Vacations Newsletter – July 2019
The Charm of Local Cuisines
When we travel to a new destination, apart from its scenic beauty, historical sites and architectural marvels, one thing we must never miss to try is the local cuisine. It’s the local cuisine that tells engaging stories of people’s lives and the culture of the people who inhabit that country or the region. When you partake a regional dish, you connect yourself to the social fabric, the geography and the historical evolution of a place, and hence in your travels, local cuisines can play a very big role in enhancing your experience. While sometimes we might crave for a familiar taste, but when we are in a different country, trying different dishes of local cuisine will be a travel tale in itself.
Consider Europe – a continent divided into many different and distinct countries. Each country brings its own flavour of food and beverages. While in Spain, you might not want to miss the paella, in Italy, the unmissable rice dish is risotto. Similarly, the black bread of Latvia is a different experience from the crumbly, melt-in-the-mouth croissants of France. The bratwurst of Germany is totally different from the famous hot dogs of Austria. Hungarian Goulash and Dutch Pea Soup will both become your comfort food as you travel from East to West Europe. The depth of local cuisines is boundless and every meal will become a discovery. While some dishes are very famous, almost all local cuisines have lesser known dishes as well – be sure to try those as well.
Simple Pleasures: Cheese and Wine in Europe
Cheese and wine in Europe are not just food and beverage – they are a part of the rich history and culture of Europe. They are amongst the oldest fermenting foods on the planet and when consumed in the right form – not only provide health benefits, but also connect us with the evolution of food and provide a cozy feeling of taste, nutrition and a bond with nature.
Records indicate that wine and cheese from the same locations have been served together for generations. Historically, many cheese and wine varietals have grown up together, oftentimes on the same farm or within a small village. Passed down from generation to generation, these pairings continue to exist even centuries later. The roots of regional pairings are the deepest in Europe with France and Italy being known worldwide for producing best quality cheese and wine. This is an experience not to be missed during your holidays in Europe.
The French Brie region, for instance, has long been noted for its Brie cheese production, as well as many tannic wine varietals, such as Beaujolais. This is one of the most popular wine and cheese pairings, for many centuries. Italy, another major wine and cheese producer, boasts a rich wine and cheese pairing history with strong ties to regionalism. Italian Asiago cheese is often recommended alongside Italian Chianti or Brunello that originated near the same region.
The north of Italy – regions of Piedmont, Lombardy and Tuscany are the world’s treasures when it comes to wine and cheese. These are the simple pleasures of life – partaking an original variety of cheese, paired with its companion wine brings a sense of comfort, luxury and rustic joy all at the same time.
Discover Your World
The food gem of Europe - Lombardy
When in Italy, indulge your palette
To get a sample itinerary for Northern Italy, click here.
One of Italy’s largest regions, Lombardy lies in the north of the country. Sharing a border with Switzerland, it is home to a wide range of landscapes, including the breath taking mountain chain that boasts the Valchiavenna, Valtellina and the Camonica Valley. Another aspect that defines the region is its expanse of rolling hills famous for its vineyards and wine production. The lakes of Lombardy are world-famous: Lake Garda, Lake Como and Lake Maggiore are astoundingly beautiful, surrounded as they are by stately homes, parks and picturesque small towns.
In Milan – the biggest city of Lombardy, a major architectural masterpiece is the renowned Teatro alla Scala. The imposing Duomo (Cathedral) is absolutely extraordinary, constructed in white marble and dedicated to the Birth of Virgin Mary. And in close vicinity to these historical sites is the modern Monza. In Monza, make sure to visit the Autodromo, the state-of-the-art motor racing track, and also the Villa Reale, a former royal residence.
The real find in Lombardy is its food and wine. Lombardy’s food specialties range from delicious saffron risotto and the bread crumbed cutlet Cotoletta alla Milanese, to the consommé of Pavia with its egg accompaniment and a pork and cabbage cassoulet.
Valtellina’s contributions to Lombardy gastronomy include pizzoccheri (a buckwheat version of tagliatelle), bresaola (air-dried salt beef), cured salame of Varzi and finally, fresh water fish, especially the dried and grilled lake whitefish. Among the region’s most celebrated and delicious cheeses are Gorgonzola, from the town of the same name; Mascarpone; the unpasteurised Lodigiano; parmesan-style Grana; Robiola soft cheese; and Bel Paese.
Milan’s panettone and other Christmas sweets are renowned worldwide, as are the almond-flavoured Amaretto liqueur from Saronno, Mantua’s sbrisolona (crumb cake), and nougats from Cremona.
Lombardy’s famous wines are Grumello, Inferno, and Sassella della Valtellina, while the wines and spumante produced in Franciacorta occupy a monumental spot in this category, particularly the Bonarda and Barbera wines of Pavia Province.
Hassle-free air travel on budget airlines
Take the pain out of low-cost carriers with these tips
Low cost airlines offer irresistible fares and sometimes they are the only connection to a destination that you want to reach to. If you are used to a full service airline, you might find the experience of a low cost airline somewhat daunting because of the restrictions and extra charges. But that is how they manage to keep the fares so low – by running a very tight operation. If you follow the tips below, you will be able to have a smooth journey even in a low cost airline, and reap full advantage of their low fares – sometimes as low as $5 from London to Milan!
- Check the weight of your luggage at home before leaving.
- Triple check the spelling of your name on the ticket and other details.
- Double check which airport you fly from or to.
- Ask yourself if you need to pay for your seat selection. You can request at boarding if a better seat is available for free.
- If the airline luggage weight limit says 7 kgs per kg then don’t make one bag of 14 kg for two people.
- Double check for automatic add-ons.
- Pack your own food.
- Wear your bulky clothing and, as far as possible, don’t have any check-in luggage at all.
- Pay for any extras online.
- Avoid booking a flight with a short layover.
- Always read the fine print.
- Print your boarding pass before travelling.
- Connect with the airlines on their Facebook (FB) page and other social media handles to know of their deals or to connect for any customer service issues.
- If your carrier has a loyalty programme, sign up for it from the first flight itself.
- Book directly on the carrier’s websites as far as possible. They almost always have the best rates on their own site.
- Some countries have low cost airlines that you might not be aware of – check on the airports page to see which airlines operate there.
- Lastly, have fun. Apart from some luxuries, all airlines will get you to your destination safe and sound!
News You Can Use
July 3 – July 22: France, Aix-en-Provence, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence
Late June to early August: Spain, Barcelona Summer Festival (Festival de Barcelona) – known as Grec Festival
July 24 – July 28: Street Food Festival, Trapani, Italy.
August 23: Dusseldorf Gourmet Festival, Germany.
August 22: St Pauli Winzerfest Wine Festival, Hamburg, Germany.
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