All posts filed under: Travelling

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48 Hours in Yangon, Myanmar [In Photos]

Yangon. Golden temples, busy streets and a giant reclining buddha (the Chauk Htat Gyi Buddha which is 66 metres long). The capital of Myanmar rushes and bustles like most others, but it has a laid back charm. When I visited last year it felt like a trip back in time even though it has already changed very much compared to 10 years ago. The first KFC opened just after I left but there is no real imprint of the west otherwise, which is so very rare. So much is done by hand, from making gold leaf to coat the buddha by hammer and with sheer strength and endurance, to silversmithing ornate detailed bowls. The clack of the weavers loom is a familiar sound through open windows as they weave the longyi and htamein, traditional Burmese clothing, essentially skirts formed when a woven sheet approximately two metres long is wrapped around the lower body, the first for men and the second for women. Both are still commonly worn all across Myanmar. It is also common to …

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The Bloodshot Supper Club at The Dairy, London

London food is on fire. We have great markets, lots of street food, some of the worlds best fine dining, terrific mid range restaurants, ace cheap eats and superb international food, especially Asian. So many restaurants are opening, on a scale that compares with New York in recent years. I travel a lot, and I love it, but I always love to come home. Travel makes it better, and makes me appreciate London even more. I spoke about London recently with Rick Bayless on The Feed Podcast, and was delighted to share my views on what makes the London food scene so brilliant at the moment, with reference to our vibrant markets (the episode of The Feed podcast that I spoke on is here). The Dairy A very good example of the new energy in London is Robin and Sarah Gill. The effect that they have had on the London food scene in less than 3 years is remarkable. Last year, two of their restaurants were in the Good Food Guide Top 50, and Robin …

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Where to Eat in Madrid: Roast Suckling Pig at Botín

We all avoid tourist spots when we travel, mainly because they are mostly dreadful. But some cities are serious about food, and even their tourist places can be excellent. Like Madrid. It is unfair to label Botín a tourist spot though. True, it is mainly tourists that eat there now. Lots of writers have feasted on suckling pig over the years here too, including Graham Greene & Hemingway. Goya was a waiter there. Hemingway is quoted as saying “We lunched upstairs at Botin’s. It is one of the best restaurants in the world. We had roast young suckling pig and drank rioja alta. Brett did not eat much. She never ate much. I ate a very big meal and drank three bottles of rioja alta.” I always liked Hemingway. Botín has been open since 1725, and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest restaurant in the world. Suckling pig is roasted here in the wood fired oven (which dates from 1725 also) in the Castillian way. The restaurant is quaint and …

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Christmas in Nova Scotia, A Quick Stop in Montreal & Hello 2016!

Good morning, everyone! And Happy New Year. I hope you had a very good break, if you managed to take one.  I am so excited about 2016. I will finally publish my next tome, Project Bacon. It has been a forever friend and sometimes frenemy. As you know, I made the decision to self publish it and kickstart it. I don’t regret that, but life intervened and there have been several (at times, crushing) delays. But now, after an intense end to 2015, I feel I am almost at the top of the hill. And I can’t wait for you to see it. Project Bacon Recipe Photo Previews :)  My Kickstarter backers have had lots of recipe previews, and design and photography previews too. I will share some here with you soon, and there will be a limited amount available to buy when they go to press. So, keep an eye out for those. Now that the book is almost done, I will have lots more time here, and lots more freedom for other projects. …

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Dublin Revisited: Where to Eat Now and for New Year

Dublin is on form. There is an energy and excitement on the street and in restaurants, and a palpable renewed optimism and confidence after a tough few years of hard recession. As Dublin gears up for its New Year Festival, a 3 day event from the 30th December to the 1st January rich with music, stories, a procession of light and light projections and fun, it is only fair that you have a fresh list for eating to refer to. Have a great time! EATING The Greenhouse I had one of my favourite lunches this year at The Greenhouse. I returned for the tasting menu and found it sublime. There were many highlights including a suckling pigs head croqeutte (made from 3 week old Spanish pigs) served with a Korean pepper emulsion, divine jamon with a decadent dusting of truffle, an excellent sika deer tartare with a covering of beetroot, douglas fir roasted monkfish and that famous dessert of theirs, the passion fruit soufflé with white chocolate sauce. The 5 course tasting menu is €90 and there …

Cork! English Market, Farmgate Café and Ballymaloe Gardens

Where to Eat, Drink and Stay in Cork City (Boy!)

