Travel tales of flat pillows and fabulous food – Eagle News Online


Ah, the desire to travel to interesting places, to stand where emperors and kings stood, to explore the art and architecture and sample the flavors of exotic places … so much a traveler’s dream … particularly after being at home for a year. What a seductive concept, for others, not me.

It wasn’t always that way. I dreamt of being the quintessential sophisticated world traveler, able to converse in several languages, with the ability to pack all that I would need for a month’s sojourn in one carry-on bag. In that fantasy life, I needed no guides, no guide books (ok maybe an old, very old, leather covered Beadeker just for show.) I instinctively knew where to stay at which tiny, out-of-the-way B&B or intimate family-run hotel where the best of local food was served. Whether in sturdy boots or a glittering evening gown, my dreamed experiences were effortless.

Then I traveled abroad. Arriving in Montreal, Canada, with a group of local Rotarians, I had to modify my travel dreams substantially, but I did use my two years of college French to ask the desk clerk: “J’ai besoin de changer d’argent?” I thought that I had asked to change some of my American to Canadian money. And, looking that up again in my handy Google translator, that is what I asked, however, it quickly became clear that my French was definitely limited to asking questions because I had no idea what the reply was even as the woman slowed down her answer as if she were talking to a three-year-old. And there was the time on a corner in Hull, just outside of Ottowa, when a gentleman asked for directions in French and, since I had no real idea what he was saying, I used what I had learned from the movies, and shrugged my shoulders, in French, of course.

When I went to Italy for the first time, so excited to be able to visit sites that I’d read about for years, to inspect places that held a more-than-romantic attachment to history. I was going to walk in the Roman Forum where the Caesars walked, inspect the remnants of a luxurious lifestyle in the ruins of Pompei, wander the back streets of Florence, the city where the Renaissance was born, visit the Vatican and eat food that was beyond delicious. That was the plan. But my knees didn’t get the memo and there is a lot of walking involved in visiting a country where walking is de rigueur or the Italian version thereof. My language ability was limited to a badly pronounce grazie and a few words remembered from some old Dean Martin songs, so asking for pharmaceutical help would have to depend on the tour director, who was mostly busy placating some of our less-cosmopolitan tourists. That poor gal had her hands full with tourists who wanted to go home because – and this is almost unbelievable – they spoke a foreign language in Italy or, equally incredible, they did not care for the food. The food, ah, the food and the wine … that exceeded my expectations. Prego!

I have been to Italy twice and enjoyed most of what I was able to see. I qualified that statement because sometimes there were so many tourists that you couldn’t get near the place that you had come to visit. I could only see the Trevi Fountain from one of the zillion souvenir shops about a block away from the fountain. I still have the penny that I intended to toss into its waters, like the characters in the movie, “Three Coins in the Fountain.” Unlike the movie, too, there was no Louis Jordan, no Rossano Brazzi, only the bus driver, a 20-something guy named Igor, and the faint memory of the “Four Aces” song.

I’ve been to Colombia three times. On two of my trips, I became deathly ill. Well, I didn’t die, but at the time death seemed like a good option. Flu-like symptoms plagued me for more than a week on each of these visits, and my spouse, who never gets sick, just dragged me along in an effort to have me “walk it off.” If it wasn’t for a Brooklyn-born cab driver while we were in Ecuador, who bought me some medicine and a lot of Kaopectate, I might have never made it home. There were no professional guides on these trips. I depended on my husband’s experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer and his ability to speak Spanish. It was his linguistic ability that attracted a sort of desperate European posse that latched onto us because none of them could even come close to pronouncing the names of places in Spanish. You can’t imagine how they pronounced the Colombian towns of Barrancabermeja or Medellin. That was a plus because they were interesting and unexpected parts of our trip. Now I do have some Spanish, mostly nouns and a few present tense verbs. This can get you into a lot of trouble. So therefore I mostly didn’t speak while in south America. I should add that the most we spend per night on lodging was $2.50 and that included three meals … do you get the undercurrent here?

In all of my expeditions outside of the States, save those made to Canada, one thing was certain. Not one of those countries knows what a real pillow is. The pillows in Italy, Colombian and Ecuador are so thin that you would need four to make half an ordinary American pillow. You just can’t get a good night’s sleep on one of those babies. Did I miss much because of sleep deprivation? Maybe.

Knowing this about the pillows, and adding in my advancing infirmity, notably my bad hip and accompanying joint discomfort, with remembrances of those two weeks of unremitting nausea and worse, I have forgone many overseas and in-country trips with family and friends, preferring to read about the adventures of others and going to restaurants that feature food from other cultures, the preparation of which is supervised by the health department.

I do believe that travel is wonderful for those who are fit and able to survive those flat pillows and lack of language fluency. If I could relive those early escapades that were stand-ins for my travel dreams, I guess I would do them over. There were many wonderful things to see and memorable positive moments. I do remember a group of Polish students standing near the obelisk in St. Peter’s square whose voices filled that place with song in praise of God. It made me shiver with understanding. I remember eating a full course dinner prepared by a lovely young Italian woman in her own home and another where we learned how to cook a similar meal under the direction of a chef while we looked out over the city of Montecatini … or the bull fights in Cali and playing Bingo in the coastal town of Santa Marta.

