From the wafts of sizzling jerk chicken in Jamaica and the aromas of garlicky, buttery mussels on Sydney’s harbour front, to the sweet lingering smell of cupcakes in a New York bakery. If like me, your travel experiences almost always come hand in hand with exploring new cuisine, this post is for you. Celebrity Cruises have recently picked up the title of Ocean Cruise Line of the Year in the very prestigious 2014 Food and Travel Awards. And after teaming up with the experts behind Great British Chefs, they’re now running a competition called #tasteoftravel which encourages bloggers to share their most memorable food experiences from around the world. When I read about it on the very lovely On the Luce travel blog, I just knew I had to take part…
How does it work?
Share the most memorable starter, main and dessert you’ve eaten during your travels and post them on your blog as your ultimate travel-themed menu. Next, nominate four other bloggers to ‘join you for dinner’ by taking part in the competition. Et voila, you’re done. All you have to do next is wait and see whether you’ve won the ultimate cruising holiday with Celebrity Cruises.
The Caribbean is one of my favourite places in the world. Each island has its own individual character and St Lucia simply blew me away. After a rather hairy drive around the vertigo-inducing mountain roads, I took part in the ‘Tree to Bar’ experiences at the Rabot Estate – one of the oldest cocoa plantations on the island that’s now part of Hotel Chocolat. After learning about the cultivation of the Trinitario cocoa bean and making our own chocolate out of cocoa nibs, we headed to Boucan – the onsite restaurant.
The menu here is all infused with cocoa. So trying to choose from dozens of mouth-watering options was the most difficult decision ever. For starters, I finally settled on the Scotch eggs.
This was two very generously sized scotch egg halves made from a local hen’s egg and cloaked in a wild mushroom risotto encased in a roast cacao crust. This was served on a slate of butternut squash puree and calalloo – a type of spinach which is a signature ingredient in Caribbean cooking.
This might not be your most traditional Caribbean cuisine, but boy was it a treat for the tastebuds. The butternut squash was sweet, the eggs were perfectly runny and the risotto was soft with a very lovely hint of cocoa. After grafting our own trees on the plantation and learning about the island’s own struggle with cocoa production after its history of hurricane, I felt honoured to be enjoying such fine flavours infused with this incredible crop.
And all with the most glorious views over the Pitons. I’ll remember this for a very long time.
My most memorable main meal takes me back two years to Malaysia. I was staying on the private island of Pangkor Laut – a place which completely stole my heart. It’s a place of unspoilt rainforest, majestic nature (we spotted a monitor lizard on the beach and were attacked by monkeys) and incredible, flavour-filled cuisine.
We went to the restaurant on Fisherman’s Cove and enjoyed this picture-perfect arrangement of traditional Malay flavours by the lapping waves of the sea.
We had three curries: one fish, one vegetable and a rendang style beef. The incredible sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavours you get from Malaysian cuisine has stayed with me since. I love the effect that ingredients like cumin, chilli, star anise, ginger, cinnamon and palm sugar has on food.
Served with these pickled vegetables with malay style crackers and sticky rice on a fresh banana leaf, it was just perfect.
Oh and dining al fresco ALWAYS makes food taste better. Heaven.
I had so many contenders for the dessert section. ‘Badwiches’ in Brooklyn, a chocolate fondant at Hotel Chocolat and heavenly scotch bonnet cheesecake in the Caribbean. But when I was thinking back to my trip to Tallinn in Estonia in 2012, this huge berry pavlova had to be it.
We were in the Old Town of Tallinn – a wonderful mix of cobbled streets and charming medieval buildings. And as part of our food tour of the city we were visiting a couple who run a restaurant from their own house (honest). The name of the restaurant escapes me – I WILL find this out and update the post – but this hidden gem was incredible.
We sat at a huge table overlooked by giant beaded chandeliers and there were all sorts of nik naks around the room. Our chairs were multi-coloured, there was mismatched furniture – it was just a quirky kind of place.
The lovely lady who ran the restaurant brought out some champagne and then presented us with this. A huge berry pavlova that she’d made.
What I love about nordic food is the seasons vary so much. So during the summer months they pickle just about EVERYTHING so its preserved for the cold winters and during the warmer months they rely heavily on their rich variety of legumes and incredible berries.
This pavlova is a perfect example of the miniature strawberries you get there and the bold rich colours you get from fruit during the warmer season.
The pavlova was melt-in-the-mouth and the berries were a perfect balance of sweet and tart flavours. With a heavenly dollop of thick cream and a dusting of icing sugar, I could eat this dish again and again.
So this is my #tasteoftravel menu – I hope I’ve picked well!
Join me for dinner girls!
The closing date for entries is January 15, 2015. All blog entries will be passed on to two Great British Chefs and the editor of Food and Travel Magazine who’ll be deciding which #TasteofTravel meal makes their stomachs rumble the most. The winning prize is a 7-night European cruise and £150 to spend in one of the Great British Chefs restaurants. Three runners up will each get £75 in food vouchers. Woop woop. Wish me luck!
Until next time x
Get involved @CelebrityUK #TasteofTravel