FWT Magazine: food wine travel - Issue 6, Winter 2016/17 - World Cuisine

Page 1



world cuisine

food wine travel

explore! savor! live!

Dominican Republic • Kanazawa Japan Puerto Vallarta Mexico • Bologna Italy Interlaken Switzerland • London England Jordan • Cruise Cuisine • Puglia Italy Mediterranean Sailing with James Beard

world cuisine 7

10 8

6 28

14 40





60 66



depts contents 14 Kanazawa, Japan An Essential Food Tour

28 The Bounty of Bushmans Kloof 34 Saving Puglia’s Olive Groves One Tree at a Time Masseria Il Frantoio

40 Culinary Cruising

Celebrity Chefs Now Rule the Waves

46 Pear Schnapps and Jugged Deer Dining in Interlaken

52 Cooking in Bologna

4 contributors First class reporting from around the world.

5 from the editor Welcome to Issue Six

6 gear Fitbit

7 wines & spirits Wine and Food: The Great Balancing Act

8 bon appétit Puerto Vallarta: A Journey of the Senses

10 my home town From Tamales to Tabouli: Taos, New Mexico

84 last shot Istanbul simit seller shows his wares

A Recipe for Food, Fun, and Friendship

60 Taste the World

Dominican Republic Cuisine Infused with Global Influences

66 Bacon Sandwiches and Banksy

Exploring the Flavors of London on an East End Food Tour

72 Sailing with James Beard

Spanish Cuisine on the High Seas

78 Jordan’s Food Mirrors Its History

on the cover Tsuruko restaurant Kaiseki: beef stuffed apple KURT JACOBSON

WINTER 2016/17



Picnic at Bushman’s Kloof


contributors More information and links for individual authors at the end of each article.

Anita Breland

Elaine Masters

Anita Breland delights in sharing culinary traditions and her experiences around the world.

A lover of regional cuisines and offbeat destinations, Elaine loves to share her travel stories and wild experiences.

Mary Chong

Veronica Matheson

A travel writer, world cruiser, social media influencer, and founder of Calculated Traveller Magazine.

Australian-based food/wine/travel writer with major focus on international ocean/river cruising.

Tom Fakler

Barbara Ramsay Orr

Photographer Tom Fakler travels globally, capturing award-winning images.

Barbara Ramsay Orr is a recipient of the Lowell Thomas Award for Journalism and sits on the board of the Society of American Travel Writers.

Jacqui Gibson

Diana Russler

Kurt Jacobson

Mira Temkin

Kurt Jacobson is a full-time travel and food writer living in Baltimore, Maryland.

With many years of travel writing, Mira Temkin understands the leisure traveler.

Hilarie Larson

Kathleen Walls

Irene S. Levine

Eugene Yiga

A New Zealand freelancer writing about travel, heritage & life in a plucky Pacific nation at the bottom of the world.

Hilarie’s passion for wine began in the1970s while in the European hospitality industry.

Dr. Irene S. Levine is an award-winning freelance journalist and blogger.



WINTER 2016/17

New York-based Diana Russler is an adventurer, freelance writer and photographer.

Kathleen Walls is the publisher, editor and general go-for at American Roads and Global Highways.

Eugene Yiga has written for over 60 different websites, newspapers and magazines.


from the editor

elcome to Issue Six of the quarterly FWT Magazine. It gives us great pleasure to bring you another issue, this one themed “World Cuisine.” On this journey we skip around the planet, pausing here and there to sample each local cuisine and, in doing so, we meet the people. First we start off in one of the Editor’s favorite hometowns, learning how “international” one small corner of the Earth can be. Then, some sage advice about how to stay fit while enjoying the food this World has to offer. Plus, who wants to travel to all these places without knowing how to pair wine with the abundance of food on the Planet. Then off for a foodie adventure in Mexico’s Puerto Vallarta: jumping over to the other side of the continent we explore the Caribbean, European and African culinary influence of Dominica; next a long hop to Kanazawa Japan to sample some of that country’s best cuisine; onward for a Swiss train adventure and sampling the Interlaken cuisine; then to Italy for fun learning to cook in Bologna. While in that country we’ll see about saving the ancient olive trees of Puglia; then hitting the high seas for epicurean-inspired world voyages; a stop in London for bacon sandwiches and more; then we enjoy shopping, and cooking and feasting in the Jordanian desert; on to South Africa for a culinary retreat. Whew, tired yet? Full? Okay, one more. We set sail across the Mediterranean (and eat more!). I hope you enjoyed this journey, Please let us know what you think of our magazine! Cheers, John Lamkin, Executive Editor explore! savor! live!

fwt food wine travel

FWT Magazine: food wine travel Publisher IFWTWA Publications Executive Editor • John Lamkin Associate Editor • Beth Graham Assistant Editor • Christine Salins Contributing Editor • Irene S. Levine Contributing Editor • Diana Russler Contributing Editor • Susanna Starr Contributing Editor • Melanie Votaw Editorial Assistant • M’Liss Hinshaw Blog Manager • Jacqui Gibson Marketing Manager • Mary Chong Creative Director • Dan Kuehn Dan Frank Digital Design Photography Director • Jim DeLillo Advertising Director • Tess Lampert Wine Consultant • Hilarie Larson Publications Adviser • Allen Cox Webmaster • Timothy Lack CharlotteCountyWebsites.com FWT Magazine is published in English, however our audience is global as are our contributing writers. Each contributor writes using the form of English with which they are most familiar, thus you may see international variations on spelling, grammar, and phrasing. We hope this eliminates any confusion. Thank you. –the Editors FWT Magazine: food wine travel is published by IFWTWA Publishing of International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association ifwtwa.org


The gentle art of gastronomy is a friendly one. It hurdles the language barrier, make friends among civilized people, warms the heart. –Samuel Chamberlain If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him... The people who give you their food give you their heart. –Cesar Chavez

IFWTWA: admin@ifwtwa.org FWT Magazine: editor@FWTMagazine.com Advertising: ads@FWTMagazine.com Submission Guidelines If you have a product you would like us to try email editor@FWTmagazine.com

WINTER 2016/17



Traveling Between Time Zones Traveling between time zones can mess with the accuracy of your information. Changing the app settings on your phone will help avoid any data loss. For iOS phone users: • go to the Fitbit app • select ‘account’, then ‘advanced settings’ • turn off ‘automatically set time zones’ • next, select ‘country’ • select the country of your choice (to make sure the language of your app doesn’t change).


One of the latest Fitbit models on the market, a Flex-2

gear Fitbit: Stay Fit and Healthy When Traveling

For Android phone users: • go the Fitbit app • select ‘set automatically’ • turn off ‘time zone’ and ‘country’ options.

On Vacation Fitbits are lightweight and comfortable to use in any country. If you’re vacationing at the beach or somewhere warm and tropical, remember to remove your device before applying bug spray or sunscreen – chemicals may cause the band to deteriorate.


Before You Travel The good news is it is safe to take your Fitbit through airport security – the scanning machine will not damage your device. But check with your airline to make sure you can use it inflight. Fitbits use low-energy Bluetooth®, considered safe for most airlines.

Inflight To charge your device while flying, you’ll need to plug your charging cable into a laptop or another low-energy charger. You’ll find most models hold up to a week’s worth of personal data, so you shouldn’t lose any information while flying.

The Fitbit dashboard keeps a visual tally of your daily data.


ot all of us want to totally unplug from our fitness routine when we travel. Especially those of us keen to indulge in the delicacies of our destination, while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. That’s where a Fitbit comes in handy. It’s a personal electronic device that syncs with an app on your phone and tracks everything from your heart rate to the calories you consume to the distances you walk, run or bike every day. Most models are designed to wear on your wrist, much like a wrist watch, and come in a wide range of styles and colors. Here’s an outline of what you should know when traveling with your Fitbit.

Jacqui Gibson A New Zealand freelancer writing about travel, heritage & life in a plucky Pacific nation at the bottom of the world. I write about travel, heritage & life in a plucky Pacific nation at the bottom of the world. Features writer for Heritage New Zealand magazine. Travel stories published in New Zealand Life & Leisure, Bride & Groom and Let’s Travel magazines. Guest blogger for Flightnetwork.com .

A dry rosé from the Empordá region of Catalunya with classic Pan con tomate–a perfect regional pairing.

wine & spirits Wine and Food: The Great Balancing Act


ine and food pairing’ – that small, four-word phrase has been known to cause palpitations for even the most ardent of wine enthusiasts. Why do we obsess about matching these two, wonderful elements of daily life? Well, let’s start by blaming the French! There, I said it! Now don’t get me wrong; I’m one of the biggest Francophiles you’ll ever meet, but the ‘art’ of pairing certain wines with certain foods can be traced back to an era known as the ‘Belle Époque’. Wealthy industrialist and high society elites collected fine wines and wanted to show them off. They’d host lavish dinners with multiple courses, each paired aside a coveted vintage. The ‘greed is good’ attitude of the 1980’s brought another wave of pairing snobbery, along with a plethora of books, magazines and television ‘experts’ espousing “the perfect pairing.” It was not, however, always this trendy or taxing. For centuries, people would cultivate their own food or purchase from local markets and merchants. Their wines would be from local producers crafted from local grapes. And somehow, miraculously, it worked: ‘If it grows together, it goes together.’ A good match, like in marriage or friendship, is a glorious thing. Sometimes relationships work because two people have much in common. Sometimes, it’s opposites that attract, bringing out the best in each. And so it is with wine and food. A good pairing is simply taking two elements that are perfectly fine on their own, and putting them together to create something even more amazing. Much of the old advice still rings true yet some assumptions are now considered passé. The overwhelming goal remains the same: balance and harmony – that perfect relationship.


