Friday, 20 January 2017

ATE AT: 5 of my favourite places to eat in Riva Del Garda, Italy

I will never, ever tire of visiting Riva del Garda.

I'm lucky enough to travel there twice a year (January and June) for work for a footwear tradeshow and I wanted to tell you my go-to restaurants. As you'd expect from a place like Riva del Garda, the bulk of its restaurants are Italian restaurants. In the last year or so, a few other places have popped up (a sushi restaurant, for example) but in pretty much every restaurant you should expect to see menus full of cheeses, meats, pizza, pasta, fish dishes etc.
I'm a creature of habit and tend to go to the same restaurants these days, mostly out of convenience as they're close to my hotel or in the town.

I used to stay at the Parc Du Lac but this January stayed at the Savoy Palace Hotel. The Du Lac is incredible! The gardens are unbelievable and as you make your way through them, you are brought out straight onto the lake. Whilst it is a fantastic place to stay, for the amount of time I'm in the hotel during the days for my work trips, I decided to try somewhere cheaper for this trip. One of the British companies that attends the tradeshow I attend stays at the Savoy Palace and recommended it to me last year. I must admit, although not as modern as the Du Lac, the place is great. The staff are lovely and, I found, you get a lot more of a personal welcome at the Savoy than at the Du Lac. The breakfast is good, the rooms are typically Italian but very spacious, have balconies with great views of the mountains and surrounding area. Also, the beds are VERY comfy, which is a complete rarity in Italy as the matresses are usually really hard and the pillows are even harder.
Anyway, back to the food. I'm always open to trying to places in Garda as there are SO many restaurants to try. Both times are visit are slightly out of season, especially in January. A lot of places are closed but the main ones stay open whilst the tradeshow is on.

So, here are my five favourites:

The Pizzeria @ Residence Centro Vela - Viale Rovereto 101.
This is probably the place I've eaten at the most when staying in Riva del Garda. The menu is enormous, hosting everything from your typical pizza, pasta and antipasti dishes to the salmon trout that is famous in Garda. The staff are always very helpful and the food is always great.  

Hotel Bellavista - via Franz Kafta
Another place I've eaten a few times, Hotel Bellavista has some seriously good food. My favourites are the Tomahawk steak (which is definitely a sharing main!), lobster tagilatellie (SO good but a very big first course!!) and the salmon trout is cooked perfectly. The staff are so lovely and the service is really good.

Hotel Gardesana - via Monte Brione 1
The sister hotel to Hotel Bellavista, Gardesensa has the same chef and the food is equally as fantastic. All it doesn't have is the beautiful view of the lake...and the menu is more restricted.

Surfer's Grill, Torbole
A 5 minute drive from Riva del Garda, Torbole is home to the lovely Surfer's Grill. The staff friendliness is slightly lacking but the food is delicious. I've only been the once and had the mushroom, soft ricotta and beetroot tortellini and it was delicious!

Al Volt - via Fiume 73
Renowned for being one of the best places to eat in Riva del Garda, the Volt has never disappointed. I've probably eaten there three of four times now. Another place you really do need to book as it gets busy. Al Volt is Michelin listed and has the most quaint architecture inside. A must try is the fruit sorbet dessert - frozen sorbet inside the skins of the fruit...whilst sounds a bit weird but the sorbet is delicious. I've had a number of the dishes there, including pastas and the meat dishes - all lovely!

Have you got any favourite places to eat in the area? Please let me know in the comments if so.


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

MADE: Pea & Ham Soup

There's nothing I love more than a warming bowl of soup during the colder weather and this hearty recipe is perfect for filling you up at lunch or with a bit of crusty bread in the evenings.Over Christmas I made a delicious cola cooked ham with a maple and mustard glaze using this recipe.

I had it on the 27th using the leftover Christmas day veggies to make a bubble & squeak (which was perfect for soaking up the alcohol that resulted in my whiskey induced hangover) and also made a delicious brunch of smashed avocado on rye with chilli flakes, a coconut oil fried egg and some of the delicious ham.
The soup was made to use up the final bits of the ham and it made quite a bit so I've still got a couple of containers in the freezer.

For the cola cooked ham recipe I used a 1.5kg ham but stuck to the measures of ingredients listed in the BBC Good Food recipe. For the soup, there was probably around half of the ham left. It doesn't matter too much (in my opinion) how much ham you use but I probably wouldn't recommend anymore than 1/3 or 1/2 of the ham.
I loosely stuck to this recipe from James Martin, making a few adjustments like replacing the cream with Oatly crème fraiche so my dairy intolerant tum could handle the soup without me feeling a bit lousy afterwards. I swear by the Oatly products. Their oat milk is something I drink everyday in coffee, use on cereal or have with porridge.

