A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: roblewis

favourite recipes from across the globe

We have travelled the globe to bring you, our beloved audience, some of the finest recipes know to mankind. You lucky things...

1. A wonderful fresh pasta dish from Gioia Mia, a great restaurant in Rome. Would probably work with dried pasta if you dont want to make fresh.
La Ricetta di Gioia Mia
Pappardelle all Granduca

500 grams of fresh pasta
80 grams of prosciutto crudo
200 grams of mushrooms
50 grams of butter
1/2 litre of cream
fresh tomato sauce

Cook the mushrooms (sliced) for a couple of minutes till they are partly cooked, then add the thinly sliced prosciutto, butter, cream, a spoonful of tomato sauce and a splash of cognac. Simmer for a few minutes. Add the (cooked) pasta to the pan and add a dusting of parmigiano.

2. The secret to the best italian pizza dough.
When we were in Rome we attempted to make pizza in Pat and Bob Ware's pizza oven. A moderate success since it was our first attempt at making the dough from scratch but it wasn't as crispy as our favourite Italian pizza restaurant in Rome which, according to Mariana's grandad, makes the best pizzas in the world. The next day we went down there to ask for the secret for good pizza dough which they kindly shared with us:


1kg of OO flour "grana dura"
1/2 litre of water
10 grams of yeast (fresh not dried)
2 fistfuls of salt (equates to roughly 20 grams)
a shotglass of sunflower oil (roughly 15 centilitres)
a shotglass of extravirgin oliveoil (roughly 15 centilitres)


1. Dissolve the yeast in the water (NB water should be cold ideally, tepid is ok but never hot!)
2. Add the flour to the water very slowly, stiring constantly (not the water to the flour)
3. Once the water has been added then add the sunflower and olive oil
4. Last of all add the salt. It is very important to add the salt at the end as otherwise you risk a chemical reaction between the salt and the yeast which stops the dough from rising
5. Cover with a damp cloth and leave until it has risen about 1 1/2 times (this can take between one and three hours depending on the temperature)
6. Once risen, divide the dough into small balls (100-200 grams each). The dough will go down again once you have divided them into balls
Leave again to rise as before (up to 3 hours)

NB when rolling out the dough it needs to be done on a floured surface to prevent it from sticking. However before adding the 'passata' make sure you dust excess flour off the top of the pizza (the experts do this by throwing and spinning the pizza!) as otherwise the flour mixes with the tomato sauce and it goes soggy.

3. Perde Pilav from Ciya - a pilaf "veiled" in a pastry crust (in Kadikoy, Istanbul)

This recipe is from the best restaurant in Istanbul (in our humble opinion!) Contains meat so only Rob was able to eat it and it absolutely melted him. Apparently it is a wedding dish with the crust symbolising the couple's new home, the nuts the couple themselves and the raisins the future babies.


For the dough
5 cups of high protein flour
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup of yoghurt
6 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp salt

For the filling
One whole chicken cut into 8-10 pieces
1 onion (chopped)
1 medium carrot (chopped)
2 ribs of celery (chopped)
3 tbsp fresh lemon
5 cups baldo rice
12 tbsp butter
2 cups of sliced almonds
1 cup pine nuts
1 1/2 cups dried currants
4 tsp oregano
2-4 tsp ground allspice
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp chopped dill
20 mint leaves (chopped)
6 Scallions - white part only, minced
10 tbsp butter (softened)
1/2 cup blanched almond halves

For the dough
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl using your hands. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until dough comes together in a small ball (3-4 minutes) Cover and rest for 1 hour

For the filling
Put chicken, onions, carrots, celery and lemon juice into a large pot. Add 6 cups of water. Season to taste. Cover and bring to the boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 mins. Remove chicken, discard skin and bones, strain and set aside. Strain and degrease the broth. Set aside five cups for later use.

Wash rice and soak in salted water for 20 minutes. Drain rice. Melt butter in large pot over medium heat. Add nuts and cook, stirring often, till golden. Add rice and toast it for 10-12 mins. Stir in chicken, stock and currants. Season to taste. Cover and cook till liquid has absorben and rice has softened but is not fully cooked (roughly 20 mins). Remove from heat to rest for 10 mins. Then add oregano, dill, mint and scallions.

To assemble
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of ovenproof pot with butter. Arrange almonds round the bottom and along the sides in vertical straight lines. Roll out dough and press firmly into the pot, pressing it into the almonds leaving a 2 inch overhang. Pour filling into the pot and gently pull the edges of the dough over the filling. Bake for 30 minutes covered and 30 mins uncovered till golden. Let rest for 20 minutes before inverting onto a plate and serving.

