Ichiran – Tokyo, Japan

Our first ramen experience in Japan was at Ichiran in Tokyo. We went to their Shinjuku branch as it was the closest to our hotel. I call it an ‘experience’ as it couldn’t have been further away to any restaurant experiences you may have in the western world.

Ichiran Shinjuku Tokyo

In the centre of the vibrant Shinjuku neighborhood, just east of the train station, you will find Ichiran-Shinjuku. It is easy to identify it as, chances are, there will be a very long queue at the front. One very very popular place! Forbes actually goes as far as calling it the best ramen in the WORLD!

Shinjuku Tokyo

Eating at Ichiran is a step process! Step 1, queue. Step 2, order from the very confusing, all-in-japanese machine. It took us a few trials and errors to get our orders right, and, to be honest, we still got some extra sides we didn’t even know we had ordered once we sat. The idea is that you select your ramen base and then all the toppings you want as well as the drinks.

Ichiran order machine

You are then handed a piece of paper where you can select how you want your noodles cooked (soft, medium, hard, etc) and so on, my favourite option is hard noodles!

Ichiran Tokyo

Once you have ordered, step 3 is to queue, again, to be seated. You will be waiting in front of the galley kitchen where you can see the cooks preparing the orders extremely efficiently. In Japan, the objective of the restaurants is to feed you quickly and efficiently. Forget about a 2-hours French style dinner and banter.

Ichiran kitchen

Step 4, take a sit! This is when it gets even more exotic for westerners. There are no tables in Ichiran, you will be seated at a bar with dividers between you an your neighbours. A great way to eat quietly and be left alone. That made for one very anti-social meal with my husband, but it was such an amazing experience that we just embraced it!

Ichiran restaurant

Last step, food time! Little hands will appear from behind the curtain in front of you and will serve you drinks, the ramen and its toppings. Now, be quiet and eat that delicious ramen!

Ichiran eggIchiran ramen

Ichiran food was delicious, it is such a surreal and oh-so very Japanese experience that I would recommend going 100%! You will definitely feel lost in translation there.

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Gilli – Florence, Italy

One thing Italians do extremely well, among many other things, is coffee or caffè!

Sitting at a terrace to sip on an espresso is an integral part of the Italian lifestyle. Which is the same for French people! So I just felt at home when taking a sit at a table on Gilli‘s terrace in Florence!

Gilli FlorenceGilli Florence

Gilli is an institution in Florence. It has been serving coffee to the locals since 1733. You will find it on the main square, Piazza della Repubblica, right in the centre of town.

Gilli Florence

The interior is very elegant, real interior goals if you like grand and classic design. But if you are visiting on a warm day, take a sit on the huge terrace and watch the world passing by.

Pick from their selection of coffees – espresso, caffè freddo, cappuccino, the world is your oyster!

Now the most difficult decision you will have to make is if you also fancy a little bit of food and more particularly a sweet treat. Gilli’s shop windows are decorated with the most beautiful and delicious-looking treats. And this is only the outside!

Gilli shop window Florence

Go inside and pick from a huge selection of colourful pastries. Cannolis, fruit tarts, chocolate cakes, pick the best looking one!

We went for coffees only, I picked a cold cappuccino and Andrew went for an espresso with a little bit of chocolate in it (I forgot the name, sorry!). It is good to note that you will be served a selection of biscuits with your coffee, so if you are not very hungry don’t order a pastry, save your appetite for these!

Gilli coffee Florence

So does it really worth visiting Gilli? I would say yes, once, for the experience. The coffees are good, but the place is a little bit pretentious and you can tell the prices reflect some of the waiters’ attitude. We had a lovely time there and I am glad we went, but I don’t feel the need to rush back.

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The best gelato in Tuscany

In London, you find pubs at every street’s corner, in Italy, you find gelaterias in every streets; little bit like the London pubs not all gelaterias are the same. If like us, you are a little bit of a foodie (Food-snob? Yep, maybe!) you will be desperately looking for THE best gelato, and in the process pulling up a bit of weight.

So let’s save your waistline and some time! We found the best gelato in Tuscany and it happens to be in San Gimignano.

