Sunday, April 26, 2015

MOVING DAY - FISH OUT OF MALBEC HAS MOVED!

Hi everyone!

This weekend has been full of excitement for me AND for this blog.

I'm proud to announce that I've secured my own new URL and I've migrated all of my material over to Fish Out of Malbec's new home at www.fishoutofmalbec.com  (with or without the "www" works).


Please update your bookmarks accordingly!

To commemorate the big move, I've added a brand new post about Rockaway Brewing Company and I'm also working on a review of Casa Enrique... along with a ton of other content.

Thanks for stopping by and hope to see you over at my new "home" soon!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Get Your Sleep On - The Surfcomber Hotel South Beach (Miami, Florida)


My girlfriends and I stayed at The Surfcomber Hotel South Beach (a Kimpton Hotel) January 9-11, 2015 for my friend's bachelorette party in Miami, Florida, and we were all very impressed and extremely pleased with the service and hotel in general. I've stayed at Kimpton hotels in NYC before (more than once) and this property blows them out of the water with its level of service.
I'll just preface this that I didn't take many photos because I didn't have a camera with me, and only had my iPhone. Sorry.

Some of the folks who made our stay so great deserve special mention - Chase is a customer service dynamo and anyone can see that he is the perfect man for his job as Director of (Day)Life. Laz at the beach really took care of us and went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure we were enjoying ourselves and had everything we needed, and even made sure that we transitioned seamlessly to a pool cabana from our VIP bed when it started pouring rain while we were at the beach. Andy at the beach did everything he could to remedy any issues we had with service or food/drinks. Gia at the pool was so sweet and provided great, prompt service. Tony at the door helped us store our bags and hail taxis when needed and was friendly, efficient and kind. And finally, Brad from concierge was a doll - and we saw a lot of him, because the bachelorette's friends kept having champagne delivered to our rooms throughout the whole weekend.

With 4 girls sharing a room, yes, the room was a bit small and yes, the bathroom was small. But this is Miami, so if you're spending a lot of time in your room you're probably doing it wrong. It worked for us and the beds were really comfortable!

Throughout our stay at The Surfcomber Hotel South Beach there were so many occasions where I turned to one of our other friends and proclaimed my love for this hotel. The décor is fun, modern and funky and its air of playfulness and throws any uppity vibes out the window. Even down to the staff's uniforms of seersucker, it carries a fun and sun but upscale surf vibe throughout the property. 
View from our pool cabana - second floor.
The pool area is well appointed and is not crazy loud or large. I loved that there were bikes available for the taking if we wanted to go cycle around South Beach (we didn't, but it was nice to have them there if we did). The beach area was very nice and the drinks and food menu at the beach and pool were great. We loved the Black Crush and the Piña Coladas were also delicious. And, I think we probably ate at least 6 orders of French fries over the few days of our trip. They are the most amazing fries in the world and I am STILL thinking about them. So, seriously, get the french fries!
We had such a great time at The Surfcomber Hotel South Beach - between the property itself and the experience that the staff provided- that I wouldn't stay anywhere else next time I go to Miami. I was truly impressed and can't wait to go back. I almost planned our next vacation there until I found an amazing deal on airfare to Iceland at the end of June. One trip at a time, so, next time!

In Vino Veritas - Enoteca Al Duomo (Orvieto, Italy)



My husband and I loved this place so much that we came here twice in one day during our honeymoon back in October.  Aptly named, this enoteca is literally next to the famous Duomo in Orvieto, Italy. Looking at the front of the amazing façade, it's on the left-hand side, on the side of the building (facing the beautiful striped sides of the duomo). Can't miss it.

It was truffle season so we opted for a full-on truffle lunch: bruschetta assortment including truffle bruschetta, tagliolini with fresh truffles, and then a prosciutto and truffle sandwich on fresh ciabatta. 


Bruschetta

Cheese plate...including truffled cheese

Tagliolini with fresh truffles

Location, Location, Location
Did I mention the location?

