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Postcard From Atlanta, Georgia

LISTEN HERE We continue our virtual tour of the world with the second instalment in our Postcards podcast series in which we talk to ordinary people about why they love where they live.
We explore beyond the guide books and tourist traps to discover local secrets that will fuel your wanderlust. In this episode, we chat with Travis Currie of Atlanta, Georgia in the USA's south-east. Travis, pictured above with downtown Atlanta in the background, wasn't born in Atlanta but, having moved there six years ago, has come to love his new home-town. Travis describes Georgia as a big city with a lot of small town charm. He explains why Atlanta is nicknamed "the city in a forest", and tells us what you can see, do, eat and drink as you stroll its very walkable streets, including one essential Atlanta food you must try once in your lifetime. When he's not out listening to live music or eating great southern food, Travis loves to walk his dog on the city's BeltLine, a former railway corridor encircling the central part of the city that is being built in stages to connect 45 diverse neighbourhoods. The BeltLine, which when complete will feature 53km of pathway, boasts a large amount of unofficial street art ranging from murals to sculptures, and is home to the annual Art on the Atlanta BeltLine public art exhibition. Travis is pictured below on the BeltLine. And there's a lot more too in this Postcard from Atlanta. Click here to listen. As we always say at ExtraVirgin Food and Travel, bon voyage and bon appetit! Sam + Natascha

Home Fermenting Demystified

Listen Here or download ExtraVirgin at Apple, Spotify or wherever you usually get your podcasts. Most of us are now aware of how good fermented foods are for our gut health, but many people don't realise how easy foods like sauerkraut and kombucha are to make at home. And, says The Fermentary's Sharon Flynn, wild fermented foods have a far greater number of health-giving microbes compared to most supermarket products. Frankly, we reckon our homemade ferments are generally a lot tastier too! Sharon became a professional fermenter 'accidently,' after healing her young daughter's health issues by introducing wild fermented foods to her diet. While she may have fallen into the business of fermenting for its medicinal benefits, she fiercely promotes deliciousness as just as important. In this episode, we talk to Sharon about: Various ferments, from kefir to kimchi Why wild-fermented is superior to ferments with introduced cultures Safety issues What vessels to use for fermenting The difference between anaeraobic and aerobic ferments Suggestions of how to get a wider spread of fermented foods into our diets Foods that ferment well and others that don't (sorry, kale lovers). Questions submitted by our listeners If you're interested in fermenting, especially if you're a beginner, we highly recommend Sharon's fabulous book: Ferment for Good - Ancient Foods for the Modern Gut, which you can buy on her website. You'll also find some great recipes there. We really hope you find this episode as inspiring as we did. Wishing you good gut health. Natascha + Sam

