What to eat in Visby on Gotland

Recently spent three days on the beautiful island of Gotland, just a short flight south east of Stockholm (or a shortish ferry ride).

Since my time on the island was quite limited, a food agenda was needed. Even though the island of Gotland and its main city Visby (where the airport is) are quite small in population numbers (all island is approximately 60 000), the number of visitors from both mainland Sweden and abroad means there’s plenty of good restaurants, at least during summer. In fact popular mainland restaurants such as Surfers (despite what the name might imply they serve Sichuan food) and Supper (South American:ish) have local branches in Visby. Below is what I managed to shovle down during my short trip.

Surfers Visby
First up was a Sichuan dinner at medium prized Surfers. Dishes are all 88 sek (2017) or roughly $10. We were advised to share 6-8 among the two of us. Everything was really tasty and service was great. There was quite a wait for a table so a reservation is adviced, at least in July when we went.

Surfers’ website

Dumplings.

Spicy (really spicy) fried chicken in red chilli oil.

Prawn meatballs with coriander, lettuce leaves and a tasty dipping sauce.

Five spice ribs. Falling of the bone tender, sweet and spicy at the same time. Mmm.

Pork belly and coriander salad. Sort of like a banh mi without the bread.

Scallops in XO-sauce. Fishy in a good way. Perfectly cooked scallops.

Sesame chicken with cucumber and deep fried tofu. Delicious.

Creperie & Logi
Lunch at Creperie & Logi. Awesome crepes or galettes with in above case skagenröra meaning a mix of shrimp, mayo, dill and usually creme fraiche. Also there was cheese, bleak roe, rucola and lemon. Sooo good. Price was about 200 sek or $22.

Creperie & Logi

Café Gula Huset
When on Gotland, a Gotlandic saffron pancake (made with rice porridge) served with whipped cream and salmbärssylt (dewberry jam) is sort of mandatory. We had ours at Café Gula Huset (the yellow house café) and it was awesome. Can’t remember the price more than it was not hideously expensive.

Café Gula Huset

Mille Lire
By chance I spotted Mille Lire on Instagram a short while before leaving for Gotland with a comment such as “Best pizza on Gotland”. Being a huge pizza lover, I naturally had to pay them a visit. Mille Lire comes from the Italian phrase for “some change” asked by the owner to his mother so he could get some pizza after school while being a child back in Italy (if I recall correctly). According to Google it means something like a “thousand dollars” though. The prize of a pizza at Mille Lire is actually close to that (oh well), being almost borderline excessively expensive with 160 or so sek for a pizza. But it is also indeed very good. And, you also get a 20 sek reduction if you do take away. I had a ‘Norcina’ with provola cheese, mozzarella, tomato and fresh salsiccia which was molto bene.

Mille Lire Visby

Glassmagasinet Visby
After pizza, what comes more natural than ice cream, right? A visit to Glassmagasinet in Visby’s harbour treated us to some nice local ice cream. Above is one scoop each of chocolate-peanut, and local flavours saffron and honey. Trivia is that Glassmagasinet is Europe’s largest ice cream bar, at least according to themselves. It’s not a huge place however, so the crown should be relatively easily up for grabs.

Glassmagasinet Visby

Brooklyn Visby
My last day on “öijn” as mainland Swedes affectionally ridicule the local pronounciation of “ön” meaning “the island” was on the 4th of July which is sort of a big day in a land slightly west (as in an 8 hour flight) of Sweden. Hence, a burger felt appropriate. More so because the venue was named Brooklyn (which is basically where you end up after the 8 hour flight). The burger at Brooklyn Visby was surprisingly good to be honest and came with fries and a nice truffle dip. The bread was made in a local bakery and the meat perfectly cooked. Prices were okay with roughly 120 sek for a burger. Minus points for forcing us to a dark corner bar table despite the place being nearly empty (and stayed that way till we left).

Brooklyn Visby

Supper Visby
And finally there was Supper. As in supper at Supper. At Supper (sorry), which is a restaurant with a party vibe the focus, as so many places these days, is on “share food”. We were advised to share four to five dishes on the two of us and decided to go for four. Food is sort of South American-Mexican-Tex Mex-y and relatively decently priced.

Pork belly tacos.

One of Supper’s signatures, their sweet potato fries that are crispier than anywhere else I’ve been. Topped with coriander and parmesan cheese they are delicious.

Tuna tartare with avocado, soy sauce mayo and cassava crisps.

Steak tartare made with chopped flank steak meaning it was a little bit tougher than regular ground tartare (but still delicious) served with peanuts, mustard seeds and mayo. Worked like a charm wih the not-included sweet potato fries.

Supper’s chilli had been slow-cooked for five hours in beer and chocolate and came with a pretty little ‘egg’ of whipped (?) sour cream and corn crisps. Like the rest of Supper’s food it’s very tasty even though it’s not terribly creative.

Supper Visby

Back to Japan!

8 years ago, I first visited Japan, and immediately loved it. I’ve been wanting to go back ever since, but it took that my brother moved to Kyoto to force me to lift my butt, enter R2D2 and bring myself to the land of riding suns, fantastic food and great people.

The trip started with a short but decently nice flight with Lufthansa from Stockholm to Munich. At Lufthafen Münich, aka Munich Airport, we had to visit Airbräu in Terminal 2, the world’s only airport brewery. Delicious weiß (wheat) bier und a pretty good veal schnitzel with German potato salad were enjoyed.

Then it was time to board R2D2. All Nippon Airways has somekind of a deal with the Starwars franchise, meaning a couple of their planes are Starwars painted. 

The onboard experience in Ana’s economy was decent enough. We flew the semi-new Boeing 787 Dreamliner which had onboard wifi (I paid 22 usd for wifi use for the duration of the flight. There were a couple of less expensive options too), a decent personal screen with eg. live tv (for instance with CNN and Japanese NHK premium). Leg room was also fine, and the food decent. Above is dinner, I chose the ‘Western’ option which was a beef curry with steamed rice. Everyone had the same starters which was cold soba noodles, pasta salad with parmesan, bread and a small mixed leaves salad. Food was quite good, given being on a plane of course. All drinks and food were complimentary.

