Argan oil is highly prized, used both in cooking and cosmetics. Some funny legends about goats - do ask. Shops in Morocco are full of it, but stories abound about fake or diluted products. You can go directly to places where argan nuts are shelled and milled. The cooperatives - usually run by women - are everywhere on the road from Essaouira to Marrakech. On recommendation from my hotel I went quite far - to Cooperative Feminine Argan El Farah in Hanchan, a 25-minute drive from E'ra. Don't know if I needed to go that far, but they had a girl with passable English, which doesn't happen everywhere, so I could ask questions. This was the only place where I could take photos of people at work, more importantly, women at work (they're kind of invisible otherwise). Drivers at the grand-taxi station in E'ra were proposing to take me there for 450 dhrs (30 quid!), but I haggled it down to 150 round-trip and 30 mins waiting (walk away until you really get it your way is one technique). So I talked to the coop lady, took my photos and they gave me a taste of the oil for cooking and some wonderful paste made with argan oil, almonds and honey. Be prepared for a bit of shock when shopping begins. Even at producers level it ain't cheap at all - 250 ml bottle of oil - cooking or massage - is about 10 quid, the paste costs the same. I've reasoned myself with thoughts of the money going directly to the people who work and not to 100 re-sellers in the chain.
El Hanchan, on the main road from Essaouira to Marrakech or any coop closer to E'ra
Portuguese-owned and run by Celia Soares and Maria Santos. Fantastic real Portuguese fare, fish dishes, all served with courtesy and smiles. Wines superb! Genuine menu and choice, excellent food. Highly recommended.
5, Romilly Crescent,
Pontcanna CARDIFF CF11 9NP
What a find in the backstreets of Ubud. Belgian owned and very professional. Eat inside in the Wantilan, or where we preferred to sit every night, outside in the garden courtyard. Mainly European food, simple but well prepared and presented. Staff are wonderful, pleasant friendly Balinese. On average we spent 20 pounds for two main courses and one half litre of wine. Always full and need reservation for dinner.
Jln. Bisma 9, Ubud.
Monterosso old town is a good place to stay to explore the Cinque Terre. It's got good railway and boat connections, attractive streets, bars and some of the most fantastic food I've ever eaten (risotto marinara to die for)! It's also got two decent beaches which the other villages lack.
Stan, who despite the name is a real French bloke, cooks some fantastic, unusual and delicious rustic French food and loads of different sausages and mash, veggie options too. All of this is served at Little Johnny Russell's. It's a great pub in Albert Road, Southsea. Visit it... good food, great music, lovely staff.
Recently checked out the Modern for a 'working' lunch with a friend, who suggested the venue to me as she'd heard rumours that we would be in for a real good treat, mmm. And I wasn't disappointed.
It was fairly quiet when we arrived and we were allocated (in my view) the best table which presented a 360 degree view of the wintry Manchester skyline, rotating big wheel and all. The decor was formal yet cosy, sophisticated but not intimidating - the dark solid wooden tables and chairs contrasting nicely with the floor-to-ceiling frosted windows, with a nice clear panel you could see out of to admire the view, thank you very much.
Being a huge soup fan, particularly in the winter months (and there's nothing I enjoy more than knocking my own up at home) for starter I opted for the Jerusalem artichoke and rosemary soup with chanterelles. It was delicious, smooth, creamy, satisfying and tasted surprisingly healthy too (although I'm sure it wasn't). My friend forwent the starter and straight on to the main course. Pollock, smoked haddock and Loch Duart salmon fish pie, with wilted spinach and of course a side order of fat chips. A suprisingly generous portion, (she struggled to finish) the pie was dominated to her delight by the salmon (all that omega 3) which was perfectly pink and a wonderful texture. I opted for grilled Goosnargh maize-fed chicken,
braised leeks and Cheshire smoked bacon & a grain mustard sauce.
The chicken was tender with a crunchy jacket, complemented wonderfully by the bacon and the mustard sauce gave it a bit of added va va voom. Resisted desert (but of course tried 'just a taste') of my friend's caramelised quince tart and vanilla ice cream, which outshone event the artichoke soup. A beautiful combination of sweet and sour, the caramel gave it an added twist that was very moreish. The ice cream tasted home-made - which I didn't expect - and had a creamy, custardy texture, which was perfect.
With two diet cokes each to wash it down (it was a 'working' lunch after all) it came to just over £30, astoundingly reasonable for something quite so thoroughly posh. Marks out of 10 - 8.9 and with the starter and desert both scoring a winning 9.9.
Floors 5 & 6
0161 605 8282
My husband and I stumbled across Coco & Co a few days after it opened when we were hungry after a morning's shopping in 6e.
Although the idea of a restaurant which pretty much only serves eggs might sound odd, when you do something so well, why mess with the formula?
Eggs expertly and lovingly cooked any way you could dream of (foie gras omelettes, eggs benedict, oeuffs cocotte, lavender scrambled eggs even) and served with scrumptious home-fries and salad for a reasonable price and in cosy yet chic surroundings with service so friendly you might even forget you're in Paris.
