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January 9, 2017

Top food and drink in Fremantle, Western Australia

Top food and drink in Fremantle, Western Australia
Sail and Anchor beers Fremantle

Sail and Anchor beers

For a small city, Fremantle, on the coast of Western Australia, punches well above its weight in terms of great places to eat, drink and have fun. Not only does it have a great many excellent bars, restaurants and cafes, there are a number of micro-breweries, bakeries, delicatessens and quirky foodie outlets to suit all tastes. Many of them are housed in heritage buildings, for Fremantle is one of Australia’s oldest cities with a busy working port and a vibrant, creative heart.

Attic Cafe – Bannister Street

Attic Cafe Fremantle Western Australia

Attic Cafe

One of the best cafes in town, the Attic Cafe, opposite the Hougoumont Hotel in Bannister Street is a great place for breakfast, coffee or take-away. They have a tasty selection of freshly made pies, fritters wraps, salads and rolls, including honey roast pumpkin and salt beef. For breakfast you could choose baked oats with berry compote, smashed avocado with lime, feta and quinoa or more exotic Shakshouka; eggs poached in a Tunisian style sauce with white cheese. I had perfectly cooked scrambled eggs with olive oil, greens and sourdough bread. Their cakes are to die for …

Attic Cafe food Fremantle Western Australia

Attic Cafe food

A night out in Fremantle

Pakenham Street Fremantle at night

Pakenham Street

I stayed in Fremantle for two nights and loved its attractive architecture, lively vibe and youthful outlook. Rusty Creighton, Two Feet and a Heartbeat Tours, font of local knowledge, not just on food and drink, but just about every aspect of Fremantle culture, history and people, took a group of us on a historical night tour. We started off at our hotel, the Hougoumont, named after a 19th c ship which was the last vessel to transport convicts to Australia. Their names and crimes are listed on the hotel wall.

Hougoumont Hotel Fremantle

Hougoumont Hotel

After crisp-baked pizza and a drink we set off along the main street, lined with beautiful buildings dating back to the 19th century, very old by Australian standards.

The National Hotel – High Street

The Boxing Kangaroo - Swan Lager - National Hotel - Fremantle - photo zoe dawes

The Boxing Kangaroo

Rusty pointed out a mural of a kangaroo wearing boxing gloves, holding a can of Swan Lager. “The Swan Brewery has closed but the Boxing Kangaroo became the symbol of America’s Cup win in 1983, as it was used on a team flag. The original flag is now in the Western Australia Museum in Freo.” It’s on the side of the National Hotel, another famous Fremantle institution. It’s been a hotel since 1886 and has intricate wrought iron balconies.

The National Hotel in Fremantle

The National Hotel

There’s a lively bar and popular restaurant, serving decent pub grub, including good value steak and chips. We’d eaten there the night before, in the upstairs dining room. Downstairs there was a group playing covers of popular songs with impromptu dancing round the tables. A door decorated with orange and red stained glass flames commemorates a serious fire in 1975.

Bread in Common – Pakenham Street

Bread in Common Fremantle

Bread in Common display

The smell of freshly baked bread wafted all around as we entered the bakery. But this was not just any bakery, this was Bread in Common, a bakery with restaurant, bar, delicatessen counter and vegetable garden attached. Actually the vegetable garden is a couple of raised beds in the street in front of the 1898 Listed Building, growing a very healthy display of lettuces, herbs and other fresh produce. From Hansel and Gretel, the two massive wood-fired ovens, come a wide variety of breads, made using the freshest ingredients including different flours, sourdough, fruits and spices.

Bread in Common Bakery and Restaurant Fremantle

Bread in Common

We watched as the bustling open kitchen prepared meals and admired the excellent wines displayed above the bar. House specialties include roasted pork belly with fermented kohlrabi, pear, radish and mustard, and salmon with baby peppers, kale and pineapple vinegar.

Fremantle Markets – South Terrace & Henderson Street

Fremantle Market

Fremantle Market

Within a purpose-built market hall, erected in 1897, are a collection of markets, including fresh fruit and veg, clothes, cooked food and household goods. You can buy enormous Indian samosas, admire beautifully carved melons, papayas and apples, buy a big, knobbly custard apple or try a guaranteed hangover cure. A ‘Stunned Emu‘ advertises quirky magnets and other souvenirs. I can highly recommend Small Batch flavoured chocolate bars.