Our last glass - a red from the region



Prosciutto and truffles on ciabatta

None of it disappointed - it was seriously one of my favorite meals I've ever had. And, considering every dish had truffles in it, reasonably priced. We paired our lunch with the Orvieto wine tasting (two whites, and a red) and did not regret it. 

After bidding the friendly waitstaff adieu, full of truffle-y goodness, we wandered the streets and worked up an appetite and thirst and found ourselves back here for a bottle of Lambrusco and some snacks at sunset. 

Emiliano (a stellar employee and possibly one of the owners?) was kind enough to bring us a plate of parmigiano reggiano drizzled with a sweet balsamic to go along with our bottle, without us ordering anything to go along with the wine. It was an appreciated gesture!


Parmigiano reggiano with balsamic and a bottle of Lambrusco



Not my favorite Lambrusco I've ever had...but the setting made up for any shortcomings in taste.

The wine shop inside is full of great, harder to find bottles of local and also European wines and Emiliano even called our taxi for us when we were leaving, as we didn't have a working phone with us and we hadn't the slightest plan for how to get back to our hotel. :) 

With a beautiful view of the Duomo, this is a great place to relax and take in the façade of the architectural masterpiece while enjoying some great wines and delicious, fresh food. 

We will definitely be back the next time we are in Orvieto, which surprisingly to us was one of our favorite stops during our trip... so it'll be sooner rather than later. Enoteca Al Duomo - save us a table?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Top 6 Things To Do in Long Island City in the Springtime

Spring is in the air... finally! This morning,  New Yorkers crawled out of their winter dens, stripping themselves of snow boots, misery and wool coats, slapped on a (temporary) smile and ventured outdoors for what seems like the first time in ages to enjoy the balmy 65-degree Fahrenheit, sunny weather we've been blessed with on a weekend day. Hallelujiah! Spring is here!

With the better weather comes a responsibility that most weekend warriors will understand. On the two days a week you're not stuck indoors at your office, if it's nice outside, you darn well better be outside enjoying it. Let's be clear, though. You shouldn't ditch the black boots and long sleeves yet. We're still in New York and it's April, and it could very well snow tomorrow ... so don't get too excited.

An old friend we met in Argentina, but just so happens to also live in NYC, came over today and we set out to enjoy the best of what LIC (that's Long Island City....which, while technically geographically located on Long Island, is very much part of New York City and one Subway stop away from Manhattan on the 7, E or M trains - sorry to blow your mind) has to offer.

So, we took her out to enjoy our favorite weekend rituals for good weather in Long Island City. What are those, you ask? I'm so glad you did!

Here are my Top 6 Favorite Things To Do in LIC in The Springtime:

1.  Visit the LIC Flea & Food

Inaugurating the unofficial delayed start to the season this weekend was the grand reopening of the LIC Flea & Food, a celebrated local food and artisan fair held every Saturday and Sunday during the spring and summer outdoors at the corner of 46th Avenue and 5th Street, just one block from Center Boulevard in Long Island City, Queens.  

Tons of food options, tons of artists and craftsmen - making for a few hours of fun at the Flea
Keep your eyes out for a detailed post about the "Flea" in the coming days.

For more on the LIC Flea & Food, visit http://www.licflea.com/ .

2.  Enjoy Gantry State Park

Iconic Pepsi-Cola sign? Check.

Amazing, unobstructed views of the New York City skyline? Check.

Ample room to sit, lounge, stroll and enjoy the waterfront? Check.

Dog park with (what I think is) the best view you can get? Check.

Ferry landing, where you can grab the East River ferry to Manhattan or to various parts of Brooklyn? Check.




Trouble finding the park? Walk straight from Center Boulevard towards the skyline. Stop before you fall in the East River. Easy peasy.

3.  Visit Rockaway Brewing Company for a Tour and Beer Tastings


The tasting room ("Growler Room") AND brewing facilities of this local brewery have been completely revamped since I first visited (and since this old pic - new ones to come!) but they provide tours, tastings and even growlers to go. Rockaway Brewing Company is also one of three breweries participating in the brand-spanking-new beer garten (or biergarten, of course) at the Flea (refer to #1 above), where full size beers are sold for $6, but the sunshine and atmosphere come free.

