One of the most enjoyable ways of tasting the best Istanbul has to offer is to work your way around the city snacking on the incredible street food, sold from carts and trays at street corners and other likely spots. This can be as simple as raw almonds on ice, but there are far more elaborate and substantial dishes available. From the new Rough Guide to Istanbul, here are five – some more adventurous than others – that you should try.

Simit

This typical Turkish breakfast food is sold on practically every street corner. Similar to a bagel, but covered in sesame seeds, it’s particularly good with white cheese.

Çiğ Köfte

These patties of kneaded bulgur wheat, stained orange by the hot pepper paste that is one of their chief constituents, are served wrapped in a flat bread with salad, pomegranate concentrate and spicy sauce.

photo credit: Cig Kofte via photopin (license)

Midye Dolması

These mussels that have been cooked and stuffed with an aromatic spiced rice mixture are a favourite of many on their way home after too many drinks. they cost around ̈1 each and the vendor will continue to serve them to you until you say stop, before counting the shells to tot up the bill (note that midye are best avoided during the hot summer months).

Tavuklu Pilavı

Served from glass containers on wheelable carts, this delicious buttery rice, studded with chickpeas, comes with or without shredded chicken and usually served with a sprinkling of black pepper and a glass of ayran.

photo credit: Turkish restaurant in Sultanahmet via photopin (license)

Kokoreç

Not for the squeamish, this carnivorous treat is actually sheep’s intestines wrapped around other bits of offal, before being grilled over charcoals that are wheeled around the backstreets of Taksim. it is then finely chopped, and mixed with spices and salad before being served in bread.

photo credit: Gala Kokorec in besiktas istanbul via photopin (license)

 

Explore more of Istanbul with the Rough Guide to Istanbul. Compare flightsbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go. 

As the global craft beer explosion continues to, well, explode, there are few that doubt its provenance: the United States of America. The craft brew scene in the US has been fizzing with adventure and experimentation for three decades. It is Americans who are largely responsible for that citrusy hops rush, for adding that quirky ingredient and for resurrecting that long-forgotten brewing process.

The art of brewing is no longer the domain of the beard-and-sandal brigade, nor of the multinationals. Today’s leaders are the rebel brewers who are pairing beers with Michelin-starred meals, releasing endless styles of inventive beer and elevating the status of a fine beer to that of a fine wine.

The message is clear: the rebels rule beer making. Here are nine of the beers that broke all the rules and changed the way we drink it forever.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, 5.6%

New to this ‘craft beer’ thing? Head straight for the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, probably the beer with more ‘odes’ to it than any other. Along with the stronger IPA, the Pale Ale is the definitive US craft beer style and Sierra Nevada’s is still the best.

Lagunitas IPA, 6.2%

India Pale Ales were first brewed by the British. To survive the long, hot crossing, the alcohol volume and hop content were increased because it kept the beer better. Two hundred years later, the style was resurrected across the pond, but using local hops, and the result was the grapefruity, piney, resinous aroma that defines many modern craft beers. Lagunitas IPA, first brewed in 1995, is the IPA – some would argue never bettered.

Barrels and tanks via photopin (license)

Brooklyn Brewery Sorachi Ace, 7.2%

If craft beer has a superstar, it is Brooklyn Brewery Brewmaster Garrett Oliver, a man often described as a brewing genius. The Sorachi Ace is probably his finest moment. This beer is a classic saison, a rustic farmhouse-beer from Belgium, but in true US ‘what the hell’ style it uses Sorachi Ace, a type of hop revived only in 2008, to add its aromatic element. The more widely available Brooklyn Lager is a superlative example too.

Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA 7.1%

The rebellious beginnings couldn’t have been wilder: the brewery owners became friends with Hunter S Thompson who lived nearby. Snake Dog IPA is the ‘hop monster’ from Flying Dog, and it’s about as subtle as the Ralph Steadman-designed label. Prepare to be blown away by its big, brash flavour.

Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro, 6%

The texture is like wrapping your tongue in a velvet glove, the flavour is a rich, creamy hot chocolate with a drop of espresso. ‘Pour Hard’ is the advice on this pitch-black stout (the same style as Guinness) by Left Hand Brewing. The difference is in the bubbles – it’s topped up with nitrogen rather than CO2 – and it has a thick head once settled, like whipped cream. Luscious.

Anchor Brewery beers via photopin (license)

Anchor Steam Beer, 4.9%

Can a brewery that opened in 1896 still claim to be ‘craft’? Of course, when this much love goes in to the beer. The name, Anchor Steam, is a nod to the somewhat hazy origins of the San Francisco brewing scene when beer was cooled on rooftops. This beer is a refreshingly malty drink, with a gentle balance of hops, a hint of peanut brittle and dried fruits.

Russian River Pliny the Elder, 8%

Californian brewery Russian River is consistently voted as one of the world’s best breweries. And its Pliny the Elder is consistently voted as one of its best beers. Try it. Now. Why so sought after? It’s an Imperial IPA (read: bloomin’ strong IPA) in the West Coast tradition of piney hops. The plaudits are for its balance, technical brilliance and all-round amazing taste and aroma.

Alaskan Brewing Company Smoked Porter, 6.5%

We can’t forget the northern state of Alaska, especially when this brewery is making this rather special beer. Tasting it is like an explosion in the mouth. This is smoked, seriously so. It tastes almost as though it’s aged in oak, but with an underlying sourness that cuts through the smoke and makes it very drinkable. There are different ‘vintages’ every year; drink one, save one.