Fremantle Market goods

Downtown Fremantle

From the market we headed off down-town, along South Terrace towards the sea. We passed cosy wine bars, noisy pubs, cool cafes and cosmopolitan restaurants serving food from around the globe. People were queuing good-naturedly to get inside Metropolis nightclub and nearby Salt and Anchor was heaving with beer-lovers quaffing over 20 Aussie and international craft beers on tap and many more bottled beers. On the pavement a street artist played jazz and Latin tunes on his electric organ and a couple we’re doing a salsa. We crossed the Esplanade and passed the skate park; my son would be very impressed with its contemporary design. At Fishing Boat Harbour is one of Fremantle’s most famous eateries, Little Creatures.

Little Creatures Brewery – Fishing Boat Harbour

Little Creatures Brewery bicycle Fremantle Western Australia

Little Creatures Bar

Entering the brewery, housed in a converted boathouse, the noise and delicious smell of food hit us full on. We made our way past the enormous metal cyclinders of brewing beers and rows of trestle tables and found a table at the back of the restaurant area. Upstairs more tables line a narrow corridor which has an eclectic collection of local modern art. It’s a fascinating place, attracting a mix of all ages who come for the excellent beer (their Pale Ale and seasonal beers are most popular), wood-fired pizzas, sharing platters and hearty mains such as slow-cooked brisket.

Little Creatures Brewery Fremantle Western Australia

We ordered a whole load of plates including pumpkin and mushroom pizzas, kangaroo and tomato chutney, marinated octopus, veggie nachos, sticky lamb ribs and sea-salty fresh oysters. It was a real feast of colourful, well-cooked food, great flavours and generous portions. We drank vast quantities of their beer and excellent wines whilst Rusty regaled us with fascinating stories ending the evening feeling very merry and full of Freo joie de vivre …

Cheers from Little Creatures in Fremantle Western Australia

Cheers from ‘Little Creatures’ in Fremantle

That morning we’d got the ferry from Fremantle to Rottnest Island and spent the day there. Read about my search for the quirky quokka of Rottnest Island here.

Rottnest Island Bus - Western Australia

Rottnest Island Bus

I travelled to Perth, Fremantle, Rottnest Island and Margaret River courtesy of Tourism Western Australia #justanotherdayinWA. I’d like to thank everyone, including my fellow bloggers, involved in making this such a memorable trip.

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Fremantle Food & Drink

 

December 20, 2016

Festive treats at a traditional Christmas Market in Bavaria

Festive treats at a traditional Christmas Market in Bavaria
Maximilian - King of Bavaria

Rottacher Christmas Market and Maximilian, King of Bavaria

Clasping a mug of hot glüwein, I looked up at the King of Bavaria, who was sporting a very fine crown of stars. He was welcoming visitors to Rottacher Advent Christmas Market, on the shores of Lake Tegernsee in Upper Bavaria, Germany. People crowded rounds brightly lit stalls and stood chatting beside a roaring fire, which was keeping us all warm.

Fire at Christmas market in Bavaria Germany

The Fire

If you want to experience a ‘real’ Christmas Market, Bavaria is the place to be. Search out the smaller ones like this which are not over-commercialized. Lake Tegernsee is extra-special as there are THREE Christmas Markets on its shores. Visitors can travel between them on ferries which sail round the lake, with a dramatic setting of the Bavarian Alps as a backdrop.

Tegernsee Ferry for Christmas Market Bavaria

Tegernsee Ferry

Wandering around the stalls it was quickly obvious that most of the them sold local goods and/or very good quality German products. Intricately carved wooden nativity scenes hung above tiny cribs set within walnut shells. Jaunty snowmen wandered amongst quirky Christmas trees and beautifully cut home-made beeswax candles created a soft glow in the dusk light.

Beautifully carved wooden decorations at Christmas Market Tegernsee Bavaria

Beautifully carved wooden decorations

Having finished my glühwein, I decided to try the other tradtional festive German food, the Bratwurst.  People queued up at the stall, laughing and chatting as they waited. Freshly grilled, popped between two slices of bun and slathered with mustard, it’s a very hearty snack. Now, I have to admit I am not a huge fan of this giant sausage but not only was this one excellent, the bun was also very good.

