Jet lag, Venison Stew/Pie, Edinburgh last days

And we’re back. It’s been a week and I’m now ready to finish documenting the trip. It snowed this weekend much to everyone’s surprise. But it’s sunny and beautiful out – I am grateful for no rain. It will make today’s grocery trip much more pleasant. So, the trip.

Numbers

  • 28 days
  • 8 (count’em, EIGHT) plane rides
  • 3 countries
  • 50+ km walked
  • 2 awesome shows
  • 24 kg (The weight of my backpack going Naples-London-Edinburgh; Sean’s was heavier.)

    Half pint/full pint. Guinness 🙂
  • More wine, food, and fun than two people should probably consume – but it was really good!
  • 2 happy travellers who got to be out of the country for the above mentioned 28 days
  • 1 awesome trip 🙂
  • 2.5 days of jet lag post flight home (WAY better than the 6 days of jet lag the last time we had come back from the UK. Having a day to rest after travel before going back to reality was crucial to this minimal number. But my first day back at work was amusing because I was wide awake at 4am and then I hit the metaphorical wall of tiredness (where your brain just dies) at bout 2:30 while I was meeting with my boss. She thought it was pretty funny and was very understanding – she travels a lot).)
Edinburgh – Final Days
Our last week in Edinburgh was jam packed and relaxed all at the same time. Highlights include:
  • Seeing “We Will Rock You” at the Edinburgh Playhouse
  • Dinner at Loch Fyne
  • 80’s themed Hogmanay party at Frances and Jim’s house – they collected three song choices from everyone and played EVERY one. I even got Sean (sort of) dancing. 🙂 And there was the amazing fireworks display that we saw on TV. They lit the canon at the top of the hill and the fireworks went off all around the castle. It was beautiful. We missed the torch light procession the night before as we were on our way back from Aviemore but the below illustrates the view from when we got home. As you can see, that’s a lot of torches that were eventually thrown into the mix.
Dec 30, 2011 Torchlight procession
  • Climbing the mini-mountain called Arthur’s Seat on New Year’s Day – Also a place where I nearly got blown away. It was a beautiful day though and there were more people than we expected out hiking off their Hogmanay night.
Sitting at the top of Arthur
  • Eating Lesley’s venison stew – (recipe below)
  • Eating a traditional meal of Haggis, neeps, and tatties, acoompanied by a lovely fruit wine from Scottish Winery called Cairn O’Mohr (say it fast). It was our farewell dinner – so delicious. Apparently a haggis is also a (mythical) creature. They are super cute with short front legs and long back legs (to make it easier to run up and down hills – Darwinism at it’s best).
Haggis, neeps, and tatties
  • Taking the Historic Vaults tour. They take you underground and you see how this amazing network was built and live in way back when. We had a lovely tour guide named Roger who told us about body snatchers (very lucrative back then), scandals, how the vaults were built, and why. It was fascinating.
Inside the South Bridge Vaults
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  • Learning to build and light a wood/coal fire. I was not happy about touching the coal, but it was part of the learning experience.
Me building a wood and coal fire
My fire 🙂
  • Having lunch with my lovely friend Heather and her boyfriend Dave. We had been trying to get together since Sean and I landed in Scotland, so it was good to see them. They live in Glasgow and took the train in.
The girls
After all that, Stephen took us to the airport. We were sad to leave… But it was time for London. And the “almost” fire when we landed at Heathrow that had us on the tarmac for half an hour listening to that very loud alarm. Someone decided to pull the alarm and we were never told if there was an actual fire or not in the terminal. Never a dull moment.
The next day was Covent Garden, but that will be a separate post. As will the rest of the Napoli Diaries.
Lesley’s Venison Stew/Pie
Ingredients
  • 20g dried ceps
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g pancetta or smoked bacon
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 small swede, finely chopped
  • 600g venison casserole meat
  • flour for dusting
  • salt & pepper
  • 3 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 200ml red wine
  • 1 tbsp juniper berries, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 350g puff pastry (option 2)
  • 1 egg yolk beaten (option 2)
Venison stew with mashed potatoes and green beans
Method
Pre heat oven to 200C/400F. Put cepes in a bowl and pour over 600ml of boiling water. Leave to cool. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and saute the pancetta until brown. Add the onion and garlic and continue cookinguntil golden brown. Add all the other vegetables to the panand cook until soft, then transfer everything into a casserole dish. Toss the meat in a little seasoned flour and fry until brown then add to the casserole along with the vinegar, wine, cepes and their strained liquid. Bring to the boil, then add the juniper berries and season. Add the bay leaves, cover and cook for 1.5 hours in the preheated oven until the meat is tender.
Option 1: Serve as stew with whatever you like.
Option 2: Roll out the puff pastry and cut out a round to fit the casserole dish. Place it over the dish then brush with the beaten eggyoke and bake in the preheated oven for about 15ins until the pastry is golden & crispy.
Enjoy! 🙂

