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Friday, 28 June 2013


I understand on first glance this may sound very broad but what I'm really trying to convey are my future plans for an all-American road trip. The idea of a cross-country road trip from the West to East coast has long inspired both music and literature as well as influencing my personal travelling plans and many others before me (my parents for example). You could argue that a country as big as the USA couldn't possibly be attempted in one trip but I disagree; I think that some places are meant to be experienced this way, where there is more room for exploration and spontaneity. Obviously you're not going to see the whole country, we are all limited in some way or another, whether it be time or money or both.

The way I would do it would be to drive from city to city, stopping for breakfast and then moving onto the next city. Of course I'd love to see the country aswell, all the national parks and natural phenonemons; mainly Yellowstone, Niagra Falls, Mesa Verde...oh and the Grand Canyon as well I guess. Then there are the endless monuments and grand buildings as well as hand-picking from all of the famous American cities; fabulous Las Vegas and art-deco Miami come to my mind. And of course I can't wait to emerse myself in all-American cuisine; someone told me of a $1 lobster place in Las Vegas and how can I not try the cronut? America is famous for many things and it would be difficult for me to list the endless reasons for visiting, most of which has some kind of cultural or historical impact. Although this trip sounds very cliché in reflection, you can't deny that there is at least one reason you would visit the USA...even if it is Disneyland. 

Sunday, 23 June 2013



Da Tonio

This neighbourhood trattoria is a hidden gem among touristy cafes and restaurants offering 'authentic' and overly-pricey Italian cusine. You would hardly notice this place unless you were looking for it's peeling dark green doors. Inside the restaurant is full of locals and big families tucking into traditional bowls of carbonara and melanzane, topped with plenty of parmesan. This is Roman food at it's best served traditionally, quickly and for a reasonable price.


El Patio San Elony

Easily one of my favourite tapas restaurants in our tour of Spain. Cured meats hung from the ceiling above glass counters of any tapas dish you could imagine. We ordered a selection of the best looking dishes and bocadillos (sandwiches) and sat on the converted public-bath steps over a big jug of Sangria. All whilst watching the UEFA European championship. Perfect evening if you ask me.



Slaščičarna šmon

I am a big fan of all baked goods and sweet treats as you probably know by now. So of course, the first thing I did on a rainy morning in Bled was to treat myself to the speciality dessert-pastry of Bled. This was a kind of cream cake called a 'Kremma Rezina' which involved a layer of pastry, similar to that of a millefeuille topped with a layer of thick custard and a layer of spongey cream- topped off with a bit more pastry. Worth a visit just to try this.


Del Presidente

I'm not going to beat around the bush- as a city, I HATED Naples. It was dirty, crowded and frankly a bit scary. We decided to try and find this pizza place- famous for Heston Blumenthal visiting and praising the pizza there (the walls are decorated with famous chefs, celebrities and yes, past American presidents that have visited). However, be wary when trying to find this restaurant- many claim to be 'Del Presidente', but the real one is just off the beaten track. Apart from the tacky wristbands we received to commemorate the dining experience, the pizza was fresh and flavoursome.

P.s. Walk the Cinque Terre trail in La Spezia and pick up a glass of lemonade from the lemonade farmer at the end. Never had anything so fresh in my life.

Saturday, 15 June 2013



We took the train from Munich to Schwangau for a day trip to Neuswanstein Castle, which is pretty much the original Disney Castle but with extra swan-inspiration (apparently the king who built it was a little bit obsessed with these necky birds). But one of the most extrodanairy things about the trip was the train journey there. The Bavarian Alps are stunning and on a sunny day, the green fields of the German countryside, dotted with cottages and barns are just perfectly idyllic.


Although this was an overnight train and we spent most of the time sitting up uncomfortably scratching our itchy blankets, when we awoke, the sceanary leading into the Sierra Nevada Mountains was beautifully peaceful. It didn't have the same kind of beauty as the Alpine mountanins, but instead embodied a desert-landscape style beauty. This was an interestingly desolate backgound that severley contrasted with the city style of Barcelona.