When you are not from where you live, people often ask how often you get home. Perhaps they are making conversation (likely) or maybe they are checking the calibre of my moral compass. Regardless, I tell them that I try to get home often, I aim for four times a year but I would like to go more. I didn’t grow up in Cork, I grew up in Waterford next door, but it is where my mother is from, where I went to university, and where I lived for 7 years on and off. I know it very well and I have a huge affection for this bright patch of Ireland, that feeling of home and of belonging are keen here. Many people I meet who have been to Ireland have only been to Dublin. This makes sense. It is the capital, and it is the biggest city. But Cork is so different and has its own charm, it also demands a visit.  Photos taken near Cork City in Ballymaloe, the Farmgate Café in Midleton, Kinsale and …

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7 Gorgeous Christmas Markets in North West Germany

If you love Christmas, you will love the German Christmas Markets. Joyful and embracing of all things festive, German Christmas markets are also historic, starting in the late middle ages with the first recorded at Munich in 1310. We always try to recreate them here, but they are never as good in my experience. You need kitsch, and you need no barriers. You have to throw yourself in.  The Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmarkts) start with advent all over Germany, most quite traditional and some niche (some focussed on crafts, some are medieval with no electricity). Some cities have more than one, Cologne has 7, one of which is a gay and lesbian Christmas market. They are a perfect spot for Christmas shopping or just throwing yourself into Christmas with abandon and a glass of glühwein. Most markets have gorgeous wood fired bread ovens, terrific German sausages, spätzle (a Bavarian homemade noodle made fresh and served many ways, my favourite is with speck and cheese), lots of pork (I saw a few roasting hogs), and wild meats like goose and …

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A Surprise Birthday Party at 30,000 Feet and a Satay Trolley (Travelling Business Class with Malaysia Airlines)

One of my laments this year was that I never celebrated my birthday. It was a big one and I had planned to. I was excited to! I delayed it because of work, and then again, and then again. It never happened and now it is gone. But! I did have a surprise birthday party at 30,000 feet and it was a gorgeous one. I flew to Borneo earlier this year with Malaysia Airlines to explore. The trip itself was a joy, lovely people, fabulous food, and lots of laksa. I got to visit Sarawak and Kuala Lumpur for the first time. I cooked local food, I visited local food markets, I brought home lots of pepper (Sarawak pepper is said to be one of the best), bright green pepper candy (which I am yet to try!) and some laksa paste so that I could enjoy laksa at home, and work out a recipe. I saw more wonderful orangutans, many of them. I flew to Kuala Lumpur from London business class, a treat in itself. Turning …

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A Menorcan Food & Wine Producers Trail (Wine, Gin, Sobrasada & Mahón Cheese)

Head to Menorca and fill your boots with cheese, wine, sobrasada & GIN! A gorgeous, chilled out and very under rated island, Menorca was one of my favourite places to visit this year. Here is your guide for the best of the artisan products. There are also links here to my Menorca Eating & Drinking Guide and the best Sunday lunch on the island (lobster soup, as you are asking!). Menorcans claim mayonnaise. The French don’t agree, but Menorcans say that mayonnaise originated in Mahón and was taken to France where it was popularised after the French victory over the British in Menorca in 1756. The sauce was salsa mayonesa in Spanish, later becoming mayonnaise when the French embraced it.  Who could blame each side for declaring they are responsible for the origin? I adore the gorgeous emulsion of egg yolk and oil. A bold claim from a small island like Menorca and an insight to their proud culinary heritage. Menorca is still steeped in salsa mayonesa, which they make fresh and serve with many dishes. There is …

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Setting Sail on the Norwegian Escape

I would imagine that your thoughts on cruises are very much like mine were. I never thought that I would enjoy one. I love water, and I love a ship, but cruises themselves always seem so old fashioned and dated. Right? I worried about them being predictive. I worried about feeling like I would have to do the same thing every night. I worried generally about a lack of freedom, I dreaded not having my space. I felt I might be trapped on a big boat out at sea. I worried that maybe the food wouldn’t be very good, or not to my taste. I had never actually been on a cruise though, this was all based on what I thought a cruise might be. I decided I should give one a go, and tried a particularly food-centric one last year. And, whaddya know, I quite like a cruise. A cruise is a lovely break for a water baby like myself. They are more private than I imagined and they are especially good for someone …

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48 Hours in Dublin (And Where to Eat & Drink)

