|Apartments for short stays in Berlin
Berlin is packed with visitors year-round, but it can be especially cumbersome to book a room in summer, during Oktoberfest, Christmas, New YearвЂ™s, and Easter weekend. To rent an apartment in Berlin instead of a hotel room may prove a convenient and money-saving alternative, if you are staying longer and travelling with companions.
By choosing apartment accommodation in Berlin, you get a completely autonomous home with all the comforts and advantages of independent living. Apartments in Berlin are self-catering, so you can cook and make tea or coffee if you do not feel like dining out.
If you are about to travel with family or friends, apartment accommodation comes in handy, because renting a 1-, 2- or 3-bedroom apartment in Berlin is much easier than booking several hotel rooms, not to mention that it is much cheaper. Not only will you stay in a comfortable setting, but also you will be able to spend quality time together without necessarily having to go out.
The wide variety of apartments available in Berlin, especially in the central district Mitte, makes it easy to find a perfect apartment that suits you just right. Most of the apartments are close to major attractions and sites of Berlin which makes sightseeing a breeze.
Sweet Home Abroad also offers apartment, cottage and villa short-term rentals all over Europe and North America.
Katya RGiuseppe Benesta, our favourite Italian chef and the owner of Acqua e Sale in Barcelona, is a busy man intent on writing the most comprehensive cook book dedicated to the Mediterranean cuisine, of which he is the master (at least on this side of the Pyrenees). The writing generally occurs alongside parenting three adorably energetic daughters and running a restaurant, so the process is taking a while even by the Italian standards. Close friends of the chef have stopped holding their breaths for the book to ever see the light of day, but the more cunning of the sort go after Giuseppe's secret recipes with the combination of coaxing and trickery. We have slowly but surely been collecting recipes from Giuseppe's secret stash, eventually hoping to be able to cook a whole meal out of them. For now though, with Christmas festivities coming up, Giuseppe has kindly agreed to demonstrate the process of making of one of his most popular desserts - Chocolate Pear Cake with Salt and Olive Oil!
Posted December 22, 2015
500 g of coarse whole wheat flour
250 g of white sugar
15 g of cane sugar
250 g butter for the cake base and 20 g for the filling
Amaretto di Saronno (aromatic Italian liquor)
300 g of 70% cocoa dark chocolate
70 ml of milk
3 Conference pears
150 g of pecans
Combine the flour with the white sugar, add eggs, softened butter and liquor. Make orange zest by grating the peel and add it to the mix.
Blend until smooth.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to chill for an hour.
Put some flour on the working surface and roll out the dough aiming for 2-3 mm thickness.
Put the dough into a baking dish, covering its insides entirely.
To avoid the cake base deforming during baking, prick all of its surface with a fork.
Into the oven it goes! (For 30 minutes.)
While the cake base is in the oven, start making the filling. Break the chocolate into pieces, heat up the milk until it boils and add the chocolate pieces, stirring till smooth. Add a bit of orange zest to the mix too. The chocolate part of the cake filling is ready.
Put some butter (20 g) and the cane sugar (15 g) on a cold frying pan, pour in the Amaretto liquor (40 g) and arrange cut pears over the ingredients. Cooking on high heat, stir the contents of the pan for 5-6 minutes, moving the pan itself back and forth. If you are using a gas oven, the back and forth motion will ignite the liquor - don't be scared, just don't lean too low over the pan. If the oven is electric, you will need to set fire to the liquor yourself. If you do not want to risk expensive kitchen furniture for some pears flambe, stir the contents without moving the pan.
Take the cake base out of the oven, put it onto your favourite plate and let it cool.
Arrange the pears over the cake base.
Grind the pecans and put them on top.
Pour the chocolate filling over the cake, spreading it evenly and covering pears and pecans completely. Let the cake cool once again.
Now it is time to turn the cake into an Italian offering. Drop several sea salt crystals on the cake, sprinkle it with extra virgin olive oil, add lemon zest and garnish with rosemary.
Buon appetito and merry Christmas!
Katya RRecommending an Italian restaurant to those vacationing in Barcelona is slightly strange: a visitor even of two weeks would barely have enough time to get to know the local (Catalan) cuisine let alone other regional specialties like Galician or Basque offerings. Pizza and pasta are hardly difficult to find outside of Spain, right?
Posted April 21, 2015
Yet what the ingredients are in an Italian restaurant is a bigger question. The pillars of Italian cuisine are fresh Mediterranean vegetables and greens, cheeses, fish and shellfish, meat and poultry, olive oil, rice, flour. If these have to be imported from Italy to make it into your pizza, its price would equal the cost of a three-course meal with wine. Substituting ingredients and adapting recipes to local realities is unavoidable in northern Europe.