It rained during the whole journey into Slovenia, but this wasn't your gloomy British rain, this was the perfect dramatic dark-clouded background to the Julian Alps. We managed to scoop our own personal cabin for this one and the mountainside journey, which skimmed crystal blue lakes and huge forrests of piney trees was  the best entry into Slovenia. The best half of the trip was the first half, as you tend to get more urban/city towards Ljubljana, so anyone taking this trip shouldn't begin the journey with a nap!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013


Want to know what I made for my birthday? A light and fluffy, alcohol inspired birthday cake! This recipe contains rum and a lot of whisking. I pretty much used  the same recipe as Lorraine Pascal for her mojito flavoured genoise, but I used less praline and more buttercream, I also changed the presentation to make it look prettier.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius and grease and line a 20cm cake tin. Bring a pan of water to the boil, when boiled, take off the heat and place a large heatproof bowl over the pan (make sure the bottom isn't touching the water). Add 250g of caster sugar and 6 eggs and whisk until fluffy and at least doubled in size, this can take up to 10 mins. Take off the pan and whisk for a further 5 mins or so until really foamy. Then pour 115g of melted butter around the sides of the pan slowly- you don't want to knock the air out of the genoise. Fold all of the butter in and then fold in 250g of plain flour- again making slow movements to retain all of the air. Once everything is mixed in, pour into the prepared tin and bake for around 35mins, the sponge should be a golden colour when cooked. Leave the cake to cool and then slice in half horizontally.

To make the buttercream, whisk 100g of soft cubed butter and 200g of icing sugar with the seeds of 1 vanilla pod, until the mixture is fluffy and buttercream-like. Add the zest and juice of 1 lime. I reccomend doubling this mixture for an extra-buttercreamy cake. Mmm calories.

To make the mojito syrup, melt 150 g of brown sugar, 40ml of water, the zest and juice of 2 limes, 80ml of white rum and a small handful of mint leaves until sugar dissolves over a low heat. Leave to cool.

Put a spoonful of the mix on a serving platter and but the bottom of the sponge on top. Then brush sponge liberally with the syrup. On top of this add a spoonful of the buttercream, using a knife to even out the quantitity. Cover the other half of the sponge with the syrup then add this to the bottom half. Again cover with buttercream.

For the praline, oil a baking tray. Put 100g of granulated sugar in a pan to melt over a low heat, once melted bring to the boil and cook for 1 min but DO NOT BURN IT. Add 100g of pecans and mix in, thenn pour onto the baking tray and leave to cool and harden. Once cooled, put mix in a plastic bag and smash with a rolling pin- maybe double bag if the bag splits. Once the praline is smashed into a nutty dust, press into the sides of the cake for a praline coating on top of the buttercream. Decorate with plenty of pecans and decorative lime slices!

The texture of the cake should be buttery and softer than a usual sponge and the flavour has extra zing and pow from the rum and lime. Serve with a glass of rum...uh I mean a cup of tea.

My finished cake!

Monday, 10 June 2013


To be fair, I'm in no gastronomical position to review this Michelin starred restaurant. I would call this more of an appreciation post, and if you ever do have a spare £200 or so, you could spend it here, if you are persuaded (invite me along please) . I doubt I'll ever get to go to Benares again, let alone afford it, but for sure I will always remember the quality of the service and the food. It was due to this reason I didn't take any pictures, this is not a picture-taking restaurant. We were greeted at the restaurant by a very attentive staff, offering water (£4 a bottle yikes) and mini-poppadoms with ginger, pineapple and tomato chutneys. Once we decided on our drinks; I had a passion fruit martini, we chose our courses for the evening. To start I had a what I can only describe as mackerel disguised as a piece of art; laying on a crisp naan, with fried onion and radish slices, a free range spiced scrambled egg and a coriander puree. This was followed by 'lamb rogan josh' with a lamb samosa, PURPLE crushed potatoes with peas and broad beans. I then had a cheeky dessert; rose and raspberry bhapa doi (like a creamier panna cotta) with pistachio burfi (marzipan-esque). All this was finished off with a selection of Indian sweets, which I LOVED and I wish I could have taken a bag full home; rice flour cookies, chocolate pistachio nougat and a raspberry jelly.

Some reviews have not been so kind to Benares, but for me, this was an absolute treat. My lamb was cooked to perfection and the balance of spices in each dish were perfect. My only criticism is that I didn't enjoy the pickled artichoke in my main course, it was much to salty, but that may be down to personal choice. Overall, I highly enjoyed this meal, despite it's pricey standards and I wish I could go again. Maybe some day...

Tuesday, 4 June 2013


Like all good movie franchises, these parts must come to an end and until I can afford to go travelling again, I won't be offering anymore of my essentially life-saving tips. Although I think if I'm to Eurotrip it again, I might travel further East and end up in St Petersburg or something. 

10) Visit the Tuscan Countryside 

Tuscany could easily be my favourite part of Italy; it's so beautiful, warm and rustic. Rarely when Interrailing do you get the chance to actually stay in a rural part of the country as it's almost always a city-hopping journey. However, I Implore you to stay in the Countryside. Take the opportunity to go on a long evening walk through sunflower fields or through the vineyards if possible. We stayed in a small hotel just outside of Siena, that had amazing views of sun bleached plains and scatterings of old Italian lodgings, it was a welcome break from the madness of city life that we had endured for the past month. 