There are places that haunt my imaginings, places like Lichtenstein and Andorra and tiny islands off the coasts of Ireland and Scotland or, tops on my dream list would be a tour of the archaeological sites in the British Isles. Would I go even now? Maybe, but with a lot more ibuprofen and my own pillow and my language translator app in my phone.



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The ultimate guide to food, ferries and fun on Patchogue River


Looking to head to Patchogue River but not sure how to navigate it? Let us be your on-board GPS and sailing chartplotter. Here is everything to know about the bustling river, from the restaurants and marinas, to the ferries and more.


the restaurants

Harbor Crab Co.

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Brianna Harmon/file photo

Address: 116 Division Street

Phone: 631-687-2722

Harbor Crab Co. is a river mainstay, located just south of Division Street at the northernmost part of the river.

The back bar was remodeled and enhanced in 2017, complete with roll-up glass garage doors to maximize water views.

Docked alongside the main building is the double-decker steamboat Barefoot Princess. If it’s your first time, we recommend eating on the boat. Later you can spill over to the bar. Catering spaces are also available.

By boat? Transient docking is free. Click here for more information on that, or to learn about seasonal docking at Harbor Crab Co.


Off Key Tikki

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Credit: Off Key Tikki on Facebook

Address: 31 Baker Place, off River Ave.

Phone: 631-475-1723

Off Key Tikki opened in 2008 as a restaurant and courtyard at a rundown boatyard. It’s now a sprawling complex featuring huge, Polynesian-inspired outdoor dining areas, a beach where the bands play, and a full-service marina and yacht club called The West Bank.

They also host catered affairs. Click here for a photo tour.

By boat? Transient docking is free during the week, but they do charge on weekends. Some of that money goes toward the food and drink bill.


The Oar Steak & Seafood Grille

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Credit: The Oar on Facebook

Address: 264 West Avenue

Phone: 631-654-8266

Still referred to as The Oar House among locals and regulars, the waterfront dining room and bar underwent extensive renovations in 2018.

But the history dates to decades prior.

Owner Dick Blakeslee purchased the property in 1986 and built The Oar over time from what was at first a sandwich shack. By 2015, OpenTable was listing The Oar as among the Top 100 Al Fresco Dining Restaurants in America.

There is plenty of space for fine dining here, both indoors and out.

By boat? Transient docking is free, but call ahead during the busy season. For seasonal docking contact Sun Dek Marina at 631-758-5599.


Dublin Deck Tiki Bar & Grill

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Credit: Dublin Deck on Facebook

Address: 325 River Avenue

Phone: 631-207-0370

It’s no secret young people are willing to travel for fun. And they come from near and far to hit the scene at Dublin Deck, which typically opens in early May each year as Patchogue River’s only truly seasonal spot.

But “The Deck” isn’t just for the youth. There’s plenty of indoor and outdoor dining for lunches, brunches and dinners for couples and families.

The insider tip is that the live bands that perform on Sunday nights will usually attract a mixed crowd of ages — all looking to maximize their summer fun on the river. The Country Music nights are a mix, too.

There’s also co-ed beach volleyball leagues that form each spring and play through the warmer months, all on the Dublin Deck campus.

They also offers private, catered events.

By boat? Dublin Deck is located at Leeward Cove Marina, which offers transient docking throughout the boating season for all.


Drift 82

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The Edward Halverson Outdoor Bar at Drift 82. Brianna Harmon/file photo

Address: 82 Brightwood Street

Phone: 631-714-4950

Located next to the Patchogue-Davis Park Ferry Terminal, Drift 82 serves as the perfect spillover after a day at the ocean.

This is the newest restaurant to hit the river. Drift 82 opened its doors to immediate fanfare in June 2017. They later expanded the outdoor dining area, and added an outdoor bar.

It’s a spot for fine dining — or a day of drinking and snacking.

There’s live music daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day. They also now offer an outdoor tent that can accommodate private parties and weddings for up to 200 people.

It’s valet parking most days, so remember cash for a tip.

By boat? There are several slips or you can pull up along the bulkhead.


the Fire Island ferries

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There are two ferry terminals on Patchogue River.

The Davis Park Ferry Co. runs all boats back and forth between Patchogue and Davis Park, as well as Patchogue and Watch Hill.

The address for the Patchogue-Davis Park Ferry Terminal is 80 Brightwood Street in Patchogue, at the town’s Sandspit Marina.

Parking is $25 a day for Town of Brookhaven residents, or $5 a day with the town’s parking sticker. On-street parking is extremely limited.

Tap here for the ferry schedules to Davis Park, and for tickets.

The Patchogue-Watch Hill Ferry Terminal is operated by the National Park Service and is located at 150 West Avenue in Patchogue.

From this terminal, seasonal passenger ferry service is provided to Watch Hill by Davis Park Ferry Co., an authorized NPS vendor. Parking here is free and plentiful. Click here for additional details, including the most current schedules.

The facility also hosts special exhibits, programs, and presentations.

Check the calendar of events to see what’s coming up.


the distillery

The Better Man Distilling Company

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Credit; The Better Man Distilling Company on Facebook

Address: 161 River Avenue

Phone: 631-708-7405

The Better Man distillery and tasting room was built at the former Blue Point Brewery, so you know a great time is in the place’s DNA.

