Gandarias is always bustling and we loved the variety and abundance here. The must-try pintxo here is the Solomillo - a juicy chunk of beer sirloin on bread topped with green pepper and a sprinkle of Maldon sea salt.
You won’t find pintxos on the bar at Borda Berri. Instead you’ll order raciones (think small plates). The menu changes frequently and we spotted four signatures on the menu. 6-hour cooked PX veal cheek in red wine, puntalette risotto with idiazabal Basque sheeps cheese, squid in its ink ravioli and crispy pig's ear with romesco. Chilled Txacoli to wash it all down did the trick.
It’s all about sardines and anchovies pintxos here at Bar Txepetxa. They make them to order with unexpected toppings. The fish is prepared freshly, delicious silvery fillets marinated, not salted, and placed atop bread and your choice of…
Jardinera – red and green peppers salsa, guindillas, onion
Crema de Centolla – creamy spider crab
Foie y Compota de Manzana – foie gras and apple sauce
Huevas de Erizo de Mar – sea urchin roe
Huevas de Trucha – trout roe
Pate de Oliva – olive pate
Arándanos – blueberries
Coco – coconut
Papaya – papaya
Bocarta – salted anchovy and piquillo pepper
Salmon – salmon
Salazon – salted anchovy
The signature dish at Bar Zeruko is La Hoguera - The Bonfire. Served on a mini bbq of smoking coals, you’ll cook the tender sliver of cod yourself. Served with herb mayonnaise and a test-tube shot of liquid salad. We tucked into pintxos here whilst waiting for a spot at Bar Nestor. Also try the zucchini flowers stuffed with cheese and creamy sea urchin.
Finish your pintxo crawl through Old Town at La Viña. Opened in 1959 by Eladio Rivera and Carmen Jiménez, this institution is now run by their son Santiago Rivera. You’ll be lining up for their famous burnt Basque cheese cream cake. It’s the stuff of legends and perfect with a glass of Pedro Ximenez. Get there early and go every night. I’m still dreaming of this a year on.
Paco Bueno is a stand-up pintxos bar, run by the sons of a famous Basque boxer of the same name. The walls are heaving with framed pictures of him in action. The locals come here for a beer and gambas en gabardina, tempura-like prawns on sticks, for only €1.75. Find a spot at the bar, order a beer and prawns and wait for them to come out piping hot. The bocadillos, sandwich made with Spanish bread much like a baguette, are great value too if you are looking for breakfast.
Inspired by American-style burrito joints in San Francisco's Mission District, Muchachos slings Mexican eats from noon til midnight. Located on Keong Saik Road where all the cool kids hang... you'll find Burnt Ends by Perth chef David Pynt, the Singapore iteration of Potato Head and Spanish tapas joint Esquina.
Sex & Drugs & Pinot Noir. You’ll spot wine lovers repping the coveted Noble Rot tote bag all through London.
Only a few days in London? Make time for this exceptional spot deep in Lamb’s, Conduit Street.
J&A Cafe is tucked in a courtyard between Clerkenwell Road and Great Sutton Street housed in an old diamond-cutting factory. Homestyle cooking with an Irish-edge makes it a nice little spot for a hearty brunch.
Iain Mellis Cheesemonger has been going strong for over 25 years. Located on Edinburgh’s charming Victoria Street, a curving strip of cobblestones with plenty of old-world charm. You’ll find walls of cheese and wine by the glass, making it the perfect pit-stop whilst discovering the old town.
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” – Ernest Hemingway.
Oh Paris! This is my second tryst with this captivating city and I look forward to the next. With only two nights in the city of love to end our European summer holiday, we avoided the typical landmarks and tourist traps, exploring the city on foot heading instead to dining hotspots. I hope you enjoy this travel guide. Just comment below with any questions!
STAY | GRAND HOTEL AMOUR
📍 18 rue de la Fidélité
Grand Amour Hotel is located on rue de la Fidélité in the 10e, an upcoming neighbourhood fast becoming the place to be. You'll spot the tell-tale blue, red and white frontage and by night, the hotel's bar Petite Amour bursts with bodies across the road. Co-owned by Thierry Cos and designed by graffiti artist cum nightlife kingpin André Saraiva (Le Bain and Cafe Henrie in NYC, The Friend in LA, Le Baron in London).
