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2 notes &

Mado Ice Cream, Turkey

One of the must-try’s when in Turkey is to try the Turkish ice cream brand, Mado!

Turkish ice cream is known for its peculiar “stickiness”. It’s creamy, rich, and is “sticky” because of crushed orchid roots that are mixed in with the milk and other ingredients.

On our way from Konya to Cappadocia, we stopped by this gas station that had a small Mado shoppe, so it was the perfect time to try it (despite the freezing weather)

I don’t quite remember the flavors we got, but I’m pretty sure one of them features the orchid flavor, and another some sort of rose, and another some kind of nut (chestnuts I think).

I think this is the rose and maybe pistachio?

See how sticky it is? It’s not the usual melty ice cream

Just to demonstrate how it holds its shape

Not particularly unique in terms of flavor, but still really delicious and a must to try when in Turkey!

Photos: Canon 450D + 10-22mm

Filed under mado ice cream turkey 2011 turkey turkiye eurasia cappadocia dessert turkish cuisine chestnuts orchid orchid root rose pistachio

1 note &

Riverside Lunch, Antalya, Turkey

I’m sure they don’t mean real grenades, but man we should’ve tried these! Haha

After visiting the archaeological museum, we had a razor-sharp cold riverside open-air lunch. It was hard enough keeping our napkins and bread baskets from flying (the winds were that strong), but we had to eat fully clothed, gloved, scarf-ed, and with rice blowing down our shirts and our drinks acting as napkin paperweights.


The food was OK, the more or less typical kebab. My favourite in our Turkish meals is the rice pilaf. It’s got a strange sweet/savory quality to it that makes it just pair incredibly well with tons of different viands/toppings/food. But it’s also incredibly expensive. Usually a small cup of rice (less than a 1-measuring-cup serving) costs about 4TL ($3-4/PHP150), while the meats range from maybe 6-10TL ($8-9/PHP350) per serving/stick. If you select Adana (lamb) it’s usually more expensive than beef or chicken. In general our meals were pretty expensive for not that much quantity. And they don’t always taste good, it’s just that at rest stops or gas stations or “autogrills”, there really isn’t another choice of restaurant or cafe.

Filed under travel travels turkey turkiye eurasia food cuisine turkish food turkish cuisine kebabs kebap pilaf turkey 2011

3 notes &

Gelateria del Teatro, Roma, Italia

We stumbled upon this gelateria in one of the little streets somewhere on the way from Navona to the Pantheon

It was quaint and cozy, and had a pretty good selection of gelato flavors despite the tiny size of the gelateria

Guilty: spot my bulging shopping bags from a cool joke shop we found, Too Much

I think we got a variation of chocolate truffle type flavors. It all blended together nicely and chocolateyly

A worthy haunt!

Photos: Canon 450D + 10-22mm

Filed under italia italy roma rome europe mediterranean gelato ice cream gelateria gelato del teatro cuisine italian food dessert travel travels food trip sorbet italy 2010

1 note &

Navona Notte, Roma, Italia

The best little restaurant we found in Rome was the Navona Notte, on Via del Teatro Pace, one of the little streets just off the Piazza Navona.

It was a quaint, cozy, trattoria type place, with modest furnishings and unmistakable Italian charm.

My favourite dish that we ordered was their calzone, which was perfectly cooked, cheese liquid and oozing

We also ordered bruschetta (which I think is just not my taste, especially cold), pizza, pastas, etc.

Oozy calzone cheese

We loved the food so much we came back a couple more times, whenever we were near or around the area. We always ordered the calzone. Yum.

Photos: Canon 450D + 10-22mm

Filed under italia italy europe rome roma cuisine italian calzone bruschetta alfredo carbonara puttanesca pizza piazza navona navona notte cheese lasagna italy 2010

28 notes &

Homa in Roma

A quick spot of breakfast in Hotel Cristoforo Colombo (a crappy little end-of-the-tour hotel near the Leonardo da Vinci aeroporto) before we squeezed our bulging heaps of luggage and several carry on bags into a tiny little Fiat that took us back to the center of Roma, to our awesome little boutique serviced apartment, the Residence Barberini (Located, as the name implies, by the Piazza Barberini, in the Quattro Fontane area).

