The City Break Series: Venice

At the start of September my family and I departed for a long weekend trip to Venice. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to go somewhere more, so my excitement levels were pretty high! One of my favourite books growing up was Daughter of Venice by Donna Jo Napoli, and her descriptions of the city were so vivid that I was desperate to visit that part of Italy.

When I was at college I did a project all about Turner and his paintings of Venice, again this just increased my desire to visit the city.

I’d never realised before that the islands of Venice are shaped like a fish, which you can see when you study maps of the city. I was worried that I’d built the city up so much in my head that when I arrived it somehow wouldn’t live up to my expectations. This was so not the case, it’s as beautiful and enchanting as I’d hoped and every photo you take looks fantastic – I don’t think it’s possible to take a bad photo of Venice!


Obviously, the food was another great reason to visit Venice: pizza, pasta, gelato…..bring it on!


We rented a gorgeous apartment overlooking a canal in the Dorsoduro region, near the Accademia bridge. We had a roof terrace which was great for having the whole family round for dinner – one night we got a load of takeaway pizzas, Italian red wine and all watched the sun set from the roof – bliss.



My grandad is a huge ice cream fan, and he always loves buying them for everyone if we’re on a trip anywhere. He has an amazing knack of hunting out ice cream vans as well, we were once walking along the Thames and he said how much he fancied a 99 flake, we rounded the next corner and there sat a bright, colourful ice cream van! Obviously in Venice, we wouldn’t need to hunt around for long to find some delicious gelato. On every corner you can find row upon row of gorgeous, smooth, creamy gelato flavours and it was so hard to choose, good job we were there for a few days and could try more than one flavour!

Our holiday to this city of romance didn’t fail on the love front – on our last night while having dinner on the pontoon, my Aunty and her partner announced they had gotten engaged! It was the best news and the loveliest way to end our holiday to Venice! There were quite a few happy tears shed while we enjoyed caprese salad, lobster, tagliatelle, tiramisu and champagne!



The City Break Series: Barcelona

This year I have been lucky enough to travel to lots of European cities, and to eat lots of delicious European food. It figures, that as I write a food and baking blog, that it should write some kind of review post for my travels. To this end, I have decided to write a City Break Series about my travels and the food i discovered. These will be interspersed with my normal posts.

We start, with Barcelona…

In August I went to Barcelona with one of my dearest pals, Hannah. We’ve both been so busy over the last year or so, me at work, Hannah studying to become a Trainee Solicitor, that we decided we deserved a little holiday away! We’ve never gone away together before and usually only get a few hours every few months to catch up so we were well-overdue some decent time together! As we’re both summer babies we chose the first week of August to celebrate our birthdays and picked Barcelona as our destination. I’ve always wanted to see Gaudi’s architecture and Hannah was keen to visit a new city and get exploring! Also, it would be guaranteed hot and sunny weather!
We spent 5 glorious days in Barcelona visiting Casa Battlo, Park Guell, La Ramblas and La Boqueria food market. We also managed to fit in some sunbathing by the hotel’s roof pool for some proper relaxing!


We were really looking forward to trying proper Spanish tapas and after a few ok dinners we found an amazing restaurant called Teleferic. When we arrived it was pretty empty, I think because we ate a lot earlier than the Spanish seemed to. The staff were really welcoming and friendly, and explained that at half seven they would start bringing out all of the different tapas dishes to the bar area where we could then pick and choose. While we waited we shared some potatas bravas which is one of my favourite dishes. Crispy potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce and aioli, delicious!

We helped ourselves to delicate pastry parcels filled with spinach; lightly battered squid; crispy, salty green peppers; Spanish tortilla; olives; chorizo…there were so many dishes on offer, there was no way we could try them all! I would definitely hurry back to try more when I’m next in Barcelona.

At the end of the meal we were given a complementary glass of bubbly by the waiter which was a nice touch. Each dish had a cocktail stick in it, some were different colours, some were different shapes. These represented the price of the dish and we were charged according to the number of sticks we had at the end. This was by far my favourite meal in Barcelona and I would recommend it to anyone visiting the city.

We didn’t have paella, but really enjoyed trying different tapas dishes and just picking and sharing a few different dishes at each meal. We also visited La Boqueria food market, just off La Ramblas. This was great, and reminded me of Borough Market, back in London. There were meat and fish stalls, fresh fruit and veg and cheeses and hams.


The weather was gorgeous, and with the good food and beautiful architecture, it was a great little girly holiday! I will definitely go back to Barcelona, it’s a city for the senses with so many sights to see and delicious food to taste, including really delicious ice cream, that I think there must be lots more to explore.



PTI take on Jamie Oliver

Last week, instead of the usual summer party bar night, we at PTI decided to change things up a bit and go for a group cooking lesson at Jamie Oliver’s Recipease.

After a quick drink in the pub to settle any cooking nerves, we headed off to learn how to make Thai Green Chicken Curry. It was set to be a fun and interesting evening, not least because Marie really doesn’t like spicy hot food – would she try the end result? That was the challenge!

For keen cooks and Jamie fans, Recipease in Notting Hill is great! Split across two levels with a kitchen/demonstration area in the centre of both, there’s a shop downstairs full of sauces, spices, pots, pans and gadgets, and a cafe upstairs where you can look out at passers by or watch novice cooks learning anything from Mexican and Vietnamese street food to knife and bread skills. I’ve been wanting to go to a lesson there for ages so I was really excited and going with the team from work made it really fun and definitely added an element of competition between us!

Our teacher was friendly and knowledgeable and didn’t seem to mind when, like I’m sure everyone else does, we asked her whether she’d met Jamie and what he was like! The recipe was simple but the finished curry was probably the best Thai curry I’ve ever eaten. It was so fresh and fragrant and tasted even better for knowing we’d made it from scratch and it hadn’t taken forever. I think sometimes we can be put off cooking by complicated sounding recipes and long lists of ingredients but this recipe was easy to follow and the ingredients are all available from the local supermarket so there’s no excuse really! Alongside the curry we learned to make a little chilli tomato salad that went really well with the dish and the chopped pistachios in it add a really nice crunch!

Cooking in a group was really fun and then sitting down on long benches after to eat our meal together was really nice. It was a great choice of social activity and I know some of us are already looking at booking onto another lesson!

. . . Oh, and Marie did try her curry!