Page 1

A

new MAG!

InspiRation for IndepEndent TraveLlers

gO sLoW

M A G A Z I N E SPRING 2014

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ISSUE 1

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£5 WHERE SOLD

Discover the pleasures of local produce, simple regional cuisine and a slower pace of life

THE ITALIAN JOB

nAtUre aNd NuRtuRE Rediscover your wild side in style with our pick of the best treehouses and yurts

Alastair and Toby tour, talk and try out Special Places new and old

Special places to stay CASA ALOE

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Aloe, Aloe…

House of Rock

Green Dream

Carmen and Tom bewitch us with their blend of Moorish magic

Stay where Bohemian Rhapsody was composed...

Lovely Lanzarote: minimise your impact and maximise on style

RIDGE FARM

FINCA DE ARRIETA

26/03/2014 11:56 pm


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24/03/2014 10:11 pm


Welcome... to our first issue!

B

envenuti! This is our first magazine – a bold and slightly mad venture that flies in the face of conventional wisdom about the printed word. We devote this first issue to Italy. With owners in six countries, we are awash with delightful stories. Why Italy? Well, we spent three weeks there in the autumn, meeting over 60 of our owners. We were bowled over by their support and their enterprise. One, Marcello, has built a new monastery, or a ‘retreat’ for singles, in a remote spot ‘off-grid’. It is achingly beautiful, and brave. All our enthusiasms were re-ignited. We ate, drank and listened – ‘con vigore’. We went from Turin to Umbria, and from Verona to Venice with Toby, before going down to Puglia and Naples. We write about slow food and slow travel. We meet fascinating people and their astonishing houses. We want to tell you about it.

Maps, keys, coffee…

…are all you need for a good road trip! Join Alastair and Toby on page 18 as they share their Italian adventure. Sawday’s Magazine | Spring 2014

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Alastair Sawday Founder

Toby Sawday Managing Director

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M A G A Z I N E

www.sawdays.co.uk Meet the Sawday’s team FOUNDER Alastair Sawday MANAGING DIRECTOR Toby Sawday Twitter: @tsawday

This issue...

Beauty lies within!

DIRECTOR Chris Thurling chris.thurling@sawdays.co.uk HEAD OF MEMBERSHIP Charlotte Murphy charlotte.murphy@sawdays.co.uk PR AND PRESS MANAGER Emily Enright emily.enright@sawdays.co.uk EDITOR Rachel Ifans rachel.ifans@gmail.com

Contributors Lauren Amos, Tom Bell, Nicola Crosse, Emily Enright, Nicole Franchini, Patrick Henry, Adam Ifans, Wendy Ogden, Nada Matti, Ellen Rowland, Lianka Varga, James Wallace, Will WellesleyDavies, Claire Wilson, Zoe Winterbotham Thanks to TIB Design

Contact Sawday’s Alastair Sawday Publishing Co. Ltd Merchants House, Wapping Road, Bristol BS1 4RW +44 (0)117 204 7810 For general enquiries, please email: specialplaces@sawdays.co.uk

JOIN US ON FACEBOOK www.facebook.com/Sawdays FOLLOW US ON TWITTER @sawdays © Alastair Sawday Publishing Co. Ltd 2014. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used or reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. Alastair Sawday Publishing Co. Ltd is a company registered in England and Wales. Registered number: 2812527.

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Printed by Park Lane Press on FSC certified paper, using fully sustainable vegetable oil-based inks, power from 100% renewable resources and waterless printing technology. Print production systems registered to ISO 14001:2004, ISO 9001:2008 and EMAS standards. All site emissions are offset through The Rainforest Concern Charity via their Forest Credits scheme, and over 95% of waste is recycled.

the Italian job

Toby and Alastair journey through Italy with a mission to meet as many owners as possible, while rekindling a love for the country

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Sawday’s Magazine | sawdays.co.uk

25/03/2014 1:26 pm


INSIDE

12

One of our members, Fenella Elms is an expert ceramicist as well as a wonderful host

38

A very special treehouse in Somerset

47

A mushroom hunt in Umbria with one of our Italian hosts

6 FooTpRinT

52

Stay in Finca de Arrieta for year-round sun in a yurt

54

Guest columnist and chef Rachel Khoo tells of recent travels in France

We inspire you with a where’s-next wishlist, pass on some useful hints and show you travel kit without which you should not be seen. We also introduce you to Sawday’s owners with a hidden talent, those who are new to the fold – and much more.

35 DisCoVerIeS

A bit of Moorish magic? A hint of hilltop heaven? Or a slice of city chic? Our five focus pieces this issue bring you inspiring people, time out you will cherish, and food, drink and views in abundance. We travel to England, France, Spain, Ireland and Portugal.

46 gO sLoW

Delight in the peace of your place, hand-mix some shortcrust pastry, read a book under lamplight, keep your feet on the ground. Our Go Slow section delights in slow travel, sustainable living and seasonal food.

54 gUeSt BooK

Chef Rachel Khoo shares her memories of Breton breakfasts in our guest book.

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25/03/2014 1:26 pm


FOOTPR People, quirk & fun!

We have some remarkable places, and people, we would like to introduce you to. Flick this section to discover new destinations, great travel kit, gorgeous gardens and more. But first, here are four sensational spots you simply must visit – picked by our experts

Frome, Somerset Recently voted the ‘sixth coolest place to live in Britain’ by the Guardian, Frome is the fourth largest town in Somerset. Founded in the 7th century, and resting on the edge of the Mendip hills, it is built around the river and many lovely architectural features remain, including cobbled streets and beautiful 17th century buildings. It’s perfect for a car-free break as cafés, galleries, markets and shops are all within walking distance. It has long been a pull for artists and musicians which gives the place a boho feel (a fabulous 10-day festival in July). Food is not forgotten and there are great markets for local produce twice weekly. Nicola Crosse, Sawday’s Membership Team

Beira, Portugal I recently took a trip through northern Portugal. I was struck by the warmth, beauty and history at the heart of the people and places I discovered there. All the way you’ll find pretty stone villages and quintas, lots of which date back to mediaeval times and still have (and use!) bread ovens and stone cart roads. Many have no electricity and their inhabitants live off the land, now more than ever; the self-sufficiency revolution seems to have taken root here. There are vias verdes for walkers that lead straight from the villages, and you’ll find praias fluviais (river beaches) in shades of turquoise for dipping tired toes, or for when you tire of the road! A little fragment of history, perfectly preserved. Ellen Rowland, Sawday’s Account Manager, Spain and Portugal

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Sawday’s Magazine | sawdays.co.uk

25/03/2014 2:52 pm


RINT

Highlights 08 10

Ridge Farm joins Sawday’s

10 tHe woRlD aCcOrdInG tO... Tom Bell, our British Hotels Guide Inspector

the Pyrenees

Considered the natural border between France and Spain, the Pyrénées are too often overlooked. A younger sibling to the Alps and certainly less well trodden, they are a true playground for snow seekers in the winter and hikers, paragliders and cyclists during summer months (I can recommend scaling the Col du Tourmalet by bicycle, for the 18km descent if nothing else!). The fanfare of the Tour de France’s inevitable visit is an experience to behold and the remote, flowerstrewn meadows and bright blue lakes are as delightful to the eye as the Poule-au-Pot (local chicken stew) is to the taste buds. The Pyrenean Way (aka the GR10) is unquestionably the most delightful route across the peaks, linking the Mediterranean Chateaux Cathars in the Languedoc with the more luscious soft-rolling hills and beaches of the Basque country. A truly unexplored delight. Patrick Henry, Sawday’s Account Manager, France

08 nEw to tHe FolD

09 tHe beST tRavEl kiT

Packing solutions and hats

12

12 HidDeN 13 tAleNT 13 a lOcaL’s gUidE To LiSboN 13 13 gArDen of eDen A host and ceramicist

A Pliny-inspired delight

Piedmont One of Italy’s lesser known and underrated regions, where travellers tend to pass through and regret they only booked in for a night or two, Piedmont has it all. Vibrant Turin is so much more than an industrial centre, with its Alpine backdrop, delicious aperitivi, grand squares, world-class museums and mouth-watering chocolate. Rolling vineyards stretch for miles in the Langhe and Monferrato regions, not only famous for their wines, but also for their cheeses, fruits and truffles. The region is rich with history, which you can discover through its many hilltop castles. Whether it’s the city, the beach or the mountains that you’re after, you won’t have to travel far in Piedmont. Zoe Winterbotham, Sawday’s Account Manager, Italy

Sawday’s Magazine | Spring 2014

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FOOTPRINT Que s Đže of my bds  rd @ Rid Fm So

New to the fold

rIdgE fARm, sUrRey One of our newer places has a rich musical heritage

Stay here...

Ridge Farm Rusper Road, Capel, Dorking +44 (0)7867 788184 www.sawdays.co.uk/ ridgefarm

of Queen, Roxy Music, OMD, Thin Lizzy and Pearl Jam as if it was yesterday, you should book in to one of our newest finds - Ridge Farm. An erstwhile music studio now turned 12-bedroom self-catering house, there is much musical history wrapped up in this house’s past. The studio started in 1975 as a rehearsal and writing room, where bands could come and stay in the country to ‘get away from it all’. Freshly graduated university students Queen stayed here twice and claim to have composed Bohemian Rhapsody under its roof. The studio’s legendary sound led to its increasing popularity and by 1980 Ridge Farm had become one of the top recording studios in the country. Over the next 25 years Ridge Farm continued to attract some of the biggest names in contemporary music. There are many gold discs on display from the successes of a diverse range of bands such as Roxy Music, Sade, OMD, Oasis, Wet Wet Wet, Thin Lizzy and Pearl Jam. It was undoubtedly a period that has

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given Ridge Farm a certain amount of rock-star kudos, but owner Frank Andrews (pictured) assures us it wasn’t a continuous party: “We did serious work, with serious musicians.� The studio is now closed but the timber-framed Tudor farmhouse has been completely renovated. Frank told us about another slice of history visitors can see today: “The original farmhouse is believed to have been constructed around the end of the 15th century and the roof is made from the old Horsham stone. Much of the interior framework and beams are exposed showing the tell-tale signs that many pieces of the timber were originally salvaged from broken galleon ships. A common practice at the time and one we still try to emulate now... not much gets thrown out here!�

Š Mathew Quake Photography

IF YOU REMEMBER the era

Ridge Farm has 14 acres of grounds with big lawns, paddock, woodland walk, stream and ponds. It has 12 bedrooms, a swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna and tennis court and is between Capel and Rusper villages.

Sawday’s Magazine | sawdays.co.uk

25/03/2014 2:53 pm


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24/03/2014 10:13 pm


FOOTPRINT

the Best Travel Gear

The world according to...

Excellence has a habit of popping up in the unlikeliest of places. Here, in a hat and some luggage…

Tom Bell

Tilley hats

Our expert on British Hotels, Tom digs deep to answer our quick-fire travel quiz

As the Tilley website recounts, when Mr Tilley - Canadian, sailor - got “tired of hats that blew off his head, sank when they fell in water or shrunk when they got wet, he decided to oversee the creation of his own sailing hat.” And so he did. Tilley hats fit well, they are of high quality, they repel rain, they do not blow off (thanks to the tuck-awayable Wind Cord) and they float. Yes, they float! Mr Tilley’s pledge to customers made us snigger: “A layer of closed-cell foam in the crown, […] provides the Tilley’s positive buoyancy. This is a boon to boaters and fishermen/women/people. Good grief! People have told us that this foam layer has helped save their lives. Double your money back if it doesn’t save yours. Apply personally…” www.tilley.com, from £60

JUNGLE OR DESERT?

I once travelled through the eastern Sahara, where I bathed in hot springs, picked up tiny pieces of meteor and travelled across a stretch of 23-milion-year-old seabed that was littered with fossils. There was very good mobile phone reception, too.

RUCKSACK OR SUITCASE?

I’ve never actually owned a suitcase - they’re just not that useful when you leave the pavements behind you.

PLANES, TRAINS OR AUTOMOBILES?

I love the middle of nowhere, which really wouldn’t be the middle of nowhere if it was served by planes or trains. Cars, though, are useful for intrepid diversions up tracks that don’t exist on maps.

RESTAURANT OR GREASY SPOON?

