Trattoria Alessi – Desenzano del Garda, Italy

We stayed in Desenzano, which is a colourful, seaside-like, small Italian lake town on Lake Garda, and on our first night we walked around the streets looking for somewhere that wouldn’t be touristy and unauthentic. We wondered through all the small, winding, colourful streets and stumbled upon Trattoria Alessi.

It was exactly what we were looking for! We very happily sat down outside in the colourful, little, wonky, side street.

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The colourful little street
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Sitting outside at the restaurant
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Dinner vibes

We were given the usual basket of bread and bread sticks. Now, I have a couple things to say about these baskets of bread. Firstly, they absolutely love their bread sticks before dinner. I don’t think we went anywhere in Lake Como or Lake Garda where these were not given to you. Secondly, they love to give you bread, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, but not any dish to put the oil and balsamic onto, so you will need to ask.

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The Lasagna

We ordered our favourite Italian dishes. Jack had the Lasagna and I had the Spaghetti Pescatore – both absolutely delicious – which we washed down with bottle of a simple Pinot Noir.

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The Spaghetti Pescatore

Once we had finished our meals we still had some wine to finish off but this area of the restaurant was closing up, so the waiter showed us into another area of the restaurant which lead into a (what we thought was a secret) garden area. It was a buzzing little atmosphere with everyone finishing off their last drinks from their dinners.

An absolutely hidden away gem – and so glad we stumbled across it!

 

http://hotelalessi.com/resort/trattoria-alessi/

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g194965-d1812674-Reviews-Trattoria_Pizzeria_Alessi-Desenzano_Del_Garda_Province_of_Brescia_Lombardy.html

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Atalaya – Alcossebra, Spain

Karen, Jack and I had a very experimental, fusion meal in the little seaside town of Alcossebra. The setting was lovely on a quiet side street with an artsy, oceanic vibe about it with pottery in all different shades of blue for decoration.

For the beginning of the meal they brought us some complimentary bread which was served in a basket still warm with a couple of dips on the side.

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Freshly baked bread with dips

And next came the amuse bouche which had really interesting textures and flavours.

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Amuse bouche

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For the starters we shared three: The Chicken and Foie Gyozas – a Western take on the traditional Japanese gyozas, The Chilled Tomato Salad with Basil Mouse – which was freezing cold and so refreshing, and The Prawns in Thai Sauce – which were giant prawns. It was all delicious.

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Chicken and Foie Gyozas
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Chilled tomato salad with basil mouse
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Prawns in Thai sauce with prawn crackers on top
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One of the prawns

For mains I had the Pork ribs with Hoisin Sauce which just fell apart and was so tender it melted in my mouth. Jack had the fish and Karen had the fillet steak. Everything was cooked perfectly.

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Pork ribs with hoisin sauce
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Corvina with Cauliflower and Hazlenuts

 

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Duck with Pear and Foie

We ordered Irta’s Island for dessert which was an orange mouse, cocoa crumble and vanilla ice cream put together on a dish to look like an island in the middle of an ocean coloured ceramic dish.

I am usually not a fan or orange flavoured sweets – but this was absolutely stunning and crunch of the cocoa crumble was like a triple chocolate cookie crumbled over the top and it really make the dish.

After the dessert we ordered and shared, they brought out complimentary sweets for us the end our meal. There were chocolates, slices of melon and sticks of Marshmallow.

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Irta’s Land
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Complimentary dessert nibbles
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More complimentary dessert nibbles
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The colourful menu
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The menu on the night that we went
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The restaurant

 

I was quite surprised to learn that this little town had a restaurant that was so new age and experimental with their dishes. And you could really tell that a lot of time and passion had gone into all their dishes.

http://restatalaya.wixsite.com/atalaya

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g662644-d6888411-Reviews-Atalaya_Restaurante-Alcossebre_Province_of_Castellon_Valencian_Country.html

 

Restaurant Benimar – Alcossebre, Spain

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Alcossebra, which is a little seaside town in Spain, is a gorgeous place to get away from the hustle and bustle of London. We spent five nights there and we really felt relaxed afterwards. It is more of a slower pace of life and it is great for the soul.

We went for dinner at Restaurant Benimar which is known for their good steaks so we had to try them. Jack and I ordered a Chateaubriand and potato rosti between us.

It arrived on a grand silver plate with roasted vegetables on the side.

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We asked for a it medium rare because Jack likes it this way, but it came rare which I was happy about because I like it this way. It is how good steak should be eaten. It was soft and had a nice natural smokey taste from the grill.

