Going out for a beer, or several, in Slovenia

There’s a burgeoning beer scene in Slovenia and some wonderful scenery too. Nick sees if something can successfully be organised in a brewery.


The men in the ‘pub’ of the Union Brewery in Ljubljana are in fine voice tonight. As a woman cranks rousing tunes out of an accordion that’s almost as big as she is, they roar out the choruses whilst waving mugs of beer to the beat.

It’s all sung in Slovenian of course, so I have no idea what the words mean, but I’m happy to raise my own glass and cheer loudly at the end of each song. The conviviality meter has gone off the scale here in this packed bar/restaurant.

Also off the scale is the platter of meat in front of me featuring slabs of pork, tangles of spicy sausages, juicy spare ribs and more all piled onto sauerkraut and baked potatoes. Continue reading

Go Dutch for great food at sea.

Today’s cruisers attach massive importance to the quality and variety of food on board. Nick Harman sees what Holland America’s newest ship has on the menu.

home-bgHolland America is one of the most venerable of cruise lines, but perhaps not the best known in the UK. Founded in 1873 for many years it ran regular passenger sailings from Holland to New York.

In fact when Rotterdam was the gateway to a new and better life for European emigrants in the early part of the last century, it was mostly on Holland America ships that they sailed.

I was invited to Rotterdam to sail and eat on the ms Koningsdam, the newest addition to the Holland America Pinnacle-class cruising fleet, and the largest as well. It was about to be dedicated by Queen Maxima of the Netherlands before we sailed to Amsterdam overnight.

All aboard for ‘free’ food Continue reading

Avast there! Aboard Quantum of the Seas, the biggest floating food palace ever

If you’ve always thought a cruise was not for you then it may be time to think again, after all where else can you get to eat in 18 different restaurants only a short stroll from your bedroom? 

ARM2A stomach-boggling variety of eateries is only one of the attractions of the just launched Royal Caribbean cruise ship Quantum of the Seas, the third biggest cruise ship in the world at 347 m and one able to carry 4,000 passengers.

DODGEMS2Onboard are the first dodgems at sea, the first trapeze, the first skydive simulator – Ripcord by iFLY – the first Jamie’s Italian, the North Star – a stomach fluttering glass pod that swings out and over the ship to give you a helicopter view – and the Bionic Bar where two hyperactive robots log your order and then go into blurred motion at the optics, the ice dispenser and the mixer taps before finally giving it all a good shake and sliding your refreshing beverage towards you. Continue reading

Meeting Marco Pierre White. The shark at sea

First of the rockstar chefs, rejecter of Michelin Stars and grabber of headlines, Marco Pierre White is one of P&O Cruises Food Heroes. Nick Harman catches up with him mid-voyage

IMG_2347‘’I signed around 1500 of these yesterday,’ says Marco Pierre White indicating a pile of menus in front of him, ‘there’s about another 1000 still to go.’

‘You should get a rubber stamp made up.’ I suggest tentatively, ‘that would make it a lot easier wouldn’t it?’ He turns the Marco stare on me and there’s a beat of silence. ‘But it won’t be the same will it?’ he points out, ‘the people getting it won’t know it’s fake, but I will.’

boatNo longer a Michelin 3 star chef, he eventually threw them back saying that he was sick of trying to impress people who knew less about cooking than he did, Marco is still a man who doesn’t cut corners and doesn’t let customers down. Continue reading