Category Archives: Restaurants

Bouchon Bistro – Napa

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california 217As the Tin Man prepared for his trip to the wine country, French Laundry was at the top of his list…..oh, then this news……….

“The iconic French Laundry in Yountville has confirmed dates for a planned closure and major renovation, and the plans are a fair bit more ambitious than originally hinted at. As chef-owner Thomas Keller tells the SF Chronicle, what began as some modifications to the restaurant’s entry and an expansion of the kitchen blossomed into a major overhaul and reconstruction of the kitchen which will begin the week after Christmas and won’t be complete for about six months.

You see the reason for this desire is because Thomas Keller (born October 14, 1955) is an American chef, restaurateur, and cookbook writer. He and his landmark Napa Valley restaurant, The French Laundry in Yountville, California, have won multiple awards from the James Beard Foundation, notably the Best California Chef in 1996, and the Best Chef in America in 1997. The restaurant is a perennial winner in the annual Restaurant Magazine list of the Top 50 Restaurants of the World.

Timing is everything!!! But wait, there is more…….

In 2005, Keller was awarded the three star rating in the inaugural Michelin Guide for New York for his restaurant Per Se, and in 2006, he was awarded three stars in the inaugural Michelin Guide to the Bay Area for The French Laundry.

He is the only American chef to have been awarded simultaneous three star Michelin ratings for two different restaurants.   He currently holds 7 Michelin stars total:             

3 at Per Se, 3 at The French Laundry, and 1 at Bouchon.

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Bouchon it will be then……reservations were made…

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Delightful and Delicious was awaiting us within these walls…..

Marvelous atmosphere………

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We were seated at a lovely table and then the magical culinary symphony began….

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Of course, we must begin with wine….

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My palate was all a tither at the delights that awaited….

First,  the Foie Gras de Canard ……….oh swoon….

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Then the Möelle Rôti…..Roasted Bone Marrow……

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The table covered with delights………the wine, the tasty morsels …..it was culinary nirvana …

Sitting in Thomas Keller’s restaurant surrounded by laughter and the aromas of saffron….thyme…roasted meats….

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Then the mains came…Boudin Blanc ……..white sausage with dried French plums and mashed….

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….Truite Amandine….Idaho rainbow trout with haricorts verts, toasted almonds and beurre noisette…

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Absolutely Delightful……amazing service and delectable food….

….perhaps a bit of coffee….

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What  a delightful evening……….hope you enjoyed the visit

The Bouchon was such a delight, Tin Man was quite pleased the French Laundry was closed…hope you enjoyed the visit!

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Sawyer & Co. – Austin, Texas

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aaaaaaaaWell the Tin Man and his entourage were on the search for a new Foodie Venue to indulge in culinary delights..

We had heard of a new restaurant in Austin, Texas, that was getting rave reviews and much chatter….we ventured off

The food at Sawyer & Co. has been designed by Stephen Shallcross and consulting chef Happy Abdelbaki, longtime friends from Baton Rouge.

 The flavors and dishes of New Orleans  resonate in the menu choices: biscuits and pancakes with Steen’s Cane Syrup; jambalaya, gumbo, red beans and rice made with Manda’s sausage from Baton Rouge; and a po’boy bread from John Gendusa Bakery in New Orleans’ Gentilly neighborhood.

Breakfast offerings  include a rotating selection of omelets and eggs including a cheeseburger omelet and scrambled eggs with crawfish! – plus grits, Brabant potatoes, biscuits, pancakes, praline bacon, breakfast sandwiches, and tacos.

Lunch and dinner feature a daily blue plate special such as red beans and rice with cornbread, gumbo, jambalaya, roast beef with gravy and mashed potatoes – for the love of YUM

To see the MENU click HERE

The Venue is quite something in and of itself………….a 50s Diner that could be owned by the Jetsons themselves!

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We fell in love with the place immediately……

Check out the great booths and dining stools…

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We knew we were onto something the moment we walked in …check out the light fixtures and walls…

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and the clock……….so cool……

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We took a quick peek onto the Patio and it was just as incredible as the interior

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Astro Turf and such a fantastic environment…

To begin we had the most delightful Gumbo….rich dark and bursting with flavor….

