Archives May 2019

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Wine Tasting Guide for Beginners

Contrary to belief you don’t need to be part of any elite group to enjoy a sip or two of some of Europe’s finest wines. Wine tasting has never been more accessible with so many delicious grape varieties to choose. However, there are some tips from the wine experts that will help you to develop your wine palette and understand the different flavours that the top wines product.

If you are not a professional Sommelier or wine expert then you may find it difficult when choosing the right variety of wine to pair with your food for your next dinner party. Remember that people have different tastes so you might not please everyone but you can give it a good try.

Before you decide on your wines decide what you would like to showcase the most. If you are trying to highlight your best dish, showing off all of the ingredients then you won’t want to pick a wine that over powers the meal. Where as if you selecting a wine as a pairing for a cheese board you may want to get a more full bodied wine that compliments the cheese.

TIPS FOR PAIRING WINE AND FOOD CORRECTLY
Store wine in a cool, dark place.
If you are trying a dish originating from a region see if there is a local wine to pair with it. As the saying goes, what grows together, stays together!
For wines high in acidity, avoid bitter ingrediants and focus on foods high in fat.
In general the wine should be sweeter than the food.
Pinot grigio for light fish dishes and Chardonnay for rich fish dishes with sauce.

DO PAIR
Chianti and Pasta dishes
Zinfandel or Malbec and BBQ
Sauvignon Blanc and Goats Cheese
Pinot Noir and Roast chicken dishes

DON’T PAIR
Pinot Noir and red sauced pasta dishes (bolognese, lasagne)
Spicy food with strong wines
Champagne and cake (sweet plus bubbles is generally a no no)


Ideal Serving Temperature for Wine

The best temperature for red wine is 62-68 degrees.
The best temperature for white wine is 49-55 degrees.

HOW TO TASTE WINE IN 7 EASY STEPS

  • Look – It should be clear. For reds, the darker the better.
    A visual inspection of the wine under neutral lighting
  • Swirl – Release the aroma, the bouquet
  • Sniff – Give your nose a boost of flavour
  • Sip – Let the wine sit in your mouth. Don’t swallow.
  • Breathe – Take a deep breath and give the wine aromas a chance to fill your senses.
  • Swig – Now it’s time to take a bigger gulp and enjoy a full taste of the wine.
  • Savour – Develop a complete profile of a wine that can be stored in your long term memory.

TOP 3 WINE FLAVORS TO ENJOY

Fruit flavors (e.g. peach, blackberry, plum, current)
Herbal flavors (e.g. bell pepper, mint, oregano)
Flower flavors (e.g. roses, lavender, iris)

TOP EUROPEAN WINE TASTING EXPERIENCES

For more information on any of the above wine filled adventures please get in touch with one of our travel team.

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Sugar kelp: What is it and how to use it?

Giant strips of sugar kelp are often left over once a tide has receded. We picked up some delicious kelp on a coastal foraging adventure last weekend so we decided to do a little more research on this natural sweetener.

WHAT IS SUGAR KELP

This is a very impressive looking seaweed, often found washed up on the wild atlantic coastline. It is easy to identify due to it’s large size and distinctive pattern. When fresh it should look wet and slippery. Ideally you would cut this seaweed gently from its source but as it is usually hiding in the deep waters before the tide it isn’t easy to cut it from it’s nature habitat. As it dries you will see a coating of mannitol (a sugar alcohol) forms on the outside. The high levels of mannitol in sugar kelp make it a sweeter seaweed than most.

HOW TO MAKE SUGAR KELP CRISPS

Sugar kelp crisps can be made in two ways. For a super healthy crisp use the oven and for an extra crispy version deep fry in some heated vegetable oil.

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HEALTH BENEFITS OF KELP

An excellent source of Iodine which can help you to keep a health metabolism. It is also known to help detox the body and balance the level of cholesterol. Kelp also contains Vitamin k, Vitamin A, Vitamin B-12, calcium, magnesium and iron.

To see some of this amazing sugar up close you can join us on a coastal foraging experience along the Irish seashores. If you would like to learn more contact one of our travel team.

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World Bee Day: 6 Ways you can help to Save the Bees

Today is world bee day and we are buzzing with love for these amazing little creatures.

Bees have been producing honey now for over 150 million years so I think we can all learn a thing or too from their work ethic and focus. Unfortunately, bee colonies have been declining due a wide range of factors, including climate change, pollution, the use of pesticides.

These pollinators are crucial to sustaining our current food production levels so we better start reversing this disappearing trend as quickly as possible.

Plant some flowers that are rich in nectar like lavender.

Don’t treat your garden with chemicals that are harmful to wildlife. Always check the label!

Create a wild patch in your garden. Leave some dandelions around for the bees. These are important food sources.

In the summer months leave a fresh bowl of water, they will appeciate it.

Buy local, organic honey. Head to your local farmers market and have a chat with them bfore you buy the products.

