My life in travel: Yotam Ottolenghi

'In Tokyo, I spent nights sitting in bars, eating noodles, raw fish and fried foods'

Chef and restaurateur Yotam Ottolenghi has launched a new online store which sells essential pantry items, wines, cookbooks and gourmet gifts (webstore.ottolenghi.co.uk).

First holiday memory?

Travelling to the Swiss Alps with my parents, brother and sister, and our extended family. We were a small tribe in a small apartment in Zermatt, at the foot of the imposing Matterhorn. The clear, bright air, small mountain lakes and knickerbocker-wearing Swiss seemed as exotic as panda bears for a little boy from a dusty corner of the Middle East.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

The Mourne Mountains of Northern Ireland, close to where my in-laws live. Every Christmas morning, we go on long walks along Tyrella Beach and watch the peaks rising behind.

Best holiday?

The Greek island of Kea, where I recently rented a villa with friends. It isn't the most picturesque Greek island, but it is real, with a gripping mountain landscape and some perfectly secluded beaches. We had a blast, cooking together using wonderful local courgettes and tomatoes with tonnes of Greek cheese.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Three things: it's essential to do your homework before you leave; knowing a reliable local is priceless; and being shy gets you nowhere.

Ideal travelling companion? My good friend, the architect Alex Meitlis. With Alex, it's all about having fun. There's no agenda and nothing is a must. We were in Hanoi a few years ago, staying at the Sofitel Metropole. We'd go out in the mornings looking for adventures, food and antiques, without any plan whatsoever. We'd end up wandering into the most fascinating characters and situations.

One evening, we spent three hours watching a bunch of kids break-dancing in one of the city's squares. Another time, a sales assistant took Alex on the back of her rickety scooter for a ride around town showing him her favourite spots.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

Gastro geek. I'd never go anywhere with bad food. I take any opportunity to come back with one or two stolen ideas for recipes. Otherwise, what's the point?

Holiday reading?

The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal kept me gripped on holiday. So much so, I read it twice! I also get myself immersed in Scandinavian crime novels quite easily.

Where has seduced you?

Tokyo seduced me through my stomach. I spent days in food halls ogling pastries – the one inside Isetan is the bee's knees – and nights sitting around bars, being fed noodles, raw fish and fried foods that I'd never tasted before.

Worst travel experience?

Casablanca airport in Morocco. Our television crew had to catch a flight to our next location but we found ourselves wandering aimlessly in the terminal looking for an elusive customs office, being held there for two hours, before being released and made to run to the gate.

Worst hotel?

I tried roughing it in India a few years ago and the beautiful holy city of Haridwar was my first stop as a lonesome backpacker. My room had a ceiling fan that wouldn't turn, dirty sheets and a bucket for a shower. I lasted one sleepless night.

Favourite drive?

The west coast of South Island, New Zealand. Spectacular doesn't even begin to describe it. The ocean, the beaches and the cliffs are exhilarating.

Best meal abroad?

Hainanese chicken rice from a hawker stall in Penang, Malaysia. This simple dish of chicken poached with ginger and spring onion, served with rice and various condiments, is the best example of simple cooking.

Favourite city?

San Francisco for the stunning seascape and beautiful views. I spend most of my time in the Mission District, where I stop at Delfina Pizzeria, Tartine Bakery & Cafe and Bi-Rite Creamery.

Where next?

Sardinia, Corsica, Crete and Mallorca on a food-finding mission. I am looking forward to lots of wild boar, handmade pasta and tonnes of fish.

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

    The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album