Then, touchdown in the greatest city on earth, Tokyo! It was cold, rainy, dark, and beautiful, in a blade runner kind of way. We checked in to our tiny 9 square meter room at Sotetsu Frésa Inn and went out for food.

The first place we ran into on the street outside our hotel, Yotteba, advertised great chicken wings and beer. Cold as we were, that sounded too appealing to resist.
 

Edamame, served cold by unknown reason. 

 

Spicy, quite delicious lightly fried chicken wings.

 

Delicious gyoza!

Stay tuned for more delicious Japanese food adventures and travel. Make sure to also follow me on Instagram for the latest updates. Arigato gozaimasu!

Bonjour, Paris!


Last weekend we visited a place I should’ve visited a long time ago. By some reason, the closest I’ve been to the City of Lights is seeing the Eiffel Tower from a plane, when transiting at Charles De Gaulle airport. But now it was time, at last, for Paris! Since we’re as usual saving up on our vacation days, we left straight from work Friday, and got back home late Sunday, so it’s possible to do a weekend in Paris (at least from Stockholm) without using any of your precious days off. I though I’d share a couple of pictures from our short weekend visit.

Since we are silver level members of Accor’s Le Club programme we were treated to a complimentary drink in our hotel’s, Hotel L’Echiquier Opéra Paris MGallery by Sofitel, 1920s style “Le 38 Bar Lounge“. We were very delighted to find out that champagne was one of the possible selections, and we ordered a glass each of  Veuve Clicquot to start the party.

Our hotel had a very nice breakfast, that was served in the same room as the bar was in during night time. The spread was great, and what I had hoped for would be included on a Parisian breakfast buffet. There were numerous French cheeses, charcuterie, great bread (very important), decent scrambled eggs, bacon, fried mushrooms, fancy French butter in little paper wrappings and nice juice and coffee. Definitely my kind of breakfast. Très bien!


Since we only had one full day in Paris we had pre-booked Louvre tickets through Viator to save some time. I think the price was a Euro or two more a person than buying a ticket at the actual museum, but using this method, we could walk straight in (after the security check) instead of course queing to the ticket booth in the museum.


A famous lady in the Louvre.
After the Louvre, we walked to the small island on where the Notre-Dame de Paris is located.


The Eiffel Tower, or in French: Tour de Eiffel, opened in 1890 and a symbol for Paris and France. It was quite a walk from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower. But we walked mainly along the Seine and enjoyed the views and the walk despite there was actually snowing. So much for my idea of “meeting Spring in Paris” when I booked the tickets last fall. This shot is taken from Trocadero, where you get a nice elevated position for a good picture of the Eiffel Tower and views over Paris in general.

After the Eiffel Tower, we walked to the next sight, the Arc de Triomphe and the fancy boulevard Champs-Élysées. At this points our feet hurt and the step-tracker showed roughly 30000 steps or 20 kilometers. It was time to use the Paris Metro. We bought one single ride ticket each (€1.90 in 2017) and navigated our way back to our hotel.


Feet resting-champagne on our hotel room’s Parisian balcony.


Day two we sort of cheated and took an Uber X (worked really well in Paris by the way) to the Sacré-Cœur where we were treated to grey but great views over the city. Again, a great place to snap some pictures over Paris. We were told the area was a little bit rough, but we walked down through Montmartre towards the more central parts and thought it felt very safe.


Our walk ended at “Paris’ answer to Harrod’s”: the Galeries Lafayette department store. Here we found Angelina where we had an okay but honestly a bit dissapointing steak tartare with pommes frites and salad. The tartare was served quite cold, and felt a little bit soggy and almost wet. I might be wrong but I think I noticed a hint of ketchup in the flavour. I was not impressed, but on the other hand my travel companion liked the tartare.

One for the road. A final cocktail at the hotel bar before our transfer back to the airport and reality of another work week.

What and where we ate in Santa Maria on Cape Verde’s Sal Island

The country of Cabo Verde, or Cape Verde in English is a small group of islands (10 that counts), situated approximately 450 kilometers from mainland Africa. The country gained independence from Portugal in 1975, and hence you’ll find a few Portugese influences in the local food. Since we visited Santa Maria on the island of Sal, the article will only cover that area of Cape Verde.

The local fare is quite hearty. The national dish is catchupa, a stew with vegetables, sweet potato and for instance, fish, pork, chicken, chorizo or all, or some of them. The national cocktail is, as in other former Portugese colony Brazil, the utterly delicious caipirinha. But instead of cachaca liquor, the local spirit “grogue” is used. The result however, is equally delicious. Since Sal and especially Santa Maria has a lot of tourists visiting, many restaurants are quite international in their offering, and you’ll find Italian restaurants, British pubs, Indian restaurants in addition to the local Cape Verdean food.

Below is what we had during our week in Santa Maria.


Leonardo Cafe

An Italian restaurant in Santa Maria town, quite close to the pier. We went there after craving pizza and red wine for our Sunday dinner. Leornardo Cafe delivered just that for decent prices, about €9/900 CVE for a pizza, and €4 for a glass of wine. I tried their pizza diavola with spicy salami.
Website (with menu)


La Tortue at the Morabeza Hotel
Since we stayed at the Morabeza Hotel, we visited La Tortue, that is located within the hotel a couple of times. Food quality is actually quite good with for instance a nice take on the local Catchupa stew as well as grilled meats and fish, international and local dishes, and desserts. Try their local cheeses with papaya jam if you want something local.
Website with menu


La Tortue tapas
La Tortue also have a tapas menu which we found was the best they served. Delicious mini burgers, Canary Islands “papas arugadas” potatoes, coconut prawns and a nice cheese board. Bonus tip: visit between 6.30-7.30 pm for a 50 percent discount on house wine, local beer and delicious caipirinhas. Added bonus is the tasty fried dough snacks that are served complimentary with drinks.


