pulia london
I’ve never heard a single soul say they don’t enjoy Italian food and I am no exception to the rule. During recent trips to Venice, Florence, and Pisa (which you’ll hear more about tomorrow) I never strayed from local faire.

Unexpectedly, it gave me a newfound respect for my less-than-local Puglian favourite – London’s Pulia.

Hidden in a side-street of Borough Market that I have only run through on the way to meetings, Pulia is a diamond in the gentrified rough. I discovered the restaurant through their burrata (it was served at Emma Spitzer’s EatAbout dinner and is still the best I’ve ever tasted) so first visited with the highest of expectations.

With a glass of Aglianico in hand, my lunch date and I tackled the fresh Puglian menu as best we could: focaccia, panzerotti, crocche’, rustici, vegetables pate’, mixed charcuterie, mozzarella, impossibly fresh pastas, copious amounts of home-made olive oils, burrata heart, and even more burrata (for good measure).

Though our table was so overloaded plates were quite literally teetering over the edge, I would recommend nothing less than such gluttony. The menu is simply too fresh, too authentic, and too delicious to hold back.

Upon the recommendation of our waiter, we capped things of with Pasticciotto (a warm shortbread cake filled with custard or chocolate & hazelnut) and drenched it in our choice of ginger-infused olive oil. Don’t knock it ’til you try it (hint: it’s un-knockable).

With more meetings standing between me and the rest of the menu, I grabbed a flat white to go and found myself with yet another reason to return.

For all the epicurean romance I have felt throughout my recent travels, it is wonderful to know I have such a bona fide little slice of Italy in London.

pulia london
pulia london
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uffizi gallery vasari corridor
Being a bit more Banksy than Botticelli, I knew I had to do ‘the art thing’ during The Boy and I’s time in Florence but didn’t want to waste time or money on anything less than the best of the best.

Upon discovering the Uffizi Gallery & Corridoio Vasariano (or Vasari Corridor) Tour on Florence24 (the creme de la creme – or Italian equivalent – when it comes to city tours), the decision made itself.

Starting our three-hour tour at the Uffizi Gallery, our astute art historian tour guide talked us through the highlights of the museum’s collections – most of which were left by the Medici to the state of Tuscany so that they could “adorn the State, be of utility to the Public and attract the curiosity of Foreigners”.

They have more than succeeded, now housing one of the world’s most famous museums.

After an educational traipse past the Birth of Venus, Doni Tondo, Venus de’ Medici and many more, we reached the ironclad highlight – the Vasari Corridor.

The Corridor, you see, is a somewhat secret above-ground passageway and a space very rarely open to the public. It was designed to let Francesco I de’ Medici (the Grand Duke of Tuscany) and his wife (Joanna of Austria – the Grand Duchess) move freely between his residence and the government palace without having the monarch-chronic anxiety of being seen in public. With one entrance in the Uffizi and one in the Pitti Palace, it stretches across the Ponte Vecchio and loggiato of the church of Santa Felicita with privileged, panoramic views along the way. Both inside and outside (the Corridor now hosts the Uffizi’s unique and plentiful collection of self-portraits).

Altogether, I left the tour feeling Botticelli as ever.

A photo posted by Lela London (@lelalondon) on

uffizi gallery vasari corridor
uffizi gallery vasari corridor
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florence
After a handful of perfect days in Venice, I pre-emptively resigned Florence to a status of second-best. As well as being renowned for its high-brow art scene (which has never been my bag), The Boy couldn’t remember much of his post-teen trip to the city, leaving me with a scene set for lovely architecture. At best.

Quite the contrary, Lela from two weeks ago…quite the contrary…

A photo posted by Lela London (@lelalondon) on

florence
florence
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venice travel blog
The airport bus dropped me at the hem of Venice with a rude awaking: I had little more than hazy memories of Casino Royale and friends’ heavily-filtered Instagrams saved as ‘preparation’ for the trip.

Cards completely on the table: though I knew there were canals and boats abouding, I had no idea the city was car and road free…

venice travel blog
venice travel blog
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wagamama
After hearing some rather stupendous recommendations concerning the ramen selection at wagamama, I decided to return to the restaurant for the first time in literal years. As food trends go, ramen only seems to woo more and more street food-loving Londoners by the week (thanks in large part to my constant praise, no doubt).

As a chain and a company most don’t realise have been perfecting their ramen recipes for over 20 years (they even released a book on it in 1994!), there were a lot of expectations to exceed.

I do feel wrong calling wagamama a chain, though. The ramen-fuelled meal I ended up enjoyining was not only uber-fresh but uber-delicious. ‘Chain’ doesn’t quite cut the mustard.

Hopefully, the photography will. From the steamed hirata pork belly & panko apple bun (fluffy bao served with japanese mayonnaise and coriander) to the vegan Surendra’s curry (green curry made with tofu, jalapeño peppers, onions, sweet potato straws and ginger – vacuumed up by my dinner date), nothing could be faulted.

I, of course, went for the Daddy of All Ramens – the very tender short rib ramen – served on the bone atop noodles, chicken broth, carrots, mangetout, red onions, sweet potato and pea shoots. With kimchee for good measure.

With two fresh and health-conscious juices slurped to conclude our family-sized meals, I found myself very eager to return. After all, those buns and bowls won’t eat themselves.

wagamama
wagamama
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