Here's what to expect at a health spa

I've slathered myself in mud and floated in the Dead Sea, spent 3 weeks at an Ayurvedic retreat in Sri Lanka, wandered confused among the roccoco halls of Budapest thermal baths, and taken Evian "rainshowers' at luxury day spas but I was recently invited somewhere a bit closer to home. Gwinganna in Australia's Gold Coast hinterland, bills itself as "a lifetyle retreat," a promoting deeper and more permanent change than the old school 'health spa.' I was surprised in fact, at how strong the "learning" element of it was. While it's lovely and quite luxe, the emphasis is less on facials and massages (although I had an excellent one of each - I reckon the facial was the best I've ever had!) and more on teaching takeaways to help you live a better, healthier and more balanced life. I participated in a program they offer called "Sleep, stress and sugar." (What a perfect time for it, hey?) Generally, I read a lot and despite being not at my ummm... optimum weight, I have a strong interest in health so was surprised at how much I learned in the daily talks. One very fundamental change I've bought back with me is the importance of sleep (to just about every facet of our lives, from weight to memory!) and how to adopt good sleep habits. I no longer think of sleep as something that 'happens' but something I actively prepare and plan for. I was also inspired to look afresh at my diet, into which a few not-so-good things have insidiously crept and the importance of flexibilty and strength (back to yoga and weights for me) especially as we age. Of course, not all retreats are the same, but here are a few things I've learned from my experiences: WHAT TO EXPECT AT A HEALTH RETREAT If you're shy and not a 'group' person, it can be hard going for the first day or so. There are lots of group classes and you'll usually be seated for meals at communal tables, however, with everyone sharing common goals, it's easy to talk to people and there's usually plenty of opportunity to spend time alone. You'll definitely have to go without alcohol while there and most probably without tea or coffee, so prepare yourself. While health retreats can seem expensive, if you break it down to accommodation+ all meals+ classes, it's actually pretty good value. Besides, it's an investment in your future health. Don't overpack! You'll be living in workout gear so forget stylish and just make sure it's comfortable! That includes shoes that are good for walking. Also a hat, swimmers, a sunscreen and a jumper or hoodie. Be open to new experiences. Try to let go of cynicism or embaressment about how you might look doing something (hard for me at a recent dance class at Gwinganna I must admit, but very liberating!) And don't compare yourself to others, do what feels good for you and listen to your body. Be prepared to digitally detox. Retreats can be remote and so may not get decent wifi or may have a policy that disallows or discourages the use of digital devices. Be prepared to have your days filled (even if that includes 'rest time'.) There's usually a full program (which you can opt out of when you want) but it's usually so varied and interesting that it doesn't feel 'busy.' Bring books. Real books. Expect to be surprised by the food, both the quality and amount. I certainly was at my vegan ayurvedic retreat (I incidentally lost 6kg) and at Gwinganna where the food looked like highly calorific offerings from a top restaurant, but was soooo tasty. I've also found that I eat more at retreats as there is usually morning and afternoon tea. Factor in paying for at least one non-included treatment, it's worth the indulgence. Write stuff down. You're likely to have a lot of 'ah ha' moments, and you imagine you'll remember them, but I have learned from experience that it's unlikely! Look for a place that suits your needs. Some retreat have a more spiritual focus, others are more practical based. Read reviews and ask around. Most of all, take the opportunity to learn, reset or refresh your knowledge. Wishing you good health in 2021.

Gwinganna's Lime and Coconut Cheesecake

Lime and Coconut Cheesecake crust 1/2 cup sunflower seeds 1/2 cup raw cashews 2 tbsp coconut oil 6 Medjool dates, soaked in water for 20 minutes, drained and chopped pinch of sea salt 1 tbsp flaxseed meal filling 2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water overnight, drained and rinsed 1 cup coconut cream 6 limes, juice and zest 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out 1/4 cup raw honey 1/2 cup coconut oil 1 medium ripe avocado, hass or shepherd Finger lime, for garnish, optional Process sunflower seeds and cashews in a food processor until it reaches a fine crumb. Add coconut oil, dates, salt and linseed. Process until mixture comes together. Press into a lined springform tin or individual moulds to an even thickness. Chill crust in refrigerator. Place cashews and coconut cream in a blender and process until smooth. Add lime zest, juice, vanilla seeds, honey, coconut oil and avocado. Process again until smooth. If mixture is too thick you may need to add more coconut cream. It should be a smooth, pourable consistency. Pour filling over the base, and refrigerate until set, approx. 6 hours. Garnish with finger lime. serves 8 NOTE: Can also be frozen.