This post was sponsored by Avios who challenged me to Do More and spend 40,000 Avios getting to and in a location of my choice. I could have comfortably gone anywhere in Europe, but I chose Dublin, because I love any opportunity to go home, and reconnect. 48 hours in Dublin is a treat. So close to London, just over an hour on a flight, and for me an opportunity to reconnect and plug in to my culture. Ireland is very different to the UK, and people often don’t understand that. Sure, there is a common language, but the cultures diverge. Everything you have heard about us being oh-so-very-friendly is true, even in a major city like Dublin you will find that most will chat to you for no reason other than being curious about who you are and what you do. Ireland is also a haven for creatives. Many artists, musicians and writers call Ireland home, as do many tech geeks (Dublin is home to the European headquarters of Google, Twitter & Facebook). For food …

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Shackfuyu in Residence at the Bone Daddies Bermondsey Kitchen

Shackfuyu ticks a few boxes: great food, fantastic playlist, secret basement bar and a great drinks list (hello sake). From the team behind Bone Daddies, one of my favourite London ramen bars, Shackfuyu are serving Japanese soul food including eclectic and full flavoured fusion dishes like mentaiko mac and cheese and have been for the last (??) 6 months. Shackfuyu do great things with their wood oven, sukiyaki style wagyu picanha, roast fish, and a wonderful hot stone rice with sesame, chilli & beef which I have burned myself on more than once. Worth it every time, enthusiasm often triumphs sense when there is good food in front of me. Instagram loves the Kinako French Toast with Soft Serve Ice Cream, but I can’t look past the Prawn Toast as Okonomiyaki, which is exactly as it says, a round prawn toast topped as an okonomiyaki is with Japanese mayo, brown sauce and shaved dried bonito flakes. Did I mention the Korean Chicken Wings?   Unfortunately, Shackfuyu also ticks another box at the moment: closed. Just temporarily while they refurbish the …

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Bringing San Sebastian Home to Your Kitchen: How to Make a Gilda Pintxo & Hedgehog Prawns

My trip to San Sebastian wasn’t all about pintxos and restaurants, although it was all about eating. I spent Sunday afternoon cooking with Tenedor Tours, and learning all about Basque food that I could cook at home. We met in the lively old town of San Sebastian in a gorgeous apartment dedicated to Gabriella’s cooking classes. There was a long room with an open kitchen at one end, and a table set up for us to eat at after. The light was beautiful, crisp and Autumnal, and Gabriella was waiting, brandishing a bottle of Txacoli and a warm welcome. Gabriella has been running tours in Spain since 1997. In San Sebastian she works with chefs from the Basque Culinary Center (where she also teaches), and puts together sociable fun Basque cooking workshops followed by a meal where you devour your efforts. Our chef was Íñigo Zeberio (Princess Bride fans, there are a lot of Íñigos in San Sebastian, and you may find that phrase  – My name is Íñigo etc. – circling around your head repeatedly). A San Sebastian …

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Where to Eat Pintxos in San Sebastian (Donostia), in Spain

Don’t even dare try to order tapas in San Sebastian. There are no tapas there (unless you happen to be in an Andalucian restaurant). In the Basque region and San Sebastian it is all about the pintxos (pronounced pincho). Small bites, served on sticks and piled high on the bars that line the San Sebastian streets. When finished you present the sticks to the bartender, and that is how they calculate your bill. Different sticks denote different prices where there is variation. A little about San Sebastian first. A small city in the Basque country of 200,000 people straddling a long beautiful bay, San Sebastian is near the French border and is home to three of Spain’s seven 3 michelin star restaurants. It is second only to Kyoto for the number of michelin stars per square metre. This is pretty impressive but there is much more to this city. There are the many pintxo bars, the cider houses and all of the lovely local Txacoli wine. If you have not had it, I suggest you …

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Great Train Journeys: Over the Canadian Rockies from Banff to Vancouver on the Rocky Mountaineer

Mountaineering? No, that is not for me. Unless of course you mean Rocky Mountaineering through the Canadian Rockies with an old school dining car and upper level viewing car to soak it all in? Well, yes, of course! That is a different thing.  My journey started in Banff at 6am at the end of September, and a sharp -2 deg C. That day would take me through the Rockies in late Autumn, with its turning leaves, cascading waterfalls and rushing rivers. We were headed towards Kamloops heralded by the bright early Autumn sky and the crisp sharp air. I boarded the mountaineer, greeted by cheerful hosts at dawn, the sky dressed to match with a splash of pink ribbon light. I was excited, I adore trains and slow travel and I was allowing myself a couple of days to just be. How rare is that? For the next two days, that Rocky Mountaineer carriage would be my world. All travel on the Rocky Mountaineer is in daylight so that you can absorb and appreciate the views. In …