Watch one of these amazing bee documentaries to learn more about the art of bee keeping. More than Honey (2012) by Markus Imhoof or The Last Beekeeper by Jeremy Simmons will certainly give you food for thought. Or why not watch Bee Movie with Friends, Barry Benson will take you fantastic animated journey. Hopefully this will inspire some to protect our declining Bee colonies.

If you know more ways that we can celebrate World Bee Day and help to save the bees we are all about nature here at Orchards near me and would love to hear from you.

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Truffle Hunting: Taste the Passion for the Land

Foodie lovers from around the world will be familiar with the famous truffles that we find featured on luxury menus of high end restaurants. Both black and white truffles are highly sought after in the culinary world and considered a rare treat when brought from the land to the table.

Truffles are a type of fungus that grow on or alongside the roots of trees like beech and oak trees. If we didn’t need anymore reasons to start planting more trees, now we have another one. Expert Foragers in Europe hold onto the tradition of hunting for truffles with pigs and dogs who are trained as expert truffle hunters. In Italy, they have banned pigs from hunting for these delicies as they have a tendancy to eat them.

Truffle Hunting Experiences

We offer two amazing truffle hunting experiences, hunting for burgundy truffles in the french countryside and hunting for the famous white truffles in Northern Italy. These unique experiences will give you a chance to learn from the experts, explore the regions and taste this wild produce from the ground around us.

What does a truffle taste like?

Having tasted a few different versions I can report that truffles have a pungent smell and flavour. Enjoy the earthy aroma, perfectly paired with the burgundy full bodied reds and adding an extra punch to the fresh pasta of Italy. If you have tried and liked the taste of black olives than you may appreciate the humble truffle.

Easy Truffle Pasta Recipe

Fresh Linguine Pasta

Lemon

Parmasen Cheese

White wine

Salt

Pepper

Butter

To get a taste for Truffle Hunting in Europe please feel free to contact one of our travel specialists.

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The Grape Escape: 4 Amazing European Wine Tours

The hills come alive in the Summer and Autumn all across Europe where grapes come out to greet the sunshine and we get a taste of the land around us. From full bodied reds to crisp whites, each wine represents a place, a culture and a climate. At Orchardsnearme.com we aim to please the palette with our unique selection of European Wine Tours. Here are four of our favourites to choose from:

1. Diverse landscapes and rich cuisine. Unwind by the terraced vineyards of the Douro. This is the heart of Northern Portugal where time stands still. Learn the traditional methods of grape harvesting. Pick some juicy fruits. Famous for its food and wine heritage. Nestled between the rugged mountains and the coast of Porto, this guided vineyard experience is a special adventure for food and wine lovers from around the world.

Learn more about this Vineyard Adventure in the Douro


2. Walking amongst the Italian vines you will feel truly lost in nature. This luxury tour takes you to the heart of the Italian countryside. Discover cellar tours and long walks in an ancient setting. Enjoy a meal al fresco with pasta, pizza and plenty of seasonal wines to choose from.

Learn more about this Italian Wine Tour


3. Soak up the medieval atmosphere. Sip cocktails in the evening. From its sweeping views to its sunshine packed beaches, the Algarve has everything to offer. Admire the impressive architecture. Old fashioned, romantic Spanish streets. 

Learn more about the wines and fruits of the Algarve


4. If you are looking for a holiday with a difference than this one is truly unique. Enjoy staying in your very own wine barrel. This tour with a difference is a delight for the senses. Discover the beauty of the Portuguese landscapes while sipping on fresh Vinho Verde.

Learn more about the Portuguese countryside

For more information on the most amazing wine tours in Europe please contact one of our travel specialists.

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Tipping in Europe: The Smart Traveller Guide to Tipping Culture in Europe

TThe first thing to know about tipping in Europe is that although it is greatly appreciated, it isn’t a rule and isn’t enforced in any bar or restaurant. For most countries. it isn’t a part of the wages. The majority of people working in hotels, restaurants or any service industry in Europe have weekly or monthly salaries.

You don’t have to tip if the service is bad. When you pay for a meal you should get a positive standard of service. If the service is bad and the food isn’t cooked properly than you don’t have to tip as the staff are already being paid a minimum wage. Tips are considered a bonus in Europe.

10% is the average amount to tip if you are happy with a meal. If you are delighted with the quality you may like to give 15% but 10% is more than enough.

If you are in a bar and just buying drinks you don’t have to tip at all, unless you really like the bar man. Then feel free to leave them a few euro when you are leaving. For the most part, the drinks in European cities can be quite pricey so you are paying enough.

For taxi/cab drivers they won’t expect a tip but it is also sometimes considered rude to wait for small change. For example if you take a cab and it costs €14.20 we would recommend giving the driver €15.00. Again, if your driver is extra nice you may want to leave him/her a few extra euro.