The mid-century modern tasting room was inspired by the TWA Hotel at New York’s JFK Airport. All the spirits on distilled on-site.

There’s plenty of room outside, too.


The Better Main building is also shared by Ad Apparel, which offers screen printing. embroidery and promotional items.

Click here to follow them on Facebook.


marinas & boat repair

Island View Marina

Frank M. Weeks Yacht Yard

Thrasher Marine

Al’s Marine Service

South Shore Boat Yard





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“If You Are Naturally Curious About Food, Inspiration Comes Easy”: A Freewheeling Chat With Masterchef Gary Mehigan


It wasn’t easy for Masterchef Australia fans across the worlds to say goodbye to chef Gary Mehigan who had been a part of the show for eleven long years. Even the ones who do not identify as excellent cooks took to Twitter to talk about the sensational trio of judges George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan, and Matt Preston, and how things won’t be the same without them. It was always intriguing for us to know if chef Gray even knew about his astounding popularity in India, in our exclusive chat with him we learned he has not only been here a couple of times but is also a massive fan of Indian food. Chef Gary along with Chef George recently took a special masterclass in collaboration Conosh. The Home chef-based culinary experiences platform is celebrating its second anniversary.

(Also Read: “India Has Given Me An Opportunity That I Would Never Have Imagined”: A Freewheeling Chat With Australian Celebrity Chef Sarah Todd)

Chef Gary shared his excitement about his Zoom Masterclass, “We had 350 people, I have done 5 Zoom classes all over in 7-8 moths, I am hoping it is going to continue being a trend”, he quipped.

(Also Read: )

The pandemic may have brought our lives to a standstill, but it has also been a rediscovery of sorts for many, the chef particularly seemed rather kicked by the idea of virtual sessions and how it has gotten the world closer and revived the sheer joy of cooking at home.

“My mother is still in UK, they are emerging out of very long lockdown, she is cooking all sorts of things and she is quite good at Zoom which makes me laugh”, he added.

We sat down with the Masterchef Australia chef for a quick tete a tete. Excerpts..

1. What would be your ultimate comfort food?

It is really difficult to answer. The new book that I am writing has about 300 recipes. At the moment the working title of the book is ‘Gary’s Essentials’, and every time I write a recipe I go like ‘oh I like that one’, then I have to test and try it a couple of times. So, it is really hard for me to pin down my ultimate comfort food. It also depends on what time of the year, so last night for example, I cooked a homemade Italian ragout with plenty of red wine. Then I made a home-made semolina pasta and just tossed it together with some local forage mushroom and a little bit of parmesan over the top and it was just delicious, rich and warming. Then there are things like- the perfect roasted chicken, which for me is hard to beat with all the trimmings. In the winter it could be smashed roast potatoes, roasted pasta and garlic. But may be in summer, you know, it may differ.

2. A kitchen tool you swear by
 

I just bought a new set of knives, and this time I have really spoiled myself with some handmade, stonewashed knives. So they are all kind of covered and the steel has been laminated, it has got different textures in it.
I am 54 years old and I am always sworn by the fact that I have one or two favourite knives that I have had for twenty plus years that I still look after and sharpen myself. So I am really excited about the fact that I am buying something that is probably very unique and I don’t think anybody has a set like these. So, sharp, good knives that last a lifetime is kind of a chef’s essential.

(Also Read: )

3. What is the most difficult ingredient you have had to work with?

There are a limitless number of those. In an Australian context, the reemergence and the rediscovery of the native and indigenous ingredients is something we are really thrilled about here . I think, it is happening very much the same way around the world. In India there are champions of local ingredients and things that you may have taken for granted or have disappeared off the regular food radar are kind of reappearing. In Australia, there are things that are very difficult to use. Things like native pepper, Davidson’s plums or wattleseeds- these are all typical ingredients, chefs particularly have known about for many years but have found it  hard to integrate them into dishes smoothly. They are some difficult ones, and unlocking their subtlety or their complexity, or using them appropriately is an interesting challenge. So yes, I would include those, because they could be quite astringent. Native ingredients like salt bush for example that grows in coastal areas is another example. They are quite a difficult bunch of ingredients to use. But if you get it right, they are very beautiful. The same thing is happening in India with many of the indigenous ingredients slowly being incorporated into dishes.

4. Do you follow any viral recipes? Anything that has caught your eye?

During lockdown, I suppose tiktok drove me a little mad (laughs). Certainly, during lockdown we had the emergences of so many different recipes. From sourdough to babka, basque cheesecake for example, how many times do we see that pop out? So yes, some of them (do) feel like, ‘ya I have seen that’, but some of them seem interesting. But what I love about these is the fact that people have rediscovered some of these things and people have gone crazy for them. So, I like that.

5. Is there any recipe you would like to see go ‘viral’?

I’ll take example of an Indian recipe. So, it is a very normal thing In India. But Helly Raichura who was on Masterchef this year, she did ‘pasta but not pasta’ where she took khandvi and instead of rolling it up, she used it as a pasta sheet. And you could see all these comments going, ‘oh my God. It has been in my family for years and years but I have never imagined it to be done like that’.  I went to a restaurant in England and it was just a very light way of eating Khandvi, and you know it deserves more hype. It is such an honest simple recipe, that I am sure it can be made it into million different ways. I wouldn’t mind seeing that go viral.

