Alla Stella, Desenzano (Lake Garda, Italy)

We were looking for somewhere to eat on our last night in Lake Garda, and had a couple of places in mind. Some of the TripAdvisor reviews of Alla Stella were a little mixed, so we weren’t initially sure, but after sticking our heads round the door, we didn’t even bother looking at the rest of the places on our list. It smelled fantastic, and the ambience was spot on.

Crushed potatoes with anchovies and tomatoes

Alla Stella is jammed into a side street, a narrow building with a couple of rooms and a little covered courtyard. Embracing the bare-stone vaulted ceilings, but steering clearly away from twee stucco tourist tat, there’s a modern bar vibe with eclectic furniture. There’s glass and metal, and a really nifty fireplace. Basically, it’s what my living room would look like if I had money; right down to the giant hams hanging in a niche near the bar.

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M-Eating, Mykonos (old town)

Old towns – every resort town has one. They seem to vary only in where they sit on their own little hideous-quaint spectrum, and whether it’s gold, silver, leather or all three that every single shop is somehow staying open by selling. In Mykonos Old Town, it’s “all of the above”, and they’re basically there to provide street lighting.

It’s fine. This stuff is here so you can get off a cruise ship and buy an “ethnic” skirt without actually having to walk too far. It serves a purpose, I’m part of the problem too, and you know, it is kind of nice to be able to see where you’re going while you try to find a restaurant.

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t have high hopes for food in Mykonos. We passed one identikit fish restaurant where the crayfish in the tank full of murky water outside actually managed to look sad. Granted they weren’t in a barrel, but laying into resort food is a little like taking shots at one of them anyway, so I’ll just talk about a place that was superb instead.

Pork with smoked cheese

M Eating is a bistro on a little terrace in the old town. There’s a small indoor restaurant and a large terrace on the veranda, canopied with vines. It’s all distressed white wood tables and pale colours, toning in with the “Cycladic” style of the town. The menu is simple, and in the broad genre of “European restaurant food, somewhat fancy”. It’s bloody tasty, too.

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Eating out in Europe: adventures in meat and beer part three – Zurich

If the exchange rate were two Swiss Francs to the pound, Zurich would basically be London with nicer people and a giant lake where Hyde Park should be.

lake Zurich

The exchange rate is not two Swiss Francs to the pound.

At 1.4:1, Zurich feels almost like someone took a modern European city, filled it with bankers, chased out the poor, and installed a really nice tram system to make everyone feel a bit better about it. Funny, that. Continue reading Eating out in Europe: adventures in meat and beer part three – Zurich

Eating out in Europe: adventures in meat and beer part two – Munich (and Salzburg)

The second stage of our trip was Salzburg, followed by Munich: both beautiful – if very different – cities. Architecturally and culturally different, at any rate. The onslaught of sausage, beer, and related pork products remained both relentless and delicious.

The Mönchsberg, Salzburg

So much so, that we cooked for ourselves for two nights in Salzburg – simple vegetable stews to restore much needed vitamins and general gastric balance. Seriously, I don’t know which dark gods look after dietary fibre, but there must be a story behind why they have so savagely forsaken Austria and Germany.

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Eating out in Europe: adventures in meat and beer part one – Vienna

Egon Schiele - Self portrait with raised bare shoulder, 1912For the last few weeks, I’ve been in central Europe; which explains the relative scarcity of blog posts, and the mild expansion of my waistline. Germany and Austria do not stint on the carbs. Or the meat, or the pastry, or the beer, or the portion sizes.

It’s been good.

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