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE TIPPING IN EUROPE

Read the bill carefully. In some resorts and towns the tips are added on as a service charge. If it is included in the bill then you will not need to give 10 – 15% extra on top of this.

If you try to tip in cash, this will usually ensure that the tip goes to the employee.

In restaurants and bars always try to tip your own server and don’t leave it on the table for others to collect.

Tipping etiquette across Europe is different per country so let’s take a closer look at some tipping points per region:

IRELAND

10 to 12% in a restaurant is normal for good quality service. If a restaurant has already added on a 12.5% service charge then no tip is expected on top of this. No tip is expected in taxis or bars.

SCANDINAVIA

It isn’t necessary or part of the culture to tip in Scandinavian countries. In Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland.

ITALY

Servizio incluso means your service charge is included, usually around 15% of the total.

PORTUGAL

If there is a tip jar than it nice to leave some small change. It is not customary for locals to tip at a restaurant but a tip of 10% for up market places is acceptable.

SPAIN

5 to 10% for elaborate meals and small change for bars and taxis is accepted but not expected.

FRANCE

Tip €1 to €2 to anyone who helps you: luggage carriers at the airport and hotels. Tip taxi drivers 10%. There is always a service added to the bill in France but it is customary to leave €1 for every €20 meal.

GERMANY

In many restaurants the tip is included in the price of the food. If you want to tip, a common way to do it is to pay the bill but ask for less change back.

GREECE

If you are buying an expensive meal you won’t be expected to leave a large tip but if the charge is small you should leave some change.

AUSTRIA

5% in restaurants for good service. Tipping is expected for taxi drivers and usually it amounts to 10% of the total.

CZECH REPUBLIC

20 Czech Crown (CZK) is 1 US dollar or .80 Euro. Tipping 10 to 15% is average. Don’t leave money on the table, hand it to the waitor instead.

For more European travel tips or to find the latest adventures please contact one of our team.

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Useful Italian Phrases for my trip to Europe

Ciao — Hi and bye
Buongiorno — Hello and good morning
Salve — Hello
Buonasera — Hello and good evening
Arrivederci — Goodbye
Una buona giornata — Have a good day
Buona serata — Have a good/nice evening
A presto — See you soon
A dopo — See you later
Ciao — Hi and bye
Airport: Aeroporto
Train station: Stazione ferroviaria
Train: Treno
Bus: Autobus
Stop (bus, train): Fermata
Car: Macchina; Auto
Luggage: Bagagli
Ticket: Biglietto
Check: Conto
Beach: Spiaggia
Restaurant: Ristorante
Bathroom: Bagno
Store: Negozio
Hotel: Albergo
Food: Cibo
Drink: Bibita
Breakfast: Colazione
Lunch: Pranzo
Dinner: Cena
Snack: Spuntino
Appetizer: Antipasto
Wine: Vino
Beer: Birra
Street: Strada; Via
Hospital: Ospedale
Help: Aiuto
Police: Polizia
Phone: Telefono
Bank: Banca
ATM: Bancomat
Do you speak English?: Parla Inglese?
I don’t speak Italian: Non parlo Italiano
How much does it cost?: Quanto costa?
I’m lost: Mi sono perso
Let’s go: Andiamo
I would like…: Vorrei…
I like…: Mi piace…
I don’t like…: Non mi piace…
It’s hot: Fa caldo
It’s cold: Fa freddo

I am from/I come from…: Sono di/Vengo da…

Mi scusi, non capisco – I don’t understand!
Non parlo italiano molto bene – I don’t speak Italian very well
Parla inglese? – Do you speak English?

IN THE RESTAURANT
Un tavolo per uno / due, per favore – A table for one / two please
Siete già aperti? – Are you open yet?
Possiamo aspettare (per un tavolo)? – Can we wait (for a table)?
Possiamo sederci laggiù? – Can we sit over there?
Mi scusi! – Excuse me!
Cosa mi consiglia? – What do you recommend?

Qual è la specialità della casa? – What’s your most popular dish?
Cos’è questo? – What’s this?
Mi farebbe un assortimento dei piatti migliori? – Please bring me a selection of nice things
Faccia Lei! / Lascio decidere a Lei. – It’s up to you/You can decide
Il conto, per favore – The cheque, please
Quanto costa? – How much is it?

DIRECTIONS
Mi scusi, posso farle una domanda? – Excuse me, could I ask you something?
Vorrei andare a _ – I want to go to _
Vorrei andare qui – I want to go here
Mi sono perso / Mi sono persa – I’m lost
Come posso arrivarci? – How can I get there?
È di qua? – Is it this way?
Potrebbe indicarmelo sulla carta? – Can you show me on the map?
Left: Sinistra
Right: Destra
Straight: Diritto
Where is the bathroom?: Dov’è il bagno?

Now that you have a few useful Italian phrases you are ready to book your next trip to romantic Italy. See some of our food and foraging experiences in Italy here. If you would like to join us and get back to nature please contact one of our travel team.

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