Color from my world – apricot and cherry tart with marzipan topping

Putting the tart out to cool. Adapted from David Lebovitz's apricot and cherry tart with marzipan topping. Beyond delicious, tart and sweet. The addition of marzipan was heavenly.
Putting the tart out to cool. Adapted from David Lebovitz’s apricot and cherry tart with marzipan topping. Beyond delicious, tart and sweet. The addition of marzipan was heavenly.

Farther afoot: Villa Verganti Veronesi

Villa Verganti Veronesi
Villa Verganti Veronesi

 

Villa Verganti Veronesi  - our room
Villa Verganti Veronesi – our room

 

Villa Verganti Veronesi  - the lawn with a special guest Brando
Villa Verganti Veronesi – the lawn with a special guest

 

 

Villa Verganti Veronesi - the terrace
Villa Verganti Veronesi – the terrace

 

Villa Verganti Veronesi - garden from the baclony, dining al fresco
Villa Verganti Veronesi – garden from the baclony
Villa Verganti Veronesi - yummy croissants for breakfast
Villa Verganti Veronesi – yummy croissants for breakfast
Villa Verganti Veronesi
Villa Verganti Veronesi

 

I love it when a late breaking plan comes together, don’t you?  Last week, my husband and I drove to the Lake Garda region of Italy.  A very, very long drive.  There is a lot I can say about the region, and eventually some photos may make it to the blog, but on our drive back home something else unexpectedly caught my fancy: Villa Verganti Veronesi.  The villa is a lovely early 19th century Italian home turned hotel, about 20 miles to the west of Milan.  Best of all – we happened upon it with a bit of luck and a little research.   At the last-minute, we decided to put in a few hours on the road Sunday evening, rather than depart Lake Garda Monday morning.  My Sunday morning task was to get on the internet and find a hotel that allowed dogs.  My second goal – I wanted AC! After 3 days of sweating it out, I had zero interest in roughing it!!  After a bit of research, I found a place that looked quaint, met the criteria above, and was affordable.  The pictures on Expedia.com looked nice – but I reserved comment knowing how pictures highlight the best and generally neglect the worst.  I figured for one night – it looks decent, we’ll see what happens.

Sunday evening, after enduring horrendous weekend traffic around Milan, we neared our destination.  The street didn’t look promising, and because I am notoriously bad at directions, I started to doubt we were in the right place.  The street appeared too out-of-the-way and the neighborhood too industrial.  My heart started to sink and I rechecked the directions.  We were in the right area.  We double back just as a car pulls out of the private-looking driveway.  Reassured, we drove in the gate and lo and behold, we were greeted by the most graciously proportioned, cheerfully painted, welcoming, bright yellow Italian villa.  We breathed a sigh of relief.  It looked promising.  We drove around to the side of the villa and parked the car –  an expansive manicured garden spanned out behind the villa.  Then, we rounded the corner to a beautiful terrace where people were enjoying pizza by candlelight as the sun set.  The pleasant staff was on hand to greet us and get us settled.    As we are led to our room, our eyes were like saucers.   The whole mansion has been expertly remodeled/refurbished/face-lifted and decorated like I would like to have my own house.  Old and new artwork adorned every wall.  The door opened to our spacious room: a perfectly polished tile floor, a huge antique bed, a sparkly chandelier, and a clean, modern bathroom.  We were in heaven.  And then, the cherry on top,  the manager kindly put us a room with a balcony that overlooked the garden so that our dog could look out!  Well, we were in heaven and didn’t want to leave after just one night.

I will let the pictures speak for themselves, but we were truly enthralled.  It was a perfect ending to our trip.  If you find yourself driving through Italy (or need a spot to rest outside Milan near the Malpensa airport) stop here!  I totally recommend it!  A real gem.

http://www.villavergantiveronesi.com/

P.S.  I only saw the website after our stay, so it was a surprise to me!  Also, although AC was a requirement, it was cool enough that we didn’t need it, so I didn’t get to test it out.   The hotel has been open since November and I think they are still working out some minor kinks – but overall – an A for style, effort, and comfort.

P.P.S.  For all those who haven’t seen him before – that little creature in several of my photos is Brando, my adorable Italian greyhound.  (Find him on Instagram @Brandotheiggy or Facebook Brando IG)

Coffee – A mini post

yummy coffee at You Decide coffee shop and cafe
yummy coffee at You Decide coffee shop and cafe
You Decide coffee shop and cafe
You Decide coffee shop and cafe
yummy coffee at You Decide coffee shop and cafe
yummy coffee at You Decide coffee shop and cafe

I am going to make this short and sweet: You Decide has great coffee and a warm personal atmosphere.

You Decide is a small cafe tucked into a storefront on Ave Victor Hugo,  which opened about three months ago.  I have been there twice for super yummy rich coffee.  I have met both owners and it is obvious they care about the quality of their product and their customers.  They are very welcoming and speak great English.  They also serve brunch, lunch, and baked goods.  It all looks delicious so I will have to find the time to stop in for a bite to eat… and another post to follow.  (Also – in case you are craving a Brooklyn Lager – this is the place to find it!)

You Decide – Paris Coffee Shop; 152 Avenue Victor Hugo; M-Fr 8am-6pm; S 9am-6pm

Marché President Wilson / Marché du Pont de l’Alma

goodies from President Wilson Market - playing with my food
goodies from President Wilson Market – playing with my food

 

goodies from President Wilson Market
goodies from President Wilson Market

 

 

goodies from President Wilson Market Brando didn't help with the shopping, just wants to help with the eating.  Besides, he hates it when I don't include him in the pictures!
goodies from President Wilson Market
Brando didn’t help with the shopping, just wants to help with the eating. Besides, he hates it when I don’t include him in the pictures!
goodies from President Wilson Market
goodies from President Wilson Market

 

 

President Wilson Market - Olives, please!
President Wilson Market – Olives, please!

 

the exchange
the exchange

 

goodies from President Wilson Market - fig bread
goodies from President Wilson Market – fig bread

 

I may have overdone it at the market today! I don’t make it to President Wilson Market* every week, but when I do, I am always impressed and a bit overwhelmed.  It is a visual and cultural treat – which makes it a great tourist destination.  Yet despite all the foreign languages you hear, you also see an equal number of regulars.  And for good reason – the bounty of  French agriculture is on grand display and completely irresistible.

Now that summer is in full swing, I felt an urge to buy seasonal fruits, fire up the oven, and make some yummy fruit crumble and a clafoutis.  As usual, the market did not disappoint. I got everything on my list and more.  If it is in season, you will find it there.  I ended up with berries, cherries, melon, rhubarb, artichokes, radishes, and onions, to name a few.    My guiding principle in buying: is it beautiful?  That meant I ended up with three times what I planned.  Also, I can’t make a trip to the market without passing up the “bread lady.”  Today I bought a dense whole wheat bread with figs.  Just try to imagine that with a slab of fresh butter and tell me your mouth isn’t watering!

And since I overdid it with my buying, I also overdid it with photos… just too beautiful not to share. Enjoy!

*Ave President Wilson, near the Iéna metro.
Wed, 7–2:30; Sat, 7–3.
Walk west from the Pont de l’Alma on ave President Wilson.