I spend about 60 days a year on the road and eat lots of good food, but my favourite meal is breakfast on a Calmac ferry when sailing over to the Outer Hebrides. It’s not the actual breakfast, it’s that it signals my arrival to my favourite part of the world.

CAMPFIRE OR HEATER?

Eagle Creek Cubes

I spent a night in the Sinai sitting round a fire with my Bedouin guide, who was pointing out various constellations. He didn’t think much of my astronomy, but approved of my fire-tending.

SUNRISE OR SUNSET?

People rave about Eagle Creek Cubes and it’s easy to see why. If you are packing and unpacking, the cubes quickly become essential kit. It may sound like a ridiculously simple idea but these handy cubes enable you to keep your case tidy, even for a longer trip. The cubes also compress your clothes to a more manageable size to maximise the space you have in your bag or case. And they come in lots of sizes to suit everything from your smalls to your woollies. Alastair and his wife Em are keen users of Eagle Creek Cubes. www.eaglecreekluggage.co.uk, from £10

There’s something magical about early morning light, but the problem is you have to get up very early to see it. The best solution is to go up to the top of Norway in summer when you get both at the same time. And a good night’s sleep afterwards.

WINE OR BEER?

A pint of Butcombe is hard to beat.

LONDON OR PARIS?

London for South Bank, the National Film Theatre and the mighty Chelsea Football Club. Paris for gorgeous cakes and the Metro on Monday: best catwalk on the planet! Tom Bell set up our UK Hotel Guide 15 years ago and he’s still at it, racking up 10,000 miles a year in search of Britain’s loveliest hotels and inns.

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Sawday’s Magazine | sawdays.co.uk

25/03/2014 2:53 pm


Emma Bridgewater Feels like home

15% off for Sawday’s readers

Emma Bridgewater is offering Sawday’s readers 15% off. Shop online at emmabridgewater.co.uk and enter the code EB15SAWDAY at the checkout, or simply take this page along to an Emma Bridgewater shop (in London, Edinburgh or Stoke-on-Trent) and present this page at the till when paying for your purchase. Offer ends 31st July 2014. See online for terms & conditions.

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FOOTPRINT

Hidden talent Ceramic showstopper

They may be remarkable hosts, but many of our members have more strings to their bow. Here we meet talented ceramicist Fenella Elms

F

has been shown in Amsterdam for the first time.” Not only has Fenella’s work been shown but it has also sold out during the show (the gallery owner is coming back to pick up more work for shows in Hamburg and Brussels).

enella Elms owns Alma Barn in Wiltshire. Aside from being a fabulous host with an eye for creating a welcoming space, Fenella is a talented ceramicist. We caught up with her to find out more. “Having done an Art Foundation course and an HNC in Ceramics, I started to take over an old cowshed that stored bee-keeping equipment and bicycles with my wheel and kiln, while still working as a psychotherapist. “On the course, I won a ceramics design prize and that proved to be a turning point; I’ve always been a ‘makey’ person, but I only then realised that I could be more ambitious with the ceramics and it took off from there. “Since giving up my day job, I have found galleries keen to take on my work and this month my work

A learning curve

Fenella says: “It’s been a very steep learning curve and I continue to struggle to climb; the long hours of running a business combined with the ceramic technique which is always a challenge to test even the greatest resilience! I now occupy two outbuildings and we have had to build sheds.” Flow Pots is Fenella’s most recent work. It came about when she started working with a wheel again. It was shown in November as part of the Make it Slow show. www.artunpacked.co.uk

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Alma Barn The barn was for lambing, cattle shelter and stabling for horses until recently. It took four years for Fenella to get permission to convert it and in September it was chosen by the Guardian as one of five recommended ‘cool cottages’ in Wiltshire.

Stay here... Alma Barn, Lottage Road, Aldbourne, Wiltshire, UK, +44 (0)1672 541076 www.sawdays.co.uk/ almabarn Sawday’s Magazine | sawdays.co.uk

25/03/2014 2:53 pm


FOOTPRINT Lo— y¥r—lf in LisbО’s Alf¤a …¼ct

a Local’s Guide to Lisbon TERESA ALBARRAN, owner of Casa das

Merceeiras, in Lisbon, takes us on a whistle-stop tour of her much-loved Alfama district. Alfama is one of two popular areas for visitors, famed for the old Kasbah, St. George Castle where kings lived until the 16th century, and all the handsome structures which were rebuilt after a devastating earthquake in 1755.

Where to eat? Pois Cafe in Rua São Joao da Praça is beautifully decorated with antique items and has a nice atmosphere. We go here for salads, light lunches or a sneaky drink in the warmth of late afternoon. Cervejaria Ramiro is my paradise for fresh seafood. It has an informal atmosphere and is full of locals.

Light Œn§ or a¨ ŠªО d¼nks in Pois CafÊ

Bt ew is � fi��  ­m St. Geor Ca… † o‡looking Œe Ž‘

1

You’d be fool not to... 2

3

4

1 2 3 4

Try a Ginginha. It’s our local cherry liquor. The place to sample it is in Ginginha do Rossio. Take the funiculars that go up to the different hills of the city. Great for people of all ages! Visit the traditional shops like A Vida Portuguesa, for Portuguese souvenirs, and the Conserveira Nacionali, famous for selling sardines, cod and calamari in cans. People-watch and sip delicious coffee at CafÊ Brasileira. (This is where Teresa goes.)

Stay here...

Where to Visit? Don’t miss Museu do Oriente. Its collections of Asian and Portuguese art show historical links between East and West through the ages. For Teresa the hidden jewels are the alleys and streets of Alfama. Mercado da Ribeira is a downtown market where Teresa goes for fresh fish, meat, fruit and veg, and old books and flowers. There is also a flea market called Feira da Ladra.

F sh “”t, –g, —a˜od ™ in —šcœ– quœœ...

Casa das Merceeiras, d Travessa das Merceeiras nÂş 9-15 Tel: 00 351 919 618141 www.sawdays.co.uk/casamerceeiras

Sawday’s Magazine | Spring 2014

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FOOTPRINT

Garden of Eden Row Farm House

Beautiful settings are a balm to the soul and many Sawday’s places are just that. Sara Jocelyn talks about her Pliny-inspired garden I HAVE BEEN gardening since, at four, I was given wallflowers by my grandmother’s gardener, who helped me to grow even bigger ones than he did; I have never forgotten his kindness. My mother and the three generations before her were all passionate and curious gardeners and lovers of plants and trees, with strong and individual ideas about design. My grandmother scandalised Edwardian friends by growing tripods of broad beans in her herbaceous border for their lovely scent and black-and-white flowers.

Stay here... Row Farm House, Laverton, Bath, BA2 7RA +44 (0)1373 834778 www.sawdays.co.uk/ rowfarmhouse

Comfort for all seasons

When I came here, there was a strip of sad mud in front of the house, and a field of beautifully waving waist-high grass across the road in what is now the main garden. I had read Pliny’s letter to his friend about his garden, so I followed his ideas; comfort for all seasons of the year, sun, shade, a peaceful place to dine outdoors, and the gradual progression of the garden from the civilised relaxation of the house, through the cultivated plants and farm to the wild bosco beyond; Pliny knew about ‘borrowed landscape’. I think this has worked well; now it is a place for the lazy gardener who likes to sit and read or entertain friends, without the spectre of an afternoon’s weeding forever looming. There are almost no borders and as much paving as I can contrive, so no hiding places for

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weeds and as little mowing as possible. I had to lay paths, plant hedges, build walls and pillars, find and hang the gates and design the summer house before even starting to garden! I like as many people as possible to come in and enjoy it, and have had some surprising and pleasing conversations with hikers and passersby who look over the gate of the main garden and then come in to talk about gardening.

Accidental recycling

The yard is developing as another garden. Its enclosing walls keep in the heat and keep out the south west wind, so that the herbs and lavenders make pillows of scent. The vegetable patch is an accidental exercise in recycling; there are four tall boxes made from old paving crates, lined with builders’ bags, filled with compost and a ‘chieftain’s long grave’ made from railway sleepers. Their height makes them catch more sun, and vegetables become huge. Sweet peas climb up canes from each corner, so they turn into large bouquets of colour and smell. The garden is bordered by field, and I occasionally enjoy outwitting invading parties of greedy ewes before they dance on my spring bulbs or poison themselves eating my yew battlements. Sara Jocelyn has been helped in the garden by topiarist Jim O’Shea and gardener Len Weeks. Due to flooding in early 2014, the house is temporarily closed for repairs. Sawday’s Magazine | sawdays.co.uk

25/03/2014 2:53 pm


FOOTPRINT

Ea§ issue we in… ¯ct о Œo— °fe skis y¡ ne‡ t ²ught

How to...

Build a dry Stone Wall Sue Prince, owner of Beechenhill Farm, shares her traditional rural skills

Three guests and a table... … in Andalusia A dream dinner party with longtime Sawday’s guest Adam Ifans CHOOSING THREE GUESTS for an

1

To get started, dig a rough trench down until you hit some solid ground.

2

Sort your stone. Pull out stones suitable for capping the wall and save enough in a line for later.

3

Choose the biggest foundation stones. Place with rough face down and flattest side up, position them in two lines down the trench with a gap in the centre.

4

Fill the centre with rubble until level. Then, choosing the next biggest stones, place them over the joints. Lean on the edge to check it won’t tip outwards.

special dinner is surprisingly difficult. With the whole gamut of famous people at my fingertips – one living, one dead and one fictional – perhaps it’s better to start with the location. Somewhere warm enough to dine al fresco late into the evening; inviting, yet remote enough to feel a lifetime away from the pressures of daily life. It’s an easy decision and a special place: the Hotel Cerro de Hijar. I first stayed here 15 years ago and the memories of space, peace and tranquility – not to mention the incredible Iberico ham – are as strong today as they were on the flight home. And so, my first guest is J. K. Rowling, the bestselling author. Anyone who can entrance children into waiting until the seventh book in a series to find out what happens is surely a literary magician of the highest order. Second on the list is Salvador Dali, the flamboyant Spanish artist who no doubt could concoct a masterpiece from the cutlery alone. And lastly, an invitation to the insightful Sherlock Holmes, an expert in deciphering the goings-on at surrounding tables. And my choice of menu? Simple - classic tapas of all kinds, small dishes enjoyed over a long period with several glasses of good Rioja and fascinating company. Lovely.

1

2

Stay here...

5

Using successively smaller stones, keep packing each layer with rubble in the centre. The profile should be ‘A’ shaped.

6

Cerro de Híjar s/n, 29109 Tolox, Málaga +34 952 112111 www.sawdays.co.uk/cerrodehijar

Finish by placing the saved line of capping stones on the top and treating yourself to a well-earned cup of tea.

3

If you would like to choose next issue’s three guests, contact us at magazine@sawdays.co.uk

Stay here... Beechenhill is in the Peak District – walk your legs off then soak under the stars in the wood-fired hot tub. www.sawdays.co.uk/beechenhillfarm Words and Illustrations by Sue Prince

Sawday’s Magazine | Spring 2014

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15 25/03/2014 2:53 pm


aP erf ect Gift A

new MAG!

InspiRation for IndepEndent TraveLlers

gO sLoW

M A G A Z I N E SPRING 2014

|

ISSUE 1

|

£5 WHERE SOLD

Discover the pleasures of local produce, simple regional cuisine and a slower pace of life

THE ITALIAN JOB

nAtUre aNd NuRtuRE Rediscover your wild side in style with our pick of the best treehouses and yurts

Alastair and Toby tour, talk and try out Special Places new and old

Special places to stay CASA ALOE

Aloe, Aloe…

House of Rock

Green Dream

Carmen and Tom bewitch us with their blend of Moorish magic

Stay where Bohemian Rhapsody was composed...

