Eating around Italy’s Regions

When you think of Italian food, the first dishes that spring to mind are pizza and pasta. But Italian food is much more diverse than that. There are twenty regions in Italy that each has their own distinct way of preparing food and their own culinary traditions. We’re highlighting five of them this week.

Eating around italy's regions

 Tuscany

Tuscan food is known for its simplicity and use of locally grown ingredients. Tuscans tend to sprinkle their dishes with rosemary and sage, herbs that grow all over Tuscany. The region is also famous for its truffles, saffron and porcini mushrooms, ingredients you’ll be sure to come across when eating in authentic Tuscan restaurants.

Eating around italy's regions

Photo by Juan Antonio Capo under Creative Common Licence

 

Sardinia

Being an island, Sardinian dishes are all about the seafood. Besides freshly caught fish, clams and crabs, menus in Sardinian restaurants will most likely feature dishes like cassola, a fragrant fish and seafood soup, burrida which is a shark chowder and oven roasted aragosta arrosto which is a rock lobster half topped with a crunchy, seasoned breadcrumb layer.

Eating around italy's regions

Veneto

Thanks to the trading power of the Venetians in the past, food in Veneto is heavily influenced by cooking traditions from around the world. This region was the first in Europe to put rice dishes on the table and risi e bisi, riso e trippa and risotto are still staple dishes of the Veneto region. Polenta, which is a yellow corn cake, is also very popular here. It’s a garnish that is paired with many Veneto dishes.

Eating around italy's regions

Abruzzo

Abruzzi cooking consists mostly of hearty and filling meals. Dishes that hail from this region are zuppa di cardi which is a soup filled with cardoons, potatoes and pork or zuppa di lenticchie which is a lentil soup with pork chestnuts and tomatoes.  Another Abruzzo favourite is agnello alle olive; slow cooked lamb in a clay pot.

Lazio

Home to the capital of the country, food in Lazio usually consists of fresh produce, brothy soups and lots of pasta dishes. A meal in Lazio often starts with platters full of antipasti; freshly baked breads, cured meats and grilled veggies etc. Pasta dishes in Lazio typically contain pasta tubes so bucatini or penne all’amatriciana are local favourites.

Eating around italy's regions

Tricks for Taking Better Smartphone Pictures

Smart phones are probably used for lots of other things besides making phone calls these days.  One of those is of course the camera function and the quality of photos you can take with the latest smart phone models are pretty high end. And if you use our smart phone photography tips, your friends and family will really be wowed when you show them your pictures of your next holiday.

#1 Get higher

Get a different angle on your subject and take your picture from a higher position than eye level. Try to see if you can hold your camera higher, climb stairs, stand on a wall or on anything that gives you a higher vantage point than the object or person you want to capture.

get high

 #2 Get lower

Pretty much the same principle as the previous tip: changing your vantage point gives you a completely different perspective of your subject and will make your picture look a little bit more interesting than when you take it standing in front of your subject and snap away.

United States Capital in the Spring with tulips blooming in front

#3 Get closer

Don’t use the zoom on your smart phone, because you’ll end up with a lot of fuzz and noise on your picture. Either get closer to what you want to photograph or just take the picture and zoom in with your preferred editing app which I will explain more in point five. If that still doesn’t give you the wanted result, you could also attach a fish eye, macro or wide angle lens to your phone camera. Check out www.photojojo.com for these.

Cotton Fields, Texas

#4 Get cleaner

Get rid of any messiness that is lingering in the background of your subject. Get rid of anything that might make your picture too busy. Just move around a little and see whether you can shoot your picture from an angle that will place your subject in front of a clean background. It will make your picture a lot less noisy.

Kangaroo

#5 Get apps

There are loads of applications you can download on your smart phone that will make your picture look even more fabulous than it already is. Snapseed is a very easy to use  phone application and you can crop, and shop your image to look a bit more pro and a bit less like a holiday snap. Google-owned Picasa is a good desktop application for editing your pictures. Of course there is always Instagram which, besides its filter function, has great editing functions.

 

 

National Parks in Winter

If you think you can only visit a national park during the summer season, then think again. Having the benefit of warm temperatures, the parks in Central America and Hawaii can be visited year-round and the winter scenery of many American and Canadian national parks turn into something quite magical. Here are some of our favourites.

