With the ability to travel abroad temporarily on hold, if you can’t go away on holiday right now, why not bring your holiday to you?
OK so it’s not exactly the same … But with an unprecedented situation happening worldwide, there have been some truly inventive home-based efforts to bring a bit of joy to our day. And as the warmer weather starts to emerge in the UK, what better way to escape than to relive your favourite holiday meal memories?
With some extra time available to prepare meals and supermarkets, local farm shops, butchers and fishmongers able to deliver to your door, you should have no shortage of ingredients to help you recreate your taste bud favourites from around the world.
Wine and dine your way through a sunny weekend with an al fresco breakfast on the patio to set you up for the day.
With few reasons to drive anywhere, you can add a cheeky tipple to your lunch, head out for afternoon stroll around your local area for your daily exercise before finishing the day with a justified sunset feast.
Add a regionally-authentic soundtrack to your meal prep, courtesy of a free online music streaming service and let yourself be whisked away to holidays-past - or inspired for new destinations yet to be stamped in your passport.
Start your day the right way
Pretend you’re waking up far from home before trying these European staples to set you up for the day ahead.
Breakfast is a simple affair for French folk. Start your day with a ‘café au lait’ - a large milky coffee, rather than ‘un café’ - an espresso. Accompany this with cold or toasted baguette, a selection of cheese, flaky croissants and pain au chocolat.
If you’ve had the pleasure of holidaying in Greece, you may have tasted some traditional fare to set you up for the days. Recreate this by looking up recipes for tiropita - a hot flaky pastry filled with local cheeses, or try tiganites - Greek pancakes, topped with honey or spread with a soft cheese called anthotyro.
Breakfast for Spanish people is light, but deliciously sweet. Indulge in golden-brown churros, sprinkled with icing sugar, or dipped in either thick hot chocolate or frothy café con leche. Another option is the fluffy, lemony magdalenas - like cupcakes, usually available from bakeries in Spain but simple to bake yourself, thanks to the plentiful recipes available online.
Head to the Caribbean - Home of the original barbecue
Start your foodie escape by heading west, to the Caribbean and Jamaica - home of stunning landscapes, the ultimate in relaxation vibes and, of course, famous for its mouth-watering jerk chicken.
The Caribbean is also is the home of the barbecue. The islanders here were discovered slow-cooking their food as early as the 1500’s, when Spanish invaders landed on the turf of the Taíno people. Many Caribbean islands are known for their creative culinary touch, and Jamaica is no exception. The third-largest Caribbean island is fringed with sublime mountain ranges whose terrific terrains extend from its east to west coasts.
Ochio Rio, on the northern shore, boasts Jamaica’s famous Dunn’s River Falls. The Falls' slippery rocks and rushing waterfalls make this an all-natural waterpark. Diving and snorkelling are an absolute must in Jamaica. The rich and vivid colours of the island’s clear, coral-lined coastline will captivate you, while for those with an interest in wildlife, many reserves, botanical gardens and bird-watching expeditions are available.
Negril, Montego Bay and Runaway Bay are all favourites with visitors and are home to some of Jamaica’s best beaches, including the seven-mile beach overlooking Long-Bay; a bustling hub of stylish bars and restaurants.
Whilst you may dream of taking a table at these yourself one day - or maybe you've been lucky enough to have already had that pleasure - why not try preparing your own jerk chicken, along to a soundtrack of Bob Marley's legendary reggae tunes to inspire your cooking whilst following our recipe below?
This meal should be washed down with an authentic Jamaican rum for a flavoursome finish!
1 tbsp allspice berries
1 tbsp black peppercorns
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
4 spring onions, chopped (use the white part and most of the green)
3 scotch bonnet chillies, finely chopped
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
6 chicken legs, skin-on, or 6 thighs and 6 drumsticks.
1. Pound the allspice and the peppercorns with a pestle and mortar to a powder, then add to a food processor along with the cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme, spring onions and chillies. Whizz to a purée, then stir in the sugar, salt, soy sauce and lime juice.
2. Pour the marinade into a bowl and add the chicken, massaging the marinade into the meat, making sure you get it underneath the skin. Cover and leave to marinate for at least six hours, or overnight.
