[VENICE] HOW TO EAT AND DRINK LIKE A LOCAL IN…

Couple of days back, I chanced upon this interesting site that arranges professional gourmet food tours in Italy. The foodie in me was jumping for joy! I wish I had done more research before my trip to Venice (2014), which led to sub-par pastas and touristy rip-offs (although you never go wrong with seafood risottos). Venice is a perfect locale for sightseeing, but at the same time the hustling-bustling city is bound to overwhelm you unless you come prepared with a solid list of where to go and what to do. Loads of pizzerias and pasta houses would lure unsuspecting tourists into their midst and serve up mediocre cuisines, tricking you into believing that this is the best you can get in Venice.

There’s this Italian saying, “Non tutte le ciambelle riescono col buco.” – literally translated as “not all donuts come with a hole”, metaphorically alluding to things not always turning out as we expected. I’d projected all Italian restaurants to be fantastico. Truth is, locals have got way higher expectations than the average tourist, so it turns out you can actually hire a tourguide to bring you around for the best cuisines! Next time round probably I’ll be engaging tours – what better way to pamper your belly than Emilia Delizia’s filtered list of delis, chosen through personal samplings from the native Italians themselves. Way too cool!

Where: Emilia Delizia

Who: Experts in food and wine travel in Parma, Modena and Bologna

What: Holiday planning to various Italian destinations in your native language (Russian, English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, German, you name it)

What I love: Cicchetti Crawl
The same question popping up in your head right now was in my own, the first time I read about cicchetti. What’s that?

Well essentially they are snacks, rather like Spanish tapas, served in wine bars and taverns. According to Emilia Delizia, a cicchetti adventure should begin at bacari (wine bars) or osteria, both of which serve such simple, traditional snack foods: chunks of salami, pieces of cheese, fried olives and fried seafoods. However modern cicchetti can be much more elaborate, and can even be dinners in miniature. Also what better way to sample the best local wines than to get locals to drink them with you! The Italian vocabulary for wines is amazing: did you know, ombra are small glasses of wine (about the size of a double shot), and also nicknamed ‘shade’ after wine sellers in the Piazza San Marco, who kept in the shade to keep the wine cool and fresh. I remember having an aperitivo (a pre-dinner drink to whet my appetite) during my trip, and was awed by the wine selection. Due to our language disparity, unfortunately, the Italian wine connoisseur could not express what was in the aperitivo – I think it had something to do with sparkling wine and bitters. Which is why a food tour would be extremely helpful, and could save you a lot of trial and errors in the Venetian food-maze.

I should probably warn you not to read Emilia Delizia on an empy stomach…I got so hungry after reading their gourmet descriptions. I needed no further proof that these guys know their stuff. Popular cichettis include “tidbits served on toast (crostini) or on squares of savory grilled polenta”, and “squid ink toast with or without curried shrimp”, and “tramezzini (little triangular sandwiches) made from special, soft white bread, stuffed with a delectable variety of fillings including ham, olives, cheese or tuna”. Tramezzini. What a mouthful.

Where To Go: Rialto Fish Market
The best seafood based bacari and osteria are in San Polo, where they serve “swordfish croissant and scallops served in the shell – all served in a buffet style” and “hearty plates of polpette (meatballs) served with an aioli sauce, topped with truffles, cheese and mushrooms”. Honestly, I never knew these existed till I read this off E.D.!

Venice, I’ll be back for you with a hearty appetite!

P.S. All pictures are my own, circa 2013

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ROME] A NIGHT AT THE VATICAN

Probably the only time you can catch the night scene outside St Peter’s Square is if you spend the night at Vatican City, or if you’re reading this as I’m about to show you a couple of my night scene captures. Outside St Peter’s Basilica on the day we arrived, there was a huge preparation for an important religious mass that would take place the day after, hence in the evening and well into the night, throngs of people gathered outside St Peter’s Square, setting up temporary food stalls and flea-market style cabins showcasing collections of costume jewellery, fine jewellery, art, tourist mementos, souvenirs, little collectibles of Vatican’s finest architecture, and flowers – from fine skinny stalks to big fluffy bouquets. As midnight approached, the crowd thinned, and melancholic street-lamps were just about the only ones creating shadows on the sidewalks. This is Vatican City at night, for you.

