Copyright Piacere - Food & Travel without rules! 2022 - Theme by ThemeinProgress
We set off Sunday to watch “Who’s Bad” concert in honor of Michael Jackson at the Meyer Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach Florida. Our “Meet up Group” enjoys hiking in South Florida but arranged this outing. Sounded great to me – listening to the great music of Michael Jackson next to the harbor among new friends.
We were beginning to have a serious cheese need so we headed off to “The Boys” in Delray to select some cheese to take along. It is always a difficult decision, as we adore cheese. The Boys has a nice selection and we decided on Reblochon (French), Emmentaler, (Swiss) and some Vermont Cheddar. With a bottle of Prosecco, (Italian wine) and a beautiful loaf of Ciabatta bread (Italian), how much more international can you get, we were all set for a late afternoon concert in beautiful sunny surroundings and great music.
When we go to these kinds of events, I like to keep it simple and cheese is always a good bet. I always pack cheese in foil as it doesn’t hold the moisture, which is damaging to cheese. I put a cold pack into a plastic bag and then the cheese and cold pack go into an insulated bag. I like to take the cheese out about 10 minutes or so before eating it as it should come to room temperature. Even in warm climate hard cheese will fare quite well. In this case I also choose Reblochon, one of our favorite, which is a creamy cheese. Packed this way it withstands the warm temperature very well. Of course you can’t just leave it sitting in the sun or it will melt, so don’t take it out until you’re ready to eat it.
Luckily my husband always carries a Swiss Army Knife, which has a corkscrew. You can’t imagine how many times people forget to take one and come looking for someone to rescue them. Well Bruno is always there, uncorking bottles and meeting new friends and enjoying a glass of wine with them.
Some fun photos
A lucky mistake landed us in Northwood Village and after a short stroll we were making plans to come back. A Palm Beach restoration project brought this neighborhood back to life and it belongs to everyone who visits. Home to Art, antique, interior decorating shops and galleries filled with items that reflect the style of the 1940’s – 1960’s. I felt that I had truly missed but found a period in time that brought out not only the elegant life style of that period, but when color and beautiful furniture decorated the homes throughout the region. Shops are stacked with decorative items that I just wanted to spend hours sifting through. Being an Art Deco fan, this was my candy shop. If my husband didn’t prod me to move on in every shop, I probably still could be found searching in some corner.
When you need nourishment between searches, there are many restaurants, café’s, coffee houses and bakeries ready to feed you and keep you going. At “Bistro, Bistro, The French Bakery” you can have an authentic pâté served with real French bread by friendly owners who are thrilled to speak French with you. This little French Bakery cooks up the real thing and you can easily put together a French picnic to take to the beach or on a boating day or just take home for a French light evening meal maybe with some nice French wine. You know, the French love picnics, and a variety of pâté and country terrine are perfect. I wish this bakery were right next door so that I could just walk over and fill my French food desires anytime. They also have specials, soups and desserts.
We stopped in at Jade Kitchen for dinner and almost walked into the open kitchen. White tables and comfortable white couches fill the small space with views of the busy kitchen activities. The food is fusion with specials from Asian to Mediterranean.
Sunset Bar & Grill constantly changes the tables around so that you never get board with the surroundings. There are Jamaican, Chinese and Italian restaurants ready to fulfill your food preferences.
After dinner we stopped in a coffee-house to listen to jazz and drink an espresso. People sat around on comfortable chairs, someone was sketching the singer, another danced to the the sultry voice of a jazz singer and base musician. Strangers became neighbors enjoying a few nice moments together.
This friendly neighborhood has an “Art & Wine evening every time a new business opens welcoming their new friends in style. Street artists, musicians, craft vendors line the street to entertain you as you stroll in and out of the little shops. The historic neighborhood of Northwood Village is located just one mile north of downtown West Palm Beach between Broadway and North Dixie Highway.
