Easter between the apple blossoms

As we are travelling with kids, we always try to find a holiday destination where we hope our kids will find their happiness… if the kids are happy that basically means that the parents have a more relaxing holiday 😉 finding a spot like this is another thing. A region that checks most of the boxes is Alto Adige (aka Süd Tirol) as not only is it well-known for it child-friendliness, its fresh/healthy air, the fact that it is sunny for more then 300 days a year, but also for its good food and for having some of the best white wines of Italy. The only check-box that didn’t get checked is the closeness of the sea (my wife loves to have the sea close)… but then again the region has lots of lakes where swimming is allowed and there is also something called a swimming pool 😊 😊 so basically all boxes are checked.

Something I always found intriguing is the fact that in Alto Adige the most spoken language is German (but everybody does also speak Italian). For me the region is the perfect mix of Austria and Italy.

To find an actual accommodation we called in the help of “Red Rooster” (aka Gallo Rosso, Roter Hahn). Red Rooster is the ‘tourist office’ of  the Farmer’s Union of South Tyrol for farms offering Farm Holidays in South Tyrol.  What I found good about Red Rooster’s way of working or choice of accommodation, the fact there is something for everybody and for every budget. I mean I’m personally  not too much into animals, my preference went for wine/fruit growing farms and also I ( or better we) prefer having an apartment (this way we have the option to cook), we do like a bit of  extra comfort, etc… and luckily all of these things are search filters.

My wife always finds it funny that I start planning our summer holiday that much in advance (about 8-10 months in advance). I actually didn’t start that early when we didn’t have kids, but ever since we have to go on holiday in the high season it seems that even that early is not early enough for some regions…  For a few years in a row I tried to find a free accommodation in Alto Adige, but without success. That is why this year I decided to try another holiday period. Luckily for us with success 😊

I’m pretty sure all of you think we chose a vineyard 😊 but noooooooo sir, we stayed at an apple farm that goes under the name of “Grieserhof” and is located in Nals (12km from Bolzano).  The Mathà family, who owns “Grieserhof” has been growing apples in Nals (or Nalles) for a few generations. It was in 2016 they decided to renovate their house (that dates back to the Middle Ages)  with respect for tradition, but also adding some modern architectural touches to the building. This resulted in creating 4 beautiful 2 floor apartments where they only made use of very qualitative materials to make sure they give the maximum comfort to their guests.  With the below as (for me well accomplished) result

From the moment you arrive at “Grieserhof” you immediately feel at home. First of all because of the warm welcome you get from Judith and her family, but also because of the good vibe that hangs in/around “Grieserhof”.  When my kids saw there is a whole floor full of toys (and books), an outside playground and a rabbit to pet… they couldn’t wait to ditch us 😊 😊 so we also got their blessing for the location/accommodation  😊

A very handy ‘tool’ in the Süd-Tirol region is the “winepass” you get (in most farms you find via Red Rooster). This pass allows you to take the train for free in the region, enter museums, visit vineyards, visit the many castles in the region or use cableways in the region mostly for free or at reduced price. You can actually see it as a tool to discover all the hidden treasures in the region. One day (a rainy day) we used it to visit the miniature train museum aka Mondo Treni that was fun for the kids as they cold push on buttons to start the trains, but also for adults it is very nice to see. As they rebuild (in scale models of course) the most important parts of the region. Very impressive!

Something I didn’t know is that the village next to ours, Terlano, is very known for white asparagus… as it happens both me and my wife a very big asparagus lovers. And as if  if faith wanted it, the season for eating them already started😊 . It was Judith (our host and who also happened to be a food/wine lover)  to advise us a very nice (child proof) restaurant called Oberspeiser. The advantage about eating in a restaurant in Italy it that it never takes too much time… not that me and my wife don’t enjoy a longer dinner, but kids are like a ticking timebomb 😊 😊 they’ll stay quiet for a while, but they might exploded any minute 😉 . We really enjoyed our meal at Oberspeiser. Perfectly cooked asparagus with a few slices of local cooked ham and accompanied with a Sauvignon by the Terlan winery that only gets bottled during the asparagus season and fits perfect with this white gold and also is sold under the name “Sauvignon Asparagus” 😊