Bratwurst at Tegernsee Christmas Market

Bratwurst

Bavarians are very stylish, with some people still wearing the traditional costume of dirndl skirt and lederhosen (not usually together …) Many visitors to the Christmas Market were smartly dressed in fur coats, hats, leather gloves and woollen scarves. There were very few tourists, which made it feel even more special.

Choosing Lebkuchen at Tegernsee

Choosing their Lebkuchen

Lebkuchen, a soft biscuit similar to gingerbread, is a real festive treat. Originally a kind of honey cake, Lebkuchen was apparently first made by monks in Franconia in the 13th C. It varies in taste from quite spicy to very sweet; ingredients can include aniseed, coriander, ginger and often nuts. Highly skilled bakers create gorgeous pictures and designs out of icing and they are a very popular gift at this time of year. A harder form of Lebkuchen is used to make the iced hearts sold all over Germany at Christmas Markets.

Gorgeous Lebkuchen gingerbread on stall Tegernsee Christmas Market Bavaria - image zoedawes

Lebkuchen stall

I spent an hour or more just wandering around, taking in the cheery atmosphere and buying a few things to take back home to decorate our Christmas Tree or give as presents. Most stall holders spoke English, but when they didn’t it was no problem; sign language and a smile is universal.

Christmas Market Stall - Tegernsee Bavaria

Christmas Market Stall

The scent of pine, wine, hog roast, beer, waffles and fresh, fresh air mingled together. Wreaths made from holly, ivy and mistletoe or sparkly silver thread, golden hearts hanging from ribbons of pearls, rosy pink apples, little teddy bears, delicate jewellery, embroidered cushions and snuggly knitwear all vied for attention – a festive feast for all the senses.

Christmas decorations Tegernsee Bavaria

Christmas decorations

For all these reasons, Rottacher Advent is simply the best Christmas Market I have ever visited. it’s definitely worth travelling to Germany to see the real thing. I stayed nearby at the very luxurious Althof Seehotel Überfahrt on the shores of Lake Tegernsee. Many thanks to German National Tourist Board for hosting this delightful visit.

Christmas Hearts at Tegernsee

Christmas Hearts

Read about my visits to Manchester Christmas Market and Liverpool Christmas Market here.

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Festive treats at a German Christmas Market in Bavaria Germany

 

October 14, 2016

An Arabic cookery lesson at Beit Sitti in Jordan

An Arabic cookery lesson at Beit Sitti in Jordan
Beit Sitti - Amman Jordan - image zoedawes

Beit Sitti

“Food is the soul of the family. Food is our way of showinghospitality but it is much more than that. Our grandmother lived in this house and she loved cooking for us. We wanted to preserve her legacy and show how traditional Arabic food is made.” I was in the kitchen area of Beit Sitti (Grandmother’s House), surrounded by beautiful objects on tables and walls, including many family photographs, in the heart of Amman, capital of Jordan.

Beit Sitti Amman Jordan - collage zoedawes

Beit Sitti interior

Maria Haddad and her sisters set up Beit Sitti in the family home to teach visitors how to cook and to offer a uniquely personal dining experience. Maria was explaining the history of the house, situated in one of Amman’s oldest neighbourhoods – Jabal al weibdeh – and the importance of Arabic cookery in Middle Eastern culture.

Arabic Cookery ingredients - Beit Sitti

Arabic Cookery ingredients – Beit Sitti

12 of us had gathered at Beit Sitti to learn how to make some simple Arabic dishes. The ingredients were laid out in front of us. Huge aubergines (eggplant), plump tomatoes, zingy lemons, tiny cucumbers, glossy onions, chubby garlic and bunches of herbs, scented the room with a taste-bud-tingling fragrance. “We’ll be making Fattet Makdous, a fried eggplant dish with toasted pitta bread, yoghurt and cucumber dip  followed by Muhallabieh with Osmelieh (orange blossom milk pudding with vermicelli) plus some other side dishes.”  Maria gave each one of us tasks and very soon the kitchen was a hive of busy cooker bees.