Firestone Walker Pivo, 5.3%

The US has always been a brewers tun of cultures, and this is one of the main reasons there’s such a vibrant brewing scene. The IPA may be British, but the immigrants from Germany, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands and many more also brought their beers with them. Today, as brewers rediscover their roots, they are resurrecting the beers and adding their own spin. Firestone Walker’s Pivo is a case in point: a Gold Medal winning German pilsner with a hit of hops adding hints of bergamot and lemongrass.

Explore more of the USA and its beers with the Rough Guide to the USACompare flightsbook hostels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

Daniel Neilson is the editor of craft beer magazine Original Gravity%.

Real lovers of cheese aren’t satisfied with a dusting of parmigiano. These thirteen dishes showcase the world’s best cheeses in truly lavish proportions. So if your heart is gladdened by gruyère or you say “halleluiah” at halloumi, loosen your belt for these wicked ways with cheese…

Swiss fondue

What started as a ruse to use up leftover bread and cheese is now a button-popping highlight of any trip to Switzerland. Today’s recipes bubble gruyère, garlic and lashings of white wine in a caquelon (communal dish). Cubed day-old bread is twirled in the stringy mixture using long-stemmed forks. Fondues are usually accompanied by crisp crudités – and half-hearted promises to burn the calories on a hike in the Jura.

Chinese Hot Yunnan goat’s cheese

So you think Chinese food is light on dairy? Not so: mountainous Yunnan produces an unctuous goat’s cheese, rubing. This meaty-textured cheese is served chargrilled in huge slices, accompanied with sugar for dipping, or sizzled with vegetables. If you can’t nibble it in its region of origin, Beijing’s Little Yunnan (28 Donghuangchenggen Beijie) sears some of the best.

Romanian cheese polenta

Hearty cuisine is essential in the raw wilderness of the Carpathian Mountains in Romania and few dishes ensure your survival in these fog-draped peaks quite like mămăligă cu branza – a porridge of cornmeal layered with rich sheep’s cheese. The best eateries will drown your polenta in the good stuff; Laci Csarda in Târgu-Mures is especially generous.

Georgian khachapuri

Wondering about the freshly-baked fragrance that floats out from Tbilisi’s eateries? Follow your nose to the khachapuri, an oval-shaped loaf baked around a pool of melted cheese and topped with an egg. Think of it as Georgian pizza, with the emphasis on excellent puffy dough and ample cheese (usually salty local sulguni).

Mexican queso flameado

Need your cheese with a bit more kick? Mexican cheese aficionados whip up a sauce of chorizo, chillies and onions to accompany a rich bowl of melted cheese. The finishing touch is a flambé, where tequila or rum is poured onto the cheese and lit. Only then is it combined with the spicy sauce and scooped greedily onto tortillas.

French baked camembert

It would be an injustice to France‘s most famous soft, rinded cheese to nibble a small wedge. Make it the centrepiece of your meal by having it baked. Sometimes it’ll be crumbed, sometimes simply drizzled with olive oil and speared by a sprig of thyme. What’s guaranteed is a steaming round of cheese, just waiting to be punctured by a hunk of baguette.

Greek salad

Don’t let the word ‘salad’ fool you. Huge door-wedge-sized chunks of this sheep’s cheese, sprinkled with oregano, are the salty showpiece for a medley of tomato, onion, cucumber and olives. And as if the creamy tang of feta wasn’t indulgent enough, Greek salad is swimming with rich olive oil. Still not full? Neighbouring Bulgaria dishes up a similar salad, shopska, with even bigger portions of cheese.

Indian Mattar paneer

Ghee-drenched okra, aubergines simmered in rich sauces… with the world’s lowest meat consumption, it makes sense that India has a wonderfully indulgent approach to vegetarian cuisine. And paneer – a simple, unaged, farmhouse cheese – is a key ingredient for many dishes. There’s no more decadent way to enjoy this chewy cheese than in mattar paneer, where it’s lovingly simmered in a creamy tomato sauce with peas. Mop up the mixture with smoky stone-baked naan.

Cypriot halloumi

Don’t get between a Cypriot and their halloumi. This briny cheese, which makes a characteristic squeak as you chew it, is Cyprus‘ biggest global export and a source of immense island pride. Pressed from a blend of sheep’s and goat’s milk, the cheese is almost weapons-grade: it has a very high melting point, making it ideal for barbecues. Savour halloumi simply, with a squeeze of lemon or some cooling watermelon.

Chicago deep dish pizza

No one can argue that a crispy pizza is one of the finest vehicles for cheese. But the Windy City upped the ante with the creation of the deep dish base. More like a pie crust than a flatbread, this wicked tweak in design allows an extra 2cm or so to be filled with tomato sauce, pepperoni, and of course a sea of bubbling mozzarella. Try it at Uno Pizzeria, which claims to have masterminded Chicago-style pizza.

Bavarian Obatzda

In Bavaria, beer and cheese are best of friends. Soft cheeses, butter, spices and a healthy splash of beer are whipped into thick Obatzda, which practically begs to be swiped with a pretzel. Local wisdom says Obatzda is ideal to line your stomach before a session in Munich’s beer halls. You never know, the kick from horseradish and caraway might even have a sobering effect – prost!

French Alpine raclette

On tables across France, and especially in the Savoie region, medieval-looking contraptions are used to hoist hefty half-moons of cheese next to heaters. Use a wooden spatula to massage the melting cheese onto potatoes, and adjust the distance between the smoky raclette and heater, depending on how quickly you’re chowing down. Guzzle one at La Chaudanne in Morzine, then pedal it off on the area’s superb mountain biking trails.

