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We’re funny (usually), controversial (sometimes) and insightful (always!). Our travel experts share their experiences below in hopes of hearing back from YOU. So read, comment and enjoy!

Posts in ‘Food, Pubs & Nightlife’

Give Away: The Three Sisters Indian Cookbook

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three-sisters-cook-bookAs the weather is currently so lovely in Europe after a wash-out summer, Team isango! has decided to embrace the Indian summer* by giving away The Three Sisters Indian Cookbook courtesy of The Book People.

The Three Sisters Indian Cookbook is written by Sereena, Alexa and Priya Kaul and is full of recipes from their childhood in Kashmir. The three came to the UK in the 1970s and settled in Derbyshire, when they had families of their own they craved the dishes that their mother used to cook and this is the result.

The cookbook is full of mouth-watering recipes, from the familiar samosas, Aloo Tikki and Chicken Jalfrezi to the lesser-known Sukhi Macchli (dry spiced fish) and Bhindi Churma (crispy okra chips). The book also has a Masala Dabba section with information on the spices that are regularly used, and some useful preparation tips. The sisters have even created their own spice box that you can order from their website.

The recipes are easy to make and the ingredients even easy to get outside of India, so there are no excuses not to get creative in the kitchen!  We love the sound of the autumnal flavoured  Saeb-Adrak Aur Dalchini Chutney ( Apple, Ginger and Cinnamon Chutney)

We have five copies of The Three Sisters Indian Cookbook (published by Simon & Schuster; RRP £16.99) to give-away: simply send an email with ‘Cookbook’ in the Subject line to competition@isango.com  – ends 4th of Oct 2011.

* and yes… we realise the term Indian summer is very likely from Native American roots but it fitted so nicely…

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Celebrate Independence Day in London

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It’s Independence day! It is 235 years since the Americans have declared their independence from the United Kingdom. Luckily international relations have long since cleared so get out your star-spangled banner as we highlight the All American options one has when visiting London.

Go for Dinner

Every year on Independence Day there’s a hot dog eating competition in New York’s Coney Island. The current record stands at 54 hotdogs in 10 minutes! For the first time in history there will be a Women’s Only division this year. If you want to take your other half for a more relaxed dinner, there are restaurants aplenty serving traditional American dishes. Recreate the 50’s vibe jukebox and all at Ed’s Diner and get a tasty burger too! For ribs and the like try Bodeans that has four branches spread over London or go to a Byron restaurant for another quality burger.

Celebrate  Jeff “The Dude” Bridges

If America has given us anything, it is Hollywood. One of  best American screen-icons is Jeff Bridges, who created a cult when portraying The Dude in the film The Big Lebowski. He’s been an actor for decades starring in films as The Fabulous Baker Boys, Crazy Heart for which he finally won and Oscar, and last year’s Coen western True Grit. The British Film Institute, BFI, is celebrating his life in film until the end of July.

Fall in Love with an American Sweetheart

In the original movie the bubbly Elle was played by American sweetheart Reese Witherspoon. This Legally Blonde musical adaption follows the same story line of the first film and Elle follows her boyfriend to Harvard to study law. Elle’s determination and style will have you cheering for the red, white, blue and pink!

Raise a glass

Find yourself an American bar: smack-bang in Covent Garden you find the classy Christopher’s American Bar and Grill, they serve beers as well as celebratory cocktails and conveniently located if you want grab a drink after the theatre too! Or go to All Stars they have a bars in Holborn, Bayswater and Brick Lane. Not only do they serve beer,they offer bowling and karaoke too: a full night’s entertainment in one – result!

Live the American Dream

See how the American Dream came true for Frankie and his buddies in Jersey Boys the Musical. The musical the Jersey Boys is based on the true story of the rise to fame of Frankie Valli and the Four seasons, you will no doubt sing-along to all the classics: December 1963 (Oh What A Night), Walk Like a Man and Can’t Take My Eyes of You.

What ever you do, have an awesome day this Independence Day!

