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Favourite Food

&

Travel quotes

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It's so beautifully arranged on the plate - you know someone's fingers have been all over it.― Julia Child

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Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Maxims and Reflections

 


National Day of ...

Hungary 20 August (St. Stephen's day)

What do Hungarians eat?

 

What is this unusual Hungarian bread?

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See all the National Days for August...

 


 

See where we have been...

23 percent of the world's countries!


If you missed seeing last week's story about Kashmir....

....here it is now.

 


SIX great whalewatching destinations worldwide.

Discover where they are...


 

Did you know that France covers more time-zones than any other country?

Find out why...

 


Spice travel with Herbie!

Learn more here....

 


We caught a whale!

...on camera

 


 

Stay in a Royal Pavilion in the desert...

Where, where?

 


 

Lovely Kerala has more than elephants to experience...

.... but the elephants are pretty special!

 


Narrowboats are a fun way to experience rural England.

Find out why...

 


Formerly Portuguese, now India's smallest state, Goa offers a mixed bag of enticements.

Read more......

 


Do you know what is the world's largest salt flat?

Read more...


 

London's cat cafe is a unique addition to the city's dining scene.

Where is it?

 


Ever dreamed of having your own place in France.

This may make it easier....

 


 

A food and wine tour in one of France's most beautiful regions.

Learn more about it...

 


AUGUST 2014, food-related events.

.....read more

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Food related events on this date in history!


Want more food history?

oldfoodie

...visit The Old Foodie.

 

 

 

traveltipstop

 

OOPS! You're camping and you've left your airbed pump at home....

 

No problems....!

 

 

 


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Here's the ideal gourmet way to pack in some extra Vitamin C this winter.

Find out what it is....

 


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ciaos

If the feature this week has made you want to know more about Kashmir....

Try this trivia quiz!

 

 

Now you can enjoy a Godfather's Feast and the Isle of Love....

.....in one leisurely cruise.


 

 

books

.............and Apps and DVDs


 

America-bound travellers, take note! 

The fully revised edition is now  available....

 


If you'd like a food-loving guide to show you around Paris, Jane is the person to do this.

Read her book....

 


Want to eat the world? Here 39 cuisines have been explored and explained.

Find out more....

 


Love cooking, like trivia?

This book is for you!

 


 

Ever wondered what makes Melbourne so special?

This book will show you....

 


The Big Apple has some huge and hidden surprises.

Discover more...


Now you can bake like Phillippa!

Get ready for the compliments!


Got friends coming for a party - this is the book for you!

Find some new recipes....


Everything you always wanted to know about almonds....

.....and recipes to use them


Love on a Greek island. A cliche or a delightful romance?

Find out here....


Hands up who's off to Brazil for the World Cup? Who's watching it on TV?

All fans will need this book....


One of the stars of MasterChef share his take on healthy food.

Good and good for you!


Are you ready for a fashionable shopping spree in Paris?

You need this book!


If you have small children and live in Sydney or Melbourne, these cute but very helpful guides are for you!

Read more...


The world's greatest maritime explorer - and real person.

An engaging read...


Never feel lonely again, even when eating at a table for one.

See why....

___________________________

 Would you like to cook like an Italian nonna?

Silvia can show you how....


Sneak a peek at the tried, true, and prize-winning recipes of CWA Judge, Merle Parrish.

...learn to cook like she does

 


Burma is a mystery to many people. Its food is even more obscure.

Read this and be delighted...


Craving a burger? Live in Victoria - or visiting?

This book is a must to read...


Finally Sydney has its own Gault & Millau restaurant guide...

....but do you know how to pronounce it?


The biggest and most beautiful book of Italian food.

Read about it here....


Rick Stein searches India for the perfect curry.

Find out about it...


A stunning coffee table book from one of Australia's most famous photographers.

An ideal gift for Christmas....

 

Coffee seems to be the fluid which fuels most of us in this beautiful book

Learn about who grows it, roasts it and makes it.

 


If you think you may be the only person 'that everything happens to' when travelling - read this!

 

underpants

and laugh out loud....


Give this book and you give even more. 

 

snapshots

find out how.......


 

 

 

 

The other French drink

In Reims, our guide Jean-Paul, is amazed when I mention our next destination.

“What?” he blurts out, “You come to Champagne and then you must see water?”

We’re headed to Vittel, just across the border of Champagne. It’s first on my list of famous French mineral waters to locate. I want to see where the water originates. I’m going to the source.

“I don’t know anyone who has been to Vittel!” Dismissively, Jean-Paul says, punctuated by a Gallic shrug.

I don’t either, but I’ve always wanted to know more about the drink the French consume most – yes, more even than wine. They’re inordinately proud of these waters that burst out in various parts of the country after lengthy filtered journeys through hundreds of metres of rock.

