Showing posts with label Italy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italy. Show all posts

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Puglia: Eating and Drinking in Salento

Porto Cesareo Puglia , hotandchilli travel and food blog
Porto Cesareo

We had some excellent eating and drinking experiences in Salento. Not only this region is picturesque, but their food and wine are absolutely fantastic. Salento Wine Tours  took us to some amazing places  in the region. On arrival in Puglia, we stopped at Porto Cesareo. 

Porto Cesareo

Porto Cesareo Puglia, hotandchilli food and travel blog
Porto Cesareo is a town and comune in the Italian province of Lecce in the Apulia region of south-east Italy.  The area around  Porto Cesareo is a beautiful example of "macchia shrubland", densely growing evergreen shrubs.  Tourism in Porto Cesareo is vital for the region. The shallow sandy sea remains low for tens of meters, and the transparent waters reminded us of the Caribbean sea. The coast is characterised by many capes, islets and reefs.

We had a fabulous meal at L'Aragosta da Cò in Porto Cesareo overlooking the Ionian Sea. There was plenty of fresh fish and seafood matched with the wines of Salento. Stunning views and delicious food, we couldn't ask for more.

Some of the scrumptious food we sampled at  L'Aragosta da Cò:
Food  in Puglia, hotandchilli food and travel blog
Courgette white fish Sarago and courgette mousse
Food  in Puglia, hotandchilli food and travel blog
Polpo alla pignata  with tomato chilli served with fried bread - amazing!
Food  in Puglia, hotandchilli food and travel blog
Tuna tagliata
Food  in Puglia, hotandchilli food and travel blog
Pasta with sea urchin and shrimps
with Leverano wine : Negroamaro 100% intense Rose, it has fruity and strawberry notes with low acidity 
Food  in Puglia, hotandchilli food and travel blog
Platter of  Misto Fritto - seafood
Food  in Puglia, hotandchilli food and travel blog

Food  in Puglia, hotandchilli food and travel blog

We also had Polpo a la Catalan and delicious  Mussels gratin (above)
Food  in Puglia, hotandchilli food and travel blog
Spumone: Ice cream with pistachio and caramelised nuts

L'Aragosta da Cò
Via Silvio Pellico, 38, 73010, Porto Cesareo, Italy

Campi Salentina

Campi Salentina in Puglia bu HotandChilli blog

Campi Salentina is a town and comune in the Italian province of Lecce in the Apulia region of south-east Italy. We stayed just outside the town about a ten minute drive away.

While in Campi we experienced some really stupendous food and wines. First stop was at Baccanera Restaurant, Enoteca and Pizzeria in town.  It was a balmy night, so an  'al fresco' meal was very welcome and the patio was magical with lights, beautiful plants and flowers.  The open pizza oven faces the restaurant floor, so we could see the bread and pizzas being baked in seconds.

Our meal at Baccanera

Campi Salentina in Puglia by Hotandchilli Blog

Campi Salentina in Puglia by Hotandchilli blog
Couscous veg, capicolla charcuterie Martina Franca, Puglia stracciatella cheese
Aubergine tower different presentation of parmigiana   and Panzerotti - potatoes cheese and mint bread crumbs (crust)croquette (off the picture)
food in Puglia, wine in puglia, hotandchilli food and travel blog
Malvasia Bianca wine from  Brindisi area a native Italian grape
Orecchiette pasta basil olive oil Salento formaggio ricotta (Sheep cheese)
Wine in Puglia, food in Puglia, Hotandchilli food and travel blog

making Oricchieta in Puglia
Misto Fritto di Carne

Oltreme red wine, Salento IGT,  varietal: Susumaniello,  dark ruby colour, aromas of red berries and plums. It's a rich with spicy, peppery aromas that went down really well with the Misto di Carne

semifreddo with hot chocolate sauce

Largo Cuore di Maria, 9, 73012 Campi Salentina LE, Italy

Pasticciotto Leccese - Pasticciotto is a typical dessert from the Salento area of Apulia, consisting of pastry filled with custard and baked in the oven. Thanks  to Chef Angelo Bisconti from Pasticceria Chèri for this fabulous tray of assorted  Pasticciotto

A Gourmet dinner at Verdalia's gourmet restaurant Folie

amuse bouche

The location of Verdalia is beguiling; it used to be a quarry which has now been transformed into a unique dining/events venue.  Folie is Verdalia's gourmet restaurant. Folie has only 24 seats which offer a refined and intimate ambience, ideal to fully appreciate the creativeness of Executive Chef Antonio Raffaele. Count on exclusive and impeccable service and a premium wine list; we had exceptional wines from Salento.

