2 nights in Paris

I promised to myself every year I’ll spend a weekend in Paris: I believe it’s good for the heart and it fills the soul with beauty.

Let’s face it: Paris is a huge and extremely touristy city and Parisians usually look people up and down (assuming they take the trouble to look at us…), but it’s tremendously intriguing and it’s hard not to resist to its charm.

Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame de Paris © Sg

Every time I go to Paris I like to stay in hotels in some central areas (like Marais, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Latin Quarter, etc …), but this year I decided to change, opting for a more authentic area.

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Dal pescatore, top Italian Michelin starred restaurant

I finally went to one of the most iconic restaurants in Italy: Dal Pescatore in Canneto sull’Oglio, which is a small town close to Mantua. In 1925 Antonio Santini, a fisherman working on the Oglio river, decided to open an osteria and name it ‘Dal pescatore’ (in Italian it means at the fisherman’s): it’s still owned and managed by the family who brought Dal Pescatore to one of the highest expressions of Italian cuisine. Talented chef Nadia Santini leads the kitchen and she’s the first woman to be awarded with 3 Michelin stars.

When we arrived to the restaurant the owner Antonio Santini gave us a very warm and friendly welcome that made me feel at home (before going there I feared I would be intimidated to be in such a sacred place). We had a drink before lunch and Nadia came to say hello: from her bright eyes and solid handshake I felt the passion, the force and the motivation of the person who’s considered the world’s best female chef.

And then the show started. Traditional Mantua cuisine presented at its highest level with an innovation flavor. Their most amazing and famous dish is tortelli stuffed with pumpkin, amaretto, white watermelon mostarda and parmesan cheese. I have been eating tortelli with pumpkin for at least 20 years in my tours around this area, but I’ve never tasted something like this: they are just perfect.

Menu 2015: Couleurs d'Italie

Menu 2015: Couleurs d’Italie © Sg

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Magic food experience in the Netherlands

I know, it doesn’t sound right. When some Dutch friends of mine told me about some divine chefs in the Netherlands, I must have thought: “Seriously? They are talking about food and chefs with an Italian, do they really think they can impress me?” Ok, I admit I was biased, but I’m a very curious person and after some time I decided to experience with my eyes and my taste buds if those statements were true (It’s a tough job but after all someone has to do it!).

To start my Dutch cooking discovery process, I asked my boyfriend to give me as a present for my 30th birthday a dinner at De Librije, 3 Michelin stars considered the best restaurant in the Netherlands. The venue is just great: it’s located in the former library (in Dutch, ‘librije’ means library) of a 15th-century Dominican abbey which is close to the main canal in Zwolle.

The chef Jonnie Boer – he’s the owner of 3 restaurants, 7 Michelin stars in total – is a big friendly Dutch guy, who welcome guests and usually introduce the menu: if you decide to go for the tasting menu, you have to choose the main ingredient for each course without any other details about the dish (the staff will ask you about any allergies or ingredients you don’t like). After a very pleasant drink in the waterfront courtyard, you’ll be conducted to the table inside the former library where the show can start: you’ll be offered some meat, fish, vegetables, leaves and flowers in very original and ecstatic combinations.

Here are the amazing dishes I’ve been so lucky to taste:

Amuse bouche: oysters from the North Sea, clams, Dutch shrimps, razor clams

Amuse bouche: oysters from the North Sea, clams, Dutch shrimps, razor clams © Sg

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