Sunday, 21 May 2017

What I ate - Italy Edition


So where do I start? No seriously! There was so much food and it's hard to know what to try first. We arrived about lunchtime and we were absolutely starving, we headed to the square where there were cute cafes. We found one called Cafe Central (which is part of the Hotel Du Lac and La Dependence restaurant group) which we thought would be perfect for a light lunch. We had a panini, think mine was tomato and ham and hubby's was a different one (can't remember - rubbishy food blogger!). I had mine with a coffee (one of about a million!). The cafe was nice.

In the evening we walked along the banks of the lake, which was very relaxing, to the restaurant at the other end of Menaggio. We decided to go to La Grolla Menaggio Restaurant so we booked a table. I really wanted to try Spaghetti Vongale, so the first night I saw it on the menu and I had to try it and I have to say it was delicious! Hubby had a lovely pizza with ham, peppers and artichoke, which he enjoyed.


We decided to head over to Bellagio on the other side of the lake, for lunch and a bit of a touristy mooch. We decided to have lunch at the Hotel Florence where we had a lovely lunch, right on the lakeside. I had lasagna which had pesto drizzled over it (which made it even better I think) and hubby had a spaghetti ragu, they were both delicious. While we waited for the boat for the journey back we decided to try gellato from Gelateria Splendide because it would be very rude not too (when in Rome.....well you know what I mean). Mine was coconut and pistachio and hubby's was double chocolate with hazelnut.

In the evening we went back to the apartment after being out for most of the day, so we decided to cook rather than go out. We decided that my mushroom risotto would be easy.......errrrr finding fresh mushrooms was a challenge. I kind of felt that I had some sort of truffle hunt on or something - they were that elusive. We were both a little tired because we had done quite a lot so we had a chilled evening in.


So, we decided to pop over the border to Switzerland and have lunch. It was quite a fun experience, we had to take our passports just in case. We decided to have pizzas from Spaghetti Store as you do get such a great variety, plus it was a bit cheaper than a pasta dish. My pizza was a 4 topping combo I actually picked from a list of toppings. I had cooked ham, anchovies, mushrooms and rocket (I was a bit obsessed with it actually - had it on most of my pizzas!). OK my combo was a bit weird but it was good. Hubby had a pizza with the 4 combo but he went for salami, artichokes, mushrooms and sweet peppers (he also seemed to have artichokes on most of his pizzas). Then we walked back in the drizzle, stopping off to get a few coffees and then we saw some yummy macrons. I had a strawberry one and hubby had a chocolate one of course.

In the evening we went to Il Ristorante di Paolo which was in the square, it was Cordon Bleu but it didn't live up to expectations. It was very disappointing and the service was awful. The food was so undercooked, it was raw, and we had to send it back. Compared to the other meal that we had around the lake, where the portion sizes were generous, these portions were so small that you would need a magnifying glass. I really dislike this type of food where you pay ridiculous amounts for hardly anything. I am from the school of thought of 'fill your boots' type of food. Hubby and I enjoy our food and we don't like tiny portions. So this is definitely not one I would recommend. I nearly forgot to say what we had because it made me so cross. So mine was the risotto with beetroot and scallops (yes only 3 scallops) - it looks bigger than it was! Hubby's was lamb that was so pink he had to send it back, they then got in a bit of a strop with us for complaining. His dinner didn't come with any sides or anything. We felt so underwhelmed by our experience we thought we might make a snack when we got back. You live and learn, we will take TripAdvisor recommendations with a pinch of salt next time.


We went over to Bellagio again, we really enjoyed our time there and we wanted to try some of the cute cafes/restaurants.We had some peach Bellini's (mine was a mocktail) at Hotel Du Lac Bellagio. They were lovely.

We found a lovely little pizza place. It had a wood fired oven for pizzas which made them delicious. I had a lovely pizza, with shrimp, courgette and rocket. I think it was probably my favourite pizza of the whole trip. Hubby had a pizza with sausage meat on it which he enjoyed.

We then went and had a coffee before we went back to Menaggio. It was a Mocha Macchiato and I have to say it was amazing and I will try to find one when I'm back in England. It was soooooooo delicious, I think I could try and recreate it when we get a new
Nespresso machine (on our Christmas wishlist).

We also found some cannoli's in a cute Pasticceria Castelli and an amazing deli, which we nicknamed the singing deli, a funny group of Italian men started singing as soon as they realised we were English.