The Folie is a place for food lovers, where you can find cuisine that speaks of the Mediterranean culture, seasonality, hints of traditional recipes and surprise interpretations by Chef Antonio Raffaele. 

Frisa Leccese - modern twist on a Puglian dish

Carnaroli rice, pistacchio, shavings of dark chocolate, Sarawak pepper and anchovies cream
Juicy and tender Beef sous-vide with Negroamaro reduction and saffron potato cream

Palate cleanser: refreshing Semifreddo con Menta e Basilico
A selection of pastries  and sweet galore from the Chef!

Strada Provinciale Lecce - Novoli, Km 7, 73100
Villa Convento, Lecce LE, Italy
Phone: +39 0832 328259

L'Orecchietta in Guagnano

Pictoresque Guagnano

Salento's ancient tradition of producing fresh homemade pasta. This place sells fresh pasta and also offers pasta making courses.  We learnt to make Orecchiette, maccheroncini and focaccia.  We also had an excellent spread.  A visit to L'Orecchietta is a must when in the region.

food at L'Orecchietta
making fresh pasta at L'Orecchietta

Via Vittorio Veneto, 49, 73010 Guagnano LE, Italy
Phone: +39 334 722 0264

Osteria Origano in Minervino di Lecce

The Osteria Origano, founded by Gaetano Marangelli (a local, celebrated winemaker), it is a jewel in the historic centre of Minervino di Lecce. Their menu offers traditional Salento cuisine with a small modern twist.  The place is beautifully decorated and warm, a welcoming atmosphere in a Mediterranean-trendy style.

Burrata tomato cream fried bread
Octopus paprika potato cream rice flour basil parsley crispmatched with
Wine Novementi Rosato

Vegetables bacala red pepper extract (jus)
Risotto negroamaro cheese and peachesmatched with Red
Menhir -80% negroamaro 20%malvasia nera from Salice Salentino
Pancetta BBQ sauce onions paired with  Filo wine late harvest negroamaro 100%
Dessert - Coffee, milk, white chocolate powder, laurel sponge

Osteria Origano
Via Scarciglia, 18
73027, Minervino di Lecce, LE


Otranto in Puglia
Otranto, Puglia

The town of Otranto is a mix of history, architecture, views, sea-front restaurants and white sandy beaches - making it one of Puglia's most interesting, charming and scenic towns in the region.

Otranto sits right on the Adriatic sea, gazing out across its eponymous strait towards the Balkans and Greece, a strategic position that has profoundly influenced its history.

Otranto in Puglia by Hotandchilli food and travel blog
Beautiful Otranto

It is one of Puglia's most charming towns and is well worth a visit. The imposing castle has thick perimeter walls and robust towers, built after the town was liberated from the Turks in the late 15th century. The castle dominates much of the municipality before giving way to a small port, a series of seafront promenades with excellent fish restaurants and their very own beautiful white sandy beach with sparkling turquoise waters.

The stunning  Romanesque cathedral, dating back to 1088 and boasting extensive 12th-century-floor mosaics, is another highlight that should not be missed.

Puglia is absolutely beautiful. I can't wait to go back and explore more.

Disclosure: I was a guest of Salento Wine Tours for review purposes. All views are my own

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Italy, Veneto: A luxury stay at Almar Jesolo

Here we go again on another beautiful, luxury adventure - this time in Italy. Almar Jesolo Resort & Spa is an exceptional 5-star resort and spa just 50 minutes east of Venice. Situated right in the middle of the Jesolo Lido, it is a 15km strip of beach – the longest promenade in Europe.  Jesolo is a quaint seaside town that can be easily explored by foot or bike.  It's within easy reach of the beautiful floating Venice or the equally famous Verona, by car/taxi and ferry or a combination of both. 

The property overlooks a golden sandy beach with a cinematic walkway to the promenade and beyond. The beach is known for their small piers all along the coast.  In the summer, the hotel places white chairs, beach umbrellas as well as white double beach sunbeds for their guests.

The Almar Jesolo pride themselves on extraordinary quality and incredibly attentive and superior service.   The hotel facilities are superb, clean and well staffed.   From the moment you check-in to check-out all your desires and requests are attended to, without any questions.  The service is professional, friendly and discreet.   The staff speak perfect English and are fluent in other languages too.

The rooms are just gorgeous; spacious, comfortable and high-tech. My 8th-floor apartment overlooked the sea and the pool downstairs.  The bed is what we call in England Emperor size, with crisp white bedding.  The room has one walk-in shower room with all facilities and the other a bath and his & hers basins. The living room was a delight with a desk and plugs for everything you could image.  A beautifully fragrant bouquet of flowers and a bottle of their prosecco were waiting on my arrival. 

