Memorable meals [ November 11th, 2014 ] Posted in » Articles, Food, Travel articles

The Rock Restaurant, Zanzibar

The Rock Restaurant, Zanzibar

Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune to eat in some top quality restaurants in the UK and around the world.  But, while gourmet food is always fantastic at the time, I’ve come to the conclusion that memorable meals are really made so because of the location, the occasion and the people they are shared with.

One of my most unforgettable meals was a stuffed butternut squash, cooked over an open fire in the Okavango Delta in Botswana.  The fact that the guide leading our trip bothered to make such an intricate and tasty dish with only a wilderness camp fire for an oven still amazes me.  The act of sitting under the stars to share it with new friends from around the globe and our local guides from a neighbouring village in Botswana before we all embarked on camp fire tales and singing made it a meal to remember forever.

When it comes to scenic restaurants, a couple of places top my list.  In Israel, we once ate at The Red Sea Star restaurant which is underwater in the Red Sea.  I no longer have any clue what I ate on the night, but I’ll never forget the bizarre experience of eating a three course meal as beautiful species such as Red Sea Clownfish, Lionfish and the odd turtle swam past the windows.  I’m pretty sure we didn’t eat fish.

On the beautiful island of Zanzibar, we once spent a very happy lunchtime eating at The Rock Restaurant, a tiny little place on an islet just off the beach.  The view out across the Indian Ocean was breathtaking and part of the fun was wading back to shore after our meal, when the islet had become cut off by the high tide.

Without doubt though, top of the memorable meals list for me was a dining experience we shared in a rural family home in Vietnam last year, after a morning visiting the villagers involved in an micro financed project we were supporting.  We were invited into the home of a local lady who showed us how to cook a delicious range of traditional Vietnamese dishes, including fresh spring rolls, which were fried over the open fire in her kitchen.  For us  the very fact that we’d been invited into a village home made it a very special meal for us.  I think we provided some reciprocal enjoyment for our host too, because she was most amused by our attempts to use chopsticks to turn the food frying over the open fire.  Thankfully, she intervened and deftly flipped them, or we’d have frazzled them for sure.

It was simple home cooked food, but in a place and with people I will never forget.

 

 

 

 

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Beautiful Broads

Norfolk Wildlife Trust boat

Norfolk is a gorgeous county. Many of its coastal towns and villages, such as Cley and Brancaster Staithes are still wonderful havens of peace and tranquillity, where the simple holiday pleasures of rock pools, buckets and spades and great seafood still rule the day. Perfect for a relaxing English  seaside break. Just a little further inland, are the Norfolk Broads; a winding trail of waterways that provide a haven for birds and wildlife.

Inspired by the glorious early June weather, we decided to head off to the Broads recently, in search of British birds and wildlife.

A bit of research lead us to the Norfolk Wildlife Trust which manages a number of nature reserves in the region.  We’d booked ahead to join one of their wildlife spotting boat trips and duly joined skipper Maurice and a couple of other visitors for what turned out to be a truly idyllic two hour journey through the reed beds.

It was like stepping back in time.  On the larger expanses of water, people were busy with the traditional ‘brown boat’ sailing dinghies, streaming along in the wind, for all the world as if they’d just dropped out of ‘Swallows and Amazons’.  The more sedate sailors were pottering around on houseboats and day cruisers, or sitting on deck in the sunshine with a mug of tea.Coltishall riverside pub

On our eco friendly electric boat, we were able to chug quietly up and down some of the narrower channels, keeping a sharp eye open for anything interesting along the way. We were rewarded with close up views of many birds, including Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers and there were so many Marsh Harriers soaring on the thermals above us that we lost count.  Our eyes popped as we saw a grass snake swim from one side of the reed bed to the other and Swallowtail butterflies fluttered around in a mesmerising aerial dance.

A one stage, we briefly left the boat and climbed to the top of the Trust’s special viewing platform, to take in a panoramic view of the Norfolk Broads, with sailboats dotted like tiny handkerchiefs in the distance.  We fancied that we might have glimpsed one of the region’s breeding pairs of Cranes, but had to concede that it was in fact a Grey Heron lurking to fool us.

Topped off by a pleasant saunter around the reserve’s nature trails and finally a leisurely pub lunch, it would be hard to imagine a more perfect English summer’s day out.  It didn’t cost the earth, we learned a lot about the area and our visit helped to provide a little bit of the money that the Trust needs to keep protecting this precious environment for generations to come.

Who could ask for more?

June 21st, 2010 | Comments Off on Beautiful Broads

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