Two places (next to the many wonderful farms where you can eat or top restaurants) I also recommend you to visit and/or even have a meal there is “Pür” or “Italy & Amore”. Both these restaurants have a similar approach they both sell products bought directly from the growers/farmers, with difference that “Pür” focusses on products from Süd-Tirol and “Italy & Amore” products from all over Italy. You can also eat at both locations as buy products. I enjoyed both of them and didn’t leave empty handed 😊

As I had already put a lot of time in the organization of the ‘Best Sommelier of the world” contest, I promised my wife I wouldn’t be visiting any vineyards during our stay in Süd-Tirol. I kept this promise 😊 but I just happened to pass 2 vineyards (Cantina Terlano and Margreid Nals) while doing some errands while my son was taking a nap, my daughter was playing and my wife was reading at the apartment… and I needed to stretch my legs. In my defense, it were very shore visits and they were insisting for me to try some of their wines 😉 😉 . Both very nice vineyards and worth visiting and I’m a big fan of both their wines. Hope you get the chance to visit them or at least taste their wines.

I can only advice you guys to travel to Alto Adige and make use of the “Red Rooster” website or just go to “Grieserhof”.

Cheers!

Roadtrip with my dad: the non- vineyard part

Finally you might say 🙂  I think or no I’m actually sure Tuscany is the most talked and written about region in Italy… writing something new would therefore indeed be difficult, but this doesn’t mean we cannot share our experience! Does it? This trip to Tuscany wasn’t the first trip, I’ve already crossed it quite a few times.  The thing I don’t like about traveling to Tuscany is the amount of tourists  (just double the amount of people you’re imagining). That’s why I prefer traveling to the regions around Tuscany that are more or less the same when it comes to landscapes. BUT there for some cities  you just have to go to Tuscany to see… you can’t get around it!! Like Siena, Firenze, etc… Most of the cities we went to this time I already visited in the past, but when the occasion presents itself are to be revisited…This time our trip guided us to Firenze, Lucca, Pisa, Volterra and San Gimignano. I’ve never been a Firenze fan though (I have the same feeling about Paris). I know it has beautiful buildings and all, but for some reason the city doesn’t float my boat :-). Or maybe it is because it is soooo busy?? I remember being there once with school and everybody was telling me about how long they had to wait in line to see “Davide” (can be found in Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze)… the thing that I’ve been wondering ever since is how I managed to get in and out in just a few minutes??? (I think walked in via the backdoor… I can’t find an other explanation .) For people who want to see Davide and don’t want to wait in line, outside there is a replica. (Not sure what Ignace was trying to grab on the picture below 😉 )

20140426_112520

SAMSUNG CSC

20140426_113249

20140426_122018-2

SAMSUNG CSC

  SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC 

  SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

What does float my boat is visiting small picturesque towns like Volterra, Lucca and San Gimignano (or in southern Tuscany Pitigliano, Saturnia,…) that even-though they aren’t as big or well known as for example Firenze,  to my opinion are as magnificent! First of all they are less touristy, feel very cozy and mostly have amazing panorama’s as they are 9/10 located on top of a hill. The only “disadvantage” about them being on top of a hill is that there are not “flat” streets… but hey, this means we’ll have to spend less time at the gym ;-).

20140423_171509

SAMSUNG CSC

20140423_172757

20140423_172958(0)

20140423_173139

20140423_173250

20140423_174304 Voltera 8 

Voltera 11

Voltera 14

Pisa is maybe the city in Tuscany where I have to most mixed feelings as besides the square where you have the leaning tower and the Duomo it stops… unless I overlooked things the few times I was there? Again the buildings are beautiful and you always wonder how they managed to build it??!! OK, it official now you guys think I’m a barbarian 😦 Of course when you are in the neighborhood a quick visit won’t hurt 😉 because although there nothing else to see (to my opinion) you have to have seen the real leaning tower…

20140427_122313

20140427_123300

20140427_123822

I like seeing old buildings, get thrown back in history and walk around, and I don’t want to seem like a barbarian, but a good trip isn’t a good trip without some good food and wine…I do realize that I said I wouldn’t be talking about wine anymore, but hey that’s the way  the cookie crumbles 😉 My preference always goes to asking local people where I should be eating/drinking… the more typical we can eat the better (I mean I’m not travelling to Tuscany to eat Pesto Genovese or Mexican food…) AND the nr 1 thing to avoid is the so called “tourist traps”!!!  In this case it was Guiseppe Cantoni (from Fattoria Fibbiano) who was the source of gastronomical information in the area.