Lovely Lanzarote: minimise your impact and maximise on style

RIDGE FARM

SAW01.cover_v12ian.indd 1

24/03/2014 8:20 pm

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FINCA DE ARRIETA

Sawday’s Magazine | sawdays.co.uk

24/03/2014 8:49 pm


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Inspiring features and interviews with our wonderful property owners Fascinating insights into European destinations Tips for holidaying in a sustainable way Privileged access to our long list of Sawday’s Special Places to Stay Trustworthy travel news and advice

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Sawday’s Magazine | Spring 2014

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17 24/03/2014 8:50 pm


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Sawday’s Magazine | sawdays.co.uk

24/03/2014 8:44 pm


the Italian job This is the tale of a long-awaited trip from north to south, in which Alastair and Toby were reminded quite how beautiful and richly different are all the regions of Italy. History, art, food, drink and people – they were immersed in it all. Here is Alastair’s diary WORDS AND PHOTOS AL ASTAIR & TOBY SAWDAY

I AM WRITING

while I spent a night in Turin and drove south via three interesting new ‘applicants’ for Membership. One of our inspectors had come all the way from Sicily, another from the Veneto. We were to spend two days and nights together in a magnificent restored Roman/Mediaeval watch tower near Todi. Before Todi we spent two nights in the exquisitely formed Montone, in a small hotel run by its chef, Giancarlo. We ate like princes and wallowed in Giancarlo’s passion for all things Umbrian and Puglian. 20 Italian Members came to see us, to share their experiences and wisdom, in the beautiful courtyard of one of their houses. From Umbria we wandered north to Verona, via more extraordinary places, to stay in a vast courtyarded winery of the Valpolicella wine area. We met more Members and applicants there and feasted yet again. It is not avoidable when one is with Italians; their generosity is boundless. Then to Venice, and another gathering of Members, this time mostly young and all delightful. Any trip to Venice is, of course, magical – in spite of the decay and the multitudes. And now, as I write, Em and I are on the train down to Bari, to meet more Members, eat Puglian food in prodigious quantities and explore an area that I don’t know at all. Then we will spend two nights in Naples, another novelty for me, before we fly on home. I have been perhaps 20 times to Italy, but it is always fresh, exhilarating and tantalisingly unknowable. I am learning more than I can retain – so must put finger to keyboard at every opportunity. This is all precious – and we want to share it with others, for that is what we are here for.

this article with a whirl of Venetian images tumbling among my best intentions. How to focus on plans for Puglia while the Grand Canal bends its sinuous beauty into my brain? The mist lifting off the lagoon this morning holds a long promise of more to come; I cannot shake it. But I must, for this is Italy, and one moves in a constant confusion of sadness and hope, departure and arrival. Em and I – for I am travelling with my wife now – are alive with the excitement of seeing yet Mission control more unrepeated majesty. Our team launches its assault on Italy. We await We have come to Italy to gastronomic heaven and re-ignite our, and the gorgeous hospitality - and company’s, enthusiasms for we are not disappointed. this astonishing country. For life behind a computer offers only a vicarious hint of Italy’s sensuality. Emails from Italian Members (so we call our ‘owners’) carry a whiff of olive oil and sun, but the truth at our end is more prosaic. So this journey from top to bottom of the peninsular is designed to fire us all up, to put us back in touch with the magic available via our books and website, and to introduce us to many of the delightful and generous people upon whom our whole edifice is built.

The Grand Tour

‘We’ are Toby and I, Em for a brief while, Nicole – Our Woman in Italy – and Zoe, who runs the Italian desk at HQ. We gathered in Umbria, like the advance party of a Visigoth army, for our assault upon our out-oftouchness. And we gathered with a platoon of inspectors, interesting and unusual women from all over Italy. Zoe and Nicole had been to Rimini to attend a trade fair,

Sawday’s Magazine | Spring 2014

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the Italian job Under a month and a lot to do! Alastair and Toby take to the road in Italy, travelling from north to south to meet owners and visit their wonderful places

Verona

Turin

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Venice

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A gastronomic treat in Montone

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Member Gatherings in the north

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A long train trip, but Puglia is rewarding

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The beautiful chaos of Naples...

Florence

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5 Adriatic Perugia

Sea

ROME

Corsica

Naples

Bari

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MALTA

Special places Alastair and Toby stayed in Sawday’s places every night. Here’s a list of where they stayed and the places mentioned Torino: Alla Buona Stella www.sawdays.co.uk/allabuonastella Gaiole in Chianti: Castello di Spaltenna www.sawdays.co.uk/castellospaltenna Montone: Locanda del Capitano www.sawdays.co.uk/locandacapitano Todi: Tenuta di Canonica www.sawdays.co.uk/tenutacanonica Verona: Musella

www.sawdays.co.uk/musella Venice: Locanda Leon www.sawdays.co.uk/locandaleon Fasano: Il Frantoio www.sawdays.co.uk/ilfrantoio Maruggio: Masseria Le Fabriche www.sawdays.co.uk/masseriafabriche Naples: Luna Caprese www.sawdays.co.uk/lunacaprese

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24/03/2014 8:44 pm


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COVER FEATURE

SWITZERLAND

SLOVENIA

Verona

Turin

1

4 Venice The first leg

Turin to Tuscany 3

CROATIA

Florence

rough stones of a near-ruined village high up in the hills TURIN IS IGNORED by the British – alarmed inland from the coast. As I turned a scruffily grassed that it might be too much for them. And anyway, what is corner into her courtyard, my heart sang. A table was set it about? Well, it is a corker of a city. It was brieflyPerugia Italy’s for two, the sun shone and I felt embraced by the bare capital, and still wears the signs – the vast colonnaded stones of her rescued buildings. Everything Ilaria had arches stretching as far as you can see, monumental touched had turned to ‘Special’: from the old main doors buildings above them. There are mighty piazzas, palaces, whose ancient paint she had left peeling, to the exquisite and all the pazazz of Italy down its narrow old streets. ROME simplicity of her bedrooms, to the kitten that raided our Of course, Turin is, like nearly every modern city, pretty Corsica untended plates. Ilaria is warm, generous, and interested vile in its totality. It is, as ever, the old centre - where in people – a typical Sawday’s host. Her passion for the clever modern man never intruded – that is glorious. I restoration is touching, for theBari village has only ten met our new Piedmont inspector, Lauren Keller, and was Naples left, and perhaps she will bring new life to it. inhabitants taken to a beautiful flat at the top of a huge and ancient I visited another lovely house that day, but it was apartment block. This is where Roberta has been simply too English for us – a shame, for the owners were welcoming Sawday’s visitors for years. The flat is big, Lecce generous and committed. comfortable and full of good taste. And Roberta is just Sardinia what you want after a long rail journey: fun, easy, openminded and devoted to her guests. A Tuscan odyssey Lauren is a young American lawyer married to an I ended my madly brief Tuscan odyssey with a night of Cagliari Italian and quite in love with her life in Italy. She and enviable grandeur, in the Castello di Spaltenna, a rescued Carlo will spend weekends roaming across Piedmont on monastery. The owners have even restored the attached our behalf, and will find us more places in the northchurch to its handsome 12th-century state, an act of west, a richly rewarding area. Bra, for example, just unusual integrity. outside Turin, is the capital of Slow Food. We consumed I rarely seek luxury, but I got it here: a tower bedroom Palermo boiled meats, lamb, beef and outrageously delicious that gave me one of those much-painted views over the cheeses. This is a meat area, with strong roots in its cypress-studded Chianti landscape: mist rising gently to peasant traditions. reveal one hill-isolated farmhouse after another. I hired a car in Turin and drove south to La Spezia – The Castello di Spaltenna is painfully expensive, but Sicily where something very special awaited me. Ilaria perhaps we can all treat ourselves to a rare night of this Bacherini and her partner have hewn a B&B from the sybaritic wallowing?

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A new place Alastair visited a place in the hills near La Spezia whose artistic simplicity was irresistible. It immediately became part of the Sawday’s collection.

“A table was set for two, the sun shone and I felt embraced by the bare stones of her rescued buildings”

Sawday’s Magazine | sawdays.co.uk

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From riverside railway carriages, wood-burners and wild swimming, to vintage Gypsy caravans, private sea view sunsets and luxurious treehouses with terrace hot tubs‌

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Verona

SLOVENIA

4

Venice

1

CROATIA

The second leg

Florence

2

Corsica

Tuscany to Umbria

5 Adriatic Perugia

Sea

I QUICKLY ROME LEARNED

not to confuse Tuscany with Umbria. I don’t really understand the essential differences, but it was best not to disagree with our very agreeable hosts. I collected Toby from Perugia airport; he was the only Naples person there. We zigzagged up a hill north of Assisi to visit the Agriturismo Alla Madonna del Piatto. Letizia and Ruurd rescued it from ruin decades ago and are rewarded daily by gentle views down the valley and up to the back of Assisi, whose Basilica is almost all you see. The house is heated entirely by wood burned in a super-high-tech boiler. The rooms are lovely in an elegantly rustic way, and the house is heavy with dignified age. This was a fine welcome for Toby. We lunched in Assisi and wandered around, spellbound by the scale and dignity of it all. A shame that we had no Palermo time for Perugia too; the lovely city, home to Perugino, which endlessly fought with itself and everyone and unleashed the Flagellants upon the world. Montone was our home for the night, another Sicily perfectly formed village on a hill. There we met Nicole and Zoe, tired from the Rimini Travel Fair, and dined in style with Giancarlo, the owner. He owns La Locanda del Capitano hotel, and it vibrates with his energy. A Pugliese before he is Umbrian, larger than life and devoted to cooking great food, Giancarlo tookMALTA us by storm. Toby describes our dinner opposite; it was ravishing. We were entertained to drinks and a ravishing fruit tart by Andreas, in his gorgeous house just below

6

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Tyrrhenian Sea

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Montone. Twenty Members came along to meet us, to discuss their lives and to advise us. Gosh – the Italians talk! I am used to chairing meetings in England, but was Bari thrown by the startling ‘energy’ that Italians have when engaged in group conversation. Toby rose to the occasion and ploughed through the thicket of conflicting ideas and comments. It was great fun – and hard to tear Lecce ourselves away.

As we left to make our way to Verona, we were warned of thunderstorms and blocked roads back in Umbria.

A jewel in the crown

Todi, long-beloved by visitors and with a near-perfect mediaeval piazza, could be seen from our next home – the Tenuta di Canonica. Tenuta means ‘estate’, so the building is but the jewel in a larger crown. The base of one wall is Roman, and the once-upon-a-time stone watch-tower has been restored to perfection. Daniele and Maria, banker and designer, have filled the house with period pieces and books, rugs and pictures of rare good taste. Yet it still feels like home, even to us who are not quite used to such elegance. There we came together with eight of our 12 Italian inspectors, a most engaging bunch of women. One, Ellen, was a stand-up comedienne in a former life. Another, Lois, runs archeological tours in Tuscany. Young Caroline has married Luca and settled among his family in distant Basilicata where she has become a local power-house of initiative. They are all devoted to Italy, and love meeting so many interesting people. Their sheer variety gives us the eclecticism of our places for which we are known.

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Beautiful blue

“We zigzagged up a hill north of Assisi to visit the Agriturismo Alla Madonna del Piatto”

Sawday’s Magazine | sawdays.co.uk

24/03/2014 8:44 pm


the Italian job Heaven on a plate LA LOCANDA DEL CAPITANO, MONTONE (UMBRIA)

Toby tells us about his first evening meal on Italy’s soil – with Il Capitano as host CRAWLING UP THE hillside roads in the dying light, we came to a sheer stone wall behind which hides the fortified hilltop village of Montone. We were hunting for Il Capitano’s locanda, a little hotel off the steepest, most snaking alley of this recently-restored village. Giancarlo (Il Capitano) is, like so many Sawday’s Members, a polymath: economist, photographer, hotelier and chef straordinario. Although Pugliese by birth, he has embraced Umbrian cuisine with the zeal of a native. It was my first night on Italy’s soil, and – with Il Capitano – she put on an impressive and memorable show.

Sublime simplicity

Risotto with truffles

It was an education as well as a feast. Giancarlo sat, proprietorially, at the head of the table and guided us through the story of each dish: slow-cooked lobster in delicate creamed potato; risotto with grated black truffle (spectacular for its pure simplicity) and the most sublime rack of lamb I’ve ever eaten, lightly crusted and served almost alone on its plate. It needed no accompaniment. In between two of the courses, a little vial of frozen Monte Vibiano olive oil was placed in front of each of us. Frozen the moment it trickles off the press, its intensity is locked in until melted by gripping the miniature bottle in the palm of a hand. A peculiar, perhaps pretentious, flourish. But I’ve never before tasted oil quite like it.

