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Food, Greece, Travel

Best Places to Eat in Ios, Greece

May 22, 2018
Where to Eat in Ios, Greece

 

Despite having a kitchen while living in Ios, I did eat out many times. Discovering that Ios had quiet the food scene, I decided to try as many places as financially possible! I always forget to take pictures of my food so I don’t have pictures of it all, sorry. (This is list is in no particular order.)

 

The Octopus Tree

 

Where to Eat in Ios, Greece

 

This tiny restaurant sits on the edge of the Ios harbor. It is so small, I am not sure if there is inside seating. The only unfortunate thing is that I didn’t discover it until late in September and I wish I hadn’t waited!

 

The first time I ate there, I was with friends and we shared several plates. One of those items was an amazing salad that was huge. We also shared some small fried fish and french fries. The star of the evening was the fried zucchini balls. I really wish I had been brave enough to ask for the recipe. These things are what me back the second time and would have a third time if they hadn’t closed for the season!

 

 

Where to Eat in Ios, Greece

 

Grandma’s

 

Where to Eat in Ios, Greece

 

This was the second time I had eaten at Grandma’s as I had eaten here the year before on my sailing trip. Grandma’s is located in the Liostasi Hotel, of course inside is not accurate since all the seating is outdoors. This makes it possible to enjoy the amazing sunset with cocktails by the pool and then dinner under the stars.

 

 

Everything here is good.  The menu had changed slightly from the year before as they had a new chef. This was the sea bass, which is always one of my favorites. For dessert, we had the Caraibe chocolate bar and it was chocolate-y without being too much chocolate. I say this because I am not a huge chocolate fan. The nuts helped offset the richness as well as the vanilla ice cream. I only went here once on this trip because the prices are on the higher end at Grandma’s.

 

Where to Eat in Ios, Greece

 

Hotel Corali

 

The bartender recommended this place to me as they have their own outdoor wood burning pizza oven. Yes, even in Greece sometimes you want pizza. And this wasn’t just plain pizza. Each pizza can be ordered with different crust thickness and the sauce is the perfect balance of sweet and tart and they don’t skimp on the toppings. Not only that but they also have amazing salads. Amazing salads in Greece are definitely a thing I noticed last year on Kythnos.

 

 

Thai Me Up

 

Thai Me Up is where I spent most of my money on food, which is funny since I never took a single picture there. I love Thai food and discovered they have amazing Pad Thai. Plus it was one of the cheaper restaurants on the island. They were also one of the few places to get breakfast and no it isn’t Thai breakfast. They actually have a British woman who cooks breakfast and a Thai woman make the Thai food. Many nights I would go down there for Pad Thai and beer and watch the boats come in the harbor. Better than any TV show especially as many of the locals would come down and hang out at the port at night.

 

Salt

 

Where to Eat in Ios, Greece

 

Salt is located on Milopotas Beach. I had seen it several times when I had gone to the beach but was really there for the beach and not food. However, I had seen the food and knew I needed to try it. The service was terrible, but the food made up for it. It also could have been that it was late in the season and they might have had less staff. Above is an eggplant dish that was so big, it could have been my meal. I love eggplant and this did not disappoint. And yes, I think that is ketchup on top. My main was disappointing, but I think I ordered the wrong thing. As a thank you, they brought out this treat, which has to be a full dessert! I tried hard not to eat it all but I couldn’t resist. Salt also serves food and drinks on the beach in their loungers. You can see the sea from the sit-down restaurant as well. Go for the view and the dessert.

 

 

Lord Byron

 

On the sailing trip we were told about this place, but opt to eat at Grandma’s instead, so this year I was determined to go. It was one of the first places I went and for some reason only took pictures of my tzatziki! I ordered pasta with clams and it was perfect. It was light and the portion was a good size. Next time I would eat inside. There are many stray cats outside and it smelled a bit. During the high season, make a reservation.

 

Where to Eat in Ios, Greece

 

Harmony

 

Want a little Mexican food while on your Greek vacation? I was very hesitant to try this place being from Texas, but the call for tacos eventually made me go. I ordered a fish taco and a pork taco. The fish taco was way too hot even for this Texan, but the pork taco was great and I would have eaten it again. Do not, however, order the guacamole. In order to keep it fresh, they had put lemon juice in it and that was all I could taste. During the day, the views from here are stunning and there is live music most nights. It does appeal to the younger set overall though. They also offer yoga on some mornings.