This lead us to some wonderful eateries that were exactly what greedy me and my partners in crime needed :-). Already from the moment we left home Carlos was “whining” about his quest to eatthe famous “bistecca alla fiorentina” (like a T-bone steak) during this trip… His request was my demand…so we went for a search of a good Fiorentina… Result of the search Osteria La Gattaiola. When you see an Italian “mama”  in the kitchen you just know the food will be great… what I found out in this restaurant is that there are more people like my dad… I mean with the same extreme energy and always joking around (comparable with Roberto Benigni in La vita e bella)… that was a loooooot of energy in 1 room 🙂 🙂 As if the 1,2kg Bistecca fiorentina wasn’t enough food for one night, we also needed to have a “small” antipasto just to get the appetite going… (FYI, I ate something lighter O:) )

gattaiola 1

gattaiola 2

gattaiola 3

Our table for the night

Gat 1

Gat 2

Gat 4

Gat 5

Gat 6

Gat 7

Gat 8

Gat 9

Gat 11 

Another restaurant I definitely would like to mention is ristorante La vallata… where besides there very nice typical Tuscany dishes prepared only with local ingredients (mostly from their own yard including the meat as they grow most animals themselves) and in a refined way .They also serve pizza’s… but not your average pizza…  pizza normally isn’t really to call special and yet at La vallata they manage to make it something special to also only using local ingredients to top the pizza’s like with dried duck ham, or Pecorino, pears, honey and Gorgonzola… or ‘Carpaccio di Chianina Rucola e Spolverata di Cacio di Pienza’ (all pizza’s)… I think we liked the restaurant as we went there twice in 5 days :-). They also have a very nice wine list also here only local producers (they also have Andrea Boccelli’s wine on the list) or own production with a very nice Nero Puro.

Valatta 1

 

Valatta 2

Valatta 3

Valatta 4

Valatta 5

Valatta 6

Valatta 8

Valatta 9

Valatta 10

Valatta 11

A few other places to try:

Enoteca Del Duca in Volterra: very good for refined Italian/Tuscan food

Voltera 9

Il latini in Firenze : just fun to eat here… no fancy or special food, hams hanging around and eventhough there is a menu you’ll have to eat what they tell you to 😉 Also they do have a nice wine selection, but standard they open a Fiasco of wine…(unless you specify you don’t want it)

20140426_132953

20140426_133906

20140426_140628

SAMSUNG CSC

L’osteria di Gianni Brunelli in Siena: good food with a great wine selection.

I really had a great trip and I would like to thank everybody who helped making it so wonderful!!! Traveling with the right people is always great 🙂 After trips like this I really wonder why I’m still living in Belgium and working with SAP:-) ???

20140427_122728

Roadtrip with my dad: Castello d’albola

During our Tuscany trip we crossed and driven on lots of beautiful country roads, which is definitely one the reasons one should visit Tuscany (or Umbria, Lazio, or any other region in Italy)… if you miss this you’ve missed part of the Tuscany vibe to my opinion. One of the most beautiful and relaxing drives (it felt a bit like being in one of those car commercials) ,even as the driver during this trip, was towards the next vineyard we were about to visit, Castello d’albola one of the Zonin group vineyards. Arriving at Castello d’albola is as magical as driving on the roads to get there… As new as Fattoria Fibbiano was as old is Castello d’albola as it already originates from the 15th century, but only got bought by the Zonin Family in 1979. (if you want to know more about the history) The estate covers around 900 hectares of land or 900 football fields 🙂  of which 150 have vineyards on them and the rest is mostly covered with olive threes which gives you the most beautiful panoramic views. Maybe some pictures help you to convince how beautiful it is up there?? (Admitted the sunny weather made it even better)

