Sunday, 11 January 2015

#tasteoftravel - My three course travel menu

There are a few things you need to know about my travel habits, before you read any further.

Firstly, I've never really fully experienced proper wanderlust. I've always wanted to visit places, and see the world - but in my own time. Sadly, my worries about safety and money often mask my desire to roam the globe...but I am hoping this year will change that.

Secondly, I've never set foot outside of Europe. I've been to Spain, France, Switzerland, Germany...but no further. This, again, is something I'd love to change, though I think Europe has so much to offer, and I'd love to keep exploring it too.

Finally, I'd love to try as many foreign foods as possible - but the two previous points have hindered that slightly! Although I love the Thai, Chinese, Moroccan and Indian food I've eaten here in the UK, I'm pretty sure it's even better in their actual country of origin.

When I heard about #tasteoftravel - the chance to create a menu out of your most favourite dishes themed around travelling - I was concerned that I had not set foot in enough countries to participate. However, I have decided to take things in a slight alternative direction...

My menu reflects my third and final point; that my experiences of meals in Europe and in Britain have all inspired me to try something new. The meals featured that were eaten in other countries inspired me to keep travelling around Europe; and the meal(s) eaten in Britain have inspired me to visit their countries of origin to try the 'real thing'.

So, without further ado, here is my #tasteoftravel menu. Here's to an adventurous - and delicious - 2015!


Thai Crispy Squid - Mango, Southampton

This is the course that really relates to the whole 'inspiring me to travel more' statement above. Mango, a Thai restaurant in Southampton, is one of my favourite restaurants, and it was there that I first tried squid. As someone who isn't a huge fan of seafood (I've only just started ordering cod with my chips!) I was pleasantly surprised when I fell in love with this dish. I order it every time I go to the restaurant.

This dish is memorable for me because it introduced me to seafood, and therefore to trying something new. Chances are, by trying something new, you'll discover something you'll love and, if not, at least it's memorable! I also love this dish because I have shared it with many people I love, and so eating it also holds fond memories for me; dinner dates and celebratory meals at Mango have always involved crispy squid and smiles!

This dish is just divine and so moreish. It's melt-in-the-mouth, meaty and not chewy (as good squid should be) and the flavours are stunning. I have it on good authority that Mango is very accurate in terms of it's authenticity, and so I would love to visit Thailand for myself to see what the food is like there in comparison. This dish has inspired me to go further and to try new things.

There's nothing like starting the meal off with something to really tantalise the taste buds - so why not go for something really exotic?


Tapas, Barcelona, Spain

I went to Barcelona in the summer of 2011 and spent all of my money on food. I adore tapas, and gorged on chorizo, patatas bravas, tortilla and calamari until my shorts felt too tight. You can't go to Spain without trying authentic tapas, and I've never had better.

Leading on from what I mentioned with my starter, I stupidly didn't try much seafood in Barcelona - and I'd love to go back now to be more adventurous! I mostly ordered meat and vegetarian paella and tapas dishes rather than indulging the city's famed seafood. However, I didn't miss out - every meal I ate was moreish, and bursting full of flavour.

Spanish food for me is also a comfort food. It's warm, spiced with paprika, laced with the heat of chorizo, manchego or tomato, and comes in enough small dishes to feed a miniature army. I love nothing more than picking at different foods, buffet-style, loading up my plate with rich, tasty bites with friends and family, so this as a main meal suits me perfectly.  Tapas is also my choice for my main because it's a dish which brings everyone together - it's a social meal, and the company you have at a dinner party needs to be just as exciting as the food. Where else does this better than Spain?

Tapas may be more 'main dishes' than 'main dish', but for me it's the perfect main meal at any travel-themed dinner party, and my love for tapas and fond memories of beautiful Barcelona has increased my thirst to return to Spain for more Sun, seafood and sangria (of course!)


Risalamande - Denmark

(Please excuse the poor photos! It was dark and I was hungry for pudding.)

In 2013 I visited a friend in Denmark - a place I never even thought I'd go to - and we went to a cake buffet. Yes, you heard me correctly! It was pure heaven.

Anyway, we enjoyed sampling all of the different cakes which had been laid out on a groaning table in the cosiest cafe, from brownie to rich apple pie. I devoured puddings by candlelight, surrounded by my friends, in a beautiful wintry country. The dish that stood out for me was Risalamande. 

This particular gem is a traditional Christmas dish from Denmark, which simply involves rice pudding mixed generously with vanilla, whipped cream and almonds, topped with an indulgent cherry sauce. You don't need too much to enjoy it, and it's lighter and fluffier than you expect. Creamy, sweet and unusual, I think this would be the perfect dessert for our three course meal. It's from a country which is the opposite of Thailand, where our starter was from, so you really have travelled the world in one sitting! It also reincarnates memories of a cold weekend in Denmark with two close friends.

This menu takes me around the world, from warm to cold climates, and every dish featured inspires me to continue travelling even more to taste new things, whether that's further around Europe, or beyond.

More importantly, this menu highlights the importance of having good company with your meal. The people who surround you, be they strangers or the closest of friends, make an adventure even more memorable. These meals all hold happy memories for me, and inspire me to make even more in the future. They take me back to special moments in my life, and remind me to take the plunge to try new foods and adventures. 

Travel is a multi-sensory experience - and often, it's who you do it with that can make a difference. My menu brings taste, love and adventure all together. It's an unusual mix of foods, yes, and maybe not very conventional- but the memories these dishes bring back to me of my past travels makes this my perfect dinner party menu. I can't wait to have more adventures this year, to try new dishes, meet new people, and make more amazing foodie memories!

Fancy creating your own #tasteoftravel menu? If you complete it by Monday 12 January, you're in with the chance of winning a seven-night cruise, and some other amazing prizes. If you've read this all the way through, and feel inspired, I nominate you to create your own (since it's too late to directly nominate four bloggers myself - oops!).

To find out more about #tasteoftravel and the idea behind it, pop over to Celebrity Cruises.

Happy New Year everyone!


  1. This post made me really hungry!
    I love trying new food.

    Jennifer Jayne xx