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Activities Barcelona Europe Food Spain

Food Tours – The Key to Every New City

September 4, 2017

Having recently eaten our way through Catalonia’s capital with Devour Barcelona we talked with some friends who had never considered joining a food tour.  It was at that stage that we realised just how accustomed we’ve become to scoping out a new city (and it’s local culinary delights) by exploring its food!  If you’ve never been on a food tour, join us as we share the reasons we now seek them out in major cities around the world.

If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach then food may just be the way to win a traveller over too.

In the last few years Nathan and I have started hunting down the best food tours in each of the major cities we visit and every time, we leave full – both with food and new-found knowledge.  We relish the opportunity to meet

We relish the opportunity to meet travellers from all walks of life, to learn more about the history of the region we’re visiting and to enjoy delicious food.  What’s not to love?

If you’ve never been on a food tour before, you’ll start by meeting your guide and the others in your group at a predesignated point – always in public and at an easily recognisable spot.  With introductions behind you, you’ll head off on your way towards gastronomic delight (via the first food stop of course).

From there, you’ll visit a range of restaurants, stalls, stands and markets, all on the hunt to find the best local produce.

If there’s one thing that food tours tend to do really well, it’s to connect tourists with authentic, local vendors.  Time and time again, we’ve been introduced to men and women manning stands that have been in families for generations, serving the same high-quality food to their own neighbourhood.  These are the kind of places that would be close to impossible to track down as a newly-arrived tourist into a city but with the help of a food tour, they suddenly become a lot more accessible.

As you trip around each mini-destination, you’ll be offered a selection of bite-sized portions (and sometimes full ones too!), allowing you to try the best food the city has to offer.  It’s amazing how little tasters can add up over the course of an afternoon as the treats and conversation starts to flow.

Every time we come off a food tour, we’re surprised by just how full we are and the number of new dishes we’ve managed to try that we’d never have thought to hunt out.

I’m also a fairly fussy eater whilst Nathan loves good cuisine – food tours work well for us in this sense as he’s served up a variety of exciting dishes (that I’d normally hold us back from ordering) whilst small portions mean that if one option doesn’t float my boat, there’s always another on the horizon.

Not headed to Barcelona just yet?  We can also recommend food tours in Reykjavik, Rome and Athens.

If you’re keen to give a food tour a go, we whole heartedly recommend joining your tour when you first arrive in a new city if possible.  Doing so will alert you to the best restaurants and foodie stops (because who doesn’t want to return to a new favourite?) and give you a taste of local flavours whilst helping you find your way around.

Happy munching!

What’s your favourite way to get to know a new city?  Share your tips and tricks in the comments below…

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Activities Athens Eastern Europe Food Greece

Alternative Athens: The Tastiest Way to Get to Know Greece’s Capital!

June 6, 2017

Jade and her husband, Mark have decided that there’s practically no better way than to get comfortable with a city than to do so on a food tour – we couldn’t agree more!  Read on for their review of Alternative Athens and to gain a little insider’s foodie knowledge about this incredible city.

Walking to meet our guide outside the perfectly distinguishable Public store in Syntagma Square, I couldn’t help but marvel at how fond I had become of Athens and its quirks in just a matter of days. I found a new juxtapose on every corner. There is an undeniable scent of fresh Mediterranean air in an obviously overpopulated city, deposited from trees growing through narrow brick footpaths. Footpaths that were backed by the exterior of new and ancient buildings, none excluded from the marvellous jumble of spray-paint tagging and street art.

Remembering the countless times I had read comments similar to ‘you only need one day in Athens’ online made me contemplate the reason for this. I wondered if the Acropolis overshadowed mainstream tourists from looking past the city’s centrepiece. Or was it time-limited cruise ship itineraries favouring the islands, that tried to justify such an intense focus solely on their ancient structures? Perhaps something else?

Either way, by the time we reached our meeting point, my belly rumbling for it’s morning portions, my expectation grew. We’d been on a food tour before so with an idea of what awaited us and a hungry tummy it’s fair to say I couldn’t wait for our gastronomic exploration to begin!

Love food tours?  Check out our review of Wake Up Reykjavik in Iceland and Eating Italy in Rome too.

When I had found the Delicious Athens Food Tour online my attraction to the tour description was instant; specialty foods, all time Greek classics yet unknown to me and a chance to explore the ‘belly of the city’ with a local? Sign me up! Backed up by Trip Advisor Certificates of Excellence, glowing reviews and mentions in top media and publishing companies I knew this was how I wanted to see Athens.

What better way to explore a city than by its best cuisine?

Returning a smile from a new arrival nearby who fumbled in her bag for a laminated sign, I knew we had found our guide. Tania was quick to introduce herself with a warm and heartfelt ‘welcome to Athens and the morning tour’.

To our surprise and delight Mark and I had Tania to ourselves for the morning. We set off immediately, quickly chatting like old school friends catching up after travels.

Tasting Athens – Why Food Tours are the Best Way to See a City!

Not holding back, I endeavoured to sample everything offered.

Up first: Greek Coffee.

Sitting in a local’s favourite restaurant run since the 1960’s (and for the second time in my life) I had a mug of coffee. Surprisingly, I liked it! Brewed in a traditional Biriki made of Copper, I opted for the sweetest version (I hate to think how much sugar…) while hubby indulged in the full bitter flavour of a traditional coffee.

Tania explained how the drink was more often referred to as being Turkish; due to the 400-year Ottoman ruling in Greece many culinary traditions were now shared between the countries, their true origins lost in time. Guiding us on taking the last sip, Tania explained the ancient art of coffee fortune telling and helped us give it a try.

Our next stop saw us wander through an indoor gallery of upmarket restaurants before turning and stopping roadside at one of the many bread carts found around the city. We sampled a mid-morning Koulouri, mirroring local habits.

Reminding me of something between a pretzel and a bagel, the sweet, firm bread, looped in a large circle was tasty and easy to eat on the run. No wonder this was the Athenians mid morning go-to.

While discussing local Athenian lifestyles and sharing our own eating traits and favourite foods our adventure continued.

Stopping at a well loved whole foods and organic store we were taken to a table waiting with all sorts of treats ready for our inquisitive mouths. We sampled tasty cold pressed olive oils, a delicious vinegar made from sour cherries, feta served with olive oil and again with thyme honey (oh so rare and flavoursome) along with a beautiful smooth wine made from an ancient Greek grape, thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in the 1970’s.

Before leaving we had a chance to look around the store. Check out these fantastic seasoning postcards I found. If only I could send them home to New Zealand!

Loukoum, the Greek version of a Turkish delight was up for trial for us.

We made our way to a store dedicated to products made from mastic; a resin gathered from a mastic tree produced on the Greek island of Chios. I loved the buttery texture of this Greek sweet (nothing like the chocolate covered Turkish delight produced by mainstream confectionary companies) but I am still unsure if I liked the flavour of mastic. It was unlike anything I had tasted before; one of those flavours where you need to go back to it another time (or more) before making your final decision.

Have you ever indulged in traditional handmade baklava?