Recipe of Giancarlo Polito | Serves four

INGREDIENTS Risotto 280g rice Carnaroli riserva Vegetable broth Carrots Onions 3 peppercorns 50g celery 50g leek

Cheese fondue 500ml milk 90g Umbrian ravigiolo cheese 140g grated parmesan And not forgetting… 100g fresh truffles from Umbria

METHOD

✴ Sauté the rice with a little oil, leek and celery, add vegetable broth and cook under a low flame. ✴ In the meantime, prepare the fondue by simmering the milk, add ravigiolo until melted and then the grated parmesan cheese. Reduce and keep warm. ✴ Once the rice is cooked, remove from the fire and start creaming with butter, parmesan and grated truffle. Let it rest for about three minutes. ✴ Select a shallow, large dish, and put the rice at the centre of the dish; with the help of a ladle, form a crater on top of the rice where you will then lay the cheese fondue. ✴ Now, just slice the truffles thinly on top and enjoy my volcano of rice in cheese fondue and truffles from Umbria.

Il Capitano A memorable meal for Toby and Alastair at his Locanda.

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RLAND

Verona

SLOVENIAleg The third

Umbria to Verona

Venice

n

3

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CROATIA

Florence IMAGINE A DUSTY track along the valley

floor, woodland on both sides, the car rolling around channels carved by recent rains. A dust-covered Landrover, its driver Marcello elegantly dressed in outdoor Italian style,Perugia awaits - poised to take us up the hill. Ten minutes of wild lurching and we arrive on a little plateau upon which stands an extraordinary sight. Marcello has created his dream ‘hotel’, and has broken most known rules in doing so. for he sold a fashion business Corsica He has the Midas touch,ROME when young, and then an eco-hotel in Mexico – profitably, each time. Now, Marcello has created, in his wooded fastness, a handsome stone retreat, not unlike a monastery on Mt Athos. One enters viaNaples a long tunnel that emerges into a huge sitting area where the decoration is the stone and the comfort comes from cushions and rugs. Light enters through generous Sardinia windows onto a massive fireplace. Gregorian chants play gently in the background. Upstairs, the symphony in stone continues even more Cagliari bravely. There is one long corridor and – here is the rub - 14 single bedrooms off it. Each feels carved from the stone, has no chair but a stone seat in the window, a tiny but clever bathroom and a large single bed clad in fine antique linen. The theme is monastic but comfortable. Palermo On the roof level is the Catholic chapel, a place for peace and reflection. On the ground floor is the dining room set with mighty trestle tables, facing each other and with benches on theSicily outside only. There are luxurious

Adriatic Sea

6

Tyrrhenian Sea

terranean Sea

steam baths, and spaces for silence. The views are of wooded valleys and hillsides and the peace is profound. The house borders a national park. Marcello’s enthusiasm for his expensive ‘singles’ hotel is infectious, and the idea will probably work in an age when we need retreat and ‘digital detoxing’ more than ever. I was blown away by the stone, and those walls of mediaeval thickness with modern insulation deep inside them. The place is entirely off-grid. Food is vegetarian, served to us by an off-duty Orthodox priest. We left feeling that we had been in the presence of a far-sighted, and engagingly Italian, genius. Bari

The genius of the father

Our next stop, in the oft-painted landscape outside Montepulciano, was inspiring in another way. We had Lecce been stopped by a raging torrent across our track after a local thunderstorm. Toby took his trousers off and prodded the waters with a stick, revealing deep fissures in the track. So we retreated, and arrived at the Hotellito Lupaia in a state of damp relief. Toby sank straight into a vast antique sofa in front of a vaster fireplace, the lintel a length of tree. We marveled at the colourful exuberance of the inside, inspired by the family’s time in their ecohotel in Mexico. Yes – this was Marcello’s son’s place, and it showed the genius of the father, but expressed decoratively by his first wife. With two such remarkable places in our heads, we set forth to Verona with hearts overflowing.

26 150 km mi

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MALTA

Dynamic duo We were reminded, powerfully, of why we do this work. Marcello and his family had re-ignited our already-fired enthusiasm.

“We left feeling that we had been in the presence of a farsighted, and engagingly Italian, genius”

Sawday’s Magazine | sawdays.co.uk

24/03/2014 8:44 pm


COVER FEATURE

“Biofermentation tanks - so shaped as to create a natural heat and energy - that operate without electricity”

SWITZERLAND

The fourth leg

Verona to Venice Turin

SLOVENIA

4

Venice

1

CROATIA

Florence

A new path The Autostrada di Sole brought no sunshine but joy was on the way in the form of Musella’s biodynamic wines.

2

5 Adriatic

Perugia SOME - STILL DREAMING of motoring serenely up the Autostrada di Sole, hair blowing in the wind as the road slices through a centuries-old landscape of farms and cypress trees – would be disappointed. The drive from Umbria up to Verona we endured rather than enjoyed. And the approach to the winery, Corsica through industrial estates set among spaghetti jumblesROME of asphalt, was only lightened by our hopes. We were richly rewarded. The Musella winery inhabits a mighty building along four sides of a courtyard, the other three sides taken up with a miscellany of Naples handsome farm buildings converted into cottages, B&B, houses and a restaurant. The centre is grassed – and the fours sides embrace it all. Behind, to one’s astonishment after so much asphalt on the way in, rise the forested and vineyarded Sardiniaslopes that produce Musella’s biodynamic wines. The biodynamic production of wine demands precision and intelligence. ThatCagliari is how wine-making once was, before machines and chemicals took over – with impressive early results. Biodynamic wines now take prizes, to the puzzlement of most. The Musella estate, totally committed, has just spent a small fortune on bio-fermentation tanks - so shaped as to create a natural heat and energy - that operate without electricity. This isn’t magic, but it is exciting Palermo for someone like me who drinks biodynamic and organic wine; and it is good to meet people who back their ideals with money.

Sea

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A heated exchange

0 0

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Sicily

Twenty-six people turned up for the Veneto Owners’ Gathering that evening. Most spoke no English, so I tortured them with an introduction in Italian. Nicole had warned us that Italians are inclined to chatter among themselves, and so they did. I thought we had ‘lost 50 100 150 km control’, but it was just conventional noise. When we were poised to 20 40 60 mi defend ourselves against the unkind accusation that mixing the best places with ‘others’ was aesthetically silly, we didn’t need to. The others rose to our defence. The tempo rose – and fell again. All was well, and the meeting ended with goodwill. But I had grown an admiration for politicians who survive the Italian electoral process. Verona was so close – we couldn’t leave without seeing the Roman arena, and the paunchy ‘gladiators’ who limply brandished plastic swords at the entrance. So we lunched there on seafood pasta and a glass of white wine; isn’t that all one ever needs? Our need for the wine was real, as we had emerged from another bruising encounter with our Italian Bank. Its ferocious grip on our money was tempting me to robbery. But how can one steal one’s own money? As I write, the bank is still triumphantly in charge. Caveat! On to Venice, by car across the lagoon. At a distance, we could see that the cruise ships had got there first – but we cruised on, alight with the excitement that powers all visitors to Venice, however often they have been.

MALTA

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CROATIA

Adriatic Sea

The fifth leg

OME

Naples

Bari

Lecce

Venice to Puglia

VENICE IS MIRED

nian

y

5

Palermo

in its own beauty. Dazzled, over 20 million of us pour in every year. So do over 650 cruise ships – many bigger than the Titanic. Are we loving Venice to death? Of course we are, and our ability to stop doing so is probably zero. For decades the alarm bells have rung, yet things get worse. Soon we will be urged to ‘hurry while the city can still be seen above the water’. Just as with the alarm bells over Planet Earth. People rush to visit disappearing places – like the Arctic – rather than calling for changes to protect them. One of our Venetian Members, running a restaurant serving Slow Food, was in despair MALTA as she told us these things. Only about 52,000 Venetians live there now. It is hard to find a shop that sells groceries. We, of course, were part of the problem, but perhaps we can encourage the sort of contact that opens minds and, even, wallets. Are many Sawday’s visitors inspired to support the Venice in Peril Fund? I hope so.

Fight for independence

We were as dazzled as any tourists, and dazzled too by the beauty of the Sawday’s guest-house, close to the Campo Dei Frari, where we held our Members’ Gathering. It also had a garden - a luxury beyond most Venetians’ dreams. Twenty gathered to hear Toby, Nicole and me do our stuff, and we were impressed by their kindness, and by their enthusiasm for ‘specialness’. The Big Boys - Booking.com, AirB&B, TripAdvisor et al – came up again and again, sometimes almost as expletives. We all agreed that, although we cannot compete on numbers, we must continue to fly the flag for independence and good taste. Em and I had a free day, and the Biennale was on – with free exhibitions galore. We saw old stringed instruments, Leonardo’s machines, a tribute to the plastic ocean‘nation’ we have now created, Titians and Madonnas and modern sculpture. We were awed by Marco Cozzi’s carved and veneered choir-stalls in the vast church of the Frari. The city itself is an exhibition, and we wandered through architectural bravura and

sheer confidence. How on earth to take it away in one’s head and apply it at home?

Vast booty in Venice

We read Jan Morris’s book, Venice, devoutly, for the umpteenth time. It never palls, though perhaps she now seems a touch baroque with her fantasies. But I urge everyone to read it. You will learn of the vastness of Venice’s power up to the 16th century, of her duplicity too. She persuaded the Fourth Crusaders, whom she was ‘lifting’ to a crusade, to drop in and take Constantinople on the way. Just a little diversion – one that yielded vast booty to Venice, such as the beautiful Roman ‘Four Horses’ (now inside St Mark’s and replaced by copies). Isn’t it interesting that we so love Venice, when we insist on battering our own cities, however lovely, with traffic? The total absence of cars and lorries in Venice, together with our acceptance of it, is one of the urban delights of our age. What I would give to hear of a city now being planned where boats would glide on water and cars be banished. My own Bristol has several times lost the opportunity to create more space for water – always under pressure from traffic. The city centre was supposed to be dug back out again for a dock, but instead the traffic flows and limp fountains can only hint at deeper waters. Our last night was spent at La Fenice theatre, partly for Madame Butterly and partly for the sheer gorgeousness of the building’s own performance. My sister, Diana, danced there in the ‘60s and I had tagged along as a groupie. Since then it has been burned and restored, and looks even more magnificent. It was fun briefly to mingle with a Venetian opera audience. A vaporetto was a fine, if choppy, beginning to a long journey, one which ended way south in Puglia’s Bari. Venice stayed with us as we trundled by train along a coast of sandy strips fringed with remnants of dismantled beach huts. The less said about this stretch of Italy’s coast the better, though Italians laze on its beaches in hordes. The delights of Puglia were waiting.

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“We all agreed that, although we cannot compete on numbers, we must continue to fly the flag for independence and good taste”

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COVER FEATURE

A great temptation Venice’s future lies in peril but tourists - in their millions - still can’t fight the urge to visit every year.

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“The foraging, the ingenuity, the integrity, and the localness, and let me not forget the taste”

A southern feast Puglia offered more than imagined. Wonderful wine, food and drink. Not to mention sights to make one weep.

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5 Adriatic

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COVER FEATURE

The sixth leg

Bari

Naples

6 Lecce

GIANCARLO,

lermo

MALTA

Puglia to Naples AN

UNSTOPPABLE

enthusiast for all things edible and Puglian, was our introduction to Puglia. He runs the Hotel del Capitano in Montone, in Umbria, where we had all eaten so regally. He cooked sublimely too. One can take the man out of Puglia, but not Puglia out of the man – it seems. Puglia produces more olive oil than the rest of Italy together, so we expected miles of olive trees. The vineyards also stretch for miles. We wondered why the English are flocking here, some buying up old houses – masserie and trulli – and turning them into holiday lets or B&Bs. Well, a night at Il Frantoio provided part of the answer. It was pure magic. A long, dull drive (through olive groves) from Bari train station, a brief bump up the track and then – an oasis. The lights glowed in the courtyard, the great trees looming over the buildings. Scattered about the yard were small groups of people chatting and drinking. Our big, chunky, bedroom had old hats hanging from hooks, old photos of masseria owners… and generous comfort. It was a place to settle into. Then came dinner; we chose the six-course meal: Panzerottini con ricotta e bietoline selvatiche – this, as you all know, is fried pasta with ricotta and wild Swiss chard. Cicorielli selvatiche assise in cesto di pecorino – or wild chicory in a basket of sheep’s cheese. Morbido di caprino allo zafferano con pere e composta di pere – goat’s cheese with saffron, pears and pear compote. Zuppa con funghi cardoncelli e fagioli ‘Nasieddu rosso’ di Sarconi – mushroom soup with Sarconi beans. Agnello con patate in coccio – lamb and spuds. I can’t remember the last dish – but it was delicious! I am a sucker for anything organic, but this was an orgy, and nearly all from Il Frantoio. The wines were Primitivo or Negroamaro – red and rich, but gentle and easy on the head.