Wind, rain, food

Today is our last full day in Edinburgh before we go back to London before flying home to Vancouver. I’m very sad to be leaving, but I must say, I’m not going to miss the damn wind and torrential rain… (And I’m from Vancouver.  )Windblown

Yesterday, we were meant to go to Glasgow to visit my friend Kyle and watch a hockey game, but that was put on hold and then cancelled as there were gale force winds (102 miles/hour!) across the south of Scotland and Northern England. The trains were suspended and bus service was sporadic. So we stayed in windy Edinburgh and watched the fence nearly fall over and pieces of the neighbours’ greenhouses fly in and out of the yard. And then we went for dinner with Lesley and Stephen at this lovely oyster bar/seafood restaurant called Loch Fyne. (It’s a chain of restaurants, but you wouldn’t know it.) I had steamed mussels as my main course; with the broth, they were DIVINE. All in all, a good day.

The weather has been crap for most of our trip, but it’s winter in Scotland. What can you do? A few days before we got here they had had another red alert for gales force winds (that, as it turns out, were less than yesterday’s bluster) of what was dubbed “Hurricane Bawbag” in the media. I recently discovered what bawbag means and now understand why our friend Trish was so shocked that the papers printed that on the front page… But yeah, it’s been windy and I have given up on lip gloss while I am here because even if my hair is under my hood or my toque, I still get strands stuck to the gloss.

Aviemore

Aviemore is a lovely little ski village up north in the mid-Highlands. Lesley and Stephen have place there which they kindly lent to Sean and I last summer during our honeymoon. As previously stated, the weather has been crap, so that means that there was no snow at all until our last 24 hours up north. And when we drove up to the ski hill, there were so many people ready to ski the 3 inches (if that) that were there. I do hope that it snowed some more. I’m told that even though Aviemore is a ski village, it doesn’t necessarily rely on that. So that’s good.

Anyhow, off we went the day after Boxing Day, and it was just me and the boys. Lesley had to work, but despite being outnumbered, I still managed to get a few laps in House of Bruar. HOB started out as a small shop and food store selling all things Scottish. Over the years, it has become the outlet mall for all things Scottish. It’s pretty fantastic. If I were a rich girl (la-da-di-da-di-da-da-da-da-da-da), I would have bought every single thing that caught my fancy in the cashmere and fine wool section – so soft! But I was good and only bought a few gifts, and my mother’s requested wool beret. I didn’t even buy myself anything in the sale barn(!). I’ve been on the quest for wool socks and they didn’t have any that I liked. (I ended up buying socks at the Edinburgh Woolen Mill in nearby Pitlochry – they aren’t wool but they are super warm. At that point, I just needed socks.)

House of Bruar - only one section of!
House of Bruar – only one section of!

After visiting the food market (where I found spelt bread – so random) to collect for the evening’s tea (that is what they call dinner/supper; to confuse things, the word for lunch is dinner…) ingredients and competing for a table so we could eat spicy parsnip soup in the restaurant, we continued on to the Aviemore house where we discovered that Stephen had forgotten the keys… Luckily, there is an extra set and we didn’t have to drive back.

