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Posts Tagged ‘Travel

Piping hot lasagna in Genoa

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Docking in Genova, or Genoa, did not have the biggest of expectation for the city. Before leaving New York City, a bartender said she had just visited Genoa and said there was not very much to see outside of some interesting architecture – what one would expect from a centuries-old port city in Europe.

A friend had previously taken a cruise that also docked in Genoa but, during that occasion, she opted to stay on the ship.

Taking the first few steps into town, it was clearly different from prior stops in Rome and Florence. It was much more modest.

In a way, it was a nice change from the sightseeing aspect of wandering some of the more popular locales in Italy and getting to see something a bit relaxed.

After first getting confused on location, eventually found the way into town, which offered a good glimpse of the area. Eventually found one of the main thoroughfares in town, the Via San Lorenzo; walking down the street, caught sights like the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo and the Palazzo Ducale (along with a bubble tea shop).

After browsing a farmer’s market, sat down to lunch in the Piazza Giacomo Matteotti at a place called Douce Pâtisserie Café. Went with a fairly basic eggplant and mushroom lasagna, which arrived to the table hot and steaming. The first bit was a very welcoming one, despite being really hot, the taste of the ingredients were all very pronounced and the lunch became the highlight of the entire visit to Genoa.

However, it was upon leaving that the expansive patisserie inside was noticed – it looked incredible.

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Gelato in Rome

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During a walking tour of Rome, the group stopped at the Trevi Fountain for lunch. After enjoying a stromboli for lunch at a small spot a couple blocks down from the fountain, stopped at Gelateria Cecere on the way back for gelato.

Walking into the tiny establishment, which occupied the corner of a building, customers are greeted with a wide freezer display with heaps of flavors, along with a backdrop of multicolored cups – a different color for each size.

Seeking out which flavor was calling, went with the pistacchiosa – it was not the standard pistachio. Beyond the creamy texture of the gelato, the delicious pistachio taste, and the sprinkling of chopped pistachios, there was also a ribbon of pistachio spread that snaked through the scoops.

It was the kind of thing that could potentially swear one off the typical pistachio.

According to a TripAdvisor review, “The pistachio gelato is unlike any I have ever had and, believe me, it is my favourite dessert.”

Written by Paulo Loreto

June 20, 2017 at 9:42 PM

Filling up on Guangzhou street food

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During an 11-hour layover in Guangzhou, China, was provided a 72-hour visa to roam the city while waiting for the connection to New York City. After making an obligatory stop at the Canton Tower, it was getting close to sundown and meandered to the Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street (with assistance from the accommodating staff at the tourist center at the base of the tower).

Exiting the subway station, found a street lined with small shops and restaurants, everything looked great but was skeptical if it was even the correct place. After a bit of wandering and turning down random alleyways that led to small residential enclaves, found the street. It was wide with tons of people walking around (while dodging cars that are permitted on parts of the “pedestrian street”), with stores both local and international, along with restaurants – also, both local and international.

As time went by and the ticks continued to pile up on the phone pedometer, it proved difficult finding a place to eat; not that there wasn’t anywhere to eat, but there was too much to choose from. Started snacking by stopping at roadside stands and enjoyed things like bubble tea and scallion pancakes. Happened upon a food court that was packed with people and noticed one stand putting out, what looked to be, cups of sesame chicken. It looked good and tasted even better; big, meaty hunks of chicken in a delicious sauce, all for about 25 RMB (just a bit over $3.50).

After a while, noticed the hunger was gone and realized snacking down the Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street provided enough to make a meal – and there was still so much more to enjoy.

Phở

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It had been a while since visiting one of the local Vietnamese places in town, the Rau Ram Café, down a side street, a few meters from the Marapara Golf and Country Club in Bacolod City. Ever since the first visit, always ordered a big bowl of phở, a traditional beef noodle soup.

Arriving at the table, the steaming bowl comes with a plate full of fresh herbs, including basil, cilantro, and sawtooth coriander; along with hot sauce and hoisin sauce, in order to customize each individual bowl.

With ever bowl prepared, tore up various herbs and threw them in before adding in the soup. Once the hot broth makes contact with the leaves, the aromatics consume the table and before taking one bite of the soup, the impression the smells leave is already remarkable.

Even though this place does not serve it with the traditional thin slices of beef that cook quickly in the hot soup, instead its small cubes of beef, the dish is still delicious.

