London launch of Grantourismo

Last night was a bit like Travel Bloggers Reunited when I met Lara Dunston and Terry Carter whose work I’ve been following for while at Cool Travel Guide. Lara and Terry are a globetrotting couple of professional travel writers and photographers who had just flown in from their base in Dubai for the launch in London of their new project of Grantourismo.

Heather with Lara Dunston and Terry Carter of Grantourismo

Heather with Lara Dunston and Terry Carter of Grantourismo

Lara and Terry are embarking on a year long Grand Tour for modern times, sponsored by Home Away Holiday Rentals UK, who have set them up with some pretty cool places to stay if the Luxe London Penthouse we were in last night was anything to go by. They’ll be staying in each destination for a couple weeks, living like locals and trying to find the best of each place that they visit, writing all about it on the Grantourismo blog and tweeting @gran_tourismo. It’s an interesting collaboration with Home Away Holiday Rentals UK who are using the project’s social media approach to promote their 425,000 holiday properties worldwise as well as introducing people to the concept of a ‘home from home’ from which to enjoy a more authentic and enjoyable holiday experience.

Canapes at the Grantourismo launch

Canapes at the Grantourismo launch

In line with their aspiration to live like locals, we were drinking English wine, elderflower cordial and the fabulous canapes were all on the Best of British theme. Terry had been out on the London for Foodies walk around Borough Market with another GranTourismo partner, Context Travel who provide walking tours that take you to the heart of a locality with guides who are both passionate and expert in their chosen subject, in this case food.

Terry confessed to going a little crazy with his purchases of English cheeses at Neal’s Yard Dairy and sausages at master butchers The Gingerpig, and brought back some British products and inspiration for the canapes. I confess I ate far too many as they wafted around the room, including mini Yorkshire puds with roast beef and creamy horseradish, stuffed quail eggs topped with haggis (a nod to our Scottish friends) , grilled Welsh Rarebit with mustard (better known as cheese on toast) and Scottish smoked salmon with cream & chives on blinis.

To these Terry added a few of his own inspired by favourite tastes from his travels but using British produce including smoked trout mixed with lemony Childwickbury goats cheese and capers, smoked mackeral on a bed of celariac puree and  the pork pâté that he’d found at the Ginger Pig glazed with a red wine reduction and crispy bacon.

I had a fun time chatting to Home Away Apartment owners Judith from Theluxpod.com, Nico from MyLondonflats.com as well as travel folks like Ben from Tourdust, Tim from Viator, and Imogen from Context Travel . I also took the precaution of arriving before the other guests, not just to get ahead on the canapes, but to record a chat with Lara and Sarah Chambers from Home Away Holiday Rentals about travel writing, the Grantourismo project and why they preferred this marketing approach to traditional advertising. You’ll find it here on the blog as part of my podcast series in the near future.

I’m madly jealous of Lara and Terry for having secured what seems to be like the perfect travel blogger’s job and am looking forward to reading about the fab places they’re visiting on the GranTourismo blog.

Other London articles to enjoy

Interview with Lara Dunston and Grantourismo – Podcast
Weekend in London at the Mandarin Oriental – Podcast
Step back in time at the Dennis Severs’ house in London


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  • Reply
    Sherry Ott
    February 14, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Wow – that does seem like the ultimate job! Totally jealous! Looking forward to the interview! I do love the idea of staying at apartments for weeks and living more like a local than a tourist – something I’m always striving to do!

  • Reply
    Mark H
    February 14, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Meeting up with other bloggers sounds great especially in such a salubrious environment as this.

  • Reply
    Fly Girl
    February 16, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Lara is one of my travel blogger friends as well. It’s so great that you got to meet her and Terry. Cool job indeed.

  • Reply
    February 18, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    I’ve been following Lara’s blog for some time and am looking forward to following their trip.

  • Reply
    Donna Hull
    March 8, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    The Grandtourismo blog is a fascinating concept, marrying a photographer, writer and accommodations provider. I’m looking forward to reading their blog as the tour unfolds.

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