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ROME] 10 SNAPSHOTS OF VATICAN CITY

Bringing to you a quick showcase of the world’s smallest independent state – all 109 acres (44 hectares) around St. Peter’s Basilica and the palace of the Vatican. In and around are beautifully preserved cultural sites, lush green gardens, and museums which feature some of the world’s most famous sculptures and paintings. Home to architectural inputs of Bramante, Michelangelo, Giacomo della Porta, Maderno and Bernini, its chapels and homes distinctly echoes of Baroque and of the Renaissance.
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St. Peter’s Basilica:

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ROME] VATICAN CITY – A VIEW FROM THE TOP

The view from the top of Vatican City’s St Peter’s Basilica was exhilarating, breathtaking, and worth the claustrophobia-inducing flight of stairs we had to take to the top. Once in your life, or perhaps through somebody else’s eyes, you should see Vatican City from its proudest heights. Here are some pictures I snapped, enjoy! P1040925 P1050009 P1050005 P1050003 P1050001 P1040990 P1040984 P1040983 P1040971 P1040966 P1040964 P1040961 P1040956 P1040950 P1040949 P1040947 P1040946 P1040944 P1040942 P1040941 P1040940 P1040939 P1040937 P1040935 P1040933 P1040932 P1040930 P1040927

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ROME] ST PETER’S BASILICA

We were both blessed and unlucky to have arrived in Vatican City the day before a huge and important event for the Catholic Church. Many parts of the basilica were closed due to preparations for mass. On the upside, we got to witness the procession which arrived to prep the church up. There were massive tables, grand velvet chairs and draped upholstery.

Due to a 3GB flurry of photographs I’d taken of Vatican City, there was a need to split my posts on St Peter’s Basilica into 4 separate pieces (and more to come!).

In chronological order (previous postings):
[ROME] THE VATICAN CITY
[ROME] INNER TRIMMINGS OF THE VATICAN CITY
[ROME] LIVING, BREATHING ART

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ROME] LIVING, BREATHING ART

Ancient art, very much still alive today. The pure gold in reflecting sun’s rays ignites a sense of silent power that only a calm basilica would bring. Mass in this majestic interior must have been a truly empowering and significant event. Am amazed at how this Panasonic Lumix GF6 of mine was able to capture this beauty in all its stunning glory.

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ROME] PIAZZA DEL POPOLO

Flanked by the Via Flaminia, Piazza del Popolo was an important entry point to Rome’s city centre for travellers entering the city via the Adriatic Coast. Today, the piazza still hums with a steady stream of travellers eager to check this off their travel itinerary. We took mandatory shots with Rome’s iconic obelisk which was initially erected to commemorate the conquest of Egypt, thereafter in 1815 the renowned Giuseppe Valadier redesigned by adding walls around the square, giving the piazza its current oval shape. The piazza’s church, Santa Maria del Popolo, located near the Porta del Popolo, contains many impressive works of art, including Rome’s oldest stained-glass windows and two famous paintings by Caravaggio.

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So much beauty and history in one place!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Charles Dickens Coffee House, Covent Garden

Charles Dickens Coffee House

Evening cuppa at Charles Dickens Coffee House! This was once the busy office where Dickens published his periodical All The Year Round from 1859 until his death in 1870. I sipped on weak herbal tea with milk and had a slice of cheesecake to calm a crazy stream of thoughts. Can’t even begin to count the reasons why I love Covent Garden: accessible WiFi hotspots, neat indie cafés and hangouts that remain open way past midnight.

Charles Dickens Coffee House London

Tasteless herbal tea and one of the worst cheesecakes ever. Still, I’m liking the serenity and mad affordability.

Charles Dickens Coffee House Covent Garden

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Charles Dickens Coffee House Cheesecake

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Covent Garden at sun-down: only then can you see this district come alive!

26 Wellington St,
London WC2E 7DD,
United Kingdom
+44 871 426 3659
Mon-Sun:
7.00am – 12.00am

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Tante T, Copenhagen

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Tante T (otherwise known as THESALON at VIKTORIAGADE): I was really glad my colleagues agreed to come with me!! 5 of us ventured out on-foot, clad in thick winter armoury. We trekked through the blizzard with snow coming down horizontally, and smacking all over our faces. Thesalon’s storefront was a welcoming sight.

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On a good spring day perhaps, you could dine outside.

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Tante T can be loosely translated as ‘Aunt’s Tea’. Despite being a low-key chill-out tea-salon, this tea-salon is no less ostentatious than its fanciful competitors. It has 2 understated tea-rooms painted pristine white, lined with timeless vintage photographs of Danish royalty. There is also an interesting sewing machine refurnished into a table. A variety of seating arrangements makes the place a perfectly conducive spot for social gatherings!

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I love these full shelves decorated with teapots, linen cloths, teacups, bread jams, butters and tea-party knick knacks.