Don't be offended by the erotic photographs, mainly of the designer himself, and the sex hyped details (yes that means vagina patterned carpet and a well endowed wooden carving of Mickey mouse in the lobby). You'll find 42 unique rooms (and one apartment) inspired by travels from across the globe and a hip pink washed restaurant.
We stayed in the Apartment which was perfect for three at 340,00 € per night (approx AUD $532 per night). The boutique hotel experience is so much more personalised. I love the attention to detail, being greeted by postcards and welcome notes on the bed and the Hermes bath products. You truly are treated as an individual and not just a room number. It may be a little pricier but is certainly worth it... treat yo'self! Read my blog for all the pics.
BAKED DELIGHTS | COLIN REGIS
📍 43 Rue Montmarte
When my sister’s Parisien friend shared a little insider info… ‘the best boulangerie-patisserie in Paris, in my humble opinion’, naturally it was our first stop. Order up and find a park bench to share your baked goods. Recommend arriving early as stocks were running low in the afternoon. Read my blog.
BAKED DELIGHTS | STOHRER
📍 51 Rue Montorgueil
Paris' oldest patisserie opened in 1730 by pastry chef Nicolas Stohrer, the pastry chef for Louis XV of France and his wife, the daughter of the king of Poland. Centuries on, Stohrer remains one of Paris' most distinguished. We stocked up on an eclair, strawberry tart, cannelle and mille feuille and enjoyed back at le apartment. Read my blog.
CHEESE DREAMS | LA FERMETTE
📍 86 Rue Montorgueil
Cheese heaven! The best thing about staying in an AirBnb (or in our case Le Apartmentt at Grand Hotel Amour) is finding local produce and creating the ultimate grazing platter. The owners of this fromagerie were incredibly friendly, the gatekeepers of cheese heaven. Buy your weight in cheese and meats then head down the road for plump raspberries and fresh apricots. Read my blog.
SHOP | LA BOVIDA MAGASIN LES HALLES
📍 36 Rue Montmartre
Gourmands, home cooks and chefs alike will fall in love with La Bovida. A two storey kitchen supply store brimming with every culinary utensil, tool and gadget you may never need. Definitely worth a visit, although very very pricey.
☕️☕️ | MATAMATA COFFEE
📍 58 Rue d'Argout
Paris is good at many things and coffee certainly is not one of them. Luckily though, Matamata is serious about coffee.
EATS | GRAND HOTEL AMOUR
📍 18 rue de la Fidélité
The Restaurant at Grand Hotel Amour is straight outta a scene from a Wes Anderson movie, event Refinery29 UK thinks so. Enjoy breakfast, a lazy lunch or glass of wine at dinner. The restaurant rolls easily from morning into night. Such a chic spot in Paris' favourite 'love hotel'.
EATS | LE COMPTOIR DE LA GASTRONOMIE
📍 34 rue Montmartre
You can’t go wrong with Les Classiques at Le Comptoir de La Gastronomie. Try the house made duck foie gras (any which way.. the carpaccio version was popular amongst diners) terrine with toast and chutney, Foie gras ravioli with truffle sauce, Shepherd’s Pie with duck and mushroom sauce and an obligatory serve of bourgogne snails. Read my blog here.
EATS | LE DAUPHIN
📍 31 Avenue Parmentier,
A hip bar serving Spanish-style tapas. You’ll love the marble everything and floor to ceiling mirrors. Very chic, very disco and right next door to Le Cave and Le Chateaubriand. This little strip is a must-do. Read my blog here.
EATS | LE CHATEAUBRIAND
📍 129 Avenue Parmentier
This stylish bistro run by self-taught Basque chef Iñaki Aizpitarte, came highly recommended by my friend, gourmand and all round good guy Max Veenhuyzen. His list of the world’s best eating haunts and cultural must eats is coveted and FK I'm lucky to have such generosity on tap. Sir… I salute you.
Le Chateaubriand was incredible! 70 Euros for the 7 course menu, 135 with matching wines.
DRINK | MAISON SAUVAGE
📍 5 Rue de Buci
Find a spot streetside, order cocktails and watch the world go by.