Arabic Cookery at Beit Sitti

Beit Sitti - preparing an Arabic meal - zoedawes

Preparing the meal

I was put in charge of chopping the cucumber for the dip. Others were preparing the fattet makdous and osmalieh, making up a tomato salad and frying pitta bread. All the while, Maria told stories of her family and the development of this unique dining experience in Jordan. She and her sisters were keen to ensure it was a personal and informal. “We collected traditional recipes from our grandmother and others and wanted to share the love we feel for our food, teach some basic Arabic Cookery but also to give participants the chance to eat the food they cooked in homely surroundings.”

Making osmalieh - Arabic cookery - Beit Sitti Jordan

Making osmalieh

Once I’d finished chopping cucumbers I had to saute onions and tomatoes then add the aubergine mix to the pan, stirring for 10 minutes til cooked. Stefan took the pitta, which had been lovingly made into little circles, to the garden to get it cooked in the outdoor oven. From the raised garden there was a good view out across the city.

Beit Sitti outdoor oven - Amman Jordan - image zoedawes

Beit Sitti outdoor oven

Another ‘cook’ made a paste from garlic and added yoghurt and mint to the cucumber, then scattered mint on top, creating a beautiful bowl of cooling dip to accompany the meal.

Yoghurt and cucumber dip - Beit Sitti - collage zoedawes

Yoghurt and cucumber dip

Whilst a large table was being laid with attractive plates and cutlery, the meal started to come together. Having assembled the cooked aubergine mix and fried pitta bread in layers in a large glass dish, Maria took a large pot of yoghurt and poured it on top of the mix in a thick layer. Then she swirled gloriously sticky pomegranate molasses across the top and it was ready to serve.

Arabic cookery Yoghurt and Fattet Makdous Beit Sitti

Maria adds yoghurt to Fattet Makdous

We sat down at the table and the dishes were spread out in front of us. Bottles of coke, Sprite and iced water were poured. Before we could start, there was a flurry of camera shutters as we all tried to capture this vegetarian banquet. Then we passed round the dishes and silence reigned as we enjoyed the culinary fruits of our labours …

Arabic cookery - Beit Sitti vegetarian meal - Amman Jordan - image zoedawes

Beit Sitti lunch

After our meal I bought a jar of pomegranate molasses and a few other products key to Arabic cookery; when I got home I was going to try some of the recipes and I wanted the original flavours. Needless to say, no photo could capture the pleasure we got from its exotic flavours and scented delight. However, this little video may give you an idea of what we experienced.

I travelled to Jordan courtesy of Visit Jordan. Many thanks to our guide Berhan for his unfailing courtesy and indefatigable knowledge and to everyone I met in this beautiful, welcoming country. Read about fulfilling a lifelong ambition to see Petra here, one of the world’s most famous historic sites.

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Arabic Cookery - Beit Sitti Amman Jordan

October 10, 2016

Apples in autumn; a sublime treat for all the senses …

Apples in autumn; a sublime treat for all the senses …
Apples at Snowshill Manor - Cotswolds - zoedawes

Apples at Snowshill Manor

APPLES

by Helen H. Moore

Apples, apples, what a treat,
sweet and tart and good to eat.
Apples green and apples red,
hang from branches overhead,
and when they ripen, down they drop,
so we can taste our apple crop.

Helmsley orchard and castle Yorkshire - zoedawes

Helmsley orchard and castle

As memories of the summer fade and the nights get longer, autumn brings it own pleasures. The trees become resplendent in vibrant shades of orange, red, yellow, purple, brown and gold. Villages throughout the land hold shows to judge the biggest marrow, pumpkin and onion, whilst, ‘We Plough the Fields and Scatter‘ is sung at Harvest Festivals in churches and school children learn Keats’ Ode to Autumn. Chrysanthemums provide a glorious final burst of colour and bushes are bedecked with autumnal berries, ready for Christmas wreaths. The first frosts bring plumbers a new rush of customers. Restaurants rustle up hearty soups and pubs stock up on wood for cosy fires to warm thirsty customers. But for me, the simple pleasure of apples in autumn is hard to beat.

Varieties of apples in autumn at Helmsley Yorkshire - photo zoedawes

Varieties of apples at Helmsley

Apples in Autumn

Not only do apples look and smell gorgeous, they also taste delicious and are extremely versatile. In his excellent cookery book Fruit, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall writes, “The apple is a miracle of a food, one without rival in the fruit kingdom – or any other kingdom, come to that. There really is no end to what you can do with this world-beating fruit – raw or cooked – in dishes sweet and savoury.” His recipes for Parsnip and Apple cakes, Apple bangers and Sardines with Fried Apples are just a few of the many ways of cooking these wholesome gems.

