder whether this was a subconscious thing – trying out what it feels like to relax a bit. I`ve been thinking about this recently – about adopting a more mainstream eating regime and obtaining a more mainstream body. Be sexy in my enjoyment of food and for being a bit more soft and rounded. (Yes, I know where this comes from. From the people around me who make this lifestyle and body type seem more attractive than my own).

I don`t like it. I don`t like my own ravenous appetite, my feeling all weired but too tired to exercise at the same time, I dislike the almost daily remorse and the wondering where this will lead me, and I certainly don`t like the thought of my thighs getting bigger. It`s a feeling all too familiar which, since 2009, I`ve only been experiencing occasionally, however, every time, there is this fear that I will not be able to regain control this time and eat myself back into binge eating and overweight, just as I did so many times before.

Noooo way! And I like my healthy things, I really do, and I`m satisfied with small-ish portions and plain things – normally. It`s just eating garbage that makes me want to eat garbage, and increasing amount of it, so I know what I need to do: to once again take out – the garbage…

Got some spare time coming up (working half days to help the cats settle in), so I`ll use this for two weeks of intense healthy eating (fresh, raw, whole grain, plain, sugar- and additive free as well as no soda and alcohol) and getting myself back into formal exercising…