Wake Up, Australia!

“I’m terribly afraid,” said Alice Waters, chef and owner of the legendary Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California. “I was very afraid of NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement signed by Canada, Mexico and the United States in 1994). “You only have to look at the effect it’s had on Mexican corn.” Since NAFTA was … Continue reading

Ever heard of pintxos…?

It’s 9.30pm and we’ve just arrived at La Cuchara de San Telmo, a pintxos bar in the old town (Parte Vieja) of San Sebastian, northern Spain. Having wound our way through the labyrinth of narrow streets and packed bars in drizzling rain, we’re glad to arrive. But it’s chaotic. People are spilling out onto the … Continue reading

Following your nose around Florence

“What is Italy?” my four year-old grand-daughter asked as I held her close and told her I was off to Italy for the year. How do you answer a question like that? That was back in Sydney, Australia, in February. But it wasn’t until last week, when she paid me a fleeting visit, that I … Continue reading

Up With The Gods in Agerola

High above the hairpin twists and curves of the glorious Amalfi Coast, south of Napoli, lies the wide green plateau of Agerola. Surrounded by the Monti Lattari (Lattari Mountains), it’s nicknamed Little Switzerland because of its fresh mountain air and greenery. Despite being settled since Roman times (the name Agerola derives from the Latin Ager … Continue reading

A Walk on the Wild Side in Lesvos

I wonder what the twisted, gnarled old olive trees on the island of Lesvos in north-west Greece would tell us if they could speak. Many of them are centuries old and grow in ancient groves in deep, undisturbed soil. They yield glorious golden-yellow extra virgin olive oil with a smooth, velvety taste, and also win … Continue reading

Lesvos: the green island of the Aegean

At Soulatso Tavern in Skala Eressos on the south-west coast of Lesvos, Greece, the little dishes of mezethes arrive fast and furiously. It’s mid-afternoon, and most holidaymakers are only just making their way up from the beach for lunch at one of the taverns which line the waterfront of this village, famous as the birthplace … Continue reading

Soft Landing in Lesvos, Greece

It’s a hot, still morning when we set off to the little white church tucked in amongst the olive groves down the hill from the village. We turn off the bitumen road and onto a narrow dusty track bordered on both sides by gnarled olive trees, but it’s not easy to find.  The only indication … Continue reading

Endless Italian Summer

Suddenly, it seems, the whole of Italy is on holidays. The papers are full of stories of transport strikes (Alitalia was on strike on Friday, as were a number of the train and tram services) and protest marches in Rome. Last year there were 2084 strikes. According to Libero, they’re customary at this time of the … Continue reading