Travel Inspiration #4

Cote_d'Azur

The beautiful Cap Ferrat bathed in perfect sunshine

Since spring is still a while away and most of us can’t go to the Maldives for a quick sunny getaway, I suggest you treat yourself to a long weekend in the South of France instead. I went over New Years with a group of friends and loved it. I hadn’t been down to the Cote d’Azur in years and remembered it as overrun, crowded and everyone engaged in a hectic who’s who.

However, during the off season you get to enjoy the balmy weather and the striking beautiful coast all by yourself. The weather is perfect to go for long walks along the Cap Ferrat and up in the mountains, sit outside and enjoy the sun. The restaurants are not overbooked and you can enjoy the fantastic food.

The food is truly fantastic and I would suggest trying the lovely La Petite Maison in Nice, where the menu is to die for! For a divine French lunch outside try La Mere Germaine in Villefranche-sur-Mer. Otherwise, enjoy a drink at Le Bar Americain at the Hotel de Paris in Monaco.

To enjoy village life visit the village of Èze. Then head up to the beautiful Le Sanctuaire Notre Dame de Laghet, where people have come to pray and give thanks since hundreds of years.

And don’t miss the fantastic Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul de Vence, where the couple Maeght, in collaboration with architect Josep Lluis Sert and artists Joan Miro and Georges Braque, built the beautiful complex that now houses their extensive and stunning private collection.

Enjoy and let me know what you discover!

My Travel Map

Travel_Deliciously_Map

The purpose of Travel Deliciously is to be that friend you can ask where to eat and stay when you’re in X. To make this as easy as possible, I’ve made a map of everywhere I’ve lived, travelled and visited. Write me a comment, email or tweet and I’ll share all the tips, tricks and information I’ve gathered over the years.

I look forward to sharing and very much hope to make your next trip a little more delicious!

All the best,
Julia

p.S. I used matador network to make my travel map and then included all my favourite places. Have fun making and sharing yours!

Omar’s Cairo Food Guide

First and foremost thanks to my dear friend Omar, who gracefully decided that my knowledge of the Cairo food scene was obscenely lacking and consequently took it upon himself to educate me. The result was a food mission through Cairo! Thanks also to Grace and Jade who made up the other half of our foodie group! I had a fantastic time eating, testing and discovering! So, here we go…delicious Cairo!

Cairo Classics

Andrea is a Cairo institution, almost impossible to find and simply awesome! In a city where sitting outside really isn’t a thing, Andrea is a perfect island of greenery and tranquillity. Sit outside in the gardens and enjoy Cairo’s best roasted chicken! The chicken is roasted on what looks like an old kicker, the chicken racing down the field. Once it has made it onto your plate it really is a treat! It’s juicy, crispy, and simply delicious! They also make their own bread at Andrea, served hot and fresh. Otherwise, French fries, salad and tehina perfect the experience!

Andrea_Chicken

Andrea_food

Another favourite of mine is cute and tiny restaurant Somaya. Tucked away in a side street in downtown Cairo and down a set of stairs, it serves delicious homemade food. One or two dishes are served every evening – and once they are gone, they are gone. So don’t come here late, because in all likelihood the deliciousness will have been devoured. The food served is traditional Egyptian and at times not for the faint hearted…we had veal neck meat…which was divine. They also have the best pickles ever! We ordered second and third helpings!!

Somaya_Cairo

GAD is a more local establishment. It is the Egyptian version of McDonalds! Well kind of… This place is far from corporate and probably does not meet McDonald’s stringent hygiene requirements! However, do not be put off by what seems chaotic and potentially unappealing because these guys serve some damn good food. I’ve had a delicious Egyptian version of a Pizza here, with so much cheese to satisfy my cravings all week, Egyptian classics, yummy Shawarma and some great feteer – an Egyptian puff pastry dish that can be both sweet or savoury. Do make sure you go to a nice GAD though! I recommend the one near Al-Azhar mosque for a bite before/after walking through the Khan el Khalili market.

Making a Feteer at GAD

Making a Feteer at GAD

The utter contrast to GAD is Sequoia and its neighbour Left Bank, both of which are frequented by Cairo’s upper class and expat community. Everything about these places screams sophistication – the location by the Nile is perfect, the décor is tasteful, and the staff wear a shirt and tie!

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Sequoia_Cairo_I

Sequoia is best for evenings. The restaurant is located at the tip of the Zamalek island and the view is simply spectacular! Sit and relax with a glass of lemonade or wine, smoke some shisha and enjoy the breeze and view.

