This family run winery Luis Canas Bodega is in the La Rioja region in north Spain. La Rioja is about 80km from Bilboa and has many little villages with boutique hotels.
Some people (especially groups) will often take a cab from Zaragoza or hiring a car will give you independence.
We found this fantastic vineyard in the village of Villabuena de Álava and stayed at Hotel Viura.
You can go for a wine tasting at Luis Canas but I highly recommend a tour.
The vivacious knowledgable Carmen will take you on an exceptional tour, explaining all the grapes grown in the region, some history and finishing on the cusp of the vineyards valley of grape vines.
The cellar was impressive!
With a large production and representing many local wine growers, they are committed to sustainability, integrity and looking after the little farmers.
It is hard to put into perspective the gentle sound that the vines make, the smells that the wine emits and the tastes of the region on your palate. It’s a personal experience that has to be taken by you.
I highly recommend a tour and visit of this vineyard. Book a tour here and find out more.
Incredibly fortunately for me Cornwall has a food festival on today. Not a “run-of-the-mill” one but the GREAT Cornwall Food Festival. And great it was.
Part of this trip for me to capture and talk to people about the currency of food.
Later this year I am presenting at a famous festival and want to have enough of a handle on it to bring to words and imagery that I can convince people to what I already believe.
It’s not just foods nutrient value that makes us healthy, it is the intent, the story, what the sun was doing and more.
Food has its own currency!
So I am filming, talking, writing.
It will no doubt, form the basis of a book to be written in the next 2 years.
I was privilege to chat with so many passionate foodies and all with wonderful philosophies and produce.
A few local farmers understanding that people don’t like to travel to food anymore (hence why supermarkets have been cleaning up the food supply) so are offering home deliveries. Good move people!
Emma helps her family run their vineyard down on the peninsula called Polgoon. Pol meaning pond and goon meaning down the hill. She said their are lots of little ponds dotted along their hilly property.
They make a couple of fruity ciders, the Grumpy Apple being delicious and the others all good too. But I am most intrigued with their wines. Because the climate isn’t a fantastic wine growing region they have to use a few blends to stable the wines. Grape blends I have never heard of such as Rondo and Seyval. I enjoyed them all but settled on the Rose. A beautiful drop and I am looking forward to visiting the vineyard and orchard next trip. Check out their website here.
Hunting used to be a popular sport in Europe but I gather it has received mixed complaints, as now you need an exemption license to hunt and shot.
I am not sure exactly but I do know that Chris from @venisonandgame has it sorted. He shoots all sorts of animals and creates amazing food with them.
Today he was making a few dishes at the festival but the one that caught my eye was the venison tartifilette. Local potatoes, venison, shallots, onions and camberbet cheese. Absolutely delicious!
There were other boutique foods such as Cornish flavoured salts (all sorts of yummy flavours – porcini mushrooms, pepper and pomergranate to name a few), edible insects, ice creams, cheeses, honeys, chutneys and MORE!
I had a long chat with Keith who has his own mead distellery. Mead is wine made from honey and is sweet but delicious. He had a few varieties on offer and of course sampling them all is essential.
Bees are so important around the world and each making their own honey is a process I admire.
The hipster lads at 32south distillery are all over the modern day marketing with a huge insta account and great gins to match.
And my favourite was talking to Hilary who , with many of her keen friends, want to demonstrate to children that food is everywhere and doesn’t come from packets.
EXACTLY! I think as i listen to her tell me about the hedgeways (which reap all sorts of fruit and even hazelnuts), the paddocks and crops. This is what I love about food. And I also believe it is OUR responsibility as nutritionists, parents and custodians of future generations to show kids, to excite kids, where it all comes from. Food is the currency of love and life and yes, it is all around us!
Fancy SIX fantastic Nights in Italy Exploring Amazing Food, Culture and History?
Last minute I have decided to share my trip exploring Italy starting in 3 weeks.
DATES: starts Wednesday 6th October and finishes Monday 10th October
It includes 6 nights accommodation, 3 lunches, 3 meals and all tour costs.
NB: Alcohol, shopping, tips, flights, insurance and others (see under booking page) are at your expense.
Italy is a country full of passionate people. Being part Italian I resonate well with the culture and people and am very proud of the food, the arts and history and would love to share it with you.
It is the BEST place to fall in love with food, to create a positive relationship with life and happiness and learn why I DO NOT believe in dieting. I want to show you the real currency of food.
On this 6 night trip of a life time these are the highlights:
1.Visiting the The Vatican and seeing the famous Sistine Chapel, famous for Michelangelo’s ceiling.
