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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Top 5 places to stay

Whether it’s five star luxury in a hotel or free camping in the wild, holiday accommodation is a big part of the travel experience and it can make or break a trip. I’ve been lucky enough to stay in a wide range of different places over the years, experiencing the extremes of luxury, to the most rudimentary hostel imaginable and I’m developing a list of favourite places, starting with my present top five.


Number 1 – The Okavango Delta – bush camping 

Okavango Elephants

Forget fancy hotel and lodges – for me, bush camping is the only way to stay when visiting the awesome Okavango Delta in Botswana. Travelling in quietly by Mokoro canoe reveals wildlife watching opportunities that simply wouldn’t be possible in a 4×4 or plane, giving anyone who is willing to get back to basics a real chance to be at one with nature for a few days.

There is something quite spectacular about camping in the wild and hearing lions roar and hyenas call in the early hours of the morning – scary but overwhelmingly exciting at the same time.  Added to this, few things can top the sight of elephants coming to drink at the river, just feet away from camp.

With no loo, shower or any other creature comforts it it takes guts to give it a go, but our guide was a wealth of information about the local wildlife and habitat, making it a privilege and pleasure to be there.  Using guides from the villages helps to sustain local communities, protecting traditional lifestyles and supporting conservation work.

If you don’t unpack unless you’ve checked out room service and the mini bar, it’s probably not for you, but it’s out of this world if you have a spirit of adventure.

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May 20th, 2009 | Comments Off on Top 5 places to stay

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