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Favourite Food

&

Travel quotes

 

To me, chocolate was the sole reason we on this earth. ― Esi Edugyan

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There are three trips you take to India: the one you think you’re going to have – that you plan for; the one you actually have; and the one you live through once you go back home. ― Erin Reese

 



National days.....

 

Afghanistan 19 August (Independence from United Kingdom control over Afghan foreign affairs in 1919)

The food of Afghanistan....

Trivia: Afghanistan’s national sport  Buzkashi, or ‘Goat-Grabbing’ as it is also known, is considered to be one of the most hectic and dangerous sports in the world.

 


 

Hungary 20 August (St. Stephen's day)

Hungarian cuisine....

Trivia: Inventions by Hungarians include the noiseless match (by János Irinyi), Rubik’s cube (by Erno Rubik), and the krypton electric bulb (Imre Bródy).

 

 

Ukraine 24 August (Independence from the Soviet Union 1991)

The food of Ukraine....

Trivia: Ukraine is the largest country in Europe (2nd biggest if counting Russia) and it is called Ukraine not The Ukraine. Read more.....

 


 

Uruguay 25 August (Día de la Independencia, declaration of independence from Portugal 1825)

Dining in Uruguay....

Trivia: In Uruguay there are three cows for every one person.

 



 

See all National Days for AUGUST

 


 

Food related events....

Strangest US food festivals in 2016

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Food festivals around the world in AUGUST

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Food related events on this date in history!

 


 

oldfoodie

...visit The Old Foodie.

 



 

See where we have been...

24 percent of the world's countries!

 


 

Australian travellers - do you need a visa?

Check the visa requirements by country...

Read more....

Find out which visas are the most difficult to receive....

 


 

PACKING FOR  TRIP?

Pack safe. Here's how to know what is allowed and what is BANNED.  

 


 

 

traveltipstop

 

Ten fun things you can be covered for by travel insurance.

Find out what they are....

 


 

Here's an update on the US HAZMAT rules for aircraft luggage.

 

 

 


food_of_week_02

It is that time of year in Australia, and these black beauties are on everyone's dinner wishlist.

Find out more.....

 


triviatop

ciaos

Winter is here. Did you know these facts?

Test your knowledge here...

 

 

MSC Cruises' hottest new destination.

Can you guess where this is?


 

 

books

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


Ah, Chocolate! Here presented by 'the queen of chocolate'!

Find out more....

 


 

If you always thought cooking Indian was too difficult....

... think again and see how easy it can be.

 


 

Find out what Edinburgh has been hiding.

Read more here.....

 


 

Need somewhere to rest during a busy day in London?

Here are about a hundred ideas....

 


 

Do you love Paris? Would you like to really know your way around?

This book will show you how...

 


 

Favourite cookery book writer Anneke Manning, opens her BakeClub files.

See what she is sharing...

 


 

What's for dinner? Now you kn ow with the help of this expert.

Nadia's book has the answers....

 


 

Is there such a thing as a quiet spot in Los Angeles?

This book shares 120 of them....

 


 

If you love food and travel equally, this new novel might satisfy your hunger.

Take a look....

 


 

If you think you know Australia well, you need to see this book and realise there is still more.

Read more...

 


 

Sydney has many precincts and now you may explore them.

See what you may have been missing out on....

 


 

Have you been to Berlin? This book will make you want to visit.

Read more....

 


 

Something for every day of the year from famous writers and speakers through the ages.

Read more.....

 


 

Now you can cook all your favourite foods from Japan's capital.

Find out about it...

 


 

Here's a book with double value.

Find out what it is.....

 


 

India has some of the best vegatarian dishes in the world.

Find them in this new book....

 


 

Chef-farmer Matthew Evans helps us through hot weather cooking.

Read more...

 


 

Could this be the el Bulli of Australia?

Find out why.....

 


 

Spend some time with Australia's 'Queen of Nyona'.

Learn her history and Asian cooking secrets....

 


 

Looking for a way to spend your weekends in Australia in 2016? 

Here are 52 suggestions complete with things to do and places to eat....

Read more..

 


 

 

Hate waste? Want to feed your family healthily?

Get preserving....

 


 

Frustrated by a fridge full of leftovers? Don't know what to do with them?

Your worries are over....

 


 

It's not often a Michelin-starred chef shares his favourite home-style recipes.

Get the help of an expert...

 


 

Attention! All those who thought they would never cook Japanese food at home!

A leading chef show you how....

