Read our interview with Ainsley here.
Episode 1 - Istanbul
Aired Thursday 3 November at 6pm on SBS
Istanbul is the city that bridges Europe and Asia, but what does that mean for a traveller looking for great places to eat? On the European side of this city, you can sit on a tiny table by the water’s edge and eat simply grilled fish and take tea from a passing cart. Catch the ferry to the Asian side and you'll eat seasonal village food - loquats stuffed with cumin-spiced meatballs and little plates of perfect meze. In Istanbul's backstreets, a local food blogger helps Ainsley discover the world of “esnaf lokantası”, simple workers’ cafes. The menus here might never change, but that doesn’t stop Ainsley from cooking his own spicy version of the local kofta kebab.
After making a classic fattoush salad to go with a roasted sheep head and accidentally getting caught up in a noisy football crowd that became a tear-gas fuelled riot, Ainsley heads off to find the mysterious çiğ köfte (a raw meat dish) that's banned from the streets in it’s original form. Upon tracking some down, Ainsley discovers the chef is probably more dangerous than the kofta!
Episode 2 - Barbados
Aired Monday 7 November at 6pm on SBS
Ainsley has family roots in Barbados and has come here many times on holiday but up until now he hasn’t seen much of the island's real food. That’s about to change as he leaves the comfort of the hotels behind and spends time with the locals. On this trip Ainsley tries eating roti on the beach, fries up legendary fish cakes at a roadside stall and tries the fieriest hot sauce he’s ever tasted - pairing it with a mango and sweet pepper salad.
After checking out the island's Friday night markets, Ainsley grills spiced lobster and make green bean and salsa salad. On the roadside, he finds coconut water is sold fresh from the nut. It's the perfect base for a rum punch. To conclude his stay, Ainsley hosts a beach barbecue. It might be raining, but the rum-barbecued chicken and grilled coconut crusted sweet corn more than make up for it.
Episode 3 - Reykjavik
Aired Wednesday 9 November at 6pm on SBS
It’s minus 10 degrees in Reykjavik, the world’s northern most capital city and it’s snowing! So where’s the street food? Ainsley sets out to find how the food-loving people of Iceland cope with living in an extreme climate and what he discovers is a truly exciting mix traditional foods with new Nordic cuisine.
Around the city’s harbour, small cooks in fishing shacks make rich lobster soup, salt cod croquettes and crayfish bakes as they have done for decades. Working with a local chef, Ainsley discovers that most of the salt cod eaten in Europe comes from Iceland. To balance things up he uses the freshest Icelandic cod, prawns and scallops to make a Portugese caldeira (fish stew).
Iceland is also a land of strange Viking food and in the mountains above Reykjavik, Ainsley travels to a remote farm to try lamb smoked in dung. It’s a delight compared to urine-marinated shark and rancid whale meat! All part of the journey!
Episode 4 - Osaka
Aired Friday 11 November at 6pm on SBS
Bypassing Tokyo and Kyoto, Ainsley travels to Osaka. It’s not usually on the tourist trail, but this is the city locals call ‘Japan’s Kitchen’. In Osaka people greet each other with the challenge ‘kuidaore’ or ‘eat yourself bankrupt’. As the city responsible for motorised sushi belt conveyors and the ‘pot noodle’, invention is at the heart of its street food scene.
Ainsley discovers the art of making the pancake snack okonomiyaki and seeks out the most exciting izakayas (Japanese bars) serving small, tapas-style plates of amazing food for young workers on their way home. In the Red Light district, Ainsley confronts one of the most dangerous foods in the world, before bravely stepping into the no-tourist dark alleys of Korea Town in search of grill bars.
Episode 5 - Palermo
Aired Tuesday 15 November at 6pm on SBS
Sitting at the toe of Italy, Sicily has a complex history and one that is easily discovered through the food of this vibrant city. Here you can eat sardines stuffed with Arabian nuts and fruits in a backstreet bar, or go into a mountain village inhabited by Albanians and try the best canoloni in the world.
Ainsley discovers that this stunningly beautiful and ancient city still struggles with its history and organised crime. Ainsley meets the mafia-fighting Mayor of Palermo, Leoluca Orlando, and has a bizarre chat about his love of Sicilian food in a market street once controlled by the mafia. Luckily, they are surrounded by armed guards throughout the interview!
Ainsley tries the fritto misto (fried fish and vegetables in a light batter) and golden balls of arancini stuffed with smoked ham and mozzarella. But there are horrors too - spleen sandwich and a mysterious ‘meat’ sold from a covered basket that no-one is allowed to look in. Afterward, Ainsley cooks as the locals do, with seasonal ingredients. The menu includes fresh tuna with artichokes and broad beans, stuffed sardines and a very local pistachio pesto sauce.