Our next stop displayed trays full of different kinds of baklava sprawling through cabinet windows in an unsuspecting bakery. Layers of paper thin pastry and finely chopped nuts soaked in just the right amount of sweet honey to give a gooey bottom and crisp crunch on top. I wanted to pocket a handful of each tray! there were so many options to choose from – check out that chocolate baklava.


Having had our morning coffee boost, carbs, cheese and pastry it was time to get serious.

Our next stop was hyped by Tania as we walked; no matter what time of the day there could be a queue because the food was so good, an Athenian favourite. Souvlaki.

The best in town came from a relatively inconspicuous store, mid-block, fronting a pedestrian walkway with simple seating out front.  Able to purchase the meat sticks from the window on the street it oddly reminded me of a school canteen.

That souvalaki though! Beautiful tender bites of pork perfectly seasoned and the squeeze of lemon just topped it off. Had there not been more of the tour to go I would have gone back for seconds… and probably thirds.

To help burn off some of the food we had consumed before our next stop we diverted down a back alley to check out the meat, fish and veg market in Omonia.

Tania warned us before entering that it would penetrate the senses and boy was she right. It was loud, wet (so be careful underfoot) and it had all the expected odours. She also gave us a heads up that the traders might catcall young ladies who walked through, explained that is was harmless but checked we were comfortable to continue (of course we were). Now I can’t understand Greek but I could tell the difference between prices and products being yelled and the catcalling, I could only guess what they were saying, but we had a laugh about it and carried on our merry way looking at everything on offer.

Up next, my absolute favourite from the morning, we had a serving of bougatsa. Freshly made in the café we visited, we were lucky enough to see the chef’s effortless skill building the next batch for the oven. A custard, cream and semolina mix (flavoured perfectly with orange zest) was parcelled in crunchy, icing dusted pastry, I couldn’t get enough of it!

As full as I was, I ate it all and wanted more. Impressed with the dish, Mark and I grabbed a piece of bougatsa several times later in our trip, but none rivalled our first taste of this delicious pastry from that beautifully decorated café in the back streets of Athens.

Our final stop was at a local taverna where we sampled a beautiful honey soaked baked cheese dish sprinkled with sesame seeds and a platter of traditional dips. The baked cheese was gone in seconds (it was so tasty) and sampling the dips, I really enjoyed the tzatziki (yoghurt dip), but found the fava (puree of fava beans and olive oil) and melitzanosalata (eggplant salad) were full of flavour but not so much to my taste.

Walking Athens

Over and above tasting all the amazing food, we got an insider’s understanding of the underbelly of modern Athens. We discussed recent history and local practices as Tania confidently navigated us to each stop. Walks between stops were short and easy, occasionally dodging a cat, bike or car along the way.

As we walked we heard how internal migration patterns in Greece were changing and tired areas were becoming reinvigorated as new trends came and went through the city. Tania shared her love for all things Greek and what she liked about guiding – she had such a passion for sharing her culture with others that it was hard not to be moved.

During our journey there were other gems we saw along with way, like the tiny shop from where all of the bread carts selling koulouri were stocked. We walked through Euriopdies street and ogled all the dried meats, spices and herbs displayed in the shops, ducking in to take a closer look and smell. We meandered through Psirri and the Square of the Heroes, hearing about its Mafia-like history and recent gentrification. I desperately wanted to return for dinner at one of the quaint restaurants under the trees. We stopped for photos with a decorated Greek music cart, commonly featured in older Greek movies.

Tania enlightened us on just how much more there was to Athens than the ruins it was famous for and I was left wishing we had more time.

Ending in Monastiraki, a great place to explore, people watch and browse the bustling shops it was time to say goodbye. At our last stop Tania gave us a helpful map of Athens and promised to email us recipes so we could try our hand at making some of what we had sampled. As promised we received a easy to follow PDF by email and bougatsa is on there. I can’t wait to give it a go!

Needless to say our morning with Tania lived up to the hype and I have been recommending this tour to others wholeheartedly ever since.

Best done at the start of your trip so you can orientate yourself easily through the best parts of the inner city, I implore you to join Alternative Athens on their Delicious Athens Food Tour.

Mark on a map all of the restaurants and areas your fantastic guide will point out so you can continue your gastronomic adventure on your own.

I only wish we had more time to do so – there was just not enough room in my tummy to sample all of the food we wanted to pocket on the way!

Honestly, if you miss this tour you are missing out on some of the best secrets, tastes and gems Athens has to offer… and nobody wants that, do they?

Do you have a taste for seeing what really makes a city tick?  Pin this post!

Check out the best food tours in Athens, Greece. Find the best restaurants, cafes and foodie secrets. Food, travel, architecture, great company, this sight-seeing trip has it all! Are you hungry for adventure?Check out the best food tours in Athens, Greece. Hidden hotspots, food, travel, architecture, great company, this sight-seeing trip has it all! Are you hungry for adventure?

Thank you to Alternative Athens for hosting Mark and Jade to review their Delicious Athens Food Tour.  As always, all thoughts are their own – as you can see though, they had a ball!

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Abu Dhabi Food Luxury Middle East Reviews

Abu Dhabi Eats: Todd English’s Olives – A Taste of the Mediterranean

May 15, 2017

With our time in Abu Dhabi coming to an end, we’re on a mission to try out all of the amazing restaurants in Abu Dhabi.  Well, maybe not all of them but certainly the ones that have been waiting patiently on our list.

First up?

Todd English’s Olives – a gorgeous restaurant that absolutely shone, keeping both Nathan’s adventurous palette and my significantly-plainer tastes perfectly happy.  With service that rivals any in Abu Dhabi, Olives may just become your new favourite restaurant.

Just Like Home – Only Better!

Once you’ve had your car complimentary valet parked (this is, after all, Abu Dhabi), you’ll find Olives within stumbling distance.

The restaurant itself is stylishly decorated with big comfortable seats and generously sized tables (which you’ll need for all of the food they’ll bring out to you!).  Alternatively, guests are welcome to sit outside in the open courtyard, only metres from the canal.  Even with the weather warming up, we enjoyed sitting outside with a light breeze so that would be our recommendation before we hit the peak of summer.

The staff are friendly and the atmosphere inviting so we instantly felt at ease.  Yes, this is a fine-dining restaurant but the team do a superb job of welcoming everyone in and making them feel at home.

If only we had food like theirs on tap each night!

A Thirst for the Finer Things in Life

The right drink can start a night off perfectly and our night out was to be one of the best we’ve had in a long time, so I suppose, the writing was on the wall.

Throughout the evening we enjoyed a range of drinks and each and every one blew us away.  At most we normally have one mocktail and then move onto soft drinks but drinks menu at Olives was too tempting to resist!

With options like the lemon cloud (Bacardi White, Limoncino, white chocolate, cream and sour mix), slingback (raspberry vodka, passion fruit puree and nectar, raspberries and mint), bubbly scarlet (my personal favourite – fresh raspberries, raspberry and almond syrup, ginger ale and lemon juice) and passion mangolada (passion fruit nectar, mango juice and coconut syrup), how on earth could we settle for a Coke?!