 


 

How to eat like an Italian! 

Fratelli Fresh's Barry McDonald gives the recipes you need....

 


 

Lovers of Middle Eastern food will devour this book - and its wonderful recipes.

Read more...

 


 

Too old to colour-in? Not with this delightful book.

Release your inner child...

 


Michelin starred chef Jason Atherton would like to assist you in your kitchen...

.... that is, his amazing dessert cookbook will.

 


 

Outback food from a Masterchef contestant.

See what the country has to offer....

 


NEW from Lonely Planet

&

See more...

 


 

Meatballs for everyone - from the Meatball and Wine Bar.

Read about them...

 


 

Lovers of food and beer, need to see this latest book from Ross Dobson.

Find out more.....

 


 

Perfect for summer. Hartsyard shares its secrets.

Learn them all....


 

Aimed at the food industry, but also valuable for home cooks, this tongue-in-cheek book might make you think.

Read more...

 


 

One of the delights of travel is eating on the street.

This book helps you cook the food at home too...

 


 

One family of foods can help you eat your way to health!

Find out how....

 


 

Heart-shaped Tasmania is all about good food.

Find out who is making it even better ........

 


 

How big is your garden? Even a tiny courtyard is big enough to add to your menu.

Find out how....

 


 

The best of the best. Iconic cookery teacher Gretta Anna's recipes with her son Martin Teplitzky.

See it here....

 


 

Food is art - and here, a master chef  marries Italian cuisine and painting.

Find out more about a truly beautiful book ...

 


For those who love the world and its beauty and want a REAL life.....

.....this is the book for you.

 


 

Fancy some fishing - with a chef and TV celebrity and two other seafood experts?

Go fishing (and cooking) with these there....

 


 

Heading for Hong Kong? Take this book (and an appetite) with you!

Read all about it.....

 


Explore 19 areas and discover Tokyo's best food and shopping.

Read more....

 


 

Everyone's favourite grandmother and cook, as known by her grand-daughter, Kate Gibbs....

....sharing her recipes for life , and for the kitchen

 


 

Now you can create your own home patisserie.

A top French patissier shows how....

 


 

Does Australia have the world's best beaches?

Find out where Australia's best ones are....


 

Join five women for a weekly meal in Umbria, Italy - simple, but so much more.

Find out about this beautiful book... 

 


You probably know of Rick Stein from his TV and cookbook fame, as well as his restaurants...

..but now you can get to know him from his memoir

 


Put the Taste of Australia into your meals with Lyndey Milan's latest book.

Read more....

 


Love cooking, like trivia?

This book is for you!

 

 

 

 

 

Food-lover's diary - Taiwan

Teppanyaki, toffee tomatoes - and a new way to 'make a cup of tea'.....

'This island of Taiwan,' says our guide, 'is shaped like a sweet potato. That's why we love them so much here.' It's just minutes after leaving the airport on Day One of our food-loving tour of the place formerly known as Formosa, meaning 'beautiful island'.

I am a little disappointed. Couldn't Taiwan resemble a more exciting food - a chilli, for example? It looks, to me, a little like a speech bubble, standing upright, and I imagine it with a phrase written in Chinese characters saying something like 'island of delicious food'.

I am sure the white-suited fellow (top) could give us some ideas, but we didn't meet him until a little later in the day.

After a 5.50am arrival at Taoyuan International airport, overnight from Sydney, we were very keen to see this - our first hotel, the Hotel Royal Chiao Hsi. We reached an hour or so later at Jiaoxi in Yilan province in the north-east of the island.

We were even more delighted to see this! And for those partners who can never get the temperature right at night, how clever are these yours'n'mine separate duvets? As this is a spa hotel, the hot springs are delivered directly to a square stone bath in each room, so it is possible to soak in therapeutic waters at your leisure.

Even though we had eaten well on China Airlines, Taiwan's flag carrier - the one with the national flower, a pink plum blossom, on its tail – somehow breakfast looked especially good in this dining room with huge windows capturing that gigantic view. Yes, those are mountains in the far distance, and we were told they are often snowcapped. 

This area is a popular place for Taipei residents to get away from the heat and busyness of the city, and to indulge in spa therapy and a taste of country relaxation amongst the rice paddies. It's an easy escape too, as the area is reached by a 45-minute bus or train trip, for a fare of around A$20.

The breakfast bar catered for all tastes: Asian, Western, vegetarian and more. Noodles were plentiful of course, for in this part of the world they are a staple in many dishes. I found turnip cake too - a personal favourite - and realised that it is not made with European purple and white turnips, but with daikon, the long white 'radish' I have always known and liked in salads.