Postcard From Paris - what it's really like to live in Paris

LISTEN HERE Welcome to our new Postcards series of podcasts in which we talk to ordinary people about why they love where they live. Come on an adventure and fuel your wanderlust as we travel the globe, going beyond the guide books and tourist traps to discover local secrets. We'll publish a new Postcard episode from somewhere in the world every two weeks. In this first episode, we meet Fanny-Marie Gabas, above, who calls Paris home. Fanny-Marie loves all of Paris but the 11th arrondissement is her "hood" and holds her heart. She tells us what it's really like to be a Parisian, how she spends her weekends, and where and what she loves to eat. If you've never been to Paris or it's been a while since you last visited, prepare to be inspired to plan your next trip. Fanny-Marie says Parisians tend to live in their neighbourhoods. Hers is the 11th arrondissement, between Bastille and République, but she likes to extend to the 19th, 20th, 9th and 18th. To help listeners explore her Paris, Fanny-Marie kindly shared some of the places she mentions in the episode. For something to eat on the go, to pick up a roasted chicken for Sunday or to get ingredients for a three-course meal, she recommends you shop: Up and down rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis Up and down rue des Martyrs Six days a week at le Marché Beauvau also called Marché d'Aligre and At le Marché les Enfants Rouges, Paris's oldest food market in the Haut Marais for fresh produce, a quick lunch at one of the little cafes, or brunch at the restaurant in the heart of the covered market. Fanny-Marie mentions two favourite bakeries: MaMiche Utopie, 20 rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 75011 Her favourite places to eat: Les Niçois, with a pétanque field downstairs La Mangerie in St Paul Le Marais Le Barav for simple dishes and the best wine selection Favourite lunch spots: Monsieur, 80 Boulevard Richard-Lenoir, 75011 Paris L’appartement Bouillon Pigalle for back to basics, affordable family food Other favourites: Louie Louie, for pizza, rue de Charonne Gabriela for good Brazilian food Bluebird rue Saint-Bernard for cocktails, 75011 Paris For special occasions: Pierre Sang's Signature, for a marriage of French and Korean cuisine Hélène Darozze's Joia And finally, Fanny-Marie recommends a cute department store that she says will charm you but might also drain your wallet. It’s called MERCI. And there's a lot more too. Click here to enjoy this Postcard From Paris. As we always say at ExtraVirgin Food and Travel, bon voyage and bon appetit!

Episode 58: How to Change Your Life on a Plant Medicine Retreat

LISTEN HERE Looking for life-changing travel? Well, keep an open mind and listen to our guest Jonathan de Potter, founder of Behold Retreats, who says high-end guided plant medicine journeys can safely accelerate personal growth and help you live life to its full potential. Using such plants as Ayahuasca and Psilocybin (magic mushrooms), Jonathan says it's an ancient practice, now finding a place in the modern wellness and transformational travel era. He says plant medicine retreats to explore your inner world can deliver a "trip" that goes beyond experiential travel to a deeper, more emotional and spiritual level. Speaking to us from Thailand, Jonathan points out that various cultures have used psychedelic drugs in religious and spiritual ceremonies for centuries. Now, he says, neuroscience can explain the benefits of using these entheogens (non-addictive psychoactive substances), including the potential to help alleviate anxiety and depression. He describes his own first experience of Ayahuasca in Peru and how it motivated him to start Behold Retreats. He also covers: how to choose a plant medicine experience that's right for you who stands to benefit the most a typical guest experience and the important steps that need to be taken before and after a plant medicine retreat to make the most of your experience. Behold Retreats are in beautiful locations around the world including Costa Rica, The Netherlands and Peru with more destinations in the works. References: In this episode, we reference the 2018 number one New York times bestselling book by respected journalist Michael Pollan called How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. You can get more information about the science behind plant medicine therapy from Behold Retreats here. Transformational travel is forecast to be one of the strongest travel trends, with travellers consciously seeking out experiences that help them to learn, grow and engage with the world in a way that leads to real change in their every-day lives. We hope you enjoy this episode; let us know if you have done or are considering a plant medicine journey.