Let’s Get Started!

As all our meals out are, the dishes served to us are a tale of two opposing tastes – my more down-to-earth preferences and Nathan’s love of the finer things in life.  With that in mind, let’s get down to business…

The Basics

Let’s start by saying that my starter really was anything but basic – it was literally up there as one of the best pizzas I’ve ever eaten.

The Bronx Bomber flatbread (which I ordered in starter size) came loaded with a garlic tomato sauce, the most tender beef pepperoni, caramelised onions, mozzarella, parmesan and fresh basil.  It was so delicious that I genuinely had to hold myself back from eating it all before my main arrived!

The flatbread teamed perfectly with the homemade wedges and their accompanying sauces and though I shouldn’t have eaten quite so much of the bread starter, the rolls were impossible to put down.  The garlic scrolls were amazing.  Honestly, those alone made it worth visiting Olives.

Fine Dining

Though my food was delicious, most of you will be here for the fine dining review and I don’t blame you for a second.  Stick around as it didn’t disappoint.

In a bid to try as many things as possible, Nathan was presented with the chef’s tasting menu that was chock-full of all sorts of incredible dishes.  Not only was each presented beautifully but the produce was clearly top-notch and a lot of skill had gone into cooking each item perfectly.  Though most of Nathan’s dishes were beyond my limited (alright, fussy) palette, I couldn’t help but admire the creativity and eye for detail that went into each of them.

First up was the beef and tuna carpaccio – a beautifully balanced plate, both figuratively and literally.  Served as two dishes in one, the beef carpaccio peeked our from under a cocktail glass whilst the tuna sat on top.  Both components hit the spot with the beef nosing just slightly ahead thanks to its perfect combination of ingredients.

Following on, Nathan tried the chef’s variation on scallops vol-au-vent.  His version was a treat for the eyes with perfectly browned scallops sitting atop beds of squid-ink risotto and cauliflower puree.  The seafood was the standout of this dish so would be high on Nathan’s list of recommendations when paired with the puff pastry cups and lemon butter emulsion of the standard menu.

To be fair, his recommendation list would run off the page.

Finally, the veal agnolotti al plin arrived at our table and though it didn’t present as well as Nathan’s other starters, it bowled us both over with its perfectly balanced flavours.  Braised veal ossobucco, fontina fondue stuffed pasta and black truffle essence combined to form what became both of our favourites for the evening.

If you enjoy hearty and delicious food, this is the one for you.  Don’t be surprised if you see us at Olives alongside you, both munching away on the veal pasta!

Time for the Main Attraction

Just when we were sure we couldn’t possibly eat any more, our steaks arrived and we were proven wrong.

Steak in Abu Dhabi can be a bit hit or miss.  To get a good steak is often hideously expensive (which is to be expected when you live in the middle of the desert.)

That wasn’t the case here though with both cuts being perfectly selected and cooked to order.  Nathan’s lean prime beef tenderloin was paired with a delicious cracked pepper demi-glace (which I may just have stolen) whilst my rib eye was close to the size of a dinner plate and marbled to perfection.

Both dishes were served with a selection of tasty accompaniments but we were so full by this stage that we couldn’t do much more than have a little sample of each.  What we did try though, was delicious.

Just Desserts

With tummies full to the brim, it would have been easy to turn down dessert but who in their right mind does that?

Instead of opting for a full dessert, we were presented with a tasting plate each which offered a little sometime to suit everyone.  From the smooth, creamy and deliciously citrusy panna cotta, to the moist red velvet cake and the coffee infused homemade ice cream and tiramisu, these light desserts finished the night off beautifully.  Nathan loved the tiramisu and I devoured the panna cotta, both of which were clear favourites for us, but when we return, my eye is firmly on the apple pie.

Olives – Something to Suit Everyone

We had a fantastic evening at Olives with the food, drinks, location and amazing staff all playing an equally important role.  We loved that the menu was so diverse, featuring a range of meat, seafood and vegetable dishes, making it a restaurant that truly caters to all tastes.

Their current menu is available online so you can salivate over your keyboard before you make it into the restaurant.

Don’t move too fast though!

It will be impossible not to see up some potential options before heading along to the Venetian Village but try not to mentally preplan your dinner in its entirety – our waitress was spot on with her favourite dishes so it’s well worth listening to the expertise of the Olives team.

With a little over a month left in Abu Dhabi, both Nathan and I have vowed to return to Olives which I think says everything we need to say on the subject!

Don’t forget to take your Entertainer too to receive ‘buy one, get one free’ on your mains.

Pin this post so you’ll remember where to go on your next special occasion in Abu Dhabi.  

Todd English's Olives serves up amazing fine dining plates alongside more homestyle dishes - a perfect combination in Abu Dhabi.  Check out why this is one of our new favourite restaurants in the UAE!

Thank you to Sociate for inviting us to put Olives through their paces – they well and truely passed!  As always, all thoughts on Exploring Kiwis are our own.

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Europe Food Iceland Mid-Range Reviews Reykjavík

Wake Up Reykjavík – The Foodie Tour With a Difference

January 2, 2017
Wake Up Reykjavík Food Tour Review

With food being such an important part of our daily lives and culture, is there a better way to get to know a new city than to eat your way around the most delicious and unique spots?  We don’t think so!

When we decided to forgo driving Iceland’s Ring Road, instead mostly basing ourselves in Reykjavík, it was entirely down to the number of fantastic options based in and around the capital city, including the Wake Up Reykjavík food tour (which consistently ranks top on Trip Advisor).  We knew that if we were to spend a fair bit of time in town, we’d want to know the best spots to eat at so booked onto a Wake Up Reykjavík food tour on our first full day in Iceland.

Tip:  Try to book your Wake Up Reykjavík food tour towards the beginning of your visit if you can so you’ve got plenty of time to revisit your favourite spots over the rest of your trip.

From our initial emails with Egill, it was clear that this wasn’t your ordinary foodies tour.  The Wake Up Reykjavík team are serious about fun and incredibly passionate about what they do.  Started by two local friends keen to show visitors the very best of Icelandic cuisine (and we’re not taking about the traditional sheep’s head and fermented shark – though there is an opportunity to try the later should you choose), the team will help you eat your way around the capital city, munching on the very best Iceland has to offer.

As instructed, we met our host, Gabríella at the entrance to one of Reykjavík’s most beautiful buildings, Harpa.  The city itself is relatively compact so makes for an easy walk, even in the snowy, windy conditions we faced.  Be sure to rug up warm with lots of layers though as you’ll be in and out of the weather as you duck into each new location on the tour.

We started the tour with one of my favourite stops of the day – an amazingly flavourful lamb soup which was served with with delicious fresh bread.  This soup is a traditional favourite in Iceland, varying depending on the part of the country you’re in – some areas serves it as a broth whilst in other parts of Iceland it’s more like a stew.  This one was somewhere in the middle and the lamb melted away instantly – it was the perfect start to our afternoon!