Rockaway Brewing Company - Tasting Flight
For more about Rockaway Brewing Company, visit their official website here.

4.  Grab a Coffee at Sweetleaf Espresso & Cocktail Bar


It's nice to see a not-Starbucks in a developing area and I love this particular Sweetleaf location (there are 3, total) because it a) recently started offering brunch, b) has a full bar and turns into a cocktail lounge at night and c) makes delicious coffee drinks. My favorite? The Voodoo Child -a Vietnamese-style cold brew with high ratings on the delicious scale.  Stroll up from the park, cross the street and enter into the coffee-scented haven for an afternoon pick-me-up.


Sweet Leaf

This Sweetleaf is located at 4615 Center Blvd. Check out their details here.


5.  Eat Dinner On the Patio at Casa Enrique or Indoors at Jora

There are a few great restaurants in LIC, but in warmer weather I just want some spicy Latin food. The courtyard patio at Casa Enrique is a perfect spot to finish out the daylight hours, enjoying guacamole made-to-order, three kinds of salsa, delicious enchiladas or perfect street tacos. Wash it all down with a selection from their voluminous drink list, including daily drink specials like mango mojitos, for example. They also make a mean Michelada.

More on Casa Enrique here. Oh yeah, and it won a Michelin star in 2015. So, don't take it from just me. This place is seriously buenisimo.

If we're in the mood for something a bit more southern, we'll head to Jora, the long-awaited, never-disappointing Peruvian spot with delicious ceviches, more than a couple Pisco Sours and variations thereupon, some seriously spicy Peruvian stuffed peppers and delicious, creamy ají de gallina amarillo all on the menu.


Ceviche mixto and Pisco Sour at Jora

Visit Jora's (limited) website here.

6. Have A Nightcap In the Back Garden at LIC Bar

Feeling thirsty after dinner? Head down Vernon Boulevard (north - towards Astoria) and check out LIC Bar, on the corner of Vernon Boulevard and 46th Avenue.  Mingle with folks from the neighborhood in this old-school, unpretentious spot and enjoy some seriously reasonably-priced pints of draft or bottled beers, friendly bartenders, live music, and life outside of the hustle and bustle of Manhattan for a night.

Find LIC Bar's schedule of live music gigs and other information right here.

There you have it!

What are YOUR favorite things to do in Long Island City? Leave a comment and let me know!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Pic of the Day - Texas State Capitol


They say "Everything's bigger in Texas", and the state capitol building is no exception. In fact, the statue at the top of the cupola actually makes the Texas Capitol Building, located in the state's capitol city of Austin, almost 15 feet (4.57 meters) taller than the one in Washington, D.C.




Date Taken: December 8, 2012
Location: Texas State Capitol, Austin, Texas

With a winter like we've had in NYC this year (coldest February on record since 1934), I am definitely homesick for my second home: Austin, Texas!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Get Your Sleep On - Hotel Santa Margherita Palace (Santa Margherita di Ligure, Italy)


My husband and I stayed here for 3 nights during our honeymoon in October 2014 and were very pleased with our decision. 

I half-jokingly submit that one of the best things about this hotel is its proximity to the train station. After a long day of travel, taking trains from Florence, switching in Pisa and praying that we got off at the right stop, we found ourselves bleary-eyed and travel-tired on the platform of Santa Margherita di Ligure station as we watched the double-decker train chug away into the dusk.  We argued about taking a cab or not, and I checked my iPhone map and realized that the hotel was literally down the street. Downhill. Double points for convenience!
Lobby lounge, as seen from the front desk/reception


The hotel staff were fantastic - especially Paola, who gave us so much information and really took care of us throughout our stay. There was another really helpful guy at the front desk - his name started with an R, and he also helped us plan our day trip to Portofino. Santa Margherita di Ligure was the perfect home base for us as we explored the Italian Riviera and Cinque Terre. It had just enough going on to feel like a vibrant little town, without being so far away from the picturesque areas that you spent half the day traveling. The ferry is walking distance and you can take it to Portofino, San Fruttuoso and other coastal towns. 