The question of вЂњwith whatвЂќ is not as pressing in Barcelona, since locally available vegetables, fish and meat are of the highest quality. The question remaining is вЂњhowвЂќ. Despite the seeming simplicity of Italian specialties, a successful authentic Italian establishment requires not only a world-class chef, but a person who has internalized the smells, the scents and the tastes of Italian cooking throughout her life.
So if a rare bird like that flew into your city and opened a restaurant there, you'd be amiss not to pay it a visit.
Giuseppe BenestГ conforms to all the rigid standards outlined above: he spent his childhood in a restaurant owned by his parents in Armento (Basilicata) вЂ“ an osteria on the ground floor of their family home. He graduated from the highly regarded culinary schools in Potenza and Florence and gathered experience in a lengthy trip around the world (London, Milan, Los Angeles). In 2007 seГ±or BenestГ settled in Barcelona, where three years later he opened a restaurant in Poblenou. ACQUA & SALE is located on Carrer Joncar 17.
The restaurant's name, вЂњWater and SaltвЂќ, references the first song of the album recorded in 1998 by Mina and Adriano Celentano. Naturally, the song is about love, not the proper way to boil pasta. You wouldn't hear any Italian pop songs inside the restaurant though вЂ“ the owner is partial to jazz. Regulars will learn to like it too, since after the second or the third visit it becomes evident that jazz is the ideal music for the restaurant's atmosphere.
Secrets are not kept from guests: freshness and quality of ingredients is the point of pride here. Everything that will eventually make it onto your plate can be examined, touched, sniffed beforehand. The natural answer to any food-related question, like the fattiness of lamb in a dish, for example, is to show you the cut of meat to help you decide if you want to order it.
The menu offers non-residents of Italy an exciting opportunity to broaden their pasta horizons. Not many would know the sight and the taste of fish-stuffed mezzelune with putanesca sauce or buckwheat orecchiette with broccoli and salchicha.
All pasta, desserts and even Limoncello are home- and hand-made by Giuseppe and Co.
Every Sunday, the restaurant invites guests to have brunch accompanied by live music. It is, of course, jazz. Food-wise, you can order from the regular menu or choose a moderately priced prix-fixe option.
To claim that ACQUA & SALE is a cheap restaurant would be incorrect. An average bill here is higher than in most neighbouring places on Rambla del Poblenou. However, the personal presence of the chef in the fully open kitchen, creative plates that he cooks from the freshest ingredients, a cozy and welcoming vibe of the restaurant can't cost peanuts. Certainly, you can appease your post-beach hunger with a hamburger, a pack of chips and a bottle of beer, but aren't we a bit more romantic than this? Giuseppe will attest that the food you eat should not be taken for granted.
Katya ROn Sunday, December 7th, we were invited to see a game of football. It was, of course, a match of FC Barcelona, played at the famous Camp Nou stadium against their city rivals, RCD Espanyol, whose home base is located in CornellГ de Llobregat (a suburban town bordering Barcelona).
Posted December 9, 2014
The invitation was to the VIP lounge of Camp Nou that forms part of FCB Hospitality program. In our case the tickets we had were the actual stadium seats outside (not the box ones) with a splendid view of the stadium. "These are damn good seats," - remarked my companion, and boy was he right!
Besides the prime view in the house, we also had access to Sala Gol, a comfortable lounge not unlike an airport business class lounge with coat check, catering service before, during and after the game, and open bar before and after the match (not during the intermission, as serving alcohol s prohibited there during football games).
We were given wrist bands for easy access and were left to enjoy the facilities.
The game started right before dusk.
Free drinks and canapГ© food was great, of course, but even better was the fact that we got to witness some great football by BarГ§a stars. To see Lionel Messi, Gerard PiquГ©, and Pedro score: priceless!
FCB 5-1 Espanyol
Amazing evening at Camp Nou, all in all. It has to be noted, though, that prices for the VIP tickets are exorbitant and are probably not worth it for the majority of football fans. You can eat just as well, if not better, in many restaurants in Barcelona, enjoy amazing wine before the game, and get good seats for a BarГ§a game for much cheaper. But, if you are after luxury, of course, the experience is a fitting one.