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park, located in the state of Maine in the USA is rather versatile; you can find mountains, woodlands and lakes here and it also borders the Atlantic Ocean. It’s perfect for anyone who loves the great outdoors and in winter it offers great opportunities for skiing, snowmobiling and even winter hiking and snowshoeing.

Frenchman Bay, Acadia National Park

Frenchman Bay, Acadia National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park in the USA is most famous for its geothermal activities and geysers. Visiting this park in winter will offer you stunning views of snow-covered mountains, frozen lakes and steaming geysers. While some animals might be hibernating, you will still be able to spot wildlife, such as elk, bison and, if you’re lucky, the grey wolf.

Barn at Mormon Row

Barn at Mormon Row

Banff National Park

Banff National Park is Canada’s oldest park and is located in the Rocky Mountains. It’s quite a stunner year round, but in the winter its scenery turns into a fairy tale setting. The snow covered mountains, glaciers and ice fields invite many winter sports fan to come and explore the park specifically this time of year, because it’s great for skiing, dogsledding and even ice walking.

Lake Louise - Beautiful Alberta

A panorama of lake Louise

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

While Hawaii Volcanoes National Park can be visited any time of year, going there in winter time you’ll find fewer tour buses and crowds. There are two active volcanoes within the park; Kilauea and Mauna Loa. It’s a popular destination for ramblers as there are plenty of hiking trails snaking through volcanic craters, scalded deserts and rain-forests. Cruising along the Crater Rim Drive and the Chain of Craters Road offers some spectacular views as well.

Hawaii

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is all about the National Parks; more than a quarter of the country is considered a national park, a biological reserve or a wildlife refuge.  The most popular among them are Manuel Antonio National Park, Tortuguero National Park and Monteverde Cloud Forest. Even though the country doesn’t have a real winter season, the period from mid-November till April is the best time of year to visit as this is considered the dry season.

Early morning light makes the epiphyte plants shimmer in the lush rainforest of Santa Elena, Costa Rica. No post processing used for the light effect. INSPECTOR PLEASE NOTE: Slight grain due to extreme lightning differences between highlights and shadow areas. Looks pretty decent though... I think.

 

These parks can be visited on one of our trips. So have a browse on our website and we might see you on one of them soon.

PORTo, PORTugal – it’s all about Port

I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of port wine – for me, it brings back memories of UK Christmases, family, warmth and cosiness. So this week, we’re going back to its origins and taking a look at where it’s from.

If you haven’t tried port before, there are both red and white varieties – made in the same way, just with different coloured grapes. Red ports are typically served as dessert wines, whereas white and tawny ports are often aperitifs.

Different varieties of port. Photo by liljc716 under Creative Commons Licence

Different varieties of port. Photo by liljc716 under Creative Commons Licence

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King’s Day in the Netherlands

Us Dutch have a reputation for being a lively bunch and this becomes really obvious when we celebrate King’s Day in the Netherlands. It’s a day when  everyone parties in the streets, dressed in orange in honour of our king’s birthday.

King's day the netherlands

Photo by Alex E. Proimos under Creative Commons Licence

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Earth Month: doing your bit as a traveller

April 2015 is the 45th anniversary of Earth Month, which raises awareness of the environmental issues our planet is facing. And it got me thinking about the different ways we each of us can do our bit, particularly when it comes to planning and jetting off on our holidays.

Travel is always going to have an impact on the environment, no matter how mindful we are when we visit a destination. But there are a few things we can put into action to reduce our carbon footprint.

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A taste of South America – local specialities

South America may be a vast, varied land of contrasting countries, each with its own culinary local specialities but nearly all natives will agree that mealtimes should be a sociable affair shared with friends and family. So in this region, you’ll find dishes made with lots of care and attention.

In recent years, there has been a global rise in popularity for South American food, so you may already be familiar with a number of popular dishes.

Most speciality dishes across South America include empanadas – or pastel in Portuguese – a stuffed bread or pastry which can have a sweet or savoury filling. The region is also known for its many popular condiments such as salsa, chimichurri, and chipotle, a smoked chili sauce.

empanada

Photo by James under Creative Common Licence

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