 My husband surprised me and upgraded us to a honeymoon package which included welcome drinks, fresh fruit, prosecco in the room, a trip to the spa (inside the hotel) for two (which he took by himself.... not my thing!) and a dinner out on the town at a waterfront pizzeria.


We treated ourselves to a junior suite. It was our honeymoon, after all. I was worried that the bed would be small and/or uncomfortable after reading a few reviews online. Ok, I read a TON of reviews online. But, we were pleasantly surprised at the comfort and size of the bed. The room was super clean and the bathroom shower was phenomenal! I'm talking 'bout great water pressure and spacious.  I really liked the built-in desk in the corner to save space. I could see it not being a great place to get work done, but for leisure travelers like us, it was great. There was also a sitting area and a ton of closet space to store your bags out of the way. 

To check out some professional photos better than I could ever take, and details of the room, you can visit the hotel's official website here (it will open in another window so you won't lose your place!).

The only con was that we didn't have a view from our room - it overlooked the parking lot. I never complained about it or requested to be moved, so it wouldn't be fair to say that it was a negative. 

Regarding the hotel as a whole, the decor was clean and modern and I liked the dark hallways/glass elevator. It's a nice contrast to everything else in town, which is kind of your typical Italian sorta gaudy, sorta distressed, but pretty colonial-type colors. This hotel has the lighting of a sexy modern nightclub.

Breakfast was good and the breakfast cappuccinos were a must. They were made by the staff and brought to the table upon ordering. There was always a nice array of dishes to choose from - from cheese and meats, to cereals, assorted pastries like some pain au chocolat, scrambled eggs, fresh fruit and various different juices.

We would definitely stay here at the Hotel Santa Margherita Palace again if we find ourselves back in Santa Margherita di Ligure. The best part is that they have sister hotels in Milan (Hotel Napoleon), Rome (Hotel Siena), and Florence (Best Western Hotel River), and I would wager you could expect the same level of quality service at their other properties as well.

This is not a sponsored post and I was not compensated for my views. These are simply my opinions and views and it is not endorsed by Hotel Santa Margherita Palace or its affiliates.

Monday, April 6, 2015

In Vino Veritas - Winterose Portofino (Portofino, Italy)


A day in Portofino should never be complete without a visit to Winterose Portofino, a wine store and wine bar right on the edge of the marina, to sip champagne and fine Italian wines lazily at a little table or even sitting on the edge of the water, while you enjoy the Italian Riviera sunshine and rest your weary legs after a long day of shopping and being fabulous.

One of my absolute favorite things about Italy, and its wine bars and cafés in particular, is that when you order wine, it comes with a very nice plate of antipasti, gratis. In a world where nothing comes for free, it's nice that this is still what I would say the "norm".  So, it's a good idea to wait until you've sat and ordered your drinks until you order a small bite - a snack might already be on the way.


We found Winterose after I connected to some local WiFi and was looking for a wine bar with good ratings on TripAdvisor. Winterose had the highest rating of any, and was right on the water. We headed over faster than I could close the browser on my iPhone, and lucked out, finding two seats at a cafe table right in front.

After a brief panic attack wondering if I had just accidentally spent all of our wedding gift money by sitting at a wine bar in the Italian Riviera without looking at a menu, we reviewed the menu and I breathed a sigh of relief. A lot of offerings in a reasonable range! I knew exactly what I wanted. How can one go to the Italian Riviera and not drink a little bubbly? Champagne it was; a glass for each of us.

One of my favorite little treats that we got with our lovely champagne (yes, we had champagne and not prosecco... sorry) was a delicious asiago cheese crisp topped with freshly sliced prosciutto. Deeelicious.

Enjoying said cheese crisps with prosciutto.

Emanuela, the owner of the shop/cafe spoke English (and was very tolerant of my pidgin Italian) and was very friendly. Service was quick but we didn't feel rushed; in fact, after two glasses she was surprised we were ready to stop, a little bit tipsy and a lotta bit happy. I think I had taken a new lover, and its name was Winterose.