A pleasant surprise after a big disappointment

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On the previous visit to Hong Kong, enjoyed dim sum at Maxim’s Palace, an amazing restaurant with those traditional food trolleys rolling around loaded with delicious small plates; on the most recent visit, received a tip on a dim sum place in the Sheung Wan district.

Upon arriving, it was a bit daunting, located on the second floor, it was crowded and was sharing a table with a couple other parties. With no employees making eye contact and unsure of what even to say if one was called over, backed out and scoured the neighborhood for a new spot.

After walking for a couple blocks, even wandering into a food center without anything terribly inviting, found a small restaurant tucked away along a side street. The menu had a variety of choices and, by that time, was very hungry.

Among the selections, ordered some fried noodles, rice, a large beer, and fried shrimp.

Ordering fried shrimp on a menu, had an image of the typical, western-style, shrimp with breading – maybe even something along the lines of popcorn shrimp (living in a place where cutting corners in the food industry is the norm, it has unfortunately now shaped one’s instincts).

As a pleasant surprise, a plate arrived with these large, beautifully-fried shrimp, atop some steamed broccoli (have been told, anything broccoli is not authentic Chinese, but it was a nice presentation). Grabbed one immediately and upon separating the head from the body, the juices that ran out was incredible, lesson learned for the next one. The breading was wonderfully light, the juices were marvelous, and the shrimp was delicious and meaty.

Dad says, finding Crowd Restaurant was probably meant to be, considering the original destination was a bust.

Arrived at the restaurant, unaware they were about to close lunch service, but they didn’t seem bothered too much. They may have turned off the lights in the unoccupied portion of the restaurant, but in no way was there pressure to eat faster and get out – professionals.

Arrived at the restaurant, unaware they were about to close lunch service, but they didn’t seem bothered too much. They may have turned off the lights in the unoccupied portion of the restaurant, but in no way was there pressure to eat faster and get out – professionals.

Written by Paulo Loreto

November 5, 2016 at 10:50 PM

Encountering a sweet monster in Hong Kong

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Wandering Mong Kok, meandering through the market stands just opening up for business, walking in and out of the endless shoe stores, and perusing menus of all the restaurants lining the shopping avenues in the area, attention was grabbed immediately while passing a shop covered in cartoon monsters. Took a closer look and it was a soft-serve stand.

Amongst the bright colors and caricatures, there were a variety of toppings offered for, what appears to be, the standard delicious soft-serve ice cream.

Of course, with a soft spot for peanut butter, it was the first choice – did spend time going back and forth, but it is always good to stick with instincts.

Watched the attendant gather a healthy portion of ice cream into the cone, decorated with the shop’s monsters, followed by sprinkling on powdered peanut butter and garnishing with a pretzel, it looked exactly like the picture on the wall. There was no doubting how amazing it would be and it was exactly what was needed after hours of window-shopping.

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Peanut butter soft serve in the middle of Mong Kok, Kowloon.

Visiting Hong Kong for the nachos

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On a previous visit to Hong Kong, stayed at a hotel in the Wan Chai district and, in doing so, became very acquainted with the neighborhood from the regular jaunts looking for a breakfast spot or an afternoon pub to take a breather. While walking around, found a Mexican-themed bar called Coyote. Before, it was just stopping in for a beer or two before heading to the next spot. However, there was always a sighting of this mysterious meat dish served on a wooden block – it looked amazing.

Determined to visit the place again when in town last month, was reunited with the bar one afternoon. Immediately asked for a menu but couldn’t find anything that sounded like the lovely sight from last time. Was feeling a bit hungry and still had some time before dinner and decided on a plate of nachos.

It has been a while since enjoying quality nachos and when this mammoth plate arrived at the bar, there was no doubt the chili nachos were a fantastic choice.

The toppings were piled high, chili, pulled pork, jalapeños, guacamole, cheese, sour cream, and pico de gallo. Clearly, topped off with a few seconds in the salamander, everything was beautifully melted and chips were still deliciously crunchy.

Enjoyed a lot of food in Hong Kong, but did not expect nachos would also be one of the memorable meals.

Coyote Bar is located along Lockhart Road in the Wan Chai district, Hong Kong.

Coyote Bar is located along Lockhart Road in the Wan Chai district, Hong Kong.

Written by Paulo Loreto

October 10, 2016 at 3:38 PM