Castello d'albola estate

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

Castello abola 35

Castello abola 20

Castello abola 16

Castello abola 6

20140424_114649

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

What I forgot to mention is that Castello d’albola is located just out of the “downtown” of Radda in Chianti one of the few towns where the production of Chianti is allowed. Maybe the first question I should ask you is what do you actually know about Chianti besides it being from Tuscany? When I say Chianti I’m not talking about the “Fiasco”, but about the Chianti Classico and Superiore. The Chianti Classico (can be recognised with the black rooster label on the bottle) and Chiant Superiore can only be produced with grapes from in Castellina in Chianti (SI), Gaiole in Chianti (SI), Greve in Chianti (FI) and Radda in Chianti (SI) and a few little towns on their borders also called sub-zones (for the Superiore grapes cannot come from the border towns). On top of the limitations on the “grape areas” there are also strict rules on the kinds of grapes that can be used to make the wine and aging rules (just like you would have rules for making Champagne, Barolo,…). A Chianti can only be called Chianti when a minimum of 80% of Sangiovese grapes are used to make the wine and if mixed with other grapes (so the remaining 20%), these grapes have to be on the list of allowed grapes like Canaiolo for example. The reason why some winemakers will be mixing Sangiovese with othere grapes is to soften the wines as the Sangiovese grape is a very strong grape with lots of tannins… The aging time must be a minimum of 7 months. I could go on talking about Chianti, but maybe this would bore you and it would take me too much off track about the actual trip 🙂

Black rooster

I do want to add one more thing. Although most wine estates will like making Chianti wine out of respect for tradition, but most estates will mostly also be making a (super) Toscana IGT where the rules are less strict and a winemaker can let himself go and be creative and show how good he actually is…

It was nice walking around the Castello d’albola’s vineyard as you can feel the history it carries around, somehow it feels like you are going back in time (but then with modern lightning and other features as a bonus) and as like it was meant to be a few motorbikes from 1915 (so from during WO I) were standing on the parking of the estate (they were from other people visiting the vineyard) … so the historical feel was even bigger. It is just unbelievable how thick the walls are from historical buildings like Castello d’albola and how isolating they are (how the keep the right temperature inside). Castello d’albola is worth the visit when you’re visit Tuscany.

20140424_121023

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC 

SAMSUNG CSC

Castello d’albola produces between 500 000 and 800 000 bottles a year (depending on the weather conditions that would influence the harvest (amount)). Part of wines ages in the old cellars, but most of the wine ages in the in 1991newly build warehouse (although I’m not sure it is the right name for it as it is more than that) which has all the modern facilities a winemaker should have to make good wine 🙂

20140424_114454

 

Castello abola 5

Castello abola 9

Castello abola 12

20140424_113724

Like all visits the best part is always the tasting of the finished product where lots of people have worked hard and long for… If only already out of respect for the ones who made it 😉 and combine this tasting with some good local salami, ham and/or cheese and you’ve got an Italian feast (my opinion, I don’t need much to be happy)

I always say my beautiful fiancée has an expensive taste, but I have to plead guilty as well as for some reason I always seem to like the most expensive wines during a tasting 🙂 🙂 (without knowing the price upfront) … FYI it is not that I didn’t/ don’t like the other wines, but the taste wants what the taste wants 😉 From the Castello d’albola gamma my preferred wines were the Acciaiolo, Il Solatio and Le Ellere as they were of a stronger character and had a fuller body with I think the strongest the Il Solatio which is 100% sangiovese aka “Sangiovese in purezza” (which in English would mean pure Sangiovese). I already feel that my home wine assortment increasing.

wines I liked at castello

The absolute star of the tasting of the wines of the Castello d’albola vineyard was I think their Vin Santo which was one of the best I’ve ever tasted (and I just can’t get enough of the cantucci cookies you dip in that wine). It was sweet, but not too sweet or sticky in the mouth.

Castello abola 34

Castello abola 24

Castello abola 23

Castello abola 22

SAMSUNG CSC

We now set sail to the Abbazia Monte Oliveto wine estate of which you will read more in my next blogpost. After that I’ll stop talking about wine and tell more about other things to do in Tuscany 🙂 (although that mostly also involves eating and drinking 😉