Les Palmiers at the Morabeza Hotel
The other of Hotel Morabeza’s main restaurants. Menu similar to that of La Tortue above. Prices are slightly higher. We had the catch of the day, which actually were four different choices of fish, including tuna. Prices were around €12. When you select a grill item from the menu (this also applies to the Morabeza Beach Club below) you will get a ticket that you bring to the grilling station where you will get your meat/fish/lobster and where you also pick your condiments such as rice, fried potatoes, veggies, sauces and mayo by yourself. The other a la carte dishes are brought to the table by the service staff though. Food quality is good, but nothing out of the ordinary, what you can expect from a 4-star resort.
Website with menu


Chez Pastis
The fancy restaurant on the island according to most people we met and what we also read about in advance. Since the restaurant is tiny – it’s located in an alley a block from the main street in Santa Maria, Chez Pastis is a place where you actually need a reservation. Numerous people walked in and were sent away since they hadn’t reserved a table during our visit. We made our through our hotel three days in advance. The restaurant is run by an Italian man and has both Italian dishes as well as a focus on Brazilian premium beef. We tried both the pasta as well as the steaks and everything was quite delicious. The food is rustic and not very refined, so it’s nowhere near a Michelin star kind of place, but tasty and quite reasonably priced compared to other restaurants in the area.
Website (no menu)


Morabeza Beach Club
The third place owned by Hotel Morabeza and only open for lunch. They serve quite straightforward food such as pasta, salads, club sandwiches and also the local grilled lobster. As mentioned above, you’ll receive a ticket when you order grilled food to pick up yourself. The lobster is quite pricy at about €35, but for that you’ll get a whole lobster and there was no problem to split it on two persons. Condiments for both was included. The other dishes are priced around €10.
Website (with menu)


Caipirinha bar
Situated on the beach, between Morabeza’s Beach Club and the Santa Maria pier, the feeling is quite Copacabanaesque. It might have something to do with the Brazilian flag, the guys playing volleyball nearby and that you sit down on plastic chairs in the sand and drink tasty caipirinhas (€3) and fried salty dough snacks.


Cretcheu
At the beginning of the Santa Maria pier, Cretcheu is situated. They serve both lunch and dinner featuring stunning views (from the second floor) of the Santa Maria Beach and serve a local Portugese:ish fare. We went for lunch and had the lobster club sandwich which was decently tasty, but not great for the price (€15). We also went for dinner and had a tasty filet mignon with Portugese style chips. Cretcheu does also serve the volcanic Fogo island Chã wine by the glass which is the only place we visited doing that. Since it’s quite pricey for Cape Verde (€6,5 a glass), this is a good chance to try it without having to order a bottle.


Odjo D’Agua restaurant
This was a pre-booked “Cape Verde night” through our tour operator Ving. I mention this though, since the food was really good. Probably the best we had on Cape Verde. I also heard that Odjo D’Agua run standard (open for anyone) Cape Verde buffets that I guess feature pretty much the same food. Despite the bad quality pic, everything was so tasty with fresh grilled tuna, chorizo, rice, sweet potatoes, grilled chicken and pork, salads and catchupa.
Website (with restaurant menus)

The Finnish 110 year party, Ravintola Olo and Helsinki


Helsinki Cathedral in the central parts of the city.

Spent another weekend in Finland recently. The reason for the short trip was that my two aunts turned 60 and 50 years old, and thus they held a 110 year birthday party in the Finnish woods. Since the party venue lacked running water and electricity, we thought that we should start the trip the opposite way, staying at boutique hotel Klaus K in central Helsinki and have dinner at one michelin-starred Ravintola Olo.


Cosy but viewless room at Klaus K.

Above average breakfast buffet at Klaus K. Not a huge amount of food, although decent, but quality was high and I don’t think I’ve ever eaten as much at a breakfast buffet before.


Time for dinner at Ravintola Olo. A very cool feature of the dinner was that our bread was already waiting for us, unbaked, raising at the table. Later on they took the raising bread to the kitchen, then returned it baked together with “country style” butter, garlic soup and a delicious Finnish craft beer. The entire dinner felt very Finnish, in a fancy restaurant sort of way. Olo was probably one of my favourite meals ever. And at just €69, the small tasting menu – the shorter way – was very worthwile. Three glasses of wine (and a glass of beer) was only €39 more. Great value for the high quality, service and ambiance.

First up was “finger food”: baby turnips with black currant leaf emulsion.


Second was semolina porridge with trumpet mushroom, quinoa and smoked reindeer heart. A very innovative dish that was so good. Great textures with silky smooth “porridge” and crunchy quinoa making a great contrast. Also very deep rich flavours from the broth, mushrooms and reindeer heart.


Pikeperch with Finnish cucumber, scales, roe and dill sauce. Again, very Finnish in a refined fine-dining way.

Hand-cut beef tartare under an egg yolk with sour cream, poppy seeds and custard seeds. The thing that looks like a ravioli is actually the egg yolk forming a thin crust around the delicious beef tartare.

Veal sweetbreads with chanterelle puré, fried chanterelles, fried kale, black currants and jus. Again, delicious flavours, although I could’ve passed on the black currants, though I understood their purpose in the dish.


The dessert was very cool: juniper, birch syrup and spruce shoots. Pretty much the taste of a Finnish forest incorporated into a dessert.

As a fin(n)ish: cake pops:y chocolate truffles on small tree sprigs. A great end to a fantastic meal. Visit if you can when in Helsinki.

Then it was on to the Finnish woods and a long night of Finnish beer, sauna, meeting relatives and enjoying the scenery.

The day after a 110 year party, you’re entitled to pig out at Finnish burger chain Hesburger. Keros Ateria or “floor menu”, their version of the big mac with fries, onion rings and garlic mayo. Good stuff.



