Posts tagged ‘Travel’

August 14, 2011

Travel: Sassi di Matera, Italy

Sassi di Matera, Italy

 

When I started writing The Wonderingchef, just a little a year ago, I wanted to create a travel-food-recipe-restaurant blog, but lately I`ve been concentrating more on the recipe part of the blogging. Even thou I did travel (cruise ship, holiday etc) I have been taking the pictures, collecting information, just the posts never happened. This one i been planning to send just about a year ago, and a few months ago, when i finished the whole editing, writing, wordpress played a cruel joke with me and deleted my draft. So Matera Sassi post Volume 2 here I go again and hopefully will make it this time!

Italy, this amazing country, struggles with weird politics and leaders, constant financial crisis and unemployment, with its problems could be anywhere in the world. Still it`s tourism is glowing like always, I mean a country which can call the cities Rome, Milan, Florence, Venice their own, must be proud..even if their are not. I listed the most popular tourist sites, but still it has much more to offer. Much much more! It would be difficult to name a region, or a small city that has nothing unique to offer, like making the best bread, or balsamic vinegar, or have amazing views, castles or churches. Some of them are right on the map, some of them are a bit more isolated and hidden from the masses, some of them have not much more inhabitants then a few hundred people, still when you arrive will be treated with friendly, welcoming hospitality.

Only recently I started discovering south of Italy, and just cant wait to go back and learn more. One of the most favorite places I found was Matera Sassi, in Puglia. As you can see from the pictures the view is magnificent, the atmosphere is just peaceful. Now I could give you a short history lesson about the place, but you will find the background in Lonely Planet or on Wikipedia. The city is most lilley to be one of the first human settlements in Italy, the houses are dug in the stones, which is characteristic for Basilicata and Apulia regions. When you walk around…and you should take this one seriously..try to avoid the siesta, as it will be completely empty and very very very hot! Of course I mean summertime.. if still you pick the 12-16.00 hour time, bring a hat and plenty of water with you.

When you are here make no plans, its easy to spend hours around the little hills/streets/houses, getting lost finding better and better views for photography. Some people still live here, there are coffee shops, churches  (of course), restaurants, galleries everything a tourist needs.  Still the strange thing for me was, there were no tourists, I was wondering did no one ever heard about this place? Is it really so isolated? And people apparently did hear about it, and to be honest it is easy to reach. You either sign up for a day tour at a travel agency, or rent a car and on the way you can visit other fantastic places as well.

For movie geeks just like me, its a big treat as Mel Gibson`s “Passion of the Christ” was shot here, among a few other films.

In case you were wondering which region to visit again in Italy, Puglia and Basilicata is highly recommended!

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January 31, 2011

Bari: Di Cosimo Pizzeria, picture expension.

I think Pizzeria di Cosimo, from Bari was one of my first posts on the blog, and since it`s been one of the most popular ones. Especially in the recent weeks, it was one of the most googled article from Wonderingchef. I decided to add some more photos, for the ones who are interested. Puglia is an up and coming travel points among bloggers and food lovers, the recent year has really done well for it`s popularity. And if you trust me, you`ll belive me it is worth to visit! Nothing is better than picking up some fresh giant green olives from one of the local markets, and pretty much eat your way trough the whole day! Also, after visiting New York, I have to say, Bari is one of the most cheapest places to eat around Europe, or pretty much anywhere!

So…. 3 pictures from Di Cosimo!

Picture 1: Since my first visit to Bari I`m addivted to Panzerotto. Small big, I don’t care as long as It`s fried! I’m not really a big fan of it`s ovenbaked version. I don`t know why , it`s just nothing special.  The fried version however, just had me at hello! It`s very similar to a hungarian langos – fried dough, but most of the time we eat it with sour creme and cheese. Well let me say the tomato sauce-mozarella cheese combo is even better. On this picture you can see a fried and an al forno panzerotto.