Peel an Apple

Peel an apple
Cut it up,
and cook it in a pot.
When you taste it, 
you will find,
it’s apple sauce you’ve got!

Apple Sauce - image allrecipes.com

Apple Sauce – image allrecipes.com

On a visit to South Tyrol in northern Italy, I was taught to make traditional Apple Strudel by a farmer’s wife in a farmhouse high up in the mountains. You can watch her making it in this video.

I remember Mum baking apple pies and bottling chutneys to use up the surplus apples in autumn. She added pieces of apple to her home-made mincemeat and every Christmas I add it to a jar of shop-bought mincemeat, (along with a good slug of brandy for added oomph.) One of my first memories of apples is picking up a windfall from my grandmother’s back garden, checking for worm-holes and then biting into it. Juice squirted out and its sharp tang took my breath away. I don’t know what flavour it was but it wasn’t the sweetest of fruit.

Windfalls for sale - apples in autumn - zoedawes

Windfalls for sale

The Apple Tree

Away up high
In an apple tree
Two red apples
Smiled at me
I shook that tree
As hard as I could
Down came those apples
And mmm were they good!

Red apples in Autumn at Helmsley Castle Gardens Yorkshire - photo zoedawes

Red apples in autumn – Helmsley Yorkshire

Apples play a significant role in our cultural heritage. They symbolize abundance, prosperity, temptation and much more. Adam and Eve in the Bible,  the Golden Apples of Hesperides in Greek myth, Newton ‘discovering’ gravity via the falling apple, Johnny Appleseed wandering across America planting apple trees.

Johnny Appleseed Song

(sung to Do you Know the Muffin Man)

Do you know the apple man,
the apple man, the apple man?
Do you know the apple man?
He planted apple seeds.

He wore a pot upon his head,
upon his head, upon his head.
He wore a pot upon his head.
His name was Johnny Appleseed.

John Chapman was his real name,
his real name, his real name.
John Chapman was his real name;
But, we call him Johnny Appleseed.

Johnny Appleseed - painting by Joshua Brunet

Johnny Appleseed – painting by Joshua Brunet

An apple a day may well keep the doctor away, but for once, this medicine tastes scrumptious. These days we can get apples all year round, from all over the world, but there nothing tastes better than freshly picked English apples in autumn … Over 2000 varieties have been grown in England and their names have a charming resonance that epitomises our quirky country: Adams Pearmain, Chivers Delight, Lord Lambourn, Gascoyne’s Scarlet, Knobbed Russet, Potts Seedling and of course, the perennial favourite, Cox’s Orange Pippin. If you don;t have an apple tree of your own, this autumn find your nearest orchard (like Helmsley Walled Garden in Yorkshire), visit a Farmers Market, go on an Apple Day outing, visit your local greengrocer, if you still have one, and if push comes to shove, get down to the supermarket; wherever you can, grab yourself a bag full of apples and enjoy the sublime taste of autumn …

Helmsley Walled Garden apples in autumn - zoedawes

Helmsley Walled Garden

I found these charming Apple Poems on the TeachingFirst.net, when researching poetry for this article.

September 12, 2016

Top tips for tasty Food Photography

Top tips for tasty Food Photography

Food Photography collage zoedawes

On your travels around your home country and further afield you no doubt come across a lot of delicious local food. Perhaps you take photos of the dishes you eat, the wine you drink and the produce displayed in shops and markets. Would you like to take better photos of that food and drink? That’s what I wanted to do when I enrolled on Aspire Photography Training: Food Portraits workshop. I’ll share with you some of the food photography tips I learnt on that useful and inspiring day.

Food Photography shoot

Food Photography Training

Our group of photographers ranged from professional to amateur, all with a desire to learn more and practise with expert tuition. Tutor, food photographer and writer Joan Ransley, took us through the basics of good food photography and showed us some of her superb photos. She then went on to explain clearly and simply how to use a digital SLR camera for close-up food shots. I had never been able to get my head round F stops and aperture settings but Joan explained it so simply that even I could understand, at least for the duration of the course! She’s a really good teacher and very encouraging. She talked about using a smart phone camera, which as a travel blogger is something I do very often. As she said, anyone can take a good photo with a phone camera if you have an eye for a scene and follow some basic principles.