Hungarian cheesecake

In most cheesecake recipes, cream cheese takes a back seat to other flavours. But not in in Central and Eastern Europe, where grainy ricotta and other soft cheeses have centre stage. In Hungary, cottage cheese is sweetened and layered onto a layer of dough before baking. With sour cream to bring out the unctuous flavour and fresh fruit toppings a mere afterthought, there’s no finer finish to a cheese-lover’s tour of the world.

Compare flightsbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

Peruvian cuisine is rated among the best in the world and is currently experiencing a period of flourishing self-confidence and popularity overseas. Here are six classic Peruvian recipes taken from the Rough Guide to Peru, all fairly simple to prepare and found throughout the country. All quantities given will feed four people, so invite a few friends round, put on some panpipe music and prepare to impress.

Ceviche

A cool, spicy dish, eaten on the Peruvian coast for the past thousand years.

  • 1kg soft white fish (lemon sole and halibut are good, or you can mix half fish, half shellfish)
  • 2 medium red onions, julienned and rinsed
  • 1 or 2 chillies, chopped (ají limo is traditional, but choose any chilli to taste)
  • 6 limes
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander
  • salt to taste

Wash and cut the fish into 1½cm cubes. Place in a chilled steel bowl and salt generously. Add diced chilli, stir and add the onions. Gently squeeze the limes – extracting only the first half of the juice, avoiding the bitterness of the skin. Add three ice cubes and stir to bring back to temperature. Add coriander. Taste and season further if necessary. Serve immediately with boiled sweet potatoes and corn on the cob (1/3 per plate).

Ceviche via photopin (license)

Conchitas a la parmesana

Quick and easy, this scallop starter is a faithful crowd pleaser; the very best conchitas come from Pisco and Paracas.

  • 16 fresh medium scallops, in a half shell
  • Finely grated Parmesan
  • Limes, Worcestershire Sauce, Tabasco sauce
  • Butter

Season each scallop with salt and pepper, add two drops of lemon juice, two drops of Worcestershire sauce, two drops Tabasco. Rub the top of the clam with butter then cover with a heaped teaspoon of Parmesan; place a small lump of butter on top and place under a hot grill. When the cheese starts to brown and release a little oil, you’re done (2–3 min).

Picarones

These sweet doughnuts are the only dessert you’ll miss from Peru.

For the picarones:

  • 300g yellow sweet potato
  • ½ kg pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp anise extract (optional)
  • 1 pkt instant yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 kg white flour

For the syrup:

  • ½ kg chancaca sugar (unrefined cane sugar, substitute with 1 ¼ cups brown sugar)
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 3 cups water

Boil the sweet potato and pumpkin in three cups of water with anise and mash (reserve cooking water); leave to cool. In the cooking water, add the yeast and sugar, leave to develop for 15 minutes. Stir in the mash and add the flour little by little until forming a sloppy dough. Salt to taste and knead/beat for 15 minutes and let rise for 3 hours. Take a palm-sized ball of dough, and in your (moistened) hand, flatten and make a hole in the middle. Place a few at a time into a deep pot with oil and fry until golden. Make the syrup by boiling all ingredients in three cups of water, allow to reduce to half, until forming a nice syrup. Drizzle generously over picarones to serve.

Causa

About the easiest Peruvian dish to reproduce outside the country, though there are no real substitutes for the Peruvian papa amarilla (yellow potato).

  • 1kg yellow Peruvian potatoes
  • 2 tbsp yellow chilli paste
  • 200g tuna fish
  • 2 avocados, the riper the better
  • 4 tomatoes
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ lime

Boil the potatoes and mash to a firm, smooth consistency. Leave to chill and add yellow chilli paste and the juice of half a lime. Flake the tuna and add a little lemon juice (adding mayonnaise to make a creamier filling is a common option). Mash the avocados to a pulp, add the rest of the lemon juice, some salt and black pepper. Slice the tomatoes. Make a layer of potato, on top a layer of tomato followed by slices of avocado and the tuna. Top with another layer of potato. Cut into slices or circles. Serve chilled with salad, or on its own as a starter.

Causa limeña de mariscos via photopin (license)

Lomo Saltado

One of the best loved Limeño dishes shows off the Asian influence in modern Peruvian food.

  • 500g fillet steak, sliced into 3cm strips
  • 2 plum tomatoes in thick slices
  • 1 yellow chilli, sliced
  • 2 small red onions, thickly sliced
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp beef stock
  • 2 cups yellow potato chips
  • 500g white rice

In a sizzling hot wok, heat two tbsp oil to smoking, add half the meat and stir fry, the oil should cause some flambéing. Remove meat and repeat with the other half. Set aside. Add more oil and rapidly stir fry the onions and a bit later, add the tomatoes, yellow chilli and liquids. Return meat to pan and more gently fry for one more minute, salt to taste. Garnish with a sprinkle of cilantro. Serve with white rice.

lima31 via photopin (license)

Papas a la Huancaina

An excellent and ubiquitous snack – cold potatoes covered in a mildly picante cheese sauce.

  • 1 kg potatoes, boiled
  • 1 or 2 chillies, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 200g soft goat’s cheese (feta or cottage cheese will work too)
  • 6 crackers
  • 1 hard-boiled egg
  • 1 small can of evaporated milk

Chop very finely or liquidize all the above ingredients except for the potatoes. The mixture should be fairly thin but not too runny. Pour sauce over the thickly sliced potatoes. Arrange on a dish and serve chilled, garnished with lettuce and black olives.