Into the sunset during the 1 hour flight from Helsinki back to Stockholm.

Eating in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Recently visited South America for a three week trip which started on New Years Eve in the fantastic city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Except for fabulous beaches, friendly people and the world’s largest urban jungle there is plenty of good food to be found.

We arrived the legendary city early new years eve, and went right away to meet two friends for some jetlag-beating sunshine, beer and prawns on famous Copacabana Beach.

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Grilled prawns with garlic and lime at one of the Copacabana beach restaurants.
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Caipirinhas (lime, sugar and Cachaça – Brazilian sugarcane liquor similar to rum) enjoyed at a beachside bar on Ipanema Beach. 
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Not surprisingly, many restaurants in the Copacabana and Ipanema areas were fully booked, and lazy as we were we hadn’t made any prior reservations. Fortunately we found Stambul (yes, without the “I”) in Ipanema. A Turkish restaurant that had one available table for four hungry Swedes. Not the most genuinely Brazilian first meal of the trip, but hey, the food was great and they even had a Capoeira performance on the street the restaurant was on.
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After our Turkish dinner, we walked down to the beach were the famous fireworks were to be at midnight. A guy on the beach offered to rent us four beach chairs, and so we did. The guy then took us trough the crowd and set up our beach chairs smack bang at the water’s edge with amazing views over the fireworks paired with a couple of mean Caipirinhas. The party then lasted into the morning hours, and despite Rio’s reputation, we had no trouble at all running around along the beach till 5 a.m. On the other hand there was a massive security presence as well as lots of people out all night long.

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Morning after visit to the Sugarloaf mountain and then a hearty delicious lunch at Galeto Sat’s with mixed meats, Brazilian specialty broccoli rice, fried, vinaigrette (sort of like pico de gallo), eggs farofa and a couple of local beers together with a (seemingly) bunch of happy hungover locals.
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Another lunch was at Devassa in Ipanema. A nice Brazilian buffet with seafood rice, pastels (similar to empanadas), black bean stew, chicken and various salads.
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One of the best meals of the entire South America trip was at Churrascaria Palace. A “churrascaria” is a restaurant serving grilled meat, usually offering as much as one can eat with waiters moving around the restaurant with the skewers, slicing meat onto the guest’s plate. Churrascaria Palace offered a really nice churrasco with an initial buffet of starters such as high quality cold cuts, fresh oysters, cheeses, nuts, salad and similar. After the starters the churrasco followed. We had tenderloin, fillet mignon, chorizo, lamb, chicken, chicken hearts, ribs, grilled cheese and more. Everything was really delicious and we basically rolled out after finishing. No desserts were tried.
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The following day we went on a food tour that we found on TripAdvisor. The tour company is called Eat Rio and the idea is tours that get you to know Rio by “strolling along the streets, eating the food and rubbing shoulders with the locals”.
DSC_0280First stop was at Nova Capela in the Lapa area of Rio. We had actually visited Lapa the night before to check out the famous nightlife, and it was fun to be back during day time when it was much calmer (and you actually paid attention to the buildings and not just the party crowds). Anyway, at Nova Capela we had some delicious fruit juice that I of course forgot what it was, and “Bolitas de Bacalao” deep-fried cod croquettes that was really, really good. 
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A stop at the fruit and vegetable market in Gloria neighbourhood.
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Some amazing mango was had at the market.
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Then we went on to “Tacaca do Norte“, an Amazonian restaurant, where we had Amazonian soup with salty prawns and jambú (a numbing Amazonian plant) in a slightly tart broth. The cool thing with the jambú was that it was mildly narcotic, numbing our lips and changing flavors. The result was that the accompanying Amazonian Cerpa beer tasted salty. Very cool. If you had “Kava” in the South Pacific, this was similar. We also tried a tasty crab dish as well as a proper Acai bowl.
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The final stop on the tour was Severyna de Laranjeiras where we had a couple of (delicious) dishes as well as drinks. We tried delicious pastels (the Brazilian version of empanadas) which is deep-fried and filled with everything from prawns, to meat or cheese. The ones at Severyna was amazing, especially dipped in chilli sauce. We also had baked prawns, prawn stew, slow cooked meat, pumpkin, black beans and finally a splash of clarified butter to make everything extra delicious. A couple of fruits from the fruit market was also used to make passion fruit caipirinhas. A very delicious end to a great tour.
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After food tour-visit to the favela Babilonia and the bar “Estrelas da Babilonia“. The visit featured an initial climb into the favela by motorbike taxis and then a walk following the stars on the ground showing the path to the bar. It was slightly tricky but we were rewarded with great views over Rio de Janeiro as well as cold beer. On the return trip down we walked.

Rio – what a great city
As most people, I have read about violence and crime in Rio, and in the beginning we were very careful with hiding our cellphones and leaving our camera at the hotel during night time. But we felt safe pretty much all of the time and had no trouble what so ever. Police and security presence were high in most areas we went to. Of course though, you need to be aware of your surroundings and you should not flash expensive phones etc since there is definitely crime happening although we weren’t affected. But we really enjoyed our visit to Rio de Janeiro with its friendly inhabitants, great scenery and fantastic food.

Eating in fantastic Singapore

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After our recent visit to Manila and Boracay, we ended the trip with a visit to one of my favorite cities in the world: Singapore.

We flew sort of direct (a short stop in Cebu, then back onboard the same plane) from Boracay with Singapore Airline’s “low cost” affilliate Silkair, which proved to be very nice. They had a wireless onboard entertainment system that you could use on your own device (no wifi though), tasty food and complimentary drinks.