The Limmat Quai runs through the city flowing out of the Lake of Zürich. Lined with swimming areas and restaurants it is the playground of the city where people meet in beer gardens and cafes. The city is sophisticated, elegant, spotless and yet it seems like a beachfront with people sunbathing along the river and lake. Motorboats, sail boats and steamboats move along the lake in a frenzy of activity while people dinning in the restaurants enjoy their champagne brunch. During summer, the lake promenade is a relaxing way to spend the day or evening enjoying the beautiful views and feeding the swans that gather around the shore.
This is the center of Switzerland’s famous financial services, an important international business hub. It looks more like a resort then a business center. But then you walk down the Bahnhofstrasse and you are in another world. Banks, insurance companies, trading companies stand side by side with exclusive shops.
Zürich is the largest city in Switzerland and offers the traveler more then 2,000 restaurants and some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. People stroll along the Bahnhofstrasse window-shopping at spectacular jewelry, art galleries and elegant boutiques. Smartly dressed people stop at Sprüngli’s for an espresso and decadent desserts. Sweets are not just for special occasions here, they are an important part of the lifestyle and you cannot pass by without experiencing some of the luscious chocolates beautifully displayed to excite your taste buds. My internal navigation system is permanently set to take me to the Paradeplatz; if not to indulge myself in chocolate truffles, griotte, and tarts, but to also take in the visual experience of Sprüngli’s and Teuschers’ chocolate concoctions. It is said that the average Swiss eats approximately 22 pounds of chocolate per year.
Zürich has the biggest techno parade in Europe, and has the Züri Fäscht, a fest with spectacular fireworks to music that sprawls along the entire harbor side and held every 3 years. Zürcher Theater Spetakel, an outdoor cinema and live musical programs fill the summer schedule with entertainment.
Many political refugees lived in Zürich shortly before and during the two world wars of the last century. They gathered in the Odeon Café at the Bellevue, among them Trotsky, Lenin before the Russian revolution and many artists and writers during the Nazi period, such as Berthold Brecht. Even today it is a place where intellectuals gather.
Visit the Grossmünster, a Romanesque church and the Fraumünster. The old Gothic church has windows created by Marc Chagall. Kunsthaus, one of the major Swiss art museums and many more are mostly free entry.
This civilized city somehow seems to be in slow motion and still in high gear at the same time. It is like everyone’s back yard yet there is serious business going on in the majestic buildings. The intermingling of young smartly dressed business people in suits lunching at the many ultra modern bars and the serious looking bank buildings are a stark contrast to all the activity surrounding them.
The Niederdorf can’t be forgotten. This is the Old Town, and here like in many cities it coexists with jazz clubs, exotic shows, small theaters, restaurants, clubs, galleries, jewelry shops and boutiques. This is the place to go at night and during the day for a bit to eat in one of the many restaurants. Here you find people elegantly dressed on their way to the Opera or pre-opera dinning or enjoying jazz at the many clubs. This is not the typical seedy part of town, but the entertainment district for all to enjoy. It is buzzing from late afternoon into the early morning hours. Fourteenth century buildings and small cobblestone streets offer apartment living and city getaways for people living in the suburbs.
Switzerland has a fantastic transport system, not only can you tour the city by tram, but you can also take restaurant trams enjoying lunch as you go. In a very short time you can be in the Pre-alps or even in the Alps. Steamboats take you on slow lazy cruises along the villa-lined lake with the alps looming in the background, and during the Föhn (warm air coming from over the alps from the south) seem to be touchable. The contrast of the countryside is stunning as you very quickly go from this alluring city to the peaceful awesome views of the green rolling hills to the alps. Travel by train along transparent blue glass like waters of the many lakes. Buy tickets at ticket machine before boarding or from one of the kiosks. Tickets are sold for the day or multiple trips, or tickets that offer you all forms of transportation.
Zürich is as complex as the Swiss themselves – a reflexion of the Swiss personality. Complex, reserved, conservative, hesitant, precise and even reluctant and yet there is an underlying energy, bursts of excitement and curiosity. These traits create an innovative and courteous place that typifies the city and the people who live here. It is stunningly beautiful.
