Superb Packages at Dubrovnik Sun Gardens

Dubrovnik is one of our favourite places in the whole world so we’re always excited to see a good offer to make travelling to this luxury and must-visit destination.  This spring and summer the Dubrovnik Sun Gardens, on Croatia’s Adriatic Coast is offering Double Rooms from €99 on a B&B basis.  Alternatively, the Family Package (minimum three-night stay) in a two-bedroom sea view residence including, bottle of wine & fruit basket, buffet breakfast, buffet dinner starts from just €292 per person.  And then, for the ultimate in indulgence, the Spa Delight package includes two-night accommodation in a standard room complemented with one spa treatment per person and the hotel’s delicious buffet breakfast from €119 per person including VAT!

Radisson Blu Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik’s Sun Gardens is one of the country’s first fully integrated resorts offering a five star 201-room Radisson Blu Hotel, beautifully designed private residences for sale and for rent, three swimming pools, kids’ club, an extensive beachfront with a wide range of watersport activities, a world class spa, 13 restaurants and bars, and its very own promenade of market shops.

Just 20 minutes from the bustling Old Town, Dubrovnik Sun Gardens enjoys a privileged location and offers a haven of tranquillity in a unique waterfront position.  Regular ferry services from the resort’s marina transport guests straight into the heart of the Old Town and the hotel also provides a regular shuttle bus service.

With the spring and summer months just around the corner and a host of cultural festivals and celebrations fast approaching, preparations at Dubrovnik Sun Gardens are in full swing – book now before it’s too late!

For more information visit www.dubrovniksungardens.com

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Russian Zakuski Part IV: Vodka

Russian Standard Vodka & Shot Glasses
Russian Standard Vodka & Shot Glasses

In the 10th Century Prince Vladimir the Great of Kievan Rus’ wanted to abandon paganism in favour of a more modern religion.  In the Primary Chronicle it is said Vladimir sent emissaries out to investigate alternatives.  When the emissaries returned and relayed what they had found out about Judaism, Christianity and Islam it is believed Vladimir rejected the option of Islam saying, ‘Rus’ loves to drink, we cannot be without it.’

Mead, kvas and beer met the imbibing demands of the Kievan Rus’ until the late 14h Century when spirits became available, probably via the Baltic.  However, there is some confusion over what exactly was available, vino being used to describe sprits distilled only once (unlike vodka) and also wine.  According to one Soviet historian, there seemed a complete absence of information on drinks like present-day vodka and if one is to believe written sources, only spread to Russia in the 16th Century.

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Traditional Hungarian Turkey Recipe

Traditional Hungarian Turkey
Traditional Hungarian Turkey

Think of Hungary and goulash probably springs to mind.  However, the Hungarians are famed for much more than one traditional soup.  Hungary is arguably the home of mushrooms after Italy and Russia.  Moreover, its blessed with the sweet, soft chestnut and many of its sweet and savoury dishes benefit from its presence.

This Christmas, the Jones’ household decided to opt for a traditional Hungarian chestnut-stuffed turkey.  Serve with roast potatoes, your favourite vegetables and lashings of gravy for a favourite family feast.

Ingredients

For the stuffing

200g unsmoked bacon lardons or pancetta

100g butter

250g breadcrumbs

200g chestnuts, cooked and chopped

Plenty of thyme and parsley, finely chopped, fresh is best

For the turkey

Turkey whatever weight you need to satisfy your hungry family

Roughly (depends on size of turkey) 50g butter

About (again depends on size of turkey) 6 rashers of streaky bacon

Parsley and thyme

Instructions

Dry fry bacon lardons in frying pan unti most of their fat is released

Traditional Hungarian Turkey

Add butter to pan and melt

Add breadcrumbs and mix

Add chopped chestnuts

Traditional Hungarian Turkey

Season with salt and pepper

Add the herbs

Stir

Traditional Hungarian Turkey

Remove from pan and allow to cool

When cool to handle roll into a ball

Stuff the neck of the turkey with the stuffing ball

(Excess stuffing can be used to make extra stuffing balls or a dish of stuffing which can be cooked separately. Alternatively, freeze a large ball of stuffing to use the next time you want to make a roast dinner.  Ensure you defrost thoroughly before cooking.)

Fill cavity of turkey with thyme and parsley

Coat the turkey with butter and top with the bacon rashers

Traditional Hungarian Turkey

Cover the turkey with foil

Cook on 180 degrees Celsius (lower for a fan oven) according to weight (instructions on packaging) but allow extra time for stuffing

Remove foil 30 minutes before end time

When cooked (juices will run clear) allow to stand for 30 minutes before carving

Traditional Hungarian Turkey
Traditional Hungarian Turkey

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Enjoy Georgian Wine this Christmas

Georgian Wine SocietyThis week I came across a very exciting website, The Georgian Wine Society, which helps supply British consumers with the best Georgian wines.