Picture 2: My latest discovery is pizza pana. It was fantastic! Also very simple, and I can`t believ I havent thought about it myself. This is pretty much, a simple pizza, with the tomato sauce basic, on top with fresh cooking creme. We have creme based pizzas here but that`s it, it`s never mixed with the tomato sauce, but it damn right should be! Try at home if you want, or at Cosimo, it`s even better:)

Picture 3; Pizza nd pizzella. Pizzella is a pizza, it`s just a small version. The food prices here are relatively small, price for a pizza is about 5 Euros, for a pizzella is 4 as far as I remember. I would suggest, if you are hungry order a panzerotto and a pizzella, so you can try as many things as possible. Also I pretty much described what Di Cosimo sells, These are the 2 items on the menu. Try and go early, otherwise you’ll be fighting for your food with the locals!

January 24, 2011

New York: Les Halles Review

Les Halles Downtown
15 John Street (off Broadway)
New York, NY 10038
212-285-8585 phone, 212-791-3280 fax

Yes I`m one of those who admire Anthony Bourdain. It`s not because I`m a chef and I idolize him, or because I have to like him because it’s a written law..No I like him because he is cool and honest. Anyway this post is not about Anthony Bourdain, it’s about Les Halles, who is already “Long gone” if I want to quote ZAGAT`s 2011 review!  Still, there`s no Les halles without Bourdain, he is the reason foodies all over the world get excited even by just mentioning the name. It’s a little bit like mentioning Ferra Adrian or El Bulli, but a bit more realistic and affordable way.  The brasseries cookbook is available almost all over the world, written of course by “you know who”, and has recipes in it, which you can still order from the menu. Yes i do own the book…cooked from it? To be honest not yet, but planning, cos even the most simplest things like, tomato salad and french fries has a new level of approach in it.   So yes, I couldn`t wait, to finally dine at the famous Les Halles and taste the fries!

Of course not only the fries, to be honest if I had the capability ive would have eaten the whole menu, but I couldn`t even finish my own 2 portions.  Note to self the american “bigger portion” is different from all over the world, by translation it would be like “It’s a bigger portion” meaning”it is massive”!


Its January, the snow storm CNN was talking about has arrived. It is as big as it managed to clear the streets of Manhattan from people, and everybody decided to stay in. Well, almost everyone. As we arrive to Les Halles to out pretty late dinner reservation, something unexpected happens…the restaurant is empty! The weather is just as cold as it managed to freeze the citizens appetite and leave most places empty. Well,  crowd or no crowd we are eating here tonight! As for the service, it was pretty good, fast, and polite.  Hoping it is about the same when the place is full of costumers.  The menus are the same that were on the website no changes there, also there are not much specials tonight so we already pretty much know what we are going to eat.  The appetizers are home made terrine, and toasted brie with honey and black pepper. We get them in no time, but im not really impressed. Also I don’t know what I really expected? So the most simplest foods if they are done in Les Halles are going to taste and look different? Well, they don`t, and they didn`t. The presentation was a bit boring, as the taste was alright, but, I expected a bit more, a twist or a secret ingredient. The terrine might have been a bit of work, but the toasted brie wasn`t anything more, what an unexperienced cook couldn`t make at home.


For main course I decided to be a bit more adventurous so, i picked the raw meat and the raw egg. Yes I had a beef tartare, which is a bit of a risky order, but I figured it is a Tuesday, the stock must be fresh, it is made at the table and we have to live an adventurous life, so I went for it!. The portion was quite big, it was made at my table, but the ingredients for me were a bit surprising. As so far, from my dad (who is a chef for 30 years now) I only saw the mustard-butter-egg-salt-pepper-onion version for the mix. Here instead, were some capers, and tabasco, parsley, among the onion and mustard, it was nice, actually it was more then nice, it was indeed very tasty! It came with the famous thin and crispy fries, and side salad. The meat had a beautiful pink-red colour even long after the mix, and very fresh taste. I couldnt stop ordering bread for the tartar ( we eat it with toast, hungarian is a funny nation). It was a good choice, I didn`t have tartare for a long time. My dinner partner had “Choucroute Garnie” which might sound french, indeed it is a very German selection. It is a very typical german meal, which is the favourite among tourists at the Xmas markets. It’s a Frankfurter, a white sausage, a slice of smoked pork loin, and sour cabbage aka. “sauerkraut”. You can like or hate this dish, I guess there’s absolutely no fantasy in it, and you don`t need to b a good chef to prepare it.  Of course he got a pretty big portion from, it, as much i tried to warn him, he didn`t listen to me.  Later he admitted, he should have taken the tuna, as much heavy the meal was, it wasn`t too tasty.  Of course there was no room for dessert.

