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A tour of Madrid's museums? And then dinner nearby

Madrid is an exceptional city for any art lover. And a gastronomic metropolis for the most discerning palates. To help you get the most out of your time, here are some restaurant recommendations for every museum. ENJOY!

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The best pizzas al taglio in Rome

By Silvia Artaza from Gastronomistas

Rome. The Eternal City. One of those places in the world where anyone would want to fall in love. A walk, agelato, the Coliseum. A terrace, some laughter. Going to the Vatican and wishing time would stand still in the Sistine Chapel. Its pastas, its pizzas, itsaperitivi. Getting lost in the Trastevere or sitting in anypiazza. I don't think you really need a reason to fly to Rome but - just in case - here are a few.

We've chosen pizzaal taglio(by the slice) as an excuse for our trip because we think it's a great way to take in Rome on a tourist's day out. The fact is that Rome has many things but if there's one thing that it can really shout about, it's an overwhelming abundance of monuments, art and culture.

You will find pizzaal taglioat every corner. In apanificio, in afornoor in bars withtavola calda(hot table) where there are tables to sit at. You can't miss it. If you find yourself in front of a big glass counter, then you've found those pizzasal taglio.

Forget typical pizza. These pizzasal tagliohave a characteristic texture and thickness. They require a high water content in the dough, they have to be spongy and you will find them with lots of ingredients. It is a cheap, fast and - if you know how to choose well - really delicious formula. They are sold in portions by weight, premises are small and there may not even be tables.Street foodRoman style in the pure state. Here's our top choice:

Forno Campo de 'Fiori

They have been producing all kinds of breads, pizzas and other specialities in thisfornofor over 30 years. Their pizzabianca(just the dough, without any type of ingredient) is one of the best in the city. Spongy and crunchy. No tricks. Light. You can have it on its own, use it as bread for a sandwich or give it a savoury filling or something sweet likenutella.

Campo De' Fiori, 22 http://www.fornocampodefiori.com/

Antico Forno Roscioli

Another classicalfornoa few steps from thepiazzaCampo de’Fiori. Here we also find the "barest" specialities of pizzaal tagliosuch as thebiancaor therossa, which only has pomodoro (tomato) and is the one that sells most. Other varieties also come out of the oven, such as the Caprese, with fresh mozzarella, raw tomatoes and basil. Spongy dough and crunchy crusts.

Via dei Chiavari, 34 http://www.salumeriaroscioli.com/

Pizza Zazà

Also central - very near the Pantheon and the Piazza Navona. It is open longer hours than thefornoso you can pop by at supper time too. Its pizza dough is fermented for 72 hours and they work with fresh, organic ingredients with no animal fat. We tried the spinach one with fresh mozzarella and the salmon one. We had seconds with the mushroom one. Very good.

Piazza di Sant’Eustachio, 49. http://www.pizzazaza.it/it/index.html

Pizzarium

This is a little further away but it's worth the visit. Perfect if you're taking a tour of the Vatican. Here you can try the varieties that are a little more creative and risky, such as mortadella with chickpea paste (exactly, it doesn't have tomato or cheese) and fresh ingredients such as aubergine, artichoke, spinach, ham or pumpkin flowers.

Via della Meloria, 43

Trapizzio

If we're talking about creativity, we can't forget this place. Also far from the centre, this time it's recommended if you're near the Coliseum or the Circus Maximus. Creative because the pizza here is stuffed and served in original cones. Inside? Nothing that might be expected. Here the pizza is stuffed with traditional stews likechicken alla cacciatora,bollito pichiapoorparmigiana di melazane. We also tried thesuppli, a kind of ball-shaped croquette stuffed with rice and more, such as for example, chicken curry. All really good and great staff.

Via Giovanni Branca, 88 http://www.trapizzino.it/

More pizzas al taglio at:

Angelo e Simonetta. Via Nomentana 581

Pizzeria Serenella. Via Salaria 70

Volpetti Più. Via Alessandro Volta 8

Pizzeria Gegè. Piazza Vescovio 17

Farro Zero. Via Alfonso Rendano 31

Other tips for eating in Rome:

Now that we've been there, we'll tell you - because we didn't just eat pizza on our getaway. Pasta is another of the big names in Italian cuisine, which is prepared in a thousand and one ways depending on the area. In Rome you will find a large variety but there's alwaysSpaghetti alla carbonara,Bucatini all’amatriciana(tomato sauce, a kind of bacon, pecorino cheese and pepper),Spaghetti cacio e pepe(just with oil, pecorino and pepper) orPenne all’arrabbiata(with garlic and pepper that is a little spicy). Pasta and more, such asaperitivi, an Italian custom of meeting after work to have a spritz and a snack on a selection of dishes, buffet-style, where only the drink has to be paid for. Make a note of these three addresses:

