my first time in San Francisco

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I am just back from a one week work trip to San Francisco. Despite having been to the US on many, many occasions I had never been to SF before. That was remiss of me.

San Francisco is an incredibly beautiful city (most people know that), but it is also a warm and friendly city full of people who care. Be it about the tech world and startups, or environmental issues, parks, food, coffee (I know – surprising), or politics, San Franciscans just seem so wordly and interesting.

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The food was completely amazing. A few of the places we visited:

Range on Valencia – absolutely delicious, fresh, innovative Californian cuisine. And for the first time I tried fried green tomatoes.

Zuni on Market – Zuni has been around for almost 25 years and is a bit of an institution. One of the co-owners previously spent two decades at Chez Panisse, so whilst I was disappointed not to have time to make it out there at least I got a sense of what it would be like.

Slanted Door – at the Ferry Building. Modern Vietnamese in a beautiful setting overlooking the water. The place was packed – on a Tuesday – but we were able to eat at the bar.  Oh, and the Ferry Building is a culinary destination all on its own, too.

Italy (again) in 11 months

We just booked another trip to Italy for next summer. So far we’re planning seven nights in Umbria, a night or two in Rome, and five nights on the Amalfi Coast (meaning we can day trip to Capri). Plus a few nights in London to shop and see friends. So… I will be capturing tips and ideas for restaurants and hotels on the blog. Anticipation of a holiday is almost the best thing about them.

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our Amalfi hotel — Casa Angelina

These two tips from An Affair With Italy – a great site dedicated to all things Italian.

CAPRI
There’s a restaurant that is a must for any visit to Carpri. It’s called la Fontelina (I via Faraglioni, Capri, Island of Capri, Italy) It’s best for lunch, in fact you can go there and spend the morning laying out in the sun and swimming and then stroll up to the restaurant for one the best pastas you will ever have!
POSITANO

A drink with a view never to be forgotten: I had a drink with 3 or 4 great mates at the il San Pietro Hotel in Positano, just before sunset. What a view overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. It was a still night and it was hard to see where the water on the horizon met the sky. I had a Caprioska or two.

And this tip via Lucy Folk’s blog:

POSITANO

We had a corker of a time in Positano. We were in town to celebrate our friends wedding and the Aperol Spritz’s flowed freely as did the banter. Da Adolfo and their delicious fare was the place to be and the wedding was one to remember… Limoncello… Pantalone !!? Ha.

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Insalata di Faro

We are just back from our amazing holiday to Umbria, London and New York. One of the highlights of our trip was a cooking class at our favourite hotel, Borgo Della Marmotta in Umbria.

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We learned to make the delicious local dish, insalata di faro

Ingredients

Faro
2 courgettes
1 carrot
1 brown onion
Grated parmigiano
Olive oil
Fresh basil

Method

Boil faro for 20 mins with a big pinch of salt. Wash with cold water

Chop 2 long courgettes – green part into small cubes and white part into big cubes. Chop 1 carrot and half an onion into small cubes.

Fry onion and white of courgette with quite a lot of olive oil. After 5 mins add some of the boiling salted water. After 10 minutes add 2 tbsp grated parmigiano.

In a separate pan, put 2 tbsp oil, half onion and carrot on low heat and cover, after 3-4 minutes add the courgette green, stir and cover.

Add the fried onion, carrot, courgette and some fresh basil to the faro and mix.

Use a barmix to mash up the white sauce (courgette whites from the stove). Add 1/3  of the white cream to the faro and mix. Serve!

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Packing

The build up to a holiday is probably as fun as the holiday itself; it’s the anticipation, the possibilities, the best version of you that you imagine you’ll be in this sunny new place… So, packing is best when you can take the time and make it a ritual. Today was such a time. It’s like a funnel, start with every single thing you love and then start to edit. Down to the point of hand luggage only. My golden travel rule. Here is the process part way through..

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Firmdale Hotels

In precisely ten days’ time we will be waking up in one of the heavenly beds at the Haymarket Hotel, my favourite hotel in London and possibly my favourite hotel in the world. Why? Because Kit Kemp knows how to make a hotel feel like a home. Because the staff are incredibly warm and unobtrusively obliging. Because the room service is killer. Because they have always been so amazing to me over the years, and last year upgraded us to a very special suite to help celebrate our impending wedding. Yes. I cannot wait to be back.

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Kate_pre hens night at Haymarket