6. A kitchen tip that has changed your life

Ah! That is a difficult one to answer. What I have discovered, as I have grown older as a chef is that somethings I have been making for many years, and I have made them the way I was taught, carried it forward without questioning it. And sometimes I rediscover the dish, dig deeper and find out so much more to it. For example, there is this Italian dish called cacio e pepe which means cheese and pepper. In its simplest form, it really is just pasta tossed with parmesan cheese and pepper but when you make it properly or talk to someone who is really ‘traditional’ it is actually very complex. And, if you don’t follow it step by step. It is the difference between pasta that tastes like cheese and pasta that is like ‘the best pasta dishes you have ever tasted in your life’. It is difficult to describe, the more I have rediscovered over the years, the more I have realized that as simple as these dishes may seem, if done beautifully, can be taken on to the next level.

The same thing goes for bread. During lockdown people were baking and rediscovering the joy of sourdough and actually when you relearn that-it is so simple, but understanding it and appreciating it is so difficult.

7.  As a chef, how difficult is it to stay inspired especially in these times?

I think, it is all about how much you love it. If you are passionate about it and you are curious I think there isn’t much to worry. Like I am sitting in my office surrounded by 600 plus books that I have collected over the years, full of recipes and inspiration. The hardest thing for most of us is that we are not travelling, and as a chef, travelling is one of our most ready sources of inspirations. For example, the first time I went to Mumbai, Bangalore or Saigon,  it comes easy,  the inspiration comes easy. But I think if you have got that natural curiosity or passion- it is different. It becomes more about self-discovery and self-exploration rather than watching somebody else do it and then get inspired by him. I think those of us who love it, who love food, it is easy.

8. Your favourite Indian dish?

In an Indian context, I love dishes like fish moilee. I cook it regularly at home I got a recipe from chef Alex Saji who is from Kochi, Marriott. He gave it to me four or five years ago and I still make that recipe at least once a week. It is delicious and it is simple too.  So light, uncomplicated and fresh. I enjoy fish dishes a lot, something like Bhapa Ilish. I had it in Kolkata, the strong flavour of mustard oil is particularly very addictive. Then, I like rich, complex dishes that I possibly won’t cook at home, Nihari for example, done traditionally, little fatty and cooked slowly, alongwith some bread. These are all the things that get me excited

About Sushmita SenguptaSharing a strong penchant for food, Sushmita loves all things good, cheesy and greasy. Her other favourite pastime activities other than discussing food includes, reading, watching movies and binge-watching TV shows.





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My best food and travel memory: readers’ tips | Food and drink


Winning tip: Super soup supper, Tbilisi

My first meal in Tbilisi was kharcho. It was probably my third, sixth, 10th and certainly my last meal too. It is a meat dish of soup or casserole consistency, but I hadn’t tasted anything like it before. Walnuts are a key ingredient in Georgian cookery, but spices I now know as blue fenugreek and marigold gave me a completely new taste experience. Nestled between Asia and eastern Europe, Georgian food takes inspiration from both, including a liberal use of pomegranate. I’ve attempted kharcho at home, but it’s been easier to recreate the memories of Georgian supra (feasting) by buying their wine. Georgia’s officially the world’s oldest wine-making region, and it’s very good.
Karen Knight

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Readers’ tips: send a tip for a chance to win a £200 voucher for a Canopy & Stars stay

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Guardian Travel readers’ tips

Every week we ask our readers for recommendations from their travels. A selection of tips will be featured online and may appear in print. To enter the latest competition visit the readers’ tips homepage

Sri Lankan stuffed squid and dal

Sri Lankan squid stuffed with potato
Sri Lankan squid stuffed with potato. Photograph: Alex

It was Boxing Day 2017, at a guesthouse under the palms of a somewhat secret (truly!) bay on the south coast of Sri Lanka. The house was simple, but every meal was fit for royalty. This dish of fresh squid stuffed with potato curry was the crowning jewel: aromatic, tender and filling, but so fresh and clean. Our younger daughter and I were so won over by the food here that we asked if we could sneak into the kitchen to watch the chef at work. Ever since, I’ve cooked dal her way, the Sri Lankan way: everything goes in the pot together without water: the coconut milk carries all the liquid needed to infuse the lentils with tropical goodness.
Alex

Pepper-upper, Cambodia

Fresh Kep crab in Kampot pepper on the beach.
Fresh Kep crab in Kampot pepper on the beach. Photograph: Dan White/Alamy

Whenever I use Kampot pepper (which is a certified geographical indication product) in home cooking, it always evokes memories of the first time I ever tried it: cracking open the shell of a freshly caught crab, and dipping its flesh into a simple dressing of ground pepper and lime juice during a Christmas spent in Cambodia.