Next came the opportunity to try the very traditional fermented shark.  Due to the long, harsh winters Iceland used to face with limited resources, eating all manner of things became a necessity and fermented shark fell into this category – maybe not the tastiest thing around but nutritious and somewhat a right of passage for visitors to the country.  Described as being pungent and somewhere between fish and cheese, everyone in the group tried it but me (someone had to take the photos, right?) and the reactions varied from “well, I wouldn’t do that again” to surprise at how good it tasted.  I don’t think anyone was in a hurry to have a second nibble but it was great to be given the chance to try something so unique to Iceland.

On we continued to our next location where we sampled a range of local cheeses and meats.  Not traditionally a cheese making country, Iceland is proud of how far it’s come in a short space of time and their cheese speaks for itself – gouda, brie and blue, all creamy and delicious.  

They are better known for their high quality meat though and it didn’t disappoint – lamb, goose and horse (the later of which I didn’t try but Nathan loved) were all served up in bite-sized portions.

With a beautiful view of the iconic Hallgrímskirkja church, we again sat down, this time to the most surprising dish of the day.  Without telling us what it was, Gabríella encouraged us to dig in and though we had no idea what we were eating at first, we all agreed that it was delicious.  It turned out to be an unexpected combination of bread and ice-cream – that’s right, rye bread crumbs baked again and mixed in with freshly made ice cream, topped off with fresh whipped cream and rhubarb syrup.  It sounds like a strange combination (and it’s face it, it is) but it was amazing – flavourful, sweet and a little chewy – yum!

Already feeling pretty chocka, we were presented with our next treat as we walked back down town.  Skyr is a local milk-based product, similar to greek yoghurt but when flavoured it tasted a bit like a creamy strawberry yoghurt.  It’s high in protein and a real Icelandic staple for many families – when you visit Iceland, be sure to pop a tub in your trolly at the supermarket (or even better, join this tour!) but don’t be fooled into picking up the original flavour unless you like things on the sour side.

Marching on, we visited Reykjavík’s first fast-food stall where they dish up incredible hotdogs.  There was an obvious line even when we visited mid afternoon and people there just to take photos so we knew we were onto a good thing and man were we right!  Lamb hotdogs, fresh bread rolls and a combination of delicious sauces (one which was similar to a honey mustard and another almost like mayonnaise), what isn’t to love?  When offered a second one almost all of us excitedly said yes – they were really that good!

If you haven’t figured it out by now, Icelanders love their lamb and for good reason – it’s amazing!  They’re not just about their lamb though – puffin, whale, reindeer, stingray, goose – there’s not much they won’t eat.

One thing the locals are known for is lobster soup and of course our food tour swung us by one of the local spots known for this dish.  Piping hot, served in a broth with lots of fresh bread and butter it was the perfect warmer everyone needed having braved the cold all afternoon.

After wandering through a gorgeous part of town, complete with Christmas lights and an iceskating rink, we arrived at our last stop for the day – a converted old pharmacy designed by Guðjón Samúelsson, the same architect that created the iconic church at the top of town.  There we were served hot chocolate, tea and coffee along with the most amazing dessert concoction which combined apricot with caramel mousse and a hazelnut base alongside passionfruit and mango sorbet.  At first it sounded like an odd pairing but our tastebuds were easily convinced otherwise.  What a way to finish!

Throughout our tour we learnt a great deal about Iceland’s history, tourism industry, produce, education and political system and about what it’s like to live in Iceland.  My favourite of all though were the stories from Iceland’s past – gods, trolls, elves and all sorts of mythical creatures add a touch of magic to a part of the world that is obviously filled with it.

Our guide, Gabríella, was knowledgeable, approachable and had a great sense of humour.  She did an excellent job of bringing the group of us together and was incredibly considerate our our needs (she even surprised us with an Icelandic chocolate bar each at the end of the tour)!  She was an awesome example of what we found Icelanders to be – warm, friendly and keen to share their passion for their beautiful country.

We whole-heartedly recommend Wake Up Reykjavík for foodie fun in Iceland’s capital.  Together with other like-minded travellers you’ll visit the best restaurants, delicatessens and and food stalls around and with their their expert help, you’ll be set up with delicious dining options for the rest of your visit.

Thank you to Wake Up Reykjavík for so warmly welcoming us as their guests on this tour.  Nathan came away saying that food tours are one of his favourite things to do on holiday now, so you know we were well and truely sold!  As always, all thoughts are our own.


  • Reply Bring on the Snow! Planning our Iceland Trip... - Exploring Kiwis January 7, 2017 at 12:20 am

    […] abandonded DC3 – an absolute must-see on the South coast.  Also, our review of Wake Up Reykjavík and the Galaxy Pod […]

  • Reply Eva January 7, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Thank you for this post! I’ll be travelling to Iceland in April and I’m looking forward to tasting some local foods. It was delightful reading this post 🙂

    • Reply Sarah - Exploring Kiwis January 7, 2017 at 5:07 pm

      Hi Eva, that’s awesome to hear! I’m sure you’d love the tour – you should definitely get in touch with Wake Up Reykjavik! Is it your first trip there?

      • Reply Eva January 7, 2017 at 5:11 pm

        Yes it is. I would love to join such a tour but I’m coming with a group of friends and we are all on the budget side, so taking the tour might be too much. We have planned to eat out in a couple of occasions, though. If we won’t manage this time, that could always be a good excuse to come back! Also because I think that Iceland is a place that deserves going back in a different season. I am a big fan of comebacks to the places I loved the first time!

  • Reply The Radisson Blu Saga - Our Favourite Reykjavik Hotel, Iceland - Exploring Kiwis February 1, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    […] Consider yourself a foodie?  Don’t miss Wake Up Reykjavik’s awesome food tour! […]

  • Reply Alternative Athens: The Tastiest Way to Get to Know Greece's Capital! - Exploring Kiwis June 6, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    […] food tours?  Check out our review of Wake Up Reykjavik in Iceland and Eating Italy in Rome […]

  • Leave a Reply

    Dubai Food Mid-Range Middle East Reviews United Arab Emirates

    Catch 22 – Dubai’s Newest Addition to JBR

    December 21, 2016
    Catch 22 JBR Dubai outside

    Located on JBR Walk (Jumeriah Beach Residence), one of our favourite parts of Dubai, Catch 22, a newly opened casual-dining restaurant has opened its doors.  Eclectically decorated, with a beautiful, big tiered deck that faces that ocean, it’s a fantastic place to sit and enjoy the comings and goings of the area.  

    With a focus on seafood and quality meat and with menu items that take inspiration from Asia and Mexico, you’re sure to find something to suit your tastes at Catch 22.

    Catch 22 Dubai: What’s Your Flavour?

    As we were invited to sample the Catch 22’s new menu, we were given the choice of three set options – seafood, meat lovers or vegetarian.  Nathan loves seafood, but I’m not such a fan so it was an easy choice to go with the meat-based menu and a lot of it really impressed us.

    We started with the most delicious drinks – a virgin pina colada and a berry and mango smoothie.  Both were a treat, but the pina colada was especially tasty.  In the UAE most restaurants serve a great assortment of non-alcoholic cocktails which is great news for us as we’re not big drinkers.

