Monthly Archives: January 2016

Tips to find the best cheese in Europe

In many European cities, cheese is more than just a cuisine. If you are a foodie with an appetite for fine food, then perhaps you may enjoy looking for something different when planning your next trip. Europe has a wealth of top cheese destinations, so why not speak with your personal travel manager about planning a different kind of trip – discovering Europe through its cheese making history.

To give you a flavour of how you can plan a trip based on the different cheeses throughout Europe, here are four destinations to consider:

France

If anywhere is the most famous for cheese making, it is France. With over 400 different types of cheese originating from the country, it is the perfect destination for any cheese lover.

Paris is perfect for tasting different types of Brie, while the Loire Valley holds some of the best makers of Goats cheese in the world. The Midi Pyrenees region is famous for one of the world’s most luxurious blue cheeses, Roquefort and boasts that the cheese is made entirely from milk of ewes that feed only off the Causses, limestone cliffs found in the Aveyron.

Spain

Spanish cheeses are full of intense flavours and a wide variety of textures. A popular variety of cheese and one worth tasting when in Spain is Zamorano, which is a hard sheep’s milk cheese that has a distinct nutty flavour and is served with chestnuts. It can be found among the many cheese making farms across the Castile-Leon region of Zamora.

Torta del Casal is a soft and creamy farm cheese served with artichokes, and the intense flavour of the traditional Spanish Cabrales blue cheese is matched with simple homemade country bread.

Switzerland

Most cheese factories and farmhouses in Switzerland are found in small country villages where the freshest milk can be obtained. Gruyere cheese is originally from Fribourg and has a buttery, sweet and nutty taste.

Switzerland is also famed for Emmental Cheese, which is a hard, holey, pale yellow cheese with a nutty and buttery flavour. Head to the Emmental Valley of Bern to experience this cheese in the making and taste the very best Switzerland has to offer.

Italy

Cheese makers in Italy are seen as some of the best in the world, with strict standards of quality and consistent taste. Some of the best Italian cheeses to keep a look out for include Pecorino, which can be found all over central and southern Tuscany and is a delicious hard cheese, often associated with a sharp parmesan flavour.

A young, semi-firm cheese called Castelmagno, found in its originated province of Piedmont, starts with a mild blue flavour, and gets more intense and spicy as it ages. Taking a tour of a Castelmagno factory is a great opportunity to taste many different variations of the same cheese, all in one place!

Culinary On Budget Traveler Tips

I have seen way too many fellow hostelers prepare a dinner of macaroni garnished with salt and pepper masqueraded as a cheap healthy meal. Sure, it’s cheap, but it sure ain’t healthy.

And I have seen other hostel travelers yet who take cooking in a shared space to a whole new level. They occupy multiple burners and pots in a limited kitchen space, sometimes crippling the dinner efforts of other hungry travelers.

There is a happy medium between these two extremes! Here are some healthy meals you can prepare in your hostel (or even at home) that won’t cost a fortune and will give you the energy to keep on trekking.

BREAKFAST

Steel Cut Oats

Those prepared instant oatmeal packets may be yummy, but they are ultimately more expensive and nowhere near as healthy as the more natural alternative.

Oats actually don’t come rolled, as rolled oats are a form of processing. So if you buy steel-cut oats, you may pay more for a bag, but those little grains are jam-packed with goodness and it will take less to fill you up.

The good news is that they don’t even need to be cooked! Simply soak them (1/8 to ¼ cup dry is a decent serving) in water, preferably overnight, and they will expand to more than double the size.

Drain them when you’re ready to chow down, add some raisins, cinnamon, any fruits you wish, top it off with yoghurt, and you have a breakfast of champions. Steel cut oats are one of the best protein sources you can find in a grain.

If you forgot to soak them overnight and you’re in a rush, you can soak them in the morning for about half an hour, or you can cook them just like oatmeal in less than five minutes — quick and easy.

LUNCH

On The Go

Most travelers catch lunch on the road, so you can either pack a lunch or buy one on the fly. Of course the cheap healthy option is to pack one.

Lunches are some of the easiest meals to prepare, with sandwiches being the most logical option. For a twist on the average sandwich, try buying individual buns instead of a loaf of bread (which you know you’ll never finish). Wrap up a hunk of cheese, pack an apple or other indigenous fruit, and you have a decent quick lunch to eat on the go.

Cream cheese is also a great mayo-alternative in a sandwich, and keeps a little longer out of the fridge.

Ramen

Anybody who has spent time on the budget travel road could probably stand to own a few shares in a ramen company. These small packets of oriental noodles in a flavored soup base are cheap, yummy, and quick to prepare. But they are terribly processed, and lack many of the nutrients we need.