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……..did you notice the pork belly…….you bet…..delicious…

then, of course, the seafood platter……..

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We finished with Key Lime Pie…..which we shared so no photo was taken because I had to fight for my bite!!!

If you are ever in Austin, Texas, check out this great food.  A bit of New Orleans Flavor with Texas Hospitality

By the time we left patrons were standing all around outside waiting for their turn at a table.

The Tin Man approves

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Camp Lucy – Supper Club

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We have the great pleasure of knowing Whit & Kimberly Hanks and have so been looking forward to attending the Supper Club at their most marvelous and enchanting ranch, Camp Lucy…

Camp Lucy, home to the Texas Hill Country’s premier wedding and special event venues, is nestled on a gorgeous Hill Country ranch in Dripping Springs, Texas.

The property, owned by Whit Hanks, is named for his mother, Lucy Hanks, and its history as an idyllic family getaway.

CLICK HERE  or HERE for more information about this great place..

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The property’s path from family ranch to wedding and special event destination began when Whit’s oldest son Ian moved to Asia several years ago – an odyssey that, quite unexpectedly, would marry this Texas property with French Colonial buildings from Vietnam and inspire Whit to open up the family’s land so others could experience the Hill Country dream.

Upon Ian’s suggestion, Whit visited Asia, including Hanoi in Vietnam, where he discovered a wealth of French-Colonial antiques. As an avid antiques dealer and collector, Whit is always on the hunt for the truly unique and special antique and, in Vietnam, he found what could be the ultimate antique – an 1880s Catholic church. On the brink of destruction to make way for a new church, the gorgeous 19th Century chapel, built from intricately carved ironwood, was available for purchase. Whit was sold.

The chapel was carefully disassembled and packed in sea-land containers, all of the timbers and tiles painstakingly photographed, labeled, and provided with a diagram and video to show how the church would go back together for its new life in Texas.

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After a long sea and land voyage, the chapel arrived in Dripping Springs where it was reassembled and a campanile added to hold a 19th Century French bell which, today, signals happy events at Camp Lucy. The original chapel was soon joined by a second French Colonial church from the 1930s, reconstructed at Camp Lucy and roofed with 1920s Ludowici tile repurposed from the Bexar County Courthouse in downtown San Antonio. The courthouse was getting a new roof and now the deep green glaze of these antique tiles is the crowning glory on the Camp Lucy pavilion.

 

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The next chapter in the Camp Lucy storybook was written in December 2011 when the doors opened to a magnificent events hall. This addition to Camp Lucy, created from a repurposed Amish barn originally built from hand-hewn white oak timbers in Ohio in the 1800s, continues the unique design aesthetic of Camp Lucy.

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Today, the original chapel, pavilion, and events hall, along with surrounding gardens, stone terrace, arch, and great lawn are collectively known as Ian’s Chapel to honor Whit’s son who not only sparked this grand adventure, but also left this world far too soon on December 23, 2011, shortly after marrying the love of his life, Sandra Hanks, at Camp Lucy.

  Sacred Oaks, opened on September 22, 2013. Named Sacred Oaks to honor the space’s remarkable setting, the venue expertly blends the impeccable design and enviable style that are the hallmarks of Camp Lucy with the natural surroundings and, as with all things Camp Lucy, celebrates life, family, and new beginnings. 

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As you enter the property and drive across a small bridge, you realize that you are entering a very special place…

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We decided to book a cottage for the evening

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The Cottages are nestled together in a peaceful community..

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Brian was wonderfully attentive upon our arrival and his excitement about the evening’s Supper Club was contagious..

We opened the door to our Cottage and were surrounded by Hill Country Elegance and Charm

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The Bath was simply outstanding…

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Each Tub and Sink were carved from single blocks of Limestone…

After a quick nap …..it is time to be off to Supper Club.