Known as the Bündner Herrschaft, and the Five Villages (Fünf Dörfer) Zizers, Malans, Jenins, Maienfeld, and Fläsch, are located in the district of Landquart and the Chur Rhein valley in the Canton of Graubünden.
Maienfeld is dominated by the Schloss Brandis built from 1270-1275. Narrow streets curve through the small village like a ribbon wrapped around a perfect gift. The beautifully frescoed Rathaus (town hall) stands proudly in the center of the village. Scholss Brandis – now a restaurant has a small garden where you can enjoy the beauty of this village with a glass of local fresh light Pinot Blanc.
The wine route (Weinbergweg) runs from Chur to Fläsch through the five villages. The main variety of grape grown is Pinot Noir. Riesling-Sylvaner (Müller–Thurgau) and Chardonnay, Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris) and Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) are now also being grown. The route is best visited by walking or biking and taking in the beauty of the vineyards decorated with roses and artist ateliers scattered about the villages displaying works of art. You can catch a bus or train back to your starting point if you don’t want to walk back. Wineries are open for wine tasting and little hotels and restaurants with terraced gardens interrupt your walk as you just can’t resist going in and sitting down to a glass of wine and a Bünderteller (air dried meats and cheeses). Some of the restaurants have jazz evenings serving local specialties while people patiently wait for the vendange. The lively music seems to stimulate the sugars in the grapes. Cows graze lazily, and friends enjoy horse and carriages rides as they spend a day together laughing and waving to people as they pass-by.
“Städtlifest” celebrates the harvest and is held on the last weekend of September or the first in October. This year it will be in Maienfeld from Friday, October 2 until Sunday, October 5. The quite villages and typical Bündner chalets are decorated with huge sunflowers covering the doorways and fountains filled with roses and fall flowers. Locals, dressed in traditional costumes are entertained by small musical groups and Alpenhorn billowing music over the vineyards. A typical Swiss fest full of tradition and color has people waiting in line to get a portion of Racelette in huge wheels melting and scraped onto hot boiled potatoes. Grills are placed throughout the village with huge wood skewers of goat (zigerspitz) grilled in flashes of fire as seasoned oil is scooped over them in what looks like a flamethrower performing amazing tricks. We watch munching on our zigerspitz; the bratwurst grilling, wine being poured into cups while people and children scurry around visiting friends and making this one of the most colorful local fests in the region. This is Switzerland at its best.
Verona is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Veneto Italy. The Arena built around 30 AD is a well-preserved Roman amphitheatre that dominates the Piazza Bra’. The spectacular Piazza Bra’ acts as a staging place for the thousands of people that stroll around the Colosseum. It is the center of this ancient city with its splendid Medieval palazzi surrounded by 10 km of ancient walls. It was mentioned in Dante’s Divine Comedy and is famous for the setting of William Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet. Today the palazzo considered Juliet’s home is visited by large numbers of people. The play is performed every summer and is one of the highlights of the Opera Festival season. The Piazza Bra’ is surrounded by restaurants that cater to thousands of people who attend the Opera. The Arena seats about 25,000 people so you can image the buzz that fills the Piazza with smartly dressed people enjoying an after theater drink or meal.
There are about 33 Agriturismi in Verona; we chose the small winery Nicobresaola located in Custoza about 20 minutes from Verona. Nico Bresaola, Marina and his daughter started this Agriturismo about 4 years ago. They grow Bianco di Custoza and Bardolino grapes, olives, kiwi, peaches and radicchio rosso. They belong to a cooperative that processes the grapes for about 180 vineyards in this area.
The 4 rooms are tastefully decorated with modern furniture and very spacious. Clearstory ceilings with open beans and pretty views over the vineyards gave us a comfortable and peaceful place to spend a few days.