The pepper itself is aromatic and fragrant, like no other pepper I’ve tried, and the acidity of the juice makes the crab meat taste almost sweet. The town of Kampot is built along a river, and boasts the twin charms of French-inspired architecture and the proximity to the Bokor national park.
Erin Niimi Longhurst

Pasta but not as we know it, Lombardy

Pizzoccheri.
Pizzoccheri. Photograph: E F Images/Alamy

“When’s the next train to Milan?” I asked at the tiny station in Tirano, near the Swiss border in northern Italy. “In eight hours,” came the reply. Then the ticket seller told me: “I will take you to my sister’s ristorante to eat pizzoccheri.” An hour later we were walking up a verdant hill to a village trattoria under bright blue skies breathing in sharp lungfuls of mountain air that increased my appetite. In a rustic wood-roofed ristorante with a log fire, waiters were carrying steaming plates of thin black buckwheat pasta, topped with butter, garlic, potatoes, chard and melted local casera cheese to hungry customers. I was offered some local inferno wine and sat down to the best train wait of my life.
Peter

Ćevapi: diverse Balkan beauties

The ‘old bazaar’, Sarajevo.
Sarajevo, where fine ćevapi is served. Photograph: Federica Gentile/Getty

Although the Balkan countries are diverse, ćevapi is ubiquitous: minced meat (beef, lamb or pork or a mixture), shaped into fat cigars and often served in portions of 10. Cheap and cheerful, they were our go-to meal on our six-week tour. We ate them in smart Serbian restaurants with linen napery and fine wines, wrapped in bread while walking down the streets in Sarajevo, and in Ottoman-influenced cafes in Macedonia. We ate them with chips, salad, kajmak soft cheese, or ajvar red pepper sauce. The recipes were as different as the countries, but were as unfailingly good and as diverse as our trip.
Roy Messenger

Snail broth noodles: unmistakably Liuzhou

Liuzhou.
Liuzhou, where luosifen are a speciality. Photograph: xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

Luosifen rice noodles are a speciality of the city of Liuzhou, in south-west China’s Guangxi province, made with a curious blend of snail broth, mixed spices, chilli, peanuts and tofu strips among other mysterious veggies. As you arrive in Liuzhou, the scent of the broth from hundreds of hole-in-the wall restaurants around the city will fill your nostrils, lasting for the duration of your stay and beyond. It’s an unmistakable smell unique to the streets of Liuzhou that evokes memories of sitting outside during balmy south China summer evenings sipping beers while slurping the noodles and chatting the night away.
Owain Lloyd-Williams

Korea advice: tuna and kimchi stew

Kimchi stew can include scallions, onions, diced tofu, pork, tuna and a variety of seafood.
Kimchi stew can include scallions, onions, diced tofu, pork, tuna and a variety of seafood. Photograph: Yao Chung Hsu/Alamy

Chamchi jjigae or tuna and kimchi stew is an aromatic, deep red and spicy dish served bubbling hot to your table, usually with a side of boiled rice. The kimchi and tuna combine amazingly well with the intense spicy flavour to create a simple but satisfying dish that in Korea is both cheap and plentiful. When I lived in South Korea for four years it became a lunchtime staple for me. A few thousand won’s worth (£2-3) was enough to leave me feeling happy for the rest of the day, and I never had to walk far to get it. If ever I find decent-quality kimchi in the UK, this simple meal is my go-to. With a drop or two of soju, naturally.
Richard O’Toole

Haggis, neeps and tatties, Isle of Harris

Luskentyre Beach, a few miles west of Tarbert.
Luskentyre Beach, a few miles west of Tarbert. Photograph: McKinlay Kidd/PA

Arriving at Tarbert ferry port, we needed supplies. We stumbled upon AD Munro’s, a butcher and grocery shop by the harbour. A small counter at the back of the shop was adorned with hundreds of awards for prize-winning meat. With hunger in our bellies, we thought we would have a go at cooking haggis for the very first time that evening. AD himself kindly gave us instructions to ensure our first supper of haggis, neeps and tatties was a success. Washed down with a “wee dram” of course. It was a great night! Perfect warming comfort food after a day out in the Hebrides’ wild weather that has become an annual tradition whenever we visit.
Vanessa Wright

Bún chả, a Hanoi obsession

Bún chả, grilled pork rice noodles and herbs.
Bún chả, grilled pork rice noodles and herbs. Photograph: Kyoko Uchida/Alamy

Bún chả dominated my trip to Hanoi in February this year (yes, I got back just in time). My local hole-in-the-wall eatery served only this dish, with a sea of colourful plastic chairs spilling into the road, as is Vietnamese tradition. Sweet flame-grilled pork, teamed with a woven tray piled with rice noodles and fresh herbs, a vinegary dipping sauce, small bowls of garlic and chilli, and – if you’re feeling fancy – a side of deep-fried quẩy (soft bread sticks). I ate it daily, and when I wasn’t eating it, I planned when I would be eating it. It’s so good you won’t even notice that you’re sitting in the middle of a traffic jam.
Oliver Clark

Sausage and spuds, Bescançon

Franche-Comté specialties including cancoillotte cheese and saucisse de Morteau.
Franche-Comté specialties including cancoillotte cheese and saucisse de Morteau. Photograph: Hemis/Alamy

On a trip to the underrated Franche-Comté in eastern France, we sat outside an unassuming corner bistro called Iguane Café in Besançon. I ordered the plat du jour for less than €10, and what came out was a masterpiece. Slabs of hot morteau sausage, and a giant steaming dish of small roasted potatoes slathered in the runny cancoillotte cheese and local vin jaune. I vividly remember sitting in the September sunshine with family and good food, and the feeling of utter contentment. None of the ingredients are really found outside the Franche-Comté: they are far too sensible to let any leave.
Hannah Grist

