Anita’s Feast began around a table with our neighbors in Basel, Switzerland. There, we unpacked the Swiss ritual of raclette to a background of jazz, alphorns, and much laughter. Ten years on, friends in Porto joined us for an eclectic meal inspired by our fond Swiss memories. Our anniversary menu featured Mont d’Or cheese from France and charcuterie from Spain and Portugal. Dessert was a snazzy fruit tart from a French patisserie in Porto. Portuguese wines, from espumante to a crisp dinner white and after-dinner tawny port, proved the perfect accompaniments. We had a wonderful evening, around the table with new friends. However, it’s the times between those two meals that have brought us immense travel pleasure for the past decade. As Anita’s Feast hits double digits, please join us for a quick look back as we celebrate ten years of flavorful travel.
At home in Switzerland, 2010-2015
For Anita’s Feast’s first five years, we celebrated Swiss traditions and holidays from our home base in Basel’s Old Town. The city’s vibrant museum scene is a wonder, and the charms of living in the “three countries corner” are many.
Basel offers a year-round culture fest, beginning with Three Kings’ Day, Vogel Gryff, and Museumsnacht Basel in January. Fasnacht, a unique Carnival celebration, follows in short order. Summer days are marked by visits to local markets in town and across the French and German borders, and in August, Swiss National Day. Autumn brings Herbstmesse, and just a blink later, it’s December, and time for one of Europe’s best Christmas markets.
When you live in Basel, nowhere in Switzerland is far from home. Quite a few of our jaunts around the country made it into Anita’s Feast: wine travel in Ticino, alpine getaways in the Berner Oberland and Graubunden, and delightful travel with Swiss Historic Hotels. Many Swiss traditions involve cows—the annual tromps up to alpine pastures and down again, the fighting cows of Valais/Wallis—and of course, alphorns, cheese and rösti.
At home in Portugal, 2016 –
In 2014, an invitation to make a culinary journey through Portugal brought us to the country for six weeks, and back again, to participate in Portugal’s first culinary tourism congress. That eye-opening, stomach-stretching trip was one of incredible hospitality and joyous discovery, from the Algarve to the Minho and all points in between. We simply couldn’t get enough! In February 2016 we upped stakes and moved to Porto, where we have enjoyed exploring a new culture and foodways, and where we have learned to appreciate a glass of fine port.
We have especially enjoyed exploring the country’s Douro Valley, and Trás-os-Montes and Minho regions, stomping grapes, and visiting wineries. In Portugal’s breadbasket of Oeste, Tom and I have join several harvest festivals, and in Trás-os-Montes, participated in a unique one in Bragança. We became fans of bacalhau and can now spot some of the characteristics that differentiate Portugal’s surprisingly diverse wine regions. We still have much to discover here, but are delighted with all we have experienced so far!
Culinary travel makes our world go around
Food walks, cooking sessions, and sometimes just happenstance, provide us with numerous opportunities to discover special dishes and food traditions wherever we go. Anita’s Feast’s first ten years were spiced with intriguing flavors, from Switzerland’s Zincarlin cheese to Cambodian prahok and India’s Awadhi cuisine. From the culinary backstreets of Tbilisi to the honey souk of the Fez medina, Anita’s Feast’s first ten years has been a sweet and savory journey.
Since 2010, we have shared the best of our travels—and especially our culinary discoveries–with our readers. Some trips away from home have been extraordinary. A luxury train journey through Maharashtra and Goa, India, was a food traveler’s dream. Culinary cruises in the Mediterranean and along the Thai and Vietnamese coasts brought together some of our favorite flavors. They also introduced us to small-ship cruising in the most delightful way possible, with plenty of food and wine exploration. Our recent journeys there have just whetted our appetite for more. Stay tuned!