 

 

Sousana

 

This is another port favorite that is next to Thai Me Up. This is the best place for moussaka on Ios in my opinion. What makes it different is that they bake each one in its own clay pot. It is then served piping hot. The whole thing just melts in your mouth. I was scraping the pot to try to get all of it out. Again, I had a photography fail, so this photo is of regular moussaka from somewhere else. But trust me this is the place!

 

Where to Eat in Ios, Greece

 

This list is by no means exhaustive as my budget really didn’t allow for me to eat out every day. If you have been to Ios, what is your favorite place to eat at there?

 

Food, Travel, UK

The Set Restaurant, Brighton, UK

September 11, 2017

Rarely do I write about my dining experiences while I travel because I am not a food blogger. Nor I am I planning on becoming one. However, I do enjoy food and seldom hesitate to treat myself to a nice meal out. When visiting a place, I do try to find one place that comes recommended either from other bloggers or on restaurant review sites. A blogger’s review is how I found, The Set Restaurant in Brighton, UK.

The Location

The Set Restaurant is hard to spot from the street and that is because it is located inside The Artist Residence hotel, which looks like a house. If you are looking for directions in Brighton, just head to the British Airways i360 observation tower and head into the square from there.

The Set Restaurant, Brighton, UK

Once you arrive at the hotel, The Set Restaurant is on the ground floor of the hotel. The check-in for the hotel and restaurant are the same desk!

The Menu

As the name indicates, the menu is a set menu. There are three set menus to choose from, one of which is a vegetarian option. The menu doesn’t have a large description but I am sure if you asked they would give you more details before you order. The menu does change with the season, though so you might not get the same thing twice! I actually quite like this.

I ordered set three. Before you courses come, they bring you some amuse-bouche or as they call them snacks. At the moment of eating these, I had not decided to write a blog post on the place and did not start taking photos till later! Fortunately, they have an amazing Instagram account with some photos of the food I ate and the cozy interior. The first snack was this cod roe served on a linseed cracker, which was an unexpectedly good!

 

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Served along with the cod roe was a pastry flute filled with cheese and what they called guacamole. It was good, but it wasn’t guacamole for a Texan! The next snack was a chicken nugget serve on cabbage ketchup. Doesn’t sound that appealing, but I really wanted an entire plate of them instead of the rest of the meal! No picture but there is one on their home page.

Next up was the actual courses of the set menu. The first course was a ravioli with goats cheese, tomato consomme, a sun-dried tomato and basil cracker. Another item, I wanted more of!

The Set Restaurant, Brighton, UK

I had chosen to sit at the bar in front of the kitchen since I was alone. I figured it would give me an opportunity to chat with the chef. The great thing was I was able to watch my food being prepared and cooked right in front of me! I watched as they seared a piece of trout for my next course.

Again, it was described as something a bit out of the ordinary. The trout was paired with a slice of watermelon. Next to it was a slaw with crab. The watermelon was a nice compliment to the trout and the tangy crab slaw.

The Set Restaurant, Brighton, UK

Next up was the pork belly served with octopus, a pork croquet and fermented peach ketchup. While I was not a fan of the octopus, the pork belly almost melted in my mouth and who knew peach ketchup would be so amazing.

The Set Restaurant, Brighton, UK

The next course was desert, but of course, they were not going to let me just slide into dessert with all that pork and peach flavor in my mouth! So before that, I was served the palate cleanser of a chocolate lime ice cream stick and, get this, a miso marshmallow! It was so good, they could have forgotten the dessert and I wouldn’t have complained.

The Set Restaurant, Brighton, UK

But of course, dessert did come and it was just as wonderful as the rest. It was a described as a blueberry and chocolate pie. There was pastry shell and inside was a blueberry chocolate mousse with a side of blueberry ice cream. The best part was the crispy cocoa nib brittle that was placed throughout. And yes, that is some salad on top, actually sorrel.

The Set Restaurant, Brighton, UK

In addition to all this, I had a great glass of wine. You did have the option of wine pairings for an additional cost, but I am not a big drinker and think I might have been too drunk to enjoy the food and that would have been a shame!

This wasn’t just a meal, it was an experience! Sitting at the kitchen bar allowed me to ask follow up questions, see what else was being prepared and to really savor the food. It was so good, that I would consider going back to Brighton just to eat here again! This is ranks as one of the best meals of my life.

