LDN on sea #Southbankrocks


Hotel Ravesi – Malfa – Eolian islands

We’ve seen many places in Southern Europe the past years. But this one is likely to be our best discovery so far. The Eolian islands are located North-East of Sicily. Approximately 2 hours cruise from Milazzo harbour. The archipel is composed of 7 islands. All being wether former volcanos or still very active ones. The most famous being Stromboli.

We opted for Salina island. The pictures will tell more then hundred words. But here is a non exhaustive list of adjectives i would use to describe it : suprising, impressive, wild, generous, authentic, beautiful, unknown, preserved, different.

We ended in a boutique hotel named “Ravesi” in Malfa, a small village in the Northern Part of Salina. Also one of our best stay so far. The owner, Carolina, will welcome you very warmly. She is also personally cooking both breakfast and lunch. Do not expect any gastronomy there ! But we promiss you will eat fresh, simple and enjoy ! At the reception desk is Giuliana. She is absolutely perfect and will make sure your experience in Ravesi remains unforgetable.

Book in advance as Ravesi does only propose few rooms. The one we had and the others we’ve seen are very nice. Recently remodeled with simple furniture. Most have sea view. From the terrace you will enjoy clear view on the islands of Panarea and Stromboli.

How to get there : by speed ferry’s from Milazzo harbour. Ustica line is one of the company’s which will bring you there in around 2H for 17€/person.

Where to eat : by far the best restaurant is Portobello which is located in Santa Maria, the main island’s harbour. 7KM’s away from Malfa. The fish and sea food are simply amazing as they all come from around the island. Rather expensive at around 50€ per person. But worth especially at night on the terrace. Some other options in Malfa but nothing that spectacular worth more lines. Ah yes ! Avoid the restaurant of the hotel Signum which is clearly over rated and clearly targeting the few VIP’s visiting the island.

We do have many other tips for you on what to do and see when in Salina. Just email us and we will help the best we can.

Enjoy the Eolian islands !

Restaurant “La Cambusa del Capitano”, Aci Castello – Sicily

We flew from Paris to Catania with Easyjet ( east of Sicily ) which took us 2h30. We arrived late morning and the temperature was already around 22°C. Approximately 10 more then in Paris. So the trip was already worth it ! 

We had our hotel booked in the famous “Taormina” which is around an hour drive from Catania Airport. As we were quite hungry we decided to have our lunch on the seaside and picked a restaurant recommended by the Michelin guide ( a modest one not awarded anything special ) in the little harbor town of Aci castello. The place is called La cambusa del Capitano and is ran by Chef Alfio. 

As very often in Italy, the owner and the staff came to our table quite quickly to get to know eachother, talk about their beloved island and more importantly present us the fresh fish and sea food they had that day.

Seduced by the freshness of the Calamaretti we’ve ordered a plate to share. They came fried and were absolutely succulent. “Ottimo” as you would say in italian. We were promised to a great time.

Calamaretti fritti

We then headed for the serious staff and the “primi piatti”. And naturally chose pasta. My wife had spaghetti alle vongole ( sea food ).  I had the “Gamberi e cozze” ones. Those were simply the best cooked pasta we had during our sicilian stay.

Spaghetti Gamberi e Cozze
Spaghetti alle Vongole
We finished the lunch with the classic Tiramisu. It was so good that it directly went into our stomach. So no picture to illustrate what we here pretend. 
All in all an excellent first food experience in Sicily. All ingredients very fresh. Simply but perfectly cooked. Friendly chef. And quite cheap as we’ve spent all in all 25€/person with wine and coffee.

I and Alfio !

La cambusal del capitano : Via marina 65 , Aci castello, Sicily. Closed on wednesday. 

A dream on earth called “Isola di Salina” – Eolian islands – Sicily

We’re just back from 10 days in Sicily which explains why we’ve not been posting anything new for a while. And we’ll still need some days to digest that fantastic trip and share any piece of it with you. We can already tell you we’ve discovered a preserved and authentic place. A little island part of the eolian Archipel. A place called “Salina”. Here are a couple of pictures before we can tell you more.