The rosti was lovely as well and came with pieces of ham in it which gave a nice flavour to it.

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We sat outside and it was a chilled out vibe. There was live music playing from the restaurant next door and there was a breeze from the sea as the restaurant is on the seafront.

 

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g662644-d2296544-Reviews-Benimar-Alcossebre_Province_of_Castellon_Valencian_Country.html

 

L’illa – Alcossebra, Spain

Jack and I recently went to Alcossenbra to stay at his Aunt and Uncle’s house for a long weekend away. On our first night we went with his Auntie Karen for dinner at L’illa which is right on the port and has such a chilled out, laid back vibe.

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We ordered the house white which was perfect! Crisp, clean cut and light.

As we were deciding on food they brought out hot, fresh, lightly toast bread, fresh tomatoes, fresh garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper and we made our own pan con tomat. You rub the garlic on the bread, rub the tomato on the bread, a sprinkle of olive oil and salt and pepper and it was absolutely gorgeously fresh! I absolutely love this idea of the make your own pan con tomat and definitely using this for a dinner party!

We ordered the mejillones a la marinera to share for a starter and for mains I got the cod, Jack the lamb and Karen the steak and we shared a mixed house salad as well.

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Mussels in marinera sauce
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Mixed house salad
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The cod with roasted vegetables
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The lamb chops with baked aubergine and chips

http://www.lillarestaurant.com/?lang=en

La Llotja at El National – Barcelona, Spain

El National is a stunning restaurant with a gorgeous interior. They call themselves Barcelona’s Gastronomic Experience with four different culinary areas (a meat restaurant, a seafood restaurant, a tapas restaurant and a brasserie) and four different bars (specialising in beer, wine, cava and cocktails).

the-restaurant-concept

On our recent girly weekend away, Renata and I went to El National and we chose La Llotja – the seafood restaurant.

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A large menu of all the different seafood dishes

There is an area of the restaurant that had all the fresh seafood on ice that you are able to pick and choose from. It is all fresh from the fisherman every morning and when it runs out it runs out so you need to get there at a decent hour to get the good stuff.

We learned this the hard way, as we tried to do dinner the Spanish way and ended up arriving at 10:30pm and eating at 11pm so a couple of the seafood bits that we did want to try had disappeared into other people’s bellies.

We ended up choosing the Pan Con Tomat, a dish with Mediterranean and Atlantic oysters, tuna tartare and scallop ceviche and some fresh prawns along with a gorgeously clean cut white wine to go with it all.

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The Mediterranean and Atlantic oysters, tuna tartare and scallop ceviche. Perfect for sharing!
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The tuna tartare (which I think was my favourite)
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The scallop ceviche.
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Baked fresh prawns with sea salt
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For dessert we had the creme caramel to share which was LARGE and we could not finish it. I think you could share this between 5 or 6 people.

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A gorgeous place, amazing service, up beat vibe and such good food. Must try even if you just come for a drink!

http://www.elnacionalbcn.com/en/

http://www.elnacionalbcn.com/en/restaurantes/la-llotja/

 

Vinitus – Barcelona, Spain

Renata and I went for a weekend in Barcelona and after a day of walking around shops and markets, our feet needed a bit of a rest of we went for a well priced and very very tasty tapas and wine stop.

I absolutely love tapas and this is a good place to get large variety of tapas choices (literally anything you could think of including fresh seafood!).

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We sat at the bar and in front of us was a gorgeous array of amazing dishes. We wanted them all!

bancone

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Jamon Iberico
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Padron Peppers
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Crab Stick Salad with Pan Con Tomat
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Burrata

Massive selection of great tapas, well priced and a very chilled atmosphere!

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g187497-d1228300-Reviews-Vinitus_Barcelona-Barcelona_Catalonia.html

Petitbo – Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is one of my favourite cities in Europe. I love the quirkiness, the independent restaurants and cafes, the artsy vibe, the liveliness, the food, the sun, the drinks, the markets – just everything.

Renata and I went for a weekend away recently and we went for breakfast at Petitbo. It is a very cool-speakeasy-warehouse-type vibe with its mismatched chairs and comfy couches in the corner.

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We started off with some coffee and breakfast. I went for the scrambled eggs with jamon (the intensely flavoured Spanish ham) which came with homemade sourdough bread and Renata went for the porridge. The food was perfect and what a great way to start our first day in Barcelona. We finished the meal with fresh juices that we took away with us.

Good food, good drinks, chilled out vibe. If you are looking for a breakfast spot in Barcelona – I’d definitely recommend this one.

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