One of the joys of travelling is spending time relishing the local cuisine. Memories come flooding back when I taste a dish I associate with a particular place. I remember travelling to Mallorca as a child in the 1970s and being astonished by the different tastes. My mother tried to recreate those dishes at home but found it difficult when so many of the ingredients weren’t available in the UK.
Of course now we have access to many of the foods and methods of cooking we find abroad. We can enjoy authentic dishes on our trips then source the ingredients at home to recreate the recipes and hopefully stir the memories.
Simpson Travel, the independent, luxury Mediterranean villa specialist has just published The Traveller’s Table, a collection of recipes inspired by the locations of their properties: traditional dishes from Corsica, Greece, Turkey and Mallorca. Take the recipes on holiday with you and you will be able to replicate, in your villa, the food tasted in local restaurants. Back home, memories of warm summer days will waft into your kitchen as you recreate the meals you savoured abroad.
The specially commissioned book was written and photographed by renowned travel photographer, Chris Caldicott and chef/food stylist, Carolyn Caldicott. This husband and wife team owned and ran the World Food Café in Covent Garden for over 20 years: authentic food is their passion. The result is a gorgeous selection of simple, tasty recipes with tips for the best tipples and suggestions for breathtaking villas where you can imagine yourself sitting, eating and watching the sunset.
I spent last weekend trying out some of the recipes from the book. With my husband, Dougie, as sous-chef and general cutter-upper, we had a weekend of Greek and Turkish delights. The rain may have been pouring down outside and our trusty barbecue was hibernating in the shed, but we were transported to a terrace on a hillside, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Thoughts returned of previous holidays in Kefalonia and Zakynthos.
|Pork souvlaki skewers, lamb kofte
and ezme salsa – cooked by me.
Familiar Greek dish, Pork Souvlaki Skewers, was easy to prepare and a joy to the senses as freshly squeezed lemon and grated garlic were added to the marinade. Having a selection of dried herbs and spices to hand was very useful: oregano, cumin and thyme cropped up in the other recipes we followed.
Jetting over to Turkey, we made Sumac-Spiced Lamb Kofte and thankfully paprika was a good substitute for sumac. Add lemon, garlic, onion, more cumin and oregano plus bread to bind the little meatballs together.
The book suggested Ezme Salsa would be a good accompaniment to the lamb kebabs and this was easily prepared, using fresh tomatoes and roasted red pepper from a jar. A dollop of natural yoghurt on the side, warmed pita bread and Saturday evening dinner was done.
|Jewelled pilav and Kleftico-inspired lamb
(all my own work)
For Sunday evening we grilled some Greek Kleftico-Inspired Barbecue Lamb, having marinated the cutlets overnight in red wine, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and a selection of herbs and spices. This was accompanied by a Turkish Jewelled Pilav: red peppers stuffed with rice which had been cooked with pistachios, pine nuts and apricots. The filled peppers were poached in a mixture of water and honey: they tasted divine and looked so bright and glossy. The lamb was cooked just right: the grill needed to be as high as possible to replicate the searing heat of a barbecue.
Having feasted on these dishes all weekend, I spent a very enjoyable few hours looking at the villas available at Simpson Travel. Although the company was only established in 2003, it has a fine pedigree as its chairman, Graham Simpson, built up the highly successful Simply Travel in the 1970s with his Greek wife Yianna. The original ethos has been retained with Simpson Travel, offering a personal service with individually selected properties. Their tagline is quite simply, ‘The road less travelled’.
|A perfect place for dining at the
Villa Palombaggia, Corsica
(image from Simpson Travel)
I would love to try Corsica and the Villa Palombaggia certainly ticks all the boxes for me. It’s also tempting to return to Mallorca. Our last holiday there was when our son, Rory, was a toddler, when we stayed in Puerto Pollença. I don’t recall the name of the villa but it was special for having its own lemon trees. I remember picking the lemons every day to make lemonade: it seemed like a fairytale to have such fruit in abundance in the garden. The holiday was very relaxed: swimming in our own private pool, trips to the beach, meals out in the evening and a number of dishes prepared and enjoyed in the peace of our own little holiday home. However we weren’t very adventurous with our cooking at the time. With The Traveller’s Table to hand, we might have attempted Prawns and Squid A La Plancha and for a day at the beach we could have purchased some bakery items such as slices of coca, Mallorca’s answer to pizza or a bag of bunyols, small sugary doughnuts sold straight from the pan at the market. The book also suggests a mid-morning carajillo – coffee with an added shot of brandy. Well, if you can’t treat yourself on holiday….
If you are interested in trying out the recipes, Simpson Travel have a free download of the book. There will also be opportunities to receive a printed copy if you follow the Simpson’s blog and their social media: Facebook and Twitter
I was delighted to write this sponsored post for Simpson Travel to share the recipes from the cookbook. All chopping, grating, grilling and opinions are entirely my own (though my husband did most of the chopping).