Discovering Poland, Romania, Wales, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, revisiting Germany and Oman, and making a number of tasty trips to India and England - Life literally handed me a very full plate in 2014!
But there have been a few stand-out moments along the way that made this year particularly Platetrotter-worthy. So if you ever find yourselves in the very special corners of the earth listed below, these are some places you just have to try:
With its romantic Medieval centre and haunting modern history, Krakow is a city I would return to in a heartbeat. And all the other good reasons aside, the best one would be Ancora, the Modern Polish restaurant in which I possibly tasted the best bisque of my life. If you ever visit Krakow, this is the place to head to on a cold winter's night for a bowl of life-changing crayfish broth.
Other must-tries: Krakow's gorgeous cafes and "milk bars" are a cozy collection of places stuffed full of antique furniture, glowing candles and crocheted tablecloths that create an atmosphere unlike any other. My top picks are Cafe Camelot, Singer Cafe and Mleczarnia.
BRECON BEACONS, WALES
My trip to the Brecon Beacons may have been a bit drizzly, but the wet weather led to a series of incredibly fortunate incidents that gave me a whole new understanding of Wales' proud industrial past. What I was probably happiest about however, was its incredibly exciting culinary present. My top pick - dinner at the Felin Fach Griffin, a gastro-pub hailed for its focus on locally-sourced farm-fresh food. From the moreish cup of butternut squash soup that arrived as an amuse bouche to the palate-bursting poached rhubarb dessert, this was definitely a fantastic spot to spend a rainy evening in Wales.
Other must-tries: I was pretty keen to try some Welsh wine but sadly didn't get the chance - a constant drizzle didn't make for the best winery-visiting weather. But that's something for next time...
BUCHAREST AND BRASOV, ROMANIA
Romanian wine is universally excellent, but its bars are equally interesting. From specialist vinotheques with walls stocked floor to ceiling with the country's incredibly rich variety of grape, to others decked out like apothecaries where you can sip a cocktail out of a test tube, and even a furniture store masquerading as a bar where you can decide which of the antiques surrounding you as you sip your drink may make a good addition to your home (handy price tags on your chair or the lamp beside you help make that decision pretty easy) - a bar crawl around Romania is a must-do for the quirky gems you are guaranteed to find.
Other must-tries: Don't miss a meal in the capital's atmospheric old caravanserai Hanul Lui Manuc, a 19th century inn that is one of the last of its kind in this part of Europe.
SARAJEVO, BOSNIA AND HERCEGOVINA
How amazing could a kebab possibly be? I suggest you answer that question yourself after trying a cevapi (Bosnian kebab) at Sarajevo's most famous cevabdzinica, Zeljo. From the moist, minced meat to the warm pita bread, sharp onions and thick sour kaymak, this is one place whose reputation as a place of culinary pilgrimage is very well deserved.
Other must-tries: If you aren't sure what to expect from a bar named after a goldfish bowl, Zlatna Ribica will defy your wildest imagination. A jumble of randomness that is stylishly put together, head here for a drink and the chance to add your own little scraps of memory to the sideboards full of notes from previous patrons.
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