A few things to consider: There are two schools of thought in pairing: one, that you go with something comparable, say a lush, buttery Chardonnay with a lush buttery sauced piece of chicken. The other trend is to bring out the best in both elements with a contrasting pairing – think spicy Thai curry with a slightly sweet Chenin Blanc or Riesling. We’re all familiar with the basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty and bitter, but have you heard of umami? That’s the earthy, savory quality you find in soy sauce, mushrooms and cured meats. Don’t just think about taste, but texture, too: creamy, fatty, smooth, crunch, sticky – you get the idea. White wine with fish? Certainly – can’t get a better pairing than fresh seafood and bright, dry Chablis, Champagne or Muscadet. But bring on a bigger-bodied fish like salmon, put it on the grill to add a bit of smoky character and a lightly fruity, medium-bodied Pinot Noir is the new go-to wine. Red wine with meat is a classic call; lamb with Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon is a safe and delicious bet. But how about a dry Rosé, bursting with ripe, red berry aromas to go with that baked ham? Or a rich, earthy Southern Rhone white blend with your savory pork roast? The very best pairing suggestion? Curiosity with enthusiasm.

Hilarie Larson CSW, FWS Hilarie’s passion for wine began in the1970’s while in the European hospitality industry. In 2003 she began her wine career in earnest in her native British Columbia, Canada, working at several Okanagan Valley wineries where she was able to assist in the vineyard and cellar as well as the tasting rooms. Hilarie’s greatest joy is spreading the gospel of wine, food and travel. For a full author biography and profile, please visit: http://ifwtwa.org/author/hilarie-larson

WINTER 2016/17



The view from the Vista Grill

bon appétit Puerto Vallarta: A Journey of the Senses


uerto Vallarta is well known for its beautiful beaches, luxurious resorts and crystal blue sea but don’t let your exploration of this vibrant Mexican city stop at the sand. Vallarta, as the locals call it, has an array of dining options to tantalise the taste buds and excite the senses.

Asador La Vaca Argentina


On my first trip to the lovely island, I was teased and tempted by the siren of the sea as she whispered, “Stay with me under the shade of this palm tree and sleep the day away” but, find the strength as I did to resist the siren sound and seek that which is new. Take to the hills of Vallarta to the Vista Grill. Worthy of a visit for the views alone, this fine dining establishment is situated high atop the city overlooking the historic old town. With views of the Bahía de Banderas and the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe below, it’s the perfect romantic spot to enjoy a margarita at sunset as you dine on the freshest fish ceviche with mango coconut vinaigrette and red snapper marinated in red chilli sauce “adobado” style, served with tomatillo sauce. Become a Mexican cowboy at Asador La Vaca Argentina, a steakhouse that congers up images of what would happen at a wedding reception between a Mexican Mariachi Band and an Argentinian gaucho. The aroma of the delicious selections of beef grilled to a perfect medium rare served on a heated lava rock platter draw you in, and the chimichurri sauce and green tomato salsa to slather on top of the succulent meat keep you coming back for more. It’s a meat lovers dream! Try the house-made sausages; spicy and full of flavour; you won’t regret it. After strolling along the famous Malecón Promenade visiting with local artisans and shopping for souvenirs, pop into La Cervecería Unión to relax and cool off with their signature frosty cold craft beer, the Union Cervesa, and listen to the sound of the surf coming off the Bahía de Banderas. Seafood is the draw at Unión with oysters on the half shell, tender grilled octopus and tuna sashimi — all so fresh that resistance to try them all is futile. Get off the tourist trail and eat as the locals do standing on the corner of an intersection at a roadside taqueria at dusk. Wander through the cobble-stoned streets and down secluded alleys as you tour the downtown neighbourhoods on

a Taco Tour with Vallarta Food Tours. You’ll learn about the history and food culture of Vallarta as you visit the best street vendors and mum and pop taquerias in town sampling traditional sope made with a base of fried masa, crab enchiladas, a variety of tacos, too many to name. The tour comes to a sweet end with donut-like churros and a shot of agave Mezcal to wash it all down. A visit to Puerto Vallarta is not just a beach getaway — it’s a journey for all the senses.

Oysters from La Cervecería Unión

Baja Taco Vallarta Eats Food Tours

if you go Puerto Vallarta Tourism Vista Grill Asador La Vaca Argentina La Cervecería Unión Vallarta Food Tours

Mary Chong Mary Chong is a travel writer, world cruiser, social media influencer, and founder of Calculated Traveller Magazine based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. When not working as a freelance graphic designer, Mary is either exploring the world by land and sea with her husband Ray or planning the next big adventure. Calculated Traveller is an online magazine offering friendly advice, informative reviews, and inspiration on all things travel. Focused throughout on budget planning and preparation for all types of travellers across a wide range of travel experiences of every level.

WINTER 2016/17



Huevos Rancheros and pita, El Gamal, Taos, New Mexico

my home town

For over a thousand years the Tiwa people of Taos, New Mexico have lived in the same adobe apartment dwelling on the edge of the Taos Valley, at the foot of their sacred Mountain. During those centuries they have developed a very specific cuisine using the food they grew and hunted locally. About 400 years ago, the Spanish arrived along with many immigrant/settlers including Castilians, North Africans, and people from southern Spain — Arabs, Jews, Gypsies and others. All brought along with them their own food styles. Others came up from Mexico introducing the Mesoamerican ingredient into the blend. Later on, the United States won the territory in the Mexican American war introducing the European hybrid cuisine that developed in the US., along with Texan, Cajun, and the whole mix is called American food. Taos, New Mexico has a very long history with a much varied cuisine. In this small community there are at least 50 restaurants, ranging from Mexican, Spanish, New Mexican, Italian, German, to Asian and Thai, to mention a few. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this small village has more artists, craft persons, authors, and other creatives per capita than any other place I know of. And, as would be expected, more accomplished chefs to create all the wonderful, varied cuisine you will experience here. Just go!

if you go Taos, New Mexico

A Sampling of Taos, New Mexico Restaurants Orlando’s El Gamal Common Fire Pizaños The Love Apple El Meze Tiwa Kitchen Restaurant Gutiz The Baverian Lodge & Restaurant The Farmhouse Cafe and Bakery



WINTER 2016/17


From Tamales to Tabouli: Taos, New Mexico

John Lamkin and Common Fire owner, Andy Lynch

John Lamkin An award-winning journalist and photographer, John started travel writing as an escape from the drudgery of being an aerospace engineer – dropped the engineering, kept the writing. John went on to study at the San Francisco Art Institute, then on to found the now famous San Francisco Camerawork. His recent book about the Zapotec weavers of Mexico’s Oaxaca Valley is reaping critical acclaim. John will go anywhere for a story. For more information about John Lamkin: ifwtwa.org/author/john-patrick-lamkin or visit his website: www.travelwritingandphotography.com/


Kanazawa, Japan An Essential Food Tour

Story and photographs by Kurt Jacobson

Tsuruko | crab

Fukuwauchi | mushroom udon soup

Tsuruko | Kaiseki (small plates): beef stuffed apple

Tsuruko | Kaiseki: miso glazed tuna

Sake lees soup

Tsuruko | Kaiseki: sashimi

Kanazawa castle


s the Shinkansen (bullet train) speeds out of Tokyo, it isn’t long before the snowy white cone of Mount Fuji comes into view. Arguably the world’s most famous volcano, Mount Fuji will be in sight for almost an hour. Snowy landscapes and tile roofs blur as we speed through a country full of old and new delights. We are on our way to Kanazawa, one of Japan’s most distinctive historic cities. With the new bullet train route servicing the area, it’s a good time to visit Kanazawa where some of the best gardens, historic districts, and cuisine can found in Japan. Kanazawa Station is a spectacular building. The station looks like modern culture crashed into an ancient Japanese temple to form a new type of architecture. Massive, mahogany-colored, twisted wood beams support a gracefully arched wooden rooftop at the entrance to this grand terminal reminiscent of Kanazawa’s rich past. As we exit the security area, we see a marketplace in the station with dozens of shops hawking local food and art products. Shopping will have to wait as we are being picked up by Koji-san, a friend of the family, and whisked off to lunch. I’m happy to discover that our friend Koji-san speaks English well. I often find myself the only fluent English-speaking person other than my wife on trips to Japan. Koji-san says, “We are going to one of my favorite restaurants, a cookyour-own noodle restaurant.”



A smiling cartoon-like woman’s face on the awning greets us upon arrival at Fukuwauchi, which (loosely translated) means “happy inside.” Both our hostess and waitress beam as we enter, so it does seem to be a happy place. Once our shoes are removed, we’re seated at a recessed table featuring eight gas burners to cook our noodle soups. Choosing from entrees of mushrooms, salmon, oysters, beef or pork, we all make our selections. Koji tells us, “I have been eating at this restaurant for most of my life.” It’s a great choice if you want to have a delicious lunch for $20-$35. We add a sushi starter before the bowls of soup are brought to our table. Once the soup arrives, the staff fires up the burner, and all we have to do is stir it a few times over the course of 8-10 minutes. Then, we dive into the best soup you can imagine. The hardest part is waiting for the staff to signal when it’s cooked just right before we dig in. I have the mushroom soup with five kinds of fantastic fungi not easily found in U.S. restaurants in one bowl. It’s the best bowl of noodle soup I have ever had in Japan. Next stop is the 16th century Kanazawa Castle, a free attraction. Though it burned down several times, some original parts are still standing. The Ishikawa Gate, Sanjukken Nagaya, and Tsumaru Storehouse give visitors a glimpse far back when Kanazawa was a rich and important part of the shogunate’s realm. After touring

WINTER 2016/17

the castle, we check into Hotel Sainoniwa, a newer boutique luxury hotel built in anticipation of bullet train visitors. The upscale rooms and free buffet breakfast impress us all. Several attractions in Kanazawa are free and worth visiting. We love the Kenrokuen Gardens, one of the three great gardens of Japan. We follow pathways leading to stone bridges over koi ponds and marvel at the trussed trees, flowers and meticulously manicured bushes. Back in the center of town, the “pleasure districts” of Kanazawa look much like they did in the Edo Period. Caramel-colored, worn wood exteriors front the narrow streets that once held gentlemen looking for geisha-style entertainment. It isn’t unusual to see tourist wannabe geishas in rented costumes strutting around, taking selfies and mingling with other tourists. Shops selling famous gold-leafadorned laquerware can be found in eight locations. They offer a one to two-hour class to gild your own chopsticks in gold leaf for a handmade souvenir. We stop at Sakuda Gold and Silver Leaf, full of gleaming gold and silver-adorned lacquerware and make our own gold leaf chopsticks. This is a great activity and costs as little as 600 to 800 JPY/$6-8 USD. We then stop at a specialty sake shop that sells sake lees soup, a broth made from the leftovers of sake-making, a fragrant miso-like soup that sends the winter chill away.