I love love love this apartment. If I could move to Rome and could afford it, I would want a flat like this. It’s spacious, clean, classic+modern fusion design, and it’s got the best location.

The interiors are very modern, but a lot of classic elements are present (as though the building were renovated at some point)—like the vintage photographs, white marble floors, chandeliers, etc. All in all giving this boutique serviced residence a homey but not geriatric feel. You still feel like a true Roman living in the heart of the city (You literally cross the narrow street and it’s a Metro station, and every major sight in Roma is in comfortable walking distance! We walked everywhere!)

We got Suite 2, out of around 12 I think. It’s up a narrow flight of marble stairs on the second floor, and there’s a street entrance for guests too—that way you feel like a true resident and you don’t have to keep passing through the lobby! You get your own set of keys for the street entrance and your suite. The price is also very competitive at 200EUR per room per night for a 2-bedroom suite with kitchen and en suite bathroom for 4 people (you can add a small amount to accommodate a fifth person), and considering all the shady looking places we saw online while researching hotels to stay at, this was definitely a hidden gem!

Clean, sophisticated amenities—and they were generous with them too! 

The second bedroom’s window overlooks an overgrown garden courtyard in the back. I love these hauntingly beautiful old gardens and yards!

My favourite spot is this cozy little reading/sketching nook by the bed

After a quick uphill trip to a nearby Despar grocery, we decided to celebrate our “housewarming” with a nice home-cooked Italian meal!

As you can see in the open pantry, we stocked up on several different sauces and cheeses and even some of the instant noodles we brought along for emergencies.

For fun, and because we were crazy and giddy and excited for our 10 days in Roma, we taped our first meal preparation ala Lifestyle Network cooking show on our video camera.

First was a mushroom and spinach Risotto with Pesto Genovese sauce. Yum!

Some Parmigiano of course~

And the chef tastes her work—delish!

Seeing this photo just makes me hungry all over again. Strangely enough, some of the best food we had on this whole trip was from the meals we prepared with grocery-bought ingredients. Everything is so easy to make and prepare, and much cheaper too!

Next we tried a prosciutto and parmigiano tortellini, also with Pesto Genovese (it was a big sauce bottle so we split the sauce over 2 pasta dishes)

Cooking at “home” in Roma is one of the things I’m definitely going to miss the most. Sigh, I want to live in Rome!!!

Photos: Canon 450D + 10-22mm + 24-70mmL

Filed under roma rome italy italia italian capital residence barberini barberini piazza barberini quattro fontane pasta pesto genovese tortellini italian food cuisine prosciutto parmigiano spinach travel travels europe europa best of italy trafalgar rome italy italy 2010

24 notes &

The “Best” Gelato in the World

"Pluripremiata", which, after a quick Google Translate search, means "award-winning"—I initially thought that this was the name of the gelateria, but I guess it was their marketing spiel :))

Also, who would’ve thought that there are such things as Gelato World Championships???

Well apparently, such things exist, and this place, so says our tour guide, is world best. A hard title to live up to, especially with the onslaught of gelateria places here and there, and not all of them are even from Italy!

Inside, the parlor is tiny, almost cavern-like, built into an ancient structure. The flavours all seem interesting  but we picked a few standard ones (like Cioccolato and Nocciola and Stracciatella), as well as Ciampelmo, on the recommendation of our tour guide, and Limone.

Back outside after braving the crowds and happily holding up our cup like a trophy!

The verdict? Not sure if I would definitively say BEST; I do still love the creamy gelato we had in Anacapri, and that so far has stood out as my favourite thus far, but this was still in the category of really good gelatos.

The unique ciampelmo flavour was probably the most interesting, as it was refreshingly light, bubbly and fruity (it is flavoured after sparkling wine of the same name)—which is a welcome reprieve if you’re sick of all the usual dairy flavours like chocolate and hazelnut. All in all, I think that the gelato experience coupled with actually being in the gorgeous medieval town of San Gimignano is what makes it worth the trip!