3. Light your barbecue and get it to a medium heat. Sear the chicken on both sides, then move to the edges of the barbecue grill, put the lid on and leave to cook for approximately 25 minutes, turning occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through. Alternatively, pre-heat the oven to 180C and cook the chicken in a roasting tray covered with foil for about an hour, until cooked through. Heat a griddle pan on a high heat, and then sear the legs on both sides until charred and crisp. Serve with rice and peas, roasted sweet potato or cornbread fritters.
Get to know Greece through its gourmet
The home of ancient civilisation, Greece rides the waves of the Ionian, Aegean and Mediterranean seas and its mythical islands will charm you. Athens, the country capital, is home to the awe-inspiring Acropolis, a 5th century collection of ancient ruins, temples and monuments, which looks as if it has all been sculpted directly from the rocks it rests upon.
The beaches of Zante, (originally Zakyntos) provide a sanctuary for Loggerhead Sea Turtles, who visit the once remote shores each year to lay their eggs. Some of Zante’s most famous beaches include the secluded Navagio (or Shipwreck) Beach. Nestled within the cove of its craggy cliffs, you can take a boat trip out to its concealed sea caves. The stunningly beautiful Vasilikos (Banana) Beach is the largest beach in Zante, with soft white sands and warm shallow waters to sooth your feet during long walks along its many miles of coastline. Zante is also a well-known party island. Its lively nightlife promises to exhilarate the younger generations, or those of us who are just young at heart!
For those of us who have visited Greece, one advocate remains true; the food and wine will always impress. In the home of the olive, you can get your fill of Mediterranean flavours!
You should have no issue sourcing your own Greek meze ingredients with your weekly shop - make sure you add rice-stuffed vine leaves, pittas, dips and feta cheese to your list. Don't forget to add a bottle of wine to that list too!
Crete is Greece’s largest island and slightly more relaxed, with its largely rural community. Chora Sfakia is just one of many beauty spots worth visiting. With ancient fortress ruins and the cave of Daskaloyiannis for you to discover, the journey through Crete’s impressive White Mountains and scenic winding roads sets the scene for this pretty fishing village.
If you are going to try barbecuing Grecian-style, then it has to be lamb. An all-time favourite on every island, no barbecue can be said to be truly ‘Greek’ without it.
Barbecued Greek Lamb with Tzatziki
4 garlic cloves
4 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp thyme leaf
2 bay leaves
1 leg of lamb - butterflied
Flatbreads to serve
For the Tzatziki
½ cucumber, halved and deseeded
170g greek yogurt
1 small garlic clove, crushed
Handful of mint leaves, chopped
Pinch of salt
1. Mash the garlic to a paste with a pestle and mortar. Mix with the olive oil, lemon juice, oregano and thyme leaf, season with a little salt and plenty of pepper. Place the lamb in a large porcelain dish. Pour the marinade over the lamb and massage into the meat. Leave the lamb for at least an hour at room temperature, but no longer than overnight in the fridge, or the meat will become too soft.
2. Fire up the barbecue and place the lamb on the grill to cook for 15 mins on each side, or 20 mins on each side for well done. To cook in the oven, set to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 and place the lamb in a shallow roasting tin and roast for 30 minutes for pink, or 40 minutes for well done, turning the lamb halfway through. Leave the meat to rest for 10 mins before carving.
3. To make the tzatziki, grate the cucumber coarsely, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and squeeze out all the liquid. Tip into a bowl with the yogurt, garlic and mint, then mix well. Carve the lamb into thick slices and serve with the tzatziki wrapped up in warm flatbreads.
Feast in Florida
The southeasternmost state in the US, Florida is a stunning holiday setting. Here you can lose yourself between the boundless Atlantic Ocean and the sun-soaked Gulf of Mexico. You can break the waves and sunbathe your days away on any of the hundreds of miles of sandy shores in this idyllic location.
If you prefer a more urban feel, you may prefer to visit Miami with its Latin-American character and celebration of the arts.
Food lovers can opt for Flagler County on the north east coast. At Flagar Beach you will find everything, from signature dishes, such as wasabi salmon, to pulled pork sandwiches, seafood salads and even a good Sunday brunch buffet for the home-body Brit. The more adventurous can grab an airboat ride to one of the outer city cafés. Here, you can get close to nature, observing alligators in their wild habitat, and even eating one battered and deep-fried in a real swamp-food al-fresco diner!