IMG_9247

Steak pie was on the menu for dinner (with mashed potatoes, cooked carrots, and a salad by moi), which followed a starter or tureen. I’m not sure how to describe a tureen. Perhaps it could be called a mixed sausage or pate. It had venison and a few other things in it, and it was good. Very Scottish. House of Bruar cherry pie was for dessert and it was delicious.

Steak pie and veggies. Yes, I need veggies!
Steak pie and veggies. Yes, I need veggies!
Venison tureen - oddly tasty
Venison tureen – oddly tasty

Much of this month away has involved food and so it continued that way the next day. When you stay in Aviemore, you have to visit the Mountain Café (111 Grampian Road, Aviemore) at least once. They make all their menu items and baked goods from scratch and cater to the gluten free/vegan/etc crowds with most of their items. That morning, we each ate or very own mountains of blueberry-banana (Sean), blueberry (me), and cranberry-apple-white chocolate pancakes. So delicious and much needed for our hike on the Rhothymurcus Estate.

Blueberry pancakes
Blueberry pancakes
Cranberry-apple-white chocolate pancakes
Cranberry-apple-white chocolate pancakes

IMG_9272

It was windy (surprise!) and rained a bit – thank goodness for my Hunter wellies and being bundled up in Lesley’s extra rain gear! – and on the last stretch of the hike (after no deer or sheep sightings –sigh), it began to pour. And off we went to have some hearty and healthy parsnip soup and homemade bread at the estate café. (Where the car keys were lost but not really.) We made a stop at the Cairngorm Brewery (http://www.cairngormbrewery.com/) (Dalfaber Industrial EstateAviemore) (a must visit and taste in Aviemore) to pick up some Black Gold and Blessed Thistle – among other flavours – beer. And then it was time to go back and rest before dinner at the much talked about Old Bridge Inn for some Cairngorm Santa’s Sledgehammer Ale and (for me) a half pint of Guiness before a really great dinner.

Old Bridge Inn

The Old Bridge Inn (http://www.oldbridgeinn.co.uk/) (23 Dalfaber Road, Aviemore) gets its own heading because it was that good of a place to eat. It is your traditional pub in décor (including two or three dogs – they let people bring dogs to the pub. I love it.) and beverage, but the food is not your typical pub food. It’s gourmet pub food (I feel bad even calling it pub food). I will let the photos (though not the best photography, it’s the best I can do in terms of descriptions, as the website is being revamped right now). Let’s just say it was delicious.

Goat cheese and yogurt mousse with greens, pears, and baguette type bread
Goat cheese and yogurt mousse with greens, pears, and baguette type bread
Smoked venison
Smoked venison
Wild hare with smoked mashed potatoes and carrots
Wild hare with smoked mashed potatoes and carrots
Cod with mussels and steams vegetables of some sort - my main. It was fab!
Cod with mussels and steams vegetables of some sort – my main. It was fab!
Chochlate fondant a.k.a. chocolate lava cake
Chochlate fondant a.k.a. chocolate lava cake
Stephen's custard with mulled fruit
Stephen’s custard with mulled fruit

All was served with a lovely bottle of Chilean pinot noir that was chosen to compliment all of our meals and (to my utter surprise, delight, and amusement) which with ervery sip, both Sean and Stephen waxed poetic about how well it went with the hare and the cherry notes of the wine. Oh, my, gosh. My little wine snobs.

We hoofed it over to a place called The Doo Below for a whiskey and then it was a windy (again) walk back to the house. Rather unfortunately, Stephen woke up with the stomach flu the next day (NOT food poisoning or a hangover, just so we’re clear) which kiboshed visiting a distillery that day but it just meant that we all got a good rest (and watched Harry Potter 6). It snowed that day which I was thrilled about – finally, snow.