San Gimignano towers

It is one of the most beautiful villages in the region, famous for its medieval towers, so you can kill two birds with one stone by visiting the place while enjoy a fig and ricotta gelato (yes it’s a flavour, and yes it’s delicious).

San Gimignano is about an hour out of Florence and 45 minutes out of Siena, so once again you will need a car to get there. When the said car is parked, head to the main square. You will see a queue forming in front of a small shop entrance. You found it! Here is Gelateria Dondoli!

Gelateria Dondoli

Join the queue, but don’t worry, you won’t get bored! Sergio Dondoli, the owner and Maestro Gelatiere will be there to keep you company. He joins the crowd, introduces himself and shares his passion for gelato. If you have the chance to meet him, like we did, make sure to ask for his recommendations!

Gelateria Dondoli

After 10-15 minutes, here you are, in front for the dozens of flavours. It can be a little overwhelming to choose, hence why I took zero pictures at that point as I was too busy drooling.

Gelato from Gelateria Dondoli

If you feel adventurous, go for some of their specialities, one even has gorgonzola in it! If you feel more conventional, a classic like fragola or nocciola will never disappoint. No matter what your choice is, it will be delicious!

Now go and walk that gelato off in San Gimignano!

San Gimignano

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Antica Macelleria Falorni – Greve in Chianti, Tuscany

Italy is famous for its beautiful landscapes, its world-famous historical sights and… Its food! There is nothing more comforting than a delicious pasta dish, am I right?

As I mentioned in previous posts, when in Italy I love to stay in agriturismos, which means that often we have a little kitchen available and can cook our own meals when we fancy it. It is a great way to save a bit of money. But saving money doesn’t mean compromising on quality! If you like cheese and cured meat (or charcuterie as we say in France) and if you happen to be in Tuscany, there is a place you absolutely have to visit!

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Greve in Chianti

***Warning! Vegetarians, you may want to look away now as this shop is a meat lover paradise.***

Antica Macelleria Falorni is the Italian delicatessen shop of your dreams! It is old, it smells of cheese and ham, it is family owned and very famous in Tuscany. Even the locals go there!

You will find it in the centre of Greve in Chianti, a small village about 50-minutes drive from Florence and 60-minutes drive from Siena. It is good to note that roads in Tuscany aren’t the most direct so it always takes a little bit of time to get around.

Park the car and walk into the city centre. On the main square you will find the local market and hidden behind the stands an archway.

Greve in Chianti marketGreve in Chianti

This is where you will find Antica Macelleria Falorni!

SAntica Macelleria Falorni

Antica Macelleria Falorni opened in 1806 and has since been an institution. Their speciality is salami but they do also offer an extensive selections of hams, cheese and wine.

Antica Macelleria Falorni

Most of their charcuterie is made of pork / maiale, boar / cinghiale (my favourite!) and beef / chianina.

Antica Macelleria Falorni salamis

Cheese lovers will be in awe in front of the multiple ‘cheese towers’!

Antica Macelleria Falorni cheeses

Ok, so now it is time to shop for a homemade antipasto among their dozens of cured meats and cheeses.

Antica Macelleria Falorni cheeses

I highly recommend their wild boar salami,  their prosciutto and some of their stronger (I am French) pecorrino, a traditional hard Italian cheese.

Antica Macelleria Falorni hams

A lot of their products are packed in air-sealed bags so you could also take one for the road on your way back home! Bonus!

Now head back to your accomodation, pour yourself a glass of wine, put together an antipasto plate and relax. The Italian dream life…

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Pasticcerie Nannini – Siena, Italy

There are a few food establishments around the world that are considered institutions. The Ivy in London, Katz’s Delicatessen in New York, The Tour d’Argent in Paris, are all famous for their delicious food and standing the test of time.

If you happen to be in Siena, you will have the opportunity to visit one of those institutions – Pasticcerie Nannini!

Pasticcerie Nannini Siena

Since 1911, the Nannini family has been busy roasting some of the best coffee you will ever taste and baking delicious Italian sweet treats.

Pasticcerie Nannini Siena

Be warned it is a busy place and ordering can be a little overwhelming with plenty of Italians and tourists trying to find there way to the counter. But god does it worth it!