Natascha's Mum's Xmas Pudding

My maternal grandmother was English and as such my mother always served a traditional pudding each Christmas. She'd start in October, soaking the fruit for a month, then make the puddings in November, putting in old sixpences saved in a special tin for luck and hanging them in calico in the pantry to "mature." The sixpence and the calico have gone the way of the other northern hemisphere traditions, but pudding itself is still a mainstay. Her other nod to modernity is having them cryrovaced. Embaressingly, she walks into any old butcher with them and smiles sweetly and asks them to do it for her. I don't know why her puddings are so good, but they are. Her recipe is fairly simple - she's just dicatated it to me over the phone. But you better get a wiggle on - Christmas is sneaking up on us. Jean's Christmas Pudding 1kg of mixed fruit (prunes, figs, raisins, sultanas etc) 1 cup + of rum, sherry or brandy 250g butter 200g brown sugar 4 eggs Pinch of salt Rind of 1 lemon and 1 orange 250g butter 1 ¼ cups (155g) brown sugar 2 cups soft white breadcrumbs 1 grated green apple 1 cup (125g) flour 2 tsp mixed spice 1 tsp nutmeg In a bowl put mixed fruit, cover with cling wrap and soak for a month (two weeks or a week at a pinch is fine). Add more alcohol if the fruit starts to look dry. On the day you want to cook, grease 2 small or 1 large pudding tin (with a lid). Grate the apple on top of the breadcrumbs (I don't know why- NM). Cream butter well, then add sugar and mix. Add citrus rind, then add eggs one by one, mixing well. Add flour and spices, then the fruit, apple and breadcrumbs and combine well. Fill the pudding bowl, leaving a little room at the top, cover with greaseproof paper and foil then secure lid tightly. If your tin has those little ring handles, tie string through them and round the bottom like you're tying a parcel, This will help keep it secure and make it easier to lift out. Put the puddings in a large steamer with enough water to reach halfway up the pudding bowls. Simmer for 4 hrs for small and 6 hours for large puddings. Make sure to keep checking the water and adding more boiling water as needed. When done, take off the lids but leave in their tins until cool. Turn out, wrap in baking paper and get butcher to cryvac. On Xmas Day boil for an hour. We like to serve them with both custard and ice-cream. , Mix 2 cups soft white breadcrumbs 1 grated green apple over breadcrumbs Antoher small nowl 1 cup st flour, 2 teaspoons misxed spice 1 teasonn nutmeg Grease 2 small or 1 large one pudding tin, with a lid, and cream butter well, the add sugar, mix well, and add citrus rind, then add the beaten eggs one by one, mixing well, add flour and spices, then add the fruite, apple and breadcrumbs. Fill pudding bowl, seal well with greaseproof paper and and foil then sucure lid tightly, tie strong through sides . Then in large steamer put pudding bows steamer of boiling water 12 up pudding bowls and boil for 4 hrs in small and 6 hours if large, keep checking the water and add more boiling water when needed, simmering. When ready take lids off by leave in tin until cold. Turn out and best way to wrap in baking paper and get butcher to cryvac on xmas day to boil for an hour.

Roasted Jackfruit Shawarma

KINDNESS COMMUNITY VEGAN COOKBOOK Edgar’s Mission Amanda Logan - @mygoodnesskitchen I am a recipe developer and food blogger and I’m the only vegan in a family of omnivores. I try and create recipes that my meat-eating family will also enjoy so I only have to cook plant-based. This messy and addictive Middle Eastern wrap is a family favourite. SERVES 6 Shawarma ‘meat’
550 g canned young jackfruit in brine
400 g cooked chickpeas
juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup good quality olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon turmeric (optional)
1 large red onion, finely sliced
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped Lemon tahini sauce
1 clove garlic
¼ cup lemon juice
⅓ cup tahini
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground cumin or sumac To serve
6 pita breads
1 ½ cups lettuce, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
⅓ cup hummus
pickles (optional) For the ‘meat’, drain the brine from the jackfruit. Thinly slice each triangle lengthways and pop the pieces in a large bowl. Add the remaining meat ingredients and stir to combine. Cover with a clean cloth and refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Remove the marinated jackfruit from the fridge and spread it out over a roasting pan or tray. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes or until some of the jackfruit edges are starting to char. Set aside. For the sauce, blend all the ingredients with 3–4 tablespoons water until smooth. Add more water if needed to thin the sauce out. To serve, warm each pita gently in a dry pan over medium heat for a minute or two, turning halfway through. Lay each pita on a plate and smear with a good dollop of hummus. Add sliced lettuce and tomato followed by a good handful of the roasted jackfruit mixture. Add pickles (optional) and drizzle with lemon tahini sauce. Fold the bottom of the pita up and then roll from the side to make a wrap. Dig in! NOTES The filling will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, and freezes well for up to 2 months. The shawarma can also be served with rice and a good drizzle of Lemon Tahini Sauce. _____________________________ This is an extract from Kindness Community Vegan Cookbook by Edgar’s Mission (Affirm Press, $35). Photography by Julie Renouf.