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The Evening began with Soy Lacquered Pork Belly on Crispy Wonton with Carrot Ginger Relish and Pulled Port Tostaditas with Granny Smith Pico and Cilantro Aioli

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Then we sat for Supper…

Mizuna, Shaved Carrot and Daikon with Crispy Rice Vermicelli and Ginger Sambal Vinaigrette and Shredded Iceberg, Ovendried Tomato and Pickled Red Onion with Crispy Tortillas and Jalapeno Ranch Dressing……….must have been the cocktails……….I forgot to photograph this course!

Then we moved on to Garlic and Soy Braised Short Ribs with Mirin Cabbage Slaw and Sriracha Aioli and Smoked Brisket with Cider Slaw, Cotija and Chipotle Crema

accompanied by Tempura Fried Root Vegetables with Ponzu and Fire Roasted Grilled Seasonal Vegetables

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Followed by……….I know, what a divine feast……

Lemongrass and Red Chile Poached Salmon with Creamy Sesame Black Soba Noodles and Coriander Seared Snapper with Tomatillo-Mango Arroz and Ancho Lime Broth

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……….and for Dessert……Coconut Fried Ice Cream and Summer Peach Cobbler…

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We had the most marvelous waiter who was more attentive than any 5 Star restaurant server ever dreamed

Our Hosts were so kind and gracious…….Whit and Kimberly…….inviting everyone back for the next Supper Club

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Brian, the Lodging Manager, attended the Supper Club and informed us that he had something special waiting back in our Cottage..

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What a delightful evening it was!

After a wonderful breakfast in the Cottage Offices, we took a peaceful stroll about the grounds of Camp Lucy..

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But, Alas, it is time to go…….we glanced back at the Beautiful Camp Lucy as we drove away…

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St. Lawrence Market – Toronto – Canada

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After our marvelous morning at Clafouti’s Patisserie it was time to explore more of Toronto

We are just in day two of our two week journey across Canada with Uncommon Journeys train exploration known as Canadian Panorama..

We hopped the Trolley to head back downtown……we exited the trolley early to walk about a bit and enjoy the sights…

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Our destination was the Famed St. Lawrence Market

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This market has achieved the status of Number One Food Market in the WORLD

……..well you know the Tin Man…..if it is about food, it must be explored…..

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We enter the Market and the World of all Culinary Delights embraces us….

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Okay…..Okay…..Okay…enough temptation……..time to eat (again)

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Oink……….Oink……….it was good!!

Time to explore some more….

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 ….and then before us …….. WHAT….THEY ARE GRILLING OCTOPUS…..my favorite….

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We find a table out on the patio and place our order….

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Soon the Delights of the Sea are before us……the aromas exotic and marvelous…

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Oh, Pure Heaven, this is the place to visit when in Toronto……but it is time to take to the streets again…

We do need to meet our Tour Group for Dinner Tonite…………ha….

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A quick stop at the hotel to freshen up and have a cocktail….

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Then it is off for our last meal on solid ground for the next four days…….so excited about getting on the train…

Excited about Dinner at Joe Badali’s Italian Restaurant…..

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We are a large group, so an Italian Restaurant is the perfect place…..the service is great and the food fantastic…

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Now that Dinner is done……we being the train trip…..stay tuned for that exciting adventure…

Hope you enjoyed our stay in Toronto…

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CLAFOUTI : Toronto – Canada

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It began by a chance meeting in the virtual world of Blogging….and so the journey continues…

We booked passage on Uncommon Journeys Canadian Panorama cross country Train Excursion……..two weeks…yikers I thought….

Our Second Day was to be spent in Toronto….not caring for Large Cities….I saw her looming before us…construction cranes everywhere..

You see, in Canada,  there are two seasons:  Winter and Construction

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Virginia of BEL OCCHIO’S BLOG had already told us of Queen’s Street and Clafouti…home of the BEST croissants outside of Paris…….off we went

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Pure Victorian Delight……….peace, tranquility and not one construction crane in sight…..only the rumble of quaint street cars going by….

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Then we turned the corner and there it was…………Clafouti….mecca of the Croissant and the Crookie………….more about that later…….

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We came to the well worn steps leading to her front door….

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Inside………the aroma of fresh baked goods and coffee….

Clafouti reaches out and throws a Parisian Wrap around us….

Just look at the Delectable Delights……….

