Balkan Bliss

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A sunny summer holiday is nourishment for the body and the soul! Time to slow down, relax, do nothing for a few days; something I, no doubt like many others, am really not very good at day to day. But sat on a balcony staring at the beautiful Bay of Kotor in Montenegro, tranquility comes so much easier than in busy, never resting central London.

The bright blue sky and glistening sea are separated by the dramatic green cliffs on the opposite side of the bay, the hot sun beating down on this peaceful paradise. We laze on the beach, dipping in and out of the warm, glassy still water. Books are devoured, along with plates of fresh juicy watermelon and the occasional sweet iced coffee. Our skin warmed by the sun, feels healthy and gradually gets that wonderful holiday glow.

We enjoy simple food, plentiful fish and seafood straight from the sea that day; prawns, mussels and squid, simply grilled and served with lime, white fish baked with summer vegetables, aubergine, fennel and huge tomatoes. We snack on salty olives with a glass of crisp white wine.

In Dubrovnik, Croatia, the market stalls are piled high with fresh fruit – plums, grapes and melons – and with bags of candied orange and figs. Throngs of people wander the ancient narrow streets, sticky hands clutching mountain sized ice creams in every flavour.

We enjoy a delicious meal at Restaurant 360, perched on the thick stone walls of the city with a delightful view over the harbour on one side and the city’s endless red roofs on the other. A seafood feast, we are treated to smoked mackerel with pickles, juicy prawns with truffle emulsion and mushroom cream, and the most delicious octopus I’ve ever had, slow cooked and served with lime ravioli. To finish, a traditional Croatian desert, mantala, layers of spice like Christmas in summer. We watch the sun set as we eat, the dusk enveloping the city and pinpricks of light appearing in the sky until it is filled with stars.

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