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Tante T is best known for having a variety of 150 teas to choose from! The shelves behind the counter are filled with tins of tea leaves. Sniff-sampling is encouraged – you just need to ask!

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Their glass display showcases their organic home-made desserts and cakes. Everything was so tempting!

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And so we ordered some tea: Rose, Earl Grey Blue Lady, Citrus and a Chai Latte. We also had the chocolate fudge, some cookies and a raspberry marzipan cake. The cakes were less sweet, more chewy, and tougher than the usual eggs and butter mixes. I guess they used more whole-wheat flour and less dairy products. Definitely a healthier dessert option.

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From inside looking out: it was -6°C! I love the quaintness of the tea-salon. Whilst we were talking in louder volumes, everyone else gave us weird stares not only because we were the only Asians – it’s a place that isn’t prone to rowdy crowds. Also, the place is a well-kept local hideout with a regular tea-loving crowd. I’d love to try all their teas…but they have 150 types! That means so many trips, I hope I get to travel to Copenhagen that often.

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Till the day I’ve tried all 150 teas, perhaps I won’t ever tire of coming back.

Tante T
Viktoriagade 6
København, Denmark
+45 32 10 36 10

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Café Sommersko, Copenhagen

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Highly recommended by the counter staff at Urban Outfitters, we decided to have lunch at Café Sommersko, just round the corner off the main street of Strøget. The lunch crowd had more or less dispersed by 3pm, which was the time our stomachs were growling as we trooped onto the café’s upper deck. Sommersko’s menu consists of simple French-Danish fusion – the basic fare plus some fancy coffees with liquers that might interest you if you’re into that!

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I had a Caesar Salad and afternoon coffees. Jasmine had the goat’s cheese salad which was all sour, sweet and savoury at the same time! The food was alright if you disregard the poor service and slow delivery, plus the fact that its a tad pricey. Its a great chillout place if you’re just having a drink with company, otherwise the food was kind of disappointing. As a plus point, though, the view of the blizzard from its windows were really pretty!

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I’m just really glad for the good company of my amazing colleagues to Copenhagen, and they made the meal very much enjoyable. The next time, I’ll remember to just have a coffee with Bailey’s!

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Café Sommersko
Kronprinsensgade 6, 1114 København, Denmark
+45 33 14 81 89

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Bankeråt Cafè, Copenhagen

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I was mad enough to fight the snowstorm in a bid to hunt down Bankeråt Cafè at Ahlefeldtsgade. And every damn effort was worth it! I fell right in love with this little dark room and its creepy ambience. There were taxidermied animals hanging all around, with decapitated doll head light fixtures and funkier window-ledge knick-knacks. The cafè’s casual eccentricity made me feel right at home.

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The Danish word ‘bankerøt’ could be simply translated as bankruptcy, and I wonder why! Everything here is very reasonably priced. A DKK36 latte accompanied my stay-in from the blizzard. Dessert choices were very basic though – chocolate tarts, a walnut cake and brunch sandwiches. Young crowds are known to frequent the area; the combination of Bankeråt Cafè’s full bar selection and its mysterious aura is the main draw for Bankeråt.

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However short a visit I paid, I’m just really glad to have witnessed the cafè’s much raved-about creepy decor! I’m all for anything out of the ordinary and BANKERÅT ranks way up on my list for being one of a kind.

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Bankeråt
Ahlefeldtsgade 27-29
Opening Hours:
Mon – Fri 09:30 – 00:00,
Sat – Sun 10:30 – 00:00

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

La Galette, Copenhagen

If you love pancakes, and the French comic series Asterix, La Galette is the place for you!

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The place is a well-kept local secret as it is hidden from the sidewalk. Upon seeing the cardboard Asterix cut-out, you need to enter the gates into the yellow building and walk further in. The owners are French and boy, they do know how to whip up a good crispy pancake!

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In French, the galette is a flat, round or freeform crusty pancake – almost like a crêpe but crispier. La Galette offers both decadent sweet or savoury buckwheat pancakes. The interior is a small cosy space with an open-concept kitchen. From where I sat I could hear the chefs speaking French. When the (cute) chef served up my Pomme Caramel – pancakes with French caramelized apples – he actually said bon appetit and I melted! There’s just something about French men…

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Thereafter my Pomme Caramel tasted extra sweet and yummy!
C’était vraiment délicieux! Merci beaucoup..

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The pancakes are all within the range of DKK 40 – 110. Mine costs DKK 45 and tasted amaaazing. The range of pancakes are really stunning and varied, and you can really trust the chef to deliver the taste of French pancakes direct from Paris. Mes compliments au chef!