This is what I look like when I'm happy/drinking champagne.
The clientele here is a mix of tourists, very wealthy Italians, and the well-heeled global elite, all in search of some vino-infused R&R. The price list ranges from the very reasonable to the "my yacht's parked over there... I'll sit in this seat so I can keep an eye on it in case any plebes get any ideas." There are wines by the glass and by the bottle, as well as a food menu to peruse.

Rather than exchange wedding gifts, hubby and I decided to wait until our honeymoon to buy each other a wedding gift. Why buy something you can get at home when you can get a really cool souvenir? He bought me some beautiful gold-plated butterfly earrings and a gold-plated ring from Florence's Ponte Vecchio, and I decided to surprise him at Winterose by getting him a magnum bottle of Brunello di Montalcino to take home with us and add to our growing wine collection. Emanuela was complicit in my surprise and wrapped, packaged and held the bottle for me in the shop until I was ready to present it to him.

Sometimes I spend more money than I should, when I'm drinking.
One of my favorite things about this place is that you can sit on the edge of the marina with a little picnic-style spread, watching the boats come and go and take a break from everything.

Is this not the most perfect setting to enjoy a glass of champagne?

We didn't want to leave, but it was getting chilly - it was late October - and we had to catch our ferry back to Santa Margherita di Ligure... hoping to get some spa time in before a shower and some dinner.



I HIGHLY recommend Winterose Portofino if you find yourself in the Italian Riviera with a thirst for beautiful views and a bottle of bubbly. Cheers!




Winterose Wine Bar
Calata Marconi 42PortofinoItaly

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Get Your Sleep On - Villa Tolomei (Florence, Italy)


Let me preface this by saying that I don't really like Florence. It's not my favorite Italian city, by far. I didn't like it before my husband and I stayed at Villa Tolomei and I still don't really like it after. But I can't wait to go back to Villa Tolomei... so that probably says more about this hotel than I ever could articulate in a detailed review.

The driveway of the villa, looking out from the front door.


All dramatics aside, this hotel is the real deal. We've spent nights in various "luxury properties" on several continents and this place just has that "it" factor that some properties try to achieve, but never really do. It's fancy enough, but the design is so subtly brilliant in mixing the classic, restored villa with the modern world in a way that doesn't feel like it's trying too hard or going to be outdated in a decade. It's just effortlessly cool, but the kind of cool you could take your parents to and they wouldn't be weird about it. The kind of cool you could unabashedly recommend to your sophisticated, silver-haired boss who drinks wine older than you with dinner, but also to your friend who wants to splurge on an Italian vacation to celebrate getting her PhD. In other words, there's something for everyone and it exudes a certain timelessness.



Cheese plate and snacks in the restaurant while we waited to check in.



The outdoor pool is heated and we marveled at the fact that we were able to swim on October 23rd, but the next day we were wearing jackets while taking in the sights of the city. The pool attendant was sweet and helpful, but not overly aggressive in trying to assist with towels or anything else.

The girls at breakfast were wonderful (Eleonora and Elisabetta); they always greeted us with a smile and made the best cappuccino. The breakfast itself was quality - so many options and we never left hungry. We had a cheese plate upon our arrival, and a bottle of wine, and that was also excellent. We also had an after-dinner drink at the hotel one night (Vin Santo with Cantuccini) which was lovely, out on the terrace overlooking the city with a slight chill in the air. However, we never ate dinner on-site so I have no opinion on that.

Cosimo and the rest of the staff were amazing; they gave us great recommendations every day on what to see and where to eat in and around Florence, called us taxis every time we needed one, and made sure we got a tour of the property to make sure we didn't miss anything.

The location was fantastic; it was far enough from the hustle and bustle of the city to be relaxing but close enough that you didn't feel like it was a huge ordeal to get to the center of things, either. We generally took a taxi to Ponte Vecchio each time, since it was relatively closer to the hotel but a short walk to the other side of the river and the sights.

Lastly, we had a junior suite and our room was #22. The room was enormous, clean and well appointed. I LOVED the bath products! I would recommend a room on a lower floor, however, for older travelers as we had to take 2 flights of stairs to get to our room and I would think older folks may have some issues with that.
Our junior suite - Room #22. Enormous.
Now THAT's a five-star bathroom.