If you must have ramen, you can easily spice it up and be the envy of your traveling comrades. Along with the noodles (or before you add them), throw in a mix of local vegetables (try broccoli, carrots, peppers, and onions for starters). Add some rice vinegar (or whatever vinegar is available on the “free shelf”), soy sauce, hot peppers, and fresh ginger to the broth, and boil just long enough for the veggies to become al dente.

Just before you take your masterpiece off the heat, add an egg and scramble it into the soup. It will only take a minute to cook, and will add amazing texture, flavor, and protein to your now well-balanced ramen meal.

Another less explored lunch option if you are brown-bagging it is to bring along leftovers from your glorious dinner prepared the night before. Read on ”¦

DINNER

Here are a variety of dinner options you can prepare, including full meals, side dishes, and expandable options.

The Baked Potato

I haven’t seen many baked potatoes in my hostel days, and I’m not sure why. Potatoes are cheap, and we all love them. You can also “bake” them in the microwave, or on the BBQ if your hostel is so equipped.

The glory of baked potatoes (or any potatoes for that matter) is their versatility and ability to go with just about anything. Throw leftover pasta sauce on it with some cheese, add some spices like basil or oregano and garlic, and you have a one-serving masterpiece.

Or try them with bacon bits (which travel well) and some plain yogurt (which you have on hand for breakfast) and you may not miss the sour cream.

An even better and healthier twist on the regular baked potato is to substitute it for a sweet potato, which is richer, chock full of nutrients, and arguably yummier.

Tuna Pasta Casserole

Pasta abounds in most hostels, and if it isn’t already on the “free shelf”, it is cheap, cheerful, and easy to travel with. So is a can of tuna, a small can of black olives, and a small bottle of tomato sauce or pesto. The only missing ingredient is some cheese (preferably feta), which you can pick up on the way back from your day of sight-seeing. I would also be inclined to add a variety of vegetables like green onions or celery, but that part is up to you.

If there is an oven available, then just mix all the ingredients together (cook the pasta first), and bake it until warm and gooey. If there is no oven, you can achieve a similar effect on the stove, conveniently using the same pot you used to cook the pasta.

This dish is great as a leftover for lunch too.

One-Pot Wonders

The glory with one-pot wonder dinners is that you can get as creative as you like with the local foods available. Just follow a simple formula: one starch (be it pasta, potato, or rice), one protein (cheese, meat, seafood, tofu, or beans), lots of veggies (onions, celery, broccoli, tomatoes, eggplant, and so on), and seasonings (fresh garlic, pepper, hot chili flakes, and anything else you can find — spices are easy to travel with too), can combine with some oil in a frying pan to make a delicious and nutritious off-the-cuff meal.

WHERE AND HOW TO SHOP

Local Markets

Farmers markets or other local markets are by far the best places to get produce (and sometimes some other foods) inexpensively. It is also a great way to immerse yourself in the culture of the place you are visiting and to feel the energy of the local people.

In lieu of a farmer’s market, try to avoid the local convenience stores since they will have poor selection and pricier goods. Instead, go for a walk and find the nearest grocery store where the locals shop. Half the fun of the meal is sometimes trying to figure out what you are buying, how to pay for it, and how to say “thank you” to the cashier!

Buy in Bulk

You don’t have to buy a bulky amount of food to buy in bulk. You have the advantage of being able to pick out just how much you need — be it one meal’s worth, or enough to travel with and carry you through the next week.

Buying in bulk also saves on packaging, is usually cheaper, and provides more variety of grains, pastas, nuts, and spices than you might find in the grocery store.

Look for Sales

I’ll often decide what’s for dinner while perusing the grocery store or farmer’s market aisles. Oh look — rice is on sale! So are mushrooms and milk. Risotto it is! Try creating your own one-pot-wonder with nothing but sale ingredients.

Obviously in certain parts of the world, these meal ideas and shopping techniques won’t be as practical as in other places. But hopefully your creative cooking juices are flowing a little better now, and I will start to see less plain macaroni and more healthy, cheap variety in those hostel kitchens!

Tips to find the best coffee

In the last 50 years, café culture and going out for coffee has become a popular trend, and one that has been adopted in all corners of the globe. Some people love grab a cup first thing in the morning on the way to work, while others enjoy relaxing in a café with a coffee and a good book. Whatever your preference, if you’re a coffee lover then knowing where to get your caffeine fix while travelling is essential. If coffee and café culture is your thing, speak to a personal travel manager to create a travel itinerary that unlocks the freshest coffee culture in the world.