Wondering what else you can do in Brighton besides eating at The Set Restaurant? Read all about what to do in Brighton here.

 

Europe, Food, Hotel/Accommodation, Italy

Visiting Friends in Italy

August 3, 2015

SONY DSCWhen you are an expat you make friends quickly, but oftentimes people leave to move to another country or back home. Sometimes you never see those people again. Then there are the people you keep in contact with and see if you are able to get together. This is the case with my friends in Italy. I met them while living in Grand Turk. They would have me and other people over for long lunches that sometimes led to dinner or dinner that led to lots of wine. Both times I went to Grand Turk in 2011 I paid them a visit. I even brought them tortilla chips in my carry on once because they couldn’t get them or tortillas in the store there. We have kept in touch over the years. Eventually, they left Grand Turk to move to Italy where he is from. Even before they made the move, we had talked about me coming to visit since I would be so close. I was determined to make it there this year as they are always showing me lovely photos of their village and I missed my friend’s cooking!

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I have now decided that visiting friends should be the only way to travel! They showed me things I would never have found without them and it was also very relaxing. Also the area, Umbria, they live in is absolutely stunning. They live in the village of Alviano, Italy. The historic part of the village is small, but there is plenty to do in the surrounding area. You will need a car to visit some of these places and possibility even to visit Alviano. In Alviano Scalo, there is a train station, but you would need to arrange a taxi to take you to historic Alviano. Only a few of these things are in Alviano, but are in the surrounding area. I highly recommend you rent a car and explore Umbria or all of Italy.

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The castle! It seemed every village I went by had a castle on a hill. Alviano was no exception. The castle is still used as the city hall, but has it’s own history. It was built in the 15th century. Inside the castle is a small chapel with frescos from the 17th century. Unfortunately, I decided to be technology free this afternoon and had no camera with me, not even my phone so I didn’t get pictures of the frescos. There is also a small museum in the castle that you can visit. However, you might want to bring a translator app as I am guessing the labels are all in Italian like they were in the rest of the castle. Here is a link to the castle’s website. Behind the castle is the church. The church bells ring in Alviano all day, which is charming till you are trying to sleep! The people of Alviano take great pride in their village do lots to maintain it. Saturday is market day and there were fresh fruits and flowers to buy. Go early though as it ends around 1pm.

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They also took me took a local cold sulfur spring. I did some research and there are many spas in Umbria with natural springs both cold and hot. The local spring was ice cold. I could barely put my feet and legs in at first. Slowly you get used to it and it was so hot outside, it started to feel good. I did manage to dip myself up to my middle but no further. My friends were much braver and one of them went under the water. The pool they have created isn’t deep but you can lie down and immerse your whole body. Since there was no air conditioning and Italy was having a heat wave, I began to appreciate the cold. My legs were numb when we got out. My friends say this is a local secret, so I won’t tell you the name of the spring and I couldn’t tell you where it was anyway! So if you make it to Alviano then ask a local and they might tell you where it is. If not, I am sure you can experience this at a local spa.

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Being Italy, there are numerous restaurants in the area, but you may not be able to find them without some guidance. Many are on small roads and don’t always look like restaurants. My favorite was Il Fontanile. Another place I wouldn’t have found without my friends. I ordered the Stinco. It has a longer name on the menu, but I didn’t write it down. Don’t worry if you want to order, just say Stinco and they will know. It sounds terrible right?! However, stinco is the word for pork shin. The pork shin is slow cooked all day with seasoning. This one had rosemary stuffed inside it. This is by far the best thing I have ever eaten. The portion is large though and I couldn’t finish it. Il Fontanile makes everything homemade and the meat is acquired locally. The homemade pizza looked amazing and they handmade everyone I saw as we were sitting by the pizza oven.

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Get out and explore. My friends took me to several towns that had many historic sites, i.e. more castles! I recommend Amelia, which is a larger town. The historic part of Amelia had streets so narrow, I wasn’t sure how we were going to fit down them in the car. People walking the street had to press themselves into the walls so we could go by! They also were having a festival that weekend. Many of the small towns have festivals or sagras throughout the summer and you should try to find out where before you go. Another town that was worth exploring was Goive. The castle in Giove was at one time owned by the famous Italian family Farnese.