Posted by roblewis 03:38 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

Things Fall Apart

sunny 29 °C

Does anyone actually live in Montenegro? Is the Balkans the best place in the world for cycle touring? How did we end up staying on a boat along side super-yachts with Jeffrey Sweetbaum, an New York born, Moscow based entreprenuer? And what happens when things fall apart with a 1,100m descent over the horizon? Will this blog post actually ever say anything or will it just be a series of meandering convoluted questions? Perhaps...

We stood at the top of an 1,100 metre pass and looked down all the way to Kotor, a beautifully preserved historic town, nestled at the foot of a sunken canyon in Montenegro. We were all set for one of the most spectacular descents of the entire trip, except for one problem. Three spokes on my back wheel had broken and the the wheel was in perilous danger of falling apart. It had been an eventful week to say the least. Cycling through the lakes of Macedonia before crossing into Albania had offered spectacular views and fascinating encounters. Albania has only been open to tourists for a few years now and arriving there was like entering another world. There is a feeling of the wild west here, soaked with adventure and lawlessness. The roads ranged from perfect newly laid tarmac to dirt tracks (on the same road!) indicating that money is now beginning to be spent on infrastructure. A booming tourist industry will no doubt follow due to the incredible mountains and beaches but for now this place is still untainted by mass tourism and provides an awesome experience for travellers looking for something different. bizzarely almost everyone drives around in clapped out old Mercedes, apparently the only cars which can endure the awful roads. IMG_6234.jpg
On our second day there, we began looking for somewhere to camp and spotted a lake on our map. However, when we arrived we were unable to access the lake except via someones property. We wheeled our bikes down their driveway where we were greeted by a squat Albanian man by the name of Nico. No we could not camp down at the lake he said in Italian. We must stay with him and his family in their house. This was typical of the amazing hospitality we received here and at dinner time we were constantly told to eat more food and drink more of their home made grappa.
The next day we set off descending down through deep canyons and gorges until we reached the main coastal road which took us through to Shkoder, the centre of which contained very pretty streets and houses which bustled with life as day turned to night and people spilled out from their homes and offices. We stayed in a former communist hotel, a big brutish concrete structure that was the cheapest place in town. However, our stay became slightly more expensive when 2 days later i realised i had left half my cycling clothes in the room, never to be seen again. All the way through Albania we were greeted with toots from cars and enthusiastic greetings by people genuinely happy that we were visitng their country and we were sad to leave but know we will return.
We crossed the border into Montenegro, a country we had greatly been looking forward to visiting after hearing of its spectacular natural beauty. Without doubt this was another wonderful country for cycling with very quiet roads and stunning landscapes. However, we hardly encoutered any Montenegrans other than those working in the tourism industry and the place laked the exciting vibe of Albania. The ride along Lake Shkoder was truly breathtaking and we camped that evening at a small beach on the lake shore after enjoying fish caught from the lake (actually Mariana had a tomato salad). Our decision to camp at the lake meant we started the next day with a 250m steep ascent back to the road. Already soaked in sweat we continued on to Virpazar another beautiful town located where the river meets lake Schkoder, surrounded by a lush green nature reserve. The next day we cycled on to the former capital of Montenegro, Cetijne, a beautiful old city though sadly lacking in the buzz of a thriving city.
The following days cycle to Kotor was all set to be one of our most spectacular yet; a wonderful climb through pine forest and craggy mountains up to 1200m before traversing across a high plateau and then a descent to sea level involving 25 hairpin turns. As we set off my bike was making a strange sound and I looked down to see one of my spokes broken. Further examination revealed that actually 3 had broken. Usually this would not be too difficult to fix but 2 things prevented this. First, the broken spokes were all on the rear wheel cassette (the gears) side meaning i would have to remove the cassette to replace them, and secondly, the spare spokes seemed to have dissappeared from Mariana's bag. We managed to find the cities only bike mechanic, an eccentric old Montenegran who ranted at us for several minutes before indicating we could return at 2pm. When we did return the wheel was still in a sorry state and the mechanic seemed angry - he was unable to remove the cassette. We asked if he thought it was safe to continue to Kotor. He shrugged his shoulders. What choice did we have. So on we went.