Explore more of Peru with the Rough Guide to PeruCompare flightsbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

After a foodie pilgrimage along the northern Spanish coast, Ros Walford shares some of her edible highlights of the Camino del Norte.

There’s something magical about entering a city on foot. First, you see a rash of buildings in the distance; some hours later, you finally reach the centre, where, stomach rumbling, you follow your nose to a smoky grill and the promise of slowly barbecuing fish. For hikers, the reward of good food at the end of a long day’s walk is surely one of life’s greatest pleasures. Spain’s Basque Country has both, with a national pilgrimage route running along its coast and some of the best food in the world. Now that’s just greedy…

Since the ninth century, penitents have made the pilgrimage along the Camino del Norte – the oldest of several caminos that cross Spain – to pay homage to Saint James, but today, fortunately, this is one of the quieter routes. It runs the length of Spain’s northern coast, east to west from Irún, close to the French border, to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.

The stage between San Sebastián and Bilbao is a moderate eight-day trek and one of the most interesting sections – not only for the food but also the beautiful landscape, geology, history and Basque traditions.

Image by Ros Walford

San Sebastián

Like the best tapas recipes, this great Basque port is made of simple ingredients: one part English-influenced seaside town, one part cultural hotspot and a large part foodie destination. With so many interesting things to see, do and taste here, it’s tempting to linger longer than planned.

You can ride the 1912 funicular to the top of Monte Igeldo and boat along the quirky “rio misterioso” at its old-fashioned amusement park; stroll along one of three soft-sand beaches, admire modern art and Belle Époque architecture; get carried away in upmarket boutiques; or take in one of the numerous music, film and arts festivals (this is European Capital of Culture for 2016, no less).

And when you’re done with all that, pop into one of the hundreds of tapas bars and restaurants that populate the Old Town and Gros districts. Not only is this the birthplace of pintxos (an elaborate form of tapas), San Sebastián has the second-highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants per square metre than anywhere in the world.

Tapas tours

In San Sebastián, go it alone or take a guided tour of the pintxos bars – worth doing for the fact your guide will pick out the best from a bewildering number of bars and order the best dishes. Either way, be sure to try a Gilda, the bar snack – named after the Rita Hayworth film – that started the pintxo tradition in the 1940s.

Hidden downstairs in the fish market, Bar Azkena (Mercado de la Bretxa, 36 – only open during market hours) is a welcome surprise serving gluten-free marvels. Ingredients are sourced from the market to create fantastic trampantojo (culinary trompe l’oeil) – food that is not what it seems. For example, breaking open what looks like a delicate “oyster” reveals meaty morcilla (blood pudding) inside.

Image by Ros Walford

One of the most experimental bars is award-winning Zureto (Pescadería 10), a busy, white-walled food lab with remarkable pintxos piled high on the counter. Try the hoguera de bacalao: a tiny cod kebab smoked over a ceramic dish at your table; eat the fish, then down a test tube full of green dressing.

Both Borda-Berri (Fermín Calabeton, 12) and Cuchara de San Telmo (31 Agosto, 28) serve exquisite carrilleras de ternera (veal cheeks in red wine) – rich slow-cooked meat that falls apart at the lightest touch of a fork. Meanwhile, the famous cheesecake at La Viña (31 Agosto, 31) is nicely washed down with a large glass of treacly Pedro Ximenez sherry.

After all that, you’ll need to get walking to burn a few calories.

The trek

From San Sebastián, it’s a tough climb up to Monte Igeldo where there are glorious views over the Baia de la Concha. Follow the conch shells (or yellow and blue markers) past the busy surf beach at Zarautz to the pretty fishing village of Getaria, where you can feast on anchovies and local txakoli wine at the superb seafood restaurants overlooking the harbour. On the way, you pass fields filled with wildflowers, sleepy ermitas (monk’s hermitages), and vineyards that rest beside the Mar Cantábrico.

Image by Ros Walford

Just beyond Zumaia, spectacular striated cliff formations form a dramatic backdrop for 13 kilometres, while further on in Deba is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the preserved cave paintings at Ekain. If you’re lucky, your trek will coincide a festival at any one of the villages and towns en route, celebrating local culture, from a fisherman’s fiesta to wood-chopping competitions, but at any time of year you can watch the popular Basque sport pelota in medieval Markina-Xemein.

After Gernika – made famous by Picasso’s iconic painting of the destruction of the town during the Spanish Civil War – the camino climbs up over forested Monte Avril where you can enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Bilbao, before descending into the clean suburbs and straight to a restaurant in the Old Town for a hearty meal to end the trek.

Bilbao’s food and culture

In Bilbao, 60 miles west of San Sebastian, traditional and modern collide, most visibly in the architecture but also in the local food. Flashy masterpieces – like Frank Gehry’s shiny Guggenheim Museum, which kick-started the city’s rejuvenation in 1997 from the industrial doldrums to a world-class cultural destination – rub shoulders with grand nineteenth-century boulevards and the medieval-style streets of the Old Town.

It’s the same with the food. There are historic institutions like La Viña de Ensanche, where they’ve been specializing in jamón for more than sixty years but there are now also modern options. Bilbao has its fair share of Michelin restaurants – eight and counting – and trendy pintxos bars abound, particularly around the Old Town’s lively grid of streets.