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A Postcard from Canada (Alberta -> British Colombia -> Nova Scotia)

Greetings lovely readers! I have just returned from an 18 day trip exploring Canada. It was pretty epic, starting in Alberta (Calgary & Banff), moving to BC (Vancouver & the Okanagan) and finishing in Nova Scotia (Halifax & Cape Breton mainly). Here is a little postcard – enjoy! Back soon with recipes, stories and details. I had less than a day in Calgary but I did it justice in the time visiting Pigeonhole, The Nash, Corbeaux Bakehouse, the Yellow Door Bistro and Charcut. I also managed a little spice shopping in the wonder that is the Silk Road Spice Shop. The food scene in Calgary is thriving and has been growing enthusiastically for the last 5 years. As is common now there was lots of local sourcing, cocktails are popular and well executed. Calgary is inland and is famous for beef, but there are interesting takes on fish too. Did you know that there are cowboys in Calgary? Yeah, and one of the worlds largest rodeos! Boutique bitters are a thing, and there are lots of interesting …

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Where to Eat Pasta & Pizza in Rome

You have not been to Rome? You must go, make it your next trip away. You have been already? Go again! Rome is constantly evolving and on top of wonderful traditional old school restaurants, there are lots of new and exciting things to explore when you next visit. And it is Rome, the Eternal City, a very special place. There are some cities that I will always try to spend a few days in if I am passing through. Rome is one, one of the first world cities that I visited at a very naive and tender age of 19. I didn’t leave Ireland until I was 18, so it was an exciting time, and I loved it. Rome was magical for me. I had spent the summer in Nice, and hopped on the train to Florence for a princely sum of about £25, Irish pounds, there was no euro yet. The trains were still quite old school then, little rooms with wooden doorways and glass windows, with six seats in each. There was a lady with a …

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Paradise Garage – New Kid on the Eastern Block from The Dairy

A quick one for you today! Another London restaurant for your lists, I think this is an essential. Chef Robin Gill of The Dairy, The Manor and The Delicatessen seems to have the midas touch or is that the lardo touch, right now? I say with that with great respect and affection, lardo is one of the most delicious things on the planet, and Robin has the good sense to wrap some around a gorgeous egg. With head chef Simon Woodrow and Robin’s wife Sarah, Robin has created one of my favourite new openings this year, Paradise Garage, in the railway arches near Bethnal Green tube station. They have delivered a menu that is as exciting as it is comforting. I went for lunch recently and it was one of my best lunches this year. So, I just had to let you know. Venison tartare, preserved egg yolk & watercress – a lively and gorgeous dish to start my meal. On top was grated preserved egg yolk, tasting a little like bottarga. Tilley’s farm egg, …

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Walking Piedmont: From Barolo to Monforte d’Alba (& Where to Eat)

I left Barolo full of the joys of Spring, or was that the intense heat of summer? The first half of my walk was joyful, through the upper terraces of the Barolo vineyards, passing gardens rich with vegetable bounty, courgette flowers, plums, so many tomatoes. The occasional yappy dog, they do love them in Italy. I knew I was tired when I was overtaken by an elderly man walking two tiny dogs as I approached Monforte d’Alba, yet another of Piedmonts beautiful hilltop towns. I was in no rush, I smiled, attempted to communicate in Italian, and carried on.  My arrival was less glamorous. The Hotel Villa Beccaris, a beautiful four star property at the top of the hill was beautiful, relaxed and had the most glorious views. But after a long walk in the sun, the hill was a challenge. It surprised me that it ended with a sprint, one of those yappy dogs fled his old lady owner in pursuit of me when he decided that my ankles were much more appealing. Speckled with mosquito …

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The New Sunday Roast at Bob Bob Ricard

It would be improper of me not to let you know about the new Sunday Roast at Bob Bob Ricard in London. Or to mention Bob Bob Ricard at all, it has been a while. Bob Bob Ricard is a most under rated restaurant. It doesn’t care about trends, the food is classic, and it is very well executed. It is refreshing and it is fun. Even though Bob Bob Ricard is in the heart of Soho, it feels like it could be a grand restaurant from 100 years ago or a very large carriage of a luxury train. When I have visitors in town, we often go. It is famous for being the home of the famous Press for Champagne button. I always allow myself to press it at least once. When you do, your table number lights up above the bar, and a glass of house champagne is delivered to you. Another essential drink for every visit is the rhubarb G&T, bright pink, intensely flavoured and textured with egg white. The cocktails generally …