Pollara Beach & Cliff – Salina
Lounge bar to admire sunset – Malfa – Salina
Malfa’s beach – Salina
Portobello restaurant – Salina
Mattone di tonno – Portobello restaurant- Salina

Tons of tips on how to reach Salina, where to stay & eat, what to see….are coming soon. Thanks for your patience.

Paris je t’aime !

After more then 4 months spent in Buenos Aires and travelling around in Argentina and Uruguay, we’re back home to enjoy the European summer. Paris welcomed us last Saturday the 24th with sun and 24°C ! Since then we do enjoy a fantastic weather and spend all our days riding our city with our Vespa. We found the city more beautiful and romantic then ever and we’de like to share some of those moments and places with you in the next couple of days. Starting with “Le Jardin du Luxembourg” and our preferred market to buy food.

The market is situated on the Avenue du président Wilson ( crossing rue Freycinet ) and  is held every Wednesday and Saturday morning. Go there very early to get the freshest stuff, around 8/9 am. Go there around 12Pm for the best bargains. At the very bottom of the Market you will find “Chez Lorenzo”. Excellent fish. Very reasonable prices. Those days the “Saint Pierre” is spectacular ! The “Salmon label rouge” as well.

Going up mid way on the same side as “Lorenzo” you will find the best “cremerie” and wide selection of cheese. Those days “reblochon” and “Saint-Nectaire” are just perfect.

 Climbing up a bit on the opposite side, you will find potatoes, potatoes, potatoes ! And in season ( August to November ) the best mushrooms of the market. My favorites are of course the famous “Funghi porcini” which we call “cèpes” in French.

More parisian places soon, so stay tuned and feel free to ask for help or advices at bsimeray@gmail.com should you visit Paris.

Week end in San Antonio de Areco, Provincia de Buenos Aires

Before to grab our flight friday the 23rd of April to Paris, we spent 2 days in and around San Antonio de Areco, a small colonial town 130 Kms away from Buenos Aires. The old historical part is extremely nice. Try to visit all the “Platerias” where you will be able to buy handmade silver knives, plates….Silver IS the local speciality ! You will also find multiple options to eat well but modestly. We personally tested “El almacen de Ramos” . Excellent meat and fresh pasta. Nice Atmosphere and very friendly. Around 80 ARS ( 20 USD ) per person. We have also been recommended another restaurtant by several locals we had no time to experience. So we’ll leave that one up to you : La pulperia de Areco. Feel free to drop us your feedback.
We did spend the night at a very charming posada called “Posada de la plaza” which again several locals pointed out as the best local option. This is a family run business and you will immediately feel at home there. The rooms are spacious, rustic but well decorated. We had an excellent breakfast in the vast garden. Again an excellent service which has proven to be part of the argentinian DNA ! Go there you will have a good rest for 300 ARS ( 75 USD ) breakfast included.
We spent the second day around San Antonio, in the Estancia’s ( en el campo ). You will find many different options to experience the famous Gaucho lifestyle which is still very well preserved. We personally did visit  Estancia la bamba which has been recently entirely restored after it has been acquired by a rich French business man. Without a doubt, La bamba is the local luxury and ultimate retreat. Absolutely an amazing place but at 450 USD/night we decided to opt for a more modest and authentic one ! And we ended up by chance at Estancia El Ombù, another family run farm. The owner and the entire staff are very friendly and professional. We spent most of the day there enjoying an “asado”, meeting with some gaucho’s and passing by. 
So Enjoy San Antonio and say Hello on our behalf to all those places should you ever visit them !