I realised that this food tour of Taiwan was going to teach me plenty - and I could hardly wait to learn.

In one corner of the dining room I found this. You don't need to be able to read Mandarin to know that the kitchen proudly raises and serve hydroponic lettuces. Hint #1 for chefs.

And how clever is this hygienic plastic mitt to wear as you hold the bread while cutting it? No chance of it floating onto the floor, either, as it anchors by a magnet to its stand. I could see we would learn more than just food facts in the eight days ahead.

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Ka Va Lan Whisky

The sun was not yet over the yard arm, but we had places to go and people to see, and the first of them was a prestigious whisky distillery at Yuanshan near Yilan City.

Whisky-lovers may recognise this multi medal-winning brand which is produced at King Car whisky distillery.

The grounds have a parade of decorated whisky barrels, and this one in particular celebrates the national recreation of cycling. Major cities have YouBikes, the ones you can, with the swipe of an EasyCard, take from one location and leave at another. There is a wide network of cycling trails in most areas, making it possible to cycle around the entire island. That's if you have the time to spare to cover several hundred kilometres!

This distillery has only been open to the public here since 2008, but the multi-interest parent company has been manufacturing many things for decades. Yilan is known as the 'city of water', because of the chilled pure water which flows down from nearby Snow Mountain. It was this that led the founder Mr TT Lee to establish the distillery in this place.

Another arm of the company, is Mr Brown Coffee, and we are to discover a number of this company's cafes as we travel around Taiwan in the next few days. It's an appropriate match for the whisky, and patrons can relax with a coffee after a whisky tasting.

To experience the whiskies we were taken to the glassed-in tasting room and presented with several very different ones to sample. If you know your whiskies you will probably be able to say at a glance which these are. If you do not know, A is Ka Va Lan ex-Bourbon, single malt, with an interesting vanilla scent; B is Solist Vinho single malt; C is Solist Amontillado single malt sherry; and D is Ka Va Lan cask port. All of these are very fine examples and have won many awards.

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Guest City

We could not have guessed from the simple entrance to Guest Cityin Luadong Township, what was ahead. Here, in the yard, a dog dozes beside a stoneware pot of fermenting beans, amost a Korean scene, with other pots nearby holding sauces and vegetables ready for use iby the chefs.

The room we entered was simple and homespun (it has been termed 'designer rustic') with even some of the cutlery and dishes handmade. The true flavours of the pure and organic food told us that this is a special place, and an honest and dedicated chef, cooking food  that makes it the sort of hidden gem that only those with a tipoff might know about.

There were ten courses, and you see just two of them, but the fact is that the menu which costs around NT550 ( A$22 pp) will be different when you get here. That's because the owner prides himself on the fact that the food is cooked according to what is in season nearby, and at its best on any particular day. Here you see the finest pork belly, braised and steamed for several hours to unctuous and tender perfection. The ball of bamboo shoots adds texture and the small dishes hold slivers of turnip.

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Time for tea!

After our multi-course gourmet meal, we were offered a cup of tea at this organic tea plantation. What a lovely thought. But there was a catch, we discovered. We had to make it ourselves!

Owner, Mr Liu, dressed us up as tea-pickers, and with scarves and hats on our heads, and baskets tied to our waists, we followed him to the plantation, to learn some tips. Literally. He showed us that the only leaves we should pick were the top three tender tips. It wasn't that hard, fun really, and it all would have been even better if the temperature hadn't been hovering around 36C.

When you see tea neatly in a packet on a shelf in the supermarket, it is difficult to realise the many stages it has to pass through. Picking it was only part of it. Next it had to be toasted on a tray over a wok, then handfuls bunched together to remove any liquid, and finally baked in an oven for half an hour. 

At the end of this process we each received a packet of our very own harvest, ready to turn into a good hot cuppa. WATCH THE WHOLE PROCESS ON THE VIDEO.

But Mr Liu had more for us, creating edible magic. In roughly the same way noodle makers can sling ropes of dough between their hands until they have the finest threads, so he was able to stretch and fold, and stretch and fold again a lump of firm maltose candy until in minutes he had created a hank of Dragon's Beard, fine as hair.

A few more deft movements, adding a pinch of sesame or peanuts as a filling and there you have it - chewy, sweetish sweetmeats to go with your cup of tea. These activities - tea-picking, or candy making - are available to anyone for 300 New Taiwanese (NT) dollars, or around A$12.