Melbourne, Australia

The lifestyle in Melbourne hosts coffee as an integral part of everyday life, so much so that it has been said that it is nearly impossible to find a bad cup of coffee in Melbourne City. A few favourite nooks include Axil Coffeehouse Roasters in Hawthorn, and Dead Man Espresso in South Melbourne. Hidden Secret Tours is a great little company that also runs café culture walks and coffee tastings throughout the week.

Rome, Italy

If you’re a fan of an Italian espresso, then look no further than Rome. Some of the best barista’s in the country have opened up shop in the city, giving you the chance to scope out the best that the city has to offer. These cafes include Rosati in Piazza del Popolo, Sant Eustachi close to the Pantheon, or Giolitti by the Trevi Fountain.

Havana, Cuba

Everyday coffee in Havana is named ‘café cubana’, a full-bodied espresso with sugar accompanying almost every meal and is where the locals say they get their exuberant energy. For travellers, the best coffee is found in the small espresso bars, which can be found at the back of most hotels, where you can get a strong and sugary cup of coffee to start your day!

Nairobi, Kenya

The production of coffee in Kenya is considered some of the best in the world, and as any Kenyan will tell you, it is an established fact that the worlds’ finest Arabica coffee is grown on Kenyan soil. It’s through the growing process and districts where coffee is grown that makes it so unique. When looking for a place to sit and enjoy an amazing cup of coffee, grown and produced in its home country, then head to the capital, Nairobi, where you will find JavaHouse, a small chain coffee shop that hosts the best Kenyan blends, or The Mug Coffee Lounge, which is a local favourite.

Tips for Culinary Travel Bloggers

We take everything with us when we travel our clothes, our money, and especially our appetites. Navigating meal time when abroad can be a thrill at best and downright frightening at worst. We all need a little guidance on proper culinary etiquette and recommendations when traveling the globe to help us answer thousands of pressing questions like: What are the must-try dishes in Africa? How much should I be paying for authentic Asian cuisine? Will these red berries kill me if I eat them? So with that in mind we’ve compiled our list of the top 25 culinary travel bloggers to follow. These writers will wow you with their pictures, recipes, and advice for eating globally – most of them coming straight from the source.

A Little Adrift

Shannon left in 2008 to travel around the world and discover culture, foods, and grassroots community initiatives. Through storytelling and travel photography, Shannon’s blog shares the stories of the people and places she’s found along the way. Shannon O’Donnell, A Little Adrift

Accidental Epicurean

Accidental Epicurean will bring you both simple delights and refined pleasures – the common thread being enjoyment without unnecessary pretense. From eating fried chicken on the streets of Bangkok to a Moet champagne brunch at a 5-star luxury hotel in Singapore…Accidental Epicurean will bring you the finer things in life. Accidental Epicurean

Behind the Food Carts

Our blog is focused on showcasing the stories of the people who make the mobile food industry happen. It’s giving you a peek behind the scenes into a burgeoning industry in America. And of course the yummy food pics and videos don’t hurt!  Behind the Food Carts

Bunkycooks

Started as a food blog (recipe blog) in 2009, Bunkycooks has become a culinary lifestyle website. As a James Beard Award nominated food blog, we want to bring the reader along on a culinary journey to experience the finest in culinary travel, chef interviews of America’s best chefs, chef’s recipes, best recipes, and culinary travel to luxury destinations and properties in the Southeast, the United States, and around the world. Discover the unique and finest in food, best bites, wine, chefs, farmers, artisans, and culinary travel at Bunkycooks. – Bunkycooks

Cook Sister

Jeanne is a South African living in London who travels as much as possible, from self-catering budget holidays to five-star resorts, in search of world-class foodie experiences. Visit her site for detailed reviews and sumptuous photographs not only of her travels, but also of markets, restaurants and dishes inspired by her travels that she recreates at home. — Jeanne Horak-Druiff, Cook Sister

TheCultureur

The Cultureur is a luxury travel and culture blog that focuses on the finer things in life, while delving into the hidden gems of a destination, including food, wine, lifestyle, society, and culture.