2. Touring the Colosseum and hearing about the gladiator fights of yesteryear.
3. Visiting the Spanish Steps, the Trevi fountain and Pantheon.
4. Night tour of Rome, sampling local delights and wines
5. Full day visit to Umbria, exploring the hill top village of , a cooking class and wine tour
6. Full day trip to Ponza Island with a day cruise, blue grottos and snorkeling in the Mediterranean Sea
7. Visit the ancient underground Catacombs
8. Discover Egypt in Rome in a 2000 year old pyramid that is only open twice a month
9. Walk on the old Appian Way.
10. Experience the Three Tenors, inside the walls of St Paul’s an opera experience you will never forget
We will experience Italy through half and full day tours with some time on your own to explore the many piazzas at your own pace, or to sit with a cappuccino and watch the incredible fashion walk past.
I love Italy and particularly Rome.
It is an ancient history and has so many wonders to explore as well as being one of the fashion capitols of the world.
This is the program so far (subject to change but will involve these elements).
Wednesday 5th October
We arrive and check into our comfortable hotel. This will be base which is central and close to all the sights.
We kick start the retreat at 4pm for a welcome drink, then head off for our light night tour through Rome.
Exploring side streets and piazzas we discover incredible restaurants, bars and sample local foods. The Trevi fountain and Spanish Steps are beautiful at night, as is the Pantheon all lit up. You will realise by bedtime that you are in one of the most amazing cities in the world.
Thursday 6th October
Today is a serious day of Rome immersion.
Every time I go, it spins me out how many landmarks and wold events took place in Rome. From the Colosseum and gladiator fights in Julius Caesar’s Rein, to the Roman Catholic Church influence and home base in The Vatican.
Rome will inspire you through history – it is simply overwhelming at times.
The art works in the Vatican make it one of the richest museums in the wold and the tour around the Colosseum take you back 2000 years to a land that really did exist. Being amongst the well preserved ruins you can nearly hear the cheer of the crowds.
In the afternoon there is a some time off to do a spot of shopping before we meet for our “Food Tour” of Rome.
We will be guided by a local to all the secret eating places, sample many local foods and wash them down with delicious wines.
Friday 7th October
We head off nice and early to visit the incredible country side region of Umbria.
We have a full day visiting a working farm which produces wines, olives and foods. We visit a few towns, including the sensational hill top village of Santo Umbria and visiting. On this day we get too cook some of the produce we gather from the farm, sample local wines and see a more relaxed side of Italy.
Tonight is free for you to discover your own trattoria or revisit one from the night before.
Saturday 8th October
Twice a month, the 2000 year old pyramid (that not many people know about) is open to the public. This will be a first for me so I am extremely excited.
In fact today is all a little bit, “off the normal tourist” map with some activities that I hope you love.
After the pyramid, we will walk on the famous Appian Way. Built in 312 BC it was a strategic road for the Roman Army.
Time permitting we will visit the catacombs, which gives a stunning insight into ancient Roman life. The Romans were actually quite short and seeing these well preserved catacombs is fascinating. If you have ever read the Holy Grail by Dan Brown, or other books about Rome, the Catacombs are a must.
Tonight we are treated to a Opera inside the walls of St Peters.
Recapturing the magic of Pavarotti and the three tenors, tonights voices will be accompanied with a string quartet.
Sunday 8th October
Today we have a sleep in…. you can experience a mass first hand if you like as our morning starts a little later.
Today we explore the lesser known ruins of Ostia down near Lido Beach.
The well preserved town gives a true insight to the Roman Empire and is easier to access than Pompeii.
The afternoon will be relaxed back in Rome to visit museums, art galleries, or to simply sit in a piazza and watch life go by. Dinner is at your leisure.
Monday 9th October
Today is a full day starting with a short drive, then ferry to local island Ponza. Less busy than the other Amalfi islands but just as pretty (if not more) we have the whole day to explore the island, swim through grottos, cruise on a boat and drink wine and eat local pasta.This is what the mediterranean is all about and for a day we will lap it all up. Optional snorkeling on this day (which I will definitely be doing).
Our tour and retreat ends back in Rome tonight. We can head out for a final drink or you can relax after a wonderful day on the Med.
This trip is perfect for people who want to find passion again! You will get to hang out with me for six days and over that time we will break through any fears, issues that may be holding you back in life.
Come on a trip of a life time with me and yes, while last minute this promises to be an amazing trip.
