Tag Archives: foodie

Queenstown, New Zealand: An Edible Itinerary

When my parents dropped the bombshell that they were planning on flying out to New Zealand to visit me and they wanted me to plan them a no-holds-barred itinerary, I never imagined that the hardest part would be short-listing all of my favourite places to eat. Given my obsession with all things edible and my insatiable appetite for eating out, I suppose this shouldn’t have come as a surprise.

Queenstown boasts an impressive concentration of bars and restaurants, and to save you the pain and difficulty of choosing between the best establishments, I’ve drawn up a whistle-stop 24-hour food itinerary of menus that you absolutely must not miss.

Breakfast:  Bespoke Kitchen

You’ve arrived in the adventure capital of the world nice and early. You’ve got the entire day ahead of you to throw yourself off high things and scream at full lung capacity. What first? Breakfast and coffee, of course.

Bespoke Kitchen sits metres away from the Skyline gondola, one of the must-do sightseeing attractions of Queenstown. It may be more convenient to simply grab a coffee if you’re heading up the gondola to enjoy the view, but if you’ve got a bit of spare time before you do, it would be seriously rude (and foolish) not to give Bespoke a go.  

Bespoke has a small(ish) but fantastically varied menu offering all the usual suspects; expect perfect poached eggs, smashed avocado and fresh raw pressed juice alongside a multitude of options for people avoiding gluten, dairy and sugar. Your mind will be blown by the pure decadence of these raw treats. The chocolate salted caramel squares are perfect with Bespoke’s famous coffee, and are completely dairy-free, gluten-free and sugar-free. However, for those with no dietary requirements, there’s plenty of ‘normal’ cake to go around (the carrot cake is truly something to behold). The lunch menu also boasts a few firm favourites, though I must admit that I have opted for the pulled lamb flatbread with pumpkin hummus on more than one occasion because it was so delicious, barely giving the other dishes half a chance.

Bespoke Kitchen, Queenstown (source: tripadvisor)

On a more practical note, Bespoke Kitchen has outdoor seating, warmed by an open log fire and cosy blankets in the winter time, so even if you’ve swerved the sun and arrived in Queenstown to ski, you can still enjoy the mouth-watering treats Bespoke Kitchen has to offer. Continue reading

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How Asia Made Me Vegan

This entry is part 22 of 23 in the series World Kitchen

Last year I spent three months travelling around South East Asia.  When I left home I’d been wanting to make the final leap from vegetarian to vegan for some time. I’d already replaced cow’s milk for almond milk and I wasn’t too fussed about eggs but giving up butter and cheese seemed impossible.

Then I went to Asia. Continue reading

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Austin, Texas: All The Food

In a town that doesn’t do things by the half measure (think thousands of music fans swarming the streets for film festival South by Southwest or the 106,000-seat football stadium), you can be sure that the same goes for food. Austin is a city which boasts some of the greatest barbecue in America, as well as a host of independent restaurants and fast food trucks on any given street which will unanimously confirm that everything in Texas is, indeed, bigger.

No place epitomises this more so than Franklin’s, the legendary Austin BBQ establishment that’s been featured on just about every food network show there is; but Franklin’s is more famous for the experience than anything else — every day of the week, without fail, a line will form from the entrance and snake right round to the back of the restaurant. You have to get there before 10am or your chances of being let in become incredibly slim — I arrived at 9.30 and didn’t make it through the doors until well after midday. On the plus side of having to wait three hours for food, you get to experience that true American pastime that is ‘tailgating’ as Franklin’s roll out the deck chairs, equipped with drink holders so you can get a buzz on to pass the time. And when you get in, the sides and the schnitzels are great, but do yourself a favour and get a pound of brisket meat. It’s cooked slowly for around twenty-four hours and is only nice to eat for the first hour after it’s taken out, which is why Franklin’s is only open for such a short period over lunch every day. This may well be the best brisket in the world, so really, sitting around drinking beer isn’t the worst way you could spend a morning while you wait for it.