I’ve visited Singapore once before, and by then I had the idea that I think many have of a futuristic little city country with harsh laws, extreme cleanliness and a general feeling of surveillance. I did not get that feeling at all when visiting fortunately, and neither did I this time. They have harsh punishments for certain crimes, true. But as a foodie destination I really love it. It’s clean – yes, but more in a no-rats-and-no-trash-in-the-water kind of way than in a scary way. Anyway, we began our trip by using the limo company Blacklane for the first time. They are sort of like Uber, but you can pre-book them which is handy. A friendly guy named Herman picked us up in a spectacular Mercedes and we were driven to our hotel Sofitel So Singapore for not much more than a taxi. We used a discount code though, but they are easy to find by a quick google search. In our fancy ride from the airport, driver Herman told us about our hotel being very close to Lau Pa Sat, a large outdoor (and indoor) food market in the middle of the Singapore CBD. Anyway, below is the best we had.

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Blacklane pick-up from Changi Airport. Complimentary food advise was given.

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Bak Kut The aka “meat bone tea”. A tasty, spicy broth with pork ribs and condiments. Had at Ng Ah Sio in Marina Bay Sands mall’s food court.
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Chicken and prawn satay (grilled skewers) with peanut sauce, cucumber, raw onion and a pitcher of Tiger Beer. So good.
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Grilled beef satay.
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Built in the 19th century, Lau Pa Sat or Telok Ayer Market has for a long time provided food to hungry visitors. These days, they close the street in the evenings when the satay stalls lit up their barbecues where they produce some of the best skewers I’ve ever had. The atmosphere, prices and food was actually so good that we spent four out of six nights at Lau Pa Sat. Either for food, or just for a beer on our way back to the hotel.
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One of Singapore’s most famous dishes: The Chilli Crab. A giant steamed crab that is then stir-fried in a spicy and sweet chilli sauce and served with “mantou” deep-fried buns that you use to soak up the sauce. Chilli crab is a messy but fantastic experience of sweet crab meat, spicy sauce and crunchy fluffy mantou buns. Don’t forget to buy napkins from the vendors.
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Really delicious Korean fried chicken at “4 Fingers Crispy Chicken”. The kimchi coleslaw was spectacular in its obvious tastiness.

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Fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold again, fold, fold, fold AND fold. DTF’s dumplings are folded at least 18 times. And they are crazy delicious.
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Dan Dan noodles (spicy sesame and peanut) DSC_0447
Chilli and cucumber salad.
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Sautéed water spinach.
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Taiwanese pork chop with egg fried rice.
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Xiao long bao.

Din Tai Fung is an old favorite of mine since my student days in Sydney where first got our addiction. Din Tai Fung is a Taiwanese chain of restaurants that these days is operating in both Asia, Australia and the US. They just opened shop in Dubai, so they’re at least moving towards Europe. A few of their outlets (at least in Hong Kong) has been awarded Michelin stars, and that is despite not being particularly fancy or expensive.

Din Tai Fung’s most famous dish is the xiao long bao aka the soup dumpling. XLBs are basically dough that is folded at least 18 times and wrapped around meat and jellied meat broth, that melts when the dumplings are steamed. That means that when you bite into the dumpling you will experience light dough, meat, and soupy broth at the same time. You will also get the sensation of dipping them into the DIY dipping sauce of hot chilli paste, soy, ginger and black vinegar. It is ridiculously tasty and I try to visit Din Tai Fung each time I’m at a place who has one.

We ate at Din Tai Fung Marina Bay Sands and it was delicious, of course. Except for the XLB, Din Tai Fung also have a few other dishes that’s really delicious. Our standard order is above water spinach, chilli-cucumber salad, spicy dan dan noodles, and Taiwanese pork chop with egg fried rice. Washed down with a Taiwanese beer it is definitely one of my all time favorite meals.
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Light show every night (free) at Marina Bay Sands. Bonus views of the pretty CBD skyline all night long.
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There’s actually decent beaches in Singapore. This one on Sentosa Island.
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Above is Hainanese chicken rice from vendors “Tian Tian chicken Rice” and “Ah Tai” in Maxwell Food Centre. When I last visited Singapore there was a chicken rice war between the two, since Ah Tai used to work for Tian Tian but then got fired/resigned and started his own shop in the same hawker centre. Last time I thought the rebel chicken rice stall Ah Tai had the better version, this time I’d say that Tian Tian had reclaimed the Hainanese chicken rice victory.
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Lunch at Lagnaa in Little India. Tasty butter chicken, palak paneer, jeera rice and naan.
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One of the last dinners of the trip was at Equinox restaurant. Equinox is located in the Swissotel Stamford building, located on the 70th floor. The food is not fantastic, but still very tasty, and the view is really to die for. Above is a rib-eye steak with marrow bone, black truffle butter and black truffle mac n’ cheese (that was amazing). Prices are quite high, but are kind of worth it since food is good and view’s as mentioned fantastic. If you’re after view but do not want to pay 100 SGD for a steak, you can do like we did last time and visit the adjacent New Asia Bar for a drink instead.
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Delicious Godiva Soft Serve ice cream at Godiva, Suntec City Mall.
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Our last dinner in Singapore was at Yayoiken Japanese restaurant. The place is very high tech and you order and pay for all food and drinks through a table-side tablet. We had tonkatsu, tempura prawns and gyoza which all were really delicious. Prices were really good too.
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A visit to the “Arab Quarter” where we visited the beautiful Masjid Sultan Mosque and had a tasty falafel at House of Kebab.
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Then it was time to fly home. The flight from Singapore to Bangkok offered this sunset as well as Charles Heidsieck champagne and lobster thermidor onboard Singapore Airlines.

The best Boracay food and restaurants

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Sitting on the plane bound for Singapore at the moment and thinking back on the Boracay experiences from the last seven days. Boracay, as you may know, is an island in the South China Sea, mainly famous for its pretty beaches, more specifically “White Beach”.

Prana Restaurant
But if you know me, you know it won’t be just beach life. One has to eat too. On Boracay, we stayed at the Mandala Spa and Resort, situated among lush greenery on top of a hill overlooking the ocean. Since we arrived quite late we opted to have our first meal there, a miniature tuna dish and healthy Thai red curry with whole grain rice in the resort’s Prana restaurant.

