I'M eating the best pasta I have ever had. For context, if you see me in the street, or even linger on my byline photo, you’ll probably be able to discern that pasta and I have a long and intense relationship.

I briefly lived in Rome and this is not my first time at the pasta rodeo so this is a fairly high bar. When I say the best, I mean it. It’s a perfectly handmade squid ink ravioli filled with garlic and seafood unctuously coated in a glossy sage and butter sauce.

My moans of pleasure are not quite at When Harry Met Sally levels but they are enough to make the businessman silently eating their pizza on the other side of the restaurant look over in alarm.

I have a window seat and when I look out across my red and white checked tablecloth and chianti bottle candle holder, I expect to see the Trevi Fountain, perhaps the canals of Venice, cathedrals of Palermo or, at the very least, a smart street in the west end of Glasgow or a bougie part of Edinburgh.

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But when I look out the window my eye falls on a flat expanse of Polish industrial wasteland and, beyond that, a Ryanair flight jetting off from Wroclaw airport – possibly even headed home for Glasgow.

This column is an ode to hidden gems.

You can fly to Wroclaw, pronounced Rots-swaf though sadly not by me who mangles the pronunciation each and every time, direct from Glasgow. A quick look at the cheapest dates on the flight price checker site Skyscanner tells me that fares go as low as £70-80 return per adult even in August.

Once you're there, a room in an inexpensive hotel will cost £20 a night, a fairly palatial apartment looking out on Market Square complete with a walk-in dressing room, will cost around £60. Or, if you feel like living out your Beyonce/WAG or, God forbid, Tory MP fantasies, you can stay in a luxury apartment in Poland's tallest skyscraper, the Sky Tower, with a sunken jacuzzi bath looking out over floor to ceiling windows for just over £150 quid a night.

Wroclaw itself is a small and quiet but perfectly formed historical city. It gives you some idea of the pace that one of its biggest claims to fame is that it is dotted with over 600 bronze dwarves that my toddler named, ‘moon babies’ hunted down with frankly terrifying focus.

Food, like accommodation, is inexpensive and mostly very good.

HeraldScotland: Wroclaw in the winterWroclaw in the winter (Image: free)

Yes, you can and should eat excellent Polish dumplings, pierogi filled with cheese and meat or potato pancakes with goulash. But we also had wonderful Mexican tacos with pisco sours and an eggs benedict that God must have looked upon as they were making the hollandaise.

It probably goes without saying, but I will anyway, that this is Poland and that the booze, and especially the beer, is good, cheap and runs like tap water.

Wroclaw was never on our travel bucket list. Indeed, we might never have visited at all except in order to catch a direct flight to Georgia where we actually wanted to visit. But just like that little Italian restaurant, miles away from anything with the frankly dystopian view, which we only discovered because we were staying in an airport apartment before a painfully early flight, Wroclaw turned out to be an unexpected hidden gem.

This made me wonder what else we’re missing out on by always seeking out the familiar?

Research last year showed that nearly three-quarters of Britons will return to their holiday destinations annually and often even return to the same hotel with an average of four visits with Spain being by far the most popular for UK tourists.

Indeed, Barcelona is so popular the mayor has put in place measures to restrict tourist numbers including limiting hotel beds and other popular towns like Palma and Ibiza introducing new anti-social crackdown laws around alcohol consumption and noise pollution. But with prices rising and many Scots opting for resorts in Turkey instead of Tenerfie, perhaps the answer really is trying something a little bit different?

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If a holiday isn’t on the cards or you're reducing your carbon footprint then my recommendation would be to try a new neighborhood, try a wee cafe that’s been selling the same food for decades and has stayed the course. Quality endures.

Should you ever wish for a Scottish equivalent of an overlooked but utterly delicious Italian restaurant in a deeply unexpected place then I recommend a tiny, family-run cafe called Pietro’s set by a scrub of grass on a council estate in Mansewood, in the south side of Glasgow.

Nestled between a Day-Today Express and the local pharmacy we wandered in by accident and were greeted by a man I assumed was Pietro himself. He welcomed us warmly and served us the best pizza I’ve had outside of Naples.

Now, our family mention Pietro’s breathlessly, like it’s a mythological Shangri-la that we were admitted to but to which we can never return. Although of course we will, and often, because I hear their cheesy chips are God-tier: this lady loves carbs and Mansewood is closer than Wroclaw.

Whether it's pierogi, pizza, pasta, or Polish vodka, it’s good to stray from your usual lane. I’m going to be trying the little places from now on, the ones without the good views, fancy signage, slick interior design, sharing plates or pretensions knowing that I might be surprised with some of the best food of my life and remembering why I try new things in the first place.

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