Before we headed home the next day, we went to the rather quaint in the snow Edradour Distillery (Pitlochry PH16 5JP) – another place visited on our honeymoon last summer – in Pitlochry to buy some whisky. It is the smallest distillery in Scotland and they actually make whisky that I can stomach – generally, I am not a whisky girl. And here I am in Scotland… 🙂

Christmas, Oink and Hogmanay

We got back from the Highland town of Aviemore yesterday evening and after doing a bit of work, I can think about the last week and a bit. Aviemore will have to be a different day’s writing but Edinburgh can be consise. Or at least, I will try….

Generosity has been a plenty since the moment we set foot on Scottish soil. Lesley and Stephen welcomed us and our bulky rucksacks into their guest room and told us to make ourselves at home. They are good people. And in return, we have been making a few dinners and I have been getting acquainted with the somewhat older gas range/oven for my baking.

Working

My company has an office here so my first week in Edinburgh was spent working in a very quiet downtown office. The office manager here was kind enough to reserve me a desk and the next few days were spent working 8 hours ahead of Vancouver time and meeting some great new people. I got taken out for lunch by the marketing ladies and the director for the area at this posh (My new favourite word – but only to type. It sounds better when those with a UK accent say it.), though slowly serviced restaurant called Tempus (25 George Street, Edinburgh) . They have have these mix and match bento box style lunches and when or food finally came, it was very good.

Haggis, fish and chips, fish cakes - yum!

It has been interesting working in an office where someone offers to make you a tea every morning, but hey. When in Rome… They all think I’m nuts here because I take my tea black as the night – no milk, no sugar. They call it “straight up”.

I got wonderfully – as opposed to woefully – lost on my lunch break the other day and I realized that it was the first time in a few weeks that I had been completely on my own. Edinburgh is gorgeous at Christmas time and I was lost in a beautiful city, by myself, and I was having the BEST TIME. (It’s been fantastic actually getting to spend for than two waking hours a day with my husband, but I’m sure he felt the same way I did when I was lost when he went climbing last week.)

Playing Tourist and Walking into OINK(?)

George Street

We have played tourist a bit, going to the Christmas market and drinking mulled wine, walking the Royal Mile – where I dragged Sean into almost every wool and cashmere shop – and visiting Roslyn Chapel. But we’ve also been enjoying “living” here: grocery shopping, catching the bus… Normal things. Though the shop where we had these lovely pulled pork sandwiches was anything but normal.

First, you start with the name: OINK (34 Victoria Street, Edinburgh). And then you look at the carcass in the window. And then you walk into the tiny shop and order what turns out the be a piece of “I could never be a vegetarian” heaven. The pork is so tender (just falls apart) and with some haggis and baked apples in a bun. Oh, my , gosh – I’m almost drooling just writing about it. I will let the below menu explain how you order.

OINK - The menu
OINK - The window
Excuse me, I'm eating...
Christmas Day

Christmas was the best (and most chaotic) day of our trip so far. We spent Christmas with Lesley’s extended family in the morning and then with her rather large in numbers immediate family for dinner/tea.

We woke up to our Christmas stockings – put up by Lesley when we came – full (courtesy of Santa who must have had a short but precarious tiptoe from the door and over our stuff to where the stockings were hung) of wonderful things like lotions and mini whiskey bottles. On top of that, Sean got a much wished and searched for hip flask and I got a beautiful and very soft cashmere scarf. We wore our Canucks jerseys (our gifts to eachother) and it was a really good morning.

Lesley and Stephen were thrilled with their Canada mittens, which I was so relieved about because I had agonized a bit over what we should give them. (Mind you, Stephen is an ex-pat, so we could have given him a maple leaf chocolate and he would have been ecstatic.)

We then piled into the car and began the journey of champagne (my new favourite way to start Christmas!), eating, opening presents, learning and trying to remember people’s names and playing the insane Chocolate Game and Beetle Drive. Let’s just say every soul in the room was rather competitive. It was great fun and we are still overwhlemed at the warm welcome we received that day. We received gifts from people, who had never met us, but who heard we were these nice Canadians friends coming for Christmas. Thank you McKinlay and Robertson families for making us feel at home!

