Holiday Traditions

From Sweden to America…

Best things about Christmas and holidays are traditions that carry meaning and create memories for generations.

Baking with friends, watching carolers.. are some of our faves 😊 

Whipped up some matcha cookies!

Peanut butter chocolate melting snowmen. Trying to decorate these will definitely entertain you – try it!!

Mix was the easy part!


Klicha – our traditional spicy sweet for Christmas time made the whole house smell cozy and ‘love’! 

We kicked back after an entire day of baking — adoring the tree and magic of friendship, traditions, and holiday.  
Happy Holidays!!!

Farm to Table Dinner Event

End of Summer is on the horizon.  We try to celebrate the season in every way possible before the cold and snow hits the streets.

Campo Di Bella farm and winery hosted a wonderful vegetarian dinner event last night. We had the joy of attending it.  

What a fantastic way to support local farming community and artisans. 

29 guests, 7 courses, and a lot of joy…


Every course was light refreshing and made us taste the summer sunshine!


Zucchini tart or art?? 😍  

Get out there and celebrate the summer!!!

Catania Fish Market

We spent some time in the city of Catania while in Sicily.  Though short it was full of action and the kind we like: adventure and food!!

Private tour guide helped make most of our tour. Will tell you more about that next time 😉 

We love local markets, seeing the live local culture in action is just priceless…


A short walk from our hotel, the Catania fish market was waiting to welcome us. It was like heaven for us, the variety of days catch – all sorts of fish, shellfish, octopus,… lively stall keepers shouting for their goods…  

At the skirts of the fish market the vegetable and fruit stalls and accompanied by olive and cheese tables.  Making sure the shoppers will have a pick of the best for tonight’s dinner!

For more photos follow us on Instagram: surprisesaffron

Riserva di Zingaro

To go or not to go? Yes! Go! 

We took a 4 hour tour of the Zingaro by boat. It is refreshing to go by boat and see all the different coastal spots of this reserve.    

You will see rock formations, old caves, secluded white beaches… and Bella Mare!  At this particular excursion they let us swim in two spots, we saw many fish and jellyfish. No, that did not stop us from swimming.  

Take a big excursion boat. We took a small one, it was ok but they were not well equipped, no fins, no food, no snorkel gear… It was too bare bones. If we could do it over we would go with a bigger boat.   

Go and enjoy the natural beauty of Sicilian coast!! Buona Giornata!! 🇮🇹

Lecce’s native son and artist Alberto Buttazzo!

One lazy afternoon while strolling the cute streets of Lecce, we entered an unassuming shop. It was hardly recognizable as a shop from the outside.  Inside Alberto and Dino were sitting and chattering away as if they have been waiting for our arrival all this while…

We did not know that we were looking at the portrait of an artist, until we started looking around the shop. I saw a print and immediately knew it would be mine. Maker turned out to be Alberto himself. 

 

When people like each other no matter what the languages they can communicate. Though we know some limited Italian it was easy to connect with him.  He told us about his art and showed us his books, prints, the printing machine and more. 

  

 This is Alberto’s passion!  He has been doing this since 1934, his father founded the La Teatrale typography shop in 1926.

 

Dino, his brother in law, and AnnaMaria, his sister – a soprano, joined our lively conversation.  Also we had the pleasure of meeting Antonio, Dino’s talented son.   

Hard not to fall in love with culture, art, passion… we felt lucky that we walked in on this history waiting to be told and heard.

 

If you are visiting Lecce, drop by and say hello to Alberto and family. The shop is located at Via dei Perroni, 21 Lecce.  If you are far away then follow him on Facebook at Tipografia Del Commercio Lecce.

Grazie Alberto!!!  

Cooking with Lecce’s best Chef Gianna !

We had been waiting for this cooking experience for weeks. It was important to us to make this travel a learning experience since we love to cook and eat. 

Chef Gianna and Giorgio gave us the full experience of cooking in traditional Lecce style.  We met in the early evening by Piazza del Duomo.  We strolled together to the market in a leisurely way while getting to know more about each other.  We all have a passion for cooking, eating, and enjoying good company as a common characteristic.   

Market experience was fun, we watched how Gianna and Giorgio selected cheese, tomatoes, and other ingredients. The market owner and staff were great.  This is an integral part of feeling and breathing the whole experience.  These are the kinds of memories that are priceless.  We loved it!! 

 

We arrived at the beautiful Cooking Experience kitchen. This is where they cook and entertain the guests.  

 

It is lovely, comfortable, fully equipped with anything needed for cooking a great meal.   

The menu was focaccia, orecchiette, stuffed eggplants, and pastacciotto , which is the local custard desert.  

   
 Drinking wine 🍷🍷 while we cooked made the whole process even more fun. Chef Gianna is full of great tips and lessons. We made the entire dinner from scratch!! 

  
 

Learning how to make the orecchiette was amazing. We made eggless pasta dough that could be used for any type of pasta. Chef Gianna showed us in detail how to make the pasta.
  

We tried our best to follow Chef Gianna’s instructions. Yes! she did use the pasta we made for dinner. She was gracious and kind to say we did well.  We think we need more practice 😉

The fully hand on experience was very satisfying. We made everything together. Giorgio assured us not to worry about taking notes since he send the precise recipes to all the students. This helped us relax, concentrate and have more fun. 

 

Voilà!!   the finished pasta… it was as delicious as it looks.  What’s remarkable is that time flew by, we had great laughs, and a great meal while learning without any strain or intimidation.  Giorgio and Chef Gianna have this easy going style that makes any level cook feel comfortable.  
While we did only one day, you can customize and book several sessions with Chef Gianna.  Start planning your cooking experience; contact Giorgio for details at cookingexperiencelecce@gmail.com 🇮🇹
 

Restaurant Hopping in Lecce – Italy

So, if you find yourself in Lecce and need to eat… you have many choices. Since none will tell you the truth about which restaurants are good or not, we will!!

Avoid rooftop restaurant at Risorgimento Resort hotel. Food is mediocre at best and expensive.  Service was ok. So instead go up there for drinks, desert and the view.  Food was so bad that I actually got sick from it.  We loved the view, but regretted having dinner there. 

 
Take a chance at Nonna Tetti. Cute little restaurant in home cooking style. Food is great, relatively cheap but… ignore the rude staff if you can. Tell yourself you are here just for the food.  The pasta sagne was especially delicious!!  Make sure to order the house starter plates; they are small plates of side dishes like fried eggplants, pickles, beets and other yummies. 

Best place we had dinner at was Blu Notte! Everything we had was fresh, delicious, and memorable. We had pasta, fish, octopus, muscles, and desert. It is not cheap but not too expensive either.  Staff was well trained, friendly and efficient.  You might also get lucky and find a table without reservation, like we did. We recommend that you don’t take the risk and make a reservation.

 
 

Maybe you are wondering about paninis, sweets, and gelato — well, come back another day for our special focus on these dolci!!