One of Austin’s more appealing qualities is that it’s distinctly unlike other American or Texan cities, in that the downtown area is very walkable. Franklin’s is only fifteen minutes or so from the bars and buzz of 6th Street and there are a number of other great restaurants in the downtown district such as Gus’ on 2nd, who fry their chicken in peanut butter oil — heavenly. American football fans will remember Vince Young as the talented quarterback who led Texas to victory in the National Championship game a few years back but his new venture, the aptly named Vince Young Steakhouse brought more joy to me with its great quality beef and massive portions than seeing him scamper past the USC defence to win the trophy — even the ridiculous amount of American cheese they loaded onto the potato gratin didn’t ruin one of the best rib eye steaks I’ve had the pleasure of eating. This is pricey but seriously good food.

Austin's first love - source 365thingsaustin

Vince Young at his steakhouse  source: 365thingsaustin

If you walk around downtown enough, you can also stumble upon any number of food trucks serving quality cuisines from the world over. Most are open really late to cater for the stumbling drunk crowd that inevitably forms around 6th Street in the wee hours of the following mornings.

Much like getting blind drunk, Whataburger is a Texas institution. As locals will tell you, ‘It’s our answer to that In N’ Out Burger garbage’ but, being in a decent position to judge American fast food, I can’t say it really has anything on In N’ Out, Five Guys et al. For Austin’s ‘Best Burger in Town’ (officially voted), head across the river to the Hopdoddy Burger Bar on South Congress — without fail the tastiest you’ll have in Austin. If you’re not really too keen on having another burger while you’re travelling, at least go there for the parmesan truffle fries, a ridiculous creation which is as good as it sounds.

An authentic taste of America wouldn’t be authentic without visiting an ice cream shop, of which Austin has many: my pick would be Amy’s, which has three central locations and whose servers make every trip a fun event. (Side note: I was chided by them for ordering plain ice cream). The locals prefer to ‘load up’ their cups with a variety of toppings, ranging from gummy bears to chocolate drops, and the servers will put on a royal show for you as they mix these extras into your cup.

Amy's Ice Cream - source David Ingram dingatx

Amy’s Ice Cream – source: David Ingram

As with all the establishments mentioned, Amy’s is a local business and you really get a taste of that welcoming, Southern hospitality here. The same can be said for the best-named restaurant in town —and probably in history — Juan in a Million. They serve up monster breakfast burritos for ridiculously low prices and the portly, smiling figure of Juan himself is often on hand to personally thank you for visiting. The lack of chain restaurants in Austin is a pleasant change, and it’s these little intricacies of the local joints that grew on me; forget the music and sport (for a minute) — this is a foodie town first.

Featured photo © Philip Kromer

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Bringing the Middle East to the Midlands: The Best of Leicester’s Arabic Food Scene

When one is asked to think of the UK’s most cosmopolitan, culinary cities, Leicester, a city of over 300,000 situated in the heart of England, doesn’t often spring to mind: and as a result the somewhat quiet city is often overlooked by many a discerning foodie.

This is undoubtedly a crying shame, as Leicester’s massively diverse population means that whilst the city may be lacking in Michelin stars and celebrity chefs, it more than makes up for it with a dazzling and mouthwatering array of international cuisine, served up by chefs from all corners of the globe who have decided to make Leicester their home. Whilst those familiar with Leicester know that Indian restaurants are undoubtedly the most popular, Middle Eastern influence is heavy here, and the result is some of the best authentic Arabic cuisine around. Continue reading

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The Foodie’s Guide to the Caribbean Islands

This entry is part 10 of 23 in the series World Kitchen

The Jamaican author Virginia Burke claims that ‘Caribbean food has something for everyone,’ and with the region’s abundance of fresh ingredients and spices as well as a multitude of cultural influences, it’s difficult to argue with her. The history of the Caribbean helps to explain its unique gastronomy, with food reflecting the British, French, Spanish and Dutch colonial pasts, which combine with the islands’ wealth of seafood and tropical fruit to create some truly distinctive specialities. In this article,  I explore a selection of Caribbean islands to identify how their staple dishes differ, and what’s on offer at some of the most highly recommended local restaurants.

Continue reading

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