It was a nice dinner, but I’ve been missing something. Maybe more people in the restaurant, and a bit more twists in the food, or just maybe a unique taste. Maybe this is what happens when you raise the bar too high, and forget why You went there on the first place.

January 23, 2011

New York: Billys Bakery

Billy’s Bakery

184 9th Avenue
Between 21st and 22nd Streets

Website

If you are visiting New York, and if you have this thing for cupcakes, Magnolia Bakery isn`t the only place worth visiting. In fact the city is the heaven for cupcake lovers, offering fresh delights almost on every street or corner. I found “Billy’s Bakery” in Chelsea, and the fresh cakes being frosted and decorated in the huge window just attracted me in. They were so cute, colourful, and pretty, we had o try one. Red Velvet cake is of course the favourite, the only other place beside the states was London`s “Hummingbird Bakery” where I could find them, they were delicious.


The shop in Chelsea, is tiny, but plenty to choose from. I loved the rustic interior design, Everything is so colourful, like you were in a fairy tale. Here you could also have a small look on the cake making process, to be honest I have this thing for open kitchens. Chefs, bakers etc shouldnt be hidden, this way you can bring the costumers a bit closer.


The cakes were delicious, the price usually is about 3 dollars per cake. If you are either in Chelsea or Tribeca I would recommend treating yourself with a cupcake!

January 17, 2011

New York: Chelsea Market in words and pictures

Chelsea Market

75 9th Avenue (Between 15th and 16th streets), New York

Chelsea Market Website

Chelsea Market building New York

Chelsea Market building New York

This enclosed shopping center and food court was once home of the famous Oreos, and is now one of the No.1 meeting point of the city’s gourmet food lovers. Naturally I had to visit it. If you want a piece of advise, you won`t have breakfast before you go there. The market has plenty to offer! From cupcakes to foccacia, from risotto to sushi, even if you are picky, you`ll want to try them all.

Chelsea Market, New York, Amys Bakery

Chelsea market Amy`s Bakery

Gourmet food tours, should be the best way to visit the area. The tours are available on the markets website. Unfortunately I didn’t know about these, and only discovered them when we arrived to the market, they seemed fun and interesting, and surely You can try, and taste more products this way, also you can learn some insight stories about the establishments. Next time I visit I`ll surely join one of them, but not only the market`s but whole a whole Chelsea tour.

Chelsea Market- Amy`s Bakery, Lobster`s place

Amy`s Bakery, Lobsters place, Chelsea Market New York

2 of my favourite businesses were “Amy`s Bakery” and “Lobster`s Place”- even thou I dont` eat seafood. If you are a sushi lover I would strongly recommend to pick up 1 or 2 plates of freshly made rolls there, or just look at the making process from the window. And of course fresh lobsters and plenty other seafood is available. What I liked the most, is the presentation of different products, from all around the market, everything is so organized, colourful and creative! And most of the time, open, so you can look at the production process of several bakery, or restaurants, or pretty much anything.

Chelsea Market, New York, Buon Italia

Chelsea market, New York, Buon Italia


Chelsea and it`s market should be a foodies dream destination when visiting New York Ci, it`s a nice walk from Times Square for the more adventurous tourists!

 

Chelsea market, New york- Buon Italia

Buon Italia, Chelsea market, New York

 

January 16, 2011

New York: Magnolia Bakery

Magnolia Bakery

1240 Avenue of the Americas New York

For info and more locations click here

 

Magnolia Bakery at the Rockefeller Center

Magnolia Bakery New York

Well I like to think about myself as a real “Cupcake Connoisseur”, and to be perfectly frank, I`m crazy for them! Not always about the taste or the consuming, I just like how they look like. Small, cute, colourful, and creative. Sadly, the cupcake madness isn`t really big in Europe, or If you can buy some, most of the time, they are dry and tasteless. I have this dream, about opening my Cupcake-bakery, untill then I`m just visiting shops and websites for more inspiration.

