Lipari Island – A Sicilian Getaway

What do you do when you are on an island for an extended period of time? You go to a smaller nearby island. Sorry for the random thought, but I think its funny how many islands we have been to over the past couple years. We might have an obsession with them or maybe some type of “hermit” psychological brain condition that we should spend some time looking into. But who has time for that when there are so many islands to visit in the Mediterranean. MUST SEE more islands. One thing that I like about islands is that they always have their own identity. Lipari definitely has its own identity despite the fact that it is less than an hour away from Sicily via hydro boat (or is it hydrofoil? Continue reading “Lipari Island – A Sicilian Getaway”

Sicilian in San Diego?

What I found surprising before moving to Sicily is that there is a lot of Sicilian presence in San Diego.  Most of the Little Italy places have roots with Sicilian families that immigrated to the States way back when.  The story as I heard it was that they all moved to San Francisco, but the great earthquake of 1906 scared them all down to San Diego.  In San Diego they found a better climate and great fishing.  This lead to Little Italy becoming a mecca for tuna fishing and canning.

Before we moved out here I would talk to some of the Sicilians at Filipi’s in Little Italy.  They told me of certain places to see and where to stay away from the mafia folks.  They definitely glorified the mafia image a bit, probably due to the many Hollywood movies and such.  The reality is that we haven’t had any kind of “experience” with any type of mafia and we feel safer here than San Diego.

I digress…  I receive mail from local San Diego places still that have my forwarded address.  Last week I received a flyer from an Italian restaurant in San Diego called Il Fornaio.  They have this cool routine where they focus on certain regions of Italy and Sicily came up on this flyer.  I thought it was really cool to see this from here in Sicily!  The menu looks pretty legit and the wines that they imported are definitely some of the popular wines that we drink out here.  Unfortunately there is a bit of delay in mail to get here in Sicily so the event is over at the restaurant, but if your in the area and want a taste of Sicily in your backyard they might still have it available.

I know what your asking yourself right now… what would Nick chose on the menu. 🙂

Antipasti I would probably go for the Arancini

Pasta I would go with the Calamarata alle Melanzane because this looks like their attempt at Pasta alla Norma, which is the main Sicilian pasta dish.

Secondi is a very tough choice… all 3 of the choices are very solid… but if I had to make a choice it would probably be the Agnello because Im a sucker for lamb dishes.

For the Sicilian wine I would definitely chose the “La Segreta Ross, Planeta, 2010″ .. its one of our regular favorites here.  The only difference is that we pay $8 a bottle while Il Fornaio has it listed for $35.  I know what your thinking again… ” I don’t really like this Nick character”… ha.   But consider the fact that if you wanted a traditional Sicilian meal like this one you would be paying $1500 for a flight and have to risk your life with the Italian drivers… That upcharge of more than 4x doesn’t sound so bad anymore right?

Prague 1 – Intro to Goulash Country

Things have been super busy over here lately and I haven’t been able to even come close to keeping up with the travel posts here.  Im going to try to at least get the big trips posted soon.  This post is going to be part 1 of 3 for our trip to Prague.  I took a ton of pictures there and didn’t want to cram it all into one post.  I actually took all the pictures with my iphone as well.  I didn’t want to lug the big SLR up to the Czech Republic.

Prague was a great trip that we took for Jess’s birthday back in March.  She turned 30!! Talk about an oldster!!  Actually I don’t have any room to talk since Im almost 3 years older. 🙂  Neither of us have ever been to Prague, but we always heard great things about it so we were excited to Czech it out!  (Sorry had to do it)

Thanksgiving in Munich Germany

Germany!  I grew up going to a town in Michigan called Frankenmuth and it was Michigans version of little Germany.  Every time that we went it was a big adventure usually with a bunch of the family.  I always had a great time with the different food that was delicious and the vibe of the town with an old fashioned arcade and huge cuckoo clock in the middle of town.  These memories got me really excited about going to the real Germany especially since we were going on the opening weekend of the Christmas market season.

We booked the hop on hop off tour bus in town, which again was a great way to knock out all the sites to be seen and get a feel for the city at our leisure.   We covered Pinakotheken-Painting galleries, Odeonsplatz – Hall of Generals, Church St. Kajetan, Max-Joseph-Platz (National theater), Marienplatz (Frauenkirche , City hall, St. Peter Church, Hofbrauhaus),  Karlsplatz,  Palace of Nympehnburg and the royal gardens, BMW headquarters and Museum, Olympic Park , Sea Life Aquarium, Schwabing (English Gardens)….. phew.