We then had another chilled evening in as we had done a fair amount in the day. We decided to have traditional Italian ragu for dinner, which we cooked together. It was lovely but very different from our British Bolognese which we are more used to. It was just lovely to eat all the traditional Italian dishes and it made me think about doing an Italian cooking class.


Breakfast was great because we bought extra cannoli's to have, they were delicious. We had a lovely coffee before heading to Tremezzo for a lovely walk around a villa and the gardens. We worked up quite an appetite so we then wandered along the bank of the lake to find a nice spot for lunch.

We had pizzas, mine had cooked ham and rocket and hubby had 4 toppings on his, which I think were olives, ham, mushrooms and artichoke.

We then had a quick drink where I got given a mocktail before we

had our last dinner where we had our first dinner (so we went back to the start). We both had mussels spaghetti but when they came they had more seafood than just mussels, but I enjoyed it all the same. We were celebrating my 8 months post transplant. That langoustine however was a bloody nightmare to get anything out of. We then shared a tiramisu (no raw eggs in that one).

We saw some amazing pastas in the deli and at the airport which I thought I would include. I was in awe of all the amazing coloured pasta (which I was furiously googling because I wish I had bought more home - annoyed with myself).


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Look Book-Italy

My Look Book may not be as glamorous as some of these other bloggers and vloggers but I tried to look as glam as I could (and I did try my best on my little budget and with my figure at this time - it's hard when my face is as round as the moon and you have as many epic fails as I do on a weekly basis!). As usual, I overpacked, so many more clothes than I needed, I really didn't know what to expect weather wise. I was so glad that I packed loads of trousers and didn't opt for shorts or shorter skirts (didn't really fancy getting my pasty legs out anyway!).

So I've included some day looks too because they were cute but casual. I think my favourite day look was my No.2 look, which was the first time we went to Bellagio, when we went for a walk through these lovely gardens at Villa Melzi. I loved these trousers, they kind of remind me of a water colour painting (these were bought for a cruise I didn't get to go on.) They are very Milan I thought (fashion capital of Italy). I paired the trousers with a sheer white shirt that had bobbled detail on, a long cream cardigan with striped detail on it and a blue little scarf that I matched to the trousers and my little blue spotty plimsolls (no idea where they are from - they're old).

I also had my velvet backpack from Primark to carry all my cameras in and my big sun hat that had sun, sea, sand on the rim and my Italian style sunglasses. I had to take my hat off while taking pics though because it kept getting in the way but I did wear it while I was walking around Bellagio. The whole outfit was from Primark apart from my Sun Sea Sand wide brimmed hat which was from Matalan. I added my little silk scarf to give it a bit of colour. I love it so much, I felt so glamorous and chic.
However I did have a bit of a #FashionFail which was rather embarrassing and a bit unfortunate (my 1st of two embarrassing fashion fails/epic fails.) Errr well where do I start? I was walking along in the beautiful garden, thinking I had done well with my look until I noticed that my trousers had split a little bit in a very awkward place at the front. So we decided to swiftly leave and head back. I then continued to wrap my cardigan around me so it wasn't noticeable.

I also liked No.4 look for the day, I wore a beautiful mint waterfall dress, I absolutely love the colour. It's very striking and great for summer parties, picnics and general glamorous social activities or just a Thursday, all the while being so effortless - lazy fashion, my kinda fashion! I paired this with my long white cardigan and my pompom sandals (which I'm obsessed with). Believe it or not that whole outfit is Primark apart from the hat (which is Matalan.)

I also travelled in these Peacock palm leaf and tropical flower jersey trousers and they are literally the most comfortable pair of trousers I think I have ever owned (apart from a very fluffy and soft pair of grey trousers from H&M when I was at school). I changed into the palm leaf trousers in the morning to have my breakfast because they are so soft (No.3 I know I'm wearing them, totally clashing with stripes but I was enjoying my cannoli too much to care #sorrynotsorry).

No.1 and No.8 are my evening dress looks, they are so beautiful and they are definitely my go-to dresses for looking very glamorous. Both of these dresses are from Amazon. Unfortunately my other #FashionFail was while wearing No.1 look (on our last evening), my beautiful red silk dress with a silk rose on the shoulder. Again I was walking along admiring the view (in my lovely new cream lace ballet pumps from Primark) and I sighed contently after a delicious meal and a lovely evening but as I did so my zip split rather spectacularly. Luckily my long cardigan came to the rescue again to cover it up, so I had to walk home rather quickly. I then tried to get out of the dress with quite a lot of difficulty before calling in reinforcements to assist and try and get the dress off (no rude jokes please) without damaging it further. I finally got the dress off before I had a panic attack. All in all it was an interesting end to the holiday. The little blue envelope clutch bag was from TK Maxx which you can see in both my evening looks, it felt very sophisticated. I really like it because it had plenty of room for all my phone camera lenses and various things I wanted to have with me.