Cakes at the Magnolia Bakery New York

Magnolia Bakery Ney York

Merchandise at the Magnolia Bakery New York

Magnolia Bakery New York

So it happened, on my very first visit to New York I searched for the best cupcakes in town.  Google`s search engines pointed pretty much to one direction: MAGNOLIA BAKERY!!!!! After a bit more searches I realised these are also the famous cupcakes from Sex and the City, and they also appeared in some other film productions. Well, of course I had to check them out. Their website was already mouth-watering. It`s cute, a bit rustic, and you can read titles like: orange, double chocolate, pumpkin, Red Velvet cake, devil`s food cake, Pumpkin spice cake, pies, cookies, brownies.. all yum yum yum! How I’m going to try ALL of these by only one visit??????????

Cupcakes at the Magnolia Bakery New York

Magnolia Bakery New York


Well in terms, I was lucky, as my hotel was only 1 block away from its midtown`s location. So ive been a frequent visitor for over a week. Going early so, I don`t have to que u, with all the other cupcake lovers inside the small bakery, which has a very nice and cosy atmosphere.Friendly staff, an almost open kitchen, so you can have a sneak peek into the cupcake decoration and cake frosting.

Magnolia Bakery New York

Magnolia Bakery New York


From all what we tried the red velvet cupcake was the favourite, also the vanilla and chocolate classic cakes were very very nice. I loved the frosting, it was creamy and tasty, the cakes were all moist and light. But some of them were a bit disappointing, the orange and lemon cupcakes were a bit tasteless, and there were a bit lack of variety of cupcakes you could get without ordering in advance.The 2 and the 3 story cakes looked amazing. My favourite was, the pumpkin spice cake, but there’s many more to try!

Cheesecakes at Magnolia Bakery New York

If you wish to become a cupcake baker at home, you can pick up a copy of “Magnolia bakery`s cookbook” with pictures and recipes, for about 27 Dollars, among with the bakery costume made t-shirts and aprons. If you are there, treat yourself, once, twice or well, any day if you feel like it!

November 7, 2010

I now introduce You to th cruise ship advantures!

If you work in travel and hospitality meaning anything between hotel manager and  dishwasher, the “cruise ship” talk must have come up from time to time. It always sound so wonderful, just like invitation to the military “lifetime opportunity, great pay, management position, travel the world etc” slogans, which already sounds too good to be true. Well they are.

In hospitality, we all know this is hard work, long work, and a different lifestyle. But on the other hand hospitality work is hard and long and it is a different lifestyle! Also a lifestyle where is relatively easy to find a job, but its hard to find a good paying one, one with good reputation, or one where you not going to be surrounded with complete assholes, or to be used and abused at. Or just being layd off from 1 minute to the other.  If you tried almost everything, or had a bad experience, or just completely ran out of money, and have no idea how to get out of the debts, or just simply want to try something different you do start thinking about the cruise ships.

What do you need for the ship?  Education is important, for some positions, lets say kitchen and front desk etc, where you studied and how many experience you have is pretty important. Languages. English and German is minimum, but the more the merrier! Again work experience is good, but lets say in housekeeping is not so important, you don’t have to spend years in the industry, but if you don’t have experience at all, it will be hard to get in! Be open-minded and friendly, you will be working with many different people, maybe from all over the World, you’ll learn tolerance is good! As I told you it is hard work, so be ready for working hard, without complaining!

Yes it is true, it is good money! And we are talking about very good money, also no expenses, as there’s no rent or bills on the ship. You get crew meals, some drinks, aaaaaaaaaand I guess that’s it. Be ready for working 7 days a week, 15 hours/day, no days off, maybe a holiday for 10 days or so in every 3 months.  Be ready for sharing a cabin with someone who has completely different habits then you do, and be ready to live and work with people you don’t necessarily like. Be ready for not being in daily contact with your loved ones, as there barely internet connection, or phone reception.

It does sound a bit depressing isn`t it?  But when you are there it is not so bad after all. You find that the people on board most likely are well-trained professionals, who chose this lifestyle almost after college. They are nice and friendly, even if you are not a fan of everybody you’ll get along and will be able to find friends. The ship stops almost everyday, so most likely you going to be able to go out for a walk, or shopping, or massage or whatever you like, you can travel around on the company’s expenses, visiting places, that maybe you would never do, on your own free will. You can save up money, as you don’t have expenses, only the stuff, food, drink, sweets, clothes whatever you buy for yourself. But let me tell you, shopping sometimes is very tempting, pretty much as one for of entertainment after the time spent on board.

