We’ve got our Paris (October 3-7) and Tuscany (October 10-14) trips planned to explore the utmost of French and Italian indulgence, and we can’t wait to share our favourite hidden gems, traditional must-tastes and innovative foodie finds in these locales with our guests this fall. Having expert culinary understanding and insider connections to food purveyors in these regions is what makes our trips more authentically delicious than any other. As we grow, we continue to expand our research and partnerships abroad in search of undiscovered gastronomic delights. Outside of our European staples (link again), below are a few destinations we’re seeing similarly minded food lovers gravitate toward in 2016.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Many Asian destinations are known for their sporting approach to honing the best of traditional cuisines. Be it hawker bars in Singapore or fried noodle stalls in Thailand, Asians take their food game super seriously, so we couldn’t make a list of foodie destinations without mentioning the delicacies of authentic Vietnamese. Known for their emphasis on sour/sweet flavour combinations, National Geographic has called the country’s largest city, a treasure trove of vendors and street-side eateries, one of the top travelling foodie destinations for 2016. This might be because Ho Chi Minh City buzzes (literally, just follow the hoards of motorbikes) with an energy that only the originators of frothy Vietnamese-style iced coffee can express. This unique brew comes from roasting Robusta beans with butter and fish sauce (try it before you knock it), then using a metal filter to percolate the hot mixture over a glass of sweetened condensed milk. Of course, street staples involving freshly charred shrimp or pork are reliable favourites, often enjoyed with any number of rice-based accompaniments (steamed, fried, porridge, pancake – you name it, they’ve perfected it!).
This cultural gemstone off the southern coast of Spain is an incredible retreat for lovers of both fine art and fine dining. Newly emerging as a hub for innovative Andalucían gastronomy, Malaga foodies celebrate homegrown products like sardines, anchovies, mangoes and avocados (bet you didn’t think such a range of products could be produced in one region but being Spain’s second most mountainous region has its perks like that – ecology pun!). Restaurateurs have gone from tourist-accommodating dishes to embracing their culinary heritage, erasing English breakfasts from menus and instead featuring mainstays of their working-class roots. Expect a showcasing of dishes like Ajoblanco (a cold soup made from ground almonds mixed with garlic and olive oil) and Migas (fried breadcrumbs). While honouring classic dishes, Malaga’s food purveyors have also embraced the popularity of modernized food markets like Barcelona’s Bouqueira with their own Mercado Merced. Young chefs and makers of traditional Spanish cuisine come together in this vibrant foodie bazaar to present both innovative fusion dishes as well as locally produced speciality items.
New Orleans, USA
Two words: Cajun and Creole. Though mistakenly interchanged, these two French-inspired cooking traditions are distinctly delicious and both proudly flaunted in the bayou. Think of Cajun as roux-thickened French/Southern dishes like gumbo or spicy sausage. While Creole dishes tend to embrace more European/African roots as tasted in crawfish or Andouille sausage features. Like any good food town, the blend of these two cuisines is seamless in anything quintessentially “Southern,” where you’re bound to have an outer-taste bud experience in any dining option spanning brunch buffets to the latest , Emerill Lagasse resto. Grits, okra, jambalaya – all these staples are as fun to eat as they are to say, and one can’t go wrong with a classic po’boy. 2016 travellers in the know will seek out the Vietnamese version, a bahn mi, as The Gulf Coast is home to the some of the US’ largest Vietnamese-American communities.
Our love of exceptional Italian food is no secret (link to Instagam). Any meal, in any Italian bistro, is bound to be significantly better than its Americanized equivalent, as the entire country prides itself on just essential ingredient combinations and classic cooking techniques. Forbes calls the north-central region of Emilia-Romagna a gastronomic paradise, noting that many globally recognized Italian foods come directly from this town (Parmigiano-Reggiano, balsamic vinegar, prosciutto di Parma and tortellini to name a few). Emilia-Romagna’s reputation precedes it, renown for both its cuisine and community feel which lend themselves to an indulgent lifestyle that embraces rich eating experiences (no fitness fanatics or small plates here!). Recipes that have been passed down and carefully preserved by generations of chefs are what stokes the culinary reputation of Emilia-Romagna among both locals and visitors alike. Like any unique art form, the cuisine of Emilia-Romagna is often duplicated, never replicated. Take their tagliatelle ragu – a thick paste with decadent meat sauce and pasta – which was adopted and poorly interpreted as what many Americans popularized as spaghetti Bolognese. Consider Emilia-Romagna the originators of Nonna’s traditional cuisine!
Mexico City, Mexico
Contrary to popular opinion, Mexico City is full of elaborate museums, friendly people, ingenuous technology initiatives and of course incredible food. The food scene is as vast as it is excellent, where you can’t go wrong in either a street-side barrio or fine dining hot spot with an internationally acclaimed chef at the helm. It’s no surprised that The New York Times called Mexico City the best place to travel in 2016, and other culinary heavy weights claim that some of the world’s best restaurants (like Pujol and Maximo Bistrot) can be found here. Chefs in the trendy Polanco district boldly display eclectic and gastronomic feats, while traditional cantinas defy the modern crazes with time-laboured dishes of the old country. The city’s diverse array of old and new cuisine (and every fusion in between) makes it a standout spot for anyone who appreciates a good fiesta!
Guiding our guests through tasty spots around the world is what we love to do! You can bet our upcoming trips to Tuscany and Paris will no doubt impress and expand your sense of culinary adventure. Check out our Trips page to see how you can join us this fall!