One of the best parts of traveling is trying new and delicious food. We leave for our last stop of the trip tomorrow – London – and since we all know we won’t find any great food there, here is our list of the best food we have had on the trip.
We included food on this list if it met one of the following criteria: when placed in the mouth, the diner unconsciously closes his/her eyes and lets out a moan, “oh wow” or “mmmmmm” or, if after eating a bite, his/her eyes widen and he/she says to the other person “Holy shit this is good, you need to try this!” We are including links so you can find the food yourself if you are ever in the same part of the world where these delectable morsels can be found. Organized temporally:
Te Anau, New Zealand – “Mile’s Better Pies and More….” – Beef and Cheddar Meat Pie
This flaky savory pie was filled with tender chunks of beef and gooey cheese. They also have a good venison pie that is simple and tastes like venison, and only venison.
Honk Kong – “Din Tai Fung” – Soup Dumplings aka Xiao Long Bao
We couldn’t wait for Shanghai to eat these small dumplings that are both a culinary and engineering marvel. The delicate dumplings are filled with broth and meat and are complimented by a soy sauce and picked ginger. This same restaurant can also be found in Shanghai and other locations throughout the world.
Saigon, Vietnam – “Temple Club” – Duck le’ Orange and Morning Glory
The vibe at Temple Club is colonial and classy and, although the restaurant is expensive for Vietnam, it is still pretty reasonable. The duck was amazing. It sang of intense orange flavor and was very juicy. Morning glory is basically like a Southeast Asian type of spinach that we had many times, and Temple Bar did it right with just a little garlic, and some salt and pepper.
Hanoi, Vietnam – “New Day” – Chya aka fried spring rolls with pork
This restaurant allowed you to go into the kitchen and point to the food you wanted to eat. Although there are many great choices here, our favorite – that brought us back two more times – was the friend spring rolls with pork that tasted peppery and savory on the inside, and had perfect crunchy, flakey layers on the outside.
Yangshao, China – “Secret Garden Hotel” – Eggplant and sausage cooked in a clay pot
We don’t know the Chinese name for this dish, but we hope to find it again one day! The eggplant and minced sausage literally melted in your mouth, and had just the right amount of heat. We think that the “secret” to this dish was the local sausage used in its preparation. The savory, vinegary taste we got with each bite never got old, even after devouring a whole bowl of the stuff…twice.
San Sebastian, Spain – “Petretegi” – Steak
San Sebastian has a reputation for amazing food, and this cider house was not only a fun experience, but also served some great food. They served the best steak we have ever tasted. This thick cut steak was cooked over a wood grill giving it just a hint of smokiness and a nice crust. The steak itself was juicy, tender, slightly buttery and perfectly seasoned. Wow!
San Sebastian, Spain – “Arzak” – Overall experience
There is no single dish that we can choose as the best at Arzak (and it wouldn’t matter anyways because the menu changes everyday). What puts this 3 Michelin star restaurant on our list is the overall experience, which is full of creative, beautiful and delicious dishes.
Bologna, Italy – “Antica Trattoria Fantoni” – Pasta with Ragu aka Pasta Bolognese
This unassuming restaurant put out some great pasta! We expected great Bolognese in Bologna, and this is where we found it. Bold tomato and meat flavors over perfectly “al dente” pasta. Simple food done just perfectly.
Florence, Italy – “All’ Antica Vinaio” – Sandwiches
Mmmmmm. These are the best sandwiches I have ever had outside of my own kitchen. The guys behind the counter are like psychiatrists figuring out your deepest desires and then prescribing the perfect sandwich to fill the void. Hot focaccia straight from the oven is topped with a variety of amazing spreads (like black olive, spicy pepper and garlic aioli) and high quality meats, cheeses and fresh veggies.
Rome, Italy – “Roscioli” – Mozerella di Buffala and Semi Dried Tomatoes
There might be fresher cheese on a farm, but barring that, this is the best tasting cheese we have ever tasted. This is not your mom’s mozzarella! It is a completely different beast that the stuff you find on pizza at home. This cheese makes you go “mmmm” from more than just the taste. Each spongy piece is literally dripping with fresh buffalo milk. Each bite fills your mouth with the perfect texture and milky flavor that makes you moan and even giggle with delight. The semi-dried cherry tomatoes are bright and sweet and make the perfect accompaniment to the cheese. When in Rome…eat here!
Taoramina, Sicily – “Bam Bar” – Granita
Before Bam Bar we though of Granita as an icy version of sorbet. We were so wrong. The Granitas at Bam Bar are made with local seasonal ingredients. We had the almond and the raspberry topped with homemade whipped cream. It was light, smooth and incredibly refreshing on a warm sunny day. The raspberry flavor was intense and was complemented beautifully with the soothing sweet almond below it.
Paris, France – “Le Soufflé” – Beef Bourguignon Soufflé
This dish was a surprising revelation. How could two great dishes be made even better than they are on the own? Combine them! The airy soufflé burst with beef, wine and fresh herb aromas. The pieces of beef at the bottom were succulent and savory and flat out delectable.