Festival of autumn fruits, Granada, Spain
The arrival of autumn in Granada begins with the Virgen de las Angustias festivities. The last weekend in September sees the Fuente de las Batallas fountain in the city centre transformed. Stalls run by local farmers are piled high with seasonal fruit. Quinces emit a subtle fragrance across the square. Vendors sell local pomegranates, jujube berries and acerolas. Local chestnuts are roasted on street corners. Torta de la Virgen pastries are also a delicious tradition at this festival. Only available that week, they are baked by local nuns and filled with sweet pumpkin. In the festival’s religious activities, locals line up to place bunches of flowers on the facade of the church, covering it entirely. An incense-swathed procession through the city streets closes the celebrations.
Molly Sears-Piccavey, Piccavey.com
Market restaurant, Nîmes, France
Until a few years ago, a stroll through Les Halles de Nîmes could be very frustrating. Viewing the spectacular produce on sale – including sweet Cévennes onions and iridescent pink rougets – made one yearn for a place to sample it all. This is why chef Emmanuel Leblay’s 25-seat counter restaurant, La Pie qui Couette, has been a hit since it opened in late 2015. Leblay changes his menu daily according to what he finds while shopping at the surrounding stalls. Certain dishes, however, have become classics, including a hand-chopped steak tartare and a luscious brandade de morue, a Nîmes speciality, here made with salt cod, Camargue potatoes, olive oil and organic lemon zest. He also pours an excellent selection of local wines, and after finishing with some fresh apricot soup or chocolate mousse, you’ll understand why this place is called the Jabbering Magpie; these birds can get noisy after they’ve eaten and drunk well.
• Mains from €14-35, 5 rue des Halles, on Facebook, 11.30am-3pm, Tues- Sun, no reservations
Alexander Lobrano, author of Hungry for Paris and France
Full-on feast, Georgia
At Baia’s vineyard, outside Kutaisi, Georgia’s third largest city, rustic tables look out on thousands of vines backed by rolling hills. The supra (Georgian feast) begins as a stream of homemade dishes are set in front of you. The food is accompanied by natural wine, created by Baia herself, a third-generation winemaker who started her own vineyard in 2015, aged 22, using 8,000-year-old techniques. You’ll salivate at the khachapuri (cheese-stuffed bread), roasted village chicken with tkemali (sour plum sauce), lobio (spiced beans), and peppers stuffed with bazhe, Georgia’s famous walnut paste, as you fill yourself to bursting point. Certainly an unforgettable experience.
• Book Baia’s meal and wine tasting (from £11) on Facebook
Megsy Williams, Food Fun Travel
Food festival, Miranda do Douro, Portugal
In remote north-east Portugal, the small historic town of Miranda do Douro has beautiful views of the Douro river across to Spain and rocky mountain cliffs. It’s home of the second language of Portugal, mirandés – and is famous for mirandesa beef, the churra breed of sheep and bísaro pork. All these take centre stage at Sabores Mirandeses Festival in February which highlights regional specialities, from local meats and traditional smoked sausages, to olive oil, almonds and bola doce (a multi-layered cake). It’s a chance to learn about culinary traditions as well as the town’s culture, with Pauliteiros folk dance displays among entertainment.
• 14-16 February 2020, free admission, cm-mdouro.pt
Célia Pedroso, head of Culinary Backstreets Lisbon and co-author of Eat Portugal
The perfect sandwich, Porto, Portugal
Tasca de Badalhoca is just a sandwich shop in Porto. Yet stepping through its heavy doors into the dimness within, felt like entering another world: a Porto of yesteryear (it’s been open for 120 years). Nothing flashy, no nonsense – just great honest food costing practically nothing. It was 11.30am and everyone held glass mugs of bubbly pink espadal wine. Legs of dry-cured pork hung from the ceiling, the fast-talking staff were busy, the queue moving – and I couldn’t decipher the taped-up menu. I managed to order three sandwiches: presunto (ham), eggs and presunto, and leitão (roast suckling pig), plus a mug of wine. All of it perfection. I walked out giddy on something more than rosé – I felt I’d been immersed into something dear to Porto’s heart, if only for a few minutes.