Photos: Canon 450D + 10-22mm

Filed under gelato gelateria gelatissimo italian food cuisine ice cream nocciola stracciatella cioccolato limone ciampelmo travel travels food trip foodtrip italia italy europe san gimignano medieval town historic tuscany toscano tuscan pluripremiata italy 2010

3 notes &

The Operatic Dining Experience, Rome

One of the stranger dining experiences I’ve had has got to be our farewell dinner in Rome. The food wasn’t great, but the experience sure was a novelty.

If you can imagine The Singing Cooks & Waiters Atbp. here in the Philippines (which I’ve never been to, but I think the gist is the same), then you can imagine how funny it was to have experienced the Italian version—opera singing waiters.

Each was Bocelli-fully debonair

And quite comedic too

They even got one of our tourmates, Mark (who consequently was also the group funnyman and mascot), to dress like them and sing opera too!

Finally, after almost two weeks of traveling together, we finally got around to taking photos of our tour companions!

Above L-R: Our coach driver Marcello, and the three Best of Italy tour directors Paolo, Augusto (Gus, our tour director), and Roberto. This tour was so in-demand that 3 groups of it were traveling at the same time! That’s around 50 people per group, so imagine the coordination and organization skills they have to orchestrate all this!

Tour mates from Sacramento (left and right couples), and Domenic & Lily (center couple) from Toronto

Eric & Judy Rinaldo from Las Vegas (Eric has the coolest job—he’s a bartender at The Palms!), the independent solo travelers in our group, and Ann & Dave Coleman from Boston

Independent solo traveler and couple travelers from Sacramento, CA

Solo traveler Bob Dempsey (who was kind enough to send us all DVDs of a video he made of his trip pictures!), and more couple travelers from the US

Joe Jr., Theresa, Linda and Joe Sr. Sebastiano from Florida, Ada Zavala & her husband and Isobel & Scottish Bob from Winnipeg, Canada

Mark & Roseanne Gaut from Australia (front left and right), couple travelers and then-engaged (now married!) couple Emma & Richard

We forgot to have someone take a photo of our table, but luckily other people were also going around taking group shots! That’s my brother, mom, sister and me on the left, and the doctor & his wife on the right

Ada (who I at first thought was scary & intimidating but was actually really nice! she came up to me at the farewell dinner and called me “beautiful girl”—but don’t all grandparents say that? haha!), Isobel and my mom

Snapshots of our not-so-sumptuous meal

(the pastry looks yummy but it was really dry hahaha)

The street outside the tavern-type restaurant

Farewell, Trafalgar tourmates!

While a lot of our tourmates flew home right after the tour, we actually planned to stay in Rome for another 10 days, since in past experience, multi-country European tours usually start and end in London, and Rome is given around 2 nights only. We thought it would be a nice experience to actually get to stay in Rome on our own! (and it was!—but more on that later!)

Photos: Canon 450D + 10-22mm + 580EXII, our group’s photos borrowed from tourmates’ facebook pages

Filed under italia italy europe travel travels dining experience opera operatic roma rome cuisine italian food singing comedy unique dining experience foodtrip food trip italy 2010

5 notes &

Turkish Pizza + Kebabs

For most days, our lunch would be a pitstop en route to the next destination. Usually at a cafe or local restaurant at a gas station, and usually it is a meal that consists of turkish pizza and kebabs.

The pizza looks incredibly peculiar, but sumptuous too. These were beef and cheese pizzas with spices, and they were pretty good! The crust is thin but not crispy, more like a toasted pita.

I’d gotten so used to eating kebabs that I’ve experienced craving for them once or twice since getting back home!

What a colorful plateful: adana (lamb+beef) kebabs with pilaf and shredded lettuce

Chicken kebabs

Yum! (Those festive colors are perfect too since it’s almost Christmas!)

Photos: Canon EOS 450D + 10-22mm

Filed under travel travels cuisine turkish food turkey turkiye food eurasia mediterranean kebabs pizza kebap adana beef chicken lamb turkey 2011