Katya REverything is great in Barcelona's Eixample: its convenient location, its almost total safety and security are undisputed; shops, cafes and restaurants are in thousands, and one can't go two steps without stumbling upon an architectural masterpiece. The winning formula that puts Eixample above the other central neighbourhoods in Barcelona is far from winning, however, when it comes to the number of green spaces вЂ“ parks and gardens вЂ“ available locally. Residents and visitors alike, especially with children, feel the deficit once they settle here.
Posted October 21, 2014
Ildefons Cerda, the genius urban planner behind the creation of Eixample in the mid-19th century, had initially decided to build the new district city blocks that would be U- or L-shaped, making the inner yards accessible from the street. If everything had gone according to plan, every yard would have had a garden. However, it was not meant to be: the blocks ended up being octagonal, the gardens were forgotten, and today's Eixample courtyards typically look like this:
Many Cerda's ideas got appreciated only many years after his death. For example, many thought Cerda mad for wanting the streets much wider than what was needed for horse-drawn transport to move through вЂ“ thank god it was just kitchen talk, as today's drivers would probably agree. It was the same story with gardens: only in the 20th century it became suddenly apparent that children are people too and they need spaces to go for walks and have fun without risking to get run over by a "horse".
After Barcelona had been announced as the host of the 1992 Summer Olympic Games, the city turned into a huge construction site, and inner yards of Eixample were included in the "Do-Something-About-It" list. At the end of the 80s small gardens started appearing within Eixample blocks, and they were named Jardins dВґInterior dВґIlla.
Often these are called "Secret" or "Hidden" gardens, as it is an unlikely guess that through the narrow entrance or tunnel lies sunlight, trees and a cozy bench, despite an obligatory green sign that promises all of that.
Today, almost thirty blocks have their own secret gardens. Finding out if you are located close to one is fairly easy. Look at Eixample from above using Google Maps and spot a green square вЂ“ this would be the garden you are looking for! Time to head out to find the coveted green plate next to the entrance.
In most cases, the only difference between one garden and another is the area that was won from offices and shops of the block in question, and, therefore, the number of trees and benches available once you are inside. Creating a whole miniature Park GГјell within the yard is impossible, not to mention that the target audience вЂ“ children вЂ“ would probably not appreciate using the space in that way.
Some gardens in Eixample do stand out, nonetheless. For example, Placeta de Joan Brossa that is found in the Left Eixample, on the spot marked by the streets Carrer dВґAribau вЂ“ Carrer del RosellГі вЂ“ Carrer dВґEnric Granados вЂ“ Carrer de CГІrsega. Because the neighbouring restaurant operates its summer terrace in the garden, here playing with kids, reading books and meditating can be accompanied by coffee, wine and tapas.
Another garden well worth mentioning is Jardins de la Torre de les AigГјes that appeared in Barcelona in 1987 and actually headlined the project of Jardins dВґInterior dВґIlla. Look for it in the quarter of Carrer de Roger de LlГєria вЂ“ Carrer de la DiputaciГі вЂ“ Carrer del Bruc вЂ“ Carrer del Consell de Cent. The garden got its name from the water tower standing right here, built in 1870 to supply the first inhabitants of Eixample with tap water.
Ten mouths a year this garden is just your usual green spot deal: children play, teenagers make out, adults read or just relax.
But at the end of June the fun begins, and you can take part for a (really small) price of admission. Jealous much, Barceloneta?
Eixample is definitely a great place to call home in Barcelona.
Posted September 22, 2014
Barcelona's biggest festival celebrating its patron saint, Our Lady of Mercy (Virgin Mary), is hitting the streets this week. All traditional elements of celebrating a fiesta mayor in Catalonia are present at La MercГ©, including human castle builders (castellers), dancing giants (gegants) and big-heads (capgrossos), sardana dancers, and last but not least... Correfoc, or the Fire Run! Correfoc is by no means exclusive to La Merce, as most neighbourhoods of Barcelona and pueblos of Catalonia have their own Correfoc teams, but La Merce is where most outsiders are exposed to this visually impressive and edgy pastime.
Correfoc involves the procession of people dressed like devils showering the spectators with fire sparks and guiding spark-breathing beasts (mostly dragons). Crowds can join in and walk along with Correfoc. The whole affair fills the air with smoke, loud bangs, firecracker explosions and yells of delight and sometimes fright. If you are in town for it, don't miss it!
Bear in mind that Correfoc involves flying sparks that can be potentially flammable or cause burns. If you have never seen Correfoc up close or participated in one, keep a distance and admire the spectacle from afar. If you are intent on getting as close to the devils as you dare, wear non-flammable closing that covers as much of your body as possible, a cap or a hood and, most importantly, glasses or goggles to protect your eyes!