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The Lido Show Paris

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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to enter the veiled world of the Paris cabaret where it all began? Well now you can!

As many agree the Lido Show Paris is one of the greatest spectacles available in the city of lights and crazy nights out, so join the revelry and give in to the delights Paris has to offer. Perfect for one of those special nights out (anniversaries, birthdays, Saturdays…) dinner and a show at the Lido Show Paris has everything you would expect from a club with a reputation matched only by the infamous clubs of Las Vegas which were born from the tradition of Paris cabaret.

To those who have already taken part in a night at the Lido Show Paris the Bluebell girls do not need any kind of introduction, but for the as-yet uninitiated they are the unique troupe of sparkling diamonds adorning the stage every night at the club on the Champs-Élysée. Accompanied by the Lido Boy Dancers both groups know exactly the fine art of entertaining and enchanting an always eager and enthusiastic crowd.

Named after the Lido beach area of Paris by the Italian founders Joseph and Louis Clerico the name came with high-class connotations and a reputation for fun during the 1920s. They had transformed a well-known if outdated club into a revolutionary venue that invented the concept of dinner shows for the 20th century. They successfully invoked the spirit of the stylish era at the Venice Lido with something new and exciting for the post-war era. Inhibitions were broken down and taboos shattered all in the name of good quality entertainment.

In a glittering and exclusive venue on one of the most celebrated and romanticized streets reside the spectacular Bluebell girls and the Lido Boys dancers who do not fail to seduce a different audience night after night in Paris. One glimpse will convince you that this is more than the seedy and sought-after clubs seen on every street in every major European city. The dignified spirit of the 1920s certainly lives on in every aspect of the Lido Show Paris, including the modern lighting, intimate décor and mystifying demeanor of the performers.

There are many packages available for any budget. Combine the night out with dinner or a bottle of champagne, but be sure not to take your focus off the fascinating Bluebell girls.

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Don’t be Scared of an Alternative Halloween Across the Channel

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Does the thought of having to find a costume for Halloween fill you with more dread than the haunting face of a man wielding a chainsaw? If so, Europe could be the answer. With some semblance of a cultural festival still being celebrated across the Channel you can take advantage of an excuse for a holiday without the dodgy eye make-up, fraying bandages and the handing out of ‘treats’ to hungry teenagers.

For a last minute trip Paris is the perfect option, and easily accessible. The city of love is slowly becoming one of horror for one night of the year only, but like the rest of Europe celebrates All Saints Day on November 1st, where the dead are honoured and the graves of loved ones are visited to pay respects. This also constitutes a national holiday so many attractions will be closed. The Paris Hop-on Hop-Off Bus takes in all the sights and runs all year, so while Parisians are paying their respects, the city can be explored. The route takes in all the most popular sites such as the Louvre, Champs de Mars, Notre Dame and the Champs-Élysée. continue reading

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Eat…Pray, Love

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You might wonder what taking a hop on hop off Rome tour, buying Last Supper tickets, and embarking upon a Venice gondola ride have in common with Julia Roberts. If you’ve seen her latest film, then you will know that one third of it takes place in Italy, where all three of the above experiences can be enjoyed. continue reading

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How to avoid being cheated in Paris cafés

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This is the other side of the medal, as they say in France, of those little old style Parisian cafés.
Nothing really illegal, but sometimes they bend the rules to the point that unsaavy tourists end up paying fat bills.
 