As gastro-wimps we avoided the eight courses, but those six…! The foraging, ingenuity, integrity, and localness - and let me not forget the taste. When we met Armando and Rosalba we saw integrity again - it is behind everything at Il Frantoio. Creating this oasis has been a Herculean labour of love. We then stayed at the Masseria Alchemia, a total contrast – minimalist, crisp, modern and run by a Swiss lady called Caroline. Nearby were two engaging towns: Monopoli and Polignano di Mare, each with a white-painted centre around the harbour, steeped in bloodshed and invasion. We enjoyed the ‘passeggiata’, a survivor in spite of so much change in Italy. Women, of all ages and kinds, stay impressively upright on heels that would topple giraffes. Old men carry themselves like retired, but still important, village mayors. In Monopoli I twisted my ankle. Luckily, Caroline’s old father was able to lend me a stick for geriatric walkers. If this diary suggests limited ambition, I blame my ankle.

Palazzi at every turn

Next stop was Lecce – another orgy, this time of Baroque flourishes on soft, easily-carved sandstone. There are over 90 palazzi and 40 churches in a small town one can walk across in 20 minutes. Every turn reveals a new marvel. Em led me one night to the illuminated feast of baroque that is the Piazza di Duomo, my eyes closed. When I opened them, I wept. We stayed in a palazzo B&B, with a seven-metre high sitting room and a four-poster bedroom. We quickly felt at home, cycling gaily through narrow streets and eating in favourite places – not an un-lovely building in sight. Our last Pugliesi nights were spent in a converted masseria, Alessia’s Le Fabricche, near Manduria. She mixes glamour, commitment and idealism with powerful effect, producing organic Primitivo and Negroamaro wines and running a stunning small hotel. On our last night she cooked, sublimely, for us, without turning a well-bred hair.

Sawday’s Magazine | Spring 2014

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3

ence

2

5 Adriatic Perugia

Sea

ROME

The final leg Naples

7

Naples Bari

Lecce

a

TyrrhenianWHAT TO DO if your two lanes of traffic are solid? Just keep going. And oncoming buses are a mere opportunity to test the mettle of the Sea

Sicily

stationary traffic. There isn’t room, but they’ll let you in. Thus began our stay in Naples: a hair-raising taxi ride that didn’t, surely, have to do that grand tour of most of the city before getting to our B&B? Everyone complains about Naples. It doesn’t work, it’s Palermo noisy, dirty, traffic-clogged, corrupt and chaotic. It cannot get any better, according to Roberto Saviano, the author of Gomorrah. Glued to the book, we saw a Camorrista (Naples Mafioso) behind every shop counter and bar. If half the shops in town are Camorra-controlled, according to Roberto, we may have been right. His analysis explains the rubbish lapping at every pavement. The Camorra controls waste management, waste disposal (and a fair amount of waste creation). Let’s not forget where Naples has sprung from. She is a capital city, and nearly took Rome’s place when Italy became a nation in 1861. For MALTA regimes invaded, controlled and embellished centuries, succeeding her – and the results are magnificent. We went to a concert in the Teatro San Carlo - five tiers of boxes soaring to a golden, painted, ceiling. (Em sat in her box in regal splendour and I sat separately in another, on the tier above. A mistake.) There are palaces of massive splendour, churches galore, a gigantic dock-system (Camorracontrolled, again), and vast shopping avenues criss-crossing the hubbub. Leading off avenues are long, dark alleys filled with hanging washing, carelessly parked people, tiny ground-floor flats, sordid workshops, scuttling children and cats. (A famous short story had the narrator being crushed by a pig falling, believably, from a balcony.) Such is Naples: splendour and scruffiness in equal measure. Em tootled off to the National Archeological Museum while I, with my twisted ankle, pedalled dangerously around Naples on a gargantuan hired bike with my walking stick strapped to the handlebars. (When I finally fell off it was while stationary, and in front of a very surprised nun.) Em had the more elevating experience, surfing home on a wave of astonishment at the genius of Roman artists. They were painting and sculpting exquisitely, and rather rudely, 1,500 years before Michelangelo. It was, she said, an entirely thrilling day. The next day she was off again, this time to Herculaneum.

Morning glory

A dog barking through the night. The Bay of Naples, its necklace of light reflected in the dark water. Day reveals a different Naples. An old woman opens her balcony door and tours her pot plants. A man below lights a fag and leans out over the street. Traffic begins to clog, and slowly shift – ever ready to create an incident. We are staying in a Palazzo belonging to an absent Prince, perhaps still dreaming of Bourbon days. The concierge sits in a glassed-in box by the entrance, doling out 20-cent pieces for the clattering lift. Our last Italian dinner is the one we have waited for: mama, papa and sister in a scrubbed café serving simple food from a pencilled menu. It is cheap and delicious: fegato – lamb’s liver in onions, and those oricchiette from Puglia. We wish England would provide such simplicity. So we will have to return to Naples, as so many invaders have. Only the top layer has been revealed.

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COVER FEATURE

Postcards

“An old woman opens her balcony door and tours her pot plants. A man below lights a fag and leans out over the street. Traffic begins to clog, and slowly shift�

After nearly a month in Italy, the journey draws to a close in Naples. Here are some more postcards from the trip T‍ ה‏b¤¾� p¡y š¼ng Оe of ¥r °– I²° OwnŠ G@ ºings

Em ½dd†s up  a CÂĄnÂŽl Â… ž sweepŠ O°– Âťr–… ing @ Il FÂźnio A¡… Ă r Âľds fewĂ‚  Il Capi²ª a¨ Š a fĂƒÂ… fit ˜r a king

WÂĄnÂ? d but upÂĽght - wiÂŒ ‍ה‏lp Sawday’s Magazine | Spring 2014

SAW01.covfeat_v09ian.indd 33

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26/03/2014 11:18 pm


dIscOvEriEs

Our members are an inspiration to us. It is often they who make a place special. In this section we delve a little deeper, meeting our members, visiting their places and hearing their stories

36

Les Orangeries near Poitiers delights with its architecture and its food

36 Les oRanGeRieS

A classic French house in beautiful grounds with a large pool. Oh, and great food too.

38 The tReeHoUse aT HarPtRee cOurT

Stay high in the treetops. No noise to disturb you and with all the comfort you need.

40 PovOa dãO

A Portugese paradise with none of the hustle-bustle of the coastline.

42 WhiTeHilL CotTagE

38

County Fermanagh has much to offer and this isolated cottage is an excellent base.

This treehouse is the height of secluded comfort

40

Povoa Dão – a Portugese hotel built from ancient buildings

44 CasA AloE

A lovingly restored Moorish house in the Andalusian hills.

On the map… Whitehill Cottage

• •

The Treehouse at Harptree Court Les Orangeries

42

Beautiful County Fermanagh is home to this restored cottage

Sawday’s Magazine | Spring 2014

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44

Povoa Dão

Casa Aloe

In the Andalucian hills lies a jewel of Moorish origin 35

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DISCOVERIES

Les Orangeries HOTEL LES ORANGERIES is celebrating.

The influence of the past is a recurring theme. Olivia and Jean Phillippe have tried to keep all the typical elements of the house intact, including old stones, wood and fireplaces. “We recently had a visit from a 102-year-old woman who used to live in the house until 1936,” says Olivia. “She told us what life was like here then. They had orange trees and the house was all-in-one as it is now.”

This year marks its fifteenth anniversary as a hotel and its fifth as a restaurant. A table d’hote for the first ten years, the restaurant has just been named International Sustainable Restaurant of the Year by the Sustainable Restaurant Association. Owner, Olivia Gautier recalls: “In 2006, we were the first hotel to be awarded the European Ecolabel for the responsible management of energy, water, waste, purchases, and communication. Since then we made a conscious decision to focus on food.” Olivia and her husband, Jean Philippe, worked hard to develop an organic vegetable garden near the river, sourcing seasonal products in the surroundings and selecting natural wines. The restaurant is “gastro bio locavore” – fine food created with organic, locally-grown and sourced ingredients. “There is a real place for the vegetables but also for all kind of plants and edible flowers,” says Olivia. “We can organise wine tasting for groups as well as cookery lessons and visits to the natural vegetable gardens.”

The orange garden

Going back in time

Today, the one-hectare garden hosts an old

orchard, a French garden, a 35-metre-long “Amazing pool with a wood deck, and borders filled property with enormous with English flowers. Nearby, there are over 1,500km of rooms, beautiful gardens and a paths to walk, cycle or ride, as well as canoeing on the river (Les Orangeries wonderful pool. The smell of the has a website dedicated to all the open fire combined with the activities at your disposal in the area www.loisirs-86-orangeries.com). amazing aroma of huge baskets of atOn more wintery days, there’s a huge games room with two billiard tables oranges at the base of the grand and a spa within 10km for those who staircase was the perfect feel the urge to get their feet wet. “Our dream,” says Olivia, “was to give introduction to this life to this kind of wonderful family house amazing hotel.” that very few still have, but in which

everybody feels so well. This area is the core of France: authentic and untouched. A couple of scientists from Oxford told us they had the feeling they had been transported into the past in our countryside; there are very few cars and you can sometimes drive half an hour without crossing someone. But at the same time there is always a small village nearby where you can stop, which has a bakery, bar and church.”

Talking to Olivia, it is clear Les Orangeries is both an architectural project and a labour of love. The 18th century manor house was renovated by Jean Philippe, an architect, who lived in the area when he was a child. Olivia explains: “He lived with his grandmother and aunt when he came back from Algeria because of the war. His mother’s family had settled in North Africa to grow oranges and called the orange garden Les Orangeries.”

Meet your hosts THE OWNERS

Tel: +33 (0)5 49 84 07 07 www.sawdays.co.uk/ lesorangeries

Olivia and Jean Philippe Gautier

CONTACT

SLEEPING

12 Avenue du Docteur Dupont, 86320, Lussac les Chateaux, Vienne, Poitou-Charentes

17 bedrooms and apartments. €85 to €215

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WONDERFUL FOR

Families Walkers Roman art Gastronomy Swimmers (amazing 35-metre-long pool) Sawday’s Magazine | sawdays.co.uk

25/03/2014 1:24 pm


Award-winning food Les Orangeries has recently picked up the gong for International Sustainable Restaurant of the Year.

Area highlights BEST VINEYARD Organic Ampelidae is worth a trip and a degustation. Grape varieties include Sauvignon Blanc and two Cabernets.

Sawday’s Magazine | Spring 2014

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BEST BAR

If you would like to try some organic wine, Le Fruit Défendu is the best place in Poitiers according to Olivia.

BEST MARKET

Chauvigny or Poitiers on a Saturday. Chauvigny is a bustling town on the banks of La Vienne, and the market boasts oysters, prawns, crayfish, cheese and pâtés.

BEST WALK

Without a doubt the route along the La Vienne river (straight from the hotel). You can do this by boat, but then it wouldn’t be a walk would it?

BEST SPA

A very nice, costeffective aquatic centre with a Balneo circuit is just 10km away.