Episode 57: Quentin Long of Australian and International Traveller

LISTEN HERE Honeymooning with Merv Hughes. Getting stoned with Swiss conscripts. Skydiving into a hotel reception. All true stories from the well-stocked travel yarn arsenal of Quentin Long, co-founder of Australian Traveller and International Traveller magazines. He also shares his best ever travel experiences (and a couple that are memorable for the wrong reasons) and gives us some fresh, all-Australian additions for our bucket lists. On a more serious note, we discuss the devastation Covid has had on the travel industry and what he thinks travel may look like when we can all travel again. Some of Quentin Long's Favourite Travel Experiences Alaska with National Geographic Lindblad Expeditions Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland Six Senses, Oman Qualia, Hamilton Island

Turning Back Time. Staying in a Medieval Mountain Village in Abruzzo

It’s snowing. Not the kind of little feathery flakes that kiss your face, or tickle the palm of an outstretched hand, but icy crystals that flatten into ninja stars as they hit the windscreen. The sat nav, it seems has interpreted my love of getting off the beaten track into a death wish. I'd convinced my rule-following husband to get off the autostrada and take the more picturesque ‘stradale provinciale’ route and just over an hour ago, we’d been congratulating ourselves on that decision, as we drank handfuls of cold, fresh mountain water from a spout at a roadside spring called the ‘fonte d’amore.’ We'd kissed, laughed and got back in the car admiring the crisp, sunny winter’s day, the vast blue sky, the ruggedly beautiful countryside. Then, the inexplicably Irish voice of the sat nav directs us to turn off up an even smaller road. We’re doubtful, but obey. It’s fine to start with, then we begin to climb and the jaunty Italian pop song on the radio dies to a crackle. We manoeuvre the navy Fiat around hairpin bends and switchbacks, higher and higher into the remote Gran Sasso mountains (one of the only places in Italy still inhabited by wolves as my husband reminds me) into a malevolent mist that reduces visibility to the front of the car hood. The road, such as it is, is wide enough for a single car, with a sheer, unprotected drop on my side. The wind picks up and snow increases in intensity, now coming down sideways. I clutch my handbag on my lap like a nervous nonna and suggest abandoning the car and walking the rest of the way, but my husband scoffs. “It’s fine, we’re nearly there and no-one’s going to come down this road anyway,” he says blithely. I white-knuckle it and eventually the mist clears a little, the wind blows itself out and, ringrazie a dio! we seem to have arrived at the top. Our formerly chatty sat nav lady remains defiantly silent on where our accommodation might be, however. Eventually I direct my husband to stop at an alpine hostel and go in to find someone to discuss our possible whereabouts, hoping to polish my rusty Italian a little. Me: "Good day." Disinterested receptionist: "day" Me: "Not is possible to find the my accommodation. Possible can you help me?" Him: (Yawning) "Where you stay?" Me: "Hotel diffused Sextantio." Him: (Pointing) "Down there." Me: "The stair down?" Him: "Yes." Me: "I must abandon car and go by foot with baggages?" Him: "Yes." So we pull into a parking lot outside a restaurant that seems to be closed for the winter and grab our bags from the boot. My husband protestingly puts on the snow chains in preparation for tomorrow and we slip and crunch our way under the watchful eye of two large dogs with elbow-deep coats lounging on their bellies in the snow and down a wooden staircase into the village of Santa Stefano di Sessanio. “Dov’e?” (where?) my Italian cousin had asked when I told her where we were going. Santo Stefano is in Abruzzo, a region largely ignored by both foreign and domestic tourists, except perhaps for sun-starved northern Europeans who come for the unremarkable beaches and conga lines of striped umbrellas on the Adriatic coast. But this Abruzzo, while just two hours from Rome, is green and untamed, mystical, magical and mountainous, rich in legends of dastardly brigands, witches, and enchantresses; home to villages where time has frozen. One of Italy’s ‘borghi piu belli’ ( ‘most beautiful villages’) Santo Stefano di Sessanio (known as ‘Sextantia’ by the ancient Romans) was close to total abandonment, with just 70 inhabitants still living within its walls when Milanese entrepreneur Daniele Kihlgren rode in in 1999 - a white knight on a motorcycle.  He fell in love with its unmodernised medieval beauty and determined to do what he could to save it. To this end, he bought 20 or so properties, many from owners who had emigrated abroad and set about restoring them using traditional methods. Today, those properties operate as Sextantio ‘albergo diffuso’ – a ‘hotel’ with a main reception area but accommodation in the houses scattered around the village. It feels, as we collect our huge iron key and walk down the cobblestoned laneway to our room, that apart from the receptionist, we are the only people in the village. It’s as quiet as a morgue, the mist swirling around the age-polished limestone buildings, the top of a crenellated tower just visible.  