From our 100th special edition issue: Everybody knows food is a quintessential part of a great travel experience. So a few years ago we asked readers to tell us about their favourite—or just fantasy—foodie travel experience. And what a response we got!
With hundreds of snapshot stories and sumptuous suggestions, it just goes to show how food and travel share a powerful and sensual connection—from one person’s fire-grilled, paprika-spiced prawns before a seaside siesta, to another’s beans and hot dogs on a camping trip. Here are our top 10 favourites, in no particular order:
VIETNAM: Sitting in the old quarter of Hanoi, Vietnam on plastic chairs which spill onto the sidewalk, eating steamy pho [with] fresh herbs. Elbow to elbow with a mixture of taxi drivers, locals and tourists, slurping noodles and starting a new day. —Jane Tran
ITALY: My favorite foodie travel experience is my fiancé and I travelling without plans just south of Rome and stumbling across a phenomenal villa restaurant peaked high above Lake Albano, Italy. Homemade beautiful cheese-and-mushroom filled ravioli with a light lemon cream sauce, followed by a deconstructed mille fleur, topped off with a beautiful bottle of locally-produced white wine from the hills of Lake Albano. As we walked off dinner, we came across a peach festival finishing for the day…what a treat! —Alisha Slauenwhite
COSTA RICA: My foodie travel experience would be in the rainforest of Costa Rica. The meal would start with either a black bean dip or chimichurri (tomatoes and onions in lime juice), served with tortilla chips. To follow would be a ceviche of fish and shrimp with onion in lime juice. The main course would be arroz con pollo, with sides of camote, chayote and yuca. For dessert, I would have ensalada de frutas (fresh fruit salad containing papaya, banana and maracuyá) and tres leches (cake bathed in evaporated, condensed and regular milk with a whipped cream top). I can imagine myself there…amongst the sound of howler monkeys and under the watchful eye of the yigüirro. —Kelly Roberts
NEPAL/SRI LANKA: Ever since being introduced to fine and exotic teas on a teenage visit to Nepal, I carry memories of my travel destinations by enjoying the unique teas I enjoyed there. Thus, Kathmandu returns to me whenever I drink Ilam tea, even in the deep freeze of a Calgary winter. My fantasy is…to sip tea looking over the lush green Dilmah tea gardens in Sri Lanka. —Mark Donovan
MOOREA: My dream meal was on Moorea, the lush, mountainous island next to Tahiti. It was my birthday and my husband treated me to a meal at Te Honu Iti, a restaurant on Cook’s Bay. While we dined on the most exquisite mahi-mahi topped with Tahitian vanilla sauce, fresh crisp-cooked green beans and rice, and had chocolate profiteroles to round out the meal, stingrays and colourful tropical fish swam beside us, lit up by bright lights. —Tracey Hoey
- Whether You’re a Foodie or Not, Peruvian Cuisine is a Lesson in History and Geography
- Peru’s Regional Dishes: the Coast, the Andes, the Amazon!
- Indian Cuisine: Curries, Chutneys and Chapatis—Oh My!
- Colombia’s Cuisine Can Satisfy Any Foodie Fan
- Newfoundland and Labrador Adventure Overload!
FRANCE: The meal dreams are made of: flammkuchen and Riesling in Ribeauville in northeastern France. I remember the way the fresh fromage blanc melted into smoky schinkenspeck (bacon) that was dancing with caramelized onions on top of [a] perfect crust. It was served on old wooden cutting boards, still singing with the heat of the wood oven, whose smoke mingled with the voices on the small restaurant patio and footsteps on cobblestones, echoing off the village’s 16th-century stone walls. —Dia Davina
LAOS: Eating hot-pot on the banks of the Mekong [River] in Vientiane, Laos, with a group of friends I met three weeks earlier in Vietnam. The hot-pot was made of clay and was heated over coals; you sit on the ground and pay for a plate of raw meat, which you then cook in the hot broth in the pot. It was delicious, and so much fun to do it at night with the stars on the banks of the river. —Michael Burton
MONTENEGRO: My husband and I were married in 2010, and we skimped and saved on our small wedding so we could afford our dream honeymoon. Our most memorable foodie experience was in Kotor, Montenegro. Wandering through the gorgeous medieval city, we found a tiny restaurant in the side of an ancient stone wall, and ordered blindly from a menu in a language we didn’t understand. We ate fresh squid and sautéed spinach by candlelight, sopping up the last of the lemon/garlic/butter sauce with fresh-baked crusty bread. It was the perfect meal, and we still often reminisce about it. —Brittany Mallett
JAMAICA: My dream meal would be at a secluded villa in Jamaica on the water overlooking Blue Hole Lagoon, enjoying ackee and saltfish, just-baked johnnycakes covered in butter and marmalade, and freshly-squeezed ortenique juice for breakfast, while watching the sun come up to burn off the morning mist. All the while looking at the emerald waters and listening to the surf on the reef, feeling the warmth of a tropical morning. —Fred Roman
MOROCCO: I’ve been experimenting with the tagine I received for Christmas. It’s tough to find the proper spice and ingredients in rural Ontario. My fantasy foodie travel experience would be to taste the authentic cuisine of Morocco, with a focus on the country’s classic dish, the tagine. Salted lemons and ras al hanout, from Casablanca to Marrakech. Shopping for spices in the souqs. Bring on the couscous! —N. Lalonde
What was—or would be?—your favourite “travel-food” experience? Let us know below!
Submissions here were edited for space.