• Rua Dr Alberto Macedo 437, on Facebook
Laura Siciliano-Rosen, Eat Your World
Oyster safari, Denmark
Denmark may be famous for open sandwiches, but foodies know it’s really all about the oysters. The Scandinavian country has two types of the marine delicacy. Head to northern Jutland for the slow-growing, native Limfjord oyster, which is celebrated for its texture and taste. (The area is a protected sea zone with stringent regulations applying to all fishing.) Or pack a bottle of bubbly and head to the Wadden Sea at Unesco-listed Vadehavscentret, south of Esbjerg, for a Pacific oyster buffet. Oyster safari tours in Denmark run from October to April (weather and tides willing).
• Oyster safaris range from £25 to £35pp. Book a Wadden Sea tour at vadehavscentret.dk and Limfjord Østerssafari at enjoy-limfjorden.com or skaldyrcenter.dk
Jaughna Nielsen-Bobbit, To What Place
Ice-cream fantasyland, Girona, Spain
Playfully decorated with candy cane poles and a wall filled with colourful, round ice-cream pints, Rocambolesc is an ice-cream lover’s version of Willy Wonka. Crowds have flocked to this Girona gelateria since Jodi Rocca i Fontané, winner of Restaurant magazine’s inaugural “world’s best pastry chef” award, opened it in 2012. Chefs concoct gastronomic ice-cream flavours such as baked apple tart and exotic sorbets like pineapple coconut. And there are dozens of tasty toppings to choose from including sugar pearls, dried fruit, caramel syrup and candy floss. Don’t skip the specially “pressed” brioche sandwiches – warm outside and magically cool inside.
• Prices range from €3-5 for a cone or cup, depending on the number of toppings. Other locations in Alicante, Madrid and Barcelona, rocambolesc.com
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch, 2foodtrippers.com
Oysters and beer, County Waterford, Ireland
My home county of Waterford is very much under the radar, although I expect not for much longer, since it just won Irish food destination of the year. We have wonderful producers – particularly for oysters, gin, beer and cheese – and a local soft, white, floury bread roll called blaa, that can be traced back to the arrival of the Huguenots in the 1690s.
There’s a majestic coastline and the gorgeous West Waterford Festival of Food, held in Dungarven every spring (17-19 April 2020). You can go on seafood foraging walks (the Sea Gardener is running a walk on 12 October); visit the Dungarvan Brewing Company, where beers are bottle-conditioned (eliminating the need to add further gas) and named after local landmarks; the Blackwater craft gin distillery); and devour local oysters at The Tannery in Dungarvan – chef-patron Paul Flynn cooked at two-Michelin star Chez Nico in London before moving home. The Tannery also has a cooking school (courses from €75) and rooms in the Townhouse. Grow HQ in Waterford City is the national headquarters of GIY Ireland, a grow-it-yourself movement, and has a terrific cafe. And you can burn it all off on the 44km Greenway, a cycle path on a disused railway that hugs the coast all the way from Dungarvan to Waterford City.
Niamh Shields, Eat Like a Girl
Arctic crabbing, Isles of Scilly and Norway
I’m a seafood lover, so the Crab Shack, at Hell Bay hotel on Bryher in the Isles of Scilly, always sticks in my mind. The setting is rustic – a converted cowshed with zero pretension and lots of cataplanas (wok-shaped Portuguese pans) brimming with shellfish (from £20, depending on the size of crab).
In Norway, take things up a notch with a king crab safari from the town of Kirkenes, 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle. A snowmobile takes visitors out on the frozen fjord to pull traps from holes drilled in the ice, and later you feast on the freshest crab at a farmhouse restaurant. If you’re lucky, you might even see the northern lights.
• £145 per adult, snowhotelkirkenes.com
Michelle Minnar, Greedy Gourmet
Cooking classes, Agriturismo Alle Camelie, Tuscany, Italy
At Agriturismo Alle Camelie, forage for citrussy leaves of calamint, punchy stems of cicoria, starflower, sow thistle and braschetta or cavolo nero (Italian kale), deep in the folds of Pisan mountains. Spring brings banks of camellias to these naturally terraced plots, lending the agriturismo its name; autumn’s olive harvest, led by resident farmer, Claudio Orsi, means hands-on fun for foodies. A seasonal highlight, zuppa alla frantiana, is based around made from red Lucca beans, cavolo nero and bread. Traditionally served to olive mill workers, it has been made regionally here “as long as beans and olives have been farmed” says chef Elena Pardini, whose winning variant topped the first Disfida della Zuppa slow food soup tournament.
• Cooking classes on request, minimum two people, four hours from €65 including dinner, allecamelie.it
Sarah Barrell, editor and writer
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