Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Venice, Italy - Lunch at Rosa Salva

Famous tramezzini sandwiches in all varieties

I was in Venice this weekend for a friend's wedding and was lucky enough to accompany the bride and her parents for lunch on the big day, where she ate her last meal as a single woman before being married a few hours later. Natives of the nearby town of Mestre, they knew exactly where to go for a light snack (we had a wedding dress to fit into after all!) amidst the sea of unsavory tourist food and rip-off restaurants that unfortunately make up most of Venice. We wound our way around about two streets parallel to St. Mark's Square and ducked in Rosa Salva. Amazing: not a tourist in sight and honest prices, not to mention sandwiches and fresh baked pastries that were absolutely delicious. 

More traditional sandwiches with Italian meats and cheeses

Just one small section of the many sweets that are freshly made on-site
Rosa Salva has an amazing history and has been carried on by six generations since 1870. It all began with Andrea Rosa's innovative concept: a mobile kitchen providing 'on-site banquets' in Venice's palazzi and the villas of the mainland. Well ahead of its time, the idea was a great success and Andrea was increasingly called to Veneto villas along the River Brenta, to which he travelled by horse-drawn barge. In 1879 Antonio Rosa, known as Salva, having inherited the 'traveling trattoria,' became chef to the royal household. Prizes and awards made him famous for his cooking, and especially as a refined pastry chef.

A long tradition of baking.  Photo c/o Rosa Salva
Photo c/o Rosa Salva
Photo c/o Rosa Salva

When in Venice, you must stop in for the famous tramezzini, or white bread sandwiches with mayonnaise and lots of fun fillings, such as prosciutto and egg, vegetables, anchovies, shrimp or tuna, for example. There are also many other traditional sandwiches, all freshly made on the premises. There is plenty of space to sit and enjoy your lunch or even to stand up at the bar. After a few tramezzini, return to the pastry counter and go wild. It will be impossible to choose just one, so try several different kinds. I had a tiramisu that was heaven in a cup. You can even buy Rosa Salva products to take home to friends and family. I stocked up on many bags of the famous buranelli cookies, made famous on the nearby island of Burano. Do yourself a favor and seek out this non-tourist gem next time you are in the City of Masks.

Halfway through my tiramisu
The famous Buranelli cookies from the nearby island of Burano

Standing at the bar at Rosa Salva near San Marco

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Special Edition - And the Winner is ... Shabby Apple Dress Giveaway!

Thank you to everyone who entered the Destinations Perfected dress giveaway from Shabby Apple. We collected all of your entries, assigned a number to each one, and then ran a random number generator, which selected number 15. Number15 belongs to Mindie!

So congratulations Mindie, you won this amazing dress for your fall wardrobe!

A Shabby Apple representative will be emailing you for your shipping address and size.

For all the other readers out there, do stay tuned, as we have another free giveaway contest for something very sparkly coming in September! Pin It

Monday, August 15, 2011

London, England - Afternoon Tea at the Connaught

Jasmine green tea

Finger sandwiches: cucumber and dill cream cheese, egg with homemade mayonnaise and watercress, chicken with chinese eggplant on sun-dried tomato foccacia, smoked salmon and wasabi cream

Various pastries

More pastries!

The beautiful Espelette tea room

Homemade warm scones

Chocolate and rasberry pound cakes to finish
Living in London means observing the ever civilized afternoon tea tradition. Most of the five star hotels
do their own tea service, many of them adding their own spin as a point of difference. The Berkeley hotel, for example, does a Pret-a-Portea inspired by the latest runway collections, where you can nibble on edible delicacies each in the shape of the season's latest "it" bag, designer dress, or high heeled shoe.

I have been making the rounds of the most famous tea spots, picking one each month to try. This month I went to The Connaught hotel in Mayfair to their beautifully windowed Espelette tea room, which has been awarded membership to the British Tea Council. The full tea service costs £35 and includes your choice of many flavored teas, fresh finger sandwiches, homemade scones with jams and clotted cream, a variety of pastries and then sliced cakes to finish. Add a glass of Laurent Perrier champagne for an additional £10 if you love bubbles. 

The Espelette room is a beautiful space with floor to ceiling wrap-around windows that look out onto Mount Street (some great shopping here after tea: Lanvin, Goyard, etc!), exposed brick walls, comfortable couches, crisp table linens, and glorious flower arrangements. The staff are also extremely helpful and take time to explain to you the nuances of the distinct ingredients that make each tea so flavorful. I highly recommend the Connaught if high tea is on your agenda next time you are in London. Remember to book early! Pin It

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Special Edition - Shabby Apple Dress Giveaway!!

I am happy to announce a very special giveaway exclusively for readers of Destinations Perfected! Shabby Apple,  the online retailer specializing in women's and children's clothing and accessories, is giving away, to one lucky Destinations Perfected fan, their El Capitan navy cap sleeve ruffle waist dress, shown here: 

Blue, steep and dangerous, this dress perfectly mimics the famous climbers’ cliff after which it is named. The woven cotton poplin/spandex blend fabric combines with a fitted skirt and bodice to create a sensuous silhouette.  
An eight inch ruffle at the waistline adds the perfect feminine flare.  
(Traveler’s Tip: El Capitan was named by Native Americans and means the ‘rock chief’.)