Roadtrip with my dad

For years my dad and I make a yearly trip (long weekend) to Italy, usually around April, with wine as the ‘central theme’… or that is the excuse 🙂 . I know I don’t need an excuse to go on a little trip, but for some reason one feels less guilty when he has an excuse 🙂 What we basically do during these trips is eating, drinking, sleeping and enjoying life combined with an occasional vineyard visit. One of the world’s biggest wine fairs “Vinitaly” in Verona has also been the destination for a few times, but I do prefer visiting a few vineyards from friends in a particular area/ region in Italy. Normally it is my dad making all the arrangements, but this year it was my turn to organize the trip which brought us to the always beautiful Tuscany… No matter how many times you visit Tuscany it doesn’t wear off… The only thing that usually bothers me is the enormous amount of tourists!! FYI, I’m not a tourist, from the moment I cross the Italian boarder I’m an Italian (double nationality) 🙂 🙂

SAMSUNG CSC

The main reason I picked Tuscany was because during 2 wine tastings in Belgium I met 2 guys whose wine I liked and their vineyards happen to be in Tuscany :-). The first guy is Lorenzo Zonin (my blogpost) who have vineyards all over Italy of which 3 (+ 1 personal from Lorenzo) vineyards in Tuscany and the other guy it Matteo Cantoni from Fattoria Fibbiano (my blogpost). What I did not realize when I was planning my trip that during this period Italy celebrated its National holiday during this period… but ok in the end all worked out anyhow (so no damage).

Fattoria Fibbiano 4

Zonin Logo

The initial plan was to sleep at the Agriturismo from Fattoria Fibbiano as it is close to lots of “must-visits” in Tuscany like Sangiminiano, Volterra, Siena, Lucca, Pisa, Firenze, San Miniato, Lari, Vinci, Calci… but due to the fact they are so popular and I waited too long to book we stayed at one of Fattoria Fibbiano’s friends (that are only 1 km away)Agriturismo Santo Pietro… so you see one excuse made room for another as I just have to return just to be able to sleep at Fattoria Fibbiano’s agriturismo 🙂 (ooooooh yeah). I have to admit that where I slept didn’t matter as long as I could see the people I wanted to see I’m happy! (in case you didn’t know it yet, I’m a people person) Another option would have been staying at Abbazia Monte Oliveto’s agriturismo (from Zonin)

Fattoria Fibbiano

Stay tuned to read more about our trip and the wonderful hospitality we got!

SAMSUNG CSC

Andalusian Roadtrip

Andalusia flag

It seems like ages ago I went on holiday, but in reality it has only been a month… time flies when you’re having fun I guess 😉 My last trip was a 2 week tour through Southern Spain aka Andalusia where people are happy, eating good food and enjoying life. Just the way I like it.

Andalusia by parador

We started our trip in Malaga that to my opinion is the perfect city to transit when visiting Andalusia as when comparing it with the other cities we visited like Sevilla, Malaga was the one that convinced me less to visit again (but this is a personal opinion of course). What we did like when arriving in Malaga was finally feeling the sun (I could use some of that right now actually) and we did have some very nice food, but more about that later

Malaga 7 Malaga 6

Malaga 5 Malaga 4

Malaga 3

Malaga 2 Malaga 1

After 1 day in Malaga we set sail to our first destination Jerez de la Frontera. One tip when you are planning a trip to Andalusia renting a car is a must!! The panoramas you get to see when crossing Andalusia are just amazing and would be a shame to miss. AND when having a car at your disposal you can stop whenever and where ever you want. For example while heading towards Jerez we drove by Gibraltar and as neither me nor my fiancee had ever seen the “Strait of Gibraltar” we decided to have a quick stop and photo moment 🙂 ooooh yeah baby!!

Gibraltar (1)

Gibraltar 2

Gibraltar 3

When me and my fiancee (and when I was younger and still traveled with my parents) travel we like to have a “base” point, so sleep in one town like in this case Jerez and travel from this base to other cities, towns… you could of course also stay in every town or city you visit, but that would be too much fuzz to always pack and unpack your luggage :-).

Although we also became a big fan of Sevilla, when thinking of Andalusia we (my fiancée and me) think of Jerez and all the beautiful towns around it that we visited…strange. Not sure why, maybe it was the visit at the Tio Pepe Bodega (as you could read in my 2 previous blogposts: post 1post 2). Or maybe was it Conil de la Frontera one of the famous “Pueblos Blancos” with its narrow streets (when you see the pictures below you’ll figure out why they call them that) overlooking the Atlantique Ocean. Conil? (Definitely the “happy place” I think about when I’m sad!!) Or the thought of walking to one of Europe’s most ancient cities like Cadiz?