What a ride. Even going slow so as to ensure i got down in one piece the cycling was one of the highlights of the trip so far. So breathtaking that i kept having to stop to take in the view in an attempt to imprint it on my mind.
When we finally reached sea level and the old town of Kotor we phoned our couch surfing contact; Jeffrey Sweetbaum. Now Jeffrey is definitely not your average couch surf host. First of all he owns a large boat which he spends most of his summers on, sailing around various parts of the world. He is also an eccentric New Yorker who decided to go to Moscow after the fall of the Communist regime, in his words "to see what was going on". It turns out plywood was going on so he set up a business in it. Anyway, we spend a lovely couple of days hanging out on his boat, riding his dingy around the lake, and swimming in various coves.
Feeling refreshed after some rest, we cycled the last leg of our Balkans adventure, an 90km ride to Dubrovnik (still with 3 spokes missing). After 80km we decided to stop at a lovely beach just outside Dubrovnik, a place Mariana had stayed 10 years earlier, with a lovely campsite and beach. The next morning we rose early and arrived in the city for breakfast. Although Dubrovnik is undoubtedly beautiful and incredibly preserved, the place has become a tourst circus, heaving with English and Americans following guides holding colourful sticks so that they dont get lost. No Croats actually live in the old city and after 1 day we had definitely had enough. "Lets get out of Croatia" i said "the place is heaving. Lets go to Italy!"

Posted by roblewis 07:13 Archived in Albania Tagged mountains lakes bicycle croatia cycling montenegro albania couchsurfing mercedes Comments (1)


sunny 28 °C

Lesvos is a stunning island and we had a wonderful 5 days there. Four of which we spent cycling around the island (very hilly with obscenely beautiful wild campspots on the beach - Ampelia and Podaras) and one hanging out in Myteline with an awesome group of people we met through couchsurfing.
Our host Panos showed us a great time in his hometown and said he wanted to come with us on our cycle around the island. However, at 7.30am after a night drinking the local spirit (Oozo) he was far from lycra clad and seemed to be put off by the hills and 75km a day schedule.

The island is perfect for cycling; stunning vistas, beautiful old villages, good clear roads, and wonderful beaches to relax on with crystal clear sea - just the ticket after a day in the saddle.
The food at the Tavernas was also superb with the notable dish of fava (crushed fava beans with lemon and garlic) being a new favourite, as well as pumpkin flowers stuffed with cheese and great seafood (octopus salad!).

Check out this video for a glimpse of the action.
On Sunday, we left on the weekly overnight ferry to Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city, with a feeling that living in Lesvos would be a fine thing, even though the country is now bankrupt. But if wealth is measured in natural beauty, and the hospitality and happiness of its people than they don't come much richer than here.

Posted by roblewis 06:15 Archived in Greece Tagged lesvos Comments (0)


A glorious 5 days cycling on the Greek island of Lesvos saw me suffer another swelling/infection, this time after being bitten by a spider. My elbow suddenly started swelling up and quickly took the form of a golf ball. The next day, the swelling had still not gone down and so on arriving at a town with a hospital i thought i'd better get it checked out. They prescribed some antibiotics and game me a cortisone shot in the bum. After receiving this i started feeling very nauseous and as i got up to leave the room I could feel the blood draining from my face, the room span, and I quickly passed out. Thankfully the swelling has gone down now but it made me think that spending so much time travelling in the outdoors has led to quite a few bites, stings, infections and so on and so forth. The current list stands at:

  • 1 Tendonitis in my left ankle
  • 1 kidney stone in Mariana's right kidney
  • 2 numb hands for Mariana before realising her handlebars were too low. I was given the responsibility of cutting up her food into little pieces.
  • 2 bee stings (one each, mine when it flew into my shirt and stung me on the chest, nearly causing me to swerve onto oncoming traffic. Mariana endured one in the mouth, on the tongue)
  • 1 foot infection after a prolonged period of mosquito attack in Thailand. It got bad when the flies attacked the pussing bites.
  • 1 ditch mishap. Mariana was blown into a wet muddy ditch whilst cycling in NZ on a particularly blustery day
  • 1 spider bite leading to mass swelling
  • Lots of sunburn, mainly on Mariana's nose and chest
  • too many stomach issues to go through and list.These mainly originated from our eventful fortnight in China.
  • 2 magpie diving attacks. Both on me whilst cycling.
  • Multiple occasions of being chased by dogs - again too many times to recount but we now carry stones in our pockets to fend them off.
  • 2 bird poo bombings (both on me so i'm the lucky one)
  • Some particularly pusy sores (you can guess where) and unhappily nowhere in Greece or Turkey seems to sell anti-chaffing cream.

Posted by roblewis 12:31 Archived in Greece Comments (0)


a slight detour

sunny 28 °C

Upon reaching Ayvalik we were loath to head back east in order to visit Istanbul as our trip from here on in would see us head west. However, having never been i was particularly keen to go so we decided to leave the bikes and take a 5 day trip to the Turkish capital. Istanbul is a fascinating city with a stunning setting. We spent our days wandering the cobbled streets marvelling at the vast mosques, fusion of western and asian cultures, and soaking in the ambience. And the view from the top of the 5 star Marmara hotel was too good to resist, even though a cup of tea was 12 times the street price...

Next stop Greece, the island of Lesvos.

Posted by roblewis 13:09 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

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