Le Mani in Pasta (Rome, Italy)

I’m going to be 100% honest when I say that we included a night in Rome during our honeymoon just so we could eat at Le Mani in Pasta, finally, after having discovered it in 2010 and not being able to eat here at that time. I wrote about our evening in Trastevere right here. To say that we had high expectations after 4 years of anticipation would be a gross understatement.

This time, we were taking no chances on eating here. We had our hotel (the Abitart) make a reservation for us immediately upon our arrival and headed to the Trastevere neighborhood early to have a quick glass of wine nearby before dinner.

We arrived to the unassuming, bustling restaurant five minutes prior to our reservation time and they were getting our table ready. To pass the time, we busied ourselves with reading the menu and planning our attack. Do not let the fact that the font is in Comic Sans fool you. They’re serious about food.

Le Mani in Pasta

Planning our attack.

We then were shown to our table, and walked approximately 5 steps inside the venue and took our seats, sitting just inside the front windows.  Our cheerful server greeted us with menus and the wine list, and our Roman culinary adventure commenced.

Le Mani in Pasta

Waiting for the culinary bonanza to begin!

We brought our appetites that night. Our first real meal since our wedding reception night (which, as many of you married folks know, is usually not a night where you actually get to eat a lot – being insanely busy), we threw down on some serious Italian and Roman specialties. It was the survival of the fittest. You’ll see why. Continue reading

The Ultimate Mendoza, Argentina Travel Map

I had too much fun creating my Ultimate Dublin Travel Map, and so now I present to you, the Interwebs, my dear readers, my Ultimate Mendoza, Argentina Travel Map. This is only my map of the City of Mendoza, and doesn’t cover my favorite spots in the surrounding countryside (hello, bodegas (wineries) and vineyards!) – that stuff will be coming sooner than later.

How to use this map:

View the map bigger by clicking the bracket window-looking icon in the upper-right corner, next to your photo/avatar. Save the link to your phone if you’re traveling – I think it might be handy (but that’s just me!). Use the layers to toggle between stuff that you’re looking for – I’ve grouped them in Sightseeing, Restaurants and Bars, Hotels, Shopping and Entertainment and Services & Tourism info, or Continue reading

Top 15 Reasons to Love Dublin, Ireland

Dublin, Ireland is one of my favorite cities in the world. There are several reasons for this. And, without further ado – here are my…

top 15 reasons to love Dublin, Ireland

  1. Its Size

    Population-wise, Dublin has about 527,000 inhabitants, and covers an area of about 44.4 square miles. Much of what a tourist wants to see and do is packed into only a few square miles in the city center and this results in a very accessible, walkable town.

     

    Samuel Beckett Bridge, Dublin, Ireland

    View of the Millennium Spire through the Samuel Beckett Bridge

    I’ve spent a day walking one end to the other – starting around the Grand Canal Dock at Samuel Beckett Bridge and strolling along the Liffey all the way to Phoenix Park and Kilmainham Gaol. It takes a few hours if you stop here and there to see the sights, and it may not be great if you have older folks in your group, but it’s a definite plus that you can see most of the sights on foot if you want.

  2. Ease of public transportation

    You can take public transport all around the city and skip taxi cabs all together if you like. Take the DART from the outer neighborhoods to Tara Street and you’re smack in the middle of Temple Bar, for example. Or, take the DART out of the city to Malahide or Howth and take in the beautiful sea views.

    The Luas, a relatively newer light rail system, hits the city’s shopping streets north of the river, but it doesn’t go many other places that a tourist would want to visit.  Nevertheless, DART and Luas tickets are cheap and are a great option for travelers who are solo or are in small groups (when splitting a taxi doesn’t make sense).

  3. Direct flights to Dublin from many cities

    Dublin’s status as the capitol of Ireland and a tourist destination means that it’s easy to get to from many world cities. There are direct flights daily from the U.S. cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and Orlando, for example.  The best airlines to get you there would be Ireland’s own Aer Lingus, or the other major carriers like Delta, American Airlines/US  Air, and even Emirates. I love Aer Lingus personally because you start getting the hospitality and flavor of Ireland the minute you step foot on the airplane.
    Continue reading

La Mere Valletta

Eating Indian Curry in Malta at La Mère (Valletta, Malta)

La Mère restaurant (“The Mother”) in Valletta, Malta was recommended to me by a friend whose brother lives in Malta after I asked my Facebook friends whether they had any suggestions on where to eat lunch on the island.  We checked out the website and ended up adding a lunch here as a registry item on our Honeyfund. Our friends ended up purchasing it for us as a wedding gift and it was fantastic!

This eclectic food haven is a bit difficult to find and is located in the middle of the walled city a few blocks tucked away from the more crowded, touristy areas. Admittedly, it took us a bit of wandering, iPhone map usage and some bickering to find this place.  We showed up right before they opened  for lunch, which was lucky because we were STARVING, hot, and ready to eat some spicy food.

La Mere Valletta Malta

A welcoming entrée…

We stepped inside into an adorable little restaurant adorned with jewel-toned glass lamps and lanterns with wooden tables and bright colored accents throughout. Continue reading

Alla Vecchia Bettola (Florence, Italy)

Our Florence hotel concierge  (Cosimo at Villa Tolomei) recommended Alla Vecchia Bettola for dinner one chilly, late October night during our honeymoon and it was just what we were looking for.  The name itself means “The Old Tavern”, and it definitely has an old, rustic feel to it.

It’s not romantic by any means, with its communal tables, frantic energy and bright lights, but the food here was excellent and the unlimited red table wine was a fantastic deal (4 euros per person?). This is truly a place where locals eat, but there are travelers here, too.

Be prepared to exercise your Italian food vocabulary muscles or to ask a lot of questions of the waitstaff when trying to figure out what you want to eat. Some are very familiar, and some are extremely foreign (even to me, who grew up eating Italian food and going to Italian restaurants since before I could even speak).  We asked for a few explanations of some of the dishes, and the waiters, while somewhat rushing through responses, were as helpful as they could be in helping us craft an Florentine dinner of epic proportions. Continue reading

Salumeria Verdi aka Pino’s Sandwiches (Florence, Italy)

I was really wary of Salumeria Verdi, aka Pino’s Sandwiches in Florence, Italy, based on all of the great reviews on TripAdvisor. “Oh, it’s going to be a bunch of American students and full of tourists,” I thought. “There’s going to be a line out the door and we’ll need to wait forever.”

Well, maybe that’s not all WRONG (the place quickly filled up with American students living abroad and their visiting families), but with one of these sandwiches in front of you and a cold glass of beer in your hand, those thoughts float into the salami-scented vapor and you are in food heaven. It’s no wonder this place has been around since 1900. Yes, 115 years. Pino’s been in charge for more than 20 of those.

Side rant: In Italian, the word for a singular sandwich is “panino”. Plural, it is “panini”. Don’t use the term “paninis.” Ever.

Pino himself greeted us as we came in and we hit it at JUST the right time, so there was no line out the door and there were plenty of tables to sit at. It must have been early in the scheme of lunch things because I was practically salivating all day, thinking about going here. Continue reading