December 31, 2013

Tasty atmosphere @ Rose Garden, Fort Kochi - India

At Fort Kochi in Kerala, the God's own country, you can find many westerner friendly restaurants, that have the luck to be in a position with a good visibility. They are always full, so it is easy to imagine that they are the best choice to try local or international food. Our advise is to avoid them. Often they are like business-food factories. The food is expensive and cooked without passion, the workers don't recive much money and the next day the owner spends all morning counting  how much he earned. 

Just going out from the main stream it is possible to find unexpected surprises. Like the Rose Garden Restaurant. We saw it and looked inside many times while passing by, atracted by the colours and relaxed atmosphere that spreads out. Located in Jacob Road, just close to the bus station and Santacruz Basilica, is owned by two brothers, Bineesh and Siyad who together with Ali run this small restaurant since 2013. Walls are pleasantly painted and decorated by a local famous artist Nasair

We decide to sit inside, but then we discover a more hidden room with two small tables and carpets, comfortable enough to sit on the floor and chill out. The day in the restaurant begins at 10 am, starting with breakfast and continue with lunch and dinner until night. The choice is very wide.. Original indian, western and italian with fish, meat (even holy beef) and vegetarian choice. As well you can relax there, having a cup of coffee and using wi-fi.
Ali, always smiling and kind, brings us Fish Peera to try. As many Keralan dishes, the delicate taste is obtained thanks to the coconut that conects perfectly garlic, ginger and curry leaves with substantial and boneless kingfish, accompanied with garlic paratha, tipical south indian flat bread.

Then we can taste the Kaday, a mix of vegetbles and paneer (indian fresh cheese), prepared on the northern indian way, which simply melts in our mouth. Of course we can't avoid the rice as a side dish. Unfotunatly there was no more space in our stomachs to try one of the many desserts available in the menu.


The email of the restaurant is and phone number 09847216986.

October 03, 2013

All Monferrato in One Quad: Monferrato Experience, Moleto

Meeting the landscape of Monferrato's hills, the various morphologies of the land, the suggestive views and scenery, the diversified nature, the traditional villages: in only two hours this also could be possible, thanks to Monferrato Experience, that offer excursion with two-seat quad.

Curious to try we reach, in a Saturday afternoon, the suggestive Bar Chiuso, placed on the top of the hill of Moleto, where are waiting for us Marco and Salvatore that will accompany us in this new adventure.

We wear the helmet and we are shortly instructed about the driving controls of the quad, a kind of motorcycle with four big wheels able to go through any kind of terrain and to overcome any holes and hollows on the ground. A nod from Marco, at the head of the caravan and we give gas to our vehicles that taking forward and we proceed in a single line.

A short part on the asphalt, to take confidence with the controls and the drive, and immediately we take an unpaved downhill among the vineyards. After some incertitude while facing the first holes, we gain quickly the mastery of the bike and we begin to accelerate and we begin the path.
We advance through small streets on the cultivated fields and paths on the wood, passing in a short time, from the bottom of the valleys to the ridge of the hills, from which we can admire the nature, sighting different animals and also some raptors.

In this way, we are pleased by the diversity of the Monferrato environment and we discovery hidden corners and an incredible succession of views and landscapes.
Also the soil it changes fast: asphalted straight roads, tight bends and small hairpin, thrilling downhills, steep climbs and also holes and mud. Every obstacle is easily overcame thanks to the quad versatility.

The route unfold the areas of Ottiglio, Olivola, Grazzano Badoglio and the suggestive "Valle dei Frati" before to arrive back to the starting point in Moleto.
A bit dusty and full of adrenaline we are happily back from this adventure that is for everyone and from which are offered different kinds of paths, more easy for beginners or more extreme for experts.

Marco and Salvatore, very honest and friendly guys, both from the Canavese area, are the founder of this mark. Both involved in ordinary office jobs in renowned companies they believe in this project with the wish that can grow and engage them on a full-time. On the first year of activity they involved 1200 guests and customers, most of them from abroad Piemonte, that had the opportunity to discovery the Monferrato in a complete way. Besides the quad they offer excursion on bicycle with assisted pedaling, games of paintball in the woods, Nordic walking and orienteering trekking, addressed to single people, groups or companies staff.

All this is carried out with a strict link with the territory connecting the wine and food activities with the hospitality also offering free support to everyone, in order to unify the area and take fully advantage of the touristic potential.

The website is well structured and with nice photos well explain what is possible to experience.
        Photo by Fabio Bandera

February 25, 2013

The Joy of Giving, The Pleasure of Receiving @ Piata Autonoma, Cluj Napoca - Romania

Each month in Cluj there is Piaţa Autonomă. A market with many objects, food and performances, with the only difference that everything is offered without expecting any reward in return.

