Food and drink are the main ingredients for any holiday, whether it’s a three course meal matched with the ﬁnest wine or a rustic dish washed down with the local tipple, it’s an opportunity to experience a true taste of a destination. And nothing tastes quite as good as sampling the cuisine of a country in which it originates.
Sit down to a plate of freshly caught seafood in Portugal or tuck into an alfresco lunch of Parma ham, olives and warm, crusty bread in Italy. Breathe in the rich, full-bodied flavours that are synonymous with a glass of Red Alentejo or enjoy a refreshing long, fruity drink of Sangria. Combine this with plentiful sunshine, ever changing landscapes, hillside villages and seductive cities; and you have all you could possibly want for a very special escape.
Sometimes with food, simplicity is best and nowhere is this more apt than in Greece; on a timeless Greek island, in a lively taverna, overlooking the Aegean Sea. Whether it’s a fresh, light or hearty dish; a mezze or a moussaka; the wonderful combination of stunning landscapes and warm hospitality provide the perfect setting in which to feast.
Greece is also an incredibly "cheesy" place, its most popular is that of the crumbling kind. In fact, Feta cheese occupies a 70% stake in Greek cheese consumption. This national creamy cheese makes an ideal accompaniment to a crisp Greek Salad (Xoriatiki) with olives picked straight from the tree. Greatly influenced by both Eastern and Western cultures, the food here is sociable and made to be shared, so why not wash it all down with a glass of retsina or a chilled bottle of local wine?
Think of Spain and you automatically conjure up images of rustic seaside towns, wide open esplanades and family run restaurants, serving large plates of Paella. This classic local dish has as many recipes as there are villages. Such is the passion surrounding what makes the perfect Paella that Spain has even dedicated a day to this iconic dish. Having spread from its origins in Valencia throughout the country and beyond, National Paella Day sees cooks hotly contesting traditional family recipes. Cooked on an open wood fire, with ingredients foraged from the surrounding countryside; whether the rice is dry or sticky; this dish tastes heavenly when perfectly paired with a glass of wine from a local Bodega.
Food is one of the cornerstones of Italian culture and its little wonder when the food and drink is so delicioso. From its pasta to its pizza (all cooked with a generous helping of local olive oil that would put Jamie Oliver to shame), to its buffalo mozzarella and its Parma ham, the ingredients are fresh and flavoursome.
After dining alfresco, a fruity Chianti or a refreshing scoop of Gelato will help to cleanse the palate followed by a strong cup of Italian coffee. Considered to be the best in the world, the Italian’s have produced a different variety depending on the time of day. Mid-morning, you can enjoy a frothy cappuccino or latte macchiato and having finished a hearty meal, enjoy the simple pleasures of a shot of espresso.
A cup of tea is a British institution. It is also the most widely consumed drink in the world and although once produced almost exclusively in China; Sri Lanka and India are now also regarded as successful tea growing nations. In the late 1800s, due to the total destruction of their coffee crops, Sri Lanka was forced to switch to tea growing and is now the third largest producer in the world. Here the humidity, cool temperatures and terraced highlands provide the ideal setting to create the perfect pot of tea.
Darjeeling, set against a backdrop of the Eastern Himalayas, is awash with emerald green tea plantations and in the heat of the sun you will see tea pickers intricately picking each individual leaf. From picking to drying to rolling, the complexities of tea production are reliant on the landscape and weather of the region. Depending on the season, the infusion of flavour changes from light and crisp with a hint of citrus, to rich and earthy with an aroma of chocolate.
In the Caribbean you will experience a relaxed attitude and carnival atmosphere, no matter which island you visit. A plate of conch ‘n’ chips, some salsa dancing to the beat of steel drums and a rum cocktail to hand is all it takes to enjoy a taste of the Caribbean lifestyle. When it comes to drink, Rum is the spirit of choice. Distilled from sugar cane molasses, there
are a host of varieties. Whether you choose to try light, golden or dark; consume it neat or with a mixer; enjoy a Planters Punch, Pina Colada or a Frozen Daiquiri; Rum plays an integral part in the Caribbean culture. So raise a glass, put on your dancing shoes and let the good times roll.