The balcony was quite big, with two loungers, towels, a table and chairs and plenty of room to move around.  Space is not a concern in this place. The decor was very relaxing with designer touches throughout the property.

It's silent all around, it's a place to relax and forget about the world. A place to concentrate on yourself and recharge your batteries.

Wellness, Spa and Beauty services at Almar Jesolo

Being a wellness and spa resort, Almar Jesolo offers an extensive list of pleasurable body treatments, massages and beauty treatments that put you on the right path to wellness.  

I had a 'Journey between Heaven and Earth'  a 90-minute full body massage  - It was so relaxing I fell asleep, only to be woken when the therapist asked me to turn around... I thought I was dreaming....  The whole experience took place in the very exclusive Almablu's hidden gem - a luxurious room overlooking the sea, a very private part of the Spa, that can be booked for 3 hours for treatments, private sauna and jacuzzi.  A fantastic experience.

They have two lines of products: Almablu, which was an absolute delight at my massage session and the Eau d'Altitude, made with Dolomitic water. The latter is a cosmetic line made of the unique and innovative formulation using water from San Martino di Castrozza - characterised by a high degree of purity.  I am loving using this product at home too.  They can purchase online: Eau d'Altitude,

The Spa and the covered whirlpool (32C)  are very calming places. There is a sauna, steam baths and steam rooms for every taste.
Finnish sauna, Himalayan salt sauna and soft sauna, steam bath, salt steam bath and a Mediterranean bath - each at different temperatures. Another feature is the ice room with frozen cold water or ice for massages.  The Kneipp Therapy treatment is a coloured dual hot tub (hot and cold water) where you soak in hot water before plunging into cold water, this stimulates the blood flow, tones the muscles and increases the elasticity of the tissues.

There is also a well-equipped gym set in a glass cube, including the floor,  that overlooks the sea.

Eating at Almar Jesolo

Despite the fact it is a wellness resort, Almar Jesolo caters to everyone's needs and tastes. I had a couple of lunches by the pool.
Carbonara Almar Jesolo style

Mediterra Restaurant

The restaurant at Almar Jesolo is beautifully designed. It overlooks one part of three adjoining pools at differing temperatures and the pristine white table, chairs and loungers surrounding it.
With temperatures at around  26C with a light breeze in April,  lunches were served by the pool - the menu was light, exciting and quite creative.

I had an excellent modern Venetian dinner at Mediterra Restaurant.

A Modern Venetian dinner at Mediterra restaurant

Fried ravioli filled with pumpkin  paired with Champagne - a delightful starter

Local Sardines onion confit slowly cooked, sweet dried  tomatoes white raisins, micro herbs, pine nuts  and paired with champagne

Black ink risotto with sheep cheese ricotta and  pistachio+lime+ricotta purée and grated hard ricotta rosemary flower matched with Pinot Grigio from Friuli ( northern Italy) -  great taste of sheep cheese and black ink rice

Veal liver, polenta and croutons, onion Cooked with butter, vinegar, milk low for 20 minutes paired with red Valpolicella - a full of texture and very flavoursome

Dessert: We went off-piste to Sicily, and I had the Dolce Lampone
Lampone: Pistachio based biscuit, jelly, blackcurrant, velvety and extraordinary light diplomat cream and chocolate reduction matched with Sicily dessert wine, Muscat de Alexandria the wine is quite soft with low acidity, bright and floral and not too sweet.  The perfect ending to the meal.

I really enjoy this meal. Very creative cooking and lots of techniques. I choose to have the Venetian dishes on the evening menu. There are plenty of other choices for all tastes and needs.

The River Lounge Bar

An around the clock and informal bar serving light meals, snacks and the lunch time menu from the Mediterra restaurant. They serve excellent cocktails and drinks in minimalistic and pastel beige coloured surroundings, overlooking a large water feature.  Very calming.

Almar salad - juicy tiger prawns, green leaves, bloody oranges - very light and tasty.

Spritz at River Lounge bar

Tea time at The River Lounge Bar

They have a couple of choices, the Detox Tea (in keeping with the wellness theme) and the Chocolate Tea, where all items are, as you expect, cocoa based - an absolute delight!
I felt quite sad to leave Almar Jesolo after 3 days and 2 nights. It's a fabulous place to recharge and reconnect with oneself.  Highly recommended.  It's not as expensive as I thought, quite reasonable for what you get - Pure Luxury!  For more info:  Almar Jesolo

Nearest airport: Marco Polo Airport about 40 minutes away without traffic in the Summer (high season).  I hear that local and airport traffic is terrible in the high-season, Summer, so expect delays.
Highly recommended. 

Almar Jesolo video

Disclosure: I was a guest of Almar Jesolo. All opinions are my own.

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