Tampa Bay on the west coast is a craft beer hotspot. It hosts brewery tours, festivals and vineyard expeditions too. You can wash down your Floridian-inspired meal with a bottle or two of craft beer, with some of the larger supermarket brands conveniently stocking American brews, so you can stay authentic!
If you decide to barbecue at home, it’s handy to know that Florida enjoys the influence of its culinary-inclined Caribbean neighbours. In fact, the method of slowly grilling all manner of fresh foods is so popular here, that they have their own special sauce for marinating.
We found a local restaurant’s original recipe for you try: the brilliantly named 'Kenny Gilbert’s Florida Citrus Mop.'
Make up a batch of this sticky seasoning to keep in your fridge. Douse your fish, meat and vegetables in it before stacking in on the barbecue, and have yourself an original Florida feast.
Kenny Gilbert’s Florida Citrus Mop
(Makes 4 cups)
2 cups apple cider vinegar
½ cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup orange marmalade
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tsp crushed red pepper
Salt and black pepper
Whisk all the ingredients with ½ a cup of water and season with salt and black pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Bring to room temperature before coating your selected ingredients.
Sardines in the Portuguese sun
The Spanish originally gave the name ‘barbacoa’ to the wooden structure used in the Caribbean for slow-cooking food. This legacy lives on in Portugal, where you can wine and dine to your heart’s content. Indulge in mature cheeses, smoked sausages and tapas of many textures and flavours. Here, gym routines and calorie counting are temporarily traded for tasty custard tarts and full tummies!
Portugal flaunts an impressive range of awe-inspiring landscapes, a remarkable cultural heritage and a sun-soaked capital city. Lisbon, has almost 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, with a character and charismatic energy which puts me in mind of a refined old gentleman, suave and traditional, yet lively and fun. A leisurely early-evening stroll around one of the city’s many romantic attractions is in order. The Moorish castle ruins of São Jorge overlooking the city centre, or The National Palace of Queluz, boasting beautiful gardens and striking architecture, will impress upon you a sense of Portugal’s rich history, which dates back to 1143, when it became an independent country. Travel around the city is almost effortless. Vintage yellow trams create a graceful rhythmic pulse and you can jump aboard and be carried away on their melody to an elegant Fado house, where the traditional music of Portugal is celebrated and enjoyed.
Another fascinating place to visit is Porto, a coastal city in north-east Portugal. Now a UNESCO world heritage site, it was one of the first recognised wine regions in the world. Famed for its fermented Port and full-bodied reds, Porto will be appreciated by anyone with an interest in its place on the vintners’ map.
A haven for historians, you can visit a perfectly preserved 13th century town house and marvel at the 14th century church of São Francisco. When you get peckish, you’re sure to be delighted by its many characterful bars, restaurants and cafés. This city, with its maritime history and stately presence, protects its past while toasting the present; a medieval city with soul.
When it comes to food, the Portuguese hold their fishy cuisine in high regard, with cod and grilled sardines among the favourites, the latter being one of the most popular dishes. So, to really get your feet under the local dining table, we recommend you relish the flavours of this region’s recipe!
Grilled Sardines with Lemon and Paprika
3 medium garlic cloves, finely minced (about 1 tbsp)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh juice from 2 lemons
1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1lb fresh sardines, cleaned, scaled, and gutted
Fine sea salt
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Lemon wedges, for serving
1. Combine the garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, paprika and black pepper in a small bowl and whisk well. Arrange the sardines in a single layer on the bottom of a shallow baking dish and pour the marinade over the fish. Turn the fish to ensure they are coated evenly, and spoon some of the marinade into the cavity of each fish. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.
2. Light your barbecue. When the barbecue is hot, remove the sardines from the marinade and grill over direct heat for 2-3 minutes. Flip the sardines over and grill until charred on the other side and cooked through; about 2 minutes more. Transfer the sardines to a large platter and season with salt. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges. Alternatively, grill on a high heat setting, cover the fish in marinade, and cook for 10 minutes.
So, there you have it - a taste of four fabulous holiday destinations for you to try at home. These recipes are sure to fire up unforgettable memories or spark temptation for future adventures for you every time you light your barbecue at home.
If this taster of fabulous holiday destinations and dishes has whetted your appetite for travel, and if you are an RCI member, click on the button below for more holiday inspiration. Even if you're not an RCI member, you will get some great holiday ideas by clicking on this link through to our RCI Directory.
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