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We grab the table next to the window……….Virginia’s favorite, so we could look out at the beautiful Trinity Bellwoods Park across the street….

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Our Croissants so flaky and delicious………the coffee, rich and fragrant…..

We did not try the Crookie……a Croissant with an Oreo Cookie baked inside…..Clafouti created this masterpiece…

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The Bell on the Door was always a-tinkle with customers coming and going…..

The Bohemian Interior of Clafouti so enchanting….

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Alas, time to go explore the Park and seek out those mysterious albino squirrels, Good Husband of Virginia has spoken of…..

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We look back at our Clafouti……..and think of all the times our friend Virginia sat here gathering strength…..

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The Park is full of Flowers………but not one albino squirrel to be seen…..

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Time to hop the streetcar and head back for dinner…….What a treat is was to escape to Paris for a couple of hours……..

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Until next time…………

Lisboa – Lisbon – Portugal

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Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, and the oldest city in Western Europe, predating other modern European capitals such as London, Paris and Rome by hundreds of years.

Julius Caesar made it a municipium called Felicitas Julia, adding to the name Olissipo. Ruled by a series of Germanic tribes from the 5th century, it was captured by the Moors in the 8th century.

In 1147, the Crusaders under Afonso Henriques reconquered the city and since then it has been a major political, economic and cultural centre of Portugal.

Unlike most capital cities, Lisbon’s status as the capital of Portugal has never been granted or confirmed officially – by statute or in written form. Its position as the capital has formed through constitutional convention, making its position as de facto capital a part of the Constitution of Portugal.

We began our journey to this beautiful place on an overnight train from Madrid…

Filled with charm and old world experiences…

A Marvelous Multi-Course Meal…

 

Marvelous Views zipping by………We had a Private Cabin with Full Bath

……and there she is, Lisboa, waiting for us to explore her beauty…..

We stayed in the Hotel Ibis (our fav European chain), just steps from the center of all the action…

Lisboa……….filled with Charm……

 

Glorious Art……….

Unique Inventions……….an Elevator in the Street to take you to the Higher Neighborhoods……

Wherever you turn, Beauty ……….. The Castle of St. George, always watching over you….

If you want to read more about this Beautiful Place………..CLICK HERE

The Streets filled with Delightful Cafes…..

 

Who could resist these delights…………..certainly not I……..everyday, my favorite place for coffee and a goodie!!

The Beauty of Lisboa is only outdone by the Kindness of Her People…

We, of course visited The Tower of Belem….CLICK HERE…

What Wonders You can find in the Streets…….

How we loved our time in Beautiful Lisboa…….and look forward to our return someday….

Marsala – Sicily

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Marsala  (Lilybaeum in Latin) is an Italian town located in the Province of Trapani in the westernmost part of Sicily. Marsala is the most populous town in Trapani, and the fifth-highest in Sicily.

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The town is famous for the landing of Garibaldi on 11 May 1860 (the Expedition of the Thousand) and for its Marsala wine.

A feature of the area is the natural reserve of Stagnone Lagoon—a marine area with salt ponds.

The Salt Ponds and the Ancient Windmills used to pump the sea water out are so very beautiful…

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Marsala is built on the ruins of the ancient Carthaginian city Lilybaion, and includes the archaeological site of Motya island, an ancient Phoenician town.  See our visit to that marvelous place by clicking HERE.

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As we traveled to Sicily from Malta it was exciting to see the island coming into view…

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We stayed in our favorite hotel in Marsala, The New Palace Hotel

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We love walking the old city of Marsala, so filled with history and beauty..

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As with any ancient city in Europe, one must visit the Cathedral…

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We dart up the steps and enter the enormous doors …….what do we see…….. a wedding in progress…

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….up the side aisle we sneak, in order to obtain a better view of the goings on….

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What fun to observe this very formal event…we hurry to wait outside to see the newlyweds exit…

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What fun that was!

We had walked into the old town and on our way back we found the most marvelous restaurant…. Bucanieri

Look at the view from our table……..marvelous!!

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What a delightful meal we enjoyed, sitting and watching the chefs in the open kitchen….

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Crostini with Lardo and Fresh Tomato..

