I first went to Greece when I was 17 as a treat for passing my A levels (not with great distinction I have to confess). My mother and I went on a cruise round the islands about which I can’t remember a great deal apart from having a crush on one of the cabin stewards who bore an uncanny resemblance to Sean Connery in his James Bond heyday. And was probably my mother’s age. Nothing came of it I'm sorry to say although mother, of course, was profoundly relieved.
I’ve been thinking this past couple of days that I’ve been getting it all wrong about travelling. The frantic search for the best hotel, the hottest restaurants, the relentless attempt to tick the *must see* boxes. But I’m going to have to admit after two days in Athens I didn’t even make it to the centre.
We Londoners are spoiled for choice when it comes to weekend breaks. A lot of people are drawn west to the Cotswolds or south to Sussex, Hampshire and the New Forest. For me, though, East Anglia takes some beating.
Ever since lastminute.com introduced us all to the nailbiting thrill of leaving our hotel booking until the final moment it’s generally been assumed that’s the best way to get a bargain. But does it work on one of the most heavily booked nights of the year, New Year’s Eve, especially in a top destination like London?
A few weeks ago I was invited to try out the menu at the Hotel du Vieux Moulin, Domaine Laroche’s wine bar and restaurant in a converted water mill in Chablis. What they didn’t mention was that they’d just opened a cutting edge boutique hotel.
In the second of his features on his recent trip to China, food writer and restaurant guide inspector Stuart Walton examines the burgeoning restaurant scene in Beijing and Shanghai
I’m embarrassed to admit that until last week I’d never been to Beaujolais - it was the one French wine region that had passed me by. I’d heard it was attractive and even on a bleak early March day it was - the famous villages are clustered improbably closely together in the middle of pretty, rolling countryside, spiked by soaring church towers.
This week I have been mainly driving around the south of England in a large open-top Beemer. No, it’s not our car, we were offered it by the nice people at BMW who obviously got me confused with the Guardian motoring correspondent. But who was I to disillusion them?
You might think an establishment run by the world’s best sommelier would be intimidating. After all if anyone knows what wine to choose and the right way to serve it it would be Gerard Basset, who scooped the title back in April (right). But happily Basset is a modest man who puts the comfort of his customers above any desire to flaunt his credentials.
Eating out in Venice is not cheap, as we’ve discovered, but there are ways of mitigating the cost (essential if you’re spending a fortnight in the city!) Here are five of the more classic Venetian restaurants we’ve been to. Some less expensive and off the beaten track options over the next few days.
Last post (for the moment) from Paris! A quick run-down of the most interesting food and wine ideas I picked up for those of you who haven’t time to read the full reviews:Sardines - cheap, sustainable - this summer’s must-eat fish, it seems. Grilled (Le Temps au Temps), served with red peppers and black-eye beans (La Gazzetta) served whole in a tin with seaweed butter (Cristal de Sel)
As you walk through the door of Al Pompiere in Verona you could easily be back in the '70s. A timbered ceiling, checked table cloths, walls lined with pictures of guests through the ages, it’s every inch the traditional trat. In one corner where hams line the shelves and hang from the ceiling an elderly chef in a toque is slicing ham and other salumi to order with a large, impressively flashy machine. If you think it’s old-fashioned though take a look at their website - the retro feel is deliberate but they’re linked to all the social media.
Every summer we used to drive down to our house in Languedoc in the south of France stopping off a couple of nights on the way. This post on our favourite hotels and chambres d’hotes was written back in 2014 but I've updated it with a new discovery, L'Hibernie.
It’s the evening of December 27th and my daughter and I are holed up in the luxurious Rosewood hotel in London tucking into a club sandwich (her) and a lobster macaroni cheese (me) on room service.