Trattoria Moderna. Cerca de Campo De' Fiori, this trattoriawill win you over through its pastas and its homemade tiramisu. Don't forget to look at the day's specials. We loved the Ravioli with ricottaand spinach with cherry tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella and Tortellini stuffed with meat and served with a cheese sauce. (Vicolo dei Chiodaroli 16)

Navona Notte.A narrow street around the Piazza Navona. Good pastas, risotto and terrinesas antipastiin delicious clay casseroles. We went for the zucchine(courgette) a la parmigianawith buffalo mozzarella, basil , tomato and pecorinoand parmigianocheeses. (Via del Teatro Pace 44)

Freni e Frizioni. A premises in El Trastevere for having your aperitivi. Good atmosphere and a square full of people in one of liveliest districts in the city. It also has a cocktail bar (Via del Politeama 4 – 6 http://www.freniefrizioni.com/ )

Where to sleep:

If you know Rome, then you already know that Termini is one of the best options for accommodation. If not, we recommend it to you, because all transport from the airport goes there and it is a very well-connected area, both for getting around on foot and also for getting away by bus, underground or train.

We stayed at the Eurostars International Palace (Via Nazionale, 46 http://www.hoteleurostarsinternationalpalace.com/) a recommendable hotel in the area. Comfortable, in a good location, with very friendly staff and a breakfast that, of course, is added to the list of gastronomic tips that we are giving you here. Sweet items, different breads, cold meats, cheeses, or heavier options such as eggs or salad, or fresh fruit... everything! It feels great to start a day of tourism in Rome like this - a city that we won't tire of recommending you to walk around, experience and enjoy. Buon appetito!

Makes you want to go, right? Do it! Check out our prices here!

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Tasty Eating in Palermo’s Markets and Other Spots

Palermo strikes a curious balance between large shopping precincts and narrow streets exuding romantic decadence, between makeshift street grill-stalls throbbing with electronic music and leisurely faddish restaurants. The city is, at times, caught up in another era, but also in the present, while aspiring to a better future.

A city of contrasts, influences and cultural convergence, Palermo has a lot to say in gastronomic terms. Both pasta and pizza are a mainstay of local cuisine, as they are in the rest of Italy, although here they have been revamped, displaying surprising traits, and combined with other local dishes that draw heavily on the sea or trip and offal. And, it is immediately evident the moment you walk into any of its markets, a must-see attraction if you happen to journey here.

Vucciria, Il Capo and Ballaró

Palermo’s three markets. They open every day except Sunday, from early in the morning until nightfall. As the stall produce becomes depleted, they clear up and bolt the small garages that act as storerooms. The markets are best visited in the morning, if you want to enjoy them in full swing. There’ll be vegetables you have likely never seen before, as well as spices, cheeses, a wealth of different olives, peppers, huge swordfish heads…

You can try street specialities such as pane con la milza or pani ca’ meusa (a sandwich of spleen fried in lard, served up with caciocavallo or ricotta cheese and lemon), arancini (fried rice balls, usually stuffed with meat) and panelle (gram flour fritters).

You could also take a breather and enjoy a marsala (vintage wine) at such bars as the legendary Taverna Azzurra, in the Vucciria, a meeting point every weekend after nightfall, when the market streets have been taken over by the youth, birras, music, table football and grills stuffed with stigghiola (tripe seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon, with or without bread).

You can stroll through the markets, sip a marsala wine and eat stigghiola. But you can also trek across the whole city and take note of some of the eateries worth visiting.

Da Diego. Pizzas and more, on the Via della Libertá. Not a tourist in sight and filled to bursting. An assortment of thick-dough pizzas stuffed with ingredients. We go for the one with mozzarella, sausage, spinach and mushrooms, accompanied by some swordfish involtini (rolls) with aubergine sauce, and sfinzione (Sicilian pizza) stuffed with ricotta and pesto. This is a type of focaccia topped with a crust of tomato, caciocavallo cheese, anchovy, onion and aromatic herbs.

Trattoria Michele & Jolanda. Just like home. We expected home cooking and, boy, did we get it! There you’ll be welcomed by Michele in the dining-room and Jolanda in the kitchen, sitting down at the table as if she were a guest. We order caponata (aubergine and other vegetables in tomato sauce), caprese (tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil) and a cold pepper salad as antipasti. Then pasta alla norma (tomato, aubergine and other vegetables), accompanied by le sarde, a typical Palermo recipe based on fresh sardines and fennel. And, not to be disloyal to the traditional repertoire, we round it off with cannoli– crisp, rolled pastry wafers filled with ricotta cheese. If you’re looking for an entertaining, lively, tasty, homemade meal at a good price, don’t fail to come here. It’s on the Via Cappuccini 12.