So what can you do on board? It also depends on the ship you are on. The difference between the river and the ocean cruises, is that the ocean cruise sucks your soul, and you’ll turn into a zombie pretty soon, so they have a bit more entertainment..lets say gym, or free internet. River cruises, are even lighter on the choices, after work you can either chill in your cabin, read, or watch a film. Or you can go to the crew room, hang out with the people you see everyday, and join or look at the alcoholics, doing they daily routine, emptying the vending machine, and sculling beer all night.  So there`s no other way to put it there IS drinking, there is heavy drinking, and you need to watch out cos you can easily be a part of it!

Well this is my general “know how” handbook about cruise ship work. I’ll b back with more posts, explaining the work and the lifestyle a bit deeper. If you are planning, to get on board, it will be interesting to read, as the same rules apply, wherever you are!

 

Thank you for stopping by!

 

 

 

September 17, 2010

Pictures: The CLINIC Bar Singapore

The Clinic- Pictures by Tibor Magyar

When i started writing The Wondering Chef, I wanted to feature some interesting bars/restaurants from all over the World, well from places which i visited. Lately I concentrated more on cooking, as I had some personal time aside restaurant work, had more time to develop my own recipes, and take pictures. But as this supposed to be a cooking and traveling blog, I want to make a “travel come-back” with Singapore’s bizzzzar Bar – The CLINIC.

The CLINIC- Pictures by Tibor Magyar

Whats The CLINIC? It`s a bar where they serve alcohol. They serve alcohol in a wheel chair, waiters run around in scrubs, and the surgery table is where they mix your cocktails. Well if you have the stomach for the black humor and want to have a complete different drinking experience, check this place out when you visiting Singapore.  Also the city is foodies and party paradise, so it`s very sure they gonna come up with an even more and interesting bar/restaurant idea. The Clinic is still unique, not just in Singapore, but all around the World. What more can I say? The pictures should speak for themselves. Of course don’t book a plane ticket just because of this, but if you are there, well dare to go for a check-up:)

More Information and address heres The CLINIC

For More Pictures Please Check out The Gallery


September 7, 2010

Budapest: Sugar! review


Sugar! Shop Paulay Ede street 48 District VI, Budapest

If you are hungarian or live in Hungary you must have read about this place in some fashion magazine, or design page, or watched a program on the local culinary channel. Sugar! was a big hit among Budapest cake lovers a few years ago.  Even when it was hidden a IV. district residential area, which was hard to reach by public transport. Children, and adults went crazy when they saw the places design with M&M`s filled tables and colourful pies, heart-shaped mousse and even more magical wedding and birthday cakes. Even Sarah Jessica Parker received a custom-made Sex and the City gift from them. Oh and theres the shop, from wasabi tasting lip gloss to fluffy telephones and tones of jelly belly its a crowd pleaser. No wonder they were going to open a new shop somewhere in the city center, because nobody understood why it has to be so far-far away? The reason for its first location was the actual Hortvath cake shop and patisserie, which had a very nice name among the districts residents, and the owner and founder of sugar is a lucky member of this sweet loving family.


So, now in the heart of Budapest, on Paulay E. street just a few minutes away from the Opera House, or Octogon or Andrassy street, for a bout a year now, we can enjoy the Sugar! cakes.  So if you visiting, moving, studying in this beautiful city and you like your cakes, you should really check it out! Of course there are some things ou should know before you enter and you order.

Just as everything, Sugar! isn’t too perfect as well. My problem is sometimes that in the cakes they put more effort on the design then on the actual taste. So, this why please don`t buy cupcakes there..those are horrible! But, I do recommend the pies and the cheesecakes, pretty much all of them! especially the sour-cherry and the deluxe pie, or the strawberry and banana..or you know..any of them!:) If you are in for something special try any of the milk rice combinations..my favourite is the vanilla based rice with sour strawberry topping! Most of the mousse look good, but we found them tasteless..such like the chocolate-chilli and the lavender mousse were good looking but empty inside..like a bad date! If you around maybe you can still taste some from their Tokyo collection monsters. They look so cute you don’t even want to eat them, but the treat you’ll find inside is really worth to destroy some of these blue or red japanese monsters. Of course there are shakes and lemonades, and yes, they are all fabulous. My problems with the lemonades are that there’s a bit too many things in them and not enough liquid.. so you can’t really enjoy it, not to mention when the fruit gets sucked in the straw and you can’t drink from the glass as you get hit in the face by falling mints and ice. So yes there are ways I can criticise Sugar! but there is a reason I go back from time to time. It`s good, it`s fun and tasty!