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DISCOVERIES

The Treehouse at Harptree Court HARPTREE COURT IS the quintessence of

Charles and Linda have a house which requires a lot of maintenance so the task of creating something from scratch was something of a relief. With the help of Simon Parfitt – a specialist in building wooden structures from Bower House Construction – the couple pored over and tweaked designs to fit their vision. “We considered the original design carefully and made a few changes to take into account the furniture we had already started to buy for the treehouse. We also decided to bring the bath out into the bedroom and just shut away the shower, loo and basin. Simon interpreted our wishes brilliantly and tempted us to install the copper bath! At the time it stretched the budget but it just looked so right.”

what we mean by 'special'. A beautiful house first built in the late 1790s and yet with an unusual modern touch – a treehouse. This fits perfectly with the enterprising and community-minded tone set by Harptree hosts Charles and Linda Hill, for they also, for many years, held the famous Harptree Orchestra there. Created and led by one remarkable man, this gave new meaning to the word ‘inclusion’. You were ‘in’ if you played an instrument. The village loved it, as did hundreds of devotees. Sadly, it is now part of Harptree Court’s rich history. Charles and Linda will welcome you to their family home which has been in Charles’ family since 1920 when his grandfather bought it. After a time living well, a slump in shipping meant that money became very tight and in 1957 he sold the house to his son - Charles’ father. When Charles and Linda took the house on 13 years ago, they soon discovered that it was much too expensive not to make it earn some money, so they started running a bed-and-breakfast business. And from tiny acorns a beautiful treehouse grew. We caught up with Linda to find out more. “I’m sure it was Alastair who had the original idea for the treehouse. We spoke to him to see if he had any thoughts about yurts and his first words were: ‘Have you considered a treehouse?’” Linda muses: “18 months of getting planning permission followed by a four-month build has left us with something we are all proud of.”

“The Treehouse was designed to make you feel like you were home away from home. The interior design is Setting sights high outstanding and the standalone the project neared completion, copper bath is heaven! The food left As Linda remembers the anxiety mounting: “Canopy & Stars sold so for you in the fridge was delicious many nights from just a picture that - fresh and organic! Thanks a we were worried we would be greeting our visitors with a half-built treehouse.” million for making our Indeed, the last month prior to opening was a bit of a nightmare. “Charles and I kept honeymoon so the building crew on site and did most of the amazing!” material-fetching ourselves. It was still touch and go right up to the end, and in the event the builders were just removing the last of the rubbish as our first party of guests were arriving.” Charles and Linda have now added a yurt on the grounds - brimful of Georgian furniture and mod cons like a dishwasher. If ever there was a place where a Moorish yurt, a very special treehouse and a Georgian house were meant to be together then Harptree Court is it.

Meet your hosts the owners

+44 (0)1761 221729 www.canopyandstars.co.uk/ harptreecourt

Linda and Charles Hill

contact

sleeping

The Treehouse at Harptree Court Harptree Court, East Harptree, Bristol, BS40 6AA, Somerset.

wonderful for Walkers Romantics Foodies Country lovers

Self-catering from £500 for two nights (min stay)

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Sawday’s Magazine | sawdays.co.uk

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A slice of heaven A treehouse is magical for any age but often reserved for kids. Not so at Harptree: this exceptional treehouse is an adult space and is a world away from noise, traffic and hustle.

Area highlights Best market

The picturesque city of Wells on a Wednesday and Saturday. You can buy local meat, dairy and greens, as well as more unusual treats like West Country lavender. Sawday’s Magazine | Spring 2014

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Best pub lunch The Pony and Trap in gorgeous Chew Magna for a full Michelin star pub experience.

Best local brews

Butcombe bitter, Bath Spa Cider and Thatchers Gold are a few gems. (Thatchers is based only a few miles away from Harptree Court).

Best shop

We are miles from the shops but try the one-off Mulberry factory shop at Shepton Mallett.

Best walk

A fabulous circular walk up onto the Mendips from the pub in Compton Martin.

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DISCOVERIES

Póvoa Dão PÓVOA DÃO IS

a collection of holiday cottages like none other - with a centuries-old history. It is one of the oldest villages in the Silgueiros community in the region of Viseu, yet nobody knows exactly when Póvoa Dão, first a small hamlet, then a simple mediaeval farm, was first founded. But it is well known that its existence was mentioned as far back as the Inquirições Afonsinas (Alfonsine inquests) which took place prior to 1258. Seemingly condemned to abandonment, Póvoa Dão was recovered in 1995. As Assistant Manager Juliana tells us: “The idea was to return it to its old habits and customs, bringing it alive as a place to visit and live in.” By 2004, after a rigorous renovation, the ruins had been replaced by what is now a refuge in the true sense of the word - a place that offers a different way of life, far from the bustle of cities and closer to authentic Portugal.

community spirit shown through the annual 15th January pilgrimage to Santo Amaro, through the offer of bread in community ovens, through the afternoon exchange among farmers, the Autumn and Winter evenings dedicated to the shucking of the corn, the spinning of the flax, and through the warming Christmas bonfires.”

“We spent True spirit The hotel welcomes and significant time surprises many, and Juliana wandering through and Manager Jose revel in both. “We know we have a incredible restored mediaeval place like nowhere else! homes and hiking on many trails The true spirit of a Portuguese village, the around Póvoa Dão to several ruins. ancestral houses made of granite and wood, the Quiet location and rustic/ regional cuisine that our restaurant, with its Beira luxurious (they built a fire for flavours, offers , our history, us in our fireplace and had it and our 1,200 hectares of land along the banks of the warmed for us when River Dão.” As we ended our chat, Juliana told we arrived).”

Simplicity, history and community

Stepping away from the hustle-bustle of normal life is exactly what you do here. It’s about simplicity, history and community. Juliana remarks: “This has been a stopping place for many people (there is a Roman road in the village). It was built over time and has a true

us of a British family who had stayed this summer, seeking something more than their usual Portuguese beach holiday. “So they found us,” says Juliana, “and they loved the experience! For one week they did a lot of different activities such as tennis, walking, picnics and the swimming pool, and they loved the flavours of our gastronomy.” They’re coming back next year.

Meet your host the manager

Jose Alberto Rodrigues

Tel: +351 232 958557; www.sawdays.co.uk/povoadao

contact

sleeping

Silgueiros, 3500-546 Viseu, Beira Central Portugal

fantastic for Foodies Family Couples Nature lovers

Eight houses for 4-8 people €65-175 per night

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DISCOVERIES

That special something The welcome, the history, the attitude, the community, the rusticity, the comfort... Oh, we could go on and on about what makes Póvoa Dão so special!

Area highlights Best market

Rua Direita (Viseu) and the shopping centre called Palácio do gelo (Viseu).

Best place for a drink Muralha da Sé (Viseu).

Best shop

Casa de Santar (in Santar, 16km away from Viseu).

Best walk

The Rota do Dão (Silgueiros).

Best activities

Bird watching, mushroom walks, workshops: cooking, organic farming, oenology, protecting ecosystems. Sawday’s Magazine | Spring 2014

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DISCOVERIES

Whitehill Cottage on the Colebrooke Estate THIS PLACE IS

General Ross and involved in the burning down of the White House in Washington in 1812. And finally the family boasts the characterful Rajah Brooke who lived in Borneo. He was hugely respected by the locals who were fascinated and fearful of him in equal measure - not entirely surprising when you learn that when he lost an eye he asked for an eagle’s eye to replace it!

full of surprises, as owner Amanda Brooke can’t wait to tell us: “The property has been on the estate for hundreds of years. When we took it on there was a tree growing up through the centre of the building! "It had been lived in by estate workers many moons ago and latterly in its dilapidated state it served as a fab witch’s house at Hallowe’en.” Amanda goes on to tell how she has spent many a Hallowe’en hiding in the house, dressed as a witch, lying in wait to scare the wits out of her children and their friends. But no more. The house is now beautifully renovated. Again, Amanda’s enthusiasm for her Special Place is immediately obvious: “We had a great local building team with a good sense of humour, a humour which was thoroughly tested through the build.” When the walls started to fall outwards during conservation it became obvious how buildings of that period and style did not have the basic strength we take for granted. The resulting house is now big on foundations and bigger still on tradition and cosiness.

Pedigree herds

Amanda says her guests tend to fall in love with the cottage: “One regular guest, who is an opera singer and has just moved to London from Australia, describes it as her home and says that every time she walks through the door she feels like the cottage is giving her a big hug.” The warmest of hosts, Amanda recalls fondly: “I give guests my telephone number and a lady called me one day in a panic, when out for her daily walk. She had been met by my (very tame and friendly) Zwartbles sheep who had escaped from their field and run in a flock right up to greet her! I had to fly to the rescue and introduce her more formally to my pedigree stock.” Whitehill Cottage is in the stunning countryside of Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, with the glorious Donegal coast just a 40-minute drive away. The County of Fermanagh is famous for its unspoilt beauty and is dominated by the huge loughs of Lower and Upper Lough Erne. There are 365 islands – one for each day of the year – on the lough which can be visited by hiring boats along the shore. With castles, houses, ancient monuments, endless opportunities for sport, music and culture (and a spa on the Estate), this is a gem of a holiday cottage.

"A very memorable and happy week in 'six-star' Whitehill cottage – you have made the cottage a jewel in the Estate's crown. So many thanks."

Look to the past

Amanda’s bubbly enthusiasm about her renovated cottage is matched by her stories of its past and the family members who have hailed from this area. Whitehill Cottage is on the Colebrooke Estate. “Colebrooke Park is the main house on the estate and is home to Viscount and Viscountess Brookeborough, (my brother and sister-in-law) and was the home of Northern Ireland’s longest-standing Prime Minister Basil Brooke. His uncle was Field Marshal Alanbrooke, Chief of the Imperial General Staff from 1942 to 1946, and Churchill’s closest advisor.” Amanda also tells us of Sir Arthur Brooke who was second-in-command to

Meet your hosts the owner

+44 (0)2889 531 789 www.sawdays.co.uk/ whitehillcottage

Amanda Brooke

contact

sleeping

Whitehill Cottage on Colebrooke Estate, Brookeborough, Co. Fermanagh BT94 4DW, Ulster

wonderful for Families Solitude Walkers Spa lovers

Cottage for four £500 to £600 per week

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Sawday’s Magazine | sawdays.co.uk

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DISCOVERIES

A clearing in the woods Whitehill Cottage is set in the middle of Nature’s playground - both on land and on water. There's so much here for all ages.

Area highlights Best foodie heaven

In Blacklion there's an amazing restaurant, MacNean House. It has a variety of menus including a fabulous tasting menu. Sawday’s Magazine | Spring 2014

SAW01.discoveries_v16ian.indd 43

Best tourist sight

The vast Marble Arch caves which must be seen. These spectacular limestone caves are reached by boat, passing through narrow passages

which open out into huge caves dripping with stalactites all with silly names, underwater lost cities, and gargoyles. After a fleeting hour you emerge into the sunlight amazed and dazzled by

the wonders beneath.

Best trip

Lusty Beg Island is reached by a very characterful pulley ferry and is one of Amanda's top tips, with a great

pub, seaweed spa and spectacular views.

Best visit

The world-renowned Belleek pottery company.

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DISCOVERIES

Casa Aloe CARMEN AND TOM were Sawday's fans for

Of the renovation, Tom says: “We were young, creative, and engaged to be married, and we threw ourselves into the project, learning on the job. "Carmen was attracted to learn all things to do with the masonry: stone, earth, lime, plaster, polished cement, even making the colours mixing pigments from the area and I took care of everything to do with the wood of the house – there was a lot! It has been a huge challenge, and I’m not sure we would be able to take on a project like that again!”

many years before they felt the time was right to recommend Casa Aloe join our collection in summer 2012. The pair have owned Casa Aloe for 10 years and spent eight of those lovingly renovating the rubble-filled shell they first bought. Carmen casts her mind back to how they came upon the place: “First we fell in love with the village and then, with a bit of money to invest, we went back to look for somewhere to buy. We had five days and a chance encounter in the street led us to Casa Aloe… beautiful serendipity, but that is another story!” At that time half of the house was completely collapsed, with no roof, and the other half was dilapidated. Carmen and Tom inched through the rooms that were packed, floor to ceiling, with old windows, doors, beams, stones, and much more, that the previous owner had been gathering with a dream of restoring the house. Carmen laughs: “It was like inheriting a puzzle that we had to piece together.”