Mandala Spa and Resort
Mandala Spa has a massive focus on health and relaxation. So much that we were upgraded to a “Digital Detox Villa” that lacked both wifi and a TV. Even worse, the mini bar was only stocked with things like dried mango, healthy nuts and organic wine. That is no wifi, no tv and no beer. I felt like I was part of the movie “Couples’ Retreat”. Fortunately things improved. The TV, i could not do much about, but we cheated on our digi detox-room with locally purchased sim cards. To be honest, the reliability was quite poor, but it worked better than no internet at all (to the resort’s defence there was free wifi in the lobby). We also bought local beer from the local super market, and abrakadabra, the only-organic-wine-issue was a thing of history as well.

In all seriousness, the Mandala Resort and Spa is probably one of the better places I’ve stayed in, and despite I can’t really live without internet, the villa, the surroundings an the staff was really great. The food’s a bit expensive though, and portions are a bit small. You do feel however, that there is some serious thought into the options, all I tried was quite delicious despite being made extra healthy. Especially their breakfast dishes were really delicious, although slightly pricy compared to other options on nearby White Beach.

The food of Boracay

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Above: tuna main course, as well as quinoa pancakes with mango for breakfast at Prana, Mandala Spa and Resort.

If healthy holistic food is not what you’re after in Boracay there are several other options waiting for you. We did quite a lot of research before our trip and tried a lot of different places on Boracay and being an island, there aren’t any fantastic food experiences, but still very good food to be had. Below are my favourites.

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Above: Choriburger, wonut and giant pancakes at Sunny Side Cafe.

Sunny Side Cafe

Our first day we had dinner at the Sunny Side Cafe. The Sunny Side Cafe has (at least) two sister restaurants on the island, Spicebird and Super Magic Burger, and is a modern hipsterish coffee shop meets restaurant. They are serving western-style breakfast dishes like French toast, pancakes, grilled sandwiches and really good coffee as well as twists on local favourites like the Chori-burger, a delicious spicy chorizo burger with a sweet and spicy tomato dressing, served in one of Sunny Side’s fluffy brioche buns. We actually went back several times to the SSC and enjoyed both their eggs benedict made with perfectly poached eggs on English muffins with hollandaise and thick cut bacon. I also tried their ginormous pancakes with cream cheese and mango. Sort of pricy for Boracay, but very good food and drinks. Not to miss is also their dessert “wonut”, which is a deep-fried waffle which we opted for having served with fresh mango, whipped cream and nutella. So unhealthy, so delicious.
Prices: $$$

Location: pretty close to station 3


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Above: Pandan pancakes filled with “lechon” suckling pig, as well as stir-fried lechon at Mesa.

Mesa
Mesa is a sort of fancy Filipino restaurant chain that we saw both in Manila and on Boracay. One of the perks of eating at Mesa Boracay is that they have extended the restaurant (although many White Beach restaurants did this) on to the beach itself. So you sit on the beach itself enjoying dinner. From my experience this is something you usually have to pay extra for in certain resorts. So I found it very nice. Anyway, the food at Mesa is very nice and especially so is the crispy lechon. Lechon is basically a roasted suckling pig, a very popular dish in the Philippines. At Mesa, you order from 1/6 of a lechon (which the two of us did) up to an entire pig. The lechon is served two ways, sliced in pandan pancakes and then the remaining lechon is stir-fried in chili and garlic. Sort of like peking duck. Except for the pandan pancakes that were on the dry side, the both dishes were really delicious. The stir-fried suckling pig (note that they stir-fry the already crispy roasted pig) was really something. Best dish we had on Boracay, but also the most expensive at around 1 000 ++ Php.
Location: Close to station 2 at the Henan Resort (former Boracay Regency).
Prices $$$

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Above: Pizza at Aria.

Aria
One night we did a short break in our Filipino eating experiences since we were both desperately craving pizza. We did a little research about the local pizza situation, and based on empirical evidence from a walk-by combined with written reviews we went for Aria restaurant. Aria is an Italian restaurant located adjacent to D’ Mall near Station 2, and I read good things about their truffle pasta, but it was pizza that was the focus of the night. We ordered a Greek pizza, with olives and feta, and a “Diavolo” with mozzarella and spicy salami. Pizza’s were surprisingly great and I really enjoyed mine. The dough was nearly perfect but the mozzarella cheese could have been better.
Prices $$$

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Above: Smoke Resto, bulalo and crispy pata, at Smoke Resto.

Smoke Resto
When visiting Manila, one of our taxi drivers started chatting with us about Filipino food, and I asked him about his favorite dish. “Bulalo” he answered, and as it happened, Smoke Resto on Boracay had been awarded for the best bulalo in the entire Philippines. Smoke Resto is an authentic Filipino place situated in sort of an alleyway just off White Beach. We arrived quite early and was immediately seated at a table, however just a couple of minutes later the place was full and a line had formed. We ordered (of course) the bulalo, which is a soup with beef shanks and marrow bones that are cooked for a long time to make a really flavoursome broth as well as melt-in-your-mouth-tender meat. I can see why they won their award, a seriously tasty soup. We also tried “crispy pata” which basically was a deep-fried “schweinshaxe” or pork shank, and we also had their beef in dark soy and garlic sauce served with rice. All their dishes were quite simple in look and ingredients, but so tasty, as well as inexpensive. An added benefit was that the place felt really authentic, much more so than many places on the White Beach Strip.
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Above: Garlic fried chicken at Gerry’s Grill.

Gerry’s Grill
We visited Gerry’s Grill first in Manila and then again on Boracay when we learnt of its existence. Food was as good as in Manila and we tried their pancit noodles, their pork floss adobo, garlic fried chicken, water spinach and grillad pork skewers. Everything delicious, although not spectacular. Prices are very good though.
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Above: D’Talipapa market action as well as our prawns that was bought at the market and then cooked at Sababi Paluto restaurant.