For the best Kaiseki (small plates), try Tsuruko. This family-owned restaurant had recently been invaded by a Japanese TV film crew shooting Japan’s best restaurants. Tsuroko provides us with an over-the-top meal with a procession of colorful, tasty dishes parading in front of us for three hours. The apple stuffed with Kobe beef is delicious and one of the most creative ways to serve beef that I’ve seen on my many trips to Japan. My favorite dish is

Sushi restaurant in Hotel Nikko Kanazawa

probably the crab with rice. Several strips of succulent leg meat are perched on top of crab-fried rice that resonates in smokysalty goodness. We finish our two days in Kanazawa touring the Omicho Market to look at the yummy live crabs, big shrimp, dried squid and other seafood. Later, we visit the D.T. Suzuki Museum on yet another bright sunny day. The Suzuki Museum is a peaceful place to wander in quiet meditation by reflection pools. This Buddist philosopher, born in Kanazawa, is credited with introducing Zen Philosophy to the west. We have lunch downtown at Benkay Restaurant in Hotel Nikko Kanazawa. Here, we’re treated to the finest sushi I’ve had in my eight trips to Japan. Don’t be fooled by the fact this sushi restaurant is in a hotel. If you love real Japanese sushi, this is the place to go in Kanazawa. All great trips must end, however. Before leaving Kanazawa, the shopping court in the train station is a must before boarding the Shinkansen. If you’re hungry, look for Bento Box meals at the food counters in the market for your trip back. Pick the food counter with the biggest line to get the best Bento.

On this, my second trip to Kanazawa, I came away hooked on its charm, grace, and great food. As Mt. Fuji comes into view again, I feel inspired to return to Kanazawa to see what we might have missed.

if you go Kanazawa Sainoniwa Hotel, a new boutique luxury hotel, wowed us all. Built for the expected onslaught of wealthy tourists, this hotel ticks all the boxes for fine lodging. Considering rooms go for an average of $220, Sainoiwa is affordable luxury. Fukuwauchi, 1-9-31 Hikosomachi, Tsuroko, 6-5 Takaokamachi Benkay Restaurant in Nikko Hotel, 2-15-1 Monmachi, Phone: 81-76-234-1111

Kurt Jacobson Kurt Jacobson is a full-time travel and food writer living in Baltimore, Maryland, As a retired chef Kurt loves seeking out the best in food, wine, and adventure.

The Bounty of Bushmans Kloof By Eugene Yiga

Photographs courtesy of Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat

Embers outdoor dining



t’s a beautiful day at Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat, the luxury South African property that readers of Condé Nast Traveler voted third on its list of best hotels and resorts in the world. And while I’m excited for our early morning visit to explore the San rock art, some of which dates back 10,000 years, Executive Chef Ryan Weakley is already hard at work. “The first few months have been busy but fantastic,” says Weakley, whose typical day is from 07:30 to 22:30. “I have great support from management and the owners. I’ve also adopted a team of skilled staff (trained by Floris Smith, Bushmans Kloof ’s previous multi-talented chef



extraordinaire), which has made my job much easier.”

him from the city to Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge where he worked as executive chef for the first time. Eighteen months later he moved to Wilderness Safaris’ Mombo Lodge in the Okavango Delta in Botswana as Executive Chef, before joining Bushmans Kloof in Weakley, who hails from Queenstown in January this year. Not only did this allow the Eastern Cape of South Africa, studied at the Institute for Culinary Arts in Stellenbosch, him to work at a prestigious Relais and Châteaux property in the Red Carnation where he graduated in 2006 with a Diploma Hotel group, but it fed into the love for in Culinary Arts and Baking. He started his nature. That’s important to someone who hospitality career as Chef de Partie at Ginja enjoys rock climbing, scuba diving, and restaurant in Cape Town, where he was anything to do with the outdoors. runner-up in the Jeunes Commiss Rôtisseurs “I love the diversity and creativity of Competition, Bailliage du Cap. the job, and being able to work anywhere In 2008, he opened the Vineyard Hotel’s in the world,” he says. “But when I Myoga restaurant under chef Mike Bassett. moved into the game lodge industry, But in May 2010, his love for the bush drew

Balancing flavour and beauty

WINTER 2016/17

bottled yoghurts with coulis, and freshbaked pastries that guests can take on their nature drives. Lunch in the garden, which often features fresh quiches and a ‘Chef ’s salad of the day’, includes many ingredients that we saw during our tour. “Most of our fresh produce is grown on the property, so the garden team has spent countless hours watering that fresh rocket in your salad or tending to that tomato on your plate,” Weakley says. “The preparation of food isn’t just about frying, sautéing, or roasting something in a pan. A lot of work goes into a dish, even before the cooking starts.” The onsite organic gardens, which have been developed significantly over the past few years, include raised beds and a temperature-controlled polytunnel. Because so much work goes into maintaining them, Weakley wants guests to experience the fruits of this labour. This means daily picking of vegetables and indigenous herbs, including the famous Fynbos and Rooibos, to incorporate them in the menu. It also means sourcing sustainable inputs from local suppliers so that the output is the best it can be. “Sustainability is key,” he says. “Not just the sustainability of ingredients, but also the sustainability of local producers who provide you with the best produce possible if you nurture a good relationship. If you work with organic and fresh produce, there’s no need to mask flavours. You can make those items the centrepiece of a dish.” the requirements changed. It wasn’t just about making the perfect dish for dinner; I had to become more ‘well-rounded’, with breakfasts, lunches, and high teas as part of my repertoire. I also had to become preoccupied with making a dish look pretty; balancing the flavour of an ingredient – the main factor in the dish – with the beauty of it. I’d like to think my food has become more ‘honest’.”

Fresh, organic ingredients Indeed, there’s something wholesome and authentic about the food at Bushmans Kloof. Breakfast includes items like homemade granola bars, individually

Accommodating different tastes Soon after lunch we’re savouring the extravagant High Tea. And soon after this, we’re on a nature drive, spotting animals in the reserve. But while we’re sipping sundowners, Weakley is working on dinner, a highlight of the day. “Being a chef isn’t always as glamorous as it looks on TV,” he says. “A lot of hard work goes into preparing a dish and getting it out perfectly every time. For example, that sauce on the plate is the result of gently attending to a base stock that’s been simmering on the stove for two days. The meat is sealed off and slowly basted in clarified butter, a process that yields much better flavours and results than conventional frying. And that Manor House Deck

Outdoor dining, Makana


cut of meat on your plate is the result of sourcing the right supplier to make sure it’s sustainable, eco-friendly, and was raised in a humane way.” It’s also a challenge to make sure all guests are happy, although that doesn’t seem to be a problem given that everyone at the table is smiling at the end of our eight-course meal. But even though accommodating different tastes can mean working longer hours to prepare a special dish, Weakley loves challenging his creativity. “No two days are the same,” he says. “With this constant change, one never gets complacent or falls into a rut. As soon as work becomes ‘stagnant’, boredom sets in,

so this keeps excitement in the kitchen. And because food trends are always changing, we have to keep learning, keep improving, and stay in touch with the times.”

if you go Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat

Eugene Yiga Dessert at Makana


Eugene Yiga graduated from the University of Cape Town with distinctions in financial accounting and classical piano. His career then took an interesting turn when he spent over 2½ years working in branding and communications at two of South Africa’s top market research companies. Eugene also spent over 3½ years at an eLearning start-up, all while building his business as an award-winning writer. Connect with him at www.eugeneyiga.com.


WINTER 2016/17

Embers salad bar

Saving Puglia’s Olive Groves One Tree at a Time Masseria Il Frantoio

By Diana Russler Photographs by Bill Gent

Thousand-year-old olive trees at Masseria Il Frantoio, Puglia

Removing the last olives


uglia (or Apulia as it is also known) is often called “the heel of Italy’s boot.” It is the land of conical trulli houses, baroque towns, castles, fortified medieval farms (masserie) and thousand-year-old olive trees. Sadly, these trees are under attack either from the changing climate or from bacteria from South America that leaves them shriveled and diseased. Saving as many of these ancient giants as possible is the passion and commitment of Armando Balestrazzi and his wife, Rosalba, owners of Masseria Il Frantoio, a quaint inn and one of the most unique masserie you will find in the province. Driving in Puglia takes you through arid, dusty terrain where row upon row of olive trees march endlessly across the landscape, as far as the eye can see. There are over 60 million registered trees here, almost 15 million of which are over 1,000 years old. They rise into the deep blue sky between the ancient dry stone walls, their thick gnarly trunks twisting and turning clockwise like so many helixes. Some are so ancient that their branches must be supported by pillars of stone, holding up the weight of centuries of growth. Their fruit produces 40 percent of Italy’s production of olive oil, a cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet for over 6,000 years. Armando proudly relates the story of how 25 years ago, burnt out by bureaucracy and urban life, he and Rosalba moved to the ancient masseria that previously had belonged to the same family for over 500 years. Together, they turned it into an enchanting place where guests are accommodated amidst centuries of history. Guests are wined and dined in the family dining room with olive oil produced from the 4,200 trees on the estate.