Eat Like a Girl

A London based food blog – creative and delicious recipes for home cooks, London restaurant reviews, culinary travel, London food tours and lots of food projects. — Eat Like a Girl

Eat Your World

Tasting the locally distinct foods and drinks of a destination is essential to a travel experience, as they illuminate that region’s unique culture, geography, history, and lore. Eat Your World helps fellow travelers find these truly authentic eats. — Scott Rosen, Eat Your World @eat_your_world

Epicuring

Epicuring is a culinary travel blog featuring the experiences and discoveries of great food tours and places and events. Their mission is to bring locals and travelers the best food experiences you’d write home about around California and other top locations, through their hand-picked guides and lists. — Epicuring

Flanboyant Eats

Bren’s passion for traveling the world and exploring the beautiful elements different cultures have to offer, inspires her cooking and writing. Her global translation on the blog is accesssible, yet sexy, and attractive food anyone can cook at home! From goat cheese and Brandy flan inspired by a visit to Lye, France, to salted caramel black truffle ice cream brought to life on a trip to Melbourne, Flanboyant Eats is an international foodie’s deilght. Her point is to transport you through illustrative story-telling and luscious pictures to destinations you may not have been to or are thristing to experience for yourself. She’s checked off 19 countries and plans visiting all 196! — Bren Herrera, Flanboyant Eats

Food Nouveau

If you think food and travel are inextricably intertwined, then you’ll love my blog, Food Nouveau, on which I share travel tales and food-centric city guides, but also recipes inspired by my trips abroad. — Marie Asselin, Food Nouveau

GastroFork

Over the past few years, Gastrofork has been growing its roots into the international food scene. With reviews of restaurants, products and experiences slowly branching worldwide, Gastrofork is a must visit for those wanting some insight prior to their adventures! — Dee de los Santos, GastroFork

The Gastrognome

Deciding what to eat is the best part of vacation–and my blog offers readers a chance to share that fun with me (or use it to plan their own trip)–from uncleaned pig intestine in Laos to dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant in rural Provence. — Naomi Bishop, The Gastrognome

Global Table Adventure

The Global Table Adventure is a celebration of every country in the world and each week dives into food and recipes from a different country. It is the “ultimate stovetop travel experience. — Global Table Adventure

Legal Nomads

While I did not quit my job as a lawyer for a new career, I’ve loved building one unexpectedly during the last 6 years, primarily around food. I focus on longform stories and photoessays, mixing enthusiasm with words and attention to detail in pictures to write about how food brings people together around the world.— Jodi Ettenberg, Legal Nomads

The Mija Chronicles

Lesley Téllez’s blog explores the universe of Mexican cuisine, with a special focus on Mexico City. She writes about anything from sidewalk eats to unusual Mexican ingredients, with photos and reflections from cities across the country. — Lesley Téllez, The Mija Chronicles

Our Tasty Travels

Combined, we’ve eaten our way through 65 countries, and are one of the few sites that feature everything from street food to Michelin-starred dining. And now that I’ve completed my Certified Specialist in Wine designation, look for more wine-related travel content in 2014. — Erin De Santiago, Our Tasty Travels

Parla Food

A food blog by food historian, sommelier, and offal enthusiast Katie Parla, Parla Food’s mission is to get people talking about what they are eating and why they are eating it. Katie focuses special attention on Rome, the decline of Italian food culture, and critical reviews of restaurants and trends. — Parla Food

The Road Forks

Follow Akila and Patrick’s family, and their two dogs, as they travel, cook, and eat their way around the world. — The Road Forks

Sodium Girl

Sodium Girl is a blog for those who are faced with a low sodium dietary restriction, or any dietary restriction, that will show you how to create flavor without the salt shaker and how to dine, travel, eat and explore without limits. — Sodium Girl

The Trail of Crumbs

Californian ex-pats Adrian and Danielle have made a living from sharing their favorite travel gems, and it’s easy to see why: they have a knack for finding the very best spots, wherever they go. Their lush descriptions of the best food to be found throughout the world, from Japan to the Caribbean to their home in France, give anyone serious gastronomic wanderlust. — Adrian and Danielle Rubi-Dentzel, The Trail of Crumbs@trailofcrumbs

The Travel Bite

I cater to foodies who love to travel. So whether they’re looking for some suggestions on where to eat, sample itineraries, or just a recipe to make at their vacation home, they’ll find that and more on TheTravelBite.com. —  Rachelle Lucas, The Travel Bite

Travel Bites Deep

Travel Bites Deep shares stories from one writer who is always dreaming of her next meal or next trip. — Jessica Colley, Travel Bites Deep

Travel Eat Thrive

Discover delicious and nutritious dishes from around the world, and learn how to prepare these same meals at home. — Travel Eat Thrive

Worth the Whisk

My readers love unpretentious recipes that still dish up a delightful meal. And when it comes to travel, learning from a Road Warrior like myself is a great reason to visit Worth The Whisk. Are you up for Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda?? — Patti Londre, Worth the Whisk

How to find the best airport restaurant in the world

The dismal choice between a plastic wrapped sandwich or a muesli bar stashed in your handbag while suffering through a layover or a delayed flight can put a dent in anyone’s holiday. Airport food has copped quite a bit of criticism over the years for being, well, terrible.