Beautiful Tuscany!

11) Prepare yourself for lack of efficiency that is Europe's subway systems.

We are truly blessed with the tube in London and I'm not saying this in an ironic way at all I promise, despite the issues I sometimes have with the Overground. Trains in Europe however, are completely different. Experiencing the subway in Rome for example was one of the most confusing experiences of my life. Trying to work out how to get from A to B, even if A is the Colosseum and B is the Trevi Fountain, is like trying to find a needle- no wait, HALF a needle in a haystack. However, I would like to give the City Council of Barcelona a medal for the most refreshingly air conditioned subway system in Europe. It was also very clean,  nice one Barca!

Ah super-helpful Barcelona...

12) Know your Alcohol

Apart from food, regional alcohol is such a treat and it's important to know what is on offer out there. Obviously there are the basics: drink beer in Germany, Belgium, Czech Republic and Austria and drink wine in: Italy, France and parts of Spain. Personally, I'm a big fan of Weissbeer (blonde beer) so I went straight for the Leffe in Belgium and the Erdinger in Austria. There's also this really amusing stuff called Kwak in Belgium, that comes in a weird horn-shaped glass. It's called Kwak as it makes a sloppy duck-quacking noise when you drink out of it! Also don't miss out on; jugs of Sangria and beach-mojitos in Spain and visiting at least one Schanppery in Vienna. Things to you could easily miss out on: limoncello (bleugh) and this weird pale green drink in Paris; it's not absinthe it tastes gross and minty, absinthe just tastes of fire in the belly. 

13) Be Cautious with Souvenirs

When Interrailing, you have limited space, obviously some space may have freed up from losing a few pairs of pants but for the most part you are limited to what you can buy. Therefore, it's important not to get carried away with souvenir buying. For example, buying a huge hat in Disneyland Paris is NOT a good idea, you will never wear it again and it doesn't even look good on you. Bringing back food and drink is also fine, but only near the end of the trip, you don't want a smelly chorizo stinking out your bag. I ended up buying a gorgeous watercolour of the Ponte Veccio, but I wouldn't advise buying a painting. A friend of mine bought a couple of postcard sized paintings, which is a much better idea! I love the picture, but I spent half of my train trips worrying someone would dump their bag on it and crumple it. 

I look like a Bell. Frau Bell
I love Bier

14) Take Tupperware/ Hostels with Buffets my friend

Hostels will not like me saying this, but if they offer a cheap dinner buffet or a breakfast buffet, exploit them. Tupperware is great in this sense, you can fit at least a few bread rolls, meats and cheeses in there at breakfast. And at dinner, a pasta salad will go down a treat for lunch the next day. We stayed at some great places that offered buffets as an inclusive price and it's sad to say how excited we got at the prospect of unlimited food, but you will understand what i mean when you yourself experience this. 

Tupperware AND Cards?!?
Barca again. I just love it a lot.
15) LASTLY enjoy yourself (obviously)

If you're cooped up with a few people for a specific length of time, your bound to have some disagreements or at least get a little sick of eachothers faces. But it's important to remember to enjoy yourself and remember that you may not get to do this again. Re-direct your angsty energy into an energetic picture of you jumping HSM-style in front of the Bridge of Sighs and just have a great time travelling across Europe!

Thanks to Mikki for some of the piccy's! Hehe

Sunday, 2 June 2013


Beckworth Emporium in Northamptonshire is a favourite among locals. Selling fresh, affordable produce, among other things, it's perfect for a family friendly lunch and shop. The restaurant is divided into an outdoors, grassy section, an indoors section and a beautifully decorated glass-roofed building where my family and I ate our meal.  I had a pot of green tea and mint and a mackerel salad. What was most surprising about the meal was how much mackerel was actually given to us, usually mackerel is flaked into small, menial pieces but this larger portion was much more appreciated. Alongside the salad were a portion of crisp potatoes and lemon mayonnaise, extra chips were optional, but I would advise against it, given the size of the portion.

The menu also offered a selection of other salads, for example salmon and crayfish, burgers and lunch favourites, such as the cheese, walnut and apple sandwiches, I was personally divided between the mackerel salad I eventually chose and a yummy looking rosemary-lamb burger. There's also an afternoon tea selection as well as an extensive range of fresh cakes and puddings for those with a sweet tooth. I would recommend this place for a light summer lunch and it's definitely more catered towards family-friendly groups. However, it's popularity among locals means that a queue begins to develop just after midday, so if you plan to visit, I would highly suggest arriving earlier than later, especially if it's a gorgeous sunny weekend, like the one we just had. Here's hoping we have many more!