To make around 10-12 portions of soups:
Leftovers of your cola cooked ham (or whatever recipe you choose to use) - around 1/3 or 1/2 of the ham
400g frozen peas
1 large bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
Half a tub of Oatly crème fraiche - you can also use cream (150ml) or another dairy free alternative
1 pint and a half vegetable stock - I use Kallo
Salt and pepper, to season
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 medium onion, sliced
A knob of butter

So, let's get started...

1. Grab a large saucepan or soup pan and add your EVOO and knob of butter. Heat on a low heat and add your sliced onions. Stir occasionally so they do not stick.

2. Once your onions have sautéed a little, add your crushed garlic cloves. Stir occasionally.

3. While your onions and garlic are cooking, shred your leftover ham. Add your parsley. Also boil the kettle and add the boiled water to a measuring jug with your stock cube.

4. Add your peas and stock. Bring to a simmer then stir in your Oatly crème fraiche or similar product and stir.

5. After a couple of minutes add your shredded ham hock. I left the soup simmering for around half an hour.

6. Use a Nutribullet, hand blender or similar appliance to pulse to form a puree. You may want to add more water if the soup is a little too thick for you.


Thursday, 5 January 2017

LIFE: The Month Ahead - January

Haaaappy New Year! I hope you all had a fantastic break and are not finding the first working week of the year a total struggle like I am.

Question: when do we actually stop having to say Happy New Year to people? What if I've not seen somebody throughout January...can I still say it in February?

So, a while back now I did my 'Monthly Goals' and I found it really motivating. I can't really remember why I stopped. Maybe it got a bit stale? But I've decided to bring it back, well, a version of it.

Inspired by the lovely Laura of Superlatively Rude, I want to look back at the previous month and think about the month ahead. Kinda contradicting my view of disliking reflecting on the previous year once a new year hits but this is more about improving my day to day motivation throughout the month - looking forward, rather than looking back, but the reflection is in a positive way. Does that make sense? 

I don't know about you, but I've been finding it SO tough since the beginning of December to feel active, awake and motivated. I'm totally blaming winter as I'm 99% I'm a SAD sufferer but I think we can often make all of the excuses under the sun and it only makes us worse.

With this in mind, my new monthly 'series' is being born. I'm going to loosely stick to Laura's Monthly Reflections (and her newer 'version' for the new year) and add 3 goals for the month. By doing this, I feel it'll help me stay on track and feel more motivated.

I turn 26 this year (which means I'm 27 next year and that terrifies me) and think last year I lost a bit of focus on the smaller goals. Recently I've been in a bit of a period of thinking 'am I having a quarter life crisis?'...rather than remembering that everybody moves at a different pace and where they are doesn't have to be where I am. Also, last year taught me that it's okay not to have a plan because even if you have one, it might not all happen how you thought.

This month won't be the typical format for 'The Month Ahead' as I'm going to reflect on my previous month starting from February so that I'm leaving 2016 behind.

From February, I'll be looking back over the month just gone by and some of Laura's headers: proud of, grateful for, letting go of, obsessed with, committing to, excited about.
These made change over time depending how I find reflecting on these things each month but I think this is a good way for me to get into the swing of things.

The second part will go as follows...

Looking forward to January (starting today)...

Action steps and thought provoking questions:
1. Are my 2017 goals realistic? Last year's were slightly optimistic but are this year's achievable
2. I am having a quiet month to get back the balance with my finances. Can I manage to make minimal plans until payday?
3. I want to do a minimum of 3 work outs each week - will I do this? Looking back to my efforts last year, will I find the motivation to do this?

Aims for the month:
1. Stay hydrated - I've definitely not been drinking enough water these past few months. So for January I want to up my water intake to at least 2 litres per day.
2. Read a book - I want to start reading a book a month. After uni, I stopped reading so much. I was reading 4-6 books each week (on average) during the 3 years of my course and it was TIRING! I want to get back to enjoying reading.
3. Have at least one meat free day each week - I hardly used to eat meat, apart from when I went out or when H came around but now, most of my evening meals have some form of meat. It leaves me feeling really lethargic so I want to make it a goal for the month to see if the non-meat days make a difference. 

Also. A goal I want to try and have every month is to save £20 per week. If I can do this, I'll have saved nearly £1000 by the end of the year. WOAH. As I'm nearing 26, I need to start building my savings. Whether it's towards my house deposit, towards a new car, or towards something special.

JANUARY MOTTO: Work hard, relax just as hard. One day at a time.

Let's see how I get on with the month. Hopefully this content isn't too dull for you.
Are you doing anything similar for the new year like setting monthly goals or even quarterly goals?

Let me know in the comments below or on twitter.