D’ Talipapa and Sababi Paluto restaurant
The local wet market on Boracay is called D’ Talipapa and is located along the main road a few blocks from White Beach. We had a bit of a struggle to find it, but if you walk up to the main road along the street up from White Beach that passes a McDonald’s, you’re on the right way. When you reach the main road, turn right and just walk a couple of meters until you see signs to D’Talipapa. You can also reach it through the alleyways from White Beach strip. Can’t really give a good description for that though. Well, the experience then. We visited quite early in the day, and the market was quite relaxed. The idea is that you purchase fresh or still alive seafood or fish from the vendors, you need to haggle a bit. We did not reach that great of a deal, but we were happy with the small discount we got as it was a fun experience first and foremost. We bought a dozen of prawns and went to the nearby Sababi Paluto restaurant since they had the most customers. Paluto means that they cook the food you bring according to your instructions, and we got a small menu with prices for the different options available and opted to have our prawns sautéed in butter, garlic and a hint of chili. The food took a little while to arrive, and meanwhile we could enjoy watching the grill chef cooking others guest’s whole fish fillets, making us regret only buying prawns. The food arrived and was really delicious. Although the prawns were slightly expensive, having them cooked was not, so all in all it turned out to be one of our both best and most inexpensive meals of the week on Boracay. Very recommended both for the experience and the tasty food.
$

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Above: Real Coffee Boracay’s chicken sandwich, coffee, juice and kalamansi muffin.

Real Coffee Boracay
They have dishes like grilled sandwiches but are famous for their kalamansi muffin which I found was the best of the things I tried. Coffee is also better at Sunny Side (above).
Location: just outside D’Mall with views over the beach from second floor.
$$

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Above: Juice at Jonah’s fruit shake.

Jonah’s fruit shake
On main road, so a bit of treck through alleys if you’re going from White Beach as we did. Worth the walk though, ask a local if you can’t find it. Note: it seems like there was (or still is) a Jonah’s on White Beach itself, but we couldn’t find it. So we walked from about Gerry’s Grill towards the main road and managed to find it after asking a few locals. It’s not far, and the fruit juices and shakes are delicious.
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Eating in Manila



After an amazing flight in Thai Airways’ first class (no, I did not win the lottery, I just saved up on air miles) we touched down at Ninoy Aquino International Airport for three days of eating and exploring the Filipino capital and mega city Manila.

Since we got a really nice price (for a Peninsula) we opted to stay at the Peninsula Manila Hotel, situated in Makati, one of sixteen cities that make up Metro Manila – an area with a 35 million population.

Our first day was spent mainly lazying around the hotel and its vicinity. We had a pretty good, but by Manila standards hideously expensive, dinner in the hotel’s Spices restaurant featuring Pancit stir-fried noodles with pork, chicken and prawns. We also had Inihaw Baboy, a grilled pork dish.


  
 Intramuros, inside the old Spanish walls

Our second day was spent touring Manila’s walled city, or old town Intramuros (inside the walls) built by the Spanish in the late 1500s. We selected to get a private tour with “Yolo Tours” which for a reasonable price merged their Intramuros and food tour into a one day experience.

We begun by visiting the Manila Cathedral where we managed to walk right into an Easter mass attended by lots of locals. The Philippines is quite religious and roughly 85 percent consider themselves Christian.

During the World War II Intramuros was heavily damaged (according to our guide basically flattened out) by American bombings of the occupying Japanese invaders. One church in the area managed to survive the war though, the impressive San Agustin Church that was opened in 1607. A hidden secret rests in the church’s ceiling and walls. What you ask?  Read on next week and I’ll tell… Just kidding. The secret: All the stone carvings are actually painted.

  

  
  
  
 Bull’s ball soup in Binondo

After the interesting and sometimes sad history lesson of Intramuros, Manila and the Philippines we went on to Binondo, Manila’s Chinatown.

Our first stop was the Café Mezzanine, a place that the local volunteer fire brigade additionally had as their hang out between alarms. We did not experience it, but the restaurant has their own alarm bell, signaling the firemen when there is a nearby fire. We were their for a couple of dishes. First and foremost the soup number five.

Soup number five is a potent (pun intended) soup with bull’s testicles as its main ingredient. It felt somewhat appropriate to enjoy balls for which the restaurant profits went to the volunteer firemen which definitely showed some balls putting out fires in their spare time. How was it then? The soup’s broth was quite tasty. Salty and fatty. The bull’s balls themselves weren’t the best thing I have had, but tasted basically like fatty beef.

We also tried the slightly more easily digested pork and chive dumplings which was dipped in a soy, chili and kalamansi (local lime:ish fruit) dipping sauce.

Next stop was “Sincerity Cafe and Restaurant” where we had crispy Filipino spring rolls, or “Lumpia”. We also had a quite delicious crispy fried oyster cake; sort of like an omelete-pancake with fresh coriander. The final thing we tried at Sincerity was “Machang”, sticky rice with pork and chicken mixed into it, and then baked in pandan leaves. Filipino paella, according to our guide.

Next stop was a fried “Siopao”, a steamed bun, sort of like a bao. The bun was filled with salty and slightly sweet pork, and was in addition to steamed fried on one side.

 

I love Halo-halo

Since we took the tour on a Sunday, a few of the restaurants that was normally on the tour weren’t open. Because of this our guide threw in a few extras and we got to try our first halo-halo at national chain Chowking.

Chowking’s halo-halo was surprisingly good to be honest. Halo-halo means ‘mix-mix’ in Tagalog and that pretty much what you do. You receive a bowl with ube (purple yam) ice cream, evaporated milk (the stuff you cook for dulce de leche), leche flan (egg custard), coconut, shaved ice, jack fruit strips, sweetened white and black beans, plantains and jelly which you mix-mix together. It’s fresh, it’s desserty at the same time, and it’s really good.

After the final food item had been injested the tour finished and we went back to our hotel to pass out for a while.


