As we move into the Autumn, I thought I’d share stories about my holidays. Not this year, but in 2019! That year, I managed to travel abroad almost every season, Spring to Paris, Summer to Sicily, Autumn to Crete.
In Paris, we based ourselves at the border between the 3eme and 11eme arrondissement in Parmentier. I used to go there when I was a student living in Paris and the Oberkampf area is still trendy, although I used it more to buy tasty local food like poulet de bresse, vitelotte potatoes, quenelles and cheese than all nighters!
We learnt how to make choux, eclair and chouquettes! We tried French tapas — salsifis, peau de poulet et onion roscoff, topinambour & miso de radis, macquereau fume et panisses — at Le Grand Bain. Perhaps my best meal there was at Septime, where we had pigeon, cuttlefish & turnip powder and clementine & blood orange parfait. We went to Quinsou, Au Passage where we had pigeon claw.
We discovered the street markets and Norman-Arabic-Savoian sights of Palermo, from scary swordfish, baked ricotta to baguettes off the back of a lorry. We checked out the local food scene of course, from the uber-trendy Gagini Social where we had tortello al pulpo, bottarga macarons, pasatelli with calarmi, rockfish with pistachio.
Our pied a terre” at Cefalu was literally looking over the Mediterranean on one side and over the cathedral on the other. We discovered more street markets, this time in the back of a van and a picture postcard beach. We then took the coastal train to Milazzo, where we got a catamaran to the Aeolian Islands, stepping off first at the island of Lipari, where we went on a walk which was filled with cactus and no path, but amazing views!
Given we were so close to a historic volcano, we took an all day tour around the rest of the islands, Panarea and Stromboli, which was scary given how imposing the volcano was, although in the end, it wasn’t an explosion which caught me out, but jellyfish! We then went to Taormina, which was classy but overrated and Catania, where we stayed overlooking the cathedral and the fish market!
Perhaps my best meal of the year was at Barrafina. It wasn’t the first time and probably won’t be the last but it’s got such a creative “a la carte”. Although you can’t book, which means you’ve got to arrive at 12, it’s neither too stuffy like some high end restaurants nor too brash like some hipster joints, the service is friendly and timely, the ingredients are expertly selected and you don’t get so much elsewhere, the pairings are creative and it’s tasty! We had artichokes & sobrasada “la ciega” tortilla, sweetbreads, two mojos & Papa arraguas, skate wing all I pebre, pig’s cheeks & aubergine puree finished by bergamot & habanero sorbet and tozinillos de cielo & verbena sorbet. We then went for an antica formula & liquorice vermouth at nearby Vermuteria.
In the Autumn, we went to Crete, the home of the Minoans. We had some fresh seafood dishes in Hania, and some very friendly hosts who offered us mezze and home made rakia when we arrived and gave us home made olive oil and tea!
We entered into the second year of living in West Norwood, and having our own garden, where we introduced even more new herbs and our favourite, courgette flowers! As well as continuing our scenic walks, my favourite exhibition was jointly tied between Home Futures at the Design Museum and the Food exhibition at the V&A.
What was the highlight of your summer?
What would you love to do this season?
What’s the photo that’s captured your summer?