Win Tickets to see Charles Metcalfe in action at Foodies Festival Edinburgh

To celebrate Discover the Origin’s return to Foodies Festival, Edinburgh for another year, I’ve teamed up with the people behind the campaign promoting delicious protected products to offer two lucky Delicious Traveller readers a pair of tickets to Foodies Festival in Inverleith Park this weekend –Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th August.

Festival-goers will have the chance to see Discover the Origin take the ‘how’ out of choosing the right wine and creating perfect wine parings with free masterclasses* hosted by celebrity wine expert Charles Metcalfe. Charles is one of the nation’s most well-known and amusing wine critics. He’s equipped with plenty of advice about this summer’s wines, including the best temperature to enjoy them at and what to look out for when choosing a bottle to ensure you’re drinking a quality wine.

Visit the Discover the Origin pagoda to meet the campaign’s team of experts and taste the samples on display alongside their expert guidance. And all in the glorious settings of Edinburgh’s Inverleith Park.

Foodies is the UK’s largest food & drink festival with 10 festivals in 2014 featuring top chefs, producers, pop-up restaurants, street food and live entertainment. To see more about the festival visit foodiesfestival.com.

To be in with a chance of winning a pair of Foodies Festival Edinburgh tickets simply Retweet this tweet:
RT to win a pair of @foodiesfestival Edinburgh tickets from @delictraveller and
@DiscoverOrigin #discoverquality #heritage #protectedstatus

Good luck!

DiscovertheOrigin

DiscovertheOrigin

Discover the Origin is a campaign financed with aid from the EU, France, Italy and Portugal that celebrates the character and heritage of five fine foods and wines with Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status: Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, Parma Ham, Douro Wines, Bourgogne Wines and Port. To learn more and see delicious recipes featuring easy ways to use these little luxuries visit discovertheorigin.co.uk

Ts&Cs: Two winners will be chosen at random at 5pm Friday 8th August 2014 and notified by email the same day.
* Entry to the Drinks Theatre is included in the ticket price. Places are available on a first come, first served basis and entry is limited – register for free entry at the Registration Point opposite the main entrance.

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Sumptuous Secret Supper Club with Malaysian Chef Norman Musa

A secret supper club is always going to be a cool concept and I love the anticipation of where you’ll be eating and what the dishes will be that evening. I tend to build these type of nights up with schoolgirl excitement, it’s my new take on Christmas now that I know ‘Santa’ won’t be coming down the chimney.

I couldn’t wait to arrive at the location, we were told the night before to meet at Hackney Wick station. Although it’s the other side of London for me, I was hoping it would be worth the slep across town. I know … I’m very lazy and have the Londonite mantra,’that I do not cross London at the weekend’ … however, with the promise of great Malaysian delights it didn’t take much persuasion.

We arrive to be greeted by Chef Norman’s excellent staff and a special little helper one of the staff’s sons, offering us a tray of amuse bouche Malayasian treats, all very cute. The venue is Chef Norman’s private residence when he’s in London and it looks directly out onto the Olympic Park, uber cool.

There were a few different groups of people but everybody takes a seat and we start to mix in together as the first dish of the evening arrives. The menu is extensive with 7 different dishes of Malaysian noodles, the first, dish 1 is a Glass Noodle salad with shredded chicken, chilli, spring onions and soy sauce served cold. It’s completely delicious, so good I’m hard-pressed not to eat more .. but with 6 more dishes to come I’d better pace myself, right?

Ning's Glass Noodles

Ning’s Glass Noodles

Malaysian Celebrity Chef Norman Musa

Malaysian Celebrity Chef Norman Musa

Next the ubiquitous spring rolls, ‘Popiah’ with glass noodles and shitake mushrooms, ok but not amazing, they quickly clear these two appetisers and start to bring the first of the Laksas. The apartment is a huge warehouse style open space – and we can happily watch Chef Norman chop, stir and talk through the dishes to his guests.

Coconut-based curry soup

Coconut-based curry soup


Bihun Goreng Satay with Chicken

Bihun Goreng Satay with Chicken

Dish 3 is a ‘Penang Assam Laksa’ Sour fish-based soup with thick rice noodles, shredded fish, finely sliced vegetables, cucumber, red chillies, pineapple, mint, lettuce and ginger and it’s soo very tasty. I tuck in and conversation stops around the table while we in-hale the delightful flavours. Moving swiftly on the dish gets taken away and dish 4 is placed in front of us, a coconut-based curry ‘Laksa Johor’, with toasted coconut, dried prawns, lemongrass, galangal, spices, vietnamese coriander, cucumber and freshly squeezed lime juice. I’m in food heaven so far.. some of my favourite ingredients in one dish!