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Arancini di Riso and Sundried Tomato stuffed with Sardine…

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Octopus Salad

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Wild Boar Meatballs in a Rich Hunter’s Broth

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Delightful Frutti di Mari

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Tuna Steak in an Incredible Parsley Sauce

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Delightful cup of Rich Minestrone Soup

Then a walk back to the New Palace for some pastries..

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Nothing beats Sicilian Pastries…

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We so love Sicily and Marsala is always a delight to visit…..we hope you enjoyed spending some time here with us….

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Tower of Belem : Lisbon – Portugal

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Belém Tower or the Tower of St Vincent is a fortified tower located in the civil parish of Santa Maria de Belém in the municipality of Lisbon, Portugal.

The Tower was originally built on a small island in the Tagus River and now sits on the shore due to the river being redirected after the 1755 Lisbon earthquake.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site  because of the significant role it played in the Portuguese maritime discoveries of the era of the Age of Discoveries.

The tower was commissioned by King John II to be part of a defense system at the mouth of the Tagus river and a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon.

The tower was built in the early 16th century and is a prominent example of the Portuguese Manueline style, but it also incorporates hints of other architectural styles.

The structure was built from lioz limestone and is composed of a bastion and the 100 foot four story tower.

On the outside of the lower bastion, the walls have spaces for 17 canons with portholes open to the river and an ocular in the north.

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The upper tier of the bastion is crowned by a small wall with bartizans in strategic places, decorated by rounded shields with the cross of the Order of Christ that circle the platform.

King Manuel I was a member of the Order of Christ and the cross of the Order of Christ is repeatedly used numerous times on the parapets.

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These were a symbol of Manuel’s military power, as the knights of the Order of Christ contributed to numerous military conquests in that era. 

 The bartizans, cylindrical watchtowers, in the corners are cover in zoomorphic corbels and domes covered with buds. The corners of this platform have turrets topped by Moorish-looking cupolas.

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The base of the turrets have images of beasts, including a rhinoceros.

This rhinoceros is considered to be the first sculpture of such an animal in Western European art and probably depicts the rhinoceros that Manuel I sent to Pope Leo X in 1515 which was caged in the tower at one time.

This is the same rhinoceros that is mentioned in my post about Marseille : CLICK HERE to see that story….

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As you walk about the area you realize you are surrounded by all sorts of wonders…

Like this bridge….. Ponte 25 de Abril (25th of April Bridge)

If you have been to San Francisco, California, and this bridge looks familiar……well it should……

  It was built by the same company (American Bridge Company) that constructed the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and not the Golden Gate, also explaining its similarity in design.

Until 1974, the bridge was named Salazar Bridge (Ponte Salazar). The name “25 de Abril” commemorates the Carnation Revolution.  It was inaugurated on August 6, 1966 and a train platform was added in 1999.

Also nearby is the Monument to the Discoveries  located on the edge of the Tagus’ northern bank, it was erected in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator.

The monument is sculpted in the form of a ship’s prow, with dozens of figures from Portuguese history following a statue of the Infante Henry sculpted in base relief.

As we were enjoying all the marvelous sights, a submarine suddenly appeared….

Then, just across the road, is Jerónimos Monastery  located along the Praça do Império (Empire Square),   it was originally built to support pilgrims who travelled in the region by Henry the Navigator; expanded and elaborated from 1501 by architects for King Manuel I of Portugal to serve as a resting-place for members of the House of Aviz; and as a church for seafaring adventurers who embarked during the Age of Discovery, after Vasco da Gama‘s successful voyage to India.

Construction was funded by a tax on eastern spices, and over time came to represent Portuguese historical discoveries, becoming over time a national monument and UNESCO World Heritage Site, housing artifacts and exhibitions like the Museu Nacional de Arqueologia (National Archaeological Museum) and the Museu da Marinha (Maritime Museum) within its walls.

Just amazing………all these beautiful historical sites nestled together!

Well you know the Tin Man…….an appetite has been worked up and we are off to  Restaurante Triperio

Oh the delights begin………

Marvelous Olives, Famous Portuguese Bread and the Cheese…..France, you best beware….this is good!

