Madrid anti-clockwise

I run early before heat encases the city, although its grip is palpable already. I slide beside walls and stick to shadows cast on slivers of street littered with last night’s debris. Morning tourists are few but strewn like slowly perambulating hazards. Smart locals in shades dodge them deftly whilst speaking nineteen to the dozen … More Madrid anti-clockwise

Le Sfogline

Le Sfogline – sisters of pasta. More accurately, it means: those who make sheets of pasta by hand in the traditional way by using a rolling pin (mattarello). Rick Stein met them once (these particular sfogline, who are indeed sisters) and they reminded him that never in Bologna – or Italy for that matter – … More Le Sfogline

Tapeando in El Tubo

Zaragoza’s tapas quarter is small and perfectly formed in a web of old streets called “El Tubo“. The narrow lanes of Calle de los Estébanes and Calle de la Libertad comprise its core, with bar after bar offering gastronomic delights, and then more spin off into the neighbouring streets. Its a fine way to follow the Spanish … More Tapeando in El Tubo

Bodegas Almau

In the heart of El Tubo de Zaragoza is a small place with a big reputation. Its name is Bodegas Almau. Old and atmospheric (it’s been here since 1870), bottles and barrels adorn its yellow walls. Groups of friends crowd the floor, and the few tables are crammed.  Squeeze in at the bar to order … More Bodegas Almau

Solo in Zaragoza

My husband sent me to Zaragoza. He insisted – said he wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. I wondered what I had done wrong, or had I done something right? “A break”, he offered with gentle conviction. “You can think, you can write – just get away. Take two nights.” “But …” I had a … More Solo in Zaragoza

Con le mani

A blurred picture of the old gent who sits in charge (front of house) at the tiny but perfectly formed Lo Sdrucciolo just around the corner from the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. Watching us struggling to capture the garlicky tomato mix tumbling from our bruschette al pomodoro, he decides to abandon his accustomed seat by the … More Con le mani

Lunch with Giovanna

The mid-afternoon hour is burning hot, and the busy streets of Florence are stifling, even in the shade. We seek a late lunch, a light bite washed down with something cool. So we slide into the seats of a sheltered café terrace tucked to the side of Borgo degli Albizi. We are alone. Why? Because we … More Lunch with Giovanna

Mohamad’s Berlin

Our guide shakes our hands, and introduces himself with a smile. His name is Mohamad, and he is from Syria. He doesn’t disclose his surname, and when I ask if I can take photos of the tour he is about to give, he says, “Of course, but please none of me.” (he doesn’t say why, but … More Mohamad’s Berlin

Music in Málaga

This was not my small child, but every passerby was charmed by her (and the music). She refused to leave the busker, who played beautifully and almost tenderly for his new biggest fan. Soon they both had an audience. Her parents beckoned her onwards in vain – so eventually her father returned to grab her hand, tugging it … More Music in Málaga