Oodles of noodles, Tokyo

People eat at a restaurant at night in Tokyo.
People eat at a restaurant in Tokyo. Photograph: Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images

Tsukemen ramen, cold dipping noodles, transports me back to a cold winter evening in Tokyo. In a small restaurant called Tetsu in the central Shinjuku district, hungry Japanese office workers were slurping away at this dish that is hard to find in the UK. The cold ramen are dipped into warm thick broth with fatty pork belly and spring onions. On the side, you receive menma (made from tasty lacto-fermented bamboo shoots), a soft-boiled egg, some fried pork cutlet and extra onions. And if you have broth left over, you can request extra ramen. All of this for less than £9!
Ying Wai

Pirates’ bananas, Madagascar

Bananes flambees au rhum
Bananes flambées cooked in rum. Photograph: Hemis/Alamy

French colonialism has left a legacy of sweet teeth in Madagascar. Fancier establishments do a range of patisserie, but even the most basic roadside restaurant offers bananes flambées. The bananas are freshly picked, often cultivated in the restaurant garden. The sugar is rich and brown. The aroma of locally grown vanilla and cinnamon waft from your bowl. Pirates fled here from the Caribbean – perhaps they brought rum-making with them. The flames die away to leave a spicy rum sauce that has a depth of flavour beyond anything I have eaten in Paris.
Debbie Rolls



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Camping holidays: Expert shares top tips for first-time camping holiday – food & tents | Travel News | Travel


Luckily, if you do get to the campsite and find you’re struggling with your tent, there should be help on hand.

“Talk to the guys that run the campsite,” recommends Mr Warner Smith.

“Chances are, they’ve, they’ve seen it before with other campers and they’re always good people to help you out.”

Furthermore, they may also have some great tips on the local area, as well as ways to get more for your money.

“They’re generally people who are really passionate about this space that they’ve created and the site they set up.





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Henry’s Depot Food Crawl Itinerary for Date Night in Sanford


Date Night Food Crawl Itinerary at Henry's Depot

Historic Downtown Sanford is one of my favorite places for date night with my husband. This charming destination has bloomed in the past few years. It has one of the largest collections of breweries in all of Central Florida, plus ice cream shops, antique shops, a bounty of fun bars, unique events and so much more. And, one of the latest spots to join this impressive collection is Henry’s Depot.

This food hall is home to so many unique spots that it’s the ideal place for a progressive food crawl. Even better, you can cap it off with a round of drinks at a Florida-themed bar.

Other fun happenings include Sunday brunch and periodic events like indie markets and intimate concerts. Sound like a great date spot? It sure is! Here’s what you need to know for planning a Henry’s Depot food crawl date.

Henry’s Depot Sanford Food Vendors

  • Mahogany Coffee
  • The Basin
  • Dixie Dharma
  • Salvatore’s Prime Sandwiches
  • Current Seafood Counter
  • What the Chuck Burgers
  • Oak Flame Pizza

From the list above, there’s something for everyone. You can view the menus of each vendor online, and some places, like Dixie Dharma, offer online ordering. 

There is plenty of indoor and outdoor seating at Henry’s Depot

Food Crawl Itinerary

Snacks + Apps

I suggest starting with a snack or appetizer from Dixie Dharma, such as their Crispy Brussels, Mac n’ Cheese, or Pecan Maple Sweet Taters. You’ll also find a nice selection of appetizers on the menu at Oak Flame Pizza, including garlic cauliflower or pizza rolls.

Main Course

For the main course you can’t go wrong with What The Chuck Burgers, Oak Flame Pizza, Salvatore’s Prime Sandwiches, or Current Seafood Counter.

During our visit, my husband ordered the Tennessee Truffle Burger from What The Chuck with pimento cheese, crispy onions, and smoked kale. This burger, and the fries that came with it, is now in my top 10 for best burgers I’ve ever had. I’m so glad my husband let me sneak a few bites.

Tennessee Truffle Burger at Henry's Depot
Tennessee Truffle Burger

Our toddler son came along with us, and he can’t eat dairy, so when I saw that Oak Flame Pizza has multiple vegan options, I was ecstatic. We went with the Vegan Velocity Pizza with plant based sausage, cashew mauxarella, broccolini, tofu ricotta and chili oil. I couldn’t believe how delicious it was. I had about half of the pizza, my toddler son had about three slices, and my husband was able to have one slice. It could fool anyone who didn’t know this pizza was vegan. We’ll be back for this pizza and to try some of their other vegan options too.

The regular pizzas looked and smelled delicious. Each pie is made to order. You’ll be notified via text when your order is ready, leaving you free to explore while you wait.

Oak Flame Pizza

The delicious deli sandwiches at Salvatore’s Prime Sandwiches travel pretty well, so if you don’t want to miss out on giving them a try, consider ordering one to take home.

When we arrived at 11am, Current Seafood Counter was not yet open, but the menu looked wonderful and their selections change based on what is fresh that day.

Drinks

Next, take your food and head to The Basin to grab a craft beer or handcrafted cocktail. This beautiful Florida-themed bar is the anchor of Henry’s Depot. It is at the back of the building with lots of lounge seating inside and a back porch outside. There’s even a little herb garden out back which produces fresh herbs for the delicious cocktails on the menu.

