Afternoon tea in Hong Kong

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The setting for Christmas holidays this year was Macao and Hong Kong. It was exciting, beautiful in many places, both hectic and tranquil, new and familiar, strongly Portugal influenced in Macao and tasty, of course. I’ll post my tips and best do’s soon. Now it’s time for a tea tip.

An English style afternoon tea was something I wanted to include in our travel program. Many hotels offer an afternoon tea in Hong Kong. We desired a savory experience in a beautiful setting, for a sensible price. We went for the Hullet House and its restaurant The Parlour (1881 Heritage, 2A Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, HK).

The milieu of this boutique hotel is pleasant and tranquil. The building with its white arcs and pillars is colonial in its style and the space exudes historical vibes. We sat on the terrace overlooking the hotel garden. We got to see  glimpses of a wedding photo shoot of a newlywed couple and the garden view in the soft afternoon light.

The tea menu included a selection of sweet and salty delicacies: finger sandwiches, scones served with whipped cream and jam, small cakes and biscuits. And a pot of tea: the jasmin was rather good. The cost of the set for two was 418 HKD (excluding the two glasses of prosecco).  Note that a service charge of ten percent will be added to the price, like in many places in HK. You can find more expensive tea’s as well, but that shouldn’t come as a surpise when in Hong Kong. The  hotel advices to make a reservation beforehand.

The old Hong Kong Afternoon tea (found on the hotel’s website), including local delicacies, sticky rice dumplings, wife cakes (?) and egg tarts, sounded interesting but was not available during our visit. The tea and the treats were tasty and it was a delicious experience.  The scones could have been a bit fluffier and maybe there could have been something sour in the selection as well to give it a little edge but all in all the combo worked.

What else? The terrace is wide enough if you come with a stroller. Next to where we sat there was a wedding planning  office: all in all the amount of wedding stores and wedding related services was very high both in HK and Macao.

I can recommend the tea experience for one afternoon’s program of the trip, for example between the days of hiking to the peak (the best climb ever) and to the mountain with the Tian Tan Buddha on the Lantau Island.

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The taste of Italy – three restaurant suggestions

20150803_154619The food, yes. And the wine.

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Italian food. When I read travel guides before our trip to Italy Eataly occurred frequently. We tasted many rich and delicious local products and dishes, from the  savory pizza in Verona to a tasty Insalata Caprese enjoyed in Riva del Garda for lunch and made of quality ingredients.

I’ll share now three restaurant/bar suggestions from our trip. The first is the Casa degli Spiriti (Via Monte Baldo, 28 , Costermano, Verona). It is a charming and beautiful house with a gorgeous view on the Lake Garda and it is situated in one of those tight tornante turns. We passed it by car many times as it was close to our hotel and mentioned that it would be nice to maybe have a cocktail or a coffee there. We saw the butler at the door but what we didn’t know beforehand was that we would  step into a place housing a Michelin star restaurant, such a beautiful decor and an extensive wine collection. Well, ok, the Ferrari and the design fountain at the parking lot maybe gave a hint.

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We enjoyed a late lunch/afternoon tea from the day-time menu on the terrace.  The cappucino was served with home-made biscotti. The service was very good and the atmosphere warm. The other half of the owner couple told us that the casa is a popular place  for weddings. I can believe, though, a wedding budget of some size is required. Warm recommendations for the place: a trifle of tasty elegance to the day.

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The second suggestion, a very strong and memorable one, is Taverna Kus (Contrada Castello 14, San Zeno di Montagna, Verona). We went there twice and on both times after 10:30 pm. I guess we are really Mediterranean diners. Our daily trips and adventures took a bit more time than expected. On both times the restaurant was still open but the second time when we arrived after eleven the kitchen had closed, which is more than understandable. And this is where all points go to this place. Despite that we arrived rather late, the attitude of our friendly and professional waiter was super. He welcomed us, asked us to have a seat and said that he would see what he could do for us. And what happened was we got a delicious meal with warm bread, local quality salami, a selection of cheeses and well chosen wines.

The lets make this happen attitude  is something I really value, in life in general and also in customer service. And at the time of our visit this was really mastered in Taverna Kus.

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We sat in the atmospheric garden. The top flavours from the a la carte menu were fish from the Lake Garda prepared in three different inventive ways and a combination of veal and chantarelles. The wine recommendations were apt.

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The third place to tip is actually at the Milan Malpensa Airport. It’s the Ferrari Spazio Bollicine bar (in the main building on the first floor).  I’m tipping it because it really hit the spot. You know that feeling when you’ve got some time before your plane takes off and it would be nice to eat something, not heavily but something tasty and salty. And maybe toast to the successful holiday. This was the setting and after a bit of window shopping we saw the tempting aperitivo sign.

The food was colourful and fresh, the wine sparkly and good and the price very fair. It hit the spot, as a tall young man from Texas said when having a hotdog after we had finished the day working outside in the slightly chilly summer air in Iceland.

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Well fed in Italy, yes we were. The last picture is from the beach boulevard in Garda: a nice place for a stroll before dinner or for a post-dinner gelato.

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