We were so pleased with this hotel that I really can't wait to stay here again. It was a fabulous jumping-off point for our touring around the city and around Tuscany, and the service and quality of the accommodations were top-notch.

The view from our room.
We have our bottle of Villa Tolomei complimentary olive oil here in our apartment, until then.

Villa Tolomei
Via Santa Maria a Marignolle 10
50124 Florence, Italy

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Review: Try The World

Hubby and I have been subscribers of Try The World since Christmas and recently received our second box - the Venice box - in the mail.


"What's Try The World?" you ask? I have to admit, I was hesitant to sign up for it because I found it via a Facebook ad. Normally, I ignore Facebook ads... and I would say that one out of 2 times I actually clicked on them and ended up buying something, I have been horribly disappointed. (I'm looking at you, Elizabeth Ann shoes - my husband ordered your Purse N Boots boots for me after I begged him to buy me them for Christmas in December...it's April, and still no boots? Seriously?)

But, Try The World did not disappoint. It delivered - and so far it's two for two in keeping its promise to deliver curated, gourmet food from different destinations throughout the world to our doorstep.

It's basically a "[fill in the food here] of the month" membership club that is so much cooler than a _____ of the month membership.  For the wanderlust-stricken self-proclaimed foodies out there (well... like me), here's a chance to discover and enjoy local delicacies from around the world, without leaving home.  If you're feeling gun-shy, you can opt for a short membership of only one month, all the way up to the full year membership. I don't like doing anything halfway...so we are "all in" at the one year membership level.  That means we get a box every two months. I kind of wish it was every month. Ok, I definitely wish it was every month.


More than just delivering edible goodies to your door, the beautiful packaging and presentation set this business apart from the rest. The Culture Guide (pictured above) accompanies each box and explains what each of the products is, provides recipes to try using some of the enclosed treats, a guide to the culture of a certain destination (for Venice it was Venetian music and film) and creates an experience, rather than just receiving some stuff. What's more is that each box is curated by a food expert. For example, the Venice box was created with the oversight of David Rosengarten, who counts "James Beard Award Winner" and host of over 2,500 Food Network shows, among his accomplishments.

We have found that a one-year subscription to Try The World also makes a great, thoughtful and unique wedding gift to couples who love to travel and love food and trying new things. One of our couple friends that we gifted a membership to sends us notes when they receive their box every other month, giving us tips on what their favorite products are and what I should call "dibs" on before I let the husband have any. Haha!

By far, the coolest part of Try The World for me personally is that the Holiday Box, our first we received, included Goiabada Sauce by Bazzar, a Brazilian restaurant that also sells its own sauces and spreads. Coincidentally, hubby and I ate at Bazzar when we were in Rio de Janeiro a couple of years ago and I really wanted to buy some things to take home with us, but couldn't at the time. I feel like I got a do-over on that now, which is awesome. And, they have an online store where you can go on and buy additional or full sizes of the products you like best whenever you like.

As for the food, well... we have been hoarding most of it because it's "too good to waste" on normal everyday meals and snacks. We need to get over that. The treats that we've allowed ourselves to tuck into have been delicious - particularly the Urbani chocolate truffle, dutch waffles and Swiss chocolate from the holiday box.

Update: Use this link to get $15 off! http://fbuy.me/cghJL

This post was not sponsored by Try The World and it only contains my views and opinions. However, if they'd like to give me a free box or two, I'm totally down. :)


In Vino Veritas - San Pier Wine Bar Cafe (Mdina, Malta)


My husband and I happened upon the San Pier Wine Bar Café, tucked away in one of the ancient bastions of the city wall of Mdina, Malta during our honeymoon... and I'm so glad we did.

Entrance - photo courtesy of the San Pier Wine Bar Café Facebook Page - Used with permission
Joanna Stellini, the daughter in the Stellini family, who own and operate the place, greeted us cheerfully and plopped down what was a very reasonably priced drink list on our high-top cocktail table, as well as a food menu, just in case we felt peckish.  After reviewing the offerings on the list, we enlisted Joanna's help picking the perfect glasses of wine to enjoy before dinner.

