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      August 2012 > Your food heroes are our food heroes

Your food heroes are our food heroes

Walking and cycling holidays with InntravelHow many times have you cautiously entered a seemingly ‘ordinary’ establishment only to be treated to a gastronomic meal fit for the gods? How often do you enjoy really tasty, delicious food but have never had the opportunity to meet and thank the person – or persons – responsible?

We can’t obviously mention all those passionate, hard-working people whose meals receive regular high praise from you – after all, it’s not an easy task when we have so many gifted cooks (not all of them are trained chefs, by any means) to choose from.

But here are just a few (in no particular order) to whet your appetite…

Arriving at the Chanterelle Inn on Cape Breton Island is the perfect way to end your discovery of Nova Scotia, as here you’ll be warmly welcomed by owner Earlene Busch, a great chef, who has won various awards for featuring local produce and foraged produce on her menu. As one Inntraveller recalls, “her food was inspirational, as was the warmth of her welcome.” Earlier this year, Earlene engaged a fabulous young chef, Bryan Picard (he recently took home first prize at the ‘Taste of Nova Scotia Culinary Competition’ with his delicious take on ‘Honey Pork Tenderloin’) in what promises to be a match made in (culinary) heaven.

Deep in the heart of rural France, the Auberge du Vieux Port in Port de Gagnac (left) on the banks of the River Cère in the Dordogne Valley is a true family affair.

Alexandre and Nathalie are the third generation of the Lasfargeas family to run the restaurant, founded in 1953 by Alexandre's grandfather, which prides itself on creating regional delicacies from local produce.

As Mr Parker of Cheltenham recently told us, “M. & Mme. Lasfargeas at the Auberge du Vieux Port deserve a very special mention: Monsieur for the absolutely superb food and Madame for her excellent service and attention to detail.”

In 1999, Jose Sánchez and his wife Marivi opened their small guesthouse, the Casa de Aldea la Portiella del Llosu in Asturias, looking forward to living the rural dream beneath the dramatic backdrop of their beloved Picos de Europa mountains. Little did Jose (who had never cooked before) realise that he would one day be wowing guests with his hands-on rustic dishes. He still admits to being slightly nervous every time he serves dinner, but now claims to understand the British palate a little better and his peppers stuffed with cod, or oven-baked rice with langoustine never fail to impress.

Iceland’s gastronomes are sometimes puzzled as to why their country’s cuisine is not receiving the attention or plaudits it deserves. It’s only when visitors are relaxing over an after-dinner coffee that they come to truly appreciate the quality of the dishes they have just eaten. At the Hotel Framnes in the small fishing village of Grundarfjördur on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, head chef Ben Frost (from Cornwall) loves the immediate access to freshly-caught fish, blue mussels, crab and shrimps, helping to inspire his creativity on the plate.

It’s another real family affair in on Spain’s Costa Verde where Sam and her partner Andres work alongside mum, Joann Burch, in the kitchen of the Posada del Valle amid the rugged hills of Asturias.

Joann and husband Nigel run a charming country hotel on their organic farm, growing and rearing much of the produce they require to create fabulous local specialities, in particular some innovative and exceptionally tasty vegetarian cuisine. As Joann says, “If you take a step into the vegetable garden there is an excitement in seeing these lovely plants growing, ready to reap [left] and serve them on your plate – just a few steps from the kitchen.”

Amid the rugged peaks of Alicante lies the small hamlet of Quatretondeta where Pat and Brain Fagg have welcomed guests for many years. Casa l’Ametler may be a small unassuming house dwarfed by its surroundings but it is a giant in the world of gastronomy. Inntravel walkers regularly enthuse about the “exceptional cooking” they savour, and in particular, Pat’s special 7-course ‘Taste of Spain’ menu. “Each course was worthy of a Michelin star!” quipped one. Pat’s inspiration comes from the herbs that grow in nearby valleys, though she has ‘Tia Chonchita’, her friend’s aunt, to thank for teaching her how to cook authentic local dishes.

Walking holidays in SpainAmid the Secret Apennines, in the atmospheric village of Pianaccio, the charming Gentilini sisters (left) delight guests at the Antica Locanda Alpina with their friendly service and delicious home-cooking. In the kitchen, Irene has heeded lessons taught by their late father, Gianni, and added some innovative twists of her own.

Delicious food” and “wonderful hosts” seem to be the lasting memories of this holiday: “the warmth of welcome, the hospitality and the excellent food at the Alpina in Pianaccio were outstanding – we weren't just visitors but temporary members of the family!”

I'm sure Gianni would be very proud.

Ebullient hotelier, Nino Rocca, receives consistently high praise for his “absolutely fantastic cuisine” at the family’s charming restaurant-with-rooms in the hill-top village of Montforte d’Alba amid Piedmont’s vineyards in northern Italy. If anything, the eccentric Nino tries to please too hard, and his multi-course meals – at which the exquisitely prepared dishes just keep on coming – not only showcase his skill and creativity in the kitchen but also his generous sense of hospitality. The perfect ingredients for a memorable holiday, according to one Inntravel customer: “the hosts were completely charming; the food was out of this world.”

Passionate about producing their own food, Emma and David Ilsley grow a wide variety of vegetables on their finca for the kitchen at their charming hotel Las Chimeneas in Spain’s Alpujarras. At the heart of their kitchen stands Soledad, a wonderful cook, who uses these home-grown ingredients to create authentic Alpujarran dishes – traditional, yet with a modern twist. Sole is completely self-taught. “None of her recipes are written down,” Emma told us, “just handed down by word of mouth through the generations of her family and friends.”

I could go on but, as I said earlier, there are too many to mention here. This is by no means an exhaustive list and I’m sure that, like me, you can fondly recall many a fabulous meal, the memory of which is making you salivate right now. So why not tell us about it… ?

Posted: 10/08/2012 14:21:39 by | with 4 comments
Filed under: Canada, France, gastronomy, Iceland, Italy, Spain

John F
Agree about Argyro and Theo at the Astir on Samos: superb individually prepared dishes. Really great.
14/08/2012 15:46:43

Caroline M
Peter - in Piedmont another winner is Carlo Zarri at Hotel San Carlo in Cortemilia. When he asks what you'd like for dinner leave it to him to decide, and you will get a delicious and varied range of local specialities.
12/08/2012 09:58:12

Julia Spence
When it comes to memorable meals on Inntravel holidays I've been spoiled for choice, but one that really stands out is Carlo's place in Piedmont's Cortemilia. The incredible meal ended with the best cheese board I've ever seen and a dive into his exceptional cellar.
11/08/2012 11:16:37

Steve J
Mmm... the amazing, home-cooked meal that I was served by Theo and his mum Argyro (she is a brilliant cook) at the Hotel Astir on Samos along with other Inntravel guests last year... Most of the ingredients came fresh from the hotel garden and the flavours were just sublime :)
10/08/2012 17:10:17

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