Where to stay? There are too many options in Alviano itself. I looked and there were only two Airbnb options in Alviano proper. The newer part of Alviano, Alviano Scalo may have a hotel, but I couldn’t find one. Il Fontanile has six rooms though and is very close to Alviano. The restaurant was so beautifully done; I am sure the rooms are the same. Bonus is dinner is easy to find. If Il Fontanile isn’t your thing, then I recommend looking into Airbnb to find a house or apartment to stay in, as you will feel more like you live there and can experience Umbria in all its glory.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post when I talk about the best attraction in the area!

Europe, Food, France, Paris

Eating My Way Through Paris

June 29, 2015

I was hoping to write about all the great restaurants that I ate at in Paris. Unfortunately, each place only really did well in some areas and failed in others. So instead, I am going to tell you what food I did and didn’t like.

First off they seem to do smoked salmon really well. Not that I had ever had it before! It never looked appealing to me. However, I accidentally ordered it on my first night in Paris at my hotel.  The picture above is what I got and it was amazing! If it hadn’t been so expensive, I would have ordered another! This was on a bed of some kind of soft bread with a chive cream cheese spread between.  It literally melted in my mouth. I am now hooked on smoked salmon.

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Meat! They love it! I hardly saw chicken on the menu. While I enjoy meat, I don’t like to eat it very often. I found this to be a huge challenge. One night, I sat down and ordered the plat du jour, which is usually the chef’s choice. Little did I know I was getting veal! I usually don’t eat veal. However, it was too late. It was okay. The best part about it was the bed of cous cous it was sitting on and the olives. As you can see it looked great! IMG_2784

Another night of meat! Although it was started off with another round of smoked salmon on top of a cabbage salad. I was on a tour for a part of my trip and the menu was set at this place, otherwise I wouldn’t have ordered meat.  Since there was no menu, I don’t know much about this except that it is marinated for hours in wine. Might have been beef bourguignon. This was better than the veal. The meat was really tender. I did not enjoy the fact that the meat was served with all the fat still attached. I kept having to eat around it. Overall, I enjoyed this meal!

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Of course, wine! The French are known for their wine. This one pictured, Tradition by Les Vignerons de Buzet, was really great and not too expensive. It was suggested by our tour guide and was only 14€. It was smooth and not too strong of a red. We didn’t know it at the time, but the winery uses no chemical fertilizers on their vines. All the French wine I tried was great. I really got to like Cotes du Rhone region wine the best. Even the cheap bottles were good!

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This was by far the best thing I ate, although it wasn’t in Paris. It was in Giverny. The restaurant called it a Summer Freshness in Feta Cheese Salad. One layer was tomatoes, spices and sauce and the next layer was feta cheese with chives. I am really not sure what the pink stuff was on top and it didn’t have much flavor. May have just been for looks.  The taste was indescribable, but exactly as described as it was light and refreshing! I wanted them to bring me more, but I knew I had two more courses coming.

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Fish is what I kept ordering in place of meat. I was disappointed twice and stopped ordering it. The fish was usually flavorless and the sides were also plain. The fish above looked so good, but had no taste and was really expensive! The night I had the Summer Freshness salad, I had ordered salmon and it was also very plain. I would say cooked fish is not something they do well in France. Stick to the smoked salmon!

IMG_2817One afternoon I passed by a Mexican food restaurant and I thought, as a Texan, it is my duty to try it. Had to be better than what we have in Doha. The menu had very authentic things on it like enchiladas and tacos. There were a few people inside, so it couldn’t be that bad. They brought chips and salsa which was a good sign. The salsa tasted homemade. I ordered the pork taco. Instead of several small tacos, I got one large taco. The pork was almost bbq pork, but it tasted really good. However, the taco was too big to pick up and eat. The star of the dish was the peach “salsa” they served on the side. It was more like a salad though. It was peaches, jalapenos, cilantro and spices mixed together. Another thing I wanted more of, in fact, I saved it to finish after the taco.

IMG_2832Sometimes after over a week of rich food, you just want something normal to you to eat. I googled my way to a cheeseburger. While it wasn’t bad, it was served on an English muffin! The fries were actually pretty good too.  I had also decided I didn’t want to pay 20€ for a burger, so I found my way to a chain that was decked out American Diner style with pink and blue chairs and booths with oldies playing in the background.  It didn’t matter cause it hit the spot.

A few tips about eating out in Paris. Ask for tap water or a carafe or they might bring you expensive bottled water. Coffee is cheaper ordered at the bar of a restaurant and drunk standing up. You will have to ask for the check, as the French are never rushed to eat a meal! Bon appetit!