Italy 2013 ~ The Amalfi Coast, Bologna, Venice; London and Dublin. Plus a super EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT!! :)
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Wowzers!

Ok, this was the MOTHER of all posts I have ever uploaded. I think it has been the most full-on collection I have ever published on the blog in it's 3 years running (maybe with the exception of the 2011 Christmas Magazine)... I literally have a glass of wine in my hand to celebrate eventually hitting the 'publish' button. (Finally and Phew!)

It's taken me almost 10 days to get it sorted by way of sifting through the photos ~ I took 9,863 in total on this trip; for the blog/a few jobs I was commissioned to do whilst away/and for a 'certain something else' to be mentioned again in a second...). After selecting the ones I wanted it was a case of cleaning them up, resizing them, editing were necessary and collating them into groups etc.. but finally we're up and running and I can now sit down and tell you all about the AMAZINGLY wonderful time I had in Europe. And why you just HAVE to go to the Amalfi Coast ~ stick it on your bucket list, it is without a doubt the most beautiful place I have ever been to. I was going through the photos thinking; "Was I actually really there?!" and *sigh* more to the point; "why am I not there again now!!?" ... However more of that later ...

Let's just say overall it was one of the best holidays I have had the good fortune to go on to-date ~ even if there was a bit of work thrown in here and there in the 5 weeks, it was brilliant to get back to Italy ~ one of my favourite places on earth, and to Dublin ~ my 'official' home town. I spent 2 weeks in both and 5 days in London at the start but with Dublin this time I wanted to get home and just hang out with my mates and family whom I haven't seen properly in quite some time and head to my favourite pubs and seek out new restaurants. Get a sense of just living back home etc.

I was somewhat pleasantly shocked to see how booming the food scene now is in Dublin, it has changed so much since I lived there and when I made the move to Australia almost 8 years ago. In fairness when I lived in Dublin I wasn't working as photographer or really as into food too much in comparison to now, but it was wonderful to see new restaurants thriving and literally chokers with patrons on weeknights ~ so many of the new bars and restaurants I visited were literally buzzing all week long. We were so lucky too that the sun finally decided to show itself in Ireland (the first decent Summer I think in all of 7 years or so I have been told) and the fantastic warm weather had everyone in flying form. I went out for drinks the day I arrived into Dublin from Italy with a bunch of mates and was stunned to see how vibrant and upbeat the centre of the city was, what with people sitting outside pubs lapping up the balmy weather. Some punters had even brought their armchairs down onto the streets from flats above to sit outside their favourite pubs and enjoy a few pints ~ it was brilliant to see given the economic hardship a lot of people have experienced in Ireland in recent years, and which is still very prevalent in most of the country, given a bit of a respite from the doom and gloom experienced since 2008.

I have to point out straight off that alas (somewhat sadly) I won't be able to post up shots from Dublin just yet, as I was asked by Delicious Magazine ~ for which I write and shoot an 8 page feature each month, to shoot a story for the October 2013 issue surrounding what I would recommend for places to eat and drink in if you were to visit Dublin in the coming months, basically a 'Katie's Foodie Guide to Dublin' ~ venues I found which were; good quality; serving great, tasty food at reasonable prices and where I would recommend you grab a pint of Guinness or a drink on a Saturday evening before hitting the town etc. Also gourmet shops, and other general bits and pieces which I enjoyed when I was back in Dublin this time round, and I have enjoyed in the past and I would still consistently recommend. The issue will be on sale in mid-September so once it's on-sale I'll be able to post up some links and extra snippets for you to take note of if you are planning to travel to the Emerald Isle. I highly recommend f you are looking for a good few days away (especially if you live in Europe or the US) check out Dublin, it's such a vibrant, friendly and fun city. There's great shopping food, pubs and most importantly the people in Ireland are second to none. It's a super city to spend some tourist euros or dollars and you'll have a ball.

So Dublin aside, there was another reason for my trip to Italy and Ireland and that was I needed to get some photos and to gather some inspiration (from a recipe point-of-view) for a new project I am undertaking ~ actually two new projects... and that is...

Two new cookbooks!!!

WoooHooo!

I'm thrilled to reveal I have signed a new two-book publishing deal with Lantern/Penguin Random House to write, cook, style and photograph two x new 120 recipe cookbooks. I am delighted to finally announce it to the readers of What Katie Ate and to say a huge thank you to all who bought the first WKA book and continue to do so. The other day I received 6 German copies and I look at it and think 'Holy Cow ~ did I write a book that's translated into German!? How did that happen?!! LOL. {BTW I have good news too it looks like the book will be translated into Spanish now too}.