    When it came to our food, the plates were brought out to us on the deck as they were ready and were perfectly presented for sharing.

    We started the night off well with their filet minion sticks; these were tender and cooked beautifully and best of all, came with the most delicious, soy-based sauce (which we kept aside to enjoy on some of our other dishes – it was that good).

    From there we moved onto the cheeseburger quesadillas.  Cut in three, they were exactly what you’d imagine – burger patties sandwiched between wraps and toasted, served with plenty of cheese, sour cream and guacamole.

    The largest dish of the night was the double stack angus club sandwich, which, served with wedges, was also our favourite.  Delicious slithers of steak came cooked in a subtle BBQ sauce with capsicums and onions (which I promptly removed – anyone that knows me, knows that I’m not a fan).  The bread was nicely toasted and slathered in a tasty sauce, served with melted cheese.  Sometimes the simple options really are the best – this dish was delicious and not at all sickly as dishes that contain BBQ sauce can sometimes be.  One to return for, for sure!

    Nathan finished his meal with the C22 short rib roll – an enjoyable fusion of sushi and deboned short rib steak.  It was a nice, light ending to the savoury part of our meal.

    To Order the Dessert Or Not?  You Might Be Surprised…

    Almost undoubtedly though, the highlight of any meal for me is dessert and checking out the menu, they sure did look delicious!  We were tossing up between an amazing sounding fruit crumble and the popcorn chocolate ganache which we eventually decided on.

    It looked fantastic when it arrived but, as with any restaurant, the odd teething problem might be expected.  Though we ordered it with vanilla ice cream it came out with pistachio ice cream (which it turns out, we’re not fans of) and though the idea of the dessert was good, it didn’t quite stand up to our expectations.  The filling was too chocolatey (I would have questioned whether there was such a thing prior to this – turns out there is) and the cookie undercooked and floury tasting.  On the bright side though, the raspberries were fresh and juicy and the dessert did look impressive (plus, we’ve since read awesome reviews of it so maybe it just wasn’t out night).

    We’ve heard fantastic things about the lotus french toast and it comes in a generous portion so that would definitely be our first pick next time around!

    Catch 22: A Great Addition to Dubai’s Casual Dining Scene

    Would we return to Catch 22?  Absolutely!  We really enjoyed our entrees and mains and the location can’t be beaten.  We liked the casual, quirky feel of the restaurant and the prices were very reasonable for the food on offer.  

    We’d certainly recommend it as a relaxed place to meet friends for a bite to eat!

    JBR Review Catch 22 Dubai

    Thank you to Azur Blue and Catch 22 for welcoming us as their guests.  As always, all thoughts are our own.

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    Abu Dhabi Food Luxury Middle East Reviews United Arab Emirates

    The Sweet Taste of Caramel – Abu Dhabi Restaurant Review

    December 17, 2016
    Caramel Abu Dhabi review

    Abu Dhabi has a plethora of world-class restaurants, offering practically any cuisine one could desire.

    American food may not traditionally stir up thoughts of fine dining but Caramel, on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island, will challenge your perceptions of what American-inspired dining can offer.

    Set in a moody but welcoming lounge-style restaurant, the restaurant will welcome you in whilst the food will have you coming back for more.

    Here, traditional favourites are served with a flavourful twist.  Mac and cheese (with truffle oil and three cheese dipping sauce – you didn’t think this would be your standard mac and cheese did you?) and kobe BBQ beef sliders can be found on the menu, sitting alongside ingredients and inspiration taken from the UK and Asia as well.  At Caramel, the focus is less on one particular cuisine and more on delivering meals of the highest standard – the benefit of this is that everyone will find something they’ll enjoy eating.


    After much debate, Nathan decided on the marinated kobe beef tacos whilst I ordered Caramel’s signature ‘buffalo style’ chicken lollipops.

    The kobe beef tacos were fresh and tasty, served with aubergine ra and stuffed with Wagyu beef – Nathan devoured them in no time (a sure sign of their quality).  Straight away, we knew we were onto a good thing!

    Together we worked through my serve of chicken lollipops.  Neither of us had tried this style of chicken before but we’re both absolutely converted.  In essence, they were buffalo wings, but thanks to the chef’s handy knife work, all of the hassle of eating chicken wings was removed.  We were left with tasty morsels of chicken, with crispy skin and a tasty, spicy buffalo sauce, that were easy to cut apart.  Served with a mild blue cheese sauce which was appreciated to help put out the fire (though they were the perfect level of spice).


    Next up were the mains and upon our servers recommendation we leapt at the chance to try two of the most popular dished on the menu – steak and frittes along with the seared Chilean sea bass.  We found out first-hand that they’re popular for a reason!

    Fries.  Fries served with parmesan and garlic.  Seriously, this is absolutely the best way to eat fries, so I found out.  Everything about my main was spot on – from the delicious pommes frites to the beautifully cooked medium-rare tenderloin and accompanying steak and peppercorn sauces.  On the surface, the meal was relatively simple but all of the flavours shone through, creating a main that we both seriously enjoyed.

    Nathan’s a real lover of seafood (me, not so much) and he was very pleased with his choice to order the seared sea bass.  The fish itself was served on a bed of rock shrimp risotto and lobster broth, topped with tomato, basil tapenade.  It was literally the best risotto he’s ever eaten and an option he highly recommends for seafood lovers.


    Dessert was a real toss-up with four options catching our eye.  The choice between a butterscotch bomb, baked Alaska, dark chocolate fondant and vanilla bean creme brûlée wasn’t easy but in the end we decided on the later two.  Thought I don’t doubt that all of the desserts would have been amazing, I can vouch for how special the two we had were.  

    My chocolate fondant was cooked to perfection – rich cake on the outside with a gooey centre that somehow avoided being too sweet.  Normally served with cappuccino ice-cream, I requested vanilla bean instead and found it to offset the dark chocolate fondant beautifully.

    Nathan’s creme brûlée (made with fresh cream, vanilla beans and caramelised bananas) was amongst the smoothest creme brûlées we’ve ever had and a real highlight.

    Our Thoughts on Caramel, Abu Dhabi

    Though Caramel isn’t exactly priced at the budget end of the spectrum, the servings are very generous, the food delicious, the setting very special and the staff professional.  It would make a perfect choice for a date night, special occasion or evening when you just want to treat yourself.

    What a treat it was for us!

    If you’d like to save this post, why not pin it for later?

    Caramel Review, Abu Dhabi

    Thank you to Caramel for inviting us along to review them.  As always, all thoughts are our own.

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    Abu Dhabi Food Reviews United Arab Emirates

    Handsdown, The Best Desserts in Abu Dhabi

    November 12, 2016
    The Best Desserts in Abu Dhabi

    Desserts in Abu Dhabi are serious business.  With such stiff competition and so many residents harbouring a sweet tooth, it’s not surprising to find that the quality of dessert treats in the city is exceptionally high.