SEE HOW IT IS DONE ON THE VIDEO (above)

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Dining at Formosa Pearl

As the day came to an end, we should have already had enough food, but no. This is a food tour, and Tawian, we were beginning to realise, takes its food very seriously. This country is also much more Japanese than I had realised. Taiwan was occupied by the Japanese for over 50 years, and even now the influence remains - in architecture, fashion and design - and of course the cuisine.

Inside the elegant Formosa Pearl restaurant amongst the rice fields of the Lanyang plain, we were seated at a large glass-topped table supported by the bole of a massive tree. In case you are wondering what the strip of blue paper is for, it is our menu.

The sublime presentations appeared over a couple of hours. This one was a real showstopper: after an appetiser of prawn, foie gras and mango sauce - already can you see where this eight course meal is going? - this dish of sashimi appeared, garnished with towering spikes of foliage. The fish - amberjack, flounder, grouper, prawns and tiny silver herring were perfectly chilled, enough to allow the true flavour emerge as we ate. 

Fish stuffed with shiitake mushrooms, and a placecard of popped rice followed, served with a vinegar shot as a chaser.

The finale was a rosella mousse. Australians know rosellas are a fruit not a bird, although the white chocolate garnish certainly looks ready to fly away.

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Day 2 - National Center for Traditional Arts

Bright and early, before the school groups or the families come, near to the Dongshan River Water Park, we arrive to explore this attraction which showcases Taiwan's culture and history. But if you think this is some staid and static museum, you are so wrong! On entry we pass Mutsai Kiln, an excellent landmark in case you get lost, and an even better place to buy souvenirs, inside in the corridor.

Located waterside, this is a place for children, and the young at heart.

Better still, I soon caught sight of my favourite Taiwanese food - the crazy (yet perfect) mix-and-match of toffee and cherry tomatoes!

Tomatoes don't get all the votes, though. There are strawberries and other fruits also dipped in toffee, and they certainly are fun to eat, the soft, slightly acidic fruit bursting through crisp sugary shards of toffee.

Calligraphy has long been an art form in China, and of course the Republic of China (ROC) - Taiwan - was largely repopulated after 1911 by people from the mainland of China. As we walk along we see giant brushes hanging over the footpath and, inside the store, a calligrapher who assists visitors to learn at least a few of the classic brushstrokes.

Flags and signs hang outside, advertising indigenous work in once place, drinks in another, sausages and souvenirs somewhere else.

Further along someone sits meticulously fashioning minute bead-and-ribbon flowers that can be used as earrings or to decorate a hat or a garment.

This is Taiwan, though, and it is not too long before we come across these moulded rose-pink dainties. Fortunately the method and the recips is displayed on the wall. 

 Now, if anyone can read Chinese, I will be able to make a batch. That's if I had bought the wooden moulds that give them the unique shape.

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Shopping for our dinner

Riverside at the Nan Fang Au fish market, we have followed a chef, Shen Chin Yung, on his search for the best seafood for our dinner. He owns the Shen Yen Teppanyaki restaurant at Luodong Township, and it is plain to see he is a man on a mission as he sniffs and lifts and gently presses samples of the morning's catch.

Everything is glisteningly fresh, just minutes from swarming in the rich waters of Taiwan's east coast.

Finished with that market, we follow him north to another one where he has had a message from a couple of fishing boats that they have some tempting fish onboard for him.

Some of the fish are still alive. Well, you can't get any fresher than that!

Others are bright-eyed and shiny, signs of freshness, too.

Chef Shen has found the ingredient for one dish. Just ten or more to go, as his teppanyaki shopping list is long.

As we wandered through the noisy, busy fishmarket, trying to keep out of the way of those trying to sell and buy, we saw almost every fish that lives in the waters nearby. Some we recognised; others we could not place at all. Any suggestions as to what this 'pinocchio' fish is?

Prawns, rich with startlingly coloured roe....

....and magnificent lobsters, one of which we were later to taste.

Finally back at the restaurant, our chef wears an enormous smile, successful in his search for the best for his diners' meals. The restaurant has three teppanyaki stations, each seating thirteen diners. It's a performance, really, as he cooks in front of us, and it's a privilege to be here, front-row, watching. 

Nothing could be fresher than these giant shrimp, cooked until still-succulent.

An appetite-cleanser of simply cubed fresh bamboo shoots, foll.