  
Filipino food in Greenbelt

After waking up from our bull’s ball and halo-halo inflicted sleep we needed more food. Close to the Peninsula is the Greenbelt shopping area, a mall complex with restaurants, shops and so on. By advise from our guide we went to a Filipino restaurant there called Gerry’s Grill. We tried “Sizzling pork sisig”, fried pork parts (such as snouze, liver and ears) that was served with kalamansi lime and suppossedly is a popular beer snack.

We also had lechon kawali which is roasted suckling pig belly. We had it with garlic rice and wilted water spinach and it was quite enjoyable and price (1100 php for two including 2 beers each) felt reasonable for the area.


    

One of the best hotel breakfasts and THE BEST goat tacos

Day three was spent lazying around the hotel for the first part of the day. The Peninsula served up a really good breakfast buffet with both tasty bread (usually hard to find); crispy bacon (also rare on buffets); fresh tropical fruit; yoghurts; cold cuts; local food like pancit noodles, garlic rice and pork adobo; pancakes; waffles – they also had an egg station and my first ever seen juice station. In addition to that they had some seriously good homemade pastries. My favourite one was a mango and vanilla cream Danish pastry with the fresh melting-in-your-mouth mango slices and the soft smooth vanilla cream contrasted by the perfectly crunchy danish. Mm-mm-mm.

After hyper-ventilating for a couple of hours we were again hungry. Based on advise from a couple of friends we set foot on a place called “El Chupacabra”, or “the goat sucker”. The chupacabra is a goat blood-sucking creature that according to some is a myth.

Nevertheless, we were their to suck some goat ourselves, and after some initial confusion we managed to find the place in an alley close to Makati Avenue (totally walkable from Peninsula/Greenbelt Area).

We ordered the spicy goat meat taco (cabrito) and the “al pastor”. Both were seriously good, I would stretch as far as to say that the goat taco was the best I’ve ever had. Spicy, tender meat, super-thin corn tortillas and simple yet delicious condiments. Good prices too, so definitely a must visit if you like tacos and find yourself in Manila.

  

  
A tenth of a sunset and Jollibee

The rest of the day was spent in the giant Mall of Asia where we went to see the Manila Bay-sunset. Although we couldn’t see that much of it due to clouds, it was pretty cool to stroll along the water together with lots of local couples and families hangig out there. By recommendation from our food tour guide we also tried Philippino fast food-chain Jollibee that has spread as far as Doha Qatar lately. Wasn’t terribly impressed unfortunately (sorry Filipinos) with my Champ burger.


The last meal

Our last meal (okay I had one more of the awesome Peninsula breakfasts, but that does not count) in Manila was the Halo-halo Harana. The HHH is one of Peninsula Manila’s signature dishes and is a fancied-up version of the Filipino national dessert. It contains leche flan, chickpeas, sweetened kidney beans, coconut gel, the purple yam ube ice cream, sago, evaporated milk, jackfruit, creamy coconu and rice puffs. This was really a treat, but on the other hand it was about 850 php including service and taxes which would’ve been expensive for a dessert even in Sweden. It was so good though!

After the final mix-mix our time in Manila had come to and end. We’re currently enjoying one of the prettier places I’ve been to: the island of Boracay, under an hour’s flight from Manila.

A weekend of pasta in Rome

Visited Rome in November 2015 for a weekend of eating, sightseeing and general indulgence. My judgement might be slightly affected by the fact that I totally love Italian food and that the weather was 20 degrees celsius and the sun was shining. Something very important for a Swede coming from the borderline winter that is November. In short: I loved Rome, its amazing pasta, its sights, the easy walking everywhere and the friendly atmosphere in the city.

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Must visit: Colosseum.
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Must visit 2: Fontana di Trevi.

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Delicious pizza slices at Il Melograno, close to Fontana di Trevi.

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When in Rome (sorry), eat gelato! And oh how good this gelato at aptly named Wonderful Ice Cream was.

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Pantheon by night.

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Before the trip I spent considerate time researching the city’s best carbonara. One of the often-mentioned places was Armando al Pantheon. Of course I had to visit (reservations recommended), and I wasn’t disappointed. The best carbonara I’ve ever had. Creamy deliciousness with egg yolks, crunchy, fatty and salty guanciale (cured pig’s cheek) and pecorino cheese.

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A decent Saltimbocca alla Romana, not nearly as good as the carbonara, but totally edible. Pounded veal with ham and sage, cooked in a white wine reduction.

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Tasty Tiramisú. Still at Armando al Pantheon.

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Next day: The Vatican. To get into St Peter’s square itself, there’s no need to queue. To get into the museums, you can either wait in line or buy a fast track ticket. Since we had limited time we opted to buy fast track tickets from the Vatican Museums website and saved ourselves a few euros by not going through an agency. Link to where we bought our tickets, we paid roughly 20 euros a person and did not wait at all to get in.

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A decent, although not fantastic pizza diavola (spicy salami) at Il Pozzetto.

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Fast forward to dinner at Ristorante da Alessio. Bruschetta with fresh tomatoes to start.

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Truffle risotto. Not spectacular, but quite tasty nevertheless.

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Bucatini all’Amatriciana. Sort of thick spaghetti served with a very tasty tomato and guanciale sauce. Of course topped with pecorino cheese. So good!

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This was really good. A hot sizzling pan with slices of beef, potatoes, courgettes and (I know, wrong country) béarnaise sauce.

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The Vatican as seen from Castel Sant’Angelo. The Castle featured amazing views over Rome in all directions and is definitely worth a visit.

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The last meal in Rome: Tonnarelli cacio e pepe at Cotto, next door to our hotel. A delicious classic with pasta, pecorino cheese and black pepper made silky smooth combined with some of the cooking liquid. A great end to a great weekend. Pasta is, and has always been, my favorite comfort food. Usually I get disappointed when I go out and order pasta, but of course, Rome did not let me down.