Not once would it have ever occurred to me that attending the World Travel Market (one of the largest travel and tourism trade shows in the world) was going to be one of the largest alcohol fuelled networking events that I’d ever encountered. While business is the name of the game, and everyone is present to network, form partnerships, get jobs and be progressive, all this is liquefied and leaves you more swervey than is normally acceptable in such an environment.
Not that I’m complaining…!
Each stand is representative of a city, region, or nation and displays the best that each has to offer. With over 5,000 exhibitors, you could drown in the amount of brochures and travel information available on site… but more importantly there’s food and wine up to your eyeballs. Seriously, water was a rarity and was among the few food items I actually had to purchase over the week.
Being a blogger, recent college grad, and intern, I wondered what the catch was for all this free deliciousness, but everyone was in good spirit (literally) and serious about doing business over a few liquid assets. I managed to drink and eat my way (while networking of course) from South Africa, to Canada, to Italy all in one day!!!
The Canadian stand deserves special mention for their chocolate brownies, and the Fijians were also a highlight offering kava ceremonies and scantily clad men in their grass skirts (although turns our they were Londoners and had the accents to match). However I chose to just witness the kava ceremony, as unlike the rest of the enthusiastic bloggers on site, I knew the truth about this muddy mystery drink.
What was more impressive however is that many stands were actually hosting cooking and cocktail lessons, offering trade-show guests the opportunity to really get up close and personal with the local culture and cuisine without even having to leave London.
My favorite was the Puglia stand – a region in Italy. They had enticed bloggers to interact with them and learn about the destination through traditional Italian cooking lessons. What’s not to like? Considering that my grandparents are Italian, getting up close with something traditional and close to my heart (and as fun as cooking) got me super excited.
I had the pleasure of learning to make Cartellate, which was described as a traditional Italian Christmas biscuit. Just like in New Zealand where we often give Christmas cakes as a gift during the festive season, in Italy, or Puglia atleast, they give these long-lasting hard treats as Christmas gifts to friends and neighbors.
Getting down and dirty with some wine and sweet dough was exactly what I felt like doing after a long morning of networking, interviews, and business bulls%$t, but I had underestimated the muscles I was going to kneed (yup I just did that) to make the dough. Italian chefs have no need for the gym considering that their blood sweat and tears gets poured into their food. The passion and love that goes into their cooking inspired me and again made me feel nostalgia towards great times in New Zealand and especially my grandmothers delicious traditional cooking (Mia Madre, the meatballs!).
Our MasterChef stated that this recipe actually takes around 3 days to make properly, however we didn’t have the time so just helped make the dough, then got to eat the rewards he’d slaved over while washing it down with some amazing local Puglia Chardonnay. I guess that way we would’ve thought they were delicious regardless of how badly we’d cocked them up.
(Please note that these quantities can vary depending on the consistency of your dough)
2 Lbs – Flour
1 3/4 Cups – Dry white wine
1/2 Cup – Olive oil
2 Cups – Vin Cotto (made from figs) or Honey
Olive oil for frying
1) Sprinkle the flour on a flat surface and knead with 250ml of olive oil and wine. Add water as needed to produce a dough of medium consistency. Leave to rest for atleast half an hour.
2) Divide the dough into smaller circles and roll into very thin circles.
3) Using a fluted pastry wheel, cut strips of approximately 4cm in width and approximately 20-30cm in length.
4) Fold each strip over onto itself lengthways and form a nest shape, pressing with fingers every 3-4cm.
5) Allow to dry for atleast 12 hours, then fry in hot oil.
6) Drain, then submerge in boiling vincotto or honey– (Vincotto tastes kinda like malt and has a similar consistency.)
7) As soon as they float to the surface, remove and arrange on a plate. Sprinkle with icing sugar.
Short Video Clip here: http://instagram.com/p/gYQJ8_sghT/
(Some images below are courtesy of Puglia Events)
Following this, the Chilean stand sought to teach the rest of the world the beauty of Pisco Sours (which I’d heard was notoriously strong and leaves you legless). Known for being both delicious and deadly I was in for the adventure and headed down there after my visit to Puglia (I thought of you Mumma Garside).
While waiting for the demo to start, they even had a professional photo set-up so you could take travel photos pretending you were in the Atacama – Probably the only time I’ll realistically get to hug a cactus. Unfortunately the picture is lost among the explosion of business cards and brochures that eventuated from a week at the WTM so its addition to this post is pending. In the meantime, wrap your lips around one of these!
Pisco Sours Recipe (serving 6-8):
8.7 fl. Oz. lemon juice
1.3 pints of Pisco
12 to 16 oz of icing sugar (to taste)
A little bit of egg white
8 ice cubes
1 small lemon or lime.
1) Put all of the ingredients in a liquidizer, including the whole lemon (with the hard ends cut off) and process until the mixture is crushed and foamy.
2) Strain and serve ice cold.
3) Before pouring into glass, dip the edge of the glass into lemon juice and then granulated sugar with cinnamon.