Not only does Shabby Apple make stylish dresses for women of all shapes and sizes, but they also give 5% of their net dress sales to women's charities throughout Asia and Africa. Style and philanthropy, how can you beat that?!? I guess you could say they are changing the world, one dress at a time.

So here's how you enter: simply visit the Shabby Apple website and browse their dresses. Come back to this post and leave a comment below stating which dress is your absolute favorite in their collection. When the giveaway closes Sunday, August 21st, we will collect all of the entries and pick a winner. Check back here to see if you are the lucky new owner of this gorgeous dress! I will announce the winner on my site and ask you to send me your email address, dress size and shipping address. It's that easy!

*Residents outside of the United States will be responsible for international shipping charges. Pin It

Monday, August 8, 2011

St. Tropez, France - Club 55 (Celebrities Galore)

If there is one place you visit on your trip to St. Tropez, make it Club 55. Pronounced using the French translation ‘cinquante-cinq’, St. Tropez’s oldest beach club is located on the Plage de Pampelonne in Ramatuelle. Every major celebrity makes a pit stop at Club 55 at some point during the summer months. Arrive in your finest designer beach duds and Panama hat and prepare to people watch. Club 55 is made up of a typical Provencal beach bungalow with white canopies surrounded by a thick forest of bamboo where you can lunch in the shade, and a stretch of beach dotted with mattresses and umbrellas that opens up to the blue of the Mediterranean. The most fashionable guests arrive by sea, to the famous wooden pier that jets out from the beach, in a small tender from their mega-yacht anchored offshore.

Lunch is always festive, boisterous and totally jammed, so don’t talk too loudly about your company’s new IPO to avoid involving your neighbor, who is practically sitting in your lap, in insider trading. Waiters whizz by with massive wooden planks of crudite in all varieties, as well as oysters, caviar and their signature colossal artichoke appetizer. The menu also features many types of salads, pasta, roast chicken, fish, meat and daily specials. Desserts are simple fresh berries with ice cream, a sinful chocolate tart or the famous tarte tropezienne. Bring your wallet!! One bottle of water starts at €10 and the prices go up from there.

We were halfway through a bottle of rose wine from the local Chateau de Pampelonne vineyard down the road, when P. Diddy arrived with an entourage for lunch and sat next to our table. Nice to know Diddy and I run in the same circles!
P. Diddy arrives with entourage to lunch at Club 55

My fellow lunch mate

The famous artichoke starter

Veal milanese with a side of tagliatelle pasta

My favorite tarte tropezienne
Vanilla bean ice cream with fresh mini strawberries
After lunch you either head back to your boat, as we did, or return to your mattress on the beach for more rose wine and celebrity spotting. There are always locals roaming the beach offering you fresh cherries and peaches or beignets filled with chocolate or cream. Imagine our surprise when all of a sudden the Australian actor Hugh Jackman was frolicking in the waves with his children right in front of us!

View from your mattress: mega yachts and clear blue sea

A local French man selling plates of fresh cherries and peaches on the beach

Beignets (like donuts) filled with cream or chocolate, yum.

A Hugh Jackman action shot!
Some tips for Club 55:
  • Make sure you call well in advance to make your lunch, as well as your beach mattress, reservations. After you book for lunch with the restaurant host, ask them to transfer your call to the beach cabana so you can reserve spots on the beach.
  • Your beach reservation is only valid until 12 noon, after which point they will give your spot away. Arrive early and you have a better chance of getting the coveted mattresses in the first row closest to the water’s edge.
  • Be warned, two mattress (without towels, you must bring your own) and an umbrella on the beach will run you €50.
  • The earlier you arrive, the better. The traffic on the road leading to Club 55 can be outrageous, and the parking lot across the street from Club 55 fills to capacity by 11am.
  • Club 55 does offer a valet service, but the lot across the street only charges €4.50 for the day, so save yourself the money.
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Thursday, August 4, 2011

St. Tropez, France - Place des Lices Market

Arrived in St. Tropez late Friday night from London for a long weekend of sun, lots of Chateau de Pampelonne rosé wine, and partying with my friend Aruna SethOn Saturday morning, we woke up early and drove into port to check out the market that takes place every Tuesday and Saturday at the Place des Lices. At the market you can find everything from fruits, vegetables, olives, and spices, to typical Provencal products like lavender sachets, tablecloths and soaps. There are many stalls that sell beach gear, such as sun hats (the Panama is still the most popular this season), bikinis, towels, cover-ups and straw bags. There is even a small antique section where you can find pieces of furniture, silverware, vintage bags, paintings and jewelry. 

After a tour of the market, we went for a big slice of the local Tarte Tropezienne for breakfast. La tarte tropezienne consists of two layers of brioche filled with pastry cream and butter cream, sprinkled with rock sugar on the top. As the story goes, in 1955 a Polish pastry chef, Alexandra Micka, began selling sandwiches and cakes to the cast and crew of the film "And God Created Woman" starring Brigitte Bardot. Brigitte and the cast loved this one cake in particular so much that they asked the baker to give it a name. La tarte tropezienne was born and is now a mainstay in French Riviera gastronomy.

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