For breakfast, I recommend going to Left Bank. When the temperature is still mild, you can sit outside and enjoy either a traditional Arabic breakfast or croissant and toast. Otherwise, you can come by for some tea, coffee or fresh lemonade and indulge in some French pastries! Also perfect for people watching!

Breakfast_LeftBank_Cairo

Breakfast at Left Bank

Lebanese + more

For some really really good Lebanese food there is only one place to go – Taboula! They have two branches in Cairo, I prefer the one in Garden City. (They also serve alcohol here!) The food really is fantastic and is some of the best Lebanese food I’ve had – try the Chicken Feetah here. The décor is lovely with a touch of old glamour and the likes of Fairouz adorning the walls.

Tamara is an unlikely choice for me. I usually don’t like restaurants in malls and was more than weary when we went and tried out Tamara, which is located in one of Cairo’s big malls, City Stars. However, the food was divine and I take back all the prejudices I may have had! We ordered sausages cooked in Pomegranate syrup, which I could have died for! We had some great muhammara and really really good humus!

Tamara_CityStars_Cairo

Sabai Sabai is a Thai place that I fell in love with while in Cairo. Whenever I had the desire for something warm, comforting and satisfying, I ended up here. On the first floor of a building that doesn’t necessarily look too inviting and with décor that tends toward the cheesy, the cuisine surprises you. I fell in love with their thai currys and visited frequently!

Burgers!

Lido is a great place to enjoy an Egyptian burger. It’s been around for decades and is not partial to the burger craze that has swept the globe. Consequently its burgers are a little different…the meat is served only well done and on a plain bun with ketchup, mustard or tehina as your choice of topping. The (A-mazing) fries are simply sliced potatoes. You sit on a bar stool and everything is served on red plastic cafeteria trays! Unique and tasty! Just the way I like it…

Lido_Burger_Cairo

Burger Factory is the krass opposite. They serve the best burgers in town, if you’re looking for a greasy, indulgent experience. The meat is juicy, the sauce is delicious, the buns are soft – what’s not to like. Perfect for when you’re really hungry and looking to satisfy those burger cravings!

Burger_BurgerFactory_Cairo

Sweet Treats

Khoueider has been around for decades and is famous for its traditional Egyptian sweets and ice cream. And while I’m usually more enticed by savoury treats and not a particular fan of Arab sweets, Khoueider has me converted. Their pastries are truly deserving of their reputation.

Gelato Mio is the an Italian gelateria in the middle of Cairo. A small treasure that severs notoriously good (and expensive for Egyptian standards) gelato. A perfect treat when the summer is hot and you’re looking for a sweet treat.

GelatoMio_Cairo

Icecream_GelatoMio_Cairo

Enjoy Cairo and let me know what you think!

Travel Inspiration #3

Ibn Tulun Mosque with the Citadel in the background

Ibn Tulun Mosque with the Citadel in the background

My newest Travel Inspiration is Cairo. I spent the last six months living here and I can honestly say you have to see Cairo at least once! It is huge and loud and absolutely awesome!

Cairo has beautiful cultural treasures – such as the mind-blowing (!!) Egyptian Museum, the beautiful Ibn Tulun Mosque, the Salah el Din al Ayouby Citadel, the Wekalet el Ghouri and its dancing dervishes, the bustling Khan el Khalili market and the grand Pyramids! Then there are the more hedonistic facets of Cairo – restaurants that serve great local cuisine, pools and country clubs to escape the city and the heat, shisha cafes in downtown as well as the not-to-be-missed rooftop bars to enjoy the beautiful Nile and a beer. Plus, Cairo is cheap and won’t break the bank.

Sadly Cairo also had a darker side with endless traffic jams, poverty, horrid pollution, scathing heat waves during the summer and the ever-present dust. However, I recommend you go on an adventure and dive into the fascinating world that Cairo has to offer. Also, with spring coming up it’s the perfect time to visit.

Look out for next week’s post on where to eat deliciously well in Cairo.

Cuban in Miami

A couple of years ago, while studying in DC, my friend Alberto was kind enough to invite me to his family’s home down in Miami over Thanksgiving. Being quintessentially Cuban, at least in my eyes, and thanks to his family’s incredible kindness and hospitality, I was privileged to experience not only a fantastic traditional Turkey Thanksgiving, but a slice of cuban food and life. In fact, as a result of my visit I am now obsessed with pulled pork and pastelitos – delicious Cuban pastries filled with variety of flavors, my favorite being cheese and guava! With the hope of passing on my Cuban love, welcome to the mini Cuba I found in Miami…

Versailles is probably the best known Cuban restaurant in town, as well a hub of Cuban culture in Miami. I loved standing outside by the window and sipping coffee but it’s the fantastic mirrors inside that have given Versailles its name and make it so unique. Thankfully, Versailles’ is equally famous for its sandwiches, which everyone raves about. But while they are fantastic, I preferred to eat as many guava and cheese filled pastelitos I could lay my hands on. I even got out of bed early on the weekend to beat the morning rush and secure my share of pastelitos, because, as it turns out, I’m not the only one who’s discovered their deliciousness!