“Casa Aloe feels in Three’s a charm keeping with the Casa Aloe’s beauty is a mix of three things, say its hosts: firstly, the history of the surroundings, but also house (which they have tried their best to respect and listen to while restoring otherworldly and luxurious. A secondly, the love and creative birthday breakfast on the terrace it); thought which they have put into every single square inch through bringing it looking onto the steep valley, back to life; and thirdly, the amazing with the sun bouncing off the natural beauty of the surrounding Spanish landscape. face of the next-doorCarmen and Tom reminisce about a visit from Nick, the Sawday's inspector: “We mountain, is a sight to A Moorish past invited him to stay the night as it had taken him remember.” so long to wind his way up to us from Sevilla, which No-one knows when Casa Aloe was first built, but allowed us to treat him to a bowl of very special Estofa’o (a local stew made according to a recipe from Carmen’s Mama). "We were in the middle of transforming our stable into a pool, digging with pneumatic drills into the bed rock which the house perches on. You can imagine the noise, dust, and the chaos that always surrounds ‘obra’ (Spanish for ‘building work’). It must have been the Estofa’o that sealed the deal!"

it has been examined by local architectural experts, who confirm it is of Moorish origin. This means its construction was pre-1580s when the last Moors were expelled from the Alpujarras. “It is likely it was built over many centuries in many stages, probably starting its existence as stabling for animals,” Tom says. “So we just represent one more stage in its development, and hope that it continues to grow and bring people happiness for many further centuries.”

Meet your hosts the owners Carmen and Tom

Tel: +44 (0)7767 652 903 www.sawdays.co.uk/casaaloe

contact

sleeping

Casa Aloe Atalbeitar, La Taha de Pitres, Granada, Andalusia

6 bedrooms From £1090 per week

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great for

Family reunions Walkers Artists Lovers of mountains and sun Adventure Fans of ancient local architecture Sawday’s Magazine | sawdays.co.uk

25/03/2014 1:25 pm


DISCOVERIES

More, more, Moor! This place provides inspiration in basketfuls - the decor, the history and the location are all equally stunning. You’ll fall in love with the place and your hosts.

Area highlights Best local drinking place Atalbeitar Village Social Club which opens when 70-year-old owner, ‘Jesus’, feels moved by the spirit (surprisingly often!). He offers

Sawday’s Magazine | Spring 2014

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remarkable local wine. Sitting outside it in the Plaza is bliss.

Best walk

Explore up the valley to the Mezquita, a viewpoint spur with the

ruins of an old mosqueturned-livestock-barn. It is the local ‘powerspot’, with stunning views up and down the ravine.

Best market

Pitres (Fridays) offers

fresh local organic produce, artesania, colour and atmosphere.

Best eatery

Homemade pizzas, and often good live music at Mora Luna Piano Bar, a

comfortable 20-minute walk away.

Best local spot

Magical spots for a dip by the Junta de los Rios, up above the village of Portugos.

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sustainable travel and seasonal food

Alastair introduces the Slow movement - devoted to green places to stay, sustainable travel tips, seasonal food, dawdling over dinner, and more. Here he considers what Slow Food means to Italians THE SLOW MOVEMENT, born in

modern stress has warped our perspective. Common sense, long excluded, now has to knock hard at the door. Slow Food means meals prepared with love and consumed at leisure, as in Italy, where life can still stop for lunch. Italy has hung on to artisan producers, and fine local produce, better than most. Until unification in 1861, Italians were citizens of a state, like Piedmont. The passion for ‘region’, and its food, is startlingly intense. In Puglia, especially, food is enthroned – with good reason. Travelling there recently, I was touched by the enthusiastic organic producers. At Il Frantoio we ate foraged herbs, wild greens, estate-produced olive oil and wine. The staff sat together to watch a television programme about local food. Orecchiette, the local pasta speciality, takes a different shape or name from town to town. Each version is, of course, the best in Puglia.

Italy of a rejection of modern commercial practice, may prove to be an agent of real social change. In 1986 a food journalist called Carlo Petrini, seeing that a McDonalds was opening in Rome’s Piazza Navona, resolved to fight the invasion of Fast Food – with Slow Food. The idea took off, and is still flying high. Now there are Slow Food ‘convivia’ all over the world. What is it? How does it affect us and does it really offer hope?

Salone del Gusto

Every November, in Turin, there is the Salone del Gusto, a Slow Food feast for artisan growers from all over the world. In the same city, at the same time, is Terra Madre, an international convention for cooks, ‘eco-gastronomists’, small-scale producers, and all those working to combat standardisation and encourage biodiversity. I have known people talk of the event with tears in their eyes. It is the world’s greatest display of good food, they declare. Slow Food, and its offspring, CittaSlow, are gaining pace. To those of us over 60 there is nothing new about shopping locally, growing your veg, holidaying at home. For the rest, these ideas need to be re-articulated and spread, for

Alastair Sawday Founder

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Sawday’s Magazine | sawdays.co.uk

25/03/2014 1:18 pm


•

Oggi andiamo a funghi! A mushroom hunt! Deep in the woods of Umbria, our guide, and Sawday’s member, Isabel, finds some seasonal treats SEEING THE OLD boys – usually

found outside the taverna playing cards – suddenly collect sticks and baskets and leap into action for the hunt inspires me to finally get on board with the mushroom mania. Andiamo (let’s go!)‌ The sun slowly emerges bright and warm and starts to burn off the low-lying cloud to reveal rolling hills, lush forest and farmland. We - a posse of dogs, excited children, Silvia (whose father-in-law has been picking mushrooms in this region of Umbria for over half a century), me (a novice) and Gianni (well versed in the local flora and a truffle hunter) – approach the wood, noticing a distinct autumnal perfume of damp leaves and mushrooms.

The hunt begins

Everybody spreads out and with delighted chatter the hunt begins: “Here’s one�, “Questo e buono�, “Non e cativo�, “Don’t touch!�, “Non tocca questo�. We continue like this for three hours. We learn to find the types that hide under leaves, how to cut the mushroom at the base with a sharp knife (to leave the all-important spores to produce the next crop). We learn not to pick every last one – leave one for another day. We find around six different varieties that we

Fu-pĂ…ofing:  ect yÂĄr Énghi finds in a baskž so ÂŒe spo s ĂŠn fĂ‹ ÂĄnd yÂĄr fež

can eat, with local names like lardaio, pepperoni bianco, grigi, gallini (chanterelles), biggarelli (hedgehog mushrooms) and puzzoni (stinkers - identified by the slightly mouldy-smelling caps). Silvia imparts the knowledge she has inherited from her father in law. She knows all the local types – what is good for sugo, or sauce for pasta or gnocchi, what roasts best ‘in forno’, which are slightly peppery and which are an acquired taste. She tells me each family has their own selection of fungi, the ones they like to pick and eat. And often this love of a particular type of wild mushroom has been passed down through generations. She says no-one used to pick the ‘grigio’ (which makes a great sugo for fresh tagliatelle) which Modesto (her father-in-law) did but now it’s becoming a more popular target. Funghi hunting is a competitive game and the best locations are often well-kept family secrets. We arrive back suitably exhausted, enthralled with our morning’s fun and, of course, our prized haul. We kick off our shoes and set about cleaning and cooking our basket of fungi. We all share in the work and soon we have conjured up a delicious, fresh tagliatelle with wild mushrooms, sausage and truffle – a typical Eugabino dish (from Gubbio). Why not join us in a mushroom hunt next October‌?

In Aumn, a dĂ Â Ă„g lk ÂŒĂ…ugh ÂŒe q”ž, c Æing wood beÇs a hi– of acÂœ‘

isabel’s place

Isabel and Paul Farber own Villa Pian di Cascina in Umbria. There are seven self-catering apartments there for 2-8 people. www.sawdays. co.uk/villapiancascina

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25/03/2014 1:20 pm


SIMPLE,DELICIOUS FOOD

Claude’s Cabbage Lasagne

Maison Coutin in the Rhône-Alpes

Method

BACKED BY INCOMPARABLE Alpine beauty, the friendly, flower-decked old mountain farmhouse with its shingled roof and viewfilled rooms is warm and homely. Owner of Maison Coutin in the RhoneAlpes, Claude, grew up here until she was spotted as a possible downhill ski racer and sent to a special boarding school. Downhill skiing didn’t suit Claude so, after a time there and in Australia, she came home. “My parents had started doing B&B, so I started doing tables d’hôtes. A few guests were brave enough to try it, then more, then all of them. I had found the thing that suited me and I still revel in it.” Claude’s husband Franck learned green building from a builder who used old-style materials and techniques. Now timber, hemp, sheep’s wool and the wood-chip boiler keep the big house cosy at 1,300 metres with solar panels to keep the water steaming. He knows the paths and ski slopes of the Tarentaise valley ‘like his pocket’ and can guide you over the mountains on skis or snowshoes, or walk with you to his favourite summer picnic spots. In winter he is a ‘piste basher’, a job of skill and daring that involves going out at night with hooks and winches and a snowcat machine to groom the steepest ski trails.

✴ Make a good meat sauce of onions, tomatoes, thyme, minced beef and pork ✴ Make a white cheese sauce (with Beaufort cheese, preferably) ✴ Blanch several large cabbage leaves to use instead of lasagne slices ✴ Spread in successive layers in an oven dish, top with cheese and bake in the oven, wood burning if possible

“High-quality ingredients and unfussy preparation are the secrets of good healthy food”

Terroir is everything

“From mountain to valley,” says Claude, “our terroir produces a rich choice of vegetable and fruit, the famous Beaufort cheese - the prince of gruyères - and meat, milk and yogurt from the cattle and pigs you see in the summer pastures. I don’t use sophisticated recipes, they just don’t work for me. High-quality ingredients and unfussy preparation are the secrets of good healthy food.”

meet your hosts Claude Coutin and Franck Chenal

Maison Coutin, Chemin de la Fruitière, 73210 Peisey Nancroix, Savoie, Rhône Valley - Alps +33 (0) 79 07 93 05 www.sawdays.co.uk/ maisoncoutin

sleeping

1 triple, 2 suites €54-60

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© Lesley Chalmers

contact

Sawday’s Magazine | sawdays.co.uk

25/03/2014 1:20 pm


THEY’VE MADE IT.

La Gelatiera, Best Speciality from London & the South East

Stonewell Cider, Best Irish Speciality

Martins Meats, Best Speciality from the South West

Marybelle Dairy, Supreme Champion & Best Speciality from East Anglia and Midlands

Fredericks Chocolaterie, Best Welsh Speciality

SO YOU CAN ENJOY IT. Food and drink producers take Great Taste very seriously. It takes more than 400 judges over 50 days of blind-tasting to decide which products should carry one, two or three Great Taste stars. The experts include top chefs, restaurateurs, food & cookery writers, food-hall buyers and fine food retailers. Food & drink bearing this coveted Great Taste logo guarantees you are in for a real treat. So, next time you’re in your local deli, or browsing the shelves of an upmarket grocery store – look out for the Great Taste trademark black and gold sticker and judge for yourself. EXQUISITE. WOW! TASTE THAT

OUTSTANDING

SIMPLY DELICIOUS

www.greattasteawards.co.uk | #greattasteawards | www.finefoodworld.co.uk

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24/03/2014 10:10 pm


SIMPLE,DELICIOUS FOOD

Le Chateau in Normandy

Chateau in Normandy, gathers all into her generous arms. As a fisherman’s wife and mother of seven children, she quickly learned to run things on her own, as he was so often at sea. She must have done it well, as her children still live in or near this pretty fishing town whose houses face the north wind that sweeps over the sand flats. Some of Dominique’s children became fishermen and one will always arrive with the day’s catch. The mackerel caught the morning of our visit, filleted and grilled on the barbecue with a mustard sauce, were unforgettable in their sea-strength and freshness. Her convivial dinners are always constructed with the fruits of her labours in the garden, fish from the family boats or organic food , where possible, from local producers.

Grannie Titine’s Caramelised Rice Pudding

© Clémence Dubois

A PHENOMENAL CHARACTER, Dominique, owner of Le

Serves 6

Ahead of the wave

“I live surrounded by nature and I try to slide through it as discreetly as I can. Our chateau isn’t a farm, just a house with farmyard animals including Marans hens that lay eggs so dark they look like easter eggs.” She has been an eco activist for years. “I was 18 in 1968 and ahead of the earth-awareness wave. For decades I was rowing against the tide. I find it restful to be normal now.” She has always grown her own fruit and vegetables and made hecto-kilos of jam and mouth-watering treats. Guests carry away the taste of custards, rice puddings and chocolate mousses. “Our eggs come from the hens that peck and cackle in the field alongside ducks and turkeys. The milk comes from our neighbour’s organically-fed cows. We also have goats, but they’re more for company than food.”