The “Allegria” olive tree

WINTER 2016/17



Saving the Olive Trees

taken from the “old ones”. Armando calls However, taking care of such a large these “the children of the olives”. Finally, number of trees is expensive. While we settle on one that appeals to us most, escorting guests on tours of the property, a gnarled old giant near the masseria. We Armando noticed that there seemed to be name it Allegria, meaning “joy” or “high an immediate and inexplicable connection spirits” in Italian. between the visitors and the ancient trees. The next morning, we watch as the People would hug, pat and talk to the trees. olives are harvested at the peak of ripeness. One visitor asked to “adopt” a damaged old A tractor with a giant arm grasps the tree that had been partially destroyed in a tree trunk, shaking vigorously while the fire. From there the idea developed to offer olives tumble down into waiting green visitors a chance to adopt a 1,000-year-old and orange nets. A picker with a long pole olive tree. In exchange for the “adoption” follows behind, knocking off the remaining fee, the visitors receive extra virgin olive oil olives, which are hand-collected from the from the estate, shipped to their home. nets and placed in large wooden crates. Like wine, olive oil comes in a large variety of flavors and qualities. As with wine, you need to know what you are buying. Unfortunately, it is a market where fraud and subterfuge make the expression “Buyer Beware” most apt. You have to read the labels carefully. In the United States much Stone pillars support the thousand-year-old olive tree after it has rained. of the olive oil sold is labeled “Packed in Italy.” This means that it can be made When these are full they are whisked off from any type of olive from anywhere in to the masseria’s olive press (part of which the world and merely “packed” in Italy. dates to the 16th century) and processed. Such oil does not meet the internationally Within a few hours of watching the accepted standards set by the International harvest, Armando invites us to taste the Olive Council for extra virgin olive oil. fresh first press of oil, sopping it up with These stipulate, in part, that the oil must thick slices of bread. As the oil flows into the be produced from a first press of the olives bowl, there is a fragrance of freshly cut grass using only a cold, mechanical press without and another aroma that is hard to define; it the addition of chemicals or solvents. is the scent of the olive trees themselves after The olives must be processed and bottled it has rained. The oil, which is pale green, within 24 hours of picking. tastes slightly peppery and produces a catch The prospect of purchasing extra virgin in the back of the throat. This is a sign of a olive oil from the source while helping very high quality oil. maintain one of these giant olive trees Six weeks after our return to the US, appeals to us. Armando encourages us to our 30 liters (almost 8 gallons) of olive oil walk around the property, “pick” our tree arrive via FedEx. Each of the six tins is and give it a name, which will be put on numbered and certified as authentic DOP a plaque next to its registration number. Colline di Brindisi, Masseria il Frantoio. We walk through many acres of trees, Purchasing olive oil like this costs less than including on the highest part of the estate half of what we would pay for a comparable where new olive trees sprout from shoots product in the US.



WINTER 2016/17

Masseria Il Frantoio is just one of the many olive farms that have put their trees up for symbolic “adoption” as a means of raising capital to preserve these ancient giants for future generations. It is a small price to pay to save the olive groves of Puglia, one tree at a time.

if you go We drove from Rome to Puglia as part of an Italian road trip. If you want to explore the region outside the cities (which are mostly accessible by rail or by bus), a car is essential. You can also fly to Brindisi or Bari, and rent a car locally at the airport. Alitalia has several daily flights from major Italian cities to either location. Another option is to fly from the US to Dublin, Ireland, and catch either Easy Jet or Ryan Air direct. Contrary to their prior reputations, these two airports are now considered some of the most efficient in Italy. Masseria Il Frantoio is near Ostuni in the Salento region of Puglia. For information on accommodation, dining and directions, visit www. masseriailfrantoio.it; Tel. +39 983 1330276. Information on adopting a millennial olive tree is at www.adottaunulivosecolare. it. If you are interested in adopting an ancient olive tree, contact Masseria Il Frantoio, email prodotti@trecolline.it.

Diana Russler New York-based Diana Russler is an adventurer, freelance writer and photographer who, together with her husband, Bill Gent, delight in sharing their discoveries, especially those from more unknown areas of the world. Their work, which has appeared in Nature Photographer, International Living, and various other magazines can be seen at www.thewingedsandals.com and on www.allegriaphotos.com. Courtyard, Masseria Il Frantoio

Culinary Cruising

Celebrity Chefs Now Rule the Waves By Veronica Matheson

Delicately presented Sushi is an eye-catcher at Nobu’s restaurants on Crystal Cruises’ luxury ships.


elebrity chefs can be blamed for the disappearance of the bountiful buffet on many international cruise ships. These high-profile culinary wizards have made quality, not quantity, the focus of dining at sea. Japan’s Nobu Matsuhisa, America’s Thomas Keller, Britain’s Marco Pierre White, and Australia’s Curtis Stone, are some of the restaurateurs who have unwittingly pushed the once lauded buffet aside.



Today the signature restaurants of celebrity chefs are a major drawcard on cruise ships, where guests can dine on Michelin-starred dishes for a lower cost than in the same chef ’s land-based restaurant. True, the celebrity chefs may not be on board the cruise ships too often, but they do drop by ports around the world to ensure their standards are being maintained. Thomas Keller, of Michelin-starred restaurants, includingf New York’s Per Se,

WINTER 2016/17


California’s The French Laundry and Bouchon, has tied his name to Seabourn luxury cruise line. He meticulously trained the fleet’s chefs to create his distinctive dishes. In Keller’s dining venues on the Seabourn fleet’s — Odyssey, Sojourn, Quest — and the recently launched Encore, the menu might include a terrine of moulard duck foie gras as a starter, an entree of buckwheat gnocchi with tamari glazed shiitake mushrooms, golden beets, savoy

Chef Nobu Matsuhisa has signature restaurants onboard the luxury Crystal Cruises’ fleet.


Chef Curtis Stone on Diamond Princess in Sydney Harbour.

cabbage and yuzu, and a delicate dessert of ginger and yoghurt semifreddo. Of the partnership Seabourn president Richard Meadows says, “We are delighted to have a restaurateur of Chef Keller’s stature take our onboard culinary offerings to an even higher level. His culinary talent and sophisticated cuisine are beyond compare and the perfect match for our guests.” Fresh from opening two restaurants in Los Angeles, Australia’s Curtis Stone has linked up with Princess Cruises for an onboard restaurant called SHARE. Chef Curtis says the word “cruise” always makes him feel relaxed. “I want to bring a new culinary experience to the sea to enhance and



complete our guests’ cruise holiday. Since I travel often, I know that discovering delicious food and sharing a great meal can create some of the most memorable moments, so I’ve designed the food experiences onboard Princess cruise ships with this in mind.” He says it is natural for his first restaurant at sea to be called SHARE as sharing food with family and friends is the most enjoyable way to eat. “I love the process of passing plates amongst each other and creating meaningful connections through food and conversation.” Christian Dortch is Curtis Stone’s corporate chef for Princess Cruises’ ships, and was recently on Emerald Princess to ensure all was ship-shape in the new

WINTER 2016/17


SHARE restaurant during the 48-day voyage from Southampton (England) to Sydney (Australia). Dortch worked at Curtis Stone’s LA restaurants, Maud and Gwen (sentimentally named after Curtis Stone’s grandmothers). As Dortch recalls, “One day Curtis pulled me aside and asked if I would be interested in being involved in one of his new projects. He said it would involve some travel, but that was definitely a bit of an understatement!” Classically trained sushi chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa, a master of JapanesePeruvian fusion cuisine, has restaurants in major cities around the world, and has restaurants on Crystal Cruises’ luxury ships Symphony and Serenity. Nobu’s onboard fare runs from sushi to sashimi, and much

French Chef Jacques Pepin is executive culinary director for Oceania Cruises.


WINTER 2016/17




On Royal Caribbean cruise ships Jamie’s Italian’s good planks are always interesting.


if you go more, with tender wagyu beef always on the menu. When on board for food-themed cruises, Chef Nobu invariably conducts cooking classes for the well-heeled guests. Oceania Cruises has a well-deserved reputation for fine dining, with its French executive culinary director, Jacques Pepin, who has served as personal chef to several heads of states, including Charles de Gaulle. One of his specialities is steak frites, yes, steak and chips, but with that distinctive Pepin touch. The most in-demand cruises aboard Oceania cruise ships are usually the epicurean-inspired voyages hosted by Pepin with special menus, engaging lectures and culinary demonstrations. Another celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, has his Jamie’s Italian (named after similar on-land restaurants) on board Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, and most recently Ovation of the Seas. These ships all feature in the top 10 list of the world’s largest cruise ships, each carrying around 5,000 passengers. Jamie’s Italian focuses on rustic Italian food with cured meats, cheeses and pickles, as appetizers, served on his trademark Chef Marco Pierre White is one of the celebrity chefs on board P&O Cruises’ fleet.

wooden “planks,” while the main course might run to a tasty pasta or risotto, or his signature porchetta, which is slow-cooked pork belly. Britain’s P&O cruise line has Atul Kochhar and Marco Pierre White as two of the celebrity chefs on its cruise ships. Kochhur is an award-winning chef who creates modern Indian cuisine with a British twist for his onboard Sindhu restaurants; White, the youngest British chef to be awarded three Michelin stars, shines in the Ocean Grill restaurants on P&O’s fleet. And for the sweet tooth, the oh-soBritish Cunard line now has a partnership with Godiva chocolates at Sir Samuel’s Cafe– named after the founder of Cunard cruise line–on the Queen Mary 2 where decadent arrays of pastries, indulgent ice creams and heavenly truffles are always available. This round-up of celebrity chefs on cruise ships does not feature all of them, nor does it list the unsung heroes of every cruise ship, the onboard culinary staff who make every meal an experience to be remembered long after the cruise is over.