The Basin at Henry's Depot
The Basin

Tip: You can take advantage of the lounge seating to enjoy your food from Henry’s Depot vendors with your drink. I opted for the Mermaid Tail with Green Tea Vodka, Lavender, and Lemonade. It suited my desire for a refreshing cocktail that wasn’t too heavy or too potent.

As we sat down at The Basin, devouring our burger and pizza, my husband and I looked at each other with grins on our faces. We’d found a new favorite spot for date night or a wonderful family outing together. We found a new home at Henry’s Depot.

Mermaid Tail cocktail from The Basin

End with Something Sweet

For dessert, we couldn’t resist The Greenery Creamery. I’ve been to the original downtown Orlando location and was excited when I heard the news that they had opened a location in Henry’s Depot.

The Greenery Creamery offers vegan ice cream as well as dairy ice cream. They are known for their delicious, high quality ice cream in traditional and creative flavors. The vegan Lemon Poppy Seed ice cream and the Blueberry Lavender ice cream were loved by my son and myself. My husband ordered a Cookies n’ Dream Milkshake that was vegan as well, but it was so creamy and flavorful it could easily be passed off as a dairy milkshake.

Other sweets can be found at Oak Flame Pizza and Dixie Dharma (plant based).

Cookies n’ Dream Milkshake from The Greenery Creamery

Henry’s Depot Details

Henry’s Depot is built at the site of the original Sanford train station. Find it at the top of 1st Street, which runs through the heart of Downtown Sanford. There is seating throughout the venue inside. There is also a back porch that is part of The Basin, and there are some tables on the side of the building as well. Restrooms are located near The Basin.

There is live music at The Basin on specific nights, and specials on certain days. Mondays offer happy hour pricing on select drinks as well as special pricing for select food items at What The Chuck and Oak Flame Pizza. On Sundays, brunch kicks off at 10am and features food and drink specials.

Henry’s Depot
212 W 1st St
Sanford, FL 32771
Open daily, visit henrysdepot.com for current hours

Feature image credit: Henry’s Depot

All other images by Dani Meyering





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10 of the best motorway stop-offs: readers’ travel tips | Food and drink


Winning tip: woods and waterfalls near Swansea

We discovered Penllergare Valley Woods off junction 47 of the M4, en route to Tenby. What a delightful find – its on-site cafe has ample parking, delicious snacks, cheerful staff and sparkling clean toilets. As we sampled our treats on the terrace overlooking an amazing garden, the resident robin accompanied us and shared crumbs. Later, we took a leisurely walk around the woods, lake and to the waterfall, chatting to the volunteers and discovering the place’s history. Visit this secret, magical find!
Penllergare Valley Woods
Crystal

More than a chip shop, Tyndrum, Perthshire

The Real Food Cafe

The Real Food Cafe is something else; you’ll find it halfway between Glasgow and Fort William on the A82 – not a motorway but one of the most-travelled roads for anyone heading for Scotland’s west coast, highlands and islands. More than a chip shop, it sells beautifully fried, incredibly fresh fish, plus veggie, vegan and gluten-free options galore. You can also opt for veggie curry, soups and salmon salad. There’s also a great selection of local craft beers and wine. A real gem.
The Real Food Cafe
Carla

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Readers’ tips: send a tip for a chance to win a £200 voucher for a Canopy & Stars stay

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Guardian Travel readers’ tips

Every week we ask our readers for recommendations from their travels. A selection of tips will be featured online and may appear in print. To enter the latest competition visit the readers’ tips homepage

Weird and wonderful waffles, St Albans, Herts

Waffle House

The Waffle House is just 10 minutes from junction 8 of the M1 and 11 minutes from junction 21 of the M25. Its sweet and savoury delights, for takeaway or “on-site dining”, are served in an old mill house and are the perfect excuse to break up a long drive. This place is so good that our friends from Rugby come down specially to eat here. The highlight is the garlic waffle. Do not judge the weirdness; it is delicious. There are also milkshakes and vegan/gluten-free options. Dogs are welcome.
The Waffle House
Charlotte

Coffee with Gentleman Jack, Shibden Park, Halifax

Land train running around Shibden Park, Halifax
A road train for visitors in Shibden Park. Photograph: AlanWrigley/Alamy

Set in beautiful Shibden Country Park, 10 minutes from junction 24 of the M62, is Coffee Culture. The food is great and reasonably priced, with an interesting selection for lunch. There’s lots of room to stretch your legs, an expansive lake and a miniature passenger train. If you have time, walk to the top of the hill and visit Shibden Hall, home of Anne Lister (of BBC’s Gentleman Jack fame).
Coffee culture
Helen Harron

Star quality and doggy treats, Leatherhead, Surrey

Star Pub

Three minutes from junction 9 of the M25, and five minutes from Chessington World of Adventures, is the perfect stop-off: The Star. We enjoyed an evening meal there and the food was fantastic, the staff very polite and nothing too much trouble. There is also a pub walk to Ashtead Common. Dogs are well-catered-for in a beautiful garden – they are even given biscuits! A real gem.
The Star
Sharon Witham