Episode 6 - Taipei
Aired Thursday 17 November at 6pm on SBS
On his trip to Taipei, Ainsley discovers the Mazu Temple market, a warren of street food shacks that have formed a village serving fragrant braised fish, chilli pork stir-fries and soups with titles that would seduce an Emperor! By night, Taipei becomes the Street Food jewel of the China seas. Markets open up at dusk and queues of locals and Chinese tourists jostle for bowls of steaming noodles, grilled dumplings and crispy duck. Ainsley finds a stir-fry stall selling fresh fish and cooks Taiwan prawns with garlic and chilli. But it’s the classic Taipei dish called Three Cup Chicken that gets Ainsley really excited; chicken braised with sesame, soy and fragrant basil. It’s amazing and like the best recipes, very simple to cook. There are the usual culinary traps for Ainsley. Stinky Tofu is not for anyone with a sense of smell and eating at ‘Modern Toilet’ is a challenge for anyone with any senses at all! And when Ainsley finds himself at midnight fishing for prawns at a local swimming pool he knows he is out of his comfort zone!
Episode 7 - Amman
Aired Monday 21 November at 6pm on SBS
When Ainsley arrives in Amman, he discovers that Jordan is a new country, but its food has roots deep in the history of the Middle East. The cuisine encomopasses slow cooking-styles of the Mediterranean, as well as traditional recipes that came to Jordan from Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. But it’s the Bedouin style of cooking that really captures Ainsley’s imagination on a trip into the desert. He is treated to whole lamb that has been buried in the ground and cooked for many hours.
Back in Amman, Ainsley discovers the falvours of migrant populations in Jordan, sampling Iraqi fish barbecue, Syrian ice-cream and Palestinian baked goods. He tries eggs smoked in the ash of bread ovens and tries unfamiliar dishes, like the classic spiced chicken and rice dish maqlooba and msakhan (chicken baked with sumac and caramelised onions). Add to this falafel, hummus and flat breads stuffed with spiced meats and melting eggplant and there you have it, Amman on a plate!
Episode 8 - Fez
Aired Wednesday 23 November at 6pm on SBS
Fez is a World Heritage Site and for Ainsley it’s an opportunity to step back in time and enjoy the truly authentic flavours of Morocco. The spice shops sell preserved lemons, olives in clay jars and bowls of fiery hot, bright red harissa. Ainsley cooks chicken kebabs with a harissa yoghurt dressing over coals in one of the backstreets.
Ainsley arrives in the Moroccan city of Fez a few days before the festival of Eid. The celebration begins with the slaughter of sheep on Medina rooftops and ends with a feast. Ainsley is invited into the homes of local people to discover why these ancient traditions remain significant in the modern world.
There are very few ovens in Fez homes, so most make use of the locals bakers and the furnaces beneath the public bath houses. Ainsey uses one to make a filo pastry bastilla pie filled with saffron-braised chicken, spiced nuts and golden onions. He also prepares a shoulder of lamb slow cooked with North African spices and a carrot and chickpea salad dressed wth the much-loved marinade, chermoula.
Episode 9 - Madrid
Aired Friday 25 November at 6pm on SBS
Chorizo, paella and tortilla are staples at street food markets across the world... but not in Madrid! Here, street food is banned. Ainsley sets out to discover why this is so and comes across an underground movement planning to restore Spain’s favourite foods to their rightful place.
On his mission to eat like a local, Ainsley visits Menu del Dia. Since the 1960s, this restaurant has served a government-regulated, three-course meal for only 10 euros. The set menu can include saffron rice with lobster or calamari braised in red wine. Next Ainsley hits up Madrid's famous tapas bars, trying salt cod fritters, garlic prawns, grilled sardines and delicious tostados. He cooks flambéed clams with cured ham, pineapple and chili salsa and sautéed leek and olive tapa with goat's cheese. Ainsley's week in Madrid ends at the city's first street food festival, where he cooks up a British-Spanish fusion dish - black pudding and chorizo clafouti.
Episode 10 - Penang
Aired Tuesday 29 November at 6pm on SBS
Ainsley starts with the classics, he wants to try satay and coconut rich laksas in the place where they were made famous but on a trip into the countryside he also discovers how local people preserve traditional recipes, like grilled stingray with fiery sambals, sticky chicken ayam and black pepper crab.
Penang isn’t a place where curry comes in powder form and coconut milk isn’t from a tin. The mantra here is fresh and local. Ainsley’s ‘Sayer Lodeh’ vegetable curry begins with a stone ground paste of fresh spices and aromatic roots and coconuts ground to order in the market that morning.
But before he heads home Ainsley discovers how to make an authentic Penang fish laksa from scratch. It’s not a quick process but every stage has a purpose, grinding spices, balancing sweet and sour and adding fresh herbs and salads at the very end. It’s a sensory explosion, complex flavours and textures and in as Ainsley says this is the “Big Hello and Welcome to Penang!”.