At Sergio’s, another Cuban institution, a similar scene unfolded itself. This time I was eating croquettes though! Standing outside having a cortadito and eating croquettes, is just something you need to do. I wasn’t going to complain because they are absolutely delicious!

Sergios_Miami

Photo courtesy of http://sergios.com/

For a little more luxury, I recommend Casa Larios because of their beautiful blue tiled garden, with matching blue umbrellas, and the opportunity to enjoy Florida sunshine. It’s equally charming on the inside, with a blue tiled bar and colorful decor. Welcome to Cuba…in Miami!

My Travel Inspirations for 2015

2015 + MapI just started a new job in a new country. Based on previous experience this has translated into travel that revolves around returning home and visiting my boyfriend, family, and friends. As such, I have made it my goal to make at least one (or maybe even two!!) trips in 2015 whose sole purpose is travel and enjoyment!

Here are my top 3 destinations (aka my Wish List).

1. Iran. I really want to visit Iran! Our understanding of Iran is usually shaped by our knowledge of the 1979 revolution, the Islamic government, sanctions and current nuclear talks. However, whenever I meet anyone who has been to Iran, the picture that emerges is very different – a rich cultural heritage, overwhelming hospitality, culinary delights, breathtaking landscapes and welcoming people. Who doesn’t want to come along?

2. Jordan. I’ve never been, but I have always wanted to go to Jordan. Now that I’m so close, I am finally planning to visit Amman, Petra, Wadi Rum and the Red Sea. Very excited! If you have any suggestions and recommendations, let me know.

3. Italy. Since my boyfriend moved to Italy I have visited rather frequently and fallen in love with the people, the land and the divine food and wine! I cannot wait to return in 2015! The hope is to go to Rome, because what could be more quintessentially Italian than Rome?!

A Day in Alexandria

I’ve been up to Alexandria a couple of times now and while Alex, as everyone calls its here in Egypt, is beautiful, it wasn’t exactly what I expected. Instead of the calm and idyllic sea-side resort I had conjured up in my mind, I found Alex to be a very busy and a very loud city! However, Alexandria is famous for its food – lauded to be the best in the country – so here are my Alex food adventures!  Also, a big thank you to all my the friends who have shown me around and introduced me to the local cuisine!

Following Alexandrian tradition, one must have breakfast at Mohamed Ahmed (17 Shakour Street), because its serves Egypt’s most famous taamia. The place is frequented by locals and tourists alike – there is a visitors wall that even includes Queen Sophia of Spain. The restaurant is nothing fussy, everything is served in aluminium dishes, but the food lives up to its reputation. The taamia (Egyptian falafel) are delicious and the shakshouka (scrambled eggs with tomatoes and peppers) are perfect!

You should also try Alban Swisra (Camp Citzar, Port Saiid Avenue), which is a local institution that serves everything covered in their special cheese sauce! We had Frankfurter sausages, fried chicken, and kofta all served with cheese sauce. While this may not strike you as an obvious choice, let yourself be surprised and go on a food adventure! It’ll be delicious! Plus, this place also serves as a local grocery store, making it truly unique.

Breakfast_Alexandria_II

While you’re walking around and exploring the city don’t forget to venture into one of the local cafes, where they will serve you a perfect coffee or tea. Be warned though…the Egyptians like a lot of sugar in everything!

Tea_in_Alexandria_1

Of course, Alex is famous for its fish, so you must go and have some! While everyone swears by their favourite fish restaurant, the Greek Club (Corniche, Anfushi), is probably the best known restaurant in town. A reputation well deserved, the location and décor are beautiful, with blue and white chairs and a great view across Alexandria’s harbour!

Greek_Club_Alexandria_1

Another true Alexandrian institution, though the very opposite of the Greek Club, is Balbaa (Malak Hifny Street), serving fish and meat, grilled and fried. It is the size of small football stadium and includes several stories. It’s loud and packed and not for the faint hearted. However, it serves some great local treats – the fish, served open and grilled with onion and tomatoes is an absolute must try – so go and be brave!

Balba_Alexandria

Finally, a special treat – Friske. Only available along the North Coast, it is a must when you’re up there. It is a wafer that comes plain and simple or with three different delicious flavours –  peanuts, coconut and sesame. Yum Yum!!

Friske_Alexandria