It is widely believed that it was Georgia in which wine production first began, over 7000 years ago, with archaeological remains suggesting that grape juice was placed underground in clay jars to ferment during winter as early as 4000 BC.

Georgia is a land famed for its natural bounty. These days there are over 500 species of grape in Georgia, a greater diversity than anywhere else in the world, with around 40 of these grape varieties being used in commercial wine production. Conditions are well suited for viticulture: summers are rarely excessively hot, winters are mild and frost-free. In addition, the mountains around the vineyards are full of natural springs, and rivers drain mineral-rich waters into the valleys. All this means that Georgian wines have a reputation for being exceptionally pure.

Around 150 million litres of wine are produced each year in Georgia, with around 45 000 hectares of vineyards under cultivation. There are 18 Specific Viticulture Areas (a local analogy of the Controlled Appellations of Origin) where the grape variety, planting density and yield per hectare is controlled by Ministry of Agriculture, and where the grape yield per hectare is limited to 8 tons.

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Harcho – Georgian Lamb Soup Recipe

This is a great hearty dish, perfect for a big party of people and ideal served with chunky fresh bread.  The best bit about the dish is it is easily adaptable to cooking in a slow cooker so when you come home from work, your home smells great and you can sit down to a home-cooked meal even when you’ve had a hard day at work!

Ingredients

600g lamb chunks

1.5l lamb stock

3 large white onions chopped finely

5 garlic cloves crushed

3 tomatoes cut into quarters

5 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 tbsp tomato puree

5 tbsp long grain rice

5 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

3 tbsp coriander for garnish

Instructions

Heat the oil in a pan and seal the lamb chunks

georgianlambsoup-2

Place the lamb chunks into a slow cooker with the stock and garlic

Fry the onion in the rest of the oil for 5 minutes

geogianlambsoup3

Add the puree and tomatoes for 1 minute

georgianlambsoup4

Stir and add to the lamb and stock

Add the chili and parsley and cook for 4 to 5 hours

georgianlambsoup5

The rice can be added initially to the slow cooker, but if you are at home add 30 minutes before you want to serve

To serve, distribute the lamb between dishes (serves 4) and add equal quantities of liquid and rice mixture to each one

Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with chunky bread

Harcho - Georgian Lamb Soup

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Eat of the Week: Mimino Georgian Restaurant in London

MiminoGeorgian food is a real favourite in Russia and across Eastern Europe in a similar way that the British are fond of a good Indian curry.  In much the same way, Georgian cuisine provides some vital flavours and spice sometimes missing from East European cuisine.  So, when I noticed a Georgian restaurant in Kensington, just minutes from where I live I knew I had to visit it.  My meal at Ket (also a Georgian restaurnt) in St Petersburg was by far one of my favourites during my stay there, and if I was to eat a meal half as good in Mimino as served in Ket, I would be a happy customer indeed.

Located on High Street Kensington, with its entrance lying on Allen Street the restaurant has a relatively basic facade.  However, a staircase leads diners down into a basement which is anything but basic.  On arrival the staff are helpful and friendly (and not simply because I somehow managed to slip off the final step and literally fall into the arms of a waiter).  The atmosphere is, as to be expected, lively, with many Russians and other East European ethnicities enjoying a good night out.  While the decor is dramatic and visitors cannot fail to be shocked by the large round table  with giant, wooden, carved chairs fit for a feast in a forest.

The menu is not vast but contains every traditional Georgian favourite and is sure to keep every diner going long into the night, if not the next day!  The starters are simply incredible and lead diners on a veritable culinary adventure.  Warm Lobio (red beans with walnuts and spices), Sulguni cheese (served with spring onions, radish and herbs) and Imeruli Khachapuri (flat bread stuffed with special cheese) provide the ideal way to begin a dining expedition.  As these dishes are so tasty, not to mention particularly generous in size and rich in flavour, diners must be careful to leave room for their main course!  It is not easy, trust me!

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Bohinj Park Hotel 5 Star Rating

Bohinj Park Hotel
Bohinj Park Hotel

Being a champion of all things eco, I was pleased to previously write about the new eco hotel located in one of Slovenia’s most beautiful regions.  However, I am even more excited to announce that Slovenia’s eco-friendly Bohinj Park Hotel has now been awarded five stars according to the official hotel classification scheme, making it the highest quality hotel in northwest Slovenia.

The hotel, which opened for business in the summer of 2009, is situated in the beautiful Julian Alps region on the edge of the Triglav National Park. Built mainly from natural materials including timber and stone, the hotel has a range of special energy saving solutions, including being heated and cooled by water from its own well.

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