A Food & Travel Blog

Attention Adelaide Food Entrepreneurs – Adelaide Central Market Wants You!

27/03/2015 | By

Adelaide Central MarketHave you been quietly nursing a food business dream? Are  you keen to get into the food scene in Adelaide but worried about starting out on your own?


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Han Market – Da Nang

01/09/2014 | By

Warning – some graphic images.

So – even though I was on vacation and fully committed to lying around in the resort as much as possible, and the 8.00 am start was outrageously early – when I was offered a chance to pay a visit to Han Market, the major market place in Da Nang, I think you could guess my answer. There I was, camera ready, first on the bus, but alone.


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Montreal Mange – A glimpse at How Montreal Eats!

18/11/2013 | By

Sitting on an island in the St. Lawrence River, Montreal is the worlds second largest French-speaking city – and damn proud of it. The French architectural influence makes it a gorgeous looking city and it is very user friendly, with 47 square kilometres of green space, 500 kilometres of bike paths and over 5,000 restaurants. Really, if you can’t find a good feed in this town you are doing something seriously wrong.


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Bulgarian Fresh Food – With Produce like This, No Wonder They Love Salads!

04/11/2013 | By


The mountains behind Sofia

Bulgaria is a very beautiful country, full of rolling mountains, glistening lakes and alpine valleys, with a culinary tradition influenced by 500 years of occupation and a strong agricultural tradition. Before World War II, agriculture was the chief sector of the Bulgarian economy, but the face of this changed substantially after the war with the collectivisation of over 90% of agricultural land. Private, domestic vegetable plots have always been maintained on some level, contributing quite substantially to alleviating food shortages at some stages of Bulgarian history and probably going some way to explaining the passion in that country for the range of fabulous, fresh salads available everywhere.

Fresh berries at Sofia's Women's Market

Since 2007, Bulgaria has been a member of the European Union and agriculture is once again a thriving part of the economy. The countryside is a cornucopia of orchards and fields of vegetable crops, and almost every home in every village that we drove through had extensive and well tended vegetable gardens. Most of the produce from these gardens is organic as few can afford costly fertilisers or pesticides.

figs! Sofia night markets

market  vendor at the Womens Market, Sofia

Those who live in the cities and towns source their fresh produce from a range of outdoor markets of varying sizes and at the random roadside stalls that pop up spontaneously in side lanes and street corners. I visited the largest of these, The Women’s Market, which is extensive, with a wide range of seasonal produce supplied and sold by small-holders from near-by outlying regions. The food here is truly magnificent, although it would be unrealistic to expect to find your new best friend here – the traders are a somber lot. This may have something to do with the prices which are eye-poppingly cheap – great for the consumer, but not such a happy circumstance for the grower.

red capsicums, The Women's Market, Sofia

the Women's Market, Sofia

I also paid a visit to the night markets on Graf Ignatiev Street in central Sofia. This is a popular shopping street, with trams running down the centre of the road. If retail therapy is what floats your boat, I’d suggest having a wander through the many small boutiques and stores around there but, once again, I just couldn’t take my eyes off the amazing fresh foods. One stall was selling hot, ready-cooked pumpkin which was available in whole slabs or prepackaged with a spoon, ready to eat while you wander around window-shopping.

Cooked pumpkin, night markets, Sofia.

pomegranates, Sofia Night Markets

 grapes, the size of small plums - Women's Market, Sofia

My visit was in the early days of the northern autumn, so wonderful food was still readily available – I’d imagine the selection would become much more limited later in the year, although I suspect the Christmas markets would be pretty special. With such abundance around me, I enjoyed fresh berries and fruit with my morning yoghurt (another of their specialties), but the one thing that truly blew me away was the flavour quality of the tomatoes. I ate the local specialty, Shopska Salad, every day and was never once disappointed in the colour, flavour or texture of the tomatoes. No wonder they’re so keen on their salads in Bulgaria – they’d be mighty disappointed if their tomato selection was limited to the poor examples we tolerate here.

Bulgarian tomatoes

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Farmers Markets, Shopping Lists & Maple Caramel Pecan Shortbread

24/10/2013 | By

 Caramel Pecan Shortbread

When it comes to efficient supermarket shopping and saving money, they say there are a few good rules to remember  – take a shopping list, know where everything is in the store so you don’t get distracted and never go shopping while hungry as you’ll buy more than you need. However, you need to throw those rules away when shopping in a farmers market, because the ideal way to make the most of the experience and get the best of the seasonal produce available is to do the exact opposite!

When visiting your local farmers market – and I would urge you to do so, for a whole heap of reasons – the best plan of action is to firstly do a quick reconnoitering lap of all the stalls to work out what looks best on that particular day, whose prices you like and also to give you time to think about what you might make with the produce available. Once you’ve done your “reccy” it’s time to get out the purse and shopping bag and get serious. It’s also important to be realistic about how much to buy – there’s no point in buying a whole heap of magnificent fresh produce if you are not going to have the time or resources to cook it all up and store it before it spoils.


