A large iron pan of saffron-coloured paella with mussels and giant prawns to share.

Delicious dishes and snacks from our travels – Part 2

In Food, Life, Our Journeys, Sense, Senses by Janis2 Comments

Food and the incredible memories that it evokes

Gary and I have tasted some incredible dishes from our travels. Whether they have been cooked in tiny makeshift kitchens, from a street food vendor or served in an upmarket restaurant. They have all been so memorable in their own way.

At the bar of pintxos bar in Bilbao, with a selection of the different types of food available.

The Zaharra Pintxos bar in the corner of Plaza Nueva, Bilbao

Hopefully, you were able to catch up with part 1 of this post, as I shared some tantalising dishes from the many areas of France, Portugal and Germany.

Quick Links

I mentioned how particular dishes or ingredients can differ so much from region to region. Spain is such an amazing example of this, so without further ado, let’s get stuck in.


Spain is another country with an abundance of incredible food, and also very often regional. We’ve headed off on a few road trips around Spain, and had some wonderful experiences discovering food. From the vibrant Basque dishes in the northern region to the exquisite flavours from Seville, Andalusia in the south.

Tapas and Pintxos

If you are in the Basque region, you do not want to get your pintxos and tapas mixed up. The residents of Basque are very proud of the culture, and you wouldn’t want to go around upsetting anyone.

A selection of pintxos bar inside the Mercado de la Ribera in Bilbao

Pintxos at the Mercado de la Ribera, Bilbao

We visited Bilbao a few years ago, and the quality and variety of pintxos are incredible. From the tiny little bars to the bustling Mercado de la Ribera.
Now if you are anywhere else in Spain, you’re allowed to refer to it as tapas. Once again, we have had some delicious dishes, from north to south.

A selection of tapas bar on a shelf in a tapas bar in Logroño, Spain

So much choice, Logroño

In some places, if you choose to sit at the bar or stand inside, you are offered a tapa free of charge with your tipple. However, if you wish to have table-service, you will be charged. One of our best experiences was in León in the north, the tapas was so plentiful we were refusing it by the end of the evening.
People lined up outside tapas bars on The narrow, pedestrianised, Calle del Laurel in Logroño

The evening on Calle del Laurel, Logroño

A city renowned for its tapas is Logroño in the La Rioja region. This northern city has over 50 tapas restaurants within a four-block radius around Calle del Laurel, which is in the heart of the city.

A helpful guide

There are so many incredible places to discover in Spain and I love planning road trips. I often use the DK Eyewitness books, I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into searching for more.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our Spanish road trips, now you can grab the revised copy.


Well, Valencia has a few specialities the first of which is paella. I couldn’t mention Spain and not include paella and Valencia is the birthplace of this delicious dish.
I do love a paella when it is cooked traditionally. We’ve prepared this dish many times at home, and slowly, slowly we are perfecting it.

A large iron pan of saffron-coloured paella with mussels and giant prawns to share.

Paella in Spain

The other speciality from Valencia is horchata de chufa, accompanied with fartons (no laughing now). This is often enjoyed for breakfast if you have a sweet tooth. We went for the whole experience and ordered churros too.
The traditional place to indulge in these is at a Horchateria, and we headed for Horchateria Santa Catalina, in the heart of the old town.

A three-quarters glass of hocata, a creamy, milky, nut based drink with a clear plastic straw.

A glass of horchata

Fartons dusted in icing sugar on a serving platter in  the Horchateria Santa Catalina

One and a half fartons, Horchateria Santa Catalina, Valencia, Spain

Fartons are light pastry fingers dusted in icing sugar and are dipped in the horchata. The horchata is like a milk drink and chufa nuts, also known as tiger nuts, it is usually served in a long tall glass and is ice cold.