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La Galette
Coffee and Pancakes
Larsbjørnstræde 9
Tel: +4533323790
Opening Hours:
Mon – Sat 12:00 – 16:00 & 17:30 – 22:00,
Sun 16:00 – 22:00
Map

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

The Living Room, Copenhagen

Cafè culture in Copenhagen is amaaaazing! Touched down in the morning at 6am, slept for 3hrs, until the silence of the hotel room made me so darn restless. So, I embarked on the list of coffee-places I wanted to visit! First stop: The Living Room @ Larsbjørnstræde. The street is lined with indie cafès, vintage designer stores, chill-out bars and late-night pubs – the kind of street culture I love the best.

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I took a while to make my choices because there were too many! Had a cuppa piping hot latte and a soft, slightly dry slice of tiramisu. Somehow I miss the tiramisu I had in Frankfurt – it’s more moist and tastes strongly of eggs and dark rum rather than flour and sugar.

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I love the interior of The Living Room – it’s spacious yet cosy and lives up to its name by being ideal for social gatherings! There’s even a dark underground ‘dungeon’ where friends or couples can sink into large sofas for more privacy.

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My view of the sidewalk from the bar-top is just right. Spent close to an hour hiding from the cold (-4°C!!) and reading my book whilst sipping on latte.

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If you’re out seeking for good coffee, I’m sure there are better caffeine joints with tastier brews. For cakes or food, definitely there would be better patisseries out there. I still loved this place nevertheless! It gave me very good vibes. The Living Room baristas were super friendly (one of them chatted with me in perfect English!) and the variety of tables and seats are made to suit any occasion. The Living Room is best enjoyed with good company for the ambience is fantastic. Even if you’re alone, the space is quiet without being stale, and is ideal for that me-time you’re seeking.

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The Living Room – Bars, Coffee & tea, Snacks
Larsbjørnstræde 17
Tel: +4533326610
Opening Hours:
Mon – Thu 10:00 – 23:00,
Fri 10:00 – 02:00,
Sat 11:00 – 02:00,
Sun 12:00 – 19:00

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Micro-Chip, Macro Dreams

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Could somebody invent a micro-chip for our brains, to programme us in such a way we can speak all the languages we will ever need? Frustrates me soooo so much that I can’t speak German, and I’m in Frankfurt where everybody rattles off in their native tongue and all I can mumble back are Guten Tag, Danke…Ciao.

Frankfurt is loooovely! And I’m here with very awesome people to hang out with. Am checking out places to go, things to do in future, yummies to eat and cathedrals to see…. Already hoping to come back in spring or summer. The next time I’m back I wish to speak a little German if I can!! (Yeah right I say that about every other language)

Till then 🙂

xoxo
Viktoria Jean

London Lovin’: Wafflemeister

London Wafflemeister

Amidst the London rush hour, the lost tourist a.k.a Viktoria Jean was trying to get to the ice-cream store just across the street on South Kensington. At 6pm in the evening, walking against the crowd is no easy feat. Everybody seems to be dashing somewhere, moving fast ahead with their lives, going with the incessant flow. Meanwhile, the lost tourist stops for a Stracciatella gelato.

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London Wafflemeister 2

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

26 Cromwell Place
London SW7 2LD
United Kingdom

Travel-diary: Salzach River, Salzburg Austria

Along Makartsteg, a bridge over the Salzach River:  photo DSCN3326.jpg
It is the ‘Pont Neuf’ of Salzburg’s city centre, where lovers lock down physical embodiments that signify the fidelity of their love.
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Makartsteg Bridge was named after the 19th century Historicist painter Hans Makart, born and raised in Salzburg, who became famous as a painter of the Viennese Historicism.

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Salzach River is 225 kilometres (140 mi) in length. Salzach, the name, is derived from the German word Salz, meaning “salt”. Until the 19th century, shipping of salt down Salzach was a crucial part of local economy.
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With Salzburg being a university town, the bridge was dominated by lots of students in the afternoon, chilling with their picnic lunches and beers. What a life! Makes me wanna go back to being an undergraduate all over again.

Foodporn: Risotto

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These got me so hooked to the garlicky/vinegar-oil flavorings that the Italians used…

Brought these instant risotto packets from Milan, and because jet lag was still robbing me of proper night-time sleep, I woke up hungry and made supper at 5am!
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Mom was being an insomniac as well and we shared pumpkin risotto 🙂 yummy! Just 12minutes in the pot, hot water, and another 3 minutes to steam and let the flavour sink in…20130912-060639.jpg
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