The Christmas markets were amazing.  If you can’t get into the Christmas mood in this town at this time you need to have your pulse checked.  The food and beer were what we were hoping for as well.  Can’t wait to go back to Germany.  The one thing that we weren’t in the right season for and are saving for next time  is the full beer garden experience with a live oompah band.

Links:

  • Le Meridien – Our hotel. Very very nice place and great location near the central station.
  • Augustiner – First restaurant we went to and probably one of our favorites of the trip.  Great food and traditional vibe.
  • Hackerhaus – Another traditional restaurant that was very good and recommended.
  • A bunch of random shanties with all types of sausages, pretzels, and doner kabobs.
  • An Italian restaurant that I can’t find the name of.  It was a cool little place… for some reason we just had to have some Italian food!  Had some great truffle pasta.

 

 

 

Dublin

 

Ready for another trip off the island…. this time to another island!   We found some great flights that were direct from Catania, Sicily to Dublin.  Dublin was one of our top places that we wanted to see while we were out here and it didn’t disappoint.

It was noticeably colder when we got off the plane in Dublin.  Jess and I huddled together like freezing Chihuahuas  at the airport while we were waiting for our ride into downtown.  We stayed at hotel near Trinity college right in the heart of Dublin and we would recommend this hotel.  It was a very eclectic vibe in the hotel and the location was money.

We had a great time exploring all the sites including my two favorites Blarney Castle and the Guinness Storehouse.  Blarney Castle was  a 2 hour drive each way to Cork… on the wrong side of the road!  We rented a car and it was definitely awkward getting in the drivers seat on the right side of the car.  We only got into one hairy situation when I entered a round a bout the wrong way, but other than that no problems.  I found that if I drove with my left hand on the wheel things flowed a little better.  The drive down to Cork was filled with huge green pastures and hills dotted with cows.

The food was definitely a welcomed change up from the food that we have been eating for the past few months.  Nothing against the food in Sicily, but there is only so much pasta and pizza that one can eat. The food is very homey in Ireland with hot stews and gravy topped meats.

Here are the links to the hotel, restaurants, and attractions:

 

 

 

 

Keeping Austin Weird

Went on trip to Austin for a long weekend for a bachelor party of a good friend… and in keeping with the rules of a bachelor party thats all I can say about that … and there will not be any pictures involved here… other than food!

We had a lot of great food this entire weekend.  From epic BBQ to savvy sushi we covered all the bases.  I mean if your going to soak up all that alcohol you might as well do it with good taste in mind right?  Unfortunately I do not have a whole lot of pictures due to the rules, but here is a list of some of the restaurants and links to their webpages:

  • Uchiko – Very cool sushi place.  Who would have thought fresh and creative sushi in Texas!!  Outside of town a bit, but I recommend.
  • Unknown Food Trailer –  I will have to find out the name of the trailer and update.  Food Trailers are huge in Austin.  They are everywhere and they are not what you think of when you think trailer.  We were brought to this one by a friend that has lived in Austin for the past 5+ years and it had a very eclectic menu of Asian/Indian food that was very tasty.
  • Salt Lick –  This is the second time that I have been here and I was looking forward to this trip for months.  Bottom line: If you go to Austin this is a must.  You are going to drive a bit and you may wait in line if you go at a prime time, but you will stop whining when you have unlimited brisket and sausage coming your way.  By the way this place is BYOB… which we took full advantage of since we took a limo out there.

I did take some pictures at the Salt Lick.  We snuck behind the rope guarding the open pit and started chatting a bit with the main guy manning the grill.  We asked how to get our BBQ up to snuff and he explained about the wood that is used and the temperature.  He said we needed to go even lower and slower!  He mentioned lower than our 250 degrees guess.  Also of note is that these open pits are not allowed in restaurants, but because Salt Lick had these babies way before the rule they were grandfathered in.  Below are some of the pics I snapped:

Even after eating for the past 2 hours… I became hungry again
Magic happening…. So close you can taste it

 

Family Style is the best $19.95 you will ever spend.

 

The bachelor party was a great success.  We all had a great time and enjoyed the best of Austin including a day on Lake Travis via a kick ass pontoon boat.

By the way you can buy many of the BBQ items on the Salt Lick website including the prepared meat.  I ordered some for Jessica’s Dad  and it turned out great..  My top choices would be Thurmans Pride Brisket, Hill Country Sausage, and Bobby’s Beef Ribs.  Im curious what are your favorites are? if you have been.