Conil 1

Sometimes I really which I could just share all my mental pictures with you guys (mmm, maybe better if I didn’t ;-)) that you could see all the beautiful places I have seen during this trip!! Cadiz was maybe the biggest surprise as it is maybe the most undervalued city in Southern Spain that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. I think it is the only city I have every visited where as a tourist you can walk around and find your way without using a map. Yes sir! Cadiz has 4 different routes (each one has a different color) and to make it more easy when walking out of the Tourist office you only have to pick a color and follow the lines painted on the street. I thought the lines were only to give you a head start, but they are all over the city!! So basically you be a tourist without looking like one always looking at his map to make sure he’s taking the right street…OK, if you’re wearing white socks in white sneakers or sandals, I sure they’ll still figure it out, but besides that they won’t 😉

Cadiz 1

Cadiz 2

Cadiz 3

Cadiz 4

Cadiz 9 Cadiz 10

Cadiz 11

Cadiz 7Cadiz 6

Cadiz 5

Cadiz 8  

The lines lead you through the most important streets and make sure you see the most important sights of this ancient town. Oh and there is a nudist beach, not that I’m against saying the gifts of nature, but some pieces of nature are too rough to be explored or seen 🙂

Andalusia got a very special place in our hearts and even though it will never replace Italy, it is getting very close! Stay tuned for more about our trip in Andalusia and of course my preferred topic the food 😉

Enjoy your day!

To be continued…

My fiancée’s birthday weekend the final part

In the first part of the blog about my fiancée’s birthday weekend I told that my favorite lady chef Ingrid Neven (from Pazzo) had worked at Château Neercanne for a few years and therefore also knows Maastricht really well. Why am I telling this, well she actually gave us a tip where we had to take our apero before dinner (or sometime during the day) at the “Kruisherenhotel” winebar (from same group as Château NeercanneKruisherenhotel used to be a church that has been rebuilt into a hotel, restaurant and winebar and it is a very beautiful place combining the old elments from the church and some modern parts… Unique!  I’ll let the pictures below speak for itself. (Thanks Ingrid!) BTW you can also drink other things besides wine, it is really worth a visit.

Kruisherenhotel (2)

Lounge kruisheren

the ceiling

wine cellar

Check this link for more beautiful pictures. I do forgot one thing, I’m not sure how it was in the ladies room, but in the boys room there something special just above the urinal. What you see on the picture below is this special thing and it is actually not a real light bulb, but it is a special light effect… sorry just wanted to share this with you 🙂

light effect

For our dinner I chose to go to a restaurant called “Baumont” aka Harry’s.  Which according to tripadvisor is the 4th best restaurant of Maastricht (Chateau Neercanne was n°1).

20130406_214752

20130406_211056

20130406_211114

At Harry’s it is Lady Chef Audrey Eussen and her team try their best to give you a good culinary experience and want to show you that you can also create great njammy dishes with products from local farmers and producers…So they do their best to mostly use local products if possible. I must indeed  admit they do a good job. It is true that we had to wait a long time for our 1st course, for which afterwards they apologized a million times (these things happen everywhere). Besides that there I can’t say anything “bad”… the food was good, the wine was good, the location on itself was great and I had great company 🙂 What I do would like to say is that I think it would have been great to find more local wines on the wine list (maybe even to drink by glass), as there are so many great local Dutch and Belgian wines.  Don’t get me wrong I drank some great wines at the restaurant, but it would have been nice :-).

Chef Audrey Eussen

Anyhow  we started off with some “scallops with lardo di Colonnata and parsnip puree” which I accompanied first by a glass of Grüner Veltliner Langenlois from Weingut Summerer and after that with a glass of Muscat d’Alsace from Bernard Schneider I do think the second one was a better match (for me). As a main course I had” Limburg chicken with morel mushroom sauce and polenta” accompanied by a little nostalgic wine for me a Saumur from Langlois Château (this is why). My fiancée at the other hand had a Baby turbot with warm potato salad and green asparagus and decided to have a glass of Shiraz with it.

scallops with lardo di Colonnata and parsnip puree

Limburg chicken with morel mushroom sauce and polenta

Baby turbot with warm potato salad and green asparagus

The dishes were as tasty as they look 🙂 glad tripadvisor pointed me to this restaurant! A professional staff.  The minor part of the evening was me finding a fine under my wiper when I got back at my car 😦 Still not sure why as there were 2 contradictory street signs close to each other, but ok…. that’s life.