The good news is that airport cuisine has come leaps and bounds from the early days of dodgy dinners. That’s why we have compiled a list of our top five airport restaurants around the world.

If this list makes you hungry for travel, don’t forget to contact one of our personal travel managers to plan your next adventure.

1. One Flew South (Atlanta International Airport)

If you’re looking for a unique meal in the world’s busiest airport, look no further than One Flew South, melding Southern cuisine with Asian influences to create an inspired ‘Southernational’ offering. Sample pulled-duck sandwiches, sashimi or dragon rolls and wash it all down with a signature cocktail. Whether you eat in or take away, don’t forget to marvel at the forest photomural and native pine furniture and architecture, all inspired by the Georgian state.

2. The Perfectionist Café (Heathrow International Airport)

Inspired by his recent TV series, Heston Blumenthal’s latest offering promises ‘fantastic food…fast.’ Embrace the local British cuisine and tuck into classic comfort food including fish and chips, a full English breakfast and wood fired pizza. Top the experience off with a sundae from the nitrogen ice-cream parlour.

3. Hung’s Delicacies (Hong Kong International Airport)

Originally a popular street-side bistro, Ah Hung’s Michelin star eatery has opened its doors in Hong Kong’s international airport. With a focus on traditional Lou Seoi cuisine, Hung places a high emphasis on quality and authenticity.

While in transit, be sure to indulge in one of his signature dishes – duck tongues in Chinese liquor, chicken leg tendons in sesame oil or hand made chilli sauce.

4. Pink’s Hot Dogs (Los Angeles International Airport)

Although not the fanciest of dining options, Pink’s is an American culinary institution that is not to be missed. Avoid the lines at the original Hollywood location and chow down on California’s number one hot dog at LAX.

Our recommendations include the Lord of the “RINGS” dog, Mulholland Dog and the Martha Stewart Dog.

5. Airbrau Brauhaus (Munich Airport)

Celebrated as Europe’s only airport restaurant with an onsite brewery, Airbrau Brauhaus boasts traditional German beer and cuisine. Enjoy a stein of Hoffbrau brew with a plate of pork knuckle or Bavarian style sausage, and finish off with hazelnut mousse.

If you have a particularly long delay, the restaurant offers brewery tours as well as live music and entertainment.

Tips To Bring Homemade Pancake On Travelling

I rarely make pancakes at home, but for some reason I always crave them during the long, leisurely mornings of a vacation. And I like to keep those mornings leisurely by bringing along my own DIY pancake mix.

I simply mix together the dry ingredients for my favorite pancake recipe and write the wet ingredients needed on the outside of the bag. I don’t have to bother separately packing ingredients like flour, baking soda or baking powder and, even better, making from-scratch morning pancakes is almost as easy as using a boxed mix, but a lot tastier.

Of course, as reader keltrue mentioned in the comments of my post on 10 Things to Pack That Make Cooking on Vacation Easier, you don’t have to stop with pancake mix. If you plan on making a certain cake, cobbler or other baking recipe while you’re out of town, you can mix together the dry ingredients beforehand and pack them with instructions for mixing in the wet ingredients.

And if you want to make pancake mix in bulk, Alton Brown has a recipe with easy-to-measure proportions — perfect for all those leisurely mornings ahead.

Combine all of the ingredients in a lidded container. Shake to mix.
Use the mix within 3 months.
“INSTANT” PANCAKES:
Heat an electric griddle or frying pan to 350 degrees F. Heat oven to 200 degrees F.
Whisk together the egg whites and the buttermilk in a small bowl. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the melted butter.
Combine the buttermilk mixture with the egg yolk mixture in a large mixing bowl and whisk together until thoroughly combined. Pour the liquid ingredients on top of the pancake mix. Using a whisk, mix the batter just enough to bring it together. Don’t try to work all the lumps out.
Check to see that the griddle is hot by placing a few drops of water onto to the griddle. The griddle is ready if the water dances across the surface.
Lightly butter the griddle. Wipe off thoroughly with a paper towel. (No butter should be visible.)
Gently ladle the pancake batter onto the griddle and sprinkle on fruit if desired. When bubbles begin to set around the edges of the pancake and the griddle-side of the cake is golden, gently flip the pancakes. Continue to cook 2 to 3 minutes or until the pancake is set.
Serve immediately or remove to a towel-lined baking sheet and cover with a towel. Hold in a warm place for 20 to 30 minutes.