Garlic and salad leaves - Food Photography Tips - The Quirky Traveller

After lunch we had to choose from a wide selection of fresh food including salad ingredients, bread, cake, fruit and accessories on which to display it all. I chose some delicious sourdough bread, olives and olive oil, pecorino cheese, Parma ham, tomatoes and salad leaves. We went outside to set up our photo shoot, with Joan and Catherine Connor, MD of Aspire Photography Training and a great communicator, sharing ideas to create a memorable photo. The following tips are especially suitable if you’re on holiday, travelling or out for a meal; in other words, short of time and needing to take a picture fairly quickly, without special lighting or studio conditions.

Italian Food Collage - zoedawes

7 Food Photography Tips

1. Create a desire to eat

Meringues and summer fruit - Food photography tips - create a desire to eat - zoedawes

Joan says, “One of the most important things you need to do when taking photos of food, is ‘create a desire to eat’. Eating is a sensual experience, so a food photographer aims to add vibrancy, enticement and increase our emotional response.” If you keep that in mind, your food photography will come alive and set the taste buds tingling. We experimented with positioning of ingredients (all fresh and delicious) and ‘props’, light sources, including use of reflectors and different angles. Joan told us some insider tricks, including use of oil-dropper/spray to add sheen, avoiding steam from hot food, leading lines and a lot more.

2. Every picture tells a story

Italian Food Photography photo shoot - zoedawes

Well, maybe not EVERY picture, but many do and when you’re composing your shot think about what you want your viewer to ‘read’ into the photo. This scene-setting shot shows all the ingredients I was to use in the main photo shoot. The aim was to showcase an Italian lunch so the bottle of olive oil and ham were the keys to setting the scene. In the background is part of a sign for Morecambe, near to where I live, so it has a personal resonance.

3. Use Natural Light

Use natural light - food photography tips - zoedawes

Natural light is much more flattering to food photography. Pick a table or seat by a window, a park bench or wall where you can arrange your food and not have to rely on a flash. That distorts colour, distracts other people around you and generally makes your food look unappetizing. Joan also showed us different types of Reflectors, including a very handy portable one. When setting up their foodie shot, the guys in the photo above made sure there was a lot of light coming in from left, to compensate for shade on the right.

4. Consider the Depth-of-Field

Food Photography Tips - zoedawes

Joan says: “Depth of field is controlled by the aperture of your camera lens; the larger the aperture ie f2.8 the narrower the depth of field. The smaller the aperture i.e. f8 the greater the depth of field. In food photography we usually use an aperture of around f3.5 when we’re photographing a plate of food close up. This will ensure the subject is in focus i.e. a piece of fish or a slice of cake and anything in the background looks soft and dreamy. For overhead shots when we need everything in the scene to be in focus, an aperture of around f8 is best. If you can control the aperture on your lens it will improve your photographs at a stroke.” I focused on the fruit and walnuts on this tasty Damson Brandy Fruitcake (made by Ginger Bakers in case you tempted!) to draw your eye to their glossy sheen.

5. Go for a close-up

Close up of sourdough bread - photography tips - zoedawes

We love to see details of the food or drink ie the bubbles in a glass of prosecco or the icing on the cake and getting in close to the subject helps tempt the taste buds. Fill the frame or just have a little of the surrounding area in shot. In the first photo, I shot the sourdough bread from above, which simply shows it on the board. In the second I went in much closer and tried to capture the dusting of flour and the bread’s gorgeous texture.

6. Use the rule of thirds

Food Photography Tips - rule of thirds - zoedawes

As you may have seen in this article on Top Travel Photography Tips, our eyes are drawn to certain parts of a picture; the rule of thirds helps you to capitalize on this. Imagine your photo is overlaid with a grid of lines in thirds both horizontally and vertically. Where the lines intersect is the ‘point of interest’. If you position the main elements of your photo on or near those points, the viewer is more likely to focus on them. In this photo, the ham and bread were the key elements. Joan added the THREE olives, the olive slices and three sage leaves to increase the threesomeness.