More from Spain

We have so many standout memories from the cuisine we have tried in Spain. Seville is my favourite Spanish city, without doubt, it’s in a little tapas bar here that we made the plunge to set up ‘Our World for You’.
A Spanish chef, pulling a skewered octopus from a pot of boiling water

Octopus in Oviedo

Nevertheless, when I think of the cheeses that we’ve had, the octopus delicacy in Oviedo. Then the traditions and ceremony of serving suckling pig in Segovia, it all just puts a smile on my face.

Discover more

If you’re touring Spain on a road trip, take a look at our posts on the UNESCO sites in Spain. All of them are incredible, and so man to choose from.


Prior to us visiting Croatia I must confess that I wasn’t too aware of the culinary specialities that Croatia was renowned for. Although with its location along the Adriatic Sea, fish and seafood were going to play a prominent role.
Did you know that Croatia were producers of olive oil? We stopped at a roadside kiosk and brought some home.

From the sea

I certainly wasn’t wrong when it came to the selection of fishy choices. One that Gary loved from Zadar was crni rižot. Which is a cuttlefish risotto, it may not look visually appetising as it was jet black; however, it was delicious.
An ink-black cuttlefish risotto, topped with a green salad leaf, and a bright red tomato

Cuttlefish Risotto in Zadar

A few of the other dishes we had were stuffed squid, fish skewers. To be honest, a simply grilled whole fish truly takes some beating.
My favourite dish during our road trip around Croatia was Brodet/Brudet which I had in Trogir. This a fish stew and traditionally made with three types of fish, shellfish and served with polenta.

A Croatian seafood brodet stew consisting of giant prawns & muscles in a tomato sauce, served with polenta

Brodet - A Croatian Fish Stew

It was incredible. We did try and recreate it at home; however, it was a little lost in translation.

A helpful guide

If you've yet to discover the delights of Croatia you're in for a treat. While planning our road trip, I used the DK Eyewitness books.  I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our north to south Croatian road trip, now you can grab the revised copy.

From the land

A dish that is quite popular in Croatia and reasonably good value is Čevapi. They may look like sausages as they are long and thin, but they are actually made from minced beef and pork and grilled. Similar to a Greek or Turkish kebab.

Slices of beef in a dark rich sauce served with gnocchi

Pasticada - succulent beef in a rich sauce.

Another meat dish is Pašticada, it is a very traditional dish of the Dalmatia region, though not always easy to find. Beef is marinated with specific ingredients overnight, then slow-roasted to produce succulent flavours within in a rich sauce. The dish is traditionally served with gnocchi.
Meat platters are also be found in many restaurants, particularly if they have a wood-burning grill.


Now onto a dessert, palacinke, Gary kindly took one for the team here. Palacinke are thin crêpe-like pancakes, filled with a sweet flavouring. In Croatia, they are traditionally eaten with a walnut paste filling. Which is what we chose, and they were very tasty too.
Croatian pancakes stuffed with a walnut filling and drizzled with a chocolate sauce.

Palacinke - Croatian pancakes

Walnuts are also made into liqueurs, as we found out when we were offered a tipple in Dubrovnik.

Discover more

If you’re touring Croatia on a road trip, take a look at our post on the UNESCO sites in Croatia. They are all magnificent; however, I particularly loved Plitvice Lakes.


Italy must be one of the gourmet countries of the world, the delicious pasta delicately folded into tiny parcels of heaven. Tantalising thin Pizza’s modestly adorned with the most delicious flavours and oozing burrata spilling out onto sweet tomatoes.


When we visited Florence a few years ago, the choice and the quality of the restaurants were incredible. Although my weakness is gelato and where better to indulge in it than Italy. The range of flavours was just too much, so for research purposes, I had to try quite a few.


The gelato shop

Italian lemons

In 2019 we headed off on road trip that included a few nights at Lake Garda. The location we chose was Limone sul Garda. And yes, as the name would suggest it has a strong connection with lemons. High on the terraces nestled in the sides of the mountains are Lemon Houses.
Italian lemons growing fresh on the tree in Limone Sul Garda

Fresh, Italian lemons

We’ve yet to tour the Amalfi coast, and I’m led to believe they take lemons to a whole new level.

