Gelato in Italy, Pad Thai in Thailand, a bowl of Biryani and a side of samosas in India. Travel and food go hand in hand so it made perfect sense that Travelsphere sponsored the Big Kitchen at this summer’s BBC Good Food Show. I went along for a day of culinary adventure and left the show dreaming of the flavours of Italy. Imagine langoustines straight from the Mediterranean Sea cooked in a creamy risotto followed by a tart made with lemons plucked from fragrant Amalfi lemon groves. Travelsphere believe that feasting on local specialities is an incredible way to explore a destination. I couldn’t agree more.
Penny Smith and the Hairy Bikers
The BBC Good Food Show
At the NEC in Birmingham, I started my day at the Travelsphere Holidays stand which was packed with visitors voting for where they’d like to travel to next. Italy was out in front with the USA and Canada coming in second but Travelsphere venture much further afield. Trips to the Galapagos Islands, safaris in Africa and river cruises through Europe are amongst the 150 holidays to choose from.
About Travelsphere Holidays
Travelsphere have been organising incredible escorted holidays for over 50 years and they understand how important it is to make your trip a holiday to remember. With a choice of over 150 holidays to 60 countries around the world the carefully crafted and immersive group trips offer an exceptional holiday experience. There are many types of trip from 10 and 14-day itineraries, Travelsphere Cruises, short breaks and singles trips.
World-class tour managers ensure you’ll discover the authentic side of a destination by trying out local cuisines, embarking on authentic excursions and staying in hotels chosen because they offer something a little special.
You can take part in as much or as little as you feel like, there’s free time if you’d like to do your own thing and down-time for relaxation. Travelsphere understand that you might want to explore independently so there’s time factored in for this.
Flights from 18 airports across the UK, transfers, accommodation, experienced Tour Managers and a huge range of local excursions are a given. The included meals, which are customised per tour, give a flavour of the local culture and cuisine. Talking of food…
The BBC Good Food Show Main Hall
A wander around the main hall had me checking out some innovative kitchen gadgets from storage containers to table-top barbecues. The Skills School gave visitors the chance to try their hand at naked cake decorating, knife skills and making sourdough. Just to clarify, it’s the cake that’s naked, with no outer layer of frosting, and not the person doing the decorating… Many stalls offer tastings and I sampled some delicious Lindt chilli chocolate, tonic water (too early for the gin), spicy chicken and coffee but made sure I still had room for lunch.
Lunch in the BBC Good Food Restaurant
We lunched with the Travelsphere team and their travel ambassador Penny Smith who is a TV and Talk Radio presenter (you’ll probably remember her from her 17 years at GMTV). Penny kept us entertained as she chatted about her love of travel, food and culture around the world and how she “accidentally went backpacking for two and a half years”. Penny is incredibly animated and passionate about her travels and was good company throughout the meal sharing tips on her new favourite rucksack and travel sandals. She fascinated us with her tales of her Travelsphere Amalfi Coast Tour and Beyond the Golden Triangle tour to India.
We chose from the summer menu with dishes inspired by chefs appearing in the show’s Big Kitchen. My delicious starter of hot smoked salmon and shrimp was Tom Kerridge inspired and served with charred asparagus, lettuce and apple garnish with rye crumbs. My main course was another Tom Kerridge dish of Cumin roasted rump of tender lamb, crushed Jersey Royals, shallot petals with caper and mint dressing. For dessert I chose lemon and verbena tart with fresh raspberries. Coincidentally, Penny would be making an Amalfi lemon tart with chef Marcus Bean in the Big Kitchen after lunch.
Travelsphere Italy – Tour to the Amalfi Coast
For Penny, travel is all about experiences and she had these by the bucketful during her adventure to Italy’s Amalfi Coast on her Travelsphere holiday. The picture perfect Amalfi Coast is famous for its pastel coloured villages tumbling down limestone cliffs which plunge dramatically into the sapphire blue Tyrrhenian Sea below.
