Friday, December 30, 2011

Boston, Massachusetts - Galleria Umberto


Today marks one year that I have been eating, sleeping, shopping and gallivanting around the world and reporting it all back to you! Thanks to all of my faithful followers who both read and use my travel advice. As a special treat, I am going to reveal, what I believe to be, my most coveted food secret in Boston: Galleria Umberto (289 Hanover Street in Boston's North End).  I hesitated to share this special place, as the line to reach the counter is already long enough, but it is just too sacred an eatery to keep to myself. I grew up on this food.

Arancini, panini, potato croquettes and calzone 

Galleria Umberto, located in Boston's North End, opened its doors in 1965 (originally on Parmenter Street) and was founded by an Italian immigrant. Today his family carry on the tradition of homemade square pan pizza, calzone, panini, potato croquettes and arancini (the size of oranges). The two brothers work the counter and the rest of the family are in the kitchen. This is as authentic as you get; the minute you step through the door you feel like you have been transported back in time to the old Italy of long ago.

The menu is simple and only features a few items, at dirt cheap prices. Galleria Umberto is only open from 11am to 2pm each day and closed on Sundays. But beware, unless you show up when the doors open at 11am, you will wait in line for at least an hour.

Ralph serves up the juicy and hot square pan pizza

Paul grabbing boxes to fill the take-out orders

The inside of an arancino: ground meat, peas and melted cheese fried in a ball of rice

Food can be taken away or eaten inside here at tables

Only a few menu items, and look at the low prices!

The original founders of Galleria Umberto

At lunchtime, the line is out the door!

The store front on Hanover Street in Boston

And still to this day, you can see the old Italian immigrants doing their daily shopping in and around the shops of Boston's North End:

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Boston, Massachusetts - Christmas in Boston

Illuminated trellis at Christopher Columbus Park on Boston Harbor with the Custom House clock tower standing watch
Now that I live in London,  the saying 'home for the holidays' has new meaning for me. I have just returned home to Boston to visit with family and friends over the next ten days and am having fun reuniting with my hometown, revisiting old haunts, exploring new shops and restaurants and taking in the decorations throughout the city. Wherever you are today, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and all good things for the New Year 2012!!

Walking underneath the trellis in Christopher Columbus Park

Skating at the Frog Pond in America's oldest park: Boston Common

A Beacon Hill street

Commonwealth Avenue Mall

The tree arrives at Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall

And the tree is lit at Faneuil Hall Marketplace
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Sunday, December 18, 2011

London, England - Christmas in London

"Yuletide arrives in London with the unveiling of Claridge’s Christmas tree. In 2009, the Art Deco hotel introduced a new tradition by tapping talented guests to trim it. This December, Lanvin Creative Director Alber Elbaz gives the traditional tannenbaum a Continental twist. The Christmas evening tableau depicts the Lanvin family, created in handmade silk poupee figures, lounging on French antique furniture after a few too many tipples. The cheeky cast of characters includes a doorman, a maid, Mr. and Mrs. Lanvin and—ooh la la—Mr. Lanvin’s mistress. What could be more French! The guests are perched poised to open dozens of Lanvin gift boxes, tucked under a tree bedecked with glass orbs and exotic birds designed in Lanvin’s Paris atelier. Floating above all, a Christmas topper displays a magic wand, glitter wings and decidedly familiar spectacles. In this fantastical creation, Alber Elbaz is an angel indeed." - Departures Magazine

The french maid is my favorite!

A little Christmas note from Alber Elbaz from Lanvin

The fabulous Swarovski themed windows at Harrods

A boys choir singing around the piano at afternoon tea at the Dorchester Hotel

Regent Street Lights

The window at Dolce & Gabbana on Sloane Street, love the hanging mini panettone

A simple and lovely wreath on the front door of a home on Kinnerton Street, Belgravia

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Vienna, Austria - Christmas in Vienna

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Rome, Italy - Christmas in Rome

A beautiful Fendi belt wrapped around the Palazzo Fendi shop and headquarters
at the start of Via Condotti

Posing in front of a lovely tree in a piazza off of Via del Corso
A tree-lined (and crowded!) Via Condotti leading up to the famous Spanish Steps

Even the tops of traditional panettone cakes have a nativity scene

Christmas strufoli sweets in the window of the famous Il Fornaio in Campo dei Fiori

A massive tree in the lobby of the well known 5 star Grand Hotel de la Minerve

Everything you need to create your own nativity scene at the Christmas market stalls in Piazza Navona
Stunning ornaments for sale at the Christmas market in Piazza Navona
In Italian culture, the Befana visits all the children of Italy on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany (January 5th) to fill their socks or an empty shoe with candy and presents if they are good, or a lump of coal or dark candy if they are bad. Being a good housekeeper, many say she will sweep the floor before she leaves. The child's family typically leaves a small glass of wine and a plate with a few morsels of food, often regional or local, for the Befana. She is usually portrayed as an old lady riding a broomstick through the air wearing a black shawl and is covered in soot because she enters the children's houses through the chimney.

Santa, la Befana and his reindeer pose for pictures in Piazza Navona

Statues of the Befana for sale in Piazza Navona
Illuminated Virgin Mary statues in every church prepare for the birth of baby Jesus
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