Since we indicated we would like to try a local offering, she recommended a delicious Maltese red. Aptly named Medina, the young 2013 blend (Syrah, Carignan and Grenache) usually popular in the French Languedoc region and in Catalonia in Spain (where Grenache is, of course, known as Garnacha...those pesky Spanish with their special Spanish grape names!) is made by the Emmanuel Delicata Family winery. It was a beautiful blend of fruit, spice and was a nice medium-bodied wine to drink on its own. It was also a really great price.


Pardon my crappy iPhone pic, please.
After chatting with Joanna a bit, we learned the fascinating history of the two-story premises, from its time 800 years ago as a granary (storage for grain) when it was built by the knights of Malta, to its later use as a coach house, a two-year stint as a victory kitchen, until its recent opening as the San Pier Wine Bar Café.  The place is named for the chapel across the way, St. Peter in Chains, that we rebuilt in 1575.

Downstairs - we sat at the high-top on the right.
Photo courtesy of the San Pier Wine Bar Café Facebook Page - Used with permission
A wonderful surprise was that we were given a complimentary artisanal cheese and cured meat platter to share, a congratulatory gesture from the Stellini family since we had mentioned that we were on our honeymoon.  You could just tell that the owners really care about making their guests' experiences great.

After chatting some more, John (Joanna's brother) joined us before heading out to meet friends and go to Paceville (the nightlife area very close to our hotel in St. Julians) that night, and we met their parents, Joseph and Josianne. The whole family were so lovely, and it was truly a family business. The cafe offers a variety of food, from lighter fare and sharing plates to full dinner, with options for vegetarians, celiacs and vegans. Although their main draw (in my opinion) is their reasonably-priced, varied wine list, they also feature domestic and imported beers and distilled spirits. There are tables and chairs downstairs and the upstairs loft has some couches and a lounge area to rest your weary traveling body while you sip on some local wines.


Upstairs - photo courtesy of the San Pier Wine Bar Café Facebook Page - Used with permission
We regretfully bid the Stellinis adieu to go to Medina Restaurant and catch our dinner reservation on time.  However, after dinner (which was very nice), although we were stuffed, we somehow found our way back through the haunted maze of Mdina to the San Pier for a nightcap (digestifs this time). Upon our return, they surprised us with a fresh fruit cup in an edible pastry as "dessert". So sweet!

By the time we left it was nearly midnight and the city was completely deserted. Then, Joanna offered to help us get a ride home - which was completely above and beyond the call of duty.  She walked us to the area in front of the main gate and talked a cab driver who was waiting for another couple to drive us back "home" also, and after hugs and probably an annoying amount of "thank you"s from us, we were on our way back to our hotel, safe and sound and not stranded in Mdina!

San Pier Wine Bar Café is a great place to relax and regroup after a long day of sightseeing or even to grab a quick bite in the afternoon before you head back out to enjoy all that Malta has to offer.

Visit San Pier Wine Bar Café, open daily from 10:30am until late:
+356 2145 2415

[This is not a sponsored post and all of the views expressed are my own. All I want is for travelers who visit Mdina to have as great of an experience as we did!]

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Pic of the Day - Gozo, Malta



We signed up for a boat tour on the island of Malta during our honeymoon, which included stops for snorkeling off the coast of Gozo (one of the other islands of the nation of Malta), a stop at the Blue Lagoon, and some lunch onboard. We really enjoyed the tour, even though we ditched the boat and took an amazing speedboat ride back to the Sliema Harbor (more on that later). Here's one of the shots from that day, from my iPhone.


Date Taken: October 17, 2014
Location: Somewhere off the coast of Gozo, Malta

With highs in the 40's Fahrenheit this week, you could say I've got Malta on my mind.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Doorknobs and Doorways of Mdina, Malta

We spent an afternoon wandering the streets of the Silent City (Mdina, Malta) between our day of sightseeing and our evening dinner, just getting lost in the winding, narrow medieval streets.

Here are some of my favorite shots of the beautiful, mostly religion-themed and marine-themed door décor in the beautiful hilltop medieval city of Mdina.