Osteria Mangia e Bevi. Quaint and pleasant. Beyond the family milieu we come to a trendier restaurant, but without foregoing fresh, wholesome cuisine, of course. We can recommend this restaurant for its fresh pasta, its fried pasta and its agglassati – two traditional ways of using up leftovers from yesterday’s dishes. Ideal, too, for tasting local wines and a marvellous cannolo served in a glass.

Other Pointers

When it comes to lodgings, we can recommend the Castelnuovo area, set in a shopping precinct and just a stone’s throw from the old town. We stayed at the Hotel Politeama, which is functional and provides wonderful, congenial service and a breakfast not lacking in sweet, savoury, fruit, jams with a host of flavours, different kinds of bread and even cannoli! The hotel looks onto a large piazza and the airport bus stops right outside the door, giving you a headstart if you want to move about without wasting time.

If you have the odd day left over, you are encouraged to get out of Palermo and discover a bit of Sicily. To accomplish this it is wise to get in touch with Ulisse, which organises regular, private outings from there. They really look after you – you won’t have any language difficulties and will be spared hassles when you need to use public transport and pick your way through the island’s chaotic traffic.

A destination worth discovering – Check out our flights here.

Text and photos by Silvia Artaza (Gastronomistas)

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In Summer – A Beach in Brussels

The idea is not new. For some years now, these artificial urban beaches have popped up each summer in Berlin, Hamburg and under the bridges of the river Seine in Paris. You won’t have to cram the whole family into your car, or embark on a long, hot journey to feel the sand under your feet and freshen up in the water. In Brussels, this tropical paradise is known as Les Bains de Bruxelles and it lasts for five weeks on the Quai des Péniches, along the Brussels Canal. It opens from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

True, there aren’t many waves, but some ingenuity has been applied to making the beach as attractive as possible; indeed, it draws an extremely diverse crowd of beach-goers. The 6,000 m² of sand are dotted with deck-chairs, palm trees and coconut palms, striped sunshades and beach bars serving vividly coloured cold beverages. The atmosphere is a family one during the day and sports activities include beach football, volleyball, boule and ping-pong, as well as games for young children. Pedalos and kayaks can be hired at reasonable prices on Sundays. You can also go for a ride along the canal on board the Bruxelles les Bains, which offers various tours – the short one takes 55 minutes; the longest one is a 2-hour cruise, and there is also a “cocktail cruise”, by night – while the harbour’s history and geography is expounded on by a guide.

This chill-out on the beach is accompanied by the Let It Beach festival, now in its third year. A variety of concerts liven up the evening on weekends, while on Fridays the music turns to folk, rock, pop and hip-hop. Jazz and world music take centre stage on Saturdays. The Sunday programmes target the younger set, with workshops, dances and, of course, more concerts. Night reverie is bolstered by free sessions of Croisetteke, every day from 6 p.m. on, in addition to theBoat Club,an exclusive floating club which hosts the liveliest parties in Brussels.

Not Without My Ice-cream!

When the thermometer seems to be driving endlessly upwards, another delicious way of keeping cool is to have an ice-cream. And, for those who can’t contemplate a day at the seaside without ice-cream, here are some of the best parlours in town:

Comus & Gasterea (Quai aux Briques, 86)

A place for trying the newest and most unusual flavours. It features some of the strangest ice-creams in the world, with such flavours as caviar, olive oil, Roquefort, lichi, wasabi aubergine and basil, home-made and free of additives or colouring agents. All you need is to be patient, as queues can sometimes build up outside its doors.

Capoue (Rue de Wand, 112)

Chez Capoue is one of the oldest ice-cream parlours in Brussels and, while at Comus & Gasterea you find the most unusual flavours, in Capoue they make the most daring combinations, notably bounty, blood orange and spiced bread. They are also have them sugar-free for diabetics, or lactose-free for those allergic to dairy.

Il Monello (Chaussée de Charleroi, 31 -33)

While Il Monello opened only recently, it has already made a name for itself in the city for its traditional pastries and homemade ice-creams. They also serve the latter atop a waffle for those seeking consistency (or calories).

Zizi (Rue de la Mutualité, 57A)

Zizi, a veritable institution in Brussels, is the city’s best-known ice-cream parlour. In the sixty years they have been open, they have never altered their manufacturing process. The flavours are natural and free of colouring agents.

Brussels Rules!

Brussels is a refreshing destination this summer, but not only because of its urban beach. Throughout the summer, every Friday from 5 p.m. to 11.30 p.m., the Apéros Urbains or animated afterworks are held in some of the most attractive spots in the city. Also featured is the Midis Minimes classical music festival, with daily concerts lasting 35 minutes from 12.15 p.m. (until 28 August), held in the Church of Saint-Jean et Etienne aux Minimes and in the Conservatorio Real.

Come and experience it for yourself. Come on! Pick up your towel and check out the flights to… Brussels!

Text by Scanner FM

Images by Eric Danhier

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