I could actually rattle off a dozen incredible cafes in Ubud, Bali but that would take the fun out of your day to day discovers. These are three that are a little more certain and different in experience. Ubud has wonderful eateries but be sure to try these:
Eco Swasti Conscious Eating
Set aside off the road down a beautiful lane way is an organic retreat called Eco Swasti. I stumbled across this gem one sunny afternoon and head back there twice over the week.
With lots of home grown organic produce the place emanates a green vibration of a different kind. With over a dozen goats in the yard, all chatting to each other and a pond bubbling through it, the restaurant/cafe is beautiful.
They have amazing food, fish as well and chicken, smoothies to die for and even sell plaga (the local white wine).
Three Monkeys Cafe Ubud
The Three Monkey Cafe on the same street as the monkey forest is a reliable, great feed restaurant. The prices wont break the bank balance and the food is 4-5 stars. Set along side a rice paddy the atmosphere is excellent, the service really good and the food worth going back for.
It is quite dark so ask your waiter for a torch. And if you make it to desert ask for the chocolate pate. Simply divine.
I think by far the best restaurant in Bali is Mosaic. They offer a degustation menu of either 6 or 8 courses. You can even pair your meals with wine.
The chef uses local produce which your waiter brings to the table and explains as you eat each course. We all loved each meal and it is really hard to pin point a favourite. I think mine was the Bumbu Rujak with king oyster mushrooms.
Check out the menu! Oh and you need to book ahead as they book out.
Today was a magic day shared with close friends in a very spiritual part of Australia, Mt Warning.
Mt Warning, also known as Mt Wollumbin is a step craggy mountain (actually the remnants of a volcano) that makes for a big day time climb.
The 4.5 km, one way walk, (9km return trip) takes on average 5 hours, giving you a 20 minute break up the top. You can of course do it quicker or longer, depending on your fitness.
I would say this walk requires moderate fitness and I don’t think it is for the feint hearted. The steep incline meanders through some lovely bush tracks, with the Tweed Valley dropping away below.
The height of the mountain in a bit over 1100 meters, and the last little bit is practically a rock climb straight up. There are chains to hang onto but it is loads of fun pulling yourself up, especially if you legs have given way!
The views from the top are spectacular, spanning from the Gold Coast hinterland to Byron Bay and Nimbin.
There is something very bonding about sharing the view with other people who have just survived the rock climb as well. Many kick back in the sun and enjoy a feed before heading back down.
For some silly reason I took a bottle of wine to be drunk at the top but there was no way known I was going to drink wine, in case I fell off the mountain, so it was carried all the way down undrunk.
At the base of Mount Warning are two options for eating, my favourite being Mavis’ s Kitchen.
It’s a well established restaurant with fantastic gardens and food. They grow a lot of their own produce in their beautiful garden. Today a couple catch a helicopter in, which adds to the surrealism and grandioseness of the place.
The sunlight in the area gives everything a luminescent glow, citrus greens and crisp blues. A perfect day with the perfect balance of options.
Oh for the record, I had the beef cheeks, on polenta and the Tyrell’s chardonnay. Devine!
Last year I stumbled across the Puri Sunia twenty minutes outside of Ubud.
It is a new resort that is very beautifully designed and connected to greenery in a very Bali way.
I stay in a deluxe room and it is deluxe. Much better than some of the other similar rated resorts in this region.
The spa area is good and everyone is welcomed with a complimentary foot spa massage. It really does work – massage is relaxing.
You could simply whittle time away at the resort starting with early morning yoga and stretching. If you want to slide in and out of the pool like I did, you can order excellent pool side dining.
I think you should venture into town for a few “must experience” in Ubud.
Great restaurants, music and bars and funky art shops, Ubud is a well known in-land town higher than the better known beachside town of Kuta near Denpasar.
I love Ubud for it’s organic cafes, it’s colour, it’s history, and clothing shops. A friend of mine has her own female clothing range called Goddess on the Go and she has the material made out of wood! Great fabric, nice and cool and easy to wash. Say I said hi if you make it to her shop.
On the first day Woodford Festival I was dazed: bands, bars, brazilian meat and bush pantomimes. It’s only on my second day that I start to pause longer in tents and absorb what is happening.
Zenning out at the start to the Labyrinth at Woodford
The Festival is a place for all people, including myself. It’s like a adult version of Willy Womka’s Chocolate Factory – a total sensory smorgasbord. It’s delicious, daring and fun!
Pretty much everything you would like to try in the arts is here and more.
You would need a full day just to take in the art works. I even recognise a few pieces from the popular Swell Sculpture Festival on the Gold Coast.
