This week… under lockdown (thirteen)

Another interesting week in the new social landscape. I’ve been under lockdown solo since it all began and this week a PPE-clad engineer came to carry out the annual boiler service, the first person to enter my apartment since March. He seemed as nervous as I was. I also spent four days without internet connection, so this visit was quickly followed by another engineer to fix the broadband. I began to wonder how on earth people coped during the Black Death. While they didn’t have to concern themselves with luxuries like running hot water and internet connection in the 14th century, there must be many similarities to today’s pandemic.

Food shortages, lack of innoculation and impact on the economy aside the Plague continued to return for centuries. The virus is still around today but the good news is that it can be treated with antibiotics so there’s plenty of hope for the current situation. At least, that’s what I tell myself in the more uncertain moments that still linger.

Open for business

Belmond reopens its luxury Italian portfolio.

Luxury brand Belmond started reopening its Italian portfolio this week. Recognising the need to reignite visitors ‘love affair’ with Italy they released a film My Love Letter to Italy written, directed and narrated by Francesco Carrozzini. The Emmy award-nominated Director presents his personal reflection on what makes his home country so special. Romantic nostalgia and rekindling fond memories is something we can all relate to right now. While we’ve not been able to see friends and family or travel it’s inevitable that we look back at happier times for comfort and reassurance. We need to believe the good times will return.

During lockdown I kept dreaming of the Italian summer and I was longing to go back home. Now more than ever, I appreciate what I had too often taken for granted about Italy – its food, its beauty and of course, its people. I made this film to capture that feeling, to make us Italians fall in love with Italy all over again.” Francesco Carrozzini, Director.

Carrozzini film credits include music videos for artists including Jay-Z, Beyoncé and Lenny Kravtiz. His portrait photography has included Naomi Campbell, Robert De Niro and Keith Richards for Vanity Fair; L’Uomo Vogue, The New Yorker.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

If you’re in a romantic mood a candlelit evening on the terrace of Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo, where DH Lawrence penned his infamous novel, will allow you to indulge in some serious stargazing.

Other destinations announcing upcoming reopenings include Iceland and the Channel Islands.

Herm Island situated off Guernsey, a taste of the Caribbean with fine white sand and a vibrant blue sea. Photo Chris George.

I don’t know why I haven’t been to the Channel Isalnds for some time. They seem to have slipped off my radar which is odd, considering I have some remote cousins in Jersey, and have spent some happy days there. Herm Island is around 20 minutes by boat from Guernsey’s St Peter Port. It looks idyllic and it’s reachable by ferry, so less impact on the environment. One to add to my ever-growing wish list.

Green Gastronomy

20th century. Slovenia women walked for five or hours hours carrying produce in baskets on their head to market to sell. The children liked to hitch a ride!

After my scheduled press visit in May was cancelled I’m becoming obssessed with visiting Slovenia. My feature Green Gastronomy; Traditional Food in Slovenia was published this week. Slovenia is the the first country to be named European Region of Gastronomy in 2021. It’s cuisine is influenced by Europe Germanic, Balkan and Hungarian cultures being bordered by Italy, Austria and the Mediterranean. The land is lush and fertile. Four world-class chefs are making a name for themselves preparing traditional food with a 21st century twist, using sustainably grown, hunted or foraged produce, as it has been for centuries. Smoked Bear proscuitto anyone?

Secret Beaches

Finding the right beach is a personal thing, don’t you think? One person’s sandy haven is another person’s vision of grit in the picnic. If you see what I mean. This week I’m sent some stunning imagery of hidden beaches which make me want to book a flight immediately. If the trendsetters are right and we’re going to be booking more extravagant trips, but less often, then these are destinations to consider.

Playa La Lancha, Guatemala

In my inbox

San Blas Mexico

Nayarit is located on Mexico’s coast and stretches along 192 miles of pristine Pacific coastline, framed by the Sierra Madre Mountains. Later this year Riviera Nayarit will open two new five-star luxury hotel Conrad Punta Mita and One & Only Mandarina. Just south of San Blas, the fine sandy beaches of Bahía de Matanchén extend for seven kilometers (four miles). There’s plenty of space to distance here with family and friends.

Flashback Monday

Sorting through photos taken on my travels last year looking for content, I posted this garden image which reminded me of Las Pozas, the jungle garden in Mexico created by philanthropist, Edward James. It’s actually the gardens at Hever Castle.

Quarantine

I’ve always had a soft spot for Austria. At 11 years old, it was the first place I travelled to without my family as part of an Anglo-Austrian education exchange group. I caught chickenpox in the first week and spent the last two weeks in quarantine. Luckily the first week had been crammed with memorable mountain climbs to play rounders in high alpine fields, boating on Lunz Am See and a taste of some typical Austrian cooking.

I have returned twice to Austria to ski and it still captivates me.

Kaiserschmarrn or Emporer’s Pancakes, a dish was favoured by Emperor Franz Joseph.

This week I pick up on a press release about Via Culinaria, a collection of nine food-centric routes through SalzburgerLand. Starting inside the city of Salzburg and maybe walking or cycling out into the surrounding fields and mountains, the paths take in 300 restaurants, breweries, and more.

The Culinary Pathway for Hut Lovers sounds very much like my childhood trip. The SalzburgerLand mountain huts offer stunning panoramas and cold drinks to hikers in summer. In winter, they serve hearty lunches and mugs of hot chocolate to skiers. If you’d like to try making a traditional sweet dish, Kaiserschmarrn, you’ll find the recipe on the Austrian National Tourist Office web site.

Food tours are a good way to explore a city and its food specialities. Read my reviews of eating (and drinking) my way around Dublin and the East End of London with Eating Europe.

We’re almost out of lockdown here in the UK, although elsewhere in the world the pandemic still rages and my thoughts go out to those who are still going through troubled times.

I wish everyone everwhere health and happiness. Stay safe.

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