Then the Soups…….on the left a wonderful Bean Soup and on the right an OVER THE TOP Garlic and Bread Soup…

Then the most amazing Pork and Clams in a Traditional Broth with Olives and Vegetables….

But Alas, it is time to bid farewell to Belem…I do hope you enjoyed visiting this most wondrous of places with me….

Marseille – France

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Marseille

– the second largest city in France, after Paris,

–  located on the southeast coast of France, Marseille is France’s largest city on the Mediterranean coast and largest commercial port.

– the capital of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region,

– the capital of the Bouches-du-Rhône department….

We spent little time visiting this wonderful lady and found her street cars to be pure whimsy…

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King Francis I of France visited Marseille, drawn by his curiosity to see a rhinoceros that King Manuel I of Portugal was sending to Pope Leo X, but which had been shipwrecked on the Île d’If.

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His visit becomes important because in the 16th century,  he builds a fort on the hill in Marseille to resist the 1536 siege of Marseilles by the Emperor Charles V.

This for becomes the foundations of the current Basilica known as Notre-Dame de la Garde  – literally Our Lady of the Guard

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 This Neo-Byzantine church was built by the architect Henri-Jacques Espérandieu on the foundations of that ancient fort located at the highest natural point in Marseille

It is a major local landmark and the site of a popular annual pilgrimage every year on Assumption Day, August 15.

 The basilica was consecrated on June 5, 1864 and replaced a church of the same name built in 1214 and restored in the 15th century.

We found the a Café across from the Gare de Marseille-Saint-Charles, a most magnificent train station

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The Brasserie de la Gare provided us a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the Mediterranean view….

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We dined al fresco and had some delightful dishes….

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The seafood so fresh and marvelous and the Salad Niçoise absolute perfection….

Hope you enjoyed our brief and wonderful visit to Marseille

Berne – Switzerland

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In 1983 the historic old town in the center of Bern/Berne became a UNESCO World Heritage Site

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Berne is ranked among the world’s top ten cities for the best quality of life

The train from Zurich to Berne provided the most amazing vistas and we knew we were in for a delightful treat…

The structure of Bern’s city center is largely medieval …..

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Perhaps its most famous sight is the Zytglogge , an elaborate medieval clock tower with moving puppets.

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It also has an impressive 15th century Gothic cathedral, the Munster…..

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The festive May Pole in the Munster…….

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Thanks to 6 kilometers (4 miles) of arcades, the old town boasts one of the longest covered shopping promenades in Europe….oh yes we walked them all….several times…..

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The Federal Palace (Bundeshaus), built from 1857 to 1902, which houses the national parliament, government and part of the federal administration, can also be visited…..

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Albert Einstein lived in a flat at the Kramgasse 49, the site of the Einsteinhaus, from 1903 to 1905, the year in which the Annus Mirabilis Papers were published….

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There are eleven Renaissance allegorical statues on public fountains in the Old Town.

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Nearly all the 16th century fountains, except the Zähringer fountain which was created by Hans Hiltbrand, are the work of the Fribourg master Hans Gieng.

One of the more interesting fountains is the Kindlifresserbrunnen  or Child Eater Fountain

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All along the street, each building has a set of Cellar Doors….

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These are actually the entrances to cafes, shops and clubs…..under each establishment is another one!!

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Every corner we turned held another beautiful view….

Have you noticed that it is very quiet in the town??

Well we chose the perfect time to visit Berne….there was a giant Family Expo being held….

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We had the entire town to ourselves!  Marvelous!

We fell in love with all the beautiful fountains and statues throughout the town…..

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Berne is just enchanting……

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The fresh crisp air off the snow covered Alps was just divine…..

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……..We were ready for some great Swiss Food….

europe2 669……since it was a holiday of sorts, finding an open restaurant was not that easy…..

We found the wonderful Ringgenberg with a beautiful patio for al fresco dining…

Oh what delights awaited our palates…..

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Cream of Asparagus Soup with Mushrooms topped with Asparagus and Delightful Tiny Pancakes…

….of course since we are in Switzerland, the Cappuccino is topped with Marvelous Chocolate….

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We fell in love with Berne and hope to come and visit her again one day….

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