South West Wales was where I spent my first-ever holidays, all beach days and rockpooling. But I can’t say I really appreciated the area’s foodie side, unless you’re talking about choosing my favourite ice cream flavour. But this part of the world is full of great food producers taking advantage of the delicious seasonal produce on their doorstep.
In South Wales, close to the English border, there’s a small town that’s become a big hit with food lovers. Abergavenny hosts Wales’ biggest food festival in September, with hundreds of stalls and over 30,000 visitors. Food is to Abergavenny what books are to nearby Hay-on-Wye. But September’s not the only time it’s worth visiting if you love to eat. The town also has a Christmas food fair in mid-December and a crop of good restaurants, independent cafés and local food producers open all year.
Iceland has some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes – despite being less than 250 miles from one end to the other, the island is packed with volcanoes, mountains, glaciers, fjords, waterfalls and geysers. But one thing it’s not so well known for is its food. You might have heard of bizarre Icelandic specialities like sheep’s head and fermented shark, but what do normal Icelanders really eat? I set out on a whirlwind trip to Iceland to discover more about one of the country’s staple dishes – Thunder Bread or Rúgbrauð.
When I’m not travelling, one of my favourite ways to bring a taste of travel to my life back home is by cooking dishes from around the world. After heading to Spain for tortilla, I was inspired by The Goa Experience to take a culinary journey to Goa. This coastal state on the west coast of India is lined with miles of palm-fringed, sandy beaches. It was also the first stop on my round-the-world trip 12 years ago.
Cruising has shaken off the old stereotypes and is attracting a whole new audience – and I’m one of them. I loved my Eastern Mediterranean cruise last summer, but if you’re curious about cruising it can feel like a bit of a risk to sign up for a week-long trip if you’ve never been on a cruise before. So Celebrity Cruises have come up with the great idea of a mini taster cruise, so you can test the waters (excuse the pun) before a full-length trip.
When you’re not travelling, one of the best ways to get a taste of the exotic (literally in this case) is by eating dishes from around the world. The tastes and smells can transport you back to a place you loved or inspire you to visit a new place just to try a particular dish. It’s the closest you can get to travel without leaving your kitchen.
I’m getting quite addicted to quinoa and raw cacao mixed together. Superfood sweetness! I’m always happy when I cook too much quinoa as it’s my excuse for making this yummy dessert. This chocolate quinoa pudding is so simple to whip up. Read more >
After exploring Catania’s fabulous fresh produce in its markets, it was time to learn how to put it to use. We headed up into the foothills of Mount Etna to meet Monica Consoli, our guide through the delicious world of Sicilian cookery. Monica is the daughter of cookbook author Eleanora Consoli and our class took place in Eleanora’s lovely 18th century villa. Over drinks under the lemon trees in the garden, Monica explained how waves of invaders over the years brought new ingredients and cooking techniques to Sicily, but the Sicilian national identity always stayed strong.
Like a lot of people, before going to Sicily I’d assumed that as part of Italy it would have a similar cuisine to other areas of the country. But the food of this island is a lot more complex than that. Years of occupation have left it with a mix of influences, so you’ll find ingredients and dishes you’d expect to see in Greece, Spain or even North Africa.
As part of my mission to ‘Take 12 Trips’ in 2014, I’m taking at least one trip each month – which can be anything from a local day out to an international trip. So far this year my trips have taken me from the North of England to the souks of Morocco and then back to my old hometown of London. But May was my busiest travel month yet.