Read more: Making the most of the Amalfi Coast
Penny told us how she peeled giant lemons to make Limoncello. She had a wonderful visit to the hills and a family-run winery for wine-tasting, learned the art of traditional paper-making and walked in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. One of the highlights of the trip was the sharing of stories in the evening over dinner with fellow travellers.
“Our guide in Pompeii was superb. He was knowledgeable and had a fantastic sense of humour. Through his descriptions he brought Pompeii back to life, and you could really feel the energy of this once great city.”
Of course the food is a huge draw in Italy and Penny had the best pizza she’s ever tried topped with fresh tomatoes, peppery rocket and oozing with creamy burrata. I get the feeling pizza anywhere else will never taste quite so good. for her.
The Travelsphere Amalfi Coast escorted tour starts in Naples and takes in Amalfi, Ravello, Positano, Sorrento, Capri and Pompeii – some of the most gorgeous towns and sights in Italy and one of my favourite parts of the world.
Read more about my love for Italy
The Big Kitchen
The highlight of my day was the BBC Good Food Show’s Big Kitchen which is sponsored by Travelsphere and hosted by chef Marcus Bean of Brompton Cookery School fame. The Big Kitchen is where the show comes alive and chefs demonstrate how to cook their recipes on stage. As well as showcasing some great dishes there’s laughter, a lot of banter and some seriously tempting aromas wafting down from the stage. We watched the Hairy Bikers create three dishes with some tempting ingredients, a large measure of humour and a pinch or two of naughtiness. Mary Berry, James Martin, Michel Roux Jr and Tom Kerridge were also amongst the Big Kitchen performers during the week.
Penny Smith helped Marcus Bean recreate a taste of Italy with lemon tart made with lemons from the Amalfi Coast. There were lots of laughs with Tony, the camera man, getting in on the act and sneaking sips of Penny’s wine. Lemon tart is one of my favourite desserts so it was good to see how to cook it properly.
Penny reminisced about her trip to Italy during the demo which also included a Langoustine and lemon risotto recipe. It’s got me hankering for a trip back to Italy. I know we shouldn’t have favourites but I have a lot of love for Italy. Marcus asked Penny about another trip she’d taken with Travelsphere…
Travelsphere India – Beyond the Golden Triangle Tour
“I went to India and ate my own body weight in curries. I ate delicious Sambal soup for breakfast with cauliflower and vegetables every day. I was there for ten days and saw three tigers. It was such a brilliant trip, they’ve both been excellent and very, very different.”
Travelsphere’s Beyond the Golden Triangle Tour delves deeper into some of India’s fascinating culture and history and includes rickshaw rides and train journeys. Highlights include the frenetic city of Delhi, Agra Fort, Taj Mahal and a visit to Jaipur’s pink city. There’s something for wildlife and nature lovers too with a safari in Ranthambore National Park. This epic trip ends with a stay in luxury in a restored 200 year-old fort in rural Rajasthan.
Book Signing with the Hairy Bikers
After the demo my fellow bloggers, Heather from Heather on her Travels, Sally from Sally Akins blog, Laura from TTG and I invaded the Big Kitchen stage for a private book signing with the Hairy Bikers. Dave and Si were more than happy to pose for a photo or two after signing their book The Hairy Dieters Make it Easy. I’ve already cooked the Garlic chicken with cannellini beans, kale and cherry tomatoes which was really tasty. It was easy to cook and got a big thumbs up from Mr Jones – win win!
Getting in on the act in the Big Kitchen!
More about Travelsphere
It was a fabulous day at the BBC Good Food Show but more importantly I learned a lot about Travelsphere. I didn’t know much about them beforehand but having spoken to the team and gained an insight into their ethos, I understand that they really care about their customers and understand how important a holiday is. It’s not just about the experience of a holiday but also for making memories that last a lifetime. Travelsphere ensure their travellers have the best possible experience. I wouldn’t think twice about booking a trip – the question is which amazing Travelsphere holiday to take…
This post is sponsored post by Travelsphere. A big thank you to them for inviting me to join them at the BBC Good Food Summer Show. All views and opinions are entirely my own.