Champagne for breakfast! Apparently if you add orange juice to champagne over here, it is called a Bucks Fizz - not a mimosa. Trivia question: What year did UK group Bucks Fizz enter and win Eurovision?
The chocolate game. Explanations will be done in person.

Hogmanay

Today is Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve), which is a big deal in these parts. We are going to an 80’s themed party at Frances and Jim’s house, which I am really looking forward to and we have champagne ready to go. I’m not entirely certain what to expect – I know we will have fun – but am pleased that we will be inside as opposed to out in the wet and windy city waiting for Primal Scream to come in stage. Time to attempt to stretch out my poor legs and have some lunch before party prep.

I hope everyone has a safe, happy, and fun-filled NYE/Hogmanay. Happy New Year! See you in 2012. 🙂

Christmas Favourite Things

I was listening to my favourite radio station on the internet the other day – love technology letting me listen to my station while I’m in the UK! – and they have been playing holiday music 24/7. They played “My Favourite Things” from the classic Sound of Music and I thought “Why do they play this? It’s not a holiday song…”

But then I got thinking about my favourite things about the holidays and my question was answered. 🙂

  • Decorating the tree–  Something I didn’t get to do this year, but Lesley and Stephen have a beautiful tree here in Edinburgh. When we got here, we presented them with a Canucks tree ornament, It’s pretty cute and look very happy in the tree.
A little piece of home...
  • Spending time with friends and family  – Also something that we don’t get to do this year (the family part at least – we are definitely with friends 🙂 ) but a while back when I mentioned that it would be weird spending Christmas without our families, Sean says to me – somewhat indignantly – “I’m your family.” (Awww – every now and then, he surprises me.) This is also Lesley’s favourite Christmas thing. Something I have always wished for is a BIG family Christmas. I’m an only child, and my family on the West Coast is on the smaller side compared to the Quebec contingent.   We have been promised said big family Christmas dinner with Lesley’s family in Dundee. Apparently there will be a lot of them and they’re loud, but very, very nice. 🙂 We normally have a holiday open house at our place before Christmas, but it will happen when we get back.
  • Baking (the process and the eating of) – Before we left, I hadn’t had a chance to do much holiday baking, but now that we are settled Scotland, I have made use of the kitchen. They have an older gas stove and oven, which has both delighted and baffled me. My honey oatmeal chocolate chip cookies went flat and rose at the same time. Normally they are nice and puffy. I’m thinking it’s the flour, or maybe the different kind of honey here. But regardless, they still tasted good. I had my first go at shortbread tonight and they turned out pretty good. Ugly, but good. Not post-worthy though, so I am going to try a different recipe and see I go with that.
  • Snow –  When I polled everyone, this was the first thing both Sean and Stephen siad. We never really have a white Christmas back home, but it’s nice to wish for.
  • Holiday lights – This is also Stephen’s favourite thing. They have approximately 2000 holiday lights in/out of the house. The tree, the banister, the fireplace  mantle, and outside. 
  • Holiday music– My top 12 (I couldn’t pare it down to 10)  favourite holiday songs, in no particular order:
      • God Bless the Child (Shania Twain)
      • Grown Up Christmas List (There are a few versions but my current favourite is the Michael Buble track)
      • A New York Christmas (Rob Thomas)
      • What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve (Harry Connick Jr.)
      • O Holy Night (always good by whoever does it)
      • Do You Hear What I Hear (Linda Eder)
      • Les Cloches Du Hameaux (traditional French-Canadian)
      • All I Want for Christmas is You (Mariah Carey)
      • Where Are You Christmas (Faith Hill)
      • Santa Claus is Coming to Town (Bruce Springsteen)
      • Do They Know It’s Christmas (Band Aid)
      • White Christmas (Bing Crosby) – my ABSOLUTE favourite Christmas song, ever.
  • Holiday movie – “White Christmas” hands down, my favourite – we usually watch it on Christmas Eve. Not this year though (but I will when we get home!). “Love Actually” comes a very close second.

What are you favourite holiday things?

Have a safe and merry Christmas everyone!

