Browsing Tag

Food

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.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

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, Italy, Travel

7 Unique Italian Things to do During a Summer Visit to Italy

July 27, 2016
7 things to do in italy during summer

My trip to Italy this year was my third time and every time I go, I fall in love a little bit more. This was my second summer in Italy, and I have discovered that summer in Italy brings some unique things to do! While a few of things are enjoyable all year in Italy, the summer season makes them extra special. So here is my list of fun activities to do and things to eat in Italy in the summer.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

See the Infiorata in Umbria

Every summer in late May or early June towns all over Italy holds an Infiorata, which means literally “to decorate with flowers.” Depending on where you are in Italy, the Infiorata happens at different times. When I was there, it was to mark Corpus Domini. It was happening in both the towns I was visiting, Alviano and San Gemini the first weekend.

The artists plan their designs in advance and then the day before mark the outline with chalk. Then starting very early in the morning they start the decorating. I managed to get myself out of bed to see them in the process of decorating in Alviano at about 4 am. For some towns, it is a competition. In Alviano, they were made with sawdust, flowers, sugar and coffee. In San Gemini, I saw flowers, spices, sugar, and coffee. Some of them smelled amazing! Here is an article on some of the best towns to see Infiorata in Italy.

7 Unique Italian Things to do During a Summer Visit to Italy

See the Sunflowers in Bloom in Tuscany

The girasole, Italian for sunflower, bloom from late June through August. When I was there last summer in the middle of July, they were everywhere. I was driving and could see them from the highway. A few times I was driving along the back roads, and you could have gotten out of the car and walked through them. To get up close, you do need a car and an adventurous spirit to venture off the beaten path. However, getting up close is totally worth it!

7 Unique Italian Things to do During a Summer Visit to Italy

Have an Aperol Spritz In Venice

Sitting in the Piazza San Marco in Venice may seem like a very touristy thing to do, but it was one of the best things I did in there. Venice in July is hot and humid, and you will be dripping with sweat by the happy hour. Pick the shady side of the Piazza and sit at one of the many outdoor cafes. Order an Aperol Spritz and you will be brought olives and chips as well. The drink and snack are the perfect combination to refresh and revive your sweat weary soul. (You should be forewarned that it is expensive, and there is usually a fee for sitting there.)

See the Calico Storico In Florence

While walking close to the Santa Croce in Florence, I noticed burly men dressed in historical type pants and no shirts. I also saw tons of people in white and green shirts. The square in front of Santa Croce had what looked like a stadium. Intrigued, I asked the bellman at my hotel what was going on. That is when I learned of the calico storico of Florence. The game is a cross of football (soccer) and rugby played in the sand. It is known to be a particularly violent game. The Guardian called it the most violent game. The final match is always played on June 24, which is San Giovanni’s Day, the patron saint of Florence.

7 Unique Italian Things to do During a Summer Visit to Italy

Eat Gelato Everywhere

As mentioned in point #3, it is hot in Italy in summer, and nothing is better to cool off with than a gelato! Of course, you can eat gelato at any time of the year, but it is a true treat in the heat. This year I tried pistachio flavored for the first time, and it is now my preferred flavor of gelato. What is your favorite flavor?

People Watch In Venice

People watching is one of my favorite activities in Italy and even more so in Venice. While most of the people you will be watching in the summer will be tourists, it is still fun to guess where they are from and to try to hear what language they are speaking. To do optimal people watching, I sit outside at a restaurant or near the window. Sometimes sitting at the bar is also good people watching.

7 Unique Italian Things to do During a Summer Visit to Italy

Rent a Car and Drive the Amalfi Coast

Renting a car is the best way to see Italy and I have done it twice now. Driving the Amalfi Coast is one of the most scenic drives in the world. The road twists and turns all the while giving you stunning views of the Mediterranean.

Have you done any summer Italian activities that you loved? Share with us in the comments.