7. Create a ‘set’ for your photo

Setting up Aspire Food Photography shoot - zoedawes

Even if you’re taking a quick pic of lunch, spend a few seconds to look through the lens/viewfinder and see if there’s anything you could remove that might distract the viewer ie phone, dirty knife etc. Maybe you could add something. I often include a menu, guide book, or some reference to the place where I’m taking the picture. Catherine had a vast array of vintage and contemporary plates, cutlery, pots and glasses plus trays, scarves, material, edible flowers and other things for us to experiment with during our photo shoot. Joan told us of a street food photographer who uses park benches and other outdoor furniture to set up his shots. She also shared the secret of crummage; artistically scattered crumbs or other bits of food – see the Fruit Cake photo in Tip 4). Be creative; a few seconds can make the difference between a good photo and a stunning one.

Edible flowers - food photography - zoedawes

All the photos here were taken by me during the Aspire Food Portraits day. Many thanks to Joan Ransley and Catherine Connor for all the tips and tricks; I enjoyed every minute. Lara Ferroni‘s excellent book Food Photography: Pro-Secrets for Styling, Lighting and Shooting has lots more professional advice. Find out more about Aspire Photography Training Courses here.

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The Quirky Traveller Food Photography Tips

September 3, 2016

TQT Object: Italian Espresso Coffee Pot from Milan

TQT Object: Italian Espresso Coffee Pot from Milan

In this occasional series of articles, The Quirky Traveller Object is something I’ve brought back from my travels over many years. It usually has a strong personal meaning and invariably brings back happy memories of the wonderful people and places I have visited around the world.

Italian Espresso Coffee Pot from Milan

Bialetti espresso coffee pot - zoedawes

It was the colour that attracted me. The shiny red coffee pot stood out from the other coffee makers on the shelf in the tiny hardware shop in a quiet suburb in Milan. I was staying with a fellow Travel blogger Simon Falvo, in her cosy Milanese apartment just down the road from the shop. Every morning we had a cup of coffee and a croissant at the little cafe next door before heading off into the city centre to look round.

Milan caffes - collage zoedawes

We spent a lovely afternoon exploring the city centre around Il Duomo, Milan’s dramatic Cathedral. The Piazza is a lively place with tourists rubbing shoulders with locals, admiring the architecture and taking selfies in front of the cathedral’s ornate facade. We wandered through the gorgeous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, its Romanesque decor home to luxury brands like Prada, Versace, Armani and Louis Vuitton. The cafes and bars were busy with people sipping Campari or coffee, chatting and watching the world go by.

Camparino in Galleria Milan - zoedawes

When I told Simon I wanted to get an espresso coffee maker to take home she said the shop nearby sold them. She recommended the Bialetti pot as it’s easy to use and a classic style. That red pot was crying out to be mine, so I handed over the 35 Euros and the elderly shop-owner wrapped it up in brown paper. Simon gave a me a packet of Lavazza Coffee for a genuine taste of Italy.

 Italian Espresso Coffee Pot - zoedawes

As soon as I got back home I made myself a little cup of rich, dark, strong Italian memories. Every day when I heat the pot up on the stove, hear the water bubbling away and smell the espresso coffee I remember one of the most interesting cities in Italy, friendship and relaxing in the sunshine.

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Italian Espresso Coffee Pot - Pinterest

What country do you think makes the best coffee? (I don’t mean ‘grow’ but ‘make’ as in produce a great drink.) For me it’s Italy and the country that surprised me most for excellent coffee was Canada. I’ve visited a few times and always been impressed with the quality of their coffee and it’s almost impossible to buy instant coffee, which is a good sign!

Read more about Milan and a very quirky building here.

February 16, 2016

Tasty fun at Kendal Festival of Food

Tasty fun at Kendal Festival of Food

Kendal Food and Drink Festival 16

“We’re so excited. This year’s food and drink festival is jam-packed with sensational and varied food producers, chefs, street entertainment, master classes, cookery demos and unusual events. There really is something for everyone, whatever age and whatever foodie preference.” Cath Dutton, founder of Kendal Festival of Food is speaking in her office, surrounded by boxes of brochures, flyers and wrist-bands. She’s been working 24/7 with Stacy Hurley to get this annual feast organized. “The awful floods of late 2015 devastated Cumbria, but we have a resilient spirit and Kendal Food Festival 2016 celebrates that, as well as the phenomenal food and drink that the North of England is famous for.”