A large room, which in spring will become an open space, where participants can try this "thrill of normality", bringing objects and making them available to those who want, takings what need without paying any price, offering services, or receiving benefits, in the same way.

We started our day (usually the event starts at 12 am) eating delicious food for free prepared and served by "Food not bombs", through a huge pot full of soup, mamaliga (polenta), salads, desserts and beverages. Everything nicely and delicately vegan.

After that we left our items on some shelves and on the floor, and so, wandering around, we found a book and clothes that were exactly right for us. This activity is constant and so people come and brings new things, there is always a stream of objects, as well as performances and entertainment moments. During the day (until 6 Pm) we were lucky to attend a workshop to create decorative objects with newspaper, another one to learn how to make decorative items with wires, a demonstration of "fun science" and then music and Capoeira, while other people donated massages and hair make up for the whole afternoon.

At the entrance, there are two large sheets for those who want to receive or those
who need to search something, even beyond the event, and for those who want to be added to give a help organizing the next events.

Everything was designed on a perfect way, from the guys that every month commit their time to encourage participation, giving the opportunity to others to live, even though is just for one afternoon, the idea of a culture that is not based only about money or exchanges, but that relies on a natural flow of unconditional acceptance of each person, of their own and others abilities and possibilities. At Piaţa Autonomă for example, participate child, youngster, adult, elderly, Romanians, Gypsies, Hungarians, foreigners, rich and poor, by spirit or by money, but everyone, when crossing that little "threshold", have the opportunity to be themselves, and live moments of levity without expecting something in return, or without even having to think about how necessarily contribute.
There are not scales that weigh values and this make everything balanced and in harmony.

In the past months in Cluj we have participated to at least 300 cultural events of all kinds, but we can certainly say that this is our favorite. You can find information about the next Piaţa Autonomă date and location on

February 19, 2013

Host People in Your House, Receive Money and Travel for Free @ Airbnb world is always changing. The opportunities, specially for travelers, has to be caught instantly because they arrive, stay for a while and then they disappear ...

In the beginning was Servas which, through the paper create the opportunity to host and be hosted for free anywhere in the world. Obviously there were just few lucky that knew and took advantage of this opportunity: travel, stay for free, meet people and cultures directly from inside the houses, share, build relationships and gain confidence about and within the world. This until a decade ago, when the concept was picked up and carried on the net thanks to Hospitalityclub and Couchsurfing, that revolutionize the way of travel of many people, giving this opportunity to everyone, and also through their groups and forums, it becomes a real community for the support of travelers.
Thanks to this, for many the world was no longer only fear, war, power and money, but become also share, help, awareness, diversity, understanding. Many have benefited from this opportunity., another step in the concept of hospitality from Airbnb is done, which takes the model of CouchSurfing and transform it, with the difference that guests, rather than stay for free, give an economic contribution to the host.

Probably someone will say that losing the gratuity is losing the original spirit, but we see it instead as something complementary. Of course, someone could use with entrepreneurial spirit, looking only to inflate his wallet, as well some people use Couchsurfing to find something else with the excuse of hospitality, but we are aware that doesn't exist any perfect system, which allows all people to be happy for everything, but that there are systems with different opportunities of many personal visions. of the travelers using Airbnb are not even aware of the opportunity to be hosted for free through other channels. Some, on the other hand, know this possibility, but don't have the courage yet to try, so an economic exchange becomes a kind of confidence that nothing negative can happen: I'll pay and everything will be fine. Other people, might not just be interested at all to have free hospitality: I pay so that I don't have to worry about how to give something in return. Many people, works 50 hours per week, then work at home, then have family to take care, to do something productive they force themselves to follow lesson, do sport, to have leisure time and go to cinema, to holiday, etc... it is clear that thinking about "how to give something in return from the free hospitality" means give them a lot of additional mental work.

That's why we see Airbnb as complementary. We can see people who, otherwise, could be difficult to meet, and both we will benefit from sharing our diversities.
To receive money is also a small pleasure to our pockets, but is not important because a person for free or paying, for us has the same worth. Hosting in the past hundreds of people, for free, without receiving a penny, we enriched, in terms of knowledge, understanding, acceptance and awareness that transformed lives and the world from a place of torture, to an experience to feel good and have the best us of capabilities bringing benefits to the around environment. hence, take a look to AIRBNB and you will receive a $ bonus and discount for the first trip.
You can then add your home or your apartment and begin to receive guests. Thanks to the code that you have entered (and you can do the same in future too) we will receive a contribution for each registration and this will allow us to travel for free to other people's House and keep enjoying.