Try slick Berton (Calle Jardines, 11), famed for its octopus and prawn kebabs, or Zorginzulo (Plaza Nueva). Finish off at the “witches house”, a hole-in-the-wall place that looks like a mini nightclub yet serves award-winning traditional pintxos: the foie-stuffed squid is exceptional.

Macs Adventure organise hotels and bag transfers for your self-guided walking holiday along the camino. Apite is an excellent association of professional tour guides who operate in both San Sebastian and Bilbao, and San Sebastian Food runs cookery classes and tours.

Explore more of Spain with the Rough Guide to SpainCompare flightsbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

It’s an utterly sparkling, adventurous and intoxicating time for beer right now. The number of British breweries is pushing 1400, and there are 70 in London alone – in 2006 there were only two in the capital.

Hundreds of small, highly experimental craft brewers have sprung up in garages and industrial estates using borrowed, begged or second-hand equipment. They are infusing beer with chilli and chocolate, ageing it in whisky barrels, hopping the hell out of it, and they still can’t make the beer fast enough to satisfy a new, young, discerning drinkers who want to be floored by the hop-smacking, flavour-packing, tongue-partying beers. Big-brand bland beer it ain’t.

Here we’ve picked out thirteen frankly, cuckoo-minded beers from around Britain, yet remain true to what a great beer is: quality, balanced, and most of all, drinkable. Cheers!

Beavertown Heavy Water Imperial Stout, 9%

A Sour Cherry and Sea Salt Imperial Stout? Yes. Please. Beavertown are rightly known for their superb core range of hop-forward beers, and their wild, comic-style artwork. This Imperial Stout (Imperial tends to mean strong) has been aged in Scotch whisky barrels. The saltiness and, indeed, cherries, add a levity to a beer that could have been cloying. It’s unlike any stout you’ll try all year.

Siren Limoncello IPA, 9.1%

Siren, based in Berkshire, are one of the most experimental British brewers, yet manage to make their beers eminently drinkable. A case in point is the Limoncello IPA. Clocking in at a whopping 9.1%, this tart beer was designed to taste like limoncello. Loads of lemon zest, lemon juice and a very big stack of hops that impart a lemony flavour were used. It was then ‘soured’ for 24 hours. The result is a truly unique brew to savour.

Wild Beer Co Modus Operandi, 7%

I could have pretty much chosen any brew from the Somerset’s Wild Beer Co; experimentation is something of a philosophy for them. Beer is made up of four ingredients: water, malt, hops and yeast. And it’s the latter that is the new frontier. Wild Beer have used a sourdough yeast (and it really does make the beer taste like sourdough), the Modus Operandi takes an old English beer and adds flavours you wouldn’t believe you could find in a brew, all because of a mix yeast and barrel ageing. Strong, tangy, challenging.

Thornbridge Charlie Brown Peanut Butter Brown Ale, 6.2%

The Peak District brewery produces some of Britain’s best beers. Jaipur and Kipling are widely available and simply fantastic beers, but they don’t rest on their laurels. Head brewer Rob Lovatt loves to turn out a huge range of beers from classic styles to the occasional out-there brews. Take Charlie Brown Peanut Butter Brown Ale. It really does taste of peanuts, yet it’s thrillingly gluggable and not too sweet at all.

BrewDog Tokyo, 16.5%

The Scottish craft beer pioneers (slowly taking over the world) are constantly releasing a bewildering range of beer (including some pushing 40%ABV). High on any beer geek’s list is Tokyo*, an ‘Intergalactic Stout’. It’s loaded with jasmine and cranberries, and is hopped to hell. Oh, and then aged on French toasted oak chips. An astonishing amount of flavour.

Waen Brewery Chilli Plum Porter, 6.1%

That tingle on the back of the tongue? That’d be the chilli hit. The plum notes are noticeable on the nose and this porter – a dark beer like stout – is one to cosy up with on a dark, cold night. Waen Brewery, run by Sue Hayward and John Martin in Wales, turn out other imaginative beers, including Snowball, a hefty coconut stout.

Pressure Drop Wu Gang Chops the Tree, 3.8%

Now London’s Hackney Marshes may not seem an obvious inspiration for a beer, but the crew at Pressure Drop have been known to take to the commons around London to forage for ingredients. Dandelion and burdock in Strictly Roots, and bay in the delicious ode to a German wheat beer that is the esoterically-named Wu Gang Chops the Tree.

Meantime Chocolate Porter, 6.5%

Porter is a dark beer that naturally has the roasted flavours of cocoa, coffee, molasses and a gentle smokiness. For London brewery Meantime, that wasn’t enough, so they packed their Chocolate Porter with real chocolate. Nom, nom. This is a dessert of a beer.

Meantime Chocolate via photopin (license)

Brew By Numbers‘ Strawberry & Mango Witbier 5%

Another brewery that are clearly having a lot of fun, but never ones to add ingredients for the sake of it. Brew By Numbers add real fruit to their Strawberry & Mango wheat beer, but also balance it with green tea. They are constantly changing recipes, so if this is sold out – hit up something else. It’s bound to be good.

Buxton Brewery Very Far Skyline, 5%

Where wine and beer meet: this is a barrel-aged Berliner Weisse. Deconstructed, a Berliner weisse is a gorgeous low-alcohol, pleasantly sour white beer. Buxton have then aged this in Chardonnay barrels adding a clear taste of white wine.