    If you’re looking a sweet addition to your day, read on to discover the best desserts in Abu Dhabi.  The best part is they’re all takeaway options so you don’t even need to get dressed up.

    L’Artisan Gourmand

    If you’re looking for decadent, uniquely beautiful eclairs, you can’t go past L’Artisan Gourmand.  Each pastry is an absolute work of art, overflowing with perfectly balanced flavour.  With flavours like passion flower, macchiato, Madagascar vanilla, pistachio and salted caramel, these are so much more than your standard eclairs.

    Seriously, look at them – it’s no wonder they’re widely considered amongst the best desserts in Abu Dhabi.

    Though the pastries are the main drawcard to L’Artisan Gourmand, they offer a fantastic range of additional products – tender macarons (literally the biggest we’ve ever seen with lovely little macaron feet), chocolate covered dates and a selection of carefully crafted teas and infusions; all perfect to take home for an afternoon snack.

    Brownie Blues

    Gooey, fudgey, flavourful and delivered fresh to your door; courier deliveries do not come sweeter than this!  Brownie Blues takes one of your favourite comfort desserts and ramps them up a level with flavours like red velvet, rocky road, ferrero rocher and peanut brownie.  As amazing as they are fresh, the classic is even better warmed up with a little ice cream.

    Available in single servings of boxes big enough to share, there are plenty of options, all as delicious as the next… and the best part?  You don’t even need to get out of you PJs!

    Nata Lisboa

    Looking for perfectly formed pastry treat in Abu Dhabi?  Creamy, delicate custard combined with crunchy, light pastry these traditional Portuguese tarts from Nata Lisboa will put a smile on your dial.  Served with icing sugar and cinnamon, they’re absolutely delicious and can be served as sweet as you like with a little sprinkle from each sachet.

    We’ve not tasted the real thing in Europe but we’ve heard from a number of people that there’s literally no difference between these tarts and the originals in Portugal and in my books that makes them even better (as we can pop down to the WTC Mall and pick up a box anytime we like)!

    Fresh Bakes Cafe

    Tucked away in a local mall, Fresh Bakes Cafe has well and truely won Nathan over with their cupcakes which is no small feat.  We’ve popped in store a few times now and every time the cupcakes have been perfectly cooked, moist and flavourful.

    With a massive range of flavours, there’s something for everyone. The jaffa dark chocolate, apple biscoff and strawberry lemonade were all standouts but I don’t think you could go wrong with any flavour choice!

    Their menu extends far beyond cupcakes with delicious cookies, cheesecakes, muffins and a full service mains offering – if you’re floating around Khalifa City, make sure you stop by Fresh Bakes Cafe.

    Ready for your sugar fix?  You can’t go wrong with any of the above recommendations – trust us, we’ve sampled plenty of desserts over the years!

    What our your Abu Dhabi favourites?

    PS: If you’re looking for an amazing eat-in option, check out Tamba!

    Do your sweet tooth a favour and pin this post!  It’ll let you keep tabs on the best desserts in Abu Dhabi.

    Best Desserts in Abu Dhabi

    We have no association to any of the above businesses, we just love desserts!


  • Reply Julie @ FuninFairfaxVA November 14, 2016 at 3:59 am

    Funny, when I first read the title I thought it said deserts. I was happily surprised to see these gorgeous photos of tasty desserts in Abu Dhabi. Is it wrong to want to visit a place just for the eclairs.;) Jk, but you’ve added to the list of reasons to visit.

  • Reply wanderingwagarschristina November 14, 2016 at 5:26 am

    I definitely have a sweet tooth and I tend to indulge more while traveling. Looks like I may gain a lot of weight when we are in Abu Dhabi. These all looks so good. I haven’t had Portguese tarts since going to Belem a couple of years ago so Nata Lisboa would probably be my first sweet stop.

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    Abu Dhabi Food Luxury Middle East Reviews United Arab Emirates

    Tamba: Perfectly Balanced Indian Fusion in Abu Dhabi

    November 3, 2016

    Visiting gorgeous locations and reporting back to you all is without doubt, one of our favourite things.  Blogging is a real labour of love though – some posts we write come together effortlessly whilst others take a little more time to craft.  Then there’s this one – how do you write a post reviewing a restaurant when you’re left speechless?

    I suppose, like anything, you start at the beginning… From the moment we stepped through the door of Tamba (until the minute we left) we were treated like royalty; not the uncomfortable level of attention that you get in some top-notch restaurants but like we were long lost friends, invited over for the most amazing of meals.

    Tamba is a relative new-comer to the flourishing Abu Dhabi food scene, serving up Indian food with a unique twist.  Each plate pulls on traditional Indian flavours but is combined with a wide range of ingredients from around the world – the result is an exciting and sometimes unexpected dining experience.

    The restaurant itself is absolutely gorgeous and carefully designed to match its own name.  In Hindi, ‘Tamba’ means copper and the warm metallic shades throughout the restaurant help to create a welcoming atmosphere.  An exotic rooftop restaurant with a sophisticated club feel, Tamba was everything we look for in a date-night restaurant.

    As we looked over the menu we were instantly taken by just how knowledgeable the Tamba staff are – they know their food inside out and their passion for the concept shines through.  Trusting in the Tamba team, we shared some of our favourite foods and took them up on their offer to craft us a personal selection that we would love.

    Did we love it?  Undoubtedly!

    Each course came out as it was ready but for the most part we worked steadily though the smaller sharing plates before the mains arrived.  When you’re hungry, the idea of plates continually making their way out of the kitchen is great news!

    From the mild but tasty ‘chicken 65’ entree to the memorable seafood starters that Nathan enjoyed, it was obvious to us that each and every ingredient at Tamba is carefully considered and then cooked by master chefs.  We found out later that every dish passes through the head chef’s hands, ensuring perfection at all stages (and they are indeed capable hands, having just been awarded Abu Dhabi Chef of the Year).

    One of the surprise stand-outs from the first part of the night, for both Nathan and I, was the sweet and sour pumpkin paratha, eaten taco-style.  It is literally the first time I’ve eaten a vegetarian meal that hasn’t felt like an alternative to a meat based dish – this one stands on it’s own two feet, overflowing with perfect flavour.

    Delicately flavoured chicken curry (their version of butter chicken, but shhhh we’re not meant to call it that), lamb chops marinated and cooked to perfection (how many times have I used that word?!), the biggest scallops we’ve ever seen; every dish that came out was tasty and a stand-out in its own right.

    Thanks to the nature of Indian fusion, even those that aren’t huge fans of this style of cuisine will be happy; with so many different flavours finding their way into the dishes, some would almost trick you into forgetting their Indian roots.

    No meal is complete without the addition of a refreshing drink and tasty dessert and fortunately, Tamba have both of these in abundance.  Fresh, fruity and beautifully presented, Tamba has a wide range of beverages on offer with the same high level of ingredients found in their food – homemade syrups and creative garnishes, they’ve thought of every detail… let’s be honest though, a great drink is one thing but a remarkable dessert is a whole different beast (in the very best of ways).