It's been very much a whirlwind journey for me over the past 3 years since I was offered the first book deal and I can't believe it's actually been 2 years since I was writing and shooting the first book. I also still can't quite believe I won the James Beard Photography Award for the book and that it was nominated in the 2 categories ~ what an amazing trip to NYC that was and one I will never forget. I have learnt so much since I wrote the first book and grown so much from both a food perspective and photographically, I've also taken on all the constructive criticism of the first book and taken note. I am really excited to get my teeth into the next book ~ the title of which I'll announce in a few months, but it will be a slightly different approach to my first book ~ which was very much a reflection of the style and design of WKA for the first two years of it life. The next book will be even more gorgeous and I think you will love it more. It's a natural progression and reflection of my growth with the blogs and my work over the past year and one to come. The first of the two books will be going on sale next October 2014 and will have 100+ brand new recipes and a few familiar ones thrown in for good measure.

Below is a selection of shots I took during our time in London, Venice, Bologna, Capri, Ravello, Positano and Dublin. I have decided not to put them in order or our travels as listed above, as quite frankly how could I not start with the towns of the Amalfi Coast...!?

Enjoy...

RAVELLO

POSITANO

BOLOGNA

Bologna was fantastic, I adored it. It's a vibrant university town and I loved it's realness, vibrancy and relaxed sense. The food was amazing, was cheap and people super-friendly. I loved how non-touristy it was and I just really enjoyed my time there, I'd totally go back for a few days and it's a good place to base yourself as you can get to Modena and Parma very quickly by car etc. We got the train from Venice there and only took 1 hour. Easy.

Before I headed away I stumbled across a food tour company based in Bologna which sounded like a really fun way to spend a day in the area, so I did a bit of research, sent a few mails back and forth to a really helpful girl called Barbara, and before I knew it we were booked in!

Italian Days Food Experiences is run by a young and dynamic Foodie-staff who are aware of changes in the market and ready to select the best offerings for their guests with food factory visit and online shop of finest Italian products. Based in Bologna, it is a 100% Italian company with a simple goal: to help people to discover, understand and buy outstanding and authentic Italian gourmet products through factory visits and food tastings.

Alessandro is the owner and creator of both Italian Days Food Experiences (aforementioned 'Barbara' is his girlfriend), Alessandro was our tour guide for the day which kicked off at *cough* a somewhat early start for me: 7am (!) Note ~ if you are going to do this tour, get an early night before and don't do what I did: drink way too much limoncello after dinner! Anyway, with a somewhat cloudy head, we rose at 6am and got ready then we were met at our hotel in central Bologna by a lovely driver who transported us along with 16 others (all of us spread out in 3 SUVs) to our first stop off; a Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese factory about 35 minutes away.

Alessandro was utterly wonderful. Full of life, super friendly and approachable and knew his stuff inside out, back-to-front. He is 100% Italian and 100% passionate about food and wine. Alessandro is a true food lover who enthusiastically promotes small producers of great quality products. It was amazing to watch a man so consumed by good quality food telling us the processes of the food production from start to finish as we visited various factories from 7am until 1pm. Before we were all driven to a very authentic 'Italian family-style' restaurant where we all sat around a long table and we wined for 3-4 hours. It was totally superb! Incredible fun and the food and wine flowed. I got some great inspiration for recipes for the next book whilst sat at this table. Overall a totally fantastic day and a tour I would highly recommend to anyone visiting the area. It's great value too and you'll adore the lunch, it was a really perfect end to the tour and a total surprise to me - I had no idea we would be ending the day on such a high note.

To book a tour with Alessando you can find all the info you need here: Italian Days

Also check out Alessandro's online store where you can buy some of the produce he covers on his tour. I ended up buying a bottle of 100 year old balsamic on the tour itself but you can get an equally amazing 25 year old on the site and he ships worldwide.

Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese D.O.P.*

*Note: D.O.P. stands for: Italian agricultural products labeled D.O.P. (an acronym for Denominazione di Origine Protetta) and are products whose ingredients and preparation are specific to a geographic region.

Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena D.O.P.

Modena Ham D.O.P.

London

All pics above taken at London's Borough Market

Venice

All images © Katie Quinn Davies 2013

List of recommended hotels

London ~ The Savoy Venice ~ Gritti Palace Bologna ~ Hotel Corona D'Oro Capri ~ Capri Tiberio Palace Ravello ~ Palazzo Avino Positano ~ Le Sirenuse Dublin ~ Kelly's