Crystal Cruises Cunard Oceania Cruises Princess Cruises P&O Cruises International Royal Caribbean Seabourn

Veronica Matheson Australian-based food/wine/travel writer with major focus on international ocean/river cruising. Published in newspapers, magazines and online, with weekly post on australiancruisingnews.com. Regular reporter on Travel Writers Radio in Melbourne where she is occasional co-host. Former Melbourne Editor Australian Women’s Weekly, Former Travel Editor Escape, and Past vice-president of the Australian Society of Travel Writers.

WINTER 2016/17



Pear Schnapps and Jugged Deer Dining in Interlaken

Story and photographs by Elaine Masters

A corner of the Town Square from Hotel du Nord in Interlaken, Switzerland.


anke Schoen. I’ve only heard Wayne Newton sing those two words. The lyric echoes through my mother’s favorite song popular decades ago, but in a few short minutes, the woman sitting at the table next to me has said it twice. I was dining alone in Interlaken, Switzerland and suddenly felt my long departed parent’s presence. “Danke Schoen,” thank you, indeed. Earlier in the day, I’d arrived in the city by myself. It was snowing lightly as I made my way from the train station to the Hotel du Nord and warmed up before considering the evening ahead. This was one of my first stops on a solo Swiss train adventure. As the afternoon weather cleared to a soft glow, I elected to take a walk before dining in Interlaken. There was a path from my hotel that wound around the central square. From my room,

Table bottle of pear schnapps while dining in Interlaken.



Alpen Hut style entree.

I glimpsed the edge of downtown on the other side of the large green park, so that’s where I headed. A few mothers with strollers walked briskly by, otherwise, traffic was light and I had the trail to myself. Pausing, I swiveled my gaze from the fairy book facade of the Victoria Jungfrau Hotel and up to the mountain peaks overhead. As clear as if she’d been standing next to me, I imagined my mother’s high-pitched voice exclaiming, “Oh my!” The view, full of park, hotel, and the giant mountains overhead was shockingly beautiful. I must have been close to the spot where my parents stood on their European vacation long ago. They’d called home to California from Interlaken and my dad explained patiently that the village was set between lakes at the base of the Alps. Suddenly, I no longer felt alone but on a mission to savor the city and toast to my parent’s vacation escape from suburbia many decades earlier.

WINTER 2016/17

The village main street was a hushed bustle as small shops completed their day’s business. For an hour, I wandered and then followed a young group of Japanese students into a bright Swatch store. The manager and I commiserated about the city and before we parted, she recommended a place for dinner. A few blocks away I stepped into the casual warmth of Café des Alpes. Shown to a discreet spot in the deep dining room, I slid into an upholstered booth and observed the room. The waiter smoothly lit a small candle alongside a pair of small pine cones on the table. A couple nearby chatted intimately in French. A business group commandeered a rear banquet table. There were no white linens; all was comfortably casual at Café des Alpes. I ordered White Beere, Muchner Weisse, from Hofbrau Muchen. Rosti, a traditional dish, was listed as a menu favorite, its pizzalike crust made from hash brown potatoes, but I opted for a heftier dinner.

Ordering from the Alpen Hut section of the menu, my entree was presented in a steaming skillet. I savored every bit of the thick, ladle-full of red cabbage stewed with a touch of allspice. It kissed moist squares of ‘Jugged Deer,’ wine-soaked bites of venison, which were tender and lean. Several varieties of mushrooms, creamy chestnut halves, and a petite marinated pear posed on the platter. A cheesy helping of spaetzle (noodles) nudged into the gravy. It was delicious and easy to imagine hikers in a remote Alpen hut filling up on a similar dish. Pity I wasn’t going to be working off the calories as easily as they would.

A toast to dining in Interlaken Once my empty dishes were deftly swept away, a bottle of Pear Schnapps appeared in front of me. The clear, strong brew filled a recycled Jack Daniels bottle and the waiter filled a shot glass expertly then slipped away, leaving the bottle. The invitation was dangerously clear – I could help myself! A bottle on their table too, the

Inside Café des Alpes.

The cake selection in Cafe des Alpes.

couple next to me giggled in surprise and we raised our glasses in a toast together to dining in Interlaken. Before leaving I slipped about $10 into the check folder (on the roughly $40 bill.) The waiter asked what the cash was for. “For you and the service,” I replied. He beamed shyly as his palm grazed his heart in thanks and then he leaned forward, swept my hand up, kissing it before

if you go

disappearing into the kitchen. It was such an unexpected and sweet exchange. Take the train! Swiss Travel System Later I learned that Swiss tipping Grand Tour. is done differently. Most often bills are Help for your Interlaken itinerary. rounded off, the extra offered for service in Visit the historic Victoria Jungfrau an efficient and no-fuss manner. Of course, Hotel that would be the Swiss way. I’d over-tipped Dine at the Café Des Alpes while dining in Interlaken but I think that my parents would have approved. Danke Schoen, indeed.

Elaine Masters A lover of regional cuisines, natural beauty, and offbeat destinations, Elaine loves to share her travel stories and wild experiences. Founder of one of the ‘Best female blogs to follow in 2016,’ Tripwellgal.com is in its 7th year with a presence across the major social platforms. Elaine is an award-winning radio producer and associate producer of the NPR podcast, Journeys of Discovery. Contributor to MilesGeek.com. YouTube channel with over 13K views: www.youtube.com/user/TravelYogaGal The towering facade of the Hotel Victoria-Jungfrau.

Cooking in Bologna

A A Recipe Recipe for for Food, Food, Fun, Fun, and and Friendship Friendship By By Irene Irene S. S. Levine Levine Photography Photography by by Jerome Jerome Levine Levine

Appetizing window of Vecchia Malga La Baita, a salumeria in the Quadrilatero

One of the many streets with porticoes in Bologna


he invitation awaiting us at the reception desk at the Grand Hotel Majestic in Bologna couldn’t have been more inviting: “Please wear comfortable clothes, you will be cooking, laughing and drinking…” The half-day private, hands-on cooking class we had pre-registered for at the Culinary Institute of Bologna (CIBO) was to be the “kick-off ” to our weeklong Emilia Romagna road trip with two other couples last spring.

Culinary Heaven Any traveler who is passionate about good food wants to visit Bologna. And once they’ve been there, they want to share the experience with their closest friends.

The rich gastronomic traditions of the region’s capital city have been shaped by its unique location and history. Geographically, the capital city of Emilia Romagna is nestled in the heart of the region of Italy that is often called the “Food Valley.” Most of the foods and wines sold and consumed here are sourced from family-owned farms and vineyards, as well as other small-batch producers that dot the verdant hillsides. This foodie paradise also boasts 44 products recognized by the European Union as PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) or PGI (Protected Geographical Indication). Like fine wines, their names are associated with the areas where they’ve been produced for generations using the same ancient methods and techniques. A few notable examples include Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale and Lambrusco. Bologna (both a city and one of the region’s nine provinces) is best known for Mortadella, the meat sausage that migrated to America and changed its name to

Polpette (meatballs) sizzling in the pan

WINTER 2016/17



baloney, and wonderful egg pastas, which include tagliatelle and tortelli (often served with Bologna’s namesake meat sauce, ragù alla Bolognese). Home to Europe’s oldest university, Bologna is filled with hundreds of lively bars, cafes, chocolatiers, gelaterias and restaurants — ranging from simple to sophisticated. Visitors also have the option to learn about and savor regional foods and wines by taking cooking classes, food and market tours, and visiting food producers and museums. Incredibly, the region has 19 museums solely dedicated to food.

Shopping with the Chef On a misty morning after our overnight flight, the six of us headed to class. CIBO is situated in the back of an historic trattoria, Caffee del Rosso, tucked behind an old portico. (UNESCO has recognized Bologna for its more than 25 miles of porticoes — magnificent covered walkways of wood, brick and stone — lining its streets.) The same building has been in continuous use as a restaurant since 1868. English-speaking CIBO founder, CEO and Executive Chef Stefano Corvucci greeted us over cappuccino and espresso in the cooking school’s modern kitchen. Trained as an attorney at the local university, he put his career on a proverbial “back burner,” leaving his law practice soon after graduation to pursue his culinary passions. Six years after establishing and operating a successful restaurant in another part of town, Chef Corvucci purchased the building we visited and added the cooking school to the restaurant in 2012 to satiate his desire to spend more time in the kitchen as opposed to managing a restaurant. Our class at CIBO began with a shopping excursion. But like most cooking students, we were eager to know what we would be preparing for lunch. “I buy what I’m attracted to at the market,” said the Chef. “The recipe is the last thing you think about. After you smell, taste and touch, you decide what will be on the menu.” The Chef set the pace, wheeling a typical Italian shopping wagon behind him. After a brisk walk, we reached the



Chef Stefano Corvucci inspecting produce in the ancient market.

narrow cobblestone streets and alleys winding through the Quadrilateral, a market that has existed since the Middle Ages. It was filled with morning shoppers. Locals insistent upon using the finest fresh ingredients and artisanal products still shop from these stalls brimming with fresh produce, fish and meats. On the same streets are bakeries, florists, salumerias selling cured meats and local specialties, and several bars and convenience stores.

WINTER 2016/17

Relationships here are personal. The chef knew which vendors sold the best products and warmly greeted shopkeepers of these family-owned businesses as he chose seasonal ingredients that caught his fancy. If he wasn’t sure, he asked for a taste. At the butcher shop, freshly slaughtered chickens hung from the walls, and when we looked up, we saw Prosciutto di Parma suspended above our heads. Wheels of hard cheese were lined up on shelves and

softer cheeses like ricotta and mozzarella were piled high in the glass, refrigerated showcases. By the time we headed back to the classroom, some of us were carrying heavy bags of ingredients that wouldn’t fit into the wagon.