In Vittel, a bright modern town still largely concerned with the waters, we visit Les Thermes de Vittel founded in 1854.

 

In the large lobby area, we sample waters from taps along one wall labelled Bonne Source, Grande Source and Source Hepar. Then, in the rather Roman-inspired building housing the Grande Source, we again sip paper-cup samples of the water that spurts up through rock tunnels from deep underground.

Jerome, our guide, takes us on a tour of the spa itself. We discover cubicles where you can be douched and squirted and pummelled by water in a wide variety of ways – and places! It seems your kidneys can be massaged with jets of hot or cold water as easily as can your shoulders – or other areas.

I pick up a leaflet that suggests using these waters internally and externally could help ‘rheumatological conditions, after-effects of osteoarticular traumas, urinary conditions, digestive conditions and metabolic illness’. We see slimming showers and ‘affusion’ showers. Some, we don’t dare ask about.

 

Generally the Romans were first to discover thermal springs in France, but legend has it that after Hannibal crossed the Pyrenees he rested his elephants near the place now known as the source of Perrier. Much later, in the eighteenth century those who adopted the spa movement reinstated ancient Roman baths all over the country. By now people realized the waters had therapeutic and health benefits. They bathed in them but also guzzled copious amounts.

Restaurant menus throughout the country list them: Perrier, Badoit, Vittel, Vichy, Evian, Volvic and often a dozen more. Each has its fans. Aficionados argue the finer points of them – Vichy (too strong or saline for some), Perrier (too fizzy) although the company is proud of its 'fifty million bubbles’, Volvic (a little flat), and so on.

Most agree that Badoit, with those minuscule bubbles lightly tickling the nose, is king.

St Galmier, closer to Lyon, was a popular spa town in the 18th-century and remains of Roman thermal baths have been found there. Badoit’s name is spelt out on wide lawns surrounding an attractive gazebo-style shelter. 

There’s a central core of taps and we arrive to find a stream of people arriving loaded with crates of empty bottles. We join the queue and fill the only couple of bottles we have brought with us in the car.

Auguste Badoit, a local marketing whiz, began bottling the water in 1838. Yet despite his business acumen, until 1954 inexplicably the water was available only from pharmacies.

This water is the best we have tasted so far, and remains our favourite throughout our water-tasting tour. Forced through a granite fissure from 500 metres underground, it arrives a clean sweet chill 16C, delivering the notable tingle of fine bubbles.

To begin with, of course, consumption of bottled natural mineral water, originally bottled in expensive glass or stoneware with porcelain or cork stoppers, was the privilege of the aristocracy and royalty. France’s yearly consumption of mineral water has been estimated at around 133 litres per person, or over three times that of wine. What’s more, France’s many mountains and volcanic areas provide the country with the ideal source of pure fresh waters, many of them bursting to the surface liberally laced with healthy doses of natural minerals.

The phrase ‘taking the waters’ has a rich and other-worldly air to it. Sadly, not everyone has time to indulge in the full spa indulgence, yet a mini-break at one of these places should give most of us a new insight into what is truly the ‘other’ French drink.

High in the Auvergne, France’s volcanic Massif Central region, we visit Vichy, a prominent spa town. “Ugh! Vichy is the worst!” says one French friend when we mention going there. She is not proved wrong.

Napoleon III, though, liked it enough to become a regular visitor in the 1860s, transporting his entire court and hangers-on from Paris for the summers. Another high-profile emperor was crazy for this stuff too. In fact, Julius Caesar built the first  health resort here over two thousand years ago.

The rather gentrified perception we’d had is blown away as we  approach the town over the wide and beautiful Allier River flanked by riverside apartments and esplanades, and discover tree-lined boulevards and sunny cafes overflowing with people relaxing outdoors.

Inside the ornate conservatory there are several options. Six waters are on offer, emerging at temperatures ranging up to 43.3C after their journeys through ancient mineral-rich rock, leaching calcium carbonate on the way. Some have a very strong rusty taste and a decidedly sulphurous odour. Several are said to have distinct health benegits, but I would have to be very sick, I decide, to pin my hopes on these.

The Célestins tap delivers cooler water, a little fizzy, with a flat slightly saline flavour. We like that one best, and fill our empty mineral water bottles.

Perhaps the major centre for waters which have become well-known commercially in France is the lovely, remote Auvergne region. Here in this Massif Central area, dotted by volcanic plugs and cones, and beloved by the French as a place to indulge in active outdoor sports – think hiking, kayaking and  climbing – there is the ideal après-exercise extra of hot springs and spa resorts.

Volvic, near the sprawling metropolis of Clermont-Ferrand, is a town built from the same grey volcanic stone which filters the water. Vichy is nearby and Badoit, closer to Lyon in the Rhône region, is not far away.

See more of this area....

