Friday, September 23, 2016

Tauck Danube Riverboat Cruise on MS Savor

Flowing through the heart of old Europe, from Imperial Vienna and romantic Budapest, through the Iron Gate to Bucharest and the Black Sea, Tauck's Danube Riverboat Cruise on the custom designed MS Savor is one of two newest ships introduced to the company's fleet of European vessels. With a maximum of 130 guests, the 443-foot riverboat has just 67 cabins with luxurious bedding, 100 percent goose down pillows, Molton Brown toiletries and onboard entertainment with enrichment lectures, live music each evening, culinary demos and local entertainment featuring artists from the area. The ship has two dining rooms from which to choose — the more formal Compass Rose featuring refined regional cuisine and Arthur’s, named for company Chairman Arthur Tauck Jr., which offers more casual fare then turns into a steakhouse-style restaurant in the evening, with a menu that includes surf-and-turf and array of seafood classics. Tauck also staffs each river cruise with a Tauck cruise director and three Tauck Directors, who travel with the guests on shore trips. Joining the ship for a 10-day cruise along the Danube from Regensburg to Budapest through the heart of Central Europe, we all looked forward to savouring the quaint towns, Imperial cities and fabulous cuisine along the magnificent 'River of Kings'.

The red carpet gangway up to Tauck's Savor, then anchors away for the Danube Cruise

Main lobby of the Tauck MS Savor

Raising the flag as we leave Regensburg for Passau

The Compass Rose dining room

The less formal dining room - Arthurs

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Regensburg in Bavaria: A UNESCO Medieval Gem

A Roman settlement completed under Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Regensburg was the first capital of Bavaria and is the best preserved Medieval city in Germany. Strolling along the atmospheric narrow lanes and crossing the historical squares, it's easy to imagine what life was like centuries ago in this beautiful city on the Danube. Two thousand years of history has granted the region with a rich cultural and architectural heritage, a fact recognised by Unesco in 2006. Known as “Germany’s medieval miracle”, many buildings testify to its history as a thriving trading centre and to its influence on the region from the 9th century, including a number of ancient Roman, Romanesque and Gothic buildings. Regensburg’s 11th to 13th-century architecture, including the market, city hall and cathedral, still defines the character of the town marked by dark and narrow lanes, strong fortifications, medieval patrician houses and towers, a large number of churches and monasteries as well as the historic 12th-century Old Bridge. With a number of quaint beer gardens nestled in quite courtyards in old Regensburg, one of the more picturesque is Bischofshof am Dom, the ideal place to enjoy a Bavarian lunch under a shady canopy of leafy green trees and gurgling fountain. Equally popular for those wanting to sample traditional Bavarian sausages is the historic Sausage Kitchen overlooking the water beside the old Stone Bridge and the oldest continuously open public restaurant in the world, serving 6,000 sausages to guests daily, including renowned Bavarian dishes such as Franconian Saure Zipfl, Krautwickerl and Sauerbraten — prost!

The 16th-century clock tower sits at the foot of Regensburg's12th-century old Stone Bridge

One of Regensburg's Medieval cobblestone streets

The town was enjoying a festival of local street performers the weekend we visited Regensburg

German beer and sausages were all part of the weekend festival, 
with some residents fully enjoying the Bavarian fare

A market stall on the main square selling local straw basketry

Another scenic cobbled street, many with small cafés and tourist shops

A Gothic architectural balcony detail 

The Imperial symbol of Regensburg - the Eagle - in the Cathedral Square

The pretty Bischofshof am Dom Bavarian beer garden in Regensburg


The menu features local Bavarian cuisine

All of the servers were dressed in traditional dirndls and some of the men sporting lederhosen

One of the charismatic older waiters

Our server arriving with our tray of cold Bavarian beers

A large cold Bavarian beer

A basket of warm and addictivley delicious salty pretzels

Liver Paté in a small earthenware pot served with rye bread

Homemade Goulash Soup served with rye bread

House-Marinated Organic Salmon with Dill Mustard sauce, Potato Fritters and 
Boiled Egg garnished with Salmon Roe Caviar

Vienne Veal Schnitzel fried in butter with roast potatoes and lemon

Grilled King Prawns with mixed vegetables, lemon and dill

The dirndl is worn by young and old in rue Bavarian style

The Regensburg Sausage Kitchen, serving over 6000 sausages a day!

Sausages hot off the grill

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

La Finestra in Cucina: Fine Italian Cuisine in Prague

Opened in 2009, La Finestra is the second restaurant of Italian chef Riccardo Lucque. The main attraction of the restaurant is the opportunity to watch Chef Tomáš Černý, as he prepares his culinary magic in the kitchen at the heart of the restaurant. Priding itself with simplicity, passion and tradition, La Finestra, has the finest Italian food in Prague. Specializing in succulent meat dishes, fabulous fish and sensational pasta, the restaurant provides visitors with rich yet homely surroundings. Ceilings are high, the main dining area is flooded with natural light, and the open kitchen allows guests to watch as Executive Chef Tomáš Černý creates to order. Aside from its culinary endeavours, La Finestra has made it their mission to build the largest collection of Italian wines in the Czech Republic. From the fabulous appetizers, wonderfully fresh fish, fork tender beef, excellent service and superb wine, La Finestra was one of the culinary highlights of our week long stay in Prague.

Chef Tomáš Černý

The modern exposed brick interior

The sensational Italian menu of La Finestra

A selection of fresh local fish for the evening is presented by our server

Also known for their beef, our server also brought a platter of cuts from which we could choose

Amuse Bouche of flaked fish garnished with sautéed mushrooms

House made warm crunchy bread served with garlic infused butter and roasted chickpeas

Glass of Czech red wine

Glass of Czech Gruner Veltliner white wine

Frittura di funghi e gamberi con maionese al bacon a umicato:
Mushrooms and prawns frittura with smoked bacon mayonnaise

Insalata di rucola con burrata, frutti di bosco, salsa al mirtillo e anacardi salati:
Rocket salad with burrata, wild berries, blueberry dressing and salted cashews

The Grilled John Dory presented before plating

John Dory served with braised fennel, zucchini, tomato and lemon

Grilled Whole Branzino filleted and served with braised fennel, zucchini, tomato and lemon

Sliced Austrian Rib Eye Beef garnished with thyme

Roast Potatoes, Crispy Fried Zucchini and Sautéed Spinach

Vanilla Gelato with fresh berries

Passing the kitchen I asked the chefs if I could take a photo — with great humour, they obliged my request with great gusto!