Cider and cheese with Rich, Highbridge, Somerset

Rich's Cider Farm

It’s easy to forget a numb backside and irritable travel companions when you’re snacking on pork pies and Somerset cheddar under the shade of a few hundred apple trees. Rich’s Cider Farm is a two-mile hop off junction 22 of the M5. As well as a newly refurbished restaurant and the welcome inclusion of toilets, there’s a well-provisioned farm shop, play park and ample space to stretch weary legs. Easy on the good stuff though – best to take a few bottles home!
Rich’s Cider Shop
Anna Kennett

A grape escape, Pontyclun, south-east Wales

Llanerch

Located just off junction 34 on the M4 between Cardiff and Swansea is the place every weary traveller would want to rest: Llanerch Vineyard. Here, you can relax for an hour or two in the lovely brasserie or, if it’s sunny, on the beautiful terrace overlooking the vineyard. With a starter and main set-menu lunch for £20, you can expect local and truly delicious fare before continuing your journey (you may not want to leave though).
Llanerch Vineyard
Cerys J

Tea with a llama, Penrith

We always make a detour to stop at the Llama Karma Kafe directly on the A66 and very near to the M6. Where else can you get a great selection of food and drinks, and pick up that Peruvian accessory you always needed? You can watch a real-life llama having lunch while you nibble away at your sandwich, and book to spend a happy hour up close and personal on a llama trek if you want to add something really unusual to your pit stop.
Llama Karma Kafe
Alison Latham

Irresistible farmers’ fare, Tortworth, Gloucestershire

The Farmers Table, Tortworth.

The Farmers Table is only two minutes off the M5 at junction 14. But be warned – it’s best to visit on your way home so you can stock up on delicious home-grown veg and homemade cheeses, cakes, biscuits and more from the Moreton family-owned enterprise. The tea shop has a range of fresh, irresistible fare. While no indoor seating is offered at the moment, there’s a spacious picnic area where the kids can run freely while you enjoy comfy seats at tables with stunning views of the Cotswold hills.
The Farmer’s Table
Emma Pears

Flower power by the M25, Godstone, Surrey

Flower Farm

Just five minutes’ drive from J6 of the M25, in Godstone, is Flower Farm – a fantastic farm shop with pick-your-own fruit, and a pretty, socially distanced outdoor tea garden and bar, Strawberry Fields. It’s the ideal place to stock up on local produce, with an amazing deli counter and a superb choice of local beers and wines (for when you reach your destination, of course). Flower Farm was a great support to locals during lockdown, by producing and delivering some incredible food boxes.
Flower Farm
Cassie



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How to use food leftovers up during lockdown


Home cooking is now an unavoidable part of life thanks to coronavirus restrictions, as even the most ardent takeaway fans cannot order in every night.

So how can you have healthy, tasty and, most importantly, affordable meals every night without hassle?

Here we speak to health food experts about how to make the most of what is in your cupboard.

What staples should be in every person’s cupboard?

The key to success is including versatile, long-lasting items in your weekly shop, experts say. Jane Clarke, dietician and founder of Nourish Drinks, said she would recommend the following items:

  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Tinned tuna
  • Herbs and spices
  • Stock cubes (chicken, vegetable or beef)
  • Oil
  • Dried pasta (brown, wholemeal or white)
  • Rice
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Plain flour
  • Dried or tinned fruit
  • Bread
  • Eggs
  • Cereal

“All these foods can be easily accessed at a local supermarket, as well as being affordable,” she said. “These foods are great to have in your cupboard to make a quick meal if you are low on fridge food, or just can’t be bothered to go out for a food shop.”

If you have not managed to use up everything from your last big shop, the key is to know the basics to get the best out of what you have left.

Celia Brooks, chef and founder of food tour company Gastrotours, said: “Eggs are a gift from the gods when it comes to using up leftovers; make an omelette and fold it over just about anything, like leftover steamed or roasted veggies – add a bit of grated cheese to make it creamy, rich and delectable.

“Leftover cooked potatoes or any veg or beans can be turned into a frittata – again, add some cheese melted on top. Finish with chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or dill.”

How can I keep food fresh for longer?

If you do have some food in the house but are not up for cooking, learning how best to store different food types will make all the difference.

Brooks said: “Keep lemons and limes in a sealed plastic bag in the veg drawer of your fridge – they’ll last for weeks rather than days, and once opened, wrap cheese in greaseproof paper or baking parchment and store in a sealed bag in the fridge to extend its life.

“Your freezer is your best mate. Freeze sliced bread and you’ll always have it ready to pop in the toaster, freeze leftover casseroles, stews, soups, and mashed potatoes in individual portions or use frozen mash later (defrosted) to top a shepherd’s pie, or make bubble and squeak.

“Any leftover portion of an ingredient from a jar or tin – like beans, corn, vegetables, and fruit, can be put in a small resealable bag or air-tight container and frozen for up to six months and you can also freeze leftover cooked rice, pasta or grains.”

How easy is it to stay healthy on a budget?

Clarke said: “Planning meals in advance is a great way to reduce your spending on food, as well as making sure you have all the right foods to receive the nutrients necessary for your healthy lifestyle.

“One tip I would recommend is to buy frozen vegetables, these come in big bags and can be kept in the freezer for months and this will help when being on a budget as you will not need to go out to keep buying fresh vegetables.”



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What food and drinks to expect on your flight to Hawaii — The Points Guy


What food and drinks to expect on your flight to Hawaii — The Points Guy

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