August 1, 2010

Baska, Croatia- in words and pictures.

The city of Baska is located on the very bottom of the Krk-island, Croatia. For many years it`s been a well loved spot for family campsites, and budget cutters. Cos of its location its popular among Hungarians, Slovenians, Germans, Italians, Slovakians and Polish. But of course it`s not an excuse for running into Aussies or Americans.  The city has a beautiful beachside, the water is always sapphire blue, and hills around it always give a pleasant view. It`s also nice to see that there is a nice part of the Adriatic sea, the water o the Italian side is very dirty, and has a not too welcoming brown colour. Also the German tourists love top leave their rubbish everywhere. Here, it`s a lot better, the water is clean, the beachside is also well kept. The only downside is, there are rocks, many rocks, little, medium, and big rocks. From now on its understandable why Crocks are so popular, and here it`s not even a bad idea wearing it.  Everything is in walking distance, the town has a nice old town/fisherman`s town area, with shops, and pubs, plenty of campsites, hotels and restaurants.  If the weather is nice, we can easily spend a week here soaking under the sun at days and having a nice dinner at nights. But what if it`s raining?


Yeah, I wasn`t too lucky. For 3 days straight as i was there for a long weekend, the sun only shined for about 1 hour, followed by a massive rain and strong, cold wind. Here comes the question, what can You do on a seaside little town if there`s raining, or the weather is bad? Well, if You are strong enough, you can go swimming. Luckily, I wasn`t the only one who had this idea, so, I didn`t look too rediciolus in the cold water. In the mornings it was nice, when most people still had their breakfast, and the water was calm and looked so untouched, like it was there only for me to discover.  If you are in the water, swimming is essential, cos it is cold, but after 4-5 minutes of intense moving around, you going to be fine.


You can get drunk. It`s easy, if you are with friends, sometimes it`s even a must. If you don`t have your own alcohol at home, it will take you at average 2-3 minutes of walking to get to a shop/bar/pub/restaurant. It`s probably the easiest thing to do in Baska, getting hammered. Karlovacko beer is nice, usually around 16 HRK for a pint. Croatian wine is nice, don`t hesitate to buy some at the shops. There are cocktail bars as well. Now, this is something I don`t really recommend, if you are a bit of a snob, and you usually know what you ordering or how your drink has to look like. Baska bartenders have their way to fuck up even the easiest drink. So a “Cuba Libre” is what I can recommend at these bars, don`t even hope for a decent “Singapore Sling” or “Bahama Mama2.


You can eat. As I mentioned, there are bakeries, shops, restaurants, gelaterias, road side burger vans, food, food, food is everywhere. Well, this could be a foodie paradise, but it turns out not. I mean the offer at the restaurants bakeries etc is nice. But they have the same things everywhere. there are some extreme flavours of gelato like the red bull one, or you can try langos with nutella ( fried dough is best with cheese and sour creme)  But really, it`s the same everywhere. You can have a nice tour around the city`s bakeries to try who`s burek is the nicest, until you get irritated even by the thought of it. You can have gelatos at every corner, or chips out of a cone. at some point it`s even useless to read the menu. There will be fish, cevapcici, wiener-snitzel, pizza, and roasted whole pork and lamb.  Every place has pizzas, pastas risottos, mixed fish plates. The Italian influence on the food here is pretty big. it is a fisherman`s town anyway so seafood lovers will feel themselves in paradise. On the other hand the prices have increased in the last couple of years. So a dinner will cost you about 110HRK minimum. Not even the food offers are the same, but they usually look and taste exactly the same as well. So where to eat? Where the most people are dining at the same time. This theory usually works well.



You can also relax and enjoy the view, hoping the sun will come out soon.