Our key opens a dark wooden door and we step through to a large open space with flagstone floors – a former barn. A narrow stone staircase, each stair smoothed by generations of feet leads us up to the living area where a fire crackles and spits. There’s a small balcony overlooking the narrow laneway and across the tiled tops of the neighbouring roofs. On the other side of the room a deep-silled window frames a panorama of snow-dusted pine trees and further into the distance, the 'V' of a deep green valley. The room's furniture is dark and rustic – rescued, restored or recreated as it would have been in medieval times; the ceiling is crossed with heavy beams and the bedspread has apparently been hand-loomed by someone in the village. You can, we read, have weaving lessons with her. Or learn how to bake bread or make soap with other skilled local craftspeople. By the time we're ready to go out, the temperature has dropped to minus 4. We brace ourselves for the short walk to the cantinone, our breath suspended in the air as we step over the ledge and through the big wooden door into the warmth. Santo Stefano in its current form dates from the 12th century and like its neighbours was once owned by the powerful Florentine Medici family whose coat of arms, the Signoria of Florence hangs above one of the gateways.  During their era, the tunnels that connect the laneways were excavated to protect the noble family from the vagaries of the weather, the tower (still being restored after the 2009 earthquake) constructed and local craftsmen engaged to make deep stone windows frames, mullioned windows and fine balconies. In those days, there was wealth here - Santo Stefano and the surrounding villages made up an important centre for wool production. Unfortunately, the region's fortunes declined with the collapse of the wool industry after the introduction of synthetics and gradually many of the village's inhabitants left, looking for a better life. The cantinone is a wine cellar/bar that, with its stone floors, low ceilings, and rough wooden tables and chairs wouldn’t look out of place in a ‘Game of Thrones’ episode. Here, at last are people - bonhomie, a roaring fire and, most importantly, wine.  Abruzzo may not be as famous a wine region as Tuscany or Piedmont, but it’s home to a very drinkable Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and we taste our way through a couple of glasses in the name of research; from soft and savoury to big and brooding. After drinks, we slip and slide in our poorly-chosen footwear to dinner at Sextantio’s own restaurant, “Locanda Sotto gli Archi.” (Inn Under the Arches.) It’s romantically rustic, with wooden furniture, limed walls, candlelight and classical music.  All of the plates and cups are handmade to fit the age and ambience of the Locanda and the village. The hyper-local menu attempts to recreate (with a little more finesse I’m guessing) authentic ancient regional dishes. We eat a soup made from a rare strain of lentils - venerated for their unique flavour and grown only on the slopes of the Gran Sasso in plots so narrow they have to be hand-harvested; ‘roasted’ polenta with lamb and pork sausage ragu, lamb and vegetables scented with rosemary and wild boar in red wine; all hearty, delicious and warming. Our waiter brings us a little cup of a tisane of bitter gentian root each, good he tells us for digestion (at least I think that’s what he says.) It’s stopped snowing by the time we’re done and the village is hushed and a little spooky, the mist swirling around the golden glow of the antique street lamps. We hurry as best we can back to our room and the comfort of the fire and lie in bed beneath hand-painted wooden roof tiles whose story we are too soporific - bellies filled with wine and good food, to decode. The following morning we see the village properly for the first time – it’s as spectacular as the hints revealed through the mist had suggested. Unfortunately, we have somewhere else to be. At the top of the staircase, the two dogs still lie in the snow, as if they have been there all night. They get up and amble after an old man with a deeply lined face and woollen hat pulled over his ears as he walks towards us. I see, too late that his intent is not to greet to us, but to pass us, on the way to somewhere over my shoulder but I have already smiled and stopped. The dogs also come to a stop but the man says nothing and doesn’t return my smile. To break the awkward moment, I stroke the deep, soft fur of the one that looks like a giant depressed golden retriever. Me: "They are belong to you, this dogs?" Him: "No" Me: "Then to who. Who are the dogs belonging?" Him. "No one. They are village dogs." Me. "Ah. Very good. So the road is clear to go down the mountain?" Him: "What?" Me: "Yesterday was not good. Very bad the road. Slippery and small." (I point down the road for emphasis). Him: "What? Why did you go that way. That is not the right way. Go straight. That way. It is easy." He waves his arms in the opposite direction and walks off. “Thank you. Good day sir,” I call after him. The dogs resettle on their patch of snow. My husband grumbles as he disassembles the webbing of snow chains that he thought were ridiculous in the first place. He wants to turn around and go back the way we came, but even though there’s no snow or mist, I just can’t face it. So we follow the old man’s vague instructions. And it is a road, a real proper road, not a goat track. It’s smooth and wide and easy and we are down before I know it, back to the 21st century. As we rejoin the autostrada, even the Irish sat nav lady seems to have a new, optimistic lilt to her voice. I make a promise then and there to my husband that from now on we’ll stick to the road more travelled, but in truth, neither of us believe