Sharp’s Chalky’s Bite, 6.8%

It was perhaps inevitable that Cornish brewmasters Sharp’s would collaborate with seafood chef Rick Stein who makes his home in the county. The result is Chalky’s Bark and Chalky’s Bite, named after Rick’s beloved dog. Chalky’s Bite is made with wild Cornish fennel and aged. The result is tailor made for seafood.

Bateman Black Pepper Ale, 5.1%

Remember when crisp companies reintroduced the little bag of salt again to sprinkle yourself? It was a gimmick that didn’t work. Well, how about a little sachet of black pepper to add to your beer. It could have been so easily dismissed, if it didn’t add quite so much to this strong pale ale. It has a naturally peppery aroma thanks to the hops, but why not dial it up? A gimmick it ain’t.

Oliver’s At the Hop, 5.5%

This isn’t a beer, it’s a cider. But, once it has fermented, buckets of Cascade hops are added in a process known as dry-hopping. Cascade is a powerful US hop, known for it’s citrusy flavours it imparts in big IPAs. Used with apples, the result makes for a fascinating cider.

Daniel Neilson is the editor of craft beer magazine Original Gravity%.

Explore more of Britain and its beers with the Rough Guide to BritainCompare flightsbook hostels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

Compile a list of the world’s top foodie destinations and it’s a pretty safe bet that Kenya wouldn’t make the cut. Up until now, the country has failed to gain any kind of glamorous status for its food culture, predominantly because traditional eats are created to be filling and inexpensive.

Staple meals like ugali – a doughy porridge made from maize flour rolled into balls and teamed with goat stew – are the go-to diet for locals. Side dishes might consist of irio – a mash of corn, beans, potatoes and greens – or leafy vegetable sukuma wiki (which means ‘to stretch the week’, signalling that it is generally affordable and available all year round).

So by these benchmarks, it’s understandable that Kenya isn’t occupying a top spot on the discerning foodie’s bucket list. But times are changing, and thanks to the capital’s flourishing diversity, there’s an exciting restaurant scene beyond the ugali.

Premshree Pillai via Compfight cc

Nairobi is home to a varied population of races, ethnicities and edible influences that are centuries old. As far back as 1496 the Portuguese landed on Kenyan shores bringing with them foods from Brazil such as pineapples and chillies. Later, with the arrival of more Europeans, came cucumbers and tomatoes. At the turn of the twentieth century the British enlisted thousands of Indians to build the railway line and so too arrived spicy dishes, chapattis and more.

Today, these influences continue to grow and develop at a rapid pace in line with the development of Nairobi itself. There is pop-up dining, ‘naked’ pizza with a healthy edge and urban eating in a trendy setting. You can even have a tub of almond or cashew butter delivered to your door. Fancy a piece of the pie? Here are six of the best places to experience Kenya’s gastronomic transformation in Nairobi:

Eat Ethiopian at Habesha

A weekly go-to for locals and expats alike, Habesha has earned its reputation as the best Ethiopian restaurant in Nairobi through a combination of great service, a homely atmosphere and delicious food. The traditional Ethiopian cuisine is served with injera, a giant spongy flatbread that arrives on a silver tray filling the whole table. Accompanying dishes such as shiro (a smooth chickpea stew) and wat (spicy curry with a variety of spiced vegetables) are placed on top. The real charm, though, is in the setting as dinner is served around a rustic flaming fire pit.

Chow down on Indian at Chowpaty

Traditionally Indian and strictly vegetarian, Chowpaty is immensely popular with both vegetarian and carnivorous foodies, and championed by locals as offering ‘the best Indian food outside of India’. It’s a simple, no-frills place in terms of decor situated in Diamond Plaza – Nairobi’s answer to little India. But, frankly, looks don’t matter little when the food is this delicious. Try the dahi pouri – crunchy balls of spiced veggie goodness served with cool pouring yoghurt, to be scoffed whole. These little bundles of joy go excellently with the creamy mushroom tikka masala, a garlic naan and some cracking paneer. The best spot to soak up the atmosphere is from one of the outdoor street stalls.

Head to Talisman for a fusion

Undisputed by many as offering some of the best food in Nairobi, Talisman promotes itself as an elegant gastrolounge situated in affluent Karen. The food – a fusion of European, Pan-Asian and African – is no doubt excellent; from the crispy feta and coriander samosas served with a gingery soy sauce to the blue cheese salad with a sweet maple dressing. The atmosphere is romantic and the outdoor seating tranquil with pretty surrounds. Though do avoid Friday nights when shady characters come out in droves and it becomes more sleazy pub than elegant bar.

Try Thai at Soi

Meaning ‘street’ in Thai, Soi is possibly Nairobi’s most gleamingly sophisticated restaurant. A new kid on the block that forms part of the DusitD2 hotel complex, it offers a funky, modern ambience with low-hanging carved wood lamps and cosy booths scattered with cushions. Expertly cooked dishes by the resident Thai chef include sweet papaya salad, crispy spring rolls, crunchy pak choi and zesty green curry. Going hungry is not an option as the portions are huge, so order lightly or expect to take home one heck of a doggy bag.

Image courtesy of Soi

It’s About Thyme for brunch

A charming little world-food restaurant, About Thyme is hidden in the woodland of Nairobi’s Westlands area. The menu here is diverse and imaginative, the dishes elegantly presented and the flavours top-notch. The best time to visit is Sunday brunch when you can enjoy the most popular item on the menu: baked eggs in a creamy spinach sauce, teamed with slices of crispy toast. Bag the square table with the comfy seats and puffy cushions in the shade.