Pasticcerie Nannini Siena

Order an espresso and a cannoli (or anything Italian looking) stand by the window and watch the world go by.

Espresso Cannoli Pasticcerie Nannini Siena

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Soso – Paros, Greece

Paros is a less known Cyclades island and a true gem. Much more relaxed than Mykonos and a lot less busy than Santorini, it offers everything you would hope for when island hopping in Greece AND everything is really good value for money.

Being in Greece for our honeymoon, we thought we would treat ourselves to a dinner in one of the best restaurants on the island. We headed to Soso which is rated #2 in Naousa on Tripadvisor. It was delicious, very charming, extremely tasty and CHEAP! The whole dinner with wine came to about 50 euros.

Want to join us for dinner? Follow the narrow streets of Naousa.

Paros Naoussa street

Take a sit at the most charming terrace. Everywhere you look offers  a picture opportunity.

Paros Naoussa Soso restaurant  Paros Naoussa Soso restaurant

If the food is as good as the place is charming we were in for a treat, and I was very excited!

Paros Naoussa Soso restaurant

So excited that I actually forgot to take pictures so you will have to take my word for it – I am French, I like to eat and I am telling you, this place is good!

We started with a selection of Greek spreads and appetizers. Tsatsiki, fish rillettes, beetroot and courgettes salads.

Paros Naoussa Soso restaurant

We then ordered the most delicious fava topped with octopus.

Paros Naoussa Soso restaurant

We also had the most delicate filo pastries.

Paros Naoussa Soso restaurant

All this was followed by a few more dishes, all delicious and complimentary dessert (how nice!).

After such a satisfying dinner, we enjoyed a digestive walk. Wandering around Naousa and heading to the beach to enjoy the sunset. Pure bliss.

Paros Naoussa streetParos Naoussa sunset

If you are in Paros, Soso absolutely worth the detour, you won’t be disappointed!

3 things to eat in Santorini, Greece

Santorini has plenty of delicious food and wine on offer, but there are 3 products, specific to the volcanic island, that you have to try when visiting.

Santorini tomatoes

These are a variety of cherry tomatoes. They are known to be bright red and very sweet. The best way to eat them? Either on their own or in ntomatokeftedes (tomato fritters). You will find ntomatokeftedes in almost every restaurant on the island. They are commonly eaten as a starter. They are fried in olive oil, with peppers, onions, mint, and herbs in a thick batter.

Greek food aubergine dip fava tomatokeftedes
Aubergine dip at the top, fava in the middle and ntomatokeftedes on the right

White aubergine (eggplant)

The volcanic soil of the island help grow a rare vegetable: the white aubergine (or eggplant). This variety, unique to Santorini, has fewer seeds and a sweet taste. Many dishes on the island use it, you can also have it on it’s own as a dip.


Fava is one of the most famous dish in Santorini,  it is a yellow split pea purée. This dish is served warm with olive oil. It is sometimes topped with chopped onions or capers and served with fresh bread.

Greek food Fava
Fava topped with octopus

What’s – Kyoto, Japan

If you happen to be visiting Kyoto and fancy some beef, I may just know the place you want to go to!

What’s in Kyoto is one of those restaurants you would probably miss while walking around Kyoto city centre. It is in a quiet back street about 10-minutes’ walk from Shijo Dori, Kyoto main high street, and it really worth the detour!

Kyoto What's restaurant

Once inside the waiters will warmly welcome you. Everybody is very friendly, at What’s, and genuinely interested in where you are coming from, how you are finding Japan, and if you enjoy your time there.

If you are sitting upstairs, you will be asked to take your shoes off, very common in Japanese restaurants.

You will then be taken to your table which is more of a private booth than a table. Everything there is made so you can quietly and privately enjoy your dinner. No curious table neighbours staring at your plate here!

Kyoto What's restaurant

To order, just use the little bell on the table! As I said, the staff wants to make sure that you are not being bothered unless it is necessary. Japanese people are very considerate which extremely pleasant!

We were first treated to an appetiser, beef tongue, the name may not be appetising for all but it was delicious!