Fellowship in the Classroom After washing up, we diced, sliced, minced and chopped at our workstations over local wine served in bottomless carafes. The preparation required an all-hands team, and we each became immersed in tasks that took advantage of our skills. Our friend Bob, who regularly spends vacations as a city slicker and ranch hand

in the Southwest, loved butchering the meat. My friend Linda was a vegetable dicer specializing in onions and carrots. I became consumed with the laborious but easy task of extracting peas from their pods and molding the meatballs by hand. The chef worked beside us and imperceptibly corrected any mistakes we made while imparting pearls of cultural and culinary wisdom in small bites. We learned that a true ragù sauce is always made with pancetta, ground beef, onions, carrots and celery — never with tomatoes, except perhaps to add a touch of color. He told us that pork is often too fatty a meat to be used for stock and that the modern word “salary” is derived from the ancient word for “salt.”

He showed us how to work more efficiently by choosing the correct knife and holding it the correct way. On a more serious and philosophical note, Chef Corvucci stressed the importance of protecting food biodiversity by relying on ingredients that are local and seasonal as the Bolognese have done for centuries. He encouraged tasting, sipping and chattering along the way. The emphasis was on methods and technique, not recipes. “Don’t ask for instructions,” he said. “To be a cook, you have to dare to take risks.” “Cooking is a shared experience,” he noted without a whit of concern that his students were enjoying themselves too much at the expense of their meal preparation.

Proud CIBO students with Chef Stefano Corvucci (Irene S. Levine, third from right)

WINTER 2016/17



Pasta Lady at Paolo Atti & Figli, the oldest bakery in Bologna, founded in 1880

Irene S. Levine When we sat down to the table filled with different dishes and bottles of wine, we felt much like a family of friends. Perhaps we had gone overboard on the tasting, but the array of dishes at the lunch table was overwhelming. The multi-course meal started with two different homemade pastas as primi (first courses prepared by students in the adjoining classroom). One was served with our fresh ragĂš sauce and the other with a sauce of butter, sage and artichokes. Then we feasted on our secondi (second courses), creations that included Bolognese beef stew, coratella di agnello (an exquisite lamb dish) and polpette (meatballs).



We left with souvenir aprons, diplomas and a group picture. More importantly, we took home a hefty dose of kitchen confidence and an enhanced appreciation for Bolognese history and tradition.

WINTER 2016/17

if you go Culinary Institute of Bologna (CIBO) Bologna Welcome (official Bologna tourism site) Emilia Romagna Tourism Grand Hotel Majestic

Irene S. Levine is an award-winning travel journalist and blogger who is a regular contributor to the Chicago Tribune, PBS NextAvenue.org and other print and online publications. She produces MoreTimeToTravel.com, a source of information and inspiration for the over-50 luxury traveler, with her husband/ photographer/travel companion Jerome Levine. Trained as a psychologist, Irene holds a faculty appointment as a professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine.

Taste the World

Dominican Republic Cuisine Infused with Global Influences By Mira Temkin

Photos courtesy of Dominican Ministry of Tourism




h, Dominican. Your aromas from the city’s restaurants and food stalls beckon with spicy, sweet and savory fragrances wafting in the air. With a delectable blend of Caribbean, European and African influences, Dominican cuisine offers travelers a world of taste-tempting delights. But take some advice: To experience the best of Dominican food and drink, you need to be a little adventurous and move out of your comfort zone just a wee bit. There are plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables as well as traditional dishes you may never have tasted before. Here are some local foods and drinks you simply must try and where to find them.



Refresh with Tropical Fruit Drinks

A Taste of the Town at Chef Pepper

Coconut, mango, guava, plantain and passion fruit are just some of the exotic fruits that grow on the island. When you’re on the go, be sure to try a refreshing tropical fruit smoothie. These natural juice shakes called batidas all start with evaporated milk. Batido de lechoza is made with fresh papaya or other fruits, milk and vanilla. Morir Soñando means “die dreaming.” Made with orange juice, milk and sugar, this drink is heaven-sent. Many of these smoothies are available at food carts in the downtown area. Or stop by Barra Payan and enjoy these sweet, fruity drinks, which are the perfect way to chill and relax after a day of seeing the sights.

Chef Pepper may be a local chain of restaurants you’ll find throughout the island, but their traditional Dominican fare with a twist of Asian and American cuisines is like a taste of home. Sandwiches like their award-winning Forest Burger with mushroom sauce are hearty and delicious. For a side dish, order the yucca mash with its creamy, cheesy taste and thick texture. This root vegetable is not only good for you, but it’s the perfect accompaniment to the restaurant’s succulent Churrasco Angus Steak. Top it off with bourbon molasses or Portofino sauce.

WINTER 2016/17

Savor the Flavor You’ll find these Santo Domingo delicacies in restaurants and served up by locals in their own casitas. Mangu is a great way to start the day. Boiled plantains are mashed, then topped with scrambled eggs, fried cheese and onions. Alcapurria is another tasty dish that originated in Puerto Rico. It’s a fritter of vegetable roots, wrapped around seasoned meat or fish, that is then deep fried. In some places, the alcapurrias are also known as chulitos. Pollo guisado is a dish that features stewed chicken in a sauce blending tomatoes, garlic, olives and cilantro to create a hearty meal. Pescado con coco is a Caribbean delicacy that puts a spin on fresh-caught grouper or bass, as it’s cooked in a coconut milk sauce. Even plantains go front and center with mofongos, in which

mashed and fried plantains are stuffed with chicken or pork. Street food is more popular than ever, and you’ll find kiosks cooking up succulent favorites throughout the city. If you’re not that hungry, kipes are a snack that won’t fill you up or slow you down. Brown and crispy on the outside, kipes are filled with flavorful meat. For a touch of spice, raisins or olives can be added.

Brasserie Pat’e Palo Offers a Unique Taste of Tradition When you walk into this unique restaurant, you know you’ve walked into a special place. Chef Saverio Stassi at Pat’e Palo knows how to create a true epicurean experience. This well-known European Brasserie is recognized as the first tavern of

Angus Cheeseburger at Chef Pepper




Chef Saverio Stassi

the Americas and is housed in a building more than 500 years old. It overlooks the Alcázar de Colón, the palatial home of Diego Columbus, son of Christopher Columbus, who served as governor of the island in the early 1500s. Chef Stassi sees the culinary world as pure art and offers such traditional Dominican dishes as pappardelle with Calabrese olives, peppers and crab or Dominican spiced goat and pumpkin risotto.

The Grand Finale: Desserts People in the Dominican Republic take their sweets seriously. Here are a few that will end your meal on a happy note. Flan de leche is a popular creme caramel dessert, or you can opt for arepa, a tasty cake made of cornmeal and coconut. If neither of those strike your fancy, try habichuelas con dulce made with coconut milk and sweet potato chunks.

Mamajuana – The Island Drink You simply must taste this local elixir of rum, red wine and honey. Some drink it straight up, while others mix it with fruit juice. Brands like Don Ramon, Cibao or Hispanola are good bets and a unique gift to bring home.

Café Santo Domingo – A Taste of Paradise in Every Sip Café Santo Domingo is the island’s best known brand of coffee, boasting a “field-totable” experience. The warm, moist weather promotes an ideal mountain soil unique to the Dominican Republic and produces some of the best Arabica beans in the world. The flavor is smooth and distinctive with a hint of cocoa. Be sure to buy several packages to give out as gifts…and be sure to keep a few for yourself!


With pristine beaches, sparkling blue waters, eco retreats and historic sites, the Dominican Republic is the most visited island in the Caribbean. For more information visit: www.godominicanrepublic.com www.visitpuntacana.com www.visitpuntacana.org

Mira Temkin With many years of travel writing under her bling-y belt, Mira Temkin understands the expectations of the leisure traveler and writes to those expectations. From destinations to cruises to tours, her articles cover the world; across the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, Central America and Europe. She currently blogs for Orbitz.com and writes for New York Lifestyles Magazine and Resident.com, a monthly online magazine and enewsletter for the upscale Manhattan area and South Florida. She also contributes to Urban Matter in Chicago as well as to Boomer Travel Patrol as the Spa and Culinary Patrol.

Santo Domingo.


if you go


WINTER 2016/17

Colonial City

Bacon Sandwiches and Banksy

Exploring the Flavors of London on an East End Food Tour Story and photographs by Barbara Ramsay Orr


orry. I think I ate your bacon sandwich.” The tiny Australian woman didn’t look particularly sorry. I had been delayed by a construction slowdown on the tube and missed the first stop on the Eating London’s East End Food Tour. I managed to catch up with the group at The English Restaurant on Brushfield Street, where they were tucking in to servings of warm bread and butter pudding. I think the Australian would have eaten my pudding too if I had arrived a minute later. Hanna Saks, leader of this culinary trek, welcomed me into the group and made introductions. There were seven of us in total, clustered around a long table in this quintessentially British restaurant. The building is a survivor from the 17th century and conjures images of Oliver Twist lurking in the corners. These were the perfect surroundings in which to enjoy England’s favorite desert. We licked our plates clean and then followed Hanna as she herded us out the door and along the East End foodie trail.

Poppies Fish And Chips, voted best in the UK.

Exploring East End London’s Food Culture This was nominally a food tour, but there was to be so much more. Food has always seemed to me to be the pathway to many different layers of a culture. In London’s East End, the food is a map that traces the floods of immigration, the vagaries of affluence and poverty, and the history that has played itself out on these narrow, still-cobblestoned streets. Art and

architecture are also interlaced with the culinary landscape. As Hannah told the story of the many waves of immigrants who have landed in the once universally disparaged East End, I thought of Brexit. The Brits who recently voted to leave the European Union did so, I believe, mostly out of fear of the impact of new immigration into Britain, and I wished they could all take this tour. It proves the value and richness that diversity brings to a city. The East End is a perfect case study in immigration. Because the area was a less attractive and, thus, less expensive part of the city, impoverished newcomers came to its crowded streets and made them home.

