Saturday, June 25, 2011

UPDATED 2011: Gran Canaria from A-Z

Vis større kart

I visited Gran Canaria from February 7th to February 14th 2009. Here is a map of hotels, restaurants, sights and food stories from this trip. Stay tuned for more stories here on Enjoy Food & Travel.

Food Stories
Restaurants and bar

Friday, June 24, 2011

Lasagna at Red Cow, Playa Del Ingles

Red Cow Restaurant and Bar - by night
It is a long time since I ate lasagne at Playa del Ingles. So long, in fact, and in absence of good photos, it would not be right to give a full review, but it was not a memorable experience.

Rating Red Cow, Playa del Ingles: BBB+ (3,52 points)
  • Location: BBBB
  • Service: BBB
  • Interior and atmosphere: BBB
  • Food: BBB+

Lasagna à la Red Cow.
The Red Cow is a pub/diner located in Avenida del Alfereces Provisionales in "downtown" Playa Del Ingles and just a stone's throw away from Las Gacelas Appartments where we stayed. It was very popular among British tourists.

The Red Cow serves breakfast and typical pub grub, hardly not my favourite food. I should have I should have known better than ordering lasagne.

This Italian dish can be such a treat, when well prepared, but not at the Red Cow. Very bland and boring stuff!!

The Red Cow interior is not much better, dark, without being cosy.

If I return I would definitely not have a second serving, and do recommend other and much better places to eat on this tourist destination.

Other (and better) places to eat at (and around) Playa del Ingles
See location of Red Cow on this map

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Galata Bridge - a 1500 year old crossing point

Leonardo da Vinci's drawings on his Galata Bridge from 1502
Whereas many cities count their history in decades or centuries, Istanbul counts it’s in millennia. During the last two, there have been 6 bridges crossing the Golden Horn, and the first one was built during the reign of Emperor Justinian that lasted from 527 to 565!
View of the fifth bridge towards Karaköy with Galata Tower
Istanbul is a city connected by the water. The Golden Horn separates the main areas of Sultanahmet and Karaköy. 1500 years ago there was a bridge connecting the two parts of the city located close to the area near the Theodosian Land Walls at the western end of the city. It was the only one to span the Golden Horn until the early 19th century.
That does not mean that none had ambitions to build a bridge earlier. The famous inventor and artist Leonardo da Vinci designed in 1502-1503 a bridge with an unprecedented single span 240 m long and 24 m wide bridge for the Golden Horn, which would have become the longest bridge in the world of that time if it had been constructed. The sultan Bayezid II did, however, not approve the plans. A smaller version was constructed as a pedestrian crossing over a motorway near Oslo, my hometown. Later another famous Italian artist, Michelangelo,  turned down another similar commission.
View from bridge during night with the New Mosque
Hayratiye bridge (1836) located further up the waterway linking Azapkapı and Unkapanı
Cisr-i Cedid bridge was the first bridge located near the current Galata Bridge. It was built in 1845.
The second Galata bridge was built in wood bridge in 1863, by Ethem Pertev Paşa on the orders of Sultan Abdülaziz (1861–1876)
The third Galata Bridge, completed in 1875, was built by a British firm G. Wells. It was used until 1912, when it was pulled upstream to replace the now genuinely old Cisr-i Atik Bridge.
The fourth Galata Bridge was built in 1912 by the German firm MAN AG. It was badly damaged in a fire in 1992 and towed up the Golden Horn to make way for the modern bridge now in use.
View from New Galata Restaurant under the bridge
The fifth Galata Bridge was built by the Turkish construction company STFA just a few meters away from the previous bridge, between Karaköy and Eminönü, and completed in December 1994.
As a tourist you’ll have to cross the Galata Bridge in order to get to the old part of town. Under the bridge you will find several restaurants where you may enjoy a meal with a stunning view to the waterways. I will also recommend a ferry ride up the Golden Horn or even up the Bosporus.