The next morning I just couldn’t stay in bed (I think my fiancée could) as there was soooo much sunshine coming into the room I just had to get breakfast and go enjoy the sunshine… and let’s just say that Maastricht does really look beautiful when sun is shining.  The plan normally was to rent bikes and explore the area around Maastricht, but we were just too lazy…

20130407_083044

Sunny Maastricht

My mission was accomplished as I saw a beautiful smile on my fiancée’s face (even before I gave her actual birthday gift) so I was one happy little camper 🙂 Up to my birthday now 😉

If you also feel like having a weekend like me, let the “Heart of Europe” website help you to create a wonderful weekend away and explore and beautiful piece of Europe!

The end

ooooh yeah

My fiancée’s birthday weekend part 2

In yesterday’s post I said I had already given a tip in one of my previous posts about planning my fiancée’s birthday (the link to proof I’m telling the truth), so somewhere she could have known as well :-).  It is true that on a geographical point of view the website of “Heart of Europe” is quit spread out and there are lots of nice places to visit… my choice however went to Maastricht . Why? Well I’ll be honest with you guys… Initially my plan was to have dinner at Château Neercanne  as I first I liked it there when I was there last time at the introduction of the “Heart of Europe” website and I really wanted to show this wonderful place to my fiancée and secondly because Ingrid Neven (my favorite lady chef) from restaurant Pazzo (my favorite restaurant) worked here after her studies for 3 years, so I wanted to see where she learned her basic skills… But I chose to change the restaurant as otherwise this weekend would seem more like a birthday weekend for myself and not for my fiancée (and I’m pretty sure I’ll be having another opportunity to eat at Château Neercanne).

Chateau Neercanne (3)

The only tip (besides the one on my blogpost) I gave my fiancée was that her weekend would feel like going back to school…. To mine opinion this was a really good tip 🙂 Via the “Heart of Europe” website I found hotel “Château Bethlehem” which is actually a teaching hotel and part of the Maastricht Hotel management school. So when I said it would be like going back to school, I didn’t specify for who, her or me 🙂 :-). What makes “Château Bethlehem” special is besides the fact that it are students working there (with of course some teachers around). It is also special because it is actually an old castle the they renovated and every room, from the restaurant to the rooms are all designed by twelve established and up-and-coming designers and every room is unique (there is even a room with a swing in it 🙂 ) and I can definitely say for a fact that it are big rooms. It is true that I could have picked a hotel right in the heart of Maastricht city (Bethlehem was 5-10 minutes from the city center), but I really liked their concept and the best way for the students to learn!  I’m really glad I’ve stayed here and I’d recommend it to everybody!!! BTW they also had a great breakfast (I love breakfast).  The hotel also has their own restaurant, I think I’ll be back to try it.

Chateau Bethlehem

Hotel Entrance

view from my room

Room with swing by teachinghotel

We had actually already been to Maastricht a few years ago with work, but we didn’t see too much of it as we arrived quit late… So this time we had to make up for that. Maastricht is a beautiful characteristic “little” city with lots of nice things to see and do (and for the ladies amongst you, they have lots of shopping possibilities).  A spot you shouldn’t miss while in Maastricht is the “Bisschopsmolen” is the oldest spinning water mill in the Netherlands and in the mill you get introduced the craft of the miller and see how the Spelt flour and regular flour are made. Very nice to see, but even nicer to see if the bakery itself (and breakfast/lunchroom) where they sell the most wonderful ‘Limburgse vlaaien” (I of course tested it personally) and bread all made according the original recipes! Well done Frank!! (Owner Bisschopsmolen)

Bisschopsmolen

Bisschopsmolen (2)

Bisschopsmolen (3)

Bisschopsmolen (4)

Bisschopsmolen (5)

Bisschopsmolen (6)

I know it seems like we didn’t do anything else besides eating and drinking, we did do other things but believe me if I have to describe the shops we’ve entered  my blog post would be even longer than they usually are 🙂

But the best is yet to come! To be continued ……