The French Invasion The first influx of immigration came from France, when close to 50,000 Protestants who had lost their civil rights as a result of Louis XIV’s revocation of the Edict of Nantes, fled to England. The Huguenots brought with them their skills at silk-weaving, silversmithing, and upholstery. They came seeking religious freedom and settled in the poorest part of the city, where they established businesses

East End street art

and got to work. Today, according to one estimate, one in every six Britons has some Huguenot ancestry. We stood on the corner of Princelet Street and Wilkes Street while Hannah pointed out the large upper windows of the townhouses. She explained how the windows had been designed to allow ample light for the delicate work of Huguenot silk-weaving. Those houses are now coveted addresses that command top dollar in the real estate market – actress Keira Knightley lived here for a while. Further along Princelet Street, we stopped in front of a house that has been

The Jewish Soup Kitchen, Spitalfields

kept in its original condition. It looks vaguely familiar. Hannah explains that it is used in many period television and movie productions and often serves as a backdrop for fashion shoots.

Jewish Immigration The next major influx was made up of Jewish immigrants who came in large numbers in the late 19th century, fleeing economic hardship and persecution. They also found their way to Spitalfield and the East End, bringing their trades and culinary flavors with them. On our tour, we passed

the Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor on Brune Street, which opened in 1854 to feed impoverished families. Later, we stood in a long line to order salt beef bagels with snappy English mustard and a pickle at the Beigel Bake on Brick Lane. This tiny shop is so popular with Londoners that the line can sometimes snake outside and around the corner. Luckily, Hannah knows the ladies behind the counter and was able to bypass the crowd to get us each a beef bagel. It may have been the best sandwich I have ever eaten with a soft and chewy boiled bagel, moist thin sliced salt beef and a mustard so sharp it brought tears to my eyes.

The Start of the “Curry Mile” The next large influx to the East End were the Bangladeshi, who came in the mid-20th century shortly after the partition of the Indian sub-continent. Their influence is unmistakable, as Brick Lane has close to a hundred curry restaurants, as well as spice shops, bakeries, sweets shops and markets. It’s often referred to as the “Curry Mile” or the “Curry Capital of Europe.” At Aladin, a Bangladeshi/Indian/ Pakistani curry house praised by HRH Prince Charles and the winner of numerous food awards, we sampled Tikka Masala, butter chicken, soft and fluffy naan bread and spicy pakoras. Now, the area is seeing the next wave with arrivals from the Middle East trouble spots. If history repeats, they too will find a place in the narrow streets of this burgeoning neighborhood.

Tradition Still Remains Despite the many cultures that have streamed in to the East End, the traditional food of “Olde England” still thrives. In addition to the English Restaurant with which the tour started, we enjoyed fish and chips at Poppies, voted the best in England. We visited Androuet, a cheese shop that showcases the best of English and international cheeses, and traipsed through the noise, confusion and richness of Spitalfields Market. For a break, we sampled some English ales at The Pride of Spitalfields, a traditional pub. And along the way, we saw several examples of brilliant street art, including a Banksy installation.

A Lesson in Living There was a bit of everything on this tour, and that made it incredibly rewarding. What I appreciated most was what the East End proves – that differences can be preserved and celebrated within a larger cultural context. While the area has faced battles in its evolution toward what is today’s stable multi-ethnic mix, it’s heartening that the struggles have resulted in peaceful partnerships.

The English Restaurant serves a deadly good bread and butter pudding.

The tour was definitely a feast for foodies but also provided food for thought and an inspiring lesson in coexistence. On Brick Lane, there’s a temple that is the ultimate example of diversity. Originally a church built in 1743 as the Nouvelle Eglise for Huguenots, it became a Wesleyan chapel in 1809, then morphed into the Great Synagogue of Spitalfields in 1898. Then, in 1976, the building became the Jamme Masjid, a place of worship for the district’s Bangladeshi community.

Did the salt beef bagel taste better because I knew the history of the Jewish diaspora? Does a curry acquire more layers of complexity when you know the Bangladeshi story? Does a plate of fish and chips taste more satisfying when enjoyed in the context of a global community? For me, the answer was a resounding yes.

WINTER 2016/17



Salt Beef on a Bagel, Brick Lane

if you go Eating Europe Food Tours – The company runs excellent tours of several major European cities, aiming to introduce visitors to the culture of a country through its cuisine. The East End London Food Tour is just one of their tours in London.

Spitalfields Market

Hanna Saks leads the East End London Food Tour through Spitalfields and Brick Lane

Barbara Ramsay Orr Barbara Ramsay Orr is a multiple recipient of the Lowell Thomas Award for Journalism, is a member of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association and sits on the board of the Society of American Travel Writers. She is an amateur artist, a former art teacher, and a bit of a museum addict, so many of the stories she writes have a cultural angle. And then there’s food. As the food writer for her local city magazine for over twenty years, she has a keen appreciation for a good meal. Art and Food? What more is there? IFWTWA Author profile here.

Sailing with James Beard Spanish Cuisine on the High Seas By Anita Breland Photography by Tom Fakler


Almost time to unfurl the sails and sail away with Windstar.


On our James Beard cruise, salmon and avocado appetizer from the Wind Surf kitchen.


he sky streaked pink and deepened to dusk as our ship headed into the Mediterranean fo a night-time crossing to the Balearic island of Ibiza, Spain. Across a table set with fine china, my husband and I clinked glasses with new friends and tucked into starters of langoustine on rosemary apple purée and a salad of beets and berries. Over splendid mains of lemon pasta, grilled corvina and beef tenderloin, we marveled at all we’d seen and tasted thus far on the inaugural sailing of the 2016 James Beard Foundation Culinary Collection. For our gala dinner, wines from Spain’s Valdeorras, Castilla & Leon and Priorat regions paired beautifully with food and



conversation. By the time toffee apple cheesecake arrived, we all had made plans to meet again around another table at the James Beard House in New York. We were traveling aboard the sailing yacht Wind Surf, flagship vessel of the boutique Windstar line. Our cruise had taken us from Lisbon to Tangier, to Morocco, and to ports of call at Málaga, Almería and Cartagena. After Ibiza, we would travel on to Catalonia, visiting Tarragona and Barcelona. Windstar topped Conde Nast’s Gold List for 2016. After a culinary cruise with three-time James Beard Award-winning chef Michel Nischan and star sommelier Steve Olson, Windstar is also tops in our book.

WINTER 2016/17

Discovering local flavors of Spain Our travel itinerary connected the food-and-wine dots first established by Phoenicians, Romans, Moors and the Catholic Kings. Shore excursions in Morocco and Spain took us to wineries and monasteries. At memory-making stops in port, we sampled tagines in both Morocco and Spain, learned to order coffee in the way of Andalusia, and even visited an ancient Roman garum pit. With Michel Nischan and Windstar chefs, we shopped vibrant markets in Tangier, Málaga and Almería, and experienced flavor explosions from pungent fish and spiced ham, sweet garlic and olives. We tasted raisins and wine

instrumental in establishing the James Beard Foundation’s Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change program. The chef ’s deep appreciation for those who work the land made him an ideal guide for our visits to farmers’ markets. Steve Olson is one of America’s foremost wine and spirits educators. He shares a message of responsible joie de vivre and a deep knowledge of wines and spirits via the “aka wine geek” network. He is also a specialist in Spanish wines, sherries and cocktails. The emphasis for the James Beard culinary cruise was interesting, affordable wines that enhance the Spanish table and foods of the Mediterranean region. An enthusiastic promoter of ‘wines of place’ and the family producers who bring them to market, our sommelier suggested innovative pairings for meals from the Wind Surf kitchen. “Start with fresh, local Throughout the cruise, Michel Nischan ingredients, and opt for and Steve Olson worked in harmony with simple preparations” –Chef Michel Nischan the ship’s crew and spent time with guests on board. Chef Nischan showed us simple, healthy fish and vegetable preparations that deliver big-time flavor on the plate.

made from the same sun-dried moscatel grapes. In Tarragona, we would enjoy cooling gazpacho with a view of the sea and a just-for-us Catalan ‘human tower’ performance in a Roman amphitheater. Back on board, breakfast and lunch buffets highlighted local products: cured meats, olives, fruits, vegetables and cheeses. Tastings and dinners featured Spanish wines from the top wine-producing regions of Spain. With Windstar Corporate Executive Chef Michael Sabourin, Chef Nischan created special menus featuring Spanish seafood and cheeses, and heady blends of Moroccan spices. On galley tours and in the crew’s daily tasting sessions, we saw how the specialty kitchen of a luxury sailing vessel provides personalized service and maintains quality.

For the ship’s customary barbecue evening on deck, we were treated to suckling pig, tuna sashimi and paella, with Moroccan harissa to add spice. In our glasses, sherry from Jerez, and wines from the northern vineyards of Almería, the tiny Denominacíon de Origen (DO) of Yecla and many others, provided just the right accompaniment to every tasty bite.

The James Beard touch A fellow passenger – and like many on board, a repeat Windstar cruiser – called the James Beard cruise a “totally remarkable trip that has elevated the Windstar experience, thanks to the great food and wine.” Our week aboard the Windstar was a holiday filled with fine flavors and high-spirited enjoyment of food and wine. Michel Nischan is a leader in the sustainable food movement in the United States. He is also a tireless advocate for access to healthy, fresh and affordable locally grown food. Founder, President and CEO of Wholesome Wave, he was

“My job is to enhance the food, starting from a point of balance.” –Sommelier Steve Olson

WINTER 2016/17



Sunset over the Mediterranean.

if you go Five tastings with Sommelier Olson toured us through the Spanish wine landscape and many fine wines – some of them quite rare, and nearly all from small producers – that paired exquisitely with every meal.

details, radically altered our view of what a holiday at sea can be. This foodie cruising thing could become a habit!