My Secret Supper Buddies

My Secret Supper Buddies

Next on the menu dish 5 ‘Char Kuey Teow with Prawns’ this menu really is a marathon of noodles and laksas and I’m still trying to pace myself and not get too full too quickly, as I know the best is still to come. Thick rice noodles wok-fried with soy sauce, chilli sauce, beansprouts and King prawns – delish! I’m beginning to wilt but as dish 6 arrives I get my second wind, at the sight of some devine looking ‘Bihun Goreng Satay with chicken’ served in cool little takeaway boxes. This is a wok fried dish of vermicelli rice noodles cooked with Malay satay paste, egg, vegetables and chicken, a subtle taste with a peanut flavour it’s nice and light. Chef Norman talks us through the dish and the traditional Malayasian cooking style he uses, it’s good to know that he and his team are planning the launch of a new restaurant in London in 2014, Ning London. It will be launching off the back of these secret supper nights in London and their already successful venture in Manchester with Ning Manchester.

Our final Laksa of the evening dish 7 is a ‘Kari Laksa with chicken’ a coconut-based soup with vermicelli noodles, bean curd puffs, beansprouts and chicken. It a challenge but so tasty I just had to have seconds! Thankfully dessert dish 8 was light and cool – a ‘cendol’ which is a delicious sweet iced dessert made with lots of crushed ice in a glass, coconut milk, palm syrup and red beans with a ‘famous’ pandan-flavoured strands of green rice flour. Ah.. The End.

Cendol Iced Pandon Dessert

Cendol Iced Pandon Dessert

It’s all good and we roll home to South London with my girls – dreaming of the new Ning London and our next Laksa.

A hidden Tapas Gem in the streets of Marbella

Being a Gypsy at heart, with globetrotting ambitions, I was quite happily surprised when eight years ago on a wet and cold Sunday afternoon over several glasses of Rioja and a Sunday Roast in Solihull, my parents announced they were selling up lock stock and barrel and making the move to… Guess where they said? errr France??? Being Francophiles this had always been on the cards and my Father was comfortable there.. he loved the food, the people, the culture! Well what’s not to love? But no, they had decided to up sticks to Spain…

Met with silence and lots of ‘what’ and ‘whys’ by the family they made the move the following summer. Eight years later and they are now in Estepona, in the Province of Malaga and soaking up 325 days of sunshine, enjoying the renowned beaches, which stretch 21 kms of the coastline and  views of Morocco and the rock of Gibraltar on their horizon. Estepona is on the ‘Costa del Sol’ on the very Southern tip of Southern Spain, nestled between Sotogrande to the West which takes you up towards Tarifa on the ‘Costa de la Luz’ (Coast of wind) and Puerto Banus and Marbella to the East only 20 minutes away.

Estepona Port

Estepona Port

Marbella, famous for it’s chic scene for the ‘jetset’ with its ‘Golden Mile’ strip which houses ‘Marbella Club Hotel’ and ‘Puente Romano’  where you need to take out a mortgage to sit on the sunbeds for an afternoon! The other side to the town is the old town of Marbella, with its cobbled streets, ancient looking locals, and tiny little bars on the narrow cool streets leading up to various Plazas.

One of my favourites is ‘Bar El Estrecho’ – ‘Estrecho meaning narrow’ on Calle de San Lázaro, it serves typically Andalucian tapas food, freshly prepared by the ‘Head cook’ Reyes, who has been there for over 15 years and before that her mother was the head cook for 17 years, who handed down all of the secret recipes and knowledge to her daughter Reyes.

Bar El Estrecho

Bar El Estrecho

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After a morning of shopping in Marbella and enjoying a delicious café con leche at one of the many cafes lining the streets, we headed to  ‘El Estrecho’ for a little family favourite indulgence. The bar is populated by happy locals and tourists alike, with a good selection or Spanish wines, sherries and beers. We opted for an Alhambra Reserva, to wash down our forthcoming tapas feast – Abadajo (cod), Pimento Rellenos (stuffed peppers with monkfish), Albondigas (meatballs in tomato sauce) all tastier than the last and did I mention the homecooked chips!

Bar El Estrecho, inside

Bar El Estrecho, inside

Antique Bench

Antique Bench

tapas dishes

Restaurant area and Tapas dishes on show

Restaurant area and Tapas dishes on show

Albondigas

Albondigas

Ensalada Russa

The Costa del Sol is an easy location to get to travelling from the UK – Malaga, Gibraltar and Jerez all offer extensive flight options throughout the summer and if booked in advance you can get a good deal.

