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, after a morning visit to 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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Medicinal weeds and wild foods

Identifying Sweet CicelyToday I set off to find out more about medicinal weeds and wild foods. I didn’t have to travel to the Australian outback and hook up with Ray Mears, I simply set off for Forge Dam in Fulwood, Sheffield and joined a guided walk being led by local herbalist Calder Bendle.

It proved to be a completely fascinating two hours. About 10 of us trundled along after our expert, who explained that there would be plenty of opportunity to taste things along the way. We all swapped apprehensive glances, as he clearly wasn’t referring to a tea break at Forge cafe.

We needn’t have worried though, as he most certainly knew his stuff. The first tasting was of Sweet Cicely, which has a beautiful sweet aniseed flavour and can be used for all manner of things, from sweetening sour fruits in cooking, to the creation of herbal remedies for disorders such as indigestion. Although it looks uncannily like Cow Parsley at first glance, it wasn’t long before we got the hang of the differences and we all started making our proud identifications of the plant as we wandered along. You wouldn’t think that Forge Dam was so full of plants, but during the walk we discovered the amazing properties of no less than 20 plants that we wouldn’t have given a second glance to without the endless knowledge and enthusiasm of ‘Bendle’

The event was organised by Sheffield Environment weeks and is one of more than 200 activities taking part throughout the city, which aim to promote environmental awareness.

I went along out of personal interest, but it was very valuable and I’m sure that some of the information I gathered will be of great use as I develop my new range of greeting cards called ‘natural healing’.

May 14th, 2008 | Comments Off on Medicinal weeds and wild foods

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