Salmon Gravadlax

Salmon Gravadlax! We reckon this would make a perfect dish for Christmas, whether you're in the northern or southern hemispheres. Thanks to Alice Laing of Tasman Sea Salt for this recipe. INGREDIENTS
S9de of organic salmon, skin on
75g Tasman Sea Salt flakes
75g caster sugar
Bunch of Dill
1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed
Zest of a lemon
2 tbsp gin - we love fantastic Tasmanian gin, "The Splendid" METHOD
Pat the salmon dry with kitchen paper and make sure all small bones are removed. Cut the side in half so that you have two roughly equal sized pieces. 
Finely chop the dill and mix in a bowl with the salt, sugar, black pepper corns and lemon zest. 
Lay one of the pieces of of salmon skin side down on top of a long sheet of aluminium foil and then pack the salt mixture over the flesh. Drizzle with the gin and then lay the second piece of salmon on top, skin side up. 
Wrap tightly in aluminium foil and place on a tray or in a tub, weighed down with a couple of bottles or tins. Place in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours depending on how cured you like your fish, turning the fish over every 12 hours. 
Once the desired cure is achieved, scrape the remaining cure from the fish and slice thinly. Serve with a dill mustard sauce or creme fraiche for a delicious canape or starter.

Episode 56: From Corporate London to the Wilds of Tasmania - Alice Laing, Salt Maker

LISTEN HERE It was a visit to her husband's native Tasmania that inspired an unexpected change of career and country for Alice Laing. In 2013, she exchanged London for the east coast of Tasmania, swapping corporate sponsorship for salt making. Today, her 'office' has an enviable view of the sea and the pretty inlets around the Freycinet Peninsula. It's in this pristine part of Tasmania that this self-taught salt maker harnesses nature to produce some of the world's best salt, from what may well be the purest water on the planet. In this episode of ExtraVirgin, we chat to Alice about the steep earning curve in becoming a salt maker; the importance of salt in history, their unique, environmentally friendly production process and hear a gruesome story about the last salt producer in Tasmania.

FOR GOURMANDS WHO LOVE TO TRAVEL AND TRAVELLERS WHO LOVE GOOD FOOD