A taste of tradition at Le Palanka

An Aladdin’s cave of traditional African food, Le Palanka is proof that Kenyan food can be delicious. In fact, their menu encompasses influences from across the continent – from Kenya to Mali and Cameroon to the Ivory Coast and more. A popular favourite is the DJ curry – a sweet and spicy dish with the crunch of fresh vegetables. Traditional sides include fried plantain with a caramelised edge, West African jollof rice and sweet potato and plantain mash. The decor is traditional and full of colour, with giant fire pits, tented tables warmed by chimineas and a stone bar that looks like it’s straight out of the Flintstones.

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It is surprising that the city of San Diego hasn’t erected a statue to Ralph Rubio. Because Rubio brought the fish taco to town and nothing – seriously, nothing – is treated with more reverence here than the fish taco.

Does a corn tortilla covered in fried fish, cabbage, crema and pico de gallo sound unremarkable? Well, don’t let this simple recipe fool you. Much can be done to the humble original to make it spectacular – the addition of salsa with just the right spice, the inclusion of cheese, the decision to add guacamole – and quite what should be included is the stuff of fierce debate.

The San Diego fish taco. Locals discuss it in hushed, passionate tones, they argue with zeal over where has the best and they will even give up their precious beachside parking space to drive inland for lunch at a taco stand they swear is the best in town. Things really ramp up on Taco Tuesday, when across the city tacos are on special offer and you won’t need more than a couple of dollars to join in.

Ralph Rubio may have taken the fish taco he found south of the border in Mexico onwards across America (his Rubio’s restaurants are now found in five states), but San Diego remains its heartland, and by far the best place to try one for yourself. So, where does serve the best fish tacos in San Diego? Here’s our take:

South Beach Bar and Grille

San Diego’s coastline is overdeveloped in parts, but Ocean Beach, just west of the city centre, has remained the classic Cali beach town, with its palm-lined avenues and long concrete pier (said to be the world’s longest, in fact). From here you could just about lob a flip flop through the window of South Beach Bar and Grille, the perfect place to watch the sun slip into the Pacific.

What to order

The taco selection here is divided into grilled and fried. Purists will only condone the latter, but we think the former is just as tasty, and at South Beach you really want to try the Mahi fish taco, which comes grilled. It also comes in a flour tortilla (though you can ask for corn), with cheese, red cabbage, salsa fresca and white sauce. The lobster (also grilled, of course) is another top choice, while fried fish fans should go for the pollock. Whatever you select, wash it down with a local San Diego craft beer, perhaps from AleSmith or a Green Flash.

photo credit: Last SD Supper via photopin (license)

George’s at the Cove

Though purists may argue the best tacos are always served from a hole in the wall walk-up, we reckon a fine dining restaurant can just as easily produce a winner – and George’s at the Cove is our evidence. This classy restaurant in the heart of upscale La Jolla is jam-packed with locals more or less constantly. High praise indeed, but also reason to book your table in advance.

What to order

Sunny? Then sit on the Ocean Terrace overlooking the Pacific and order the marinated and grilled fresh fish tacos, served with jalapeno lime mayonnaise, avocado, coriander and shredded cabbage. Want something different? Sit in the main restaurant, California Modern, and order the “fish tacos” (inverted commas intentional). Chef Trey Foshee has reinvented the classic here and for once, this works. Raw yellowfin tuna pieces dusted with crushed corn nuts sit on fried California avocado, surrounded by crema. Delicious and different.

Image courtesy of George’s at the Cove

Taco Surf Taco Shop

Pacific Beach (or PB, to the locals) is all about the eponymous sea and sand, and you’ll see plenty of surfers bashing through the waves here. When hunger strikes they come here, to the Taco Surf Taco Shop and its surfboard-covered walls. It’s all about the food though, and you’ll smell it before you see it.

What to order

The burritos may be better-known (and the carne asada the stuff of local legend) but the fish tacos, served with fried or grilled fish, are the best in PB. Order them grilled and you’ll get the fish of the day, served on corn tortillas with cabbage, crema, mild salsa, rice and beans. If you want to keep things traditional, order the fried fish tacos, made with batter-fried pollock.

Puesto

Puesto means “the place” in Spanish, and this Mexican street food restaurant is certainly the place in many a local’s eyes when it comes to the best fish taco. This isn’t a place to linger (the acid orange, pink and green are, erm, dazzling) but it is the best Downtown San Diego has to offer and we reckon you’ll fid yourself coming back for more (not just because the tacos are a little on the small side, either).

What to order

It has to be the Baja fish tacos, made with wild cod fried in a blood orange beer batter, shredded cabbage and avocado. The chile crema and tomatillo roja add a bit more spice than most fish tacos can muster and that kick makes these San Diego’s most moreish fish tacos. The tuna asada and lobster tacos are good choices too, or order the Tamarindo shrimp tacos, made with a tasty tamarindo-chile sauce.

Oscar’s

This straightforward Mexican seafood joint opened in 2011 in PB and was an immediate hit with the locals. Now also in Hillcrest, it continues to pull in the crowds, so expect a wait – and some of the freshest fish in town. It’s cash only too, so bring plenty of greenbacks.

What to order

The battered fish taco is one of the best in town and comes covered in a heap of garnishes that add real flavour – and the need for plenty of napkins. Visit between 2.30pm and 5.30pm Monday-Thursday and it’s only 99 cents, too. Want a different flavour? Try the smoked fish taco or indulge in the especial – fish, shrimp and scallop served with cabbage, onion, tomato and coriander.

