I have recently returned to my summer home in Uzès from the Basque tour – half on the Spanish side and half on the French side. Although many of my clients say they knew nothing about the Basque Country before joining my tour, it is an extremely popular tour and we already have bookings for next year. My new manager Eli from San Sebastian Food was outrageous and tried to steal attention from me at every turn. Her fabulous personality and complete passion for everything Basque ensured that everyone came to truly understood this special land.
We rocked our way through cider house feasts, the Guggenheim museum, vineyards, anchovy factories and wild fish cooking classes. Best of all, we ate more pintxos (Basque tapas) than we thought humanly possible. Lurching over to the French side we dined out in starred restaurants, listened to Basque choirs, found out why Espelette peppers are so good, bought Espadrilles and marvelled at the generosity and warmth of the Basques. I think not one gastronomad truly understood how to empty and open out a fresh anchovy till they met me. Problem solved!
We had a blast in Marrakech at the beginning of June. My new manager Soufiane from Morocco By Prior Arrangement was wonderful, calm, funny and adorable. Moroccans have to be some of the nicest people on the planet... nothing is ever too much trouble. We kicked off the tour by heading out to Dar Tasmayoun, a magnificent farmhouse in the countryside about an hour out of Marrakech. Here we spent a blissful few days having cooking lessons, eating pastilla, rabbit tagine and pigeon couscous, swimming, relaxing and generally chilling out.
Then we hit the Medina to get our Marrakech party on. We commandeered my favourite Riad – Maison du Tresor, and went to town enjoying rooftop drinks, the hottest restaurants, cooking lessons, getting lost in the souk and shopping, shopping and more shopping. An absolute highlight was heading out into the desert for a glorious evening of camel riding, drinks and dinner in the middle of nowhere .... not another person in sight. We ended our week with a fabulous last-night dinner in a beautiful Riad – there was music, singing and dancing till way past bedtime. I can't wait to get back in 2015 - so why don't you join me!! For full details see my website.
India in October
I still have some places on my India tour and it's not too late to join us. Be ready for ten days of sensory overload in India, this is one of the best countries to enjoy in a tour context and probably my favourite destination. The tour encompases spicy cooking lessons, magical candle lit feasts, camel cart rides, farm and village visits and outstanding shopping with accommodation in old palaces and sumptuous hotels.
We see how fabric block printing is done in Jaipur, eat coconuts and seafood in tropical Goa and unlock the cultural and fine dining secrets of Kolkata and learn how to taste and cook with tea in Darjeeling. Our last-night dinner is in the Darjeeling mountains with tea themed dishes, singing, dancing and fireworks - the usual low key Indian affair. The next morning we tumble down the mountains back to Kolkata - weeping because we are leaving. So if you're over the constant rain and storms of winter and need something to look forward to... you know what to do!