Se location of Galata Bridge on this map 

Similar stories on Enjoy Food & Travel

Monday, June 20, 2011

A one minute bechamel

Norwegian cottage cheese. Photo:

I bought one pound of lasagna at my local deli today, and discovered when I opened the package in my kitchen that they had cheated. Only tomato sauce between the lasagna sheets, no white sauce, no bechamella!! As I urged for a white sauce topping, I was forced to improvise, and I waived my magic culinary wand, and presto! A one-minute-bechamel-sauce, literally made within a minute. 
One of the fallen lasagnas, no bechamel!
I did not take this idea at random. Many years ago I visited my aunt Hanne in the US. We visited Helga and Frank,  their neighbours. 
Frank and Helga served lasagna and had substituted the bechamel with ricotta cheese, a an Italian sheep milk or cream-cheese cow milk whey cheese, not unlike cottage cheese. It was delicious. 
I happened to have a container with cottage cheese in my refrigerator. I took 2 large tbsp of cheese, mixed with 20cl single cream and 75 grams (3 oz) grated cheese.
As the cottage cheese consists of small soft kernels, I blended the ingredients with my hand mixer, added salt and pepper. If you have nutmeg, add a little to the sauce. 
I found an oven proof dish that fitted the lasagna, poured the white sauce over and sprinkled cheese on top. Place in a hot oven until the cheese is golden brown.
The sauce was not as smooth as a bechamel, but it was deliciously creamy. I am converted to this easy way to make a white sauce, so no more roux. From now on I will mix a my super-rapid bechamel in minutes.

More white sauce on Enjoy Food & Travel  
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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Rating Hotel de France, Ferney-Voltaire

I had high hopes for my stay at Hotel de France. I dare say that I was quite disappointed. It felt budget and was overpriced compared to what you paid.

Rating Hotel de France, Ferney Voltaire: BBB+ (3, 44 points)
  • Location: BBBB+
  • Service: BBB+
  • Room: BBB-
  • Breakfast (Not included): BBB
  • Facilities: BBB
  • Price: BBBB
Facade - Hotel de France
Location: Hotel de France is a hotel located in the community of Ferney-Voltaire, bordering Switzerland. Ferney-Voltaire is a charming village with quaint houses, restaurants and bars in abundance just a half-hour drive away from Geneva. The hotel is in an early 17th century listed building that once belonged to Monsieur Wagnière, secretary of the famous philosopher Voltaire that resided here from 1758 to 1778.
The F-bus from the City Hall will take you to Geneva’s main railway station in around 30 minutes, whereas bus Y will take you to the airport.
Ground floor interior
Service: The staff at the hotel did a decent job, but we had a few objections to the general service level. Our major concern was the fact that the hotel literally closed from 11AM to 5 PM, leaving guests arriving at that time to fend for themselves.
Guests were give access to the premises through a pin code that opened a door to the stair case. This arrangement has its security concerns as well, as it may give access to petty criminals while the hotel is left unguarded during the day. The last day we could not leave our luggage in a safe luggage room, but in the hotel corridor, as there was no one there during day.
Bed and bedside table
I also experienced that my bed was not properly made twice during our stay, and towels were not changed when left on the floor, as instructed. On our first morning we were left with very little bread when arriving at the end of the breakfast time. These small things affect the service score.
Room: Room number 26 was small, and the bathroom was even tinier. In the middle there is a large, comfortable bed, a smaller, less practical desk, a huge armoire, and a refrigerator. A flat screen TV showed only two channels, CNN International and a French speaking channel. Security was definitely increased by the presence of a hotel safe found in the armoire.
View from room 26
Rooms facing the street were subjected to considerable noise during night, and noise from aircrafts as the airport runway was not far away.
The bathroom had a shower cabinet, a sink with no place for toiletries, and a toilet, all cramped into a very little space. Decor was neutral but rather dated with no period features visible, and floor had wall to wall carpets. The bathroom was in need of maintenance, as tiles were cracked in the corner and part of the wall close to the floor needed paint. Shower cabinet looked rather distressed.
Dust was found on surfaces as top of TV, picture frames, and armoires. Shower cabinet looked dirty as well. 
Breakfast: Served from 7.30 AM to 11AM Monday-Friday and 8.30 AM to 11AM during weekends and cost 8 Euros. Low priced, but you had a decent selection of products. Breads were generally fine white bread and croissants, with no fibre alternatives. If you wanted a warm start of the day, you had to boil your own egg, a strange arrangement in my mind. A small selection of cheese, cold cuts as well as healthy options.
Staircase with 17th century features
Facilities: Hotel de France has few facilities for guests. It has a small bar, and an excellent restaurant, the latter will be rated later but is highly recommended. There are no fitness or wellness facilities available. The hotel offers a wi-fi throughout the hotel at a rate of 3 Euros per day, but I did not manage to access the network during my stay.
Price: At 100 Euros per night, and an additional 8 Euros for breakfast, I find Hotel de France overpriced compared to what you pay. Hotel de France is a low-priced alternative to hotels in neighbouring Geneva, and offers budget lodging for those visiting the border area.


Hotel de France
1 Rue de Geneve
1210 Ferney-VoltaireFrance

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