Kyoto What's restaurant

Once the grill was ready, we ordered the shoulder sirloin for me and the Selection of the Chef for Andrew.

Kyoto What's restaurantKyoto What's restaurant

All meats are served with a selection of soy sauces, salt and wasabi.

Kyoto What's restaurantKyoto What's restaurantKyoto What's restaurant

I find that cooking your own food make you appreciate it even more.

Kyoto What's restaurant

For sides, we went for some kimchi (fermented cabbage and radishes, so good!) and the steamed vegetables. Who knew steamed cabbage could be so delicious?

Kyoto What's restaurantKyoto What's restaurant

It was truly one of our favourite meal in Kyoto! From the beautiful indoors, to the delicious food and the lovely staff, What’s really worth a visit!

Cul de Sac – Rome, Italy

Looking for a nice little spot for a refreshing glass of wine in Rome, away from the touristy crowd? Follow me!

Rome street

There is that little spot I know, right off Piazza Navona.

Piazza Navona Rome

Head south of the Piazza. Walk past the touristy restaurants and head to the tiny Piazza di Pasquino. This is where you will find Cul de Sac (‘dead-end’ in French). The name may be French but the products are very Italian!

Piazza Navona terraces Rome

The wine bar is not huge but it has a lovely terrace. We decided to grab a bite inside as it was pretty hot on that day and we could do with an hour in the shade.

Grab a sit a choose from the thousands of bottles of wine surrounding you! We went for rose (of course!).

Cul de Sac restaurant Rome

Once the beverage of your choice on the table, order as many sharing platters as your belly can handle! Everything is delicious!

Cul de Sac restaurant Rome

Nothing fancy there, just very high quality products.

Where to eat in Puglia?

Food is delicious everywhere in Italy! In Puglia you have the added bonus of the extremely good value for money, hello 2.5 euro prosecco glass!

If you are planning to spend a little bit of time there this summer and are looking for tasty seafood and filling lunches, look no further and keep reading.

In Gallipoli, I highly recommend Al De Pace, their speciality is seafood. You enter the place and the theme is set with a very simple interior decor yet very sophisticated.

Al De Pace restaurant GallipoliAl De Pace restaurant Gallipoli

The dishes reflect the overall atmosphere, simple plates and sophisticated flavours. Everything was delicious.

We started with le fave, le cicorie, la aliciAl De Pace restaurant Gallipoli

My favourite, favourite, FAVOURITE dish was the il polpo, la sua acqua, il limone… It was to die for! Some sort of octopus version of spaghetti carbonara, as delicious and as comforting. I am still drooling looking at the picture.Al De Pace restaurant Gallipoli

It was difficult to top the pasta dish but the ‘secondi’ dishes didn’t disappointed and we ended with a safe Tiramisu.Al De Pace restaurant Gallipoli

Another great place for delicious Puglia food and completely off the beaten track is Sciamu Moi. The place was empty when we arrived but Italians eat late and we were off-season so don’t be deceived by the empty dinning room.Sciamu Moi restaurant

They use only local ingredients and everything was a discovery! Pick the thing you are the least familiar with on the menu and enjoy!Sciamu Moi restaurant

Pugliese food involves a lot of seafood, with the Mediterranean sea a couple of kilometres away, it will never disappoint.
Sciamu Moi restaurant

We were less adventurous with desserts and pick some classics, yet the presentation surprised us in all the right ways!
Sciamu Moi restaurantSciamu Moi restaurant

Finally if this is a lunch spot you are looking for? And if you happen to be in Lecce, I just know the place!

L’Angolino di Via Matteotti serves one of the best puccia in the whole of Lecce, and probably in the whole of Puglia.

L'Angolino di Via Matteotti Lecce

Pick your toppings and take a sit on the comfy terrace. L'Angolino di Via Matteotti Lecce

Bite into the most delicious ‘sandwich’ ever!L'Angolino di Via Matteotti Lecce

The Mr went for the meat version with meatballs, I went for the vegetarian one. Both excellent.L'Angolino di Via Matteotti Lecce

I hope I gave you enough reasons to go to Puglia! Now book that flight, you know you want to!

Buon appetito!