I was kindly nominated for this pretty awesome competition by the lovely Lucy of Oh So London, and honestly, it’s taken some serious thought!
Celebrity Cruises have just won Ocean Cruise Line of the Year in the 2014 Food and Travel Awards. And to celebrate, they’re offering bloggers with a love of food the chance to win a seven night Mediterranean cruise in an ocean view cabin. Runners up will each get a meal worth £75 in a Great British Chef restaurant. To win the #tasteoftravel competition, I just have to create my ultimate menu based on my travels and wanders around the world. Will it be Italian or American? Greek or Egyptian? Jordanian or Arabian?
After much, much consideration (and mouthwatering) I’ve come up with my idea of the perfect meal:
Starter: Larb Gai
One of my favourite meals ever. For those not in the know, larb gai is a Thai minced chicken salad, with lashings of salty fish sauce, spicy chilli, and fragrant lemongrass. It’s served with crunchy lettuce, like a salad taco. I first experienced this delightful meal, believe it or not, in Thailand about seven years ago.
After hiring a longboat for a day off the beaten (sea) track, a local packed us a lunch of larb gai. It looked weird. It smelled delicious. It was minced meat, with salad. Would it work? Would we survive at the end? After the first bite I was hooked. The flavours were incredible, so bitter-sweet and deliciously juicy. The salad keeps it light and fresh, and it’s now my go-to meal whenever I need some healthy comfort food. The flavours take me right back for sunny days, fisherman pants and drinking mojitos in a hammock.
Main: Barbecued salted fish with grilled peppers (and freshly baked bread)
There’s nothing like the taste of freshly caught fish, straight off the barbecue. It’s something I try and order when I’m staying near the shore, whicever country I’m in. Now, in Cyprus, it’s taken to a new level. I found a gorgeous little local restaurant – how they understood my hand gestures and terrible Greek I have no idea – and would spend evenings sat in a plastic chair, at a plastic table, with a plastic tablecloth. Old Greek men would turn up and meet friends, setting the world to rights (it’s all greek t… sorry).
It was such a lovely way to spend evenings. Nothing fancy, just a perfectly cooked whole fish (whatever was in that day), with salt and lemon to flavour it and bread to mop up the sweet vegetable broth.
After all that healthy food, it’s time to be a bit naughty. This one needed no thought at all. See, mum is Sicilian. Sicilians love their cakes, and this cake was invented centuries ago right in Palermo. Cannoli are small pastries, filled with sweet, creamy ricotta and usually topped with glacé cherries, candied fruit or chocolate. They are delicious. It’s more than possible to get through two or three at a time and still want to go back for more. They’re always served on little frilled paper trays, wrapped in paper.
I’ve not found any in the UK, so this remains a yearly treat for me. And no, filling it with custard does not a true cannolo make.
The closing date for entries is January 12th, 2015. All blog entries will be passed on to three judges who’ll be deciding which #TasteofTravel meal wins. Fingers crossed! Now I’m off to lament the lack of cannoli in this joint.