More light on this:
- Most cafés have a clear menu on each table, with all items and prices clearly displayed.
But others will only bring you a printed menu upon request. In some cases they assume that you
don’t need the menu for simple orders (coffee, drinks) and that’s precisely where they
get you. Your bill will show fantasy prices based upon the look of your clothes.
- The “riskier” areas are the famous Paris hop on hop off bus tourist spots: Ile de la Cité (around Notre Dame), Saint Michel, Saint Germain, the restaurants area around Les Halles/Chatelet.
-“Would you like some X with that?” is a typical strategy to sell you more without telling you
it’s more expensive, sometimes by a lot. Adding milk to coffee can add 1-2 euros.
Adding a side salad to a steak can add 4-6 euros to the bill.
- Serving a larger size than requested is quite typical, especially when hiding behind
linguistic incomprehension (sometimes faked). For example draught beers: the standard serving
is called “Démi” and it’s about 20cl. The larger option is called “Serieux” and is around 40cl, roughly the same as a British “pint”. Well, if you just ask for “a beer” without being specific, chances are you’ll get a pint, or even sometimes one full litre. For coffee: the default size for
coffee is a small cup, but don’t be surprised if you get a large bowl. A generic “café creme” order
will get you a large bowl unless you specify “petit” or “noisette”.

continue reading

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Experiencing the Medieval Banquet in London

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Freshly arrived to the U.K., one of the first opportunities of a night out in London for me was to go to the Medieval Banquet.

I went there with 5 colleagues, and we had the surprise of spending a very nice evening. Indeed, none of us already experimented such a thing to do in London

As we were arriving to this medieval show, two knights and the Queen herself welcomed us and lead us to our table. And that’s only the beginning… continue reading

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Barcelona

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Experience Barcelona

Park Guell (Flickr by MorBCN)

Park Guell (Flickr by MorBCN)

Barcelona is Spain’s second largest city, which explains the city’s wide array of activities to partake in.  When I was a senior in high school I visited Spain with my Art History class.  Looking back, Barcelona was sadly the city where we had the shortest amount of time and I wish I had a couple more days to experience Barcelona.

As of recent, Barcelona has become one of the most visited cities in Spain because of the vast amount of activities to experience.  Whether you enjoy thrilling tours and experiences, the arts, or learning more about a city’s culture then Barcelona has something to offer. continue reading

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Weird Foods: More Than Just A Photo Op.

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I can’t say it enough, (and I do, often) food is one of the best and most informative ways to experience a new culture. However, after hearing about a friend’s recent (strange/gross/wild) cultural eating experience in Peru (exactly what that was, we’ll come back to in a moment) I’m starting to think that it’s not just the variety of authentic cuisines that helps to define a new place, but often the experience of stepping completely outside of your (culinary and otherwise) comfort-zone in the process.

Deep, I know. But think about it for a minute, if someone offered you fish eyeballs, pig hoofs or alligator at your local diner, would you even think twice about saying no? Probably not.

So what is it that gets us crazy travellers to embark on weird and wild culinary adventures? Perhaps it’s the desire to become a part of a new place, a new culture, a new experience. Because, as any traveller knows, food isn’t just about filling your belly with calories it’s about embarking on a cultural experience.

Here comes dinner? - Shazari

Here comes dinner? - Shazari

Take my friend’s trip to Peru for example. She’s southern California born and bred, vegetarian, and an organic food junkie. What could have possibly made a girl who diligently washes each grape before digging into the bunch try (gulp) guinea pig at the local Peruvian market? continue reading

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Spain dominates World’s Best Restaurants list

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Travellers taking tours of Barcelona and other Spanish destinations this year may be tempted to visit some of the destinations that feature on this year’s San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

Spain dominated the 2009 survey, boasting four of the ten establishments that received the best reviews from more than 800 chefs, critics and industry experts around the world.

At the top of the list is El Bulli in Roses on the Costa Brava, which was named the world’s best restaurant for the fourth year in a row.

Mugaritz and Arzak, both of which are located in the town of San Sebastian on Spain’s north coast, were ranked fourth and eighth respectively, while El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, not far from Barcelona, was fifth.

France was also fairly well represented in the list, with Paris’ Pierre Gagnaire and Bras in Laguiole both appearing in the top ten.

Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck in Berkshire retained the second place that it achieved last year in the 2009 World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, while the United States was represented by New York’s Per Se in sixth place and Chicago’s Alinea in tenth.

Special Interest – Nightlife – From an extravagant meal to an eerie ghost walk – plenty of things to keep you entertained after the sun goes down.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19131259-ADNFCR

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