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Compass & Fork: Discovering the World Through Food and Travel

Today we’re bringing you another installment of our Featured Contributor Friday spotlight, highlighting the fantastic and unique work of Mark and Elizabeth Rudd at Compass & Fork. They have been contributors on Primal Palate for several years now, and we’ve always been intrigued with their awesome recipes. As lovers of travel ourselves, their blog concept is really interesting to us.

View their recipe collection on Primal Palate here!

 

How did you get started with your blog Compass & Fork?

 

Before Elizabeth and I met, we were both keen travelers and hikers. In our younger years, we both traveled overseas for pleasure and loved it. Learning about different cultures, experiencing the food and drink, enjoying the sights and meeting people from all over the world were great experiences. That joy of traveling in our teenage years, never left either of us.

 

When we met each other and eventually married, Elizabeth and I spent many years hiking together and made plans for a “bucket list” of places we both wanted to visit. But then work intervened and our joy limited because of lack of time! Elizabeth and I held responsible, “corporate” jobs all of our working careers, together with all of the politics that goes with it. Both of us have extensively travelled during our work careers on multiple continents. But traveling for work is a very poor substitute for taking a holiday to the same destination. We also managed bringing up 3 children.

 

Mark and Elizabeth, at Machu Picchu

 

Eventually about 6 years ago finding our children off our hands we realized that our “bucket list” hadn’t really changed that much since we started working. In other words, too many places to see and foods to eat but not enough time to enjoy going there. Decision: Ditch the corporate lifestyle and spend more time traveling for pleasure! This is something we hear people talk about all the time, but how many people actually do something about it and follow their dreams?

 

It was a life changing experience. Since then, we have checked off most of the travel destinations and signature hikes, from our early “Bucket List”. However, there is no shortage of new destinations to replace those old “bucket list” destinations. So of course, our “bucket list” never gets any smaller. When I look back at our experiences of the last 6 years I just pinch myself.

 

About 2 years ago we decided to create a website featuring food and travel from different cultures to encourage people to follow their dreams. And so, we created Compass (travel) & Fork (food). Elizabeth tends to look after the travel side and I focus on the food side.

Via Compass & Fork on Instagram

How do you select destinations, and how often do you travel?

 

In terms of selecting the destinations, our bucket list controls that. We update it at the end of the year, removing those destinations we have visited and adding in new destinations that have come to our attention. We also categorize each of the destinations by cost (High, Medium, Low) and physical degree of difficulty (high, medium, low). For example, hiking Machu Picchu in Peru or Torres del Paine in Patagonian Chile (surely the most stunning scenery anywhere in the world, shown below) can’t really be tackled in older age, so we have a bias to tackle those high degree of difficulty bucket list items earlier rather than too late in life. Cost is obviously also a factor.

 

As to how often we travel, that is more difficult to answer. We live in Australia, so we tend to take multi-month trips. And, we like to travel slowly, so we can experience the true culture of a destination and see what’s there outside of the tourist zones, experience the food the locals eat, attend the local markets and so on. We also like to reduce our air travel, so typically we might visit a few adjacent countries. There is no shortage of great places to experience.

When you’re home, what types of dishes are your favorites to cook?

 

I love cooking anything to be honest. Melbourne, Australia is blessed with high-quality food and markets, which I think surprises most non-Australians. It is one of the most multicultural cities in the world and you can find an incredible range of fresh ingredients at the markets. I also like to grow my own vegetables.

 

I do have a bias towards South East Asian food, Moroccan and Middle Eastern spices, winter braises and anything cooked on the outdoor BBQ or grill. My favorite day is to go early to the Collingwood Children’s Farm Market (voted Australia’s best Farmer’s Market for something like 15 years in a row), enjoy a coffee, take in the stunning setting, see what vegetables and fruit are in season and work a menu out from there. Then in the afternoon, I cook up that evening’s meal and might prepare another 1 or 2 for mid-week. To me cooking is relaxing and a mind release. I enjoy it.

 

As you may have guessed, we love to cook what is in season and to be honest we are not strictly paleo. (We may be a little older than your average contributors). When growing up there wasn’t much known about “paleo”. We just naturally migrated over the years to cooking with fresh vegetables and high-quality meat and fish, for the superior taste and health benefits. I have also observed over the last 20 odd years how many people have started to become “gluten-intolerant”, something unheard of previously. I now have great suspicion about the pesticides and herbicides big business uses to grow grains and cereals and we tend to avoid them unless they are heritage grains or organic.

 

With the length of time you’re abroad, do you write posts on Compass and Fork while you’re on location? How do you go about working on the recipes? (I suppose a better way to phrase this question is, “tell us about your work flow for writing the blog”)

 

Now I am giving away our trade secrets! We generally develop our recipes 3 months or so before we need them. Firstly, being slow travelers we tend to stay in a destination for a good amount of time. One of the minor frustrations of traveling around and trying to write recipe posts is that you are held hostage to how good the crockery and cookware is in the apartment you are staying in. As well, some places have great lighting for taking photographs and others not so much. As we are weight-constrained we don’t take any cookware with us nor a lot of camera equipment. Unfortunately, this can make it difficult to manage a consistent look and feel for your photos, but on the other hand, you can uncover some great ideas, recipes and stories about the food you are cooking when you are onsite in another country. As well, we always like to include some scenery or restaurant shots from the country concerned.

 

In terms of our workflow for creating recipes, before arriving in a new destination, we research typical and traditional foods of the region. In the first week at our destination, we will visit the local markets and restaurants and ask the locals for food recommendations. From there, we put together a menu of recipe ideas – enough for 4 or 5 posts, including a dinner party. If the lighting and crockery are good at our location, we will source the ingredients, make and photograph the recipe and draft the post. If it is not so good, we will take the recipes with us and make the dishes at the next (good) place.

 

How do you work on the recipe aspect? Do you strive to recreate recipes exactly, or do you put your own spin on them? How does Paleo fit into your overall approach?

 

We put our own spin on the recipes and we will substitute ingredients if they are too hard to find in other countries. Eating healthily on the road is important. Although we are not strictly paleo, most of our recipes actually are paleo, primarily because of the way we shop. We rarely buy anything on the inside aisles at a supermarket, all the healthy stuff is on the outside! Our dietary preference is to eat plenty of fresh vegetables, meat and fish and preferably sourced at a farmer’s market or small business.

 

Having said that, we do like to showcase the food of the destination we are at and being a food and travel blog our readers expect that. If it is a great recipe and it contains some non-paleo ingredients, we will feature that recipe. For us, it is about balance and provided most of our recipes are healthy, we are willing to feature a “naughty” recipe occasionally.

 

Which destinations are on the horizon for you?

 

The next destinations on our horizon are England, Scotland, Spain and Morocco. Cannot wait for that last one!

 

Bill and Hayley, thanks so much for the opportunity to connect to your readers.

 


 

If you love food and travel, you should follow Mark and Elizabeth on Instagram, and check out their extensive website (which has a TON of great information on it.) You can also find many of their great recipes right here on Primal Palate, which means they can be used in our free meal planning tool, myKitchen.

 

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