    India is not traditionally known for its dessert offerings but Tamba has managed to hit theirs out of the park.  With five solid options on the menu (and a cute little story explaining how they were named), they’re large enough to share… though you won’t want to!  My personal favourite was ‘the Break-Up’, an amazing  dark chocolate mousse, peanut semifreddo, salted caramel, chocolate sauce concoction whilst Nathan loved the caramelised banana toffee cake which was served with pecan nut praline, fresh banana and homemade cardamon ice cream (known as the ‘Sticky Situation’).  All three were delicious – to be honest, I really don’t think you could go wrong with dessert there!

    It’s a good sign when even with three desserts between the two of you, you’ve already chosen what you’d like on your next visit (cheesecake with ginger snaps, passionfruit curd, whitechocolate and honey shards and popping candy – seriously dessert heaven!)

    I know this review sounds unbelievably positive but honestly, we mean every word.  If you’re currently living in Abu Dhabi or planning a visit, we’d recommend swinging by Tamba to see for yourself.  You won’t be disappointed.

    The Hub at The Mall,
    World Trade Centre Abu Dhabi (Level 6)

    +971 2 672 88 88

    Weekdays 12:00pm – 01:00am
    Weekends 12:00pm – 02:00am

    If you enjoyed this post please pin it for later so others will stumble across it too!

    Tamba Abu Dhabi review

    Thank you to Tamba and PurpleHoney for so graciously hosting us.  As always, all thoughts are absolutely our own.  We can’t wait to return!


  • Reply Sarah November 6, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    Their food presentation is definitely mouth watering! Never seen that in any of the Indian restos I’ve been to – although to be honest, I’ve never been a fan of indian cuisine until I moved to Singapore. I think for me, my tastebuds took quite some time to adjust to all those amazing flavors! Now I’ve been missing it a lot! Butter chicken and lamb chops are actually my favorites! <3

  • Reply flunkingmonkey November 7, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    Wow this restaurant looks absolutely gorgeous, I might recommend it to my sister who is visiting the country soon… I know I definitely want to eat all of those desserts!


  • Reply Ami Bhat November 8, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    Seems like a good place for Indian food. I like their ambiance too. It definitely adds to the charm of the place. Glad to know that the NRIs there have one more option to get to, especially when they miss the home flavors.

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    Dubai Food Mid-Range Middle East Reviews United Arab Emirates

    Busaba – The Answer to Your Thai Cravings in Dubai

    October 8, 2016
    Busaba Eathai JBR Dubai review

    It’s hard to beat a good Thai curry but over the last year in the UAE our Thai-food intake has drastically declined.  There are lots of fantastic food choices here in our corner the Middle East but we’ve struggled to find a stand-out Thai option – that is, until now.

    We were invited to join the team at Busaba to sample their new menu and when we read that they served amazingly authentic dishes in a location that people travel the world to visit, it was an easy decision; my friend Tracey and I booked in a girls night!

    Jumeirah Beach Residence (known locally as JBR) is a 1.7km stretch of prime waterfront in Dubai.  It plays host to a huge collection of high-end restaurants, cafes, retail shops, entertainment offerings and beautiful beaches.

    Not far from the world-famous Palm, a visit to this part of Dubai feels totally surreal – sometimes it’s hard to believe that we actually live here, where a visit to a breath-taking spot like JBR can happen with such ease (and on a school night, no less!)

    Busaba itself is located on the Southern end of JBR, just back from the water.  The restaurant is tastefully furnished and the combination of aromatic curry and incense drifts through the air, inviting you inside.

    Throughout the evening we were treated to plate after plate of delicious Thai food – perfectly cooked seafood (so I’m told, I must admit I don’t generally eat seafood myself), tender lamb chops ( a real surprised in a Thai restaurant), the most amazing pad Thai.  Everything was fresh, perfectly seasoned and served hot from the kitchen.  I’m not sure who’s working their magic back there but they certainly do a good job, paying attention to every little detail.

    The surprise of the night for me came in the form of a vegetarian dish.  Everything was delicious but those of you that know me well, know that I would never generally order the veggie option; the aromatic pumpkin curry was one worth writing home about though!  Served with coconut rice (seriously, they think about every little detail), I could have happily munched away on it all night.

    After feasting on what was easily the best Thai food I’ve had in the UAE, we finished up the meal with a personal favourite of mine – mango sticky rice.  After learning to make it in Chiang Mai and standing amongst the hustle and bustle of Khao San Road in Bangkok whilst enjoying this Thair dessert treat, whenever I eat it, I’m transported right back there.

    So, after driving for an hour to Dubai, was it worth making the trip?  It certainly was!

    If you’re looking for tasty Thai food, generous portions, a sophisticated but unpretentious environment in one of the most striking parts of Dubai, be sure to check out Busaba Eathai.

    best thai dubai busaba

    Thank you to our friends at Azur Blue and Busaba Eathai for hosting such a fabulous evening out.  All thoughts are our own – like we’d do it any other way!

    PS: Don’t forget to have your parking validated after dinner too – that way you’ll get three hours of parking for free.

    1 Comment

  • Reply The Travel Captain October 10, 2016 at 11:45 am

    Great post, thanks for the recommendation. Going to have to try this one out!

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    Activities Europe Food Italy Rome Tours

    A Foodie’s Paradise: Eating Italy – Rome

    July 21, 2016

    There are few countries as synonymous for their food as Italy; even before setting foot here, we were aware of how Italians cherish their food and the traditions that come with it.  It seemed inevitable then, that part of our time in Italy’s capital city, Rome, would be spent checking out some of their local dishes and when we stumbled across Eating Italy we decided there was no better way to enjoy the local cuisine than on a walking foodies tour with the help of a local!

    After all, if you walk in between nibbles, you’re allowed to eat more – right?

    Our tour met on the benches outside a little cafe not too far from the centre of town.  It was easy enough to spot but unfortunately in our haste, we jumped off at the wrong spot; we suggest you learn from our mistake and pop CityMaps2Go on your smartphone to help you find the spots you’re looking for easily.

    Once we’d been introduced to one another and to our guide, Bethany, we were given some background regarding to the importance of the Testaccio area.  This neighbourhood was the birthplace of cucina romana (Roman cuisine) and for this reason it is known to Romans as the heart of the city.

    We soon learnt that a tour through this area would introduce us to a range of local characters, each with personalities and stories as integral to the tour as the food itself.

    Our first stop was at an amazing local deli where, in the tradition of the neighbourhood, we started off by eating on the street.  In years gone by, new shop owners struggled to drum up business as Italians are fiercely loyal, sticking with those they know that offer high quality produce.  To counter this, new stores would offer samples to passers by in a bid to convince them of the quality of their products, hopefully winning their custom.

    If I were an old-school Italian, I can tell you right now, that deli would have become my absolute favourite!  Together we sampled prosciutto (literally melt-in-your-mouth good), parmigiano and truffled pecorino cheeses and salami infused with barolo wine (the best salami I’ve ever eaten!) before being invited inside to learn about the different types of balsamic vinegar (and of course, sample them).  We had no idea of the range of balsamics on offer – as a general rule we learnt that the longer a balsamic is left to age, the sweeter the final product and we were introduced to a white balsamic (which was delicious – fingers crossed we can make room in our bags to take some home for Nathan).