A special wednesday evenning in Palermo Holywood, Buenos Aires

We yesterday went out with my wife to celebrate our 5 years of knowing each other. It was early April 2005 in Barcelona. We are not really sure about which day. Indeed we are pretty sure we just can’t remember the exact day. Anyway, we decided to celebrate those very good memories and experience a couple of good places in the Palermo Holywood district of Buenos Aires. 
We started at Olsen, located in calle Gorriti 5870. As summer is still around here in BA, we decided to have a drink on the terrace. They have an extensive Vodka list. Indeed from all over the world. And very naturally we’ve ordered 2 vodka based cocktails ( 8 to 10 USD each ). And a little picada ( equivalent of tapas ) ! Just to warm up our senses….
Then my wife had reserved a table close by at Tô restaurant. Tô was opened 11 months ago by a French young guy we’ve met yesterday, full of energy and passion. The atmosphere is very friendly. The staff impecable. The design modern while convivial. And more importantly the food is succulent. The owner calls his cuisine FRAPANESE. A well distillated mix of French and Japanese. As I normally do not pay too much attention to those marketing words, i would use the following adjectives to describe what we had : extremely fresh, very well cooked, tasty, suprising, generous, inventive, audacious.
So all in all, a very good moment. Another one i should say. Thanks to my wife. Thanks to the incredible friendliness of the Argentinian people. This is a value they have not lost so far : the art of welcoming you and making all they can so that you can only enjoy. 
Budget per head at Tô : 35USD with drinks.

Entonces, gracias a la gente de Argentina ! Que siguen asi !

Week end in Colonia del Sacramento – Uruguay

Last week end my wife invited me for a journey in Colonia del sacramento, just on the other side of the Rio de la plata when in Buenos Aires. Best to go there is by express boat from Buquebus whom terminal in Buenos Aires is located in Puerto Madero’s harbour. After no more then 45mn to an hour of cruise you will reach this small colonial town which was registered in 1995 by UNESCO as a world heritage site.

Colonia was discovered and settled by the Portuguese in 1680 before to be disputed by the Spanish. During more then a century it kept changing hands through terrible battles and treaties between the Portuguese and the Spanish. It even belonged to Brazil twice as was the North of uruguay. 
When in Colonia, there is not much to do but spending your time walking through the preserved old town ( better known as “el casco historico” ). We found it so beautiful that we could hardly stop taking pictures during those 2 days.

The visit of Colonia is proposed now by many tour operators when in BA. And many “portenos” are spending their weekend there during the spring and summer time. Go there during the week if at all possible. Be aware that many of Colonia’s old town restaurants are tourist traps and will serve very average quality and charge a premium price. 

Here is our recommendation depending on your mood and the time of the day so that you can be sure of what lands in your plate and actually discover new flavors and tastes : 
  1. “El drugstore” for lunch to enjoy an excellent “Chivito“. Uruguay national sandwich. Together with a Pilsen beer. Uruguay national sandwich. Budget 15USD per head. 
  2. “Lentas maravillas” in the afternoon. Colonia’s best kept secret. Santa rita 61. Excellent tea collection, home made pastries, great garden and delicious argentinian owner maggie. 10 USD.
  3. “La bodeguita” at night where you will find excellent home made and fresh pasta. Very good pizza as well as delicious “postres”. More importantly it offers a sea side terrace. Perfect for sunset. 15USD.
Colonia is absolutely worth a day or 2 during your trip to Uruguay or Argentina. Leave your blackberries and iPhone home, and just accept to switch off your mind. 
Hasta pronto mi querida Colonia !

A day in the Delta Tigre

Buenos Aires is a vibrant big city. More then 3 Million people are living in the very heart of BA, called Federal district. But more then 13 million in total are living in the agglomeration. While i am sure you will very much enjoy BA, this city will likely drive you crazy after a couple of days. Intense trafic, noise, pollution… All the little pleasures of a LATAM metropolis ! One great way to survive and take some fresh air is to go and discover the Rio de la Plata.
Take the train from BA retiro station ( 40 mn ) and go down at Tigre “estacion”. It’s green and very cheap. Walking distance from the Tigre station you will find the harbor from which all shuttles leave to the Delta. We strongly recommend the “Interislenas” company which is usually departing from ramp 1. Roundtrip ticket will cost you 17 pesos or 4USD. Ask the driver to drop you at the restaurant “El Borazo” where you will enjoy the best meat in the area. The “bife de lomo” and “bife de chorizo” are simply a great moment ! The trip to el Borazo will last around 1H, during which you will be able to discover the magnificence of the Tigre. Be aware. 
Last shuttle back ( above picture ) to Tigre estacion will leave from the restaurant at 6PM local time. 
Or you could well decide to spend a night in the Delta. Several boutique hotels will welcome you. One of those we know is “Rumbo 90 lodge” where you will be able to relax and discover the charms of the river at night.

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