James Beard’s legacy

James Beard was an early champion of local produce and markets and a The intimate, luxurious Wind Surf pioneering foodie. Author of numerous accommodates just 300 guests, with cookbooks, television chef and personalized service delivered by friendly, restaurateur, he was also a tireless traveler. professional staff. Our comfortable The foundation that bears his name stateroom was more spacious than celebrates, nurtures and honors America’s many European hotel rooms. On-board diverse culinary heritage through programs pampering in an Elemis spa and wonderful that educate and inspire. views from yoga mat and treadmill in The James Beard Foundation is a the yacht’s fitness center made cruising nonprofit culinary arts organization experience just that much more pleasurable. headquartered in the chef ’s former home Our James Beard culinary cruise in Greenwich Village. Today, it is at the showed us that mixing great food and forefront of America’s culinary community, wine with romantic, atmospheric sailing exploring the way food enriches our lives. destinations can be the perfect incubator The Foundation’s food industry awards are for a food traveler’s own ‘age of exploration’. America’s culinary Oscars. The historic James For my husband and me, the satisfying Beard House is a “performance space” for combination of a focus on food and small- America’s best chefs, and one of New York’s ship sailing and attention to luxurious most sought-after culinary destinations.

Our Windstar experience



WINTER 2016/17

In New York, visit the James Beard House for one of the James Beard Foundation‘s many dinner evenings with featured American chefs. Curated libations, a pairing menu and a nostalgia-filled venue make for an unforgettable dining experience. At home and in your travels across the United States, sample local flavors from coast to coast at exclusive events of the annual James Beard Foundation’s Taste America program and other Foundation events. Visit the Windstar Cruises website for details on cruise offerings for the coming year.

Great wines of Spain, from old vines, ancient soils and vineyards at high altitudes.

Anita Breland

Sangria for a Catalan evening in Tarragona.


Anita Breland is an avid traveler who delights in sharing her discoveries of culinary traditions and experiences around the world. A passionate foodie based in Europe, she is on a never-ending quest for good food and the people who make it. With her husband and fellow blogger, photographer Tom Fakler, Anita chases tasty plates and cultural experiences and serves up the long-running blog, Anita’s Feast. She has contributed guest posts and articles to several anthologies, including Lonely Planet’s A Moveable Feast. She has worked with numerous tourist boards and destinations in Europe and Asia. Anita is a member of the Professional Travel Bloggers Association (PTBA), Geneva Writers Group and Thin Raft Writers (Basel, Switzerland).

WINTER 2016/17



Jordan’s Food Mirrors Its History Story and photographs by Kathleen Walls

Amman s ouk

Hashem restaurant, Amman


he history of Jordan is inscribed in its cuisine. As a country, Jordan is very new, dating to 1946. As a place with its own history and culture, Jordan existed since pre-biblical times. Some of its food dates back to prehistoric times while other dishes evolved through interaction with other cultures. Bread is the staff of life. Bronze Age Bedouin herdsmen made a simple bread called arbood or sometimes shrak. While their goats grazed nearby on the sparse desert vegetation, the herdsmen mixed flour, water and a bit of salt, kneaded it into a firm ball, and flattened it. They would then coat it with a sprinkle of dry flour and rake back a section of the campfire coals and toss the circle of dough onto the hot section of ash. They then covered it with ashes and embers. The result was a delicious crusty flat bread.



The method and recipe continued through the ages. In his book “Seven Pillars of Wisdom,” Lawrence of Arabia talks of making similar bread with his Arab companions on their campfires as they raced across Wadi Rum desert to capture the supposed impregnable seaport of Aqaba. On a recent trip to Jordan, we visited a Bedouin camp and Um Khalid, one of the wives of the tribal elder, made this same arbood for us. We enjoyed it slathered with ghee (goat milk butter) while the goats that provided the milk romped around in front of the tent. One of the most traditional Bedouin meals is zarb. It consists of meat and vegetables cooked in a taboon, a large, closed, metal pan buried on a bed of hot coals and covered with sand. Captain’s Camp offers authentic Bedouin experiences and is the place to go to experience this bit

WINTER 2016/17

of tradition. You can also spend the night camped deep in Wadi Rum in a traditional goat hair tent. Although it may sometimes feel that it does, even in the deserts of Arabia time doesn’t stand still. Before the rise of Christianity, outside influences left their mark on Jordanian food as well as its history. Asia, Northeast Africa and Europe all sought spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cassia, black pepper, and turmeric to season their food. These spices created a global economy that led to the rise of the fabled city of Petra. Spices were worth more than gold. Remember what Christopher Columbus was searching for when he “discovered” America: a shorter route to India to provide easier access to spices. Jordan’s crossroads between Europe, Asia and Africa on the “Spice Route” brought rice and poultry into

the local diets. Jordan can thank Columbus for the tomato which is so popular in many Jordanian dishes. Mansaf is considered the national dish of Jordan. The recipe as it is served today developed following Jordan’s creation as a nation. Today’s mansaf evolved in the early 20th century from an earlier Bedouin recipe. It consists of lamb cooked in a sauce of fermented dried sheep or goat milk yogurt called jameed and served with white rice. It is eaten with the traditional flat bread. In the original dish, camel meat was sometimes used and bulgar was the grain instead of rice. Rice only became popular in Jordan in the 1920s through European dishes. Bedouins traditionally didn’t use the jameed sauce then. One of the best places to savor this dish and many other distinctly Jordanian feasts is at Sufra Restaurant on Rainbow St. in downtown Amman. The information on the menu tells the restaurant’s mission:

“Sufra was born out of the idea that our unique Jordanian culture is better understood through a journey of our kitchens. At Sufra, we have carefully combined the elements and aromas of our beloved Jordanian kitchen to recreate and retell the stories of our ancestors through a culinary experience that celebrates flavor and tradition.” Bread making here differs from the simple Bedouin way. You can watch the baker knead his dough, flatten it, and toss it against the insides of a tannour or oval shaped clay oven heated with wood or charcoal. The bread sticks to the side and browns in a few minutes. Then, the baker pulls it free and sits it on the plate to be served straight from the oven. Today, no visit to Amman or Aqaba is complete without a stop at the souks, the traditional open markets. Here, many competing spice merchants display their merchandise. Huge open bags or baskets of

Multitudes of grains and beans can be found at the souk

spices draw your eyes and nose. The smell alone makes you salivate. Just across the aisle you might see a vendor with open sacks of unprocessed wheat, beans, lentils, chickpeas and other staples of the Jordanian diet. Another group of stalls display fresh produce. Radishes the size of peaches, tomatoes of many different hues, huge cabbages, shiny eggplants, dates, figs (both dried and fresh), olives, almonds (processed or raw), and more, offer an abundance of culinary delight. When the Ottoman Empire captured Jordan in 1516, they cut off many outside nations from the spice trade. They ruled there until 1916 and added many dishes to the traditional cuisine, including sweet pastries with layers of thin phyllo dough, and very strong coffee. Coffee had already reached Jordan around the 13th century but the Turkish influence strengthened it to almost a ritual. Refusing a Bedouin offer of

Merchant sets up one of the multitude of produce stalls at Amman Souk

coffee is considered an insult. Tea arrived later with the rise of the British Empire in the 19th century and is a staple today in Jordan. Think Lawrence sitting across from Prince Faisal. Tea would be served. Today it is served well-spiced with thyme, cardamom pods, cinnamon, sometimes mint and sweetened with honey. You will be served hot, not iced, tea in almost any Jordanian home or restaurant. A great place to sample some of these sweet treats is Habiba Sweet, an alleyway restaurant in Amman. Choose their delectable pastry known as knafeh. Don’t let the decor or location fool you. King Hussein and his family eat there. In Petra, a visit to Petra Kitchen, across the street from the archaeological site, is



a unique opportunity to learn to prepare the traditional Middle Eastern recipes that make Jordan’s cuisine so unique. It’s not a restaurant, more like an international cooking school condensed into one lesson. The head chef and instructor, Tariq Alnawafleh, sets up the tables and shows you how to roast the eggplant and chop the onions, peppers, parsley and other vegetables used to prepare baba ghanoush, the traditional pureed roasted eggplant dish mixed with finely chopped tomato, pepper and onion and flavored with ground garlic, olive oil, lemon juice. From lentil soup and mezzas, what we would consider salads and appetizers, through the main dish kabsah dijaj, chicken with rice prepared in one large

WINTER 2016/17

black pot, you learn the traditions and skills needed to create a Jordanian feast. Some of the dishes such as the kabsah dajaj require a lot of care. Each ingredient has to be added just at the right time to make the magic happen. It takes a very skillful hand to be able to successfully invert the contents into the serving dish without dumping it on the table. Others such as fatoosh, a cucumber and tomato salad, and the Bedouin pizza called araies lahma are fairly simple and easily recreated at home. Wherever you travel in Jordan, you will be offered food linked with the country’s history and traditions. It’s a culinary journey through time.

A collection of mezzas at Sufra Restaurant

Bedouin woman burying dough for bread in her campfire.

if you go Sufra Captain’s Camp Petra Kitchen Habiba Sweets Feynan Eco Lodge

Kathleen Walls Kathleen Walls is the publisher, editor and general go-for at American Roads and Global Highways. She writes fiction books, non-fiction books, and travel books. Her travel and food related articles have been published in Woodall’s Publications, Family Motor Coaching, Amateur Chef, Georgia Magazine, North Georgia Journal, Georgia Backroads, London, England’s Country Music People, and others.

WINTER 2016/17



last shot Tom Fakler

Istanbul simit seller shows his wares. Photographer Tom Fakler travels globally, capturing award-winning images for www.AnitasFeast.com and clients of www.TomFakler.com. Based in Porto, Portugal.


fwt food wine travel