Ingredients 100g rice 1 litre milk (fresh whole milk if possible) 55g sugar

Method ✴ Cook the rice in the milk ✴ When cooked, add sugar and allow to melt ✴ Pour into individual ramekins ✴ Sprinkle with caster sugar ✴ Heat a round iron over the gas flame, place over the sugar (or use a kitchen blowtorch) until sugar melts and covers the rice, creating a delicious caramel sauce

meet your host Dominique Bernieres

contact

Le Chateau, Chemin du Chateau, 14450 Grandcamp Maisy, Calvaldos, Normandy +33 (0)31 22 66 22 www.sawdays.co.uk/lechateau

sleeping

2 doubles, 1 twin, 1 suite ‚ €70-85

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Sawday’s Magazine | sawdays.co.uk

25/03/2014 1:20 pm


Make a difference with your energy bills % 100 n e e Gr icity t cr Ele

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Awesome customer service Eth pri ical cin g**

Get a £50 Canopy & Stars voucher when you switch to Ecotricity* We’re an energy company unlike any other – we take the money our customers spend on their electricity and gas bills and use it to build more green renewable energy. People:Power is at the heart of what we do – the more people who join us, the closer we’ll come to generating 100% of our own energy, helping us to create an energy and price independent future. It’s so easy to switch – it takes less than five minutes.

Call us free on 08000 302 302 (quoting C&S1) or visit www.ecotricity.co.uk/canopy-stars Terms and conditions *For full terms and conditions, please go to www.ecotricity.co.uk/canopy-stars. **Our ethical pricing means all customers pay the latest, best price, no matter when they joined and regardless of how they pay. You can see our latest fuel mix at www.ecotricity.co.uk/our-fuel-mix. We hope you’ll never need to, but if you’d like to make a complaint or would like to see our complaints procedure, please visit www.ecotricity.co.uk/complaints or call us on 0845 555 7 100.

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24/03/2014 14:04 24/03/2014 10:12 pm


STAY IN AN ECO-FRIENDLY PL ACE

Deep Green Finca de Arrieta in Lanzarote is off the grid, powered by wind and solar energy, and even has hybrid cars for guests to use

THE BRADDOCKS BOUGHT the finca in 2004 as a disused farm. It had been left untouched for about 50 years. We caught up with Michelle Braddock to hear more about Arrieta. “The retreat was in total ruin when we took it on. We have kept as many original features as we could – the old water tanks, for example, have been restored into a solarheated swimming pool. “The Eco Luxury Villa was a large water storage tank originally; we added walls within the tank to make individual rooms. This was the first restoration we completed at Finca de Arrieta and it was our family home. From there we restored a farm building which

“We decided to add yurts to the retreat as they are low impact and are in keeping with the white houses of Lanzarote �

became the Eco Garden Cottage. We have now restored seven buildings and eight yurts. “We run the retreat on wind and solar as we wanted to have a fully sustainable place. Lanzarote is a perfect location as we have year-round sunshine and, because we are in the Atlantic Ocean, we have sea breeze too. We also cleaned out two wells which are 10 metres deep (full of rubbish for years). We use this water for our pools and for 50% of the total water used at Finca de Arrieta.�

Year-round sunshine

“We decided to add yurts to the retreat as they are low impact and are in keeping with the white houses of Lanzarote (all houses have to be either stone or painted white, no other colour is accepted). The yurts are also well-suited to the year-round good weather in Lanzarote. With each yurt we provide a fully-fitted covered outdoor kitchen and shower room. “The land at the retreat was very barren and we have added indigenous plants and trees. The palm trees we have are trees which we have saved from being destroyed. People

T‍ ה‏pĂ…ject is ÂŞw fiÂ?s‍ה‏d but ÂŒe BÂźdĂ„Ă?s pĂŽ  twĂƒk d impĂ… – as ÂœĂ‡ Ă? Đž often put palm trees here, they grow too big for their gardens and the roots go into their water tanks. The trees can just be cut down but we have managed to dig out the trees and move them by crane. Some of the trees are very old so it’s great to save them from being destroyed. “We also have three rescue cats, three rescue donkeys, ducks and chickens which provide eggs for our guests. “We are so happy that our visitors enjoy the Finca as much as we do. Originally it was just our plan to live here, but we needed more space for our family of six so decided to make the Eco Luxury Farmhouse. This meant the Eco Luxury Villa was unused so on a whim we decided to see if it would rent. It was instantly popular!â€?

�§Âe says it’s a  Ñ —n— of a§ie–Òt  – … o d  old finÊ

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Sawday’s Magazine | sawdays.co.uk

25/03/2014 1:21 pm


SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL

5 small ways to make a big difference Embrace the Slow movement when you’re travelling and make a positive difference to local economies, cultures, the environment and yourself

Eat well

meet your hosts contact

One of the great pleasures of travelling is discovering new tastes, new foods and new places to eat. Whether you’re at home or abroad, the best way to experience local produce and specialities - as well as ensuring your money goes to the people who live there - is to eschew the obvious supermarket and restaurant chains, giving your custom to local shops, markets and eateries.

sleeping

Culture shock

Green credentials

If you’re somewhere new, be aware of local customs and dress appropriately. Not only does this show respect for the country and people you’re visiting, it makes you feel more part of the experience rather than a tourist looking on.

Michelle Braddock and family

Finca De Arrieta, Tabayesco, 35542, Lanzarote Tel: +34 928 826720 www.sawdays.co.uk/fincadearrieta

15 self-catering cottages, yurts and holiday houses Weekly from â‚Ź595-2,205

Fully off the grid, powered by wind and solar energy. Re-use of grey water, LED & solar lights, recycling bins, reclaimed and restored farm buildings, use of local stone, use of rain water via our well to top up swimming pool, hybrid cars provided with some accommodation

Resourcefulness The world’s resources are precious and the importance of some are greatly magnified in countries where there are shortages. Whether it’s drinking water, the fuel powering your air con and heating, or the plastic in that disposable bottle of water, be mindful of the things around you and the effect they have on the local ecosystem.

Local hero Sometimes the most extraordinary sights are just an hour away from home. Stay over for a day or two and treat your nearby destinations like foreign lands - you’ll discover a whole new side to places you thought you already knew.

Tread lightly Whether on a field in Wiltshire or scaling volcanic rocks of Cotopaxi in Ecuador, stick to marked paths and trails. This reduces soil erosion and keeps landowners happy. A caveat: Cotopaxi is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. If it starts to blow, we give you permission to cut as many corners as you like in the race to the bottom. Godspeed.

Ă“ e, Ă‹ -Ă”ectrÂĽc pÂŚg-in Ă•, u— d by ÂŒe f¤i but borĂ… wed by guĘŚ Đž Wedndays! Sawday’s Magazine | Spring 2014

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Guest Book

of French flea market fi nds, boasting pretty little cabinets, beds and linens. Breakfast was a treat, warm from the kitchen, the classic prune studded ‘far’, similar to a crepe batter, and of course fresh orange juice and St Malo yoghurt with homemade compote, warm homemade breads and… I could go on as the offerings were more than generous. And at Le Val de Brangon Nathalie Hubier relishes her role of hostess, plying guests with her homemade goodies, my favourite of which was her strawberry yoghurt, which inspired a recipe in my new book. She also knows a thing or two about Kouign Amman’s (Brittany’s famous butter cake) and insisted on ordering a local favourite for me to try out. If you like your breakfast on the go, check out an innovative use of the galette (the savory crepe made with buckwheat flour) at Rennes or Dinan markets, where food truck vendors wrap up a sausage in a tight galette bundle.

Daily dairy

Where Rachel stayed

Brittany, despite being the land of milk, is one of the few regions in France to not boast its own AOC cheese. But for many, the butter is enough to satisfy a dairy fi x, and as a longstanding yoghurt enthusiast, I’m always happy to waive the cheese for a few days. In fact, in a country that usually gets by with just a croissant or tartine and a black coffee, in Brittany they serve the fi nest breakfasts I have seen in France. Among the best are the homemade delights dished up at the regions’ chambres d’hotes. After visiting Mont St Michel and Dinan on our fi rst day, we arrived, tired and wet, at the inviting home of Martine and Hubert Vianna at Malik. Each room boasted a little veranda where breakfast was served. Martine is clearly an avid collector

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Malik (+33 (0)2 96 27 62 71; www.sawdays.co.uk/malik). Double room from €82 per night including breakfast. Le Val de Brangon (+33 (0)2 97 57 06 05; www.sawdays.co.uk/valdebrangon). Double room from €170 per night, including breakfast. Rachel Khoo is a chef who has recently written a a cookery book called My Little French Kitchen. While researching the book, she travelled France searching for the most memorable meals. Read about her travels at www.sawdays.co.uk/blog My Little French Kitchen by Rachel Khoo is on sale now (Michael Joseph, £20).

© Joseph Seresin

ighthouses, timber-framed buildings, green pastures, salt plains and tonnes of butter… while researching My Little French Kitchen, I headed to Brittany (and bits of Normandy) to source the most interesting produce and recipes of the region. Some of the building blocks of French cuisine have their roots in Brittany. From the famous salt fleur de sel, collected in the clay pools of Guérande and prized by chefs, to the oysters of Cancale, the pinky sweet Roscoff onion and the butter. Oh, the butter. My visit to the Rennes market reinforced this knowledge. It was one of the fi nest marchés I have seen in France, and it alone will sell you on the virtues of Breton gastronomy. It’s a testament to the fact that Brittany is France’s most agriculturally active region, with the producers themselves peddling their products, a vocal bunch, full of recipe ideas and passion.

Background image © Emilie Griottes

L

Rachel Khoo Breton breakfasts

Sawday’s Magazine | sawdays.co.uk

24/03/2014 9:19 pm


Le VÑ � BŸn�n s nut or§ds, wild flowŠs, a g� n d a pool. Ód g @ b Æfa… s o

Spiced fruit and nut loaf A dense loaf packed with dried fruit, nuts galore and with a hint of spice and rum. When you cut a slice from the loaf the juicy fruit-and-nut filling is revealed. Rachel likes to eat a thin slice for breakfast – toasted and slathered with butter

Method Makes 2 loaves Preparation time: 20-25 minutes Soaking time: 8-48 hours Resting time: 3-4 hours Cooking time: 30-35 minutes

Stage 1

Mix together the candied orange, dried fruit, spices, rum, orange zest and juice and leave to soak overnight but preferably for two days.

Stage 2

Sift together the flours and yeast with the salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the water. Gradually draw in the flour from the edges and knead for 10-15 minutes. If the dough feels sticky, sprinkle it with flour. Leave to prove in a warm place for 2-3 hours, covered with a clean damp tea towel or cling film.

Ingredients ✴ 1OOg finely chopped candied orange ✴ 1OOg dried figs. Remove knobbly stems and chop ✴ 100g dried apricots, blueberries, cranberries or other fruit ✴ 1OOg raisins ✴ 2tsp ground cinnamon ✴ 1tsp ground ginger ✴ 100ml rum ✴ Zest and juice of 1 orange ✴ Zest of 1 lemon ✴ 150g strong white flour ✴ 150g strong wholemeal flour ✴ 7g dried instant yeast ✴ 1tsp salt ✴ 175ml water ✴ 150g firm pears, such as Conference. Core and grate ✴ 100g walnuts. Roughly chop ✴ 1 egg mixed with 2tbsp milk

Sawday’s Magazine | Spring 2014

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Add the grated pear and walnuts to the soaked fruit. Mix together and drain off any excess liquid. Tum the dough out on to a work surface and cut into three equal parts. Return one part back to the bowl and combine it with the fruit mixture, kneading it together with your fingers. Set aside. The two remaining pieces of dough will be used to make the outside of the loaves. Roll each piece into a rectangle (20cm x 30cm and 2mm thick). Brush with the egg wash. Place half of the fruit mixture in the middle of one sheet of dough and pat it down to form an even layer, leaving enough dough on each side to cover the filling. Fold the sides and place on a baking tray, with the folds underneath. Repeat for the second loaf. Brush the loaves with egg wash and prick all over with a fork. Leave to prove in a warm place for 30 minutes. Apply a second coat of egg wash and cook in the oven for 30-35 minutes at 200°C, no preheating required. The loaves should have a rich brown colour. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack for five minutes.

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24/03/2014 10:26 pm

Sawday's Magazine - issue 01