Le Sirenuse Champagne Bar – Positano

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“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”  – Ernest Hemingway-

“Sienna Miller was here last week”, the waiter told us – I immediately knew we had come to the right place

Positano is a small and romantic port town situated in one of the fabulous cliffs on the Mediterranean coast of Italy. The town is full of stunning views and places, but the one considered “la crème de la crème “is Le Sirenuse. The exterior of the hotel takes one back to the grand baroque of the 17th century, albeit with luxurious cars parked on the outside instead of horse carriages.

Upon arrival, the courtesy and attention are on point as the personnel make you feel like a movie star – I can only imagine how real stars are welcomed here.

The restaurant and the Champagne bar divide the breathtaking sea-view terrace. The first thing to come across with is a giant marble tub filled with fresh lobster and seafood. One can personally select what one wants to eat from this tub, thus the ultimate freshness and quality is guaranteed.

It is the ultimate luxury; one feels the stars over the head while observing the immensity of the sea that meets the sky, ultimately getting lost in admiration just like in a Victor Hugo’s tale.

Le Sirenuse is a piece of a lightning puzzle that conforms this romantic town. All the hotels and houses are lightened up in the cliffs under a sky full of stars.

While I was contemplating all the magnificent boats parked on the water, getting lost on my thoughts trying to figure out the history of this place – how the sailors and commerce helped the development and empowerment of this Italian picturesque spot in the Amalfitan coast, the sommelier approached us and offered a glass of champagne, sided by a few giant Italian olives and onion chips.

The decoration of this place reminds you the Versailles opulence  – the flowers, the big chairs with a bunch of cushions, the big vases – all designed to complete the royal experience of being there.

The place has a nice selection of wines – a nice 2002 Barolo or a 2008 Amarone, to name a few, thus any selection will do just fine. Just enjoy the luxury of being on top.

 

 

Lupa- NYC

“Everything you see I owe to pasta.” -Sophia Loren, Actress

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In the middle of Greenwich Village …. Like if you where lost in a Victor Hugo’s tale, there is this small place that when you arrive it seems like the entrance to a cozy house, the first time we where here was in winter, so it was all cover up, but in summer it seems another place: the terrace and the light you get when you are on the open side is amazing!

This restaurant is divided in two sections; they are so diverse that they seem like different places. At the front you can see an amazing Italian style bar, all colorful walls and lamps, also a delicious prosciutto leg, ready to be cut in slices, and the back that’s a little more like the secret cabin, closed space, candles and a yellow light aura.

That winter we got to seat in the back, it was so tiny that it seems like you where sharing your meal with the ones next to you, but the good side of this is that it turns romantic and intimate.

The second time we where here, was in summer, and we got a table in the terrace, it seemed so different than the first time; more live, bright and open; but no matter the season, mostly you will find locals here, you can tell by the relationship with the waiters and the customers, for us that’s an accurate hint that the place and their food is famous, hence amazing.

We order the prosciutto with mozzarella, for starter, and it was just perfect, a prosciutto that the Italians would be proud of, just the red meat almost lean … PERFETTO! It was deli, and paired it with some Aperol Spritz, a perfect combination.

They have a pretty nice wine menu, with a wide selection of Italian wines, although the sommelier is always eager to help and he recommended us a few top Italian wines. As a second curse, we order Ricotta Gnocchi and Bavette Cacio e Pepe, the pasta was fresh, homemade, and delicious. And something super cool is that they have available “Il piatto del giorno”(the specialty of the day) so you could try something new that’s not on the menu everyday.

It’s the perfect scenario if you want to go in a romantic date and impress your significant other, or in a sunny day to have a lovely lunch, outside the craziness of the city. And one thing you are going to LOVE if you are not into the Italian food terms, is that on the menu there is a glossary, I find that super useful and original.

 

Dish you cannot miss: Lupa’s Tartufo 

Piazza Duomo – Regione di Alba (Alba- Italy)

“One cannot think, love, sleep well if one has not dined well” – Viriginia Woolf-

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Alba is a small town surrounded by these famous out-of-life wine regions of Barolo and Barbaresco. There must be something flowing through the earth or wind that makes this place so unique.

It has a very distinctive feeling of an old European town that is disconnected from the rest of Europe yet it stands above them.

Getting to the restaurant is an experience in itself. Right next to the Piazza, in a small alley you ring a bell and someone asks for a reservation – very Stanley Kubrick-like “Fidelio” password to enter the place.

Once inside, the setting is that of a neighbor’s cozy living room. Exotic paintings on the wall (a deer and a stove) that end in a few windows with a view of the Piazza.

The menu has some ingredients that you have never heard before (think of…) that lead the customer into the unknown.

Piemonte is so proud of its wine that they have their standalone menu. The rest are classified as “rest of the world”(including the Italian Veneto region which should be a country in itself)

Given that my husband and me are avid Cacio e Pepe fanatics, we could not go for any of the tasting menus as none of them included this traditional Roman dish.

In a very Italian way, we first ordered an apperitivo.

The appetizers where just like a Kandinsky painting, perfect colors, textures, and the flavor was…. Just as “Composition VIII”.

The initial ones were kind of futuristic given the way they look – perfect presentation with unusual plates and bases, like rocks and mirrors.  Homemade pasta, wafer peanut, foie gras and gingerino, chard sponge with tuna sauce – perfect for accelerating the expectation of the actual dish you order.

I asked for the “Sea Bream Carpaccio, Lime, Juniper” which can be defined as a flower symphony, a perfect balance between a fresh and flowery flavor; the presentation was exquisite.

At first I thought that the flowers where mainly decorative, but as I tried each one of them with the balanced fish, I knew that they were made for each other, just like Alice in Wonderland.

The Agnoloti del Plin with meat sauce was smooth in the mouth like a glass of a fine champagne; the flavors where so well balanced that pasta and strong meat reunited themselves at a perfect point.

After all these delicious plates, for the grand finalle, the chef presents you his royal sweet flush with truffles, a smooth Madagascar vanilla milk, and a pair of delicious chocolate popsicles. All of these are just a preview of your actual dessert.

I asked for a Hazelnut Monviso, a creamy pastry that just melted in my mouth. My husband ordered the surrealistic Miró Panna Cotta; I describe it like that because it was colorfully disrupted but tasted just like the Italian grandmother classic dessert.

I recommend strongly the Wine Pairing, so you can perfectly feel the combination of Piemonte’s wines and Enrico Crippa’s original and playful mind.

 

Dish you cannot miss: Rabbit kidneys, bernaise sauce.