Lovingly Artisan sourdough baking demo at Kendal Food festival

Lovingly Artisan sourdough bread demo

Kendal Food Festival 2016 is in its 7th year; I’ve been coming for 5 years and it just gets better and better, whilst still retaining its original ethos of showcasing local food and drink producers and talent. Some of the highlights I’ve especially enjoyed from previous years include The Fabulous Baker Brothers, who did a hilarious cookery demo double act, Smoky Jo’s introduction to smoking food at home and Aiden Monks’ Lovingly Artisan sourdough bread masterclass. Smoky Jo’s are back this year in the Best Of Cumbria Theatre in Kendal Town Hall.

Andy Swinscoe cheese demo Kendal Food Festival - photo zoedawes

Andy Swinscoe cheese demo

Throughout the weekend of March 12th and 13th 2016, there will a veritable cornucopia of events. Looking through the Kendal Food Festival brochure I’m hoping to attend The Best in Northern Cheese with Andy Swinscoe of The Courtyard Dairy and Cooking with Duck with Chris O’Callaghan of Linthwaite House. He’s going to be using a famous local speciality, Grasmere gingerbread in his demo. Mike Bevans, owner of the hotel said, “I’m delighted we can support the festival. It’s a great opportunity for Chris to showcase his talents and it will also hopefully inspire budding chefs and create positive publicity for this area.”

Wild boar stall - Kendal Food Festival

Wild Boar stall

As a blogger with a strong interest in cuisine in the UK and around the world, I often take photographs of food and drink in markets, during meals and at cookery lessons. I’m sure to pick up some useful tips at the Food Photography workshop with Jenny Heyworth from Aspire Photography. Catherine Connor, MD of Aspire told me how thrilled she is to be attending this year’s festival. “It’s a fabulous foodie event and brilliant that it’s in our own backyard. It attracts hundreds of photographers, bloggers, journalists, families, celebrities and food lovers, not just from Cumbria and the North West, but around the country. We’re proud to be a part of this increasingly popular festival.”

Kendal Food Festival stall - zoedawes

Local honey

NEW for this year is the Edible Garden at Wainwright’s Yard, where we can learn more about growing our own fruit and vegetables as well as food for health and well-being. The Family Festival Village returns with some fun events for children, including Sculpting with Ice Cream, Create a Cress Head and the Kidz Kitchen. Join the battle of the bakers at the Bring a Bake competition in the AGA showroom and watch out for the Strolling Gardeners, the Farm to Fork Roadshow (there will be lambs!) and the Festival Jester demonstrating his circus skills out and about.

Cumbrian lamb

Hold at lamb at Kendal Food Festival

Of course, the festival is renowned for the many stalls that line the streets of Kendal town centre, selling everything from scrumptious bakes and chocolate treats to artisan breads, organic meat and poultry, regional cheeses, craft beers and spirits, tasty preserves and oh, loads more. Marian Graveson, of Blue Moose Kitchen, says, “This will be my third year at Kendal Food Festival and it really is one of the best festivals in the country. There are lots of reasons why I love this weekend: we always have fun, even if the wind is blustering the stall down the street!

Kendal Food Festival Cumbria

Kendal Food Festival street stalls

“It’s very well-organised and there is so much to see and do. I’ll be selling everything from Gingerbread Men kits, cookie mixes and 5 varieties of brownie mixes, including local favourite Kendal Mintcake.  Then there’s the Hot Chocolate. I’ll be giving out samples of my handmade mix during the festival; perfect if the weather is a bit chilly.”

Blue Moose Kitchen baking kits

Blue Moose Kitchen baking kits

The other BIG attraction is Northern Spirit on Saturday night. The brochure invites visitors to, ‘Join us for a celebration of some of the region’s very best spirits; sample a selection of regionally crafted vodkas and gins as well as some of Scotland’s best whiskies.’ Looks like a great way to celebrate a weekend of superb food, drink and much, much more.

The Lakes Vodka - Kendal Food Festival - zoedawes

The Lakes Vodka

Get your tickets for Northern Spirit, One Day or Weekend Kendal Food Festival wristband here and start planning a delicious weekend. See you there!

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