We were greeted by Nico’s daughter Bernadetta who spoke English and Nico joined her, and speaks English and French fluently. They gave us a key to the room, showed us into the kitchen off the yard and invited to enjoy anything in the refrigerator and of course the espresso machine. Naturally as you can guess it was filled with fruits grown on the farm. Later Marina, Nico’s wife arrived with food and drinks for a party they were having in the yard for 2 evenings. We were invited to join the festivities with about 60 people and live music. Full of energy, they are a fun family with great friends who made us feel that were part of their social circle. http://www.nicobresaola.it/
We were off to the opening night at the Area di Verona to see Placido Domingo conduct the Opera Carmen. Domingo is celebrating his 40th year performing at the Area with many events planned. In the past we have always sat on the main floor. Taking the advice of some people I knew, we decided to get tickets in the gallery where I was told that the acoustics was better. Sorry to say this wasn’t the case and I found the seating uncomfortable and the acoustics extremely bad. Not all was lost as we had fun with many of the people sitting around us. Since we had enjoyed the Festival a number of times in the past and never experienced rain with no hint of bad weather in the forecast, we were not prepared for a major thunderstorm during the second act. We were lucky that we were sitting next to an exit and were able to get out quickly before the crowds rushed for all exits in an attempt to escape from the rain.
The opera was captivating, with creative scenery and beautiful music. We were sorry to have missed the second half. I suggest that if you sit in the gallery you choose seats in the E & F sections next to the stage. The acoustics would be better and you can see from anywhere in the Arena, but always be prepared for rain.
This crowd was not going to let the weather get in the way of having a good time as they crowded the restaurants and the Prosecco flowed.
If you are looking for something a little more up scale to stay, I would recommend the Villa Del Quar (a Relais Chateaux hotel). Located in the Valpolicella Valley the charming villa has superior accommodations and authentic period furniture and is a typical patrician dwelling. The elegant restaurant “Arquade” has 2 Michelin stars and 3 Golden Keys classification by the Gambero Rosso guidebook and is excellent. Relax in the afternoon at the outdoor pool surrounded by vineyards before visiting Verona and the opera. There is a large and beautiful wine cellar where we sampled Grappa’s made in the area. The staff is very friendly and helpful and will arrange transportation to the Opera for you. Be sure to make reservations in the restaurant in advance. www.hotelvilladelquar.it/.
We started our trip in Treviso and stayed at “Col Delle Rane” in Caetano, S. Marco (Treviso) Italy. Cajeran was the old name of the town and it means “Hole of Frogs” There once were two small ponds in front of the villa where frogs made their home. After World War II one of the ponds was filled with war debris and covered. The frogs moved on to the second pond. “Col Delle Rane” means hill of frogs in remembrance of the pond and the frogs that lived there.
The original house was built 300 years ago with the original villa in the center. It was originally for the workers of this hill (vineyards). The farmhouse was reconstructed between 1988-1989 and the Agriturismo originally opened with 6 rooms. It was the first Agriturismo in the Treviso Province with rooms. The swimming pool constructed of stone was built 3 years ago in remembrance of the pond and its frog inhabitants. Today the hotel has 14 rooms and 4 apartments. In Treviso, Agriturismi are only allowed to have facilities for 30 people. The law may change in September and the hotel, which has another building, can be expanded and add additional rooms and a restaurant. Today there is a beautiful building with large windows overlooking the vineyards and the pool where breakfast is served. The farm has vineyards and orchards where they grow apricots, kiwi and the vineyard production is about 60% Procescco grapes. The breakfast included fruits and apple juice produced at the farm, homemade jams, homemade pound cake, meats, cheeses, breads and honey. The Agriturismo had bikes and in the evening we rode through the vineyards where we met many locals walking, riding horses or jogging.
We stopped at a market and purchased “Sopressa Vincentia” (an aged salami produced in the region), Asiago cheese, melon with Prosciutto (Berico-Euganeo) and being that is was cherry season, we feasted on fresh picked cherries for both breakfast and dessert. The hotel had several tables outdoors where we enjoyed our local specialties. The entire Gallina family were perfect hosts and took a great deal of time to help each guest plan their day and gave me this story about the farm.