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Things to do in Italy During Summer

Hotel/Accommodation, Qatar, Travel

Staycation at the W Doha

May 23, 2016

Staycation at the W DohaSometimes you just need to get away from your normal, but you don’t have time to get on a plane and go to another place. If I was living the US, I might have considered a weekend road trip. However, I can’t go too far in Qatar and can’t cross the border. A staycation was in order. I had wanted to do a staycation for a while, but when I saw the weekend offer at the W Doha on their Snapchat, I was sold. Currently, they have a weekend rate of 777 Qatari Riyals that can be used Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The best part is that you can check-in at noon and check-out at 6 pm the next day! It is almost two days in the hotel, and it includes breakfast.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

The W Doha was already one of my favorite places in Doha for food and drinks, so I wasn’t surprised by the excellent service I received right when I walked in the door. The service started before then even because I told their social media person on Snapchat that I was coming, and she said she would try to get me an upgrade. This stay was on me other than the upgrade. They were able to get me to a higher floor, which offered a nice view of the Arabian Gulf.

Staycation at the W Doha

Most W hotels are known for their modern interiors with bold colors, and the W Doha is no exception. The lobby is black and white with bursts of purple and hot pink. The hallways to the rooms are black and purple with black lacquer chandeliers. The bold colors extend into the room, but geared towards relaxation and sleep in shades of blue and gray.

Staycation at the W Doha

Staycation at the W Doha

Once inside the room, I hardly heard anything from the outside. There is a lush, heavy carpet to dampen noise and floor to ceiling blackout curtains to block the bright Middle Eastern sunrise. The modern chair by the window made me want to sit there for hours watch boats zip back and forth.

Staycation at the W Doha

The luxury extended into the crisp, white bathroom and had one of my favorite things with the separate shower and bathtub. The W Doha also knows me well, and the bathrobe wasn’t gigantic and actually fit me. All the towels were large, and there was an abundance of them. My favorite thing about the bathroom was the Bliss Spa products including shampoo, conditioner, lotion, face wash and mouthwash!

Staycation at the W Doha

Staycation at the W Doha

After a nap, I decided to get ready for dinner, which included a long soak in that amazing tub! It is deep enough to cover your whole body with water. The only issue for me was getting out, which was difficult due to the depth of the tub.

Staycation at the W Doha

W Doha is home to my favorite restaurant in Doha, Spice Market. Spice Market is an Asian restaurant with an ever-evolving menu. Not only is the food excellent, but the service is also spotless. I decided to order something different than my usual and got the Miso Glazed Black Cod and a side of Steamed Edamame with Yuzu Butter. The other thing I appreciate about Spice Market and all the restaurants at W Doha is that they are willing to alter the food to your needs. As you may remember from a few months back that I am trying to lose weight, and I asked the Edamame to have the butter on the side. It was still excellent, though, and the fish was spicy and had a great crispy skin.

Staycation at the W Doha

Dinner wasn’t my only meal at W Doha, of course. I had breakfast and lunch at Market by Jean-Georges. Breakfast was a buffet, and you could order as well. I was disappointed by the breakfast buffet as there wasn’t much I could eat besides oatmeal and the fruit. I didn’t want to pay extra to order from the menu. However, lunch was fresh and light! I had the express lunch as it offered the best value for your money. I ordered the Steamed Shrimp Salad, the Roasted Hammour and the Fruit Salad sans ice cream. Yes, I ate a ton of fish, but I loved it all! Both meals were just enough to keep me full without leaving me feeling heavy and sleepy after eating, which can be difficult eating at a hotel.

Staycation at the W Doha

Staycation at the W Doha

After lunch, I enjoyed working at the desk in the room. Although, my one complaint was the only universal plug was inside the in-room safe, which meant I couldn’t work in the amazing chair next to the window. There was another nap in the extremely comfortable bed. Since I didn’t have to check out till 6, I strolled around the hotel later just to get some exercise. I did have access to the gym and the pool, but I decide not to try them out as the pool isn’t large and there were kids in the pool. As for the gym, I was just lazy!

Even though I was still in Doha, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my stay at the W Doha and would happily have another staycation there in the future. Every staff person I spoke with offered excellent service, the food was outstanding, as always, and the rooms comfortable and relaxing!

Have you taken a staycation? Tell us about your best staycation experience in the comments!

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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!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

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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!