The Napoli Diaries Part 1

We are now in Edinburgh and because I’ve been working, it’s taken me a while to get my mental and paper notes together from Italy, but here we go…

Day 1: We had to connect in Milan (only a hardship because we didn’t actually get to be IN Milan). We had to go through security again, and thank goodness Milan went better than Heathrow. (Oh yes, I forgot about that… We are going through security at Heathrow and of course we have to take off our shoes, take the electronics out, etc. So we go through the scanner and our stuff goes through the x-ray machine. And then they put my purse on the table for furhter investigation. I’m sure you can imagine the word that went through my mind at that moment. Now I know there isn’t anything in there worth the waste of both mine and Sean’s time, but there we were while the somewhat useless security agent uses his wand thing to swab my purse and then test the swab in the machine (5 times!) for explosive type material. Both parties had to fill out forms all because they thought my iPhone set something off. And then, even now in the clear, I get taken to a room to get patted down. All I could think was “Seriously?!? – I’m going to get strip-searched because of some idiot?!?” That of course was not the case, but it was, from scan to leaving the room, 20 minutes of my holiday time completely wasted.) It was time to put the money belt on and acquaint myself with the zipper lock on my stainless steel mesh lined Pacsafe purse. Naples is famous for many things, including two negatives: the Camorra (mafia) and pickpockets. Neither were a worry while we were in the city, but during high season in the summer, the latter is something to be very aware of. But we took the precaution and I looked like I was in a first trimester or like I’d eaten too much pasta on some days. But whatever.

After picking up our bags from the baggage carousel that was painted like and looked as fast as a roulette table, we were picked up at the airport by the hotel shuttle driver, Alex. I’m sure he looked at our bags and thought “Dio mio…”. Alex spoke great English and was a wealth full of knowledge. Though it was apparently an unseasonably warm 20 degrees Celsius, Alex and the rest of the locals were dressed for winter. (Their summers are generally in the 30’s. Naples is on the coast of southern Italy and they have palm trees everywhere. I LOVE palm trees.) We were just happy to be somewhere somewhat warm.

We checked in to our hotel, the Hotel San Francesco al Monte, and the staff was lovely and welcoming. The hotel is a former monastery, and it is BEAUTIFUL. Our room was bigger and more beautiful than I had expected (you never know when you book online and get a good deal) with tile floors and a Jacuzzi(!) tub and shower. Mount Vesuvius was right in our view and it’s pretty spectacular even from far away.

We had what was meant to be a quick nap and slept through our dinner reservation at the hotel restaurant. But it was not super busy so it didn’t matter. we still got fed. 🙂 It felt wonderful to put on a dress – even if it was slightly wrinkled (Cat – even wrinked, it’s still a great dress!) – and go have a proper sit-down dinner and not be eating in transit.

Because the hotel and restaurant are in a monsatery, there’s all sorts of of radom nooks and crannies and staircases, so it took the very tired travelers that we were a few minutes to find the restaurant. They sat us down and we opened to menu to this vast array of choices. Here’s the thing about an Italian meal. There are many components: antipasti, primi, secondi – and sometimes more courses before you finally get to dessert. To be budget consious – it was expensive – and because I don’t think we were that hungry, we just ordered a primi each and a nice bottle of house red. Sean had the swordfish, and I had the spinach tagliatelle with crab meat. They were both delicious. I cannot remember the name of the dessert – so tired… – but it was all very good.

The bill came handwritten on carbon paper. As the week went on, we came to realize that this sort of record keeping system is how Italians seemed to roll. And while they are quite efficient despite the antiquated stationery, this record keeping is perhaps a contributor to the headline making financial crisis…

We slept like rocks and woke up the next morning ready to tackle Napoli and find out if the pizzeria listed in my guide book was actually the BEST pizza in the city.

Day 2: We woke up somewhat refreshed and had our complimentary breakfast back up in the restaurant. Still hard to find but this time much more fun to find. Lots of bread and pastries (yum! 🙂 ). Tomatoes, eggs, cheese, meat. And prunes, which are an understandable addition. All that wheat and meat over a lifetime and you need prunes. There was wonderful juice and great yogurt.