EATS | AU PETIT FER A CHEVAL
📍 30 Rue Vieille du Temple
Holiday dilemma #496… should your last meal be traditional cuisine of the destination? For us, the answer was yes. So we found a stylishly shabby old bistro, Au Petit fer a Cheval in Le Marais, that has likely not changed the menu since 1963. Soup du jour, Steak tartare, Duck confit and Beef bourguignon satisfied that calling for traditional French fare. Read my blog.
WISH LIST | FOR NEXT TIME
Experimental Cocktail Club
Le Bon Marché
Le Mary Celeste
This stylish bistro run by self-taught Basque chef Iñaki Aizpitarte, came highly recommended by my friend, and all round good guy Max Veenhuyzen. His list of the world’s best eating haunts and cultural must eats is coveted and FK I'm lucky to have such generosity on tap. Sir… I salute you.
Le Chateaubriand was incredible! 70 Euros for the 7 course menu, 135 with matching wines.
Step back in time to medieval Scotland. The Witchery is located in a historic 16th century building, close by the gates of Edinburgh Castle and home to nine fantasy hotel suits and an outrageously theatrical restaurant. The Witchery by The Castle is a enchanting with its secret garden, dark wooden panelling and candelabras, the charming details inject an air of romance and mystery. A nice little spot to stop whilst exploring the Royal Mile.
You can't miss Grand Hôtel Amour. A grown up version of the original Hôtel Amour. By day, you'll spot the tell-tale blue, red and white frontage and by night, the hotel's bar Petite Amour bursts with bodies across the road, glowing under the flickering neon.
Located on rue de la Fidélité in Paris' 10th Arrondissement in a hip part of town and designed by graffiti artist cum nightlife kingpin André Saraiva (Le Bain and Cafe Henrie in NYC, The Friend in LA, Le Baron in London). You'll find 42 unique rooms (and one apartment) inspired by travels from across the globe and a hip bistro just made for Insta-envy.
The Apartment felt like a home away from home, just with room service and a risqué portrait of Vivienne Westwood.
High on Monte Tauro on the east coast of Sicily sits the resort town of Taormina. With sweeping views of the Ionian Sea, Mount Etna as its backdrop and an ancient Teatro Greco ‘Greek theatre’, this seaside location is the perfect escape for a taste of Sicilian dolce vita.
We packed a lot into our three nights in Taormina thanks to travel tips and recommendations from friends. I hope this list keeps you satiated.
STAY | HOTEL VILLA BELVEDERE
📍 via Bagnoli Croci, 79
Hotel Villa Belvedere has all the charms of a traditional Sicilian private villa with its terracotta floors and parlour rooms. Nestled on the cliffs overlooking the Bay of Naxos and Mount Etna and only a short walk to the town. We loved our three night stay here. Read my review here.
SEE | PIAZZA IX APRILE
📍 Corso Umberto
The main square of Taormina is Piazza 9 Aprile, the heartbeat of the town. Named after an important date, 9 April 1860, when mass in the Taormina cathedral was interrupted to announce that Garibaldi had landed at Marsala to begin his conquest of Sicily. Avoid the overpriced cafés that line the square, find a bench and enjoy some people watching whilst taking in the views.
SEE | TEATRO GRECO
The ancient Greek amphitheatre hosts almost all cultural events in Taormina. What a spot for a film festival?! HEAVEN.
The construction of the Teatro Greco dates back to the third century BC and is an awe-inspiring historical sight. Plus you'll love the stunning backdrop of the Calabrian coast, the Ionian coast of Sicily and Mount Etna.
SEE | VILLA COMUNALE
📍 Via Bagnoli Croce
Wander through the stunning public gardens to escape the hustle. Created by English aristocrat and conservationist Lady Florence Trevelyan in the late 19th century. Take a book and enjoy this lush paradise overlooking the sea.
SWEETS | GELATOMANIA
📍Corso Umberto, 7
Look, I’m no gelato expert but I’m about two years into my Chicho Gelato addiction. That weekly hit of the good stuff has certainly refined my palate. Of all the gelato I tried in Taormina, Gelatomania was by far the best. Nearby town Bronte grows the best pistachios in the world, so make sure you get a scoop!
SWEETS | PASTICCERIA MINOTAURO
📍 via di Giovanni 15
A local pointed out this little pastry shop. The glossy fruits will dazzle you if you’re a marzipan fiend. Otherwise go for the stuffed cannoli and keep going back until you are dead certain you’ve found your fave flavour.
