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Algiers, north Africa’s white lady

Few travellers visit Algeria these days but the country’s capital – famous for its brilliant light – has a beauty that belies its recent violent history

Isn’t is strange that a gigantic country with some of the most beautiful coastline on Earth, a luminous hinterland of mountains vast and deserts idle, crowned with the most alluring capital city I know, should be just three hours from London and almost unvisited by travellers?

We used to go: well-to-do Victorians loved wintering in Algeria. But modernity has been cruel to this great gorgeous land, and even by the standards of war-torn Africa, Algeria’s is an awful story. We associate it with the violent end of French colonialism, civil war in the 90s that cost up to 200,000 lives, and sporadic terror attacks. But this is a gross underestimation of a magical place, and a delightful and beguiling people.

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Caffeine hit: Auckland coffee culture

The flat white, café du jour in London coffee shops, was invented in Auckland (at least that’s what they say in New Zealand). Here’s how to make one, and where find the best cup in the city

Stretch, whirlpool, surf. I repeat the mantra while preparing my first flat white, at a top-notch La Marzocco espresso machine that an hour ago was as alien to me as the cockpit of a Formula One racing car.

I am on the barista training course at Allpress Espresso, one of Auckland’s premier roasters, to learn how to make the antipodean take on white coffee, the flat white. Perfected in New Zealand – which bickers with Australia over who actually invented it back in the 80s – the flat white is a single shot of espresso blended with steamed velvety milk; strong, creamy, not too frothy.

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