A helpful guide

If your heading off on your own Italian adventure, than grab a copy of this DK Eyewitness book. I love planning road trips and these guides are so helpful. I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more of the back roads.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our Italian wanderings, now you can grab the revised ccopy.

Colourful fresh produce

One of the ways Gary and I love to experience the heart of a town or city is to head to a local food market. Vibrant swathes of colour and stimulating scents truly bring an ingredient to life.

It also allows you such an insight into the variety of produce each region has to offer.

The packed food market in Piazza Campo de' Fiori, Rome, Italy

The food market in Piazza Campo de' Fiori in Rome

I appreciate that at times the food markets can become slightly touristy. However, I just love the atmosphere, and it educates me into local dishes being served in the traditional restaurants.

Tempted to?

Discover the incredible dishes and flavours throughout Europe. Why not jump in a car and tour at your own pace.  You can do it all on a road trip, Rental Cars searches multiple well-known car hire brands and discovers the deals that suit you the best.

Our taste of Africa

We’ve eaten some unusual food while visiting Zimbabwe and Namibia and had some amazing experiences. Especially heading out onto Lake Kariba and fishing for our supper each evening, while living on a houseboat.
Incredible memories.


Just to mention our culinary experiences in Zimbabwe. If you are a vegetarian, it may prove a challenge at times. Warthog, steaks and various types of antelope are often the order of the day, especially when a Braai is being fired up.
There is a Portuguese influence in Zimbabwe too, so this adds a pleasant spicy twist to the cooking.

A plate of a rustic beef stew, with green leaves, beans & the Zimbabwean staple, sudza.

Stew & Sadza

A local favourite in Zimbabwe is sadza (cooked maize), I’ve tried it a couple of times and yet to be completely won over, but never say never.


I must admit our favourite snack while travelling through Zimbabwe is Biltong. This dried cured meat is a bit of an acquired taste and very moreish. One of the best we’ve tried is from the Lions Den Butchery at Lions Den, which is on the way to Kariba from Harare.
Rows of biltong hanging in the air at Saucy Sues, a stopover at Lions Den, on the road to Lake Kariba.

Biltong for sale in Zimbabwe

Once you’ve grabbed your freshly cooked burger from Saucey Sue’s, head next door and pick up some spicy biltong.

Give it a go

While we were in Victoria Falls, Gary was tempted by a crocodile wrap (not a whole croc). When I asked him what it tasted like, unsurprisingly he said, "chicken actually" and weirdly often some meats do. They tend to need a bit of additional flavouring to lift them up.
A crocodile wrap, cut in half and served with a sauce & fries in Zimbabwe

Crocodile Wrap

I went for the warthog salad roll, which I really enjoyed and yes, it tasted of pork. Although what really helped the whole experience was sitting next to the Zambezi River, sipping a glass of the local beer.
Yep, you guessed it a ‘Zambezi’.

A helpful guide

If you're considering an adventure around Zimbabwe, then your in for a holiday of a lifetime. I always find it incredibly useful to plan our trips with the help of a guide book.

Take a look at this informative Bradt guide, it will give you great tips and advice.

Namibia - The German touch

In 2013 we embarked on a 3-week self-drive safari around Namibia. Similar to Zimbabwe, Namibia has plenty of choices for the carnivore. If you head to Swakopmund on the Atlantic Ocean coastline, you’ll still see the German colonial influences amongst the architecture. This has also rubbed off onto the cuisine, and there is even a ‘Brauhaus’ in town.

A touch of German in Namibia

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    1. Author

      Yes, the warthog is lovely, you have to make the most of trying these dishes, you never know when you will get the opportunity again. I think when we were in Zimbabwe years ago we had curried crocodile, this time Gary went for the wrap (you don’t see it that often).
      We went to an open-air braai named Gava’s when we were in Harare, the stew and sadza was a bit of a challenge. When we returned home, Romesh Ranganathan had done one of his ‘Misadventures’ programs, he had visited Zimbabwe and went to the same restaurant. Great atmosphere.

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