The impromptu sculptures scattered throughout were breath-taking and fun.
This face mask lit up at night and was really cool.
As side from the physical arts, there were performing arts.
Pop-up tents teaching people how to chant, and sing, jewelry making, how to dance, all sorts of yoga, lantern making, workshops on making didgeridoos and more.
The full arts and craft programme is impressive and most people book one or two of their arts/craft sessions when buying their tickets.
From the outside it is a grown up creche but for the academics in social behaviour it is a perfect way to foster connection, teach new skills and let people connect left and right hemispheres of their brains. I have written a separate blog on the positive hormone changes it creates on my naturopath page.
The cross breeding and propagation of free thinking is beautiful to experience.
Over the days, I am privy to hear Prof Ian Lowe on environmental issues, talk to people about coal seam gas and be inspired by one of the land’s best orators, Noel Pearson.
On New Year’s Day people make the morning pilgrimage to watch the sun rise. Thousands of bodies lie together watching the new year unfold. This photo was the second after a massive bubble had popped.
Each morning kicks off early – around 8am. On New Year’s Day I find myself singing with The Voice sensation Darren Percival . His voice is incredible and his sessions so much fun. His presence is very angelic and worth seeing if you find him on the “menu” in 2016.
Many people go for the music and it is second to none. I felt a little like being back in New Orleans where there is music on every corner. Woodfordia is a little like that.
Music is played into the early hours of the morning. No curfews and lock out and no rowdy crowds, just folks having a fantastic time.
There are so many funky bands that it’s hard to remember them all.
My favs are Tijuna Cartel (photo above), CC The Cat, Benny Walker, Andrea Kirwan, Lauren Kate, The Hot Potato Band, Briggs and more!
Comedy shows are hysterical and leaving me howling in laughter and smiling from ear to ear. I love this place!
Interestingly my body is craving yin foods and detoxing.
It is easy here. Detoxing, nurturing your body and eating vegetarian and vegan is easy. The food stalls are awesome and most of the food is reasonable and it is certainly plentiful, even at midnight!
Juicing is easy !
This van was my favourite, and the green smoothie (made on Almond milk is the best).
I am not surprised when I hear a few people saying this is their annual detox.
It would be a perfect way to detox and cleanse… camp and simplify life, have massages and cold showers, sleep whenever you feel the urge, see bands, do art, listen to inspiring speakers and do yoga. Juice, eat vego and cleanse your mind… voila there you have a very cheap health retreat for 5 days!
A big part of Woodfordia is respecting and protecting nature. You can buy trees to plant which is done in June each year at the Planting Festival.
After a few days at Woodfordia I am feeling incredible love. Like many, I will be waiting eagerly for the next one in 360 days .
Sensory immersion, ecclectic diversity and beautiful people being not doing. If you are into music, arts so or simply expanding your being, put Woodford Folk Festival on your bucket list.
A place where your taste buds are tingled, your eyes teased and your body is tickled!
It’s the most ecclectic fun I have had in a while.
I am not even sure where to start.
Execpt I know that upon reflection day one is the most extraordinary mind blowing experience and then day 2 you get the jist of it all and by day 3 you are really finding your groove.
I think and in no particular order that the first day ran a little something like this…
Arrive at Woodfordia camping grounds and find myself pulling into the Priaries in a lush paddock full of newly woken Woodfordians rubbing sleep out of their eyes. I pitch my tent (all by myself) and find my way along Lois Lane to the festival. My tent is pitched in “Goneamy Way” street, which is beside “ Bombsaway” and “ Let’s go this Way”
Up dales, down dales, past fairies and unicorns, the whole place is incredible.
After a chilled wine, which we are trusted to sip while walking around various venues (so mature), I find myself listening to a talk with Noel Pearson (what an incredible soul and orator) on environmentalism and helping minority groups such as indigenous, become self reliant through eco systems, permaculture etc.
Woodfordia self regulates. There is a definite non-code of consensus in some areas – dress, beliefs, singing, being etc but a definite code of “we don’t tolerate closed minds, non tolerant, critical people. Leave your rules, and laws at the front gate. Or don’t bring them up at all. Namaste, thank-you, bless”.
The art is stimulating and is a like a living art gallery.. stills, scultpure and acting arts (singing, pantamine and more).
The music is awesome. Blues, Jazz, funk, hip hop, folk, regae rock. It is endless.
We are all talking a similar language and defintely similar vibration. No angst, no stress and the only time commitment is working out how quickly you can walk the distance between two tents to see the next gig, comedy or talk.