On the teppanyaki plate, fillets of eel wildcaught on the chef's father's  farm, cook slowly, while he holds up the prize lobster he bargained for today. It is to be cooked in the kitchen and served later....

...and was every bit as delicious as it looks.

There was abalone in the shell flambeed in whisky, giant scallops (surely Taiwan's scallops must be the world's best!), and duck which had been smoked over cherry wood, 

A composite of hundred of pictures of food and Chef Shen cooking make up this portrait.

Teppanyaki may be a performance, an event, a stage for magic, but this chef is a humble man who is so proud of his parents, their farm, and their soya sauce which he is showing to us. For him, we can tell - even without a translator, that fine food and how he presents it is everything to him.

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Day 3: Leaving Yilan

Yilan is known as the 'city of water' and it's true. We have seen a lot of it in the past two days - ocean, bays, rivera - but nothing defines this area as much as the hot springs which bubble up sulphurously and are believed to be valuable in aiding and even curing numerous conditions. Before heading on to Taipei, the capital, we pause at the Beitou Thermal Valley. 

Near to the springs is a museum and there are guest houses in the vicinity where people can stay and enjoy spa treatments.

While hot spring are beneficial, these bubbling pools are deadly - and we are told that this sign is a warning about climbing on the fence. I don't need the sign. The heat, the odour and the plopping waters are enough to keep me at a distance.

Ghostly vapours rise and melt in the cooler air above, but the heat that these boiling waters throw off is still almost unbearable.

Taiwan straddles the Tropic of Cancer, and the climate in Yilan is ideal for growing orchids and other tropical plants.

 

Watch out for the next installment of this food-loving tour of Taiwan in a few weeks, when we get a stony stare from Queen Nefertiti, taste some iconic dumplings and discover the convenience store everyone in Taiwan loves!

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More information about Taiwan....

Pictures and text: ©Sally Hammond

Video: ©Gordon Hammond

Sally & Gordon Hammond travelled to Taiwan at the invitation of Taiwan Tourism Bureau.

 
 

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The lovely Hunter Valley, NSW, has something for everyone.

Find out its secrets....

 


 

Take an 'international trip' but stay in Sydney!

Find out how to do this.....

 


 

Perth - the world's most remote capital which has everything - dolphins included!

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If you like beer, this could be helpful when you travel.

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Pack your Big Yellow Suitcase ...

... find out where you can take it!

 

 

 


 

 

tastethis

 


DON'T MISS THESE:

2016

AUSTRALIAN FOOD EVENTS

 

The Truffle Festival, June to August, Canberra region, ACT.

 


 

RECIPE TIME

Sweet relief for time-poor winter pudding lovers.

Three minutes is all you need...

 


 


Anyone want a slice of Granny's currant pie?
 
 
 

 

Joe's Bar at East Hotel in Canberra is worth checking out. 

...especially if you love truffles!

 


 

 MUST TASTE THIS

Australia's premier ginger producer now has more reasons to make Aussies smile.

See more.....

 


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Need a coffee????

This app is now unavailable but you can still stay in touch on the FB page.

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Hear a podcast

 
 
diningtop

Top chef has found a new Abode at ParkRoyal Darling Harbour.

Food you have to taste...

 



 

Lot 1 near Wynyard, this one is worth knowing about too.

Find out more....

 



 

Woollahra's BUZO has evolved.

Find out about the Evolution menu....

 

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TAKE A BREAK

++++++++++++++++

 

Find out what food events are on around the world in AUGUST

 


 

Looking for a way to spend your weekends in Australia in 2016? 

Here are 52 suggestions complete with things to do and places to eat....

Read more..

 


 

A centrally-located luxury Sydney hotel has some deals you may like for the holiday season.

Find out more....

 


 

So you want to explore SYDNEY?

This new app is just what you need.....

 


 

A year of fabulous food festivals is ahead in 2016 for Britain!

Find out when and where....

 


 

Festivals throughout Australia too in 2016.

Check these out...

 


 

Scotland's Year of Food and Drink 2016....

...what's on?

 


Festivals in Korea, 2016

Here they are....

 


 

2016 Malaysia's Year of Festivals....

Find out when and where...

 


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

Check it out here...

 


 

Ever dreamed of having your own place in France.

This may make it easier....

 


 

SPOIL YOURSELF -    TOTAL LUXURY

Tour the world in a luxury private jet .....

But wait, there's more.....

 


 

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!

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

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

...find out where

 

 

 


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Sally, and 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. Please Follow on Twitter or Like on Facebook.