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Exploring Canada – Munching my Way Around Moncton, New Brunswick

19/08/2013 | By

Inside The Tide & Boar, Moncton, New Brusnwick

One of my convoluted issues with travel is that when I find somewhere I really love, I have to leave it – simply by virtue of the fact that I’m travelling.  Frequently I then find that I love the next pace I visit just as much, thus adding places I want to revisit to my traveling bucket list rather than ticking them off.  Such is the case with Canada. I have no doubt I am a long way from finished with that wonderful country.

After seeing way too little of Nova Scotia (I know, that sounds greedy doesn’t it?) my next stop was in Moncton, New Brunswick. The city of Moncton is the geographic centre of Atlantic Canada and central to two contrasting coasts; the Fundy Coast (with the highest tides in the world) and the Acadian Coast (with the warmest saltwater beaches north of Virginia and the warmest saltwater beaches in Canada).  With it’s dual French and English heritage it is considered a microcosm of Canadian culture and, indicative of this, hosts the Frye Literary Festival, not only  the largest bilingual literary festival in Canada, but also the largest literary event in the country.

Naturally enough, it is also home to some great culinary traditions of both cultures including the largest wine festival east of Quebec and a commitment both urban beekeeping and the 100 mile diet in the local restaurants. The dining options range from fine dining in the award-winning Windjammer Restaurant of the Delta Beausejour Hotel to beer and pizza in a brewhouse – and all points in between. Here are a few of my food favourites from my time in Moncton.

The Tide and Boar, Moncton

Polenta Fries, The Tide & Boar, Moncton

The Tide and Boar Gastropub was recently featured on The Food Network’s “You Gotta Eat Here” and has been named one of Canada’s Top 50 Restaurants – with good reason. They specialise in creative food and craft beer and take their Boar (and the rest of the menu) very seriously with the menu showcasing in-house cured meats and charcuterie featuring boar meat.  Our visit was at lunchtime, so it was a little too early in the day for me to contemplate tackling their very substantial Boar Poutine, but the Polenta Fries were crisp and tasty.  I’m not surprised this restaurant was voted Best Casual Dining in Atlantic Canada – check it out when you’re in town!

Pizza, Pump House Brewery, Moncton

Pepperoni Pizza, Pump House Brewery, Moncton

Blueberry Ale, Pump House Brewery, Moncton

The Pump House Brewery and Restaurantwas established by Moncton Firefighter and brewer Shaun Fraser in 1999 after he had spent some years travelling the world setting up breweries for others. He must have a trick or two up his sleeves as the Pump House has won Canadian Brewery of the year, while its beer has been awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals in various competitions. The Brew House restaurant menu is sizeable, with all sorts of tempting bar-style food and snacks including buffalo burgers, beer steamed mussels, steaks and wood-oven pizza. The beers are available on-tap or to go and I was startled to find he brews a blueberry ale which I just had to try. The fresh, peppery, sweetness of the blueberries added a surprising and very pleasing element to the ale – it would make it interesting to cook with, I suspect.

bird houses, Moncton Farmers Market

 home-made cinnamon scrills, Moncton Markets

Moncton Market fresh produce 1

Moncton Market maple syrup 1

The Moncton Market is located in the heart of town and features over 130 vendors selling almost exclusively locally produced goods. I had a glorious morning wandering around the crowded market (it’s obviously very popular) checking out the fresh local produce, craft items, baked goods and a heartbreakingly tempting array of maple syrups. The range of maple products available in Canada was a constant torment to me, so I ate it in every possible way I could. It is a weakness of mine and was the source of much weight in my luggage on returning home.

Home-made potato chips, Moncton Market.

home-made earwig trap, Moncton Market

To my utter delight I found a tea shop on the main street of Moncton. It can be quite difficult to get a decent cup of tea when travelling and staying in hotels so this was a bit of a high point in my day – I know, I’m a bit sad when it comes to tea. Atthéa is owned by the delightful, if completely computer-illiterate, Rhea who is a tea sommelier and one of the first 12 graduates in the course from the George Brown College in Toronto. She is as passionate as she is knowledgeable about tea and enormously generous with her time. She serves, and sells, a range of artisan teas, some of which she blends herself, and especially seeks out the traditional teas. The store is open later on Friday evenings and is becoming something of a meeting place for women who gather there after work for a restorative cup or two. Sounds like the perfect way to end the working week!

Atthéa Teas, Moncton 1

Rhea of Atthéa Teas Moncton

Lambs’ Ears and Honey was a guest of the Canadian Tourism Commission and Tourism New Brunswick.


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