People are muttering the same things too…
” How long have you been coming? Isn’t it wonderful!”
” I wish this was how we lived all the time”
The community is strong and self regulated. No BS, no over the top rules and great freedom.
People are gathered up in a wave of love and collective conscience of beauty and gratitude. This is a festival worthy of an annual visit!
This visit I am priveledged to catch up and see my friend’s band, CC The Cat playing. A funky five piece that play mellow, groovy reggae tunes perfect for an open air gig or a jammed hyped crowd. I dig their tunes and love the band.
I will write more about the labyrinth, the fire festival on subsequent blogs….
For now it is 330am, and I realise that it’s time to let my body drift to another Woodforia… cloud land. A glorious walk over the hills into Woodfordia and I am here in my beautiful nest to sleep with all the other “ villagers” in a very happy prairie vale.
It’s exactly what I expected without having any expectations and I love it.
Until last year I had no interest in Bali what-so-ever.
My mates had told me stories of great surf, cheap clothes and Bali Belly but aside from the surfing I really had no urge to go and always felt it would be sweaty, smelly and noisy.
I used to think ” Bali is for Bogans with tank tops and tattoos”.
I am so glad my good friends talked me into going for a 4 day filming adventure last June.
WE were there to make a pilot for television station SBS with the goal of getting a thumbs up for a new travel/eating show.
We didn’t get the go-ahead by SBS for the show but it was great fun making it anyway.
Since then I have been to Bali an additional 5 times. And planning my next trip for a few weeks time.
In this crazy fun 4 day trip I stay in a beautiful resort in the Ubudian Hills along side a river in a puri called Puri Wulandar. The views and serenity from the villa are breath-taking.
There is a stillness in the air.
A gentle cool breeze over a warm crisp day.
I adore this resort. Private, integrated into nature, indulgent and green, I rate this resort highly. Stay if you want to reward yourself DO IT!
I have had some of the best food experiences world wide in Bali.
It is definitely a hub of organic and intricate foods. The island’s volcanic soil grow some of the best fruits, nutrition packed veggies and devine seafood. And the farming scene is still very close to organic and traditional although that is changing.
While I was there filming I was priveldged to meet many funky, visionaries and foodies. Real world class foodies.
Johhny Freesh is one such funky, rawatarians. He has a quirky nature and a great little rap song about Dorian Fruit. I enjoy our interview, I enjoy seeing his Dorian Rap. I’m not a hard core rawatarian but if you were, I am sure it would be like meeting one of the industry greats.
Rawatarians only eat raw and dehydrated foods only. Fruit and coconut oil are blended to make a mousse like mix that can be used for tarts and cakes, or ice cream and puddings. There are also rainbow coloured salads, vegetables, sauces, beans and nuts. There are loads of recipes and this new popular movement is suiting many.
Another Foodie God is Ben Richards who has his own cooking and yoga school on the other side of town. Ben has a really nice energy and has people coming all around not just for cooking classes, but also healing. There is a great vibe in his school and I learn a lot about a soulful person in our interview. From Byron Bay, always around food and using it for healing, Ben had moved to Bali 7 years before hand and was in no hurry to leave Bali. Definitely worth looking into if you are after a retreat.
Some of the favourite eat places I sampled this visit round are to become favorites for all future trips.
Alchemy is well known wide and far for it’s organic, raw foods, amazing salads and huge juices. It is well priced and your tastes buds zing. The philosophies of Alchemy are all principles of raw and organic and supporting the local farmer. BIG ticks. It’s become a favorite spot and now whenever I am in town, I will head there to get a raw chocolate dessert, massive bowl of salad or kambucha drink.
The Bridges Restaurant has some of the best views in town, nestled beside the main bridge in to town. If you get a table close to the edge you can hear the running river below and get covered in a light mist. It’s really beautiful and uplifting. And the food is pretty special too.
The main thumbs down for Bali applies for all warmer countries… gastro. Or in this case, Bali-Belly.
I get it most visits to Bali, but usually only an inconvenient bout. I was given a cure-all-gastro recipe once. IT WORKS a treat so if you ever get it , see if you can have this broth made up for you..
Fish HEAD soup
One fish head, one onion chopped, 3 cloves of garlic, a knob of chopped ginger, a handful of coriander and a smidge of parsley. Cover all of it with water and boil until it tastes great – about an hour. Strain and add sea salt and pepper to taste.
Wash your hands well and make sure you pay Ubud a 3-4 day visit.