Point Loma Seafoods

Seafood should always be fresh, and the fresher the better. So, why not buy direct from the fisherman? That’s what Point Loma Seafoods does, every single day. And has been since 1963. The mission here is to serve “the freshest thing in town”. We reckon they’re succeeding. So you won’t mind ordering at the counter and taking your chances at grabbing a seat outside.

What to order

Tacos are only served as a duet here (unless they’re a side dish), so take the opportunity to have one fish, one shrimp. They’ll come with beans and salsa but don’t heap them too high, the fish can really speak for itself here. There are squid tacos too, so you may need to come back for more. Give in, and order another glass of the house Chablis.

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You’ve hiked the Cinque Terre, gondola’d down Venice’s Grand Canal and got Renaissance art fatigue in Florence’s Uffizi. So what’s next? Italophile Natasha Foges picks six less-known places that offer all the charm of Italy‘s big sights.

If you like Lake Como try… Lake Iseo

Of the six Italian Lakes, it’s Garda and Como – renowned for their heart-stopping beauty and sweeping panoramas (not to mention film-star residents) that hog the limelight. But between the two, serene Lake Iseo is the region’s best-kept secret. Long, sinuous and hemmed in by mountains, the lake has drama in spades, seen to best effect in autumn, when the wooded hillsides are in glorious colour and the lake is mistily atmospheric. If you can bear to tear yourself away from the pretty lakeside villages, check out the stone-age rock carvings of the Val Camonica at the head of the lake, or drive through the Franciacorta area at the lake’s southern end, celebrated for its sparkling white wines.

If you like the Cinque Terre try… Ponza

The ruggedly beautiful fishing villages that comprise the fabled Cinque Terre, each a tumble of cheerily painted houses, have long enthralled tourists – and now lure 100 million visitors a year. If you’re hankering for salty air, sparkling seas and pastel-hued houses – but without the crowds – plump for Ponza, a pretty island that lies off the coast between Rome and Naples. Popular among weekending Romans in summer – it’s within easy reach of the city – it sees few foreign visitors. With few sights as such, it’s the perfect place for a laidback holiday. There’s little to distract you from the simple pleasures of paddling in limpid waters, sunning yourself on crescent-shaped Chiaia di Luna beach and messing around in boats.

Photo credit: View at Ponza harbor / Dreamstime.com: Aalexeev

If you like Tuscany try… Umbria

Rural Tuscany’s best bits – scenic landscapes, fantastic food and wine, winsome hill towns – can also be found in next-door Umbria. If you dream of a escaping to a rustic hill-top agriturismo, spending your days contemplating the rolling hills and eating your own body-weight in pasta (but not paying an arm and a leg for the privilege), Umbria is for you. As for where to stay, try Norcia, Spello, Todi, Montefalco, Amelia, Bevagna or Narni: all picture-perfect little towns that never get overwhelmed by tourist hordes, even in the holiday month of August, when Italians head for the sea, leaving this land-locked region blissfully quiet.

If you like Venice try… Treviso

Love Venice but not its camera-clicking crowds? For a low-key version of La Serenissima – and with not a tour group in sight – head to the city’s pint-sized neighbour, Treviso, just 40km away. The self-styled “piccola Venezia” is no mini-Venice – it lacks the showpiece sights, and its canals are pretty rather than grand – but it’s a lovely spot for a weekend away, with cobbled streets, frescoed churches and ancient waterways galore. Crossed here and there with wrought-iron bridges – with picturesque views of still-churning waterwheels – Treviso’s canals thread its walled medieval centre, encircling the town’s rowdy fish market, which sits on its own islet. Take a seat at any of the cafés here and order a glass of local fizz: in the heart of Italy’s prosecco region, it would be rude not to.

Photo Credit: efilpera via Compfight cc

If you like the Amalfi Coast try… Procida

There’s a lot to love about the Amalfi Coast, from its craggy mountains plunging sheer into the sea to the drama of its serpentine coast road, winding past verdant hillsides dotted with sun-bleached houses. If you’re looking for a similarly scenic spot that’s cheaper and easier to get to, try Procida, a 40-minute ferry ride from Naples. Outside August, when holidaying Italians descend en masse, this is a sleepy, unpretentious island – a far cry from the glitz of the Amalfi Coast. The director of the film The Talented Mr Ripley, Anthony Minghella, scoured Italy for a suitably lost-in-time location to act as the fictitious Mongibello and found it here – specifically in Procida’s most picturesque corner, the Marina di Corricella, whose old-school trattorias share harbour space with fishermen mending their nets. If you tire of watching the comings and goings in the harbour, you can while away your days basking on beaches, admiring the dazzling seascapes and wandering narrow streets heady with the scent of lemons.

If you like Florence try… Urbino

A ravishing hill-town to rival any in Tuscany, Urbino also has a remarkable hoard of first-class art – if Florence’s Renaissance treasures have left you wanting more, you’re in for a treat. Though well off the tourist trail in the region of Le Marche, on the other side of the Apennines from Florence, Urbino wasn’t always a backwater: under the patronage of Renaissance poster boy Duke Federico da Montefeltro in the fifteenth century, the town flourished into a cultural capital. The duke’s sprawling palace, worked on by some of the greatest architects and architects of the age, now holds one of Italy’s best galleries, the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, with a fantastic collection of works by Piero della Francesca, Titian, Uccello and local-born Raphael, among others.

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