The tasting room in the information centre at the bottling plant encourages us to try the new range of flavoured waters. This seems the craze now in France where we see gently fruit-flavoured versions appearing across many of the brands.

Here, the only place to fill a drink bottle is from a mossy fountain in the grounds......

........and the old baths are now locked off.

 

Finally, near Nimes in the south, at Perrier’s imposing visitor’s centre we are treated to a free trademark-green bottle of the ultra-fizzy mineral water, and drink it as we study the historical charts and displays.

Napoleon III also favoured this place. Soon it was called ‘Bouillens’ because of the way the water boiled out due to its high natural carbon gas content. In 1898 it became Perrier.

 

Outside, a green kiosk represents the ‘source’. Its well-like opening is filled with an arrangement of slim sinuously angled trumpet-like horns. From these we hear, amplified, a melodious glop-glug-plonk-splash. Does the famous water really make that musical sound as it arrives from the depths, we wonder?

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A short walk away, in an imposing chateau flanked by a tree clipped to resemble a Perrier bottle, the museum displays a faux-Egyptian frieze with slaves bearing Perrier-shaped bottles, seats from the French Open – and a roomful of glass display cases packed with Perrier-abilia.

We notice, though, that no-one attempts to explain those horns!

 

Finding the waters:

Badoit: St Galmier, north of St-Etienne, Rhône-Alpes. 

 

Perrier: near Vèrgeze, between Nimes and Montpellier, Languedoc-Roussillon.

 

Vichy: Parc des Sources, Vichy, Auvergne.

 

Vittel: Thermes de Vittel, Vosges, Lorraine.

 

Volvic: near Clermont-Ferrand, Auvergne.

 
 

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RECIPE time

Love chocolate? Love ginger? Love muffins?  

You'll love these!

 


DISCOVER the WINNERS in this year's ABC.delicious Fine Food Awards.

 

Drum roll...here are the results

 


 MUST TASTE THIS

 

You make good coffee at home - so why not have the cafe-style biscuits to go with it?

Get your mouth watering...

 


New blog on the block!

World Baking where Sally shares breads of a country on its own National Day.

 


TASTY EVENTS 2014:

Truffle Festival, Canberra and Capital region, June 21-late-August

Margaret River Gourmet Escape, WA, November 21-23


 

SBS's Feast magazine is out again, full of stunning recipes.

Learn more...


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Need a coffee????

Taste_03

330 of Sydney's BEST cafes in this HUGELY POPULAR iPhone and iPad app!

... read more

NOW ALSO available on Android

 visit the blog and hear the good news! 

Hear a podcast

 
 
 
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Australian Gourmet Traveller has released its annual restaurant guide.

See the top 100....

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TAKE A BREAK

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AUGUST food-related events worldwide.

 


 

Queensland has whales too...

....and they are helping research!

 


 

Let's go WHALE spotting in Sydney!

 

They're migrating NOW!

 


TAKE A LUXURY BREAK

Discover Cape Town's romantic side. 

Find out more....

 


NSW's Central West has TEN great Food and Wine experiences for the cooler months.

Check these out!

 


Where better to take a French cookery course.....


...than in Paris?


Taste Miami with someone who knows.

See how to do it...


Shopping in Paris is great fun - but you might need some help...

...and not just with carrying your purchases!

Find out more.....

 


JOIN US on a food and wine  tour of Languedoc-Roussillon & the Midi Pyrenees this year!

Details...


Now you can travel and pick up some artistic skills - and enjoy Italian cuisine.

...find out where


Here is the answer for food and wine lovers travelling around Australia.

Read more....


Planning on visiting Rio this year for the FIFA World Cup?

Find out how to save money on accommodation...


SYDNEY'S LIVING HISTORY

Find out about the (sometimes colourful) past of  Australia's first city:

slhlogoiPhone and iPad App packed with information and pics.

....discover what has made Sydney the great city it is.

BUY IT NOW on iTunes here

or for Android  here!


Newcastle, NSW, has lots planned for this year.

See what....scroll to the bottom of the past.


Now is the harvest festival season in Australia.

See what Victoria has planned...


A year of fabulous food festivals is ahead in 2014 for Britain!

Find out when and where....


Scotland has a lot planned for 2014.

And they're inviting everyone!


What's happening in Rome this month....

Check it out here...


Uncover Spain with an expert chef.

Read more.....


Glasgow says it's game to host the Commonwealth Games this year.

See what is planned!


Meet the world's most famous mermaid - now over 100 years old!

Read more.....

 

 


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Sally, and her husband Gordon Hammond, also operate the Australian Regional Food Guide Web site. This comprehensive directory is a great resource for everything that is happening in the regional food scene in Australia. Make sure you visit and bookmark this site. Subscribe to the ARFG Newsletter too.