We choose “Col Delle Rane” because the areas we wanted to visit were easily reachable from Treviso in about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Padova (UNESCO site), Bassano del Grappa, Asolo, Marostica (famous for cherries) Treviso (famous for Radicchio rosso di Treviso), Asiago (famous for Asiago cheese) and Venice. Also the “Strada del Prosecco” and the wine regions of Soave, Bardolino and Valpolicella were on our itinerary. Other wines of this region are: Recioto, Amarone, Torcolate, Tocai Rosso, Garganega, Verduzzo, Raboso, Moscato, Cabernet Franc, Pino Nero, Pino Grigio and Merlot. Prosecco is a sparkling wine made in the style of Champagne. It is a light dry wine mainly served as aperitif, but partners well with fish and light first dishes. The region is also famous for its grappa production. We made it a point to do a little grappa tasting in Bassano del Grappa at the Poli Distillery where we tasted chocolate, coffee and strawberry grappa. I found them a little sweet and preferred the Mascato, Cabernet and Merlot Grappa. There is a museum with the history of distillation of Grappa.
Other areas close by are Lake Garda (a very popular summer resort), Vicenza (UNESCO site) and Verona (UNESCO site). Castles and aristocratic houses dot the countryside and villages with thermal spas attract visitors who enjoy these wellness spas in an environment of past times. The climate is suited to viniculture and orchards are grown along side the vineyards producing peaches, kiwi, plums, apples, cherries and aprocots. The villages we visited were very small and at least 3 can be visited with a good travel plan in a day. There is a canal that runs through Traviso and some shopping, but the small village of Asolo is considered the “Pearl of the Province”.
The guests at the hotel were very friendly and some either had once lived in the area at one time or had visited the hotel many times in the past. One guest recommended the Locanda Sandi vineyard and restaurant in Valdobbladene. The Locanda Sandi is one of the largest vineyards with Prosecco being about 80% of the grapes produced. They have a lovely wine tasting building with chairs outdoors overlooking the vineyards. Late in the evening we sat outdoors in the terrace lit with soft lights surrounded with flowers and ate snails in an herb sauce and veal with porcini mushrooms. A large table was arranged with many different vegetables such as roasted eggplant, zucchini, roasted red peppers, rosemary potatoes and a variety of salads. Porcini mushrooms are picked in woods around Asaigo and are an important part of the local cuisine. A basket full of blankets rolled up and tied with ribbons were available so that if you got cold in the evening you could put one over your shoulders. It did get a little chilly and we took advantage of the blankets.
In Asiago we enjoyed pasta prepared with a white asparagus (grown in the area of Bassano) made with Asiago cheese and a sauce of Asiago cheese with Speck and one with zucchini flowers were specialties and surprising light.
One evening we had dinner at a small Agritursimo next door to the Col Delle Rane. The restaurant is opened only on the weekends and we feasted on roast duck, homemade pasta and of course Prosecco as we ate among the chickens, goats and families enjoying an evening out.
A music and beer festival was being held in Montebelluna and we ate at a recommended pizzeria and listened to jazz being played in the Piazza. Several groups were stationed throughout the town and café’s were crowded with locals enjoying beer and Prosecco. We watched demonstrations of karate, fencing and local dancing and felt like we were part of the local crowd. A guest recommended the pizzeria but said that since it was also a restaurant so they didn’t have as many varieties as another located just at the entrance of town. There must have been 50 selections of pizza on the menu and the pizzeria we didn’t go to had a very long line waiting to get in. I can’t even imagine how many were on the menu as we were told that they had a much larger selection. The crust was thin and crispy and very light but very large.
The region is considered one of the biggest producers of sports equipment, sports clothes and shoes in Italy and the world (www.factoryoutletsitaly.com/regions.htm). There are many factory outlets through out the region. Geox, Nordica, Diadora, Benneton, Asolo, Prince, Kastle, Rollerblade, Killer Loop and Tecnica for example are just a few and prices are about 35% less. This hotel is in a great location for business people who are on buying trips to these factories and many of them came and went during the week of our stay.
The train station in Montebelluna was easy to get to and taking the train is the easiest way of getting to Venice. It took about 1 hour and 10 minutes with one change in Traviso. As usual there were many people in Venice but it is still such a beautiful place and like no other in the world.