Have food, will travel
Hungry? We hope so! If you love to eat and love to travel, you're in luck. We're sharing some of the best destinations for foodies (or anyone who appreciates a great meal abroad).
“With our current food-obsessed culture, culinary travel has become quite the trend,” says Gwen Pratesi, author/owner of Bunkycooks.com and OnTheRoadculinaryadventures.com. With so many excellent choices around the world, she’s sharing her tips on the top culinary destinations to visit (with a hearty appetite).
Just stepping into the sprawling, colorful Mercat de la Boqueria is enough tell you Barcelona is a foodie destination. “It is one of the most impressive food markets in the world, and early in the morning you will find local chefs shopping for some of the best ingredients available in the Mediterranean,” affirms Pratesi. She suggests stopping for lunch at Kiosko Universal at a far corner of the market where you’ll get fresh seafood and vegetables that are simply, but beautifully, prepared and some of the most memorable tapas in town.
While it’s difficult to choose just one spot since so many destinations in Italy offer excellent food and wines, specialties like cured meats, local cheeses, seafood, olive oils, and pastas are much of what Italy is known for, Pratesi notes. “Enjoy Mediterranean dishes along the coastal regions with fresh seafood, simply prepared vegetable dishes, and crisp, dry white wines,” she suggests. “In Tuscany, drink bold red wines with heavier pasta and meat dishes while you take in the breathtaking scenery overlooking the vineyards and rolling hills.”
South of France
The South of France has a lot to offer the foodie traveler. In particular Pratesi points to fresh seafood, excellent wines, gorgeous produce, local cheeses, spectacular markets and, of course, French bread, as some of the must-try goods. “That combined with spectacular views in almost every direction make this region in France one of the most stunning places to visit and dine in the world.”
There’s more to Mexico than all-inclusive resorts, and one of the highlights of any trip should be the food. “Home to another one of the world’s best food markets, this city is worth traveling south of the border for,” says Pratesi. “With a nice combination of street food vendors and high-end restaurants serving globally-inspired cuisine, Mexico City has a lot to offer on the culinary scene.”
Street food is one of the main reasons to check out Taipei. The bustling city is known for its noodle soups, steamed buns, and dumplings, notes Pratesi. She suggests searching out something called gua bao, a savory combination of pork belly, steamed bun, pickled mustard greens, cilantro and finely chopped peanuts.
What Pratesti describes as one of the most diverse food cultures in the world combines Arab, European, and Berber influences. “While many specialties like steamed sheep head may not be on your list of preferred food choices, there are plenty of other options like fava bean soup, fried vegetables, and chicken brochette, which is rubbed with spices, cooked over coals, and served in a pan with fried bread,” she describes. “Sweet mint tea is the nation’s beverage of choice, so have a glass with your kebab and enjoy.”
London may not be on everyone’s radar as a place to get great food, but it’s time to wake up to the delicious possibilities. “There are many notable star chefs, hip restaurants and bars, along with artisan cheese makers, bakeries, and patisseries,” Pratesi says. “If you’re itching for a trip across the pond, you might give London a try for a pleasant surprise.”
Forget going to New York to shop. We say go for the food. “With so many outstanding and award-winning restaurants and chefs, combined with the ethnic diversity of the city, New York is certainly the culinary hub of the United States and, arguably, the world,” agrees Pratesi. “Where else can you experience the foods of the Middle East, Europe, South America, and Asia without traveling far beyond the subway system?”
If you’ve never thought about New Orleans as a culinary destination, now’s your chance to jump on the bandwagon. With influences from all over the world, Creole cooking is what comes to mind when you mention New Orleans, but Pratesi notes there is a new generation of chefs making their own mark on the city with a whole new sense of what New Orleans is. “While enjoying some of these great new spots, don’t forget to try old favorites like a bowl of gumbo, a beignet with chicory coffee at Café du Monde, and a Sazerac at The Sazerac Bar.”
Did you now that South Carolina is now the number one travel destination in the world? Food is one of the reasons why. “With its unique food culture combining Lowcountry cuisine with heirloom ingredients and some of the freshest seafood available on the East Coast, Charleston is truly a top destination for food lovers,” explains Pratesi. “Thanks to the many talented and award-winning chefs and restaurants in this town, the Southeast has made a real mark on the culinary scene across the country.”
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