No.6 and No.7 were the same look but you can't tell because I'm wearing a raincoat, so I included a more detailed view of my outfit choice for Switzerland. The day we jumped on a bus and just crossed over the border for lunch, which was great fun but it was so rainy and cold we didn't do much exploring. We did have some nice pizzas and coffees though. I wore my mint green summer jumper which was lightweight, my light pink jacket and a little scarf to bring the colours together. I then had to wear my lightweight raincoat over my outfit which was annoying but it kept me dry. I wore my white jeggings from Primark which I kept clear of any spillages and then paired the whole outfit with my flowery plimsolls which I think were from Shoe Zone.

My last look is No.5 which was I thought cute for a day of exploring, it was my tulle black floral skirt and my silk scarf with pink jacket, all from Primark, and I recently bought an off the shoulder white summer top which was from TK Maxx (not pictured). I loved the scarf because it looked quite Italian. I wore this on another visit to Bellagio.

I think I had a few other looks but these were my favourite ones. I wanted to do another Look Book because I did really think about my outfits and shopped for specific items to take to Italy. I didn't want to look like the chubby British girl alongside the slim and elegant Italian ladies.

Anyway got lots more blogs to do for Italy so best get on,


Sunday, 7 May 2017

Cooking with me-Chilli, tomato prawns

So I'm sure you may have gathered I love to cook and I have some favourite dishes I like to cook. One of my favourite dishes to cook is from my Easy Pasta cookbook, chilli and tomato prawn spaghetti. We always cook a massive portion so we can have it over two days because we love it so much. I would recommend it to everyone but the recipe does call for 5/6 cloves of garlic so if you're not a fan of garlic you can definitely reduce or leave out the garlic. We love it though so we put it all in (so don't stand downwind of me because all you will smell is garlic-eeeek!).

In the pic above I have used our new pepper mill which is in the shape of a baseball bat (which is actually quite cool - I think!). Hence the pose of me holding it like a baseball bat.....just in case you thought all that garlic had sent me loopy!! I also used my lovely wooden cookbook stand which is just perfect because we do use a lot of cookbooks, not just recipes on the iPad (I seem to collect cookbooks - slightly obsessed!).

I also love chopping my herbs with my double handled knife/blade - it just seems to cut fine with an easier rocking chopping motion. I also like to serve it in my blue, square dish which I got one Christmas and I love it!! It would feel weird now to serve the dish in anything else - lol!!

Right so the recipe is pretty simple.

You need:

  1. Prawns (a lot of them for a family of four or if you have a 6ft 2in husband!!)
  2. Can of chopped tomatoes (don't use passata - you need the texture of the tomatoes at the end)
  3. Garlic cloves, up to 6 (depending on if you like garlic and you don't work in close proximity to people - I put in 5/6)
  4. Chilli (red - deseeded if you still want to feel your tongue after but it's up to you! You may need a pint of milk with it though!) 
  5. Oil - to fry the garlic and release all of its flavours.
  6. Pasta - spaghetti/tagliatelle (anything, but long pasta works well I think personally) 
  7. Oooh and fresh parsley (nearly forgot that - sometimes I have - ooops!!)

  1. Put the oil in the pan and add the garlic - fry for 2-3 minutes to release its flavour 
  2. Then add the tomatoes and simmer to reduce the sauce.
  3. Add the chilli to the sauce and let it simmer, stirring regularly
  4. Once the sauce has reduced add the prawns right at the last minute (put the pasta on while sauce is simmering!!)
  5. Sprinkle fresh chopped parsley into the prawns (remember to save some to sprinkle on top to serve to look pretty)
  6. Serve and then sprinkle parsley on top to make it look pretty, then just grab a plate, fill plate and then stuff face accordingly (haha - it's hard not to with this dish!!)
  7. Enjoy!!
That's a bit of a rough guide but as I say I feel it's pretty simple!!

I am going to start this as a regular thing - cooking with me! I really enjoy cooking and I love sharing my ideas and recipes I enjoy!!

Right Toodles XX