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 🇮🇹
 

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Spa Salus PerAquam – our respite in Lecce, Italy

Our long time followers know about our Spa addiction. We have been in Spa’s around the world.  See our past blog entries for Maldives, Seattle, Kohler, Thailand, etc…

In Lecce, we have been walking everywhere. When you walk all day long and have fun it’s important to rest and treat your body well. It will pay you back!

Our hotel Risorgimento Resort luckily for us has a lovely spa. It is perfect for after a long day of site seeing and travelling.  We recommend that you book at least a day ahead. 

Our favorite spa expert is Monica Valiani – ask for her by name.  She speaks Italian, English, French, and German.  We had spa services with her for two days and it was simply excellent. 

 

Turkish Bath (Bagno Turco) after a good salt scrub on the entire body transforms your senses and starts the relaxation process. The emotional shower (rain, breeze) with special light therapy completes the whole treatment. We left clean, relaxed, and energized for our dinner party.

 
Next day we returned for facial and the special Cinque Sensi massage created by Monica. She designed this massage based on chackras. We loved it and our faces were radiating after the facial.  If you want a couples massage ask Monica for her signature massage designed for couples. 

The prices are middle range. For a great 50 min massage we paid €80. The Bagno Turco was €20. They have manicures, waxing, and many other facial and body treatments. You can also request something more tailored for your needs. 

The spa is small but tranquil and you can reserve it for privacy. You will be surrounded by unobtrusive service and positive energy.

  

Monica – thank you for awakening our cinque sensi and make our journey even more special! Grazie mille!! 🇮🇹

 

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!!

Italian Adventure: first stop Brindisi! Lecce!

Our journey started in Stockholm, Skavsta airport. This is the first time we are using this airport and RyanAir.  Skavsta is known for cheap and direct flights to places in Europe.  Since it is cheap go ahead and treat yourself to a Business Plus upgrade!  

We found RyanAir to be basic, entertaining, and efficient. They had food, duty free, and lotto on board. Yes you can indeed play the lottery while flying :)) 
Total flight was three hours long. Went by quickly.  You can imagine our excitement when we saw the land as we approached… we knew out Italian Adventure started!!   

As we travel the Puglia region and other surprise locations, follow us along!! Ciao 🇮🇹 

Red Door Spa – Phoenix, AZ

This is my first time in Arizona and the first time at a Red Door Spa. It is the spa by the iconic Elizabeth Arden. While I don’t use EA products, this trip was an opportunity to check out the spa.

Beautiful 90 degree weather… spa building. The decor and art is a nod towards the southwest sensibilities. Has a calming relaxant effect as if time is standing still.
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The red door!!
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The services are really quality and aestheticians and massage experts are amazing. Friendly without being overbearing… 20141005-121245-43965711.jpg

There is beautiful art sprinkled everywhere.
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If you find yourself in Phoenix Arizona, I recommend you spend a day at the Red Door. Your only regret will be leaving 😉

Maldives: Spa-tastic time!

20140619-194054-70854924.jpgYes we just made up a word spa + fantastic = Spa-tastic. As designed, there is not much to do when you are in Maldives. Thankfully that is the case – it allows us to truly quiet our minds and bodies.

In all 3 islands we visited we went to the spa. Here are our brief encounters.

Ginger Spa – Gangehi Island
This is a very Indian influenced spa. We had a great Ayurvedic body scrub followed by an outdoor shower, then finished off with a relaxing massage.

Yes, we were served ginger tea as the finishing touch! Felt great and started off our vacation and tanning on the right tone.
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Tip: we did this first evening we arrived so our bodies had a healing overnight before hitting the beach and ocean the next day. We recommend this, it will help you get a longer lasting and more even tan.

Duniye Spa – Komandoo Island
This is a Balinese and more Asian influenced spa. We had Thai massage done — as fans of this technique we loved it. 20140619-195024-71424490.jpgSerenity…

Duniye Spa – Kuredu Island
Yes, this is the same spa name as the one at Komandoo. We still wanted to go both to relax and we heard the one at the O resort section had glass floor to watch fish while getting a massage. We could not pass that up!
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What did we see??
Little to medium sized fish. We kept hoping for sharks but maybe they were on vacation too 😉
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This experience costs you $10 more than the other location at the island. For us it was worth it.
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We had the pleasure of having an Oriental massage that combined various techniques like Balinese and Thai. We also had a facial done; we gave it two thumbs up.

You may not be at Maldives, but you should treat yourself to a Spa day or just a 60 min massage. Be good to your body and it will be good to you!
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Maldives: paradise found!

20140614-132051.jpgWe are not ready to say goodbye to Maldives… but we said ‘until next time’ and hopped on the seaplane. Captain happened to be from Canada, fun chap!
20140614-130105.jpgBtw.. what is it with men in uniforms 😉
20140614-130414.jpgHard not to enjoy our drinks looking out on this beautiful sight. 20140614-132909.jpgSo happy we got to see these beautiful islands; Male, Gangehi, Kuredu, and Komandoo – before they disappear underwater. 20140614-130510.jpgAll photos on our blog are taken by us –using simple iPhone and iPad actually. Here are some scenes we captured, enjoy.
20140614-130953.jpgA friend we made there said people usually return within 6 mo or a year. Having been there we understand why and hope we can also return in the next 2yrs to visit other islands. How can we resist a paradise like this!20140614-131801.jpg
So… when are you going to Maldives?20140614-131930.jpg