SWEETS | BAM BAR
📍 via Giovanni di Giovanni, 45
An absolute must. This bright and lively granita bar is a favourite with locals and tourists. Endless granita flavours with in-season heroes. Order the Granita con Brioche… eat like the Sicilians by tearing off the brioche and dipping it past the cream into the granita below to get the full experience. YUM!
EATS | TISCHI TOSCHI
📍 via Francesco Paladini, 3
Cutest name, best little spot! My friend Alicia raved about this hidden gem. Tucked away from the main tourist drag, Tischi Toschi is a family-run trattoria with a focus on slow food. The limited menu changes with the seasons and you’ll find an interesting take on regional specialities. Dive into the wine list and let them steer you towards the local Sicilian winemakers. You have to order the baked goat cheese. Out of this world… salty, stringy, hot and loaded with garlic and herbs.
EATS | TIRAMISÚ TRATTORIA
📍via Cappucini, 1
Another gem from my friend with the good tastebuds. Tiramisu is located nearby Porta Catania and has an intimate and cosy vibe.
Staff were hilarious… this guy thinks he is a dead ringer for Vin Diesel. Go for the jokes, Risotto alla Marinara and Linguine Polpa di Ricci (sea urchin) and stay for its namesake, the tiramisu.
EATS | PIZZERIA VILLA ZUCCARO
📍 5 Piazza Carmine
This open-air pizzeria was absolutely heaving. Love the bustling vibe and watching pizza pans fly by. Beautiful big pies cooked the Neapolitan way. I have a soft spot (yep that jiggly bit around my waist) for cheese, so the quattro formaggi was my pick. Loved the prosciutto and pistachio number too. Wash it down with an Aperol Spritz. Mangia mangia!
WINE | AL GRAPPOLO D'UVA
📍 via Bagnoli Croci, 6
You'll find charming enotecas dotted through the town. We stopped in for prosecco at Al Grappolo D'Uva before dinner. Highly recommend having an early dinner and then settling in for the evening, letting the staff talk you through the local and natural wines.
Hotel Villa Belvedere has all the charms of a traditional Sicilian private villa with its terracotta floors and parlour rooms. Run by the Bambara-Pécaut family since 1902, Belvedere occupies a 19th century villa, nestled on the cliffs overlooking the Bay of Naxos and Mount Etna.
Right next door to the stunning botanic gardens ‘Garden of Villa Comunale’ and only a short walk to the town centre, made it the perfect launchpad for our three nights in Taormina. Our seaside room was set for three which made it a little tight but comfortable. We could peer out to the ocean and look down upon the sprawling gardens and azure pool from the Juliet style balcony. By day, we soaked up the sun poolside so a simple room was all we needed for afternoon snoozing (and digesting).
We booked direct (€455 per night) and scored a complimentary lunch which we enjoyed on the first day. Whilst third party booking sites can lure you in with cheaper prices, try to book direct as hotels will generally price match and dangle a bonus or two.
Staff were uber friendly and the vibe was chilled and approachable. If we had more time, I would have curled up with a book in the lounge areas every afternoon after pool-time. I loved waking up with the sun, watching the seaside slowly rouse and leisurely walk downstairs to breakfast. There’s nothing like that morning reminder... yesssss, I’m on holiday. The buffet breakfast was overflowing with sweet and savoury options and hit the spot.
Thinking of a few nights in Taormina? Highly recommend staying here whilst you tackle the town and all the eats on offer. Check out my travel guide hit-list here.
Owned by doughnut dreamer Jordan Cash and Executive Chef Rags, Cartems has grown from an idea, to a pop up shop that simply couldn't keep up with demand to the donuterie is is today, boasting three locations in Downtown, Main Street and Kitsilano.
Artisanal doughnuts galore! Including glazed, cake, raised-yeast and huzzahhhh gluten-free! I loved the cakey Honey Parmesan for glutards and the seasonal Christmas beauties. You haven't been to Vancouver if you don't walk around with a beautiful red box full of the good stuff under your arm.
Smokestak is a cult street food success story. Opening its bricks and mortar digs on Scatler Street in Shoreditch in late 2016. Serious about cooking damn good meat, the smoker takes centre stage. Order up.