    The entire tour was supplemented with fantastic information about the produce and area, helping us to develop an understanding of how, where and why Italians eat as they do.  Everything we tried came with a backstory, making this tour so much more than an extended lunch!

    Eating Italy Exploring KiwisEating Italy Exploring KiwisFrom there we forged on to a pizzeria where we munched on fritti (fried street food, commonly eaten as an entree to pizza) made from eggplant, peppers/capsicums and courgettes/zucchinis fried in a light batter.  Though they were delicious (Nathan was excited to get his quota of vege up), the standout of this stop for me was undoubtedly the fried apple, sprinkled lightly with sugar – oh my!

    Eating Italy Exploring KiwisAfter stopping off for some quintessentially Italian pizza (of which we learnt there are two different styles served here), we made our way to the Pyramid of Cestius, one of the best preserved ancient buildings in all of Rome.

    This structure, of course inspired by the great pyramids of Egypt, was built approximately 12BC and has remained standing (when others have fallen) mostly thanks to its inclusion in the Aurelian Walls that provided protection to the city.

    In the same area is the Cimitero Acattolico (“Non-Catholic Cemetery”), the final resting place of many poets, artists and scholars that made their way over to Rome in the 18th, 19th and early 20th century.  Though a visit to a cemetery may feel like an odd fit within a foodies walking tour at first, the grounds are spectacular and the site has a gorgeous calm about it, making it great place to explore in between food stops.

    Eating Italy Exploring KiwisReady to fill our bellies again (or pukus for you Kiwis!), we wandered over to the newly relocated local market to pick up some fresh produce.  Stopping off at the fresh vegetable stall for a variety of Italian tomatoes, another with artisan crafted bread and finally a wee stand that sold fresh buffalo mozzarella (made this morning – it doesn’t get fresher), everything was whipped up into an on-the-go feast for us.

    Little did we know that around the corner were were about to find the savoury highlight of the day though… Food trucks and boxes have now caught on in Italy and a team of guys at the market are taking traditional Italian nibbles and adding a modern twist to them in the best way possible.  We were treated to the most delicious fried rice balls (known locally as ricetta supplì al telefono); this traditional Roman street food is stuffed with flavoured rice, mozerralla and meat before being deep fried to crispy perfection.  They get their name because of the long stretchy bits of cheese that pull out as you’re eating them – just like a telephone cord (for those of us old enough to remember when we had corded phones).  Regardless of whether you’re familiar with the style of phone, you almost certainly will fall in love with supplì!

    Eating Italy Exploring KiwisFollowing on from the fried rice parcels, we each tried a pork dish, made up of a strip of pork enclosing bacon and cheese, lightly crumbed ready to be enjoyed.  This one was another real standout of the day for the both of us – it was tasty and beautifully cooked.

    Whilst at the Food Box we also sampled some local craft beer – whilst Italy isn’t generally known for its beer, breweries are now getting onboard and crafting special brews within the country, so if you’re here, be sure to try one along with the fine Italian wine on offer (oh and there was plenty of that during our lunch stop!)

    Eating Italy Exploring KiwisAs we left the Testaccio Market, we swung by what used to be the old slaughter house and saw the remains of  the old clay pot factory that used to service all of Rome.  In ancient times, food would be stored in ceramic pots (known as amphorae) but due to their narrow necks, they were impossible to clean; because of this, when they became too dirty to use, the pots would be dismantled and laid flat on the ground.  Like a perfectly structured puzzle, layer upon layer grew until a modern-day landmark grew up from the ground – Monte Testaccio.  What looks like a normal hill in this area of Rome is really a man-made mountain of discarded pottery (see the image below, it’s mind-blowing).

    Sitting down in a forty year old restaurant dug into this mountain of clay we were served three traditional home-made pasta dishes (carbonara, cacio e pepe and amatriciana), accompanied by both red and white Italian wines.  The dishes were all tasty, with Nathan favouring the tomato based option whilst I fell in love with the carbonara and it’s crispy bacon-cheek strips.

    Eating Italy Exploring KiwisBy this stage we were all well and truely full but when dessert is offered, who can say no?!

    Off we went to one of two sweet-stations (with yelps of joy on my part!) where we started with samples of Italian pastry/pie and learnt about the ‘right way’ to drink coffee in Italy.  Romans have a series of guidelines that they live by when it comes to food (each one maximising the amount of food you can eat comfortably it would appear) and coffee falls into these rules just like anything else.  Freshly informed, coffees were ordered and enjoyed before moving onto our last stop on the tour…

    Eating Italy Exploring KiwisNo Italian food tour would be complete without a generous serve of gelato and thankfully our last stop took us to one of Rome’s most respected gelaterias.  Much to our delight we were informed that no matter how small your gelato order, everyone is entitled by law to two flavours and a dollop of fresh cream too.  Italy takes it’s gelato seriously (as they should, it’s seriously good!)  We also learnt how to spot genuine gelato from the fake stuff (an important life-skill) but I won’t give that away – we’d better leave some secrets for the tour!

    Eating Italy Exploring KiwisWith full and happy tummies, we farewelled each other and slowly made our way home to digest the feast we’d just been treated to.

    All food and drink was included for the length of the tour and it’s fair to say that absolutely everyone went away full.  We didn’t have breakfast and didn’t need dinner until 8pm this evening!

    If you’re looking for a local’s perspective in Rome and something to do that’s a little outside of the ordinary sight-seeing, we highly recommend Eating Italy.  Bethany, our guide, was incredibly knowledgeable, friendly and fun and shaped the tour into the experience it was.  This tour went beyond being just a walking tour to try different foods, instead offering up history lessons, tips and tricks and of course, good food, all in a relaxed and casual environment.

    Eating Italy tours, cooking classes and specialty dining options are available in Rome (we went on the ‘Taste of Testaccio Food Tour‘) and also Florence and Venice.  You can also explore the local sights and tastes in London, Amsterdam and Prague through Eating Europe.

    Should you decide to join the fun on an Eating Italy experience, we’d strongly suggest requesting Bethany if possible – I do not doubt the other guides are just as fabulous, but she really made our tour memorable.

    Thank you to Eating Italy for generously hosting us for the purpose of this review.  As always, all thoughts are our own.

    PS: Because Eating Italy are so amazing, they’ve given us a 10% discount code to give to our fabulous readers.  Just enter ‘Bethany’ as you’re making your purchase.


  • Reply Absolute Wanderlust July 31, 2016 at 11:48 am

    What a delicious way to experience Rome! The deep fried apple with sugar on top sound divine 🙂 I really look forward to visiting Italy one day to sample their gelato! 🙂

  • Reply Alternative Athens: The Tastiest Way to Get to Know Greece's Capital! - Exploring Kiwis June 6, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    […] food tours?  Check out our review of Wake Up Reykjavik in Iceland and Eating Italy in Rome […]

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