olive travels: where to visit in September
From Welsh food festivals to pincho crawls in Rioja and harvest activities on Malta, here's our pick of where to travel this month
Want some ideas on where to go on holiday in September? We've selected our pick of destinations for a food lover's break to close the summer: food festivals in Wales, wine-related fun in Spain, and rural experiences in Malta. This is just a small selection of our UK, European and global travel guides, click here for more inspiration, or check out our pick of the best UK culinary escapes for 2022 and Europe's top food trips for 2022. We also have our pick of destinations to visit in July and August.
Food festivals in Abergavenny
Head to the Welsh market town of Abergavenny over the weekend of 17-18 September for a celebration of food and drink, based around the Victorian market hall, surrounding streets and ancient castle grounds. Discover local and global treats, from Wales’s oldest Caerphilly cheese, Gower Brownies and craft gin to Tibetan dumplings, edible flowers and seaweed rum. Activities include chef masterclasses with the likes of Jeremy Pang, Melissa Thompson and Felicity Cloake as well as foraging trips, cooking over fire demos in the grounds of Abergavenny Castle, and the new Local & Vocal tent, where you can meet and hear stories from people growing, producing, and selling food in Abergavenny and the surrounding area.
While you’re in town, try some of the local dining experiences, from iconic Michelin-starred tasting menus at The Walnut Tree just 2 miles out of town, to contemporary small plates at The Gaff and seasonal Welsh comfort food at The Hardwick. Abergavenny’s rambling streets are dotted with cosy cafés including Cwtch Café, The Coffee Pot and Fig Tree Espresso, plus ice cream from Shepherds, Welsh craft beers at Hen & Chickens and Gurkha Corner’s Nepalese curries. Artisan food shops include Chesters Wine Merchants, Neil Powell butchers and The Marches Delicatessen for the region’s best cheeses, charcuterie, hams and chutneys.
Stay at the Angel Hotel, an elegant yet homely Georgian former coaching in in the heart of Abergavenny. The dinners here focus on quality, locally sourced ingredients whilst breakfast is a lavish home-cooked spread and award-winning afternoon teas are enhanced by a dedicated tea sommelier.
Wine festivities in La Rioja
Logroño is the capital of La Rioja, Spain’s most famous wine region. Every September, the city’s streets come alive in celebration of the Fiestas de San Mateo wine festival (17-23 September this year), with parades, live music and wine-related activities including grape stomping, offering of the first must, and tastings in the main square of the city. Most of the vineyards are accessible from the town, and there are plenty of special events taking place during the festival, so take a tour to visit a few. Franco Españolas is on the edge of the town, where you can tour the ancient cellars, vineyards and taste the Bordón tempranillo wines.
Wine makes its way into many of Rioja’s traditional dishes, including beef cheeks in red wine sauce and lamb chops grilled over vine shoots. Restaurante En Ascuas is a traditional Riojan asador serving flame-grilled meats, roast suckling pig and white bean stews. Or try the hyper-seasonal set menus at La Cocina de Ramón, that focuses on roast meats and seasonal vegetables including Ebro River white asparagus, roasted piquillo peppers and blanca de tudela artichokes.
Embark on a pincho crawl along lively Calle del Laurel, a rite of passage when visiting Logroño. Each bar specialises in particular pinchos; head to bar Soriano for stacks of garlic mushrooms topped with a tiny prawn, La Ladea serves epic razor clams and Papa Negra specialises in tiny jamón sandwiches.
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Harvest activities on Malta
September is a prime time to visit this southern Mediterranean island, thanks to long, warm summers and a patchwork of produce ripe for picking. Make the most of quieter roads to explore the rural north, covered in vines, olive trees and prickly pears, as well as carob, almond and fig trees. Late September marks the beginning of the olive and wine harvest, as well as the autumn honey collection, that releases an intense aroma from the flowers of carob and eucalyptus. Local families get involved in the harvest and many farms host festivities, including western Malta’s traditional farm restaurant Diar Il-Bniet. Join an olive grove and vineyard walk before an al fresco sunset dinner of Maltese dishes accompanied by the gentle flutter of an acoustic guitar.
Victory Day on 8 September sees a lively regatta in the Grand Harbour, firework displays and churches decorated with flower garlands in the celebration of village ‘festas’. Northern hilltop town, Mellieha, known for its sandy beach Melliena Bay, comes alive in the lead up with band marches, outdoor celebrations and stalls selling local treats including qubbai nougat and date-stuffed mqaret pastries.
In the capital of Valletta, head to stone cellar wine bar Legligin for Maltese meze or Noni for modern twists on Maltese dishes, such as rabbit confit croquettes, octopus tagine and local black tea and condensed milk dessert, te fit-tazza. Nenu the Artisan Baker specialises in ring-shaped ftira pizzas topped with Maltese ingredients, while Is-Suq Tal-Belt is where to head for prickly pear liqueur and Malta’s national snack, ricotta-filled pastizzi pastries.