11 rue de Bernard Pallissy ,75006, Paris.
Everyone I know uses Tokyofoodie.com to decide on restaurants in Tokyo. Well-written and comprehensive articles by other food lovers are perfect there.
Best mojito cocktails on the planet. The restaurant was lively, great and unique atmosphere at a relatively affordable price and nice looking people too... Oh la la what a treat.
15 Banys vells Barcelona. The Borne barcelona.
I have fond memories of this place because in September 2006 my husband and I had our wedding breakfast here. Marco and Angelo are the owners and do all the cooking themselves. Marco made us the best wedding cake I have ever tasted (our friends did agree, although I know I'm biased!).
It is traditional Abruzzan food and is delicious. The antipasti is worth paying a vist for alone. The views from the terrazza are stunning. I love this place and we go whenever we can.
Above the village of Serramonacesca, all the locals know it so its easy to find. www.lechateaudemamere.com/
A fantastic seafood restaurant. The day after my husband and I married, we took our wedding party there for a luncheon before everyone had to leave for their flight home. The food and ambience is unbeatable and all the locals eat there, which is always a good sign. The alici (anchovies), sea bass and sorbetto di limone are out of this world! This isn't a 'tourist' restaurant and you need to dress smartly, although it is certainly not a snobby place.
On the seafront in Pescara
Germany isn't that great for vegetarians, but for a delicious, cheap and filling meal, falafel is a must! On nearly every corner of Berlin is a Doner stall or shop and they all sell Falafel in a big chunk of FladenBrot (Flat bread which really is wonderful) heaps of salad and sauce!
One of my favourite places to get falafel is a Doner place under the arches on Friedrichstrsse by Friedrichstasse Ubahn, also in the supermarket on Hackeshehof and of course in Kreuzberg are some great places too!
New restaurant (opened Januaary 2008) attached to new 'eco-hotel' Chancileria on Calle Chancileria near the centre of Jerez. Chef Juan used to be a teacher at the local catering college but it hasn't stopped him producing great dishes in the modern Spanish style (good fresh local ingredients, traditional methods, attention to seasoning and detail, beautiful presentation.)
For example 'hamburguesa de cola de toro' - a little timbale of beautifully cooked oxtail off the bone with a perfect apple puree, brilliant combination - mouthwatering. Artichoke soup with foie and truffle oil also fresh and delicious. Main course fish fresh and delicious. Portions sensible size. Desserts looked good but need developing.
Mixed and slightly odd wine list (some good if predictable riojas and also lambrusco(!?) but all very reasonably priced (c.100 euros for an unstinting 3 course meal for two with aperitif and wine and dessert wine and coffee...) Much better than other recommended but more 'traditional' restaurants in the town. Go quick before everyone else discovers it and the prices go up...
Calle Chancileria, Jerez
If you're flying to New York, head to Pennsylvania, widely acknowledged as the diner capital of the US. You can do day hikes in the mountains, see some pleasant if not beautiful cities (Philly and Pittsburgh) and eat classic diner food (scrapple, cheesesteaks, mounds of pancakes). Not too far to drive, and also home of the birth of the American interstate. Also much cheaper than staying anywhere near New York.
Fish and chips in Clontarf. I've lived here three years, and have scoured half the city for fish and chips in crunchy batter. They excel. They also do pretty hot fish cakes.
It's 30 yards from the sea. Go for a walk along the seafront first, afterwards, or even during!
Vernon Avenue. Directions: Next to the Spar in Clontarf village, North Dublin.
Cracking greasy spoon that attracts a high celebrity quota, possibly because of its proximity to London's once-and-future-trendy Shoreditch/Hoxton/Dalston.
Thankfully though, this is unreconstructed full English territory - irony, Day Glo and creative use of hairspray are firmly off the menu, as are the words organic and sustainable.
It's not a depressing relic, however, and its airy and cheerful design has carved it out a niche as a film location. Crews are often spotted filming in there on a Sunday when it's closed and the most recent flick to feature its hallowed interior was Notes on a Scandal.
For an added sprinkling of stardust on your gammon steak, check out the gallery of Polaroids behind the counter showing the legions of soap stars, presenters, actors and reality TV protozoa who have enjoyed a sarnie and a mug of something hot over the years.
221 City Road
+44 (0) 20 7253 2463
Very friendly restaurant in Patershol designed on a wacky clock theme. Good food at reasonable prices.
Ghent specialisms including waterzooi, eels and a magnificent beef in beer stew. A good range of others too, including a delicious fish soup and a rather special pork, bacon and sausage dish served with sorrel mash.
The waiters were good fun and 'very good' in Flemish turned out to be 'veer lekken' with a bit of Welsh (as in coch) on the double kk.
Corduwainers 65. Just off Kranlei on the edge of Patershol. Tel 32(0)9 223 42 41.
Google map: tinyurl.com/lkxa7l
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