On a recent Tuscan break we discovered on a menu, Spaghetti Ubriachi, literally translated as “drunken spaghetti” but actually being spaghetti cooked in red wine. We came across it in a wonderful family run trattoria high on the hills of Montecatini Alto, where, in broken English, the waiter promised us it was made by mamma in the kitchen in the same way she has been making it for years.
A few nights later we tried it elsewhere, and a few nights after that somewhere else, but none could compare to that original dish which was rich in red wine, perfectly balanced with salt from the pancetta with the sweetness of the caramelised onions. Itching to replicate the dish we scoured the web for the recipe, finding versions of drunken spaghetti and versions of spaghetti with pancetta and red onions, but none that combined the two. Taking the best of all of these we’ve come up with a dish, which we think, is as close as we’re going to get to that Tuscan original:
PART 2: PENNYHILL PARK HOTEL, SURREY
A couple of months after Cowley we took the opportunity of a bank holiday to visit Pennyhill Park Hotel and Spa in Surrey, about an hour outside of London. Home to the English Rugby training grounds and regularly commended in the ‘Good Spa Guide’, we thought we’d add it to our list of places we’d visited.
As our readers should know by now Elldrew are great fans of weekend breaks, especially to the English countryside. Planning a leisurely drive away from the city for a few days is the perfect way to recharge one’s batteries; no crowded airports with long check-ins queues, 4 hours of your life lost on a 45 min flight to go only a few hundred miles away. Why not hit the road, setting the pace and schedule on your terms and take in the ever-changing view from the comfort of your own pilot seat! Despite not being half way through 2015 Elldrew have been lucky enough to take advantage of three mini getaways…so here’s what we have been up to.
PART 1: COWLEY MANOR, GLOUCESTERSHIRE
The great British public has a reputation of forming orderly lines with no notice, but sometimes the clue is in the queue. On a recent drive to the Cotswolds we stumbled across The Telegraph’s online ‘insiders guide’ to the best places to eat in the area; from typical pub grub to fine dining restaurants. As we were staying near Cheltenham we searched a 30 min radius drive from our hotel so that we could stop for lunch before the usual 3pm check-in time.
We’d heard Cheltenham was a nice place to visit (we guessed it must have something to offer other than the famous steeplechase horse racing as it has the fourth-highest rate of multi-millionaires in the UK living there) but after looking through the restaurant list we weren’t overwhelmed…the closest venue we liked was Jamie’s Italian…so we decided to continue our search. We decided on the quaint village of Cirencester and deli-café-bistro ‘Made by Bob’.
We do love to look out for our monthly hotel and destination eshots from the likes of Tablet and Mr & Mrs Smith…we are always interested to find our next hotel getaway ideas either locally or abroad. One of the latest offerings is the boutique B&B hotel The Reading Rooms in Margate.
So the final leg of our Mallorca holiday was spent mostly poolside at the Melia Victoria Hotel, situated on the Paseo Marítimo seafront palm-lined promenade and marina, a few minutes taxi drive from the town centre. The old town is a wonderful spot to just walk and let yourself get lost. Jostle with fellow tourists as you take in the cobbled backstreets filled with tapas restaurants (there are a great range of bars and restaurants that offer alfresco dining, either in hidden courtyards or on street corners and squares), or pop into one of the many clothing boutiques or bespoke art galleries. Also an ideal place to people watch. We headed 15 mins walk west to the borders of the old town, away from the main tourist area, and found a street (Carrer de Sant Magi) offering a great choice of international restauarants…a spot of Japanese was well needed after a week of tapas and pasta. Not to be missed is a tour around the massive and striking Gothic cathedral, with its adjoining palace and gardens. And just a few minutes drive along the coast why not search out a spot for sunset cocktail in one of the many quaint village harbours and ports. We will be back, hopefully soon.
When on the west coast of Mallorca once must stop at Deia; a quaint little village high in the hills that has attracted the rich and famous for many years. The exclusive La Residencia Hotel is a favourite destination for Hollywood celebrities and European royalty. Michael Douglas/Catherine Zeta Jones, as well as Pierce Brosnan, have a holiday home in the area (our driver pointed out Pierce’s). Elldrew recommend, after a leisurely stroll around the town (and a few tipples to wet the whistle), that you dine at what has to be one of the most perfectly located restaurants, seaside, in the world…sip on refreshing wine whilst you tuck into the catch-of-the-day at Ca’s Patro March. We couldnt find their own page on the web so just read reviews from others. Bookings essential, but we guarantee you will not be disappointed on food, atmosphere or the views. Add it to your bucket list!
Summer to most offers the chance to explore new and exciting holiday destinations…so Elldrew recently spent a week with friends in a townhouse in the traditional village of Soller, North-West on the Spanish Island of Mallorca. A beautiful village to relax and enjoy the sights, which also provides a tram connecting the village to the more bustling Port, about 20 mins, providing even more restaruant and bar choices (with the hotels comes the tourists), but it is the most perfect spot to watch amazing sunsets. We hope you enjoy a few of our holiday snaps. We will be returning to this blog regularly just to remind ourselves that bits of paradise do really exist when it all gets a bit too much ‘daily grind city living’.
TERRIFIC TROGLODYTE TRIP!
Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita – it’s a hotel in a 9,000 year old cave in the ancient city of Matera. That pretty much sums up the hotel but it doesn’t really do it justice…it’s a little bit more than just a cave hotel as it’s also a project in ecology and sympathetic restoration and an exciting adventure for its guests.