Monarch airlines, Aer Lingus, and Easy Jet all offer frequent and reliable services. Once on the ground there is some infrastructure on the ground such as rail and bus, but car hire is still a much easier transition process from town to town especially in the hot summer months, when air conditioning is an essential travel companion.

Happy travelling and buen provecho!

Meribel La Coeur de les trois Vallees….a skiers dream

Invited to ski by an instructor friend for a final weekend before the end of the season, in Meribel in Les trois Vallees, how could I resist… flight booked, transfer booked, bags packed.

Despite a slightly shaky start thanks to fog in London, I eventually rocked up in Meribel 24 hours later after being transferred from City Airport to Heathrow via Frankfurt to Geneva.. oh the joys of travel. I arrive into resort to beautiful blue sunny skies and head straight for the slopes, there is still plenty of snow and the pistes are extremely well kept.

This season has seen some of the best snow in recent years in Europe and the ski industry is booming at a time when perhaps economically it could be seeing more  challenging times. Skiers and snowboarders are however, thankfully choosing to take a winter snow sports holiday in there droves and tour operators such as Tui has taken the decision to extend the season by an extra week.

Méribel is a ski resort in the  Tarentaise Valley in the French Alps, situated near the town of Moutiers. Meribel has three neighbouring villages in the Les Allues commune: Meribel Centre, Meribel-Mottaret and Meribel Village which is in the heart of the 3 Valleys and interlinked to the largest ski area in the world. Situated at 1,400 km above sea level it was originally founded by a Scotsman Colonel Peter Lindsay in 1936 who was looking for a new winter sports area away from Austria and Germany as the Nazi regime began to grow.  Lindsay used specialised architects Paul Grillo and his partner Christian Durupt, as he wanted to maintain the Savoyard style and control the building development of the resort through his property company.

With so much alpine terrain to choose from it’s hard to decide where to go first, but my guide takes the lead and we head for some easy blue and red runs in La Sauliere. The slopes are fantastic and easy for beginners to navigate as well as intermediates. I even ventured down some mogul fields quite well given it was a while since I’d attempted them.

Meribel by J.M Gouedard.

The 3 Valley’s has some of the best terrain in the Alps, from skiing down through the alpine trees into La Tania and across the mountains to Courchevel it’s beautifully breathtaking. As we ski down towards Courchevel we see the Courchevel airport which was featured in the James Bond movie “Tomorrow Never Dies”, it’s the world’s 7th most dangerous airport due to the short runway only 525 m (1,722 ft) with a gradient of 18.5% and nosedive cliff tops. I can see why it’s dangerous! note to self not to use it, an unlikely possibility as it’s namely Oligarch’s arriving on their Private Lear Jets.

After a morning’s skiing and trying to keep up with L’Instructor and not look too silly (falls x 2, don’t think he noticed) we stopped for lunch. Dining on the slopes is always such a luxury, and “Le Blanchot”  did not fail to impress with its stunning mountain views and gastronomic menu choice. We opted for the more traditional French Savoie dishes of  “Chaud fromage en boite” with potatoes, delicious french bread and salad and a traditional “Savoie rosti”. There is also a skiers ‘ dish of the day’ and a two course ‘skiers menu’ a good way to enjoy “Le Blanchot” without blowing the budget. The service is very good and a great spot for people watching or catching a few rays.

Back in the village and Meribel is thriving, there were lots of people buzzing about, French and Brits out in force together and enjoying their afternoon. There are lots of bars and restaurants to choose from in the village, apres ski is big business here. We go for Barometer bar which is slightly more relaxed and just off the piste, the atmosphere is fun and everybody seems to be in a good mood.

For dinner we opted for “La Fromagerie”, a cheese shop by day and basement restaurant by night. It was absolutely charming in that very Gallic way, the half wheel of raclette was everything I had been dreaming of with lots of yummy cheese drizzled over gherkins and potatoes.. just goregous. My Seasonnaire was at pains to tell me that whatever I wore to dinner I would need to wash immediately afterwards from the overpowering smell of cheese. It was bad but not as bad as a ‘ Munster Cheese’ smell we had to endure on one car trip back from France, courtesy of my Father.

After a brief but amazing weekend in Meribel I can see why everybody has the ski bug it is just so much fun. I’m certainly planning my next trip out there for 2013/14 season.

Flight from : London City Airport – Geneva 1hr45 with Swiss Air/ British Airways/ Lufthansa

Transfer from: Geneva to Meribel – 3hr (threevalleetransfers – http://www.3vt.co.uk/)

British Ski & Snowboard School – http://www.skinewgen.com/resorts/meribel/