The girl at the front desk gave us directions to the funiculare, which is one of the modes of public transport in the city. There are three lines and each take you up/down the hills of various parts of the city. It’s very convenient and perhaps taken for granted – as we realized a couple days later . The ticket machine wasn’t working and after a conversation of hand gestures and a few common words with a station worker, we were directed across the street to the newspaper stand to buy tickets. And so began my daily routine with the lovely gentleman who runs it. He helped me fumble through my request of two day passes and made sure I saw that he gave the right amount of change for my purchase.

The first task of the day – for me, not for poor Sean – was to find the Frette shop. It is a famous Italian linen shop and when you read about what sheets celebrities have, they often say Frette. But now, I wonder: WHY? They weren’t soft and the thread count wasn’t that high. Beautiful patterns but somewhat overpriced. Maybe I’m missing something. Needless, to say, I was somewhat disappointed by this finding especially after taking the time to find it and driving Sean nuts because I couldn’t always see the street names (on buildings, often hard to see when the etching is old) on our way to find it. But I redeemed myself when we eventually found the wine shop: Enoteca Dante (Piazza Dante off of Via Toledo). It was like finding the Holy Grail of Italian wine. My trusty Frommers Napoli day trip book listed it as the best wine shop in Naples, and it did not disappoint. Wines at all prices (3 for 10 Euro – hello! – and higher), floor to ceiling in this small shop.

We bought a great Vesuvian red wine (they have a vineyard on Vesuvius – how cool is that!), and a white wine made by a winery called Verdichio. They make a white wine that my dad introduced me to a few years ago and it is in a bottle shaped like a fish. It was hilarious trying to explain what I was looking for to the man helping me in the store. Language barrier always makes things amusing. I eventually drew a picture and he expressed regret that they did not have that exact wine but one similar. I also bought my dad his requested syrah – he didn’t specify a label to me, but wanted a syrah.

We bought a corkscrew – essential – and off we went to go find pizza.

One thign that Napoli is most famous for, is that it is the birthplace of pizza. Proper margherita pizza. Bread, sauce, mozzarella, basil. That’s it. No frills. The place listed as the best in the city is Da Michele (Via Cesare Sersale). And if you can find it – it took us forever lol – it is AWESOME. Looking at the map in my book, it shows where we are supposed to go but doesn’t show the streetname on the map that the descritpion lists out. So we were going a bit blind and found this place by accident. And there was a lineup. So we took a number and waited 20 minutes for what turned out to be really, really, really good pizza. Da Michele is this small-ish place (that you can tell used to be just small way back when) with white walls and a wood stove in the back. It was hopping. We were sat next to a local couple who pointed at the menu (Margherita, marina, or doppio margherita – that’s it. For a Libra (moi) it was the best menu ever.) and told us that the doppio pizza was the way to go. The guy ordered one for himself. And no, he was not enormous. Sean and I ordered the recommended to share and IT was enormous. And so delicious. We ate more pizza at different places over the course of the week , but this was definitely the best of the best of the Neapolitan pizza fare.

After that, we were ready to go back to our hotel and rest. We probably walked about 12 km or more that day. Dinner that night was at a place down the road from the hotel and will be documented in Part 2.

It’s time to go explore Edinburgh and perhaps eat a pulled pork sandwich…

Christmas Abroad Begins and Broccoli Stilton Soup

So it’s finally happening. I’m officially on vacation/working abroad. With my husband. For a month. 🙂  The two weeks prior to leaving were, let’s say full; both at home (packing, etc) and at work with all the corporate holiday chaos and working my tail off to finish everything before I left.  And I only got partly through my holiday baking. Baking and yoga are my de-stressers, and full out yoga has been out lately because of my shoulder. So not having time to do all my holiday baking was a bit of a letdown. But you know what? I’m on holiday/working abroad now. Yay!!!! We are now in Edinburgh after a week in Napoli and I have copious amounts of photos and notes to sift through. And so, on today’s lunch break, I attempt round one.

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