February 16, 2013

Hungarian Mood @ Restaurant Miko, Cluj Napoca, Romania

Koloszvar (the Romanian Cluj Napoca), a city with many different faces, as in the past, as now in present time, has the second largest urban Hungarian community in Romania, made by 50.000 people that represent the 16% of the local population.
Many different historical reasons and people's mouvement prepared and created these conditions (that we are not going to analyze here), until nowadays when many different activities and institutions kept their own Hungarian roots and language. As for example, schools, shops, theatre, cofee shops, and of course restaurants, giving the feeling to have a small city inside a bigger one.
Miko is one of the most well-known Hungarian restaurants, despite his young age (open since one year and half now. Zsolt, the manager, have a lot of experience and travelled a lot. He invites us, in Strada Clinicilor 23, on a walking distance from the city center, for a Friday evening, when it happens the special Magyar night, with music, dances, and food.

The menu is very attractive and clear: every dish is accompanied with a nice photo and the ingredients description, written in three different languages. Almost all the plates are Hungarian.
We start with a colourful and velvety Chicken Paprikash with Sour Cream and Dumplings, together with a Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc and Feteasca Regal, produced in the area, for one of us. For the other one an, instead, an intense Beef Stew with Red Wine and Dumplings together with a Cadarca de Minis, also local wine, but from Hungarian varietal.
The Nokedlivel are very common in Hungary: eggs noodle, like home-made dumplings that goes together with many dishes.

We enjoy the a lot the combinations, and both plates give us a memory of home. We felt like embraced from this flavors, delicate, but very defined at the same time.

Is very interesting then talk a little bit with Zsolt and hear about his experiences, and specially, about his visions about restaurants, food, and the psychological aspects that connect them with humans, and listening about traditions. On the next week, will happen the carnival day, and in Hungarian villages, people meet together to make a bonfire with old clothes, in a way to chase away the winter. In Miko Restaurant instead, the guests will come with a mask in their face and they will dance with the same spirit.

During the time we spent at our table we could see many people dancing and having much fun together with the live Hungarian music, and we had opportunity to see a future bride and the ceremony with her friends and a long table with the guests cheering and singing to themselves and to the life. It was for us a little moment to feel and be part of this Hungarian Mood.

For the conclusion of our evening we had the chance to taste Somlò, Sponge Cake, with nuts, vanilla, and Rom and Gundel Pancakes, delicious, also with raisins, nuts and Rom that got the name from Karoly Gundel, an Hungarian famous gastronomic genius, whose books of recipes become the base to most of the Magyar cuisine. On the website of Miko, you can see all pictures from the menu.

February 09, 2013

Cuisine as a Family Passion @ Restaurant Hora, Cluj Napoca, Transylvania, Romania

They knew how to impress us. They knew that we were not just there "to eat" and taste. They offered us something that cannot be improvised, has to be real, as is impossible to see, it can be just felt: the passion.
We were dazzled to discovery, very slowly, during the dinner, course after course, how Restaurant Hora, based in Strada Moise Nicoara nr 1, was made, by a family devoted to the cuisine: Camelia and Gheorghe, and her mother Maria Rusu.

 Maria Rusu, manager and chef, opened this gem eleven years ago. Member of national and international culinary associations, winner of many prices, started this project first as a traditional Romanian restaurant and then following her potentials and skills, developed an international menu, that honors her creativity.
Camelia instead, her daughter, together with her kindness, told us that she worked 10 years in different restaurants in Italy, gaining an experience that combine the Italian and Romanian culture.
His brother Gheorge and all the staff took great care of us, they make us begin with a Smocked Duck Waldorf Salad, an exquisite combination, specially with a southern Romanian Novac Prince Stirbey.The waiter surprised us with a special decanter with a shape of a snake, that use to aerating the wine before serving it.
The Waldorf Salad made with celery and turnip, dressed in mayonnaise and sprinkled with walnuts was the perfect starter for the evening.

Then we had time to converse more with Camelia, listen traditional live Transylvanian music (as they do every Thursday) and see that many of the diners are foreigners before the second dish was served: a Coffee Crusted Beef Tenderlion, grilled and aromatic, married with a gentle Porto Wine Sauce with soft fruits and some secret ingredients from the chef, that make it special, accompanied by a Sweet-Potato Puree. This plate was delighting our palate, with the mix of different veins of flavors, recognizing the quality of each ingredient.


For the conclusion we were not expecting something so brilliant: a mix of four different desserts, as Pancakes with Apples and Nuts, a Triangle of Chocolate Wousse with a pulsing and exotic Mango's heart, a Parfe with Almonds and a Ricotta Pudding in a small Chocolate boat.All this sweet experience was intensified by a fresh white Tamaioasa Romaneasca, concluding then with a digestive.
The passionate family now is going to open a new restaurant, much more bigger in Comuna Feleacu, to which we wish the best success.