We're whetting our appetite for travel...
Is there any better reason to travel than a quest for special food? If there is, I can't think of one! 2015 was a year of local food and non-stop cheese for me. Remember the epic melted cheese from the open air restaurant in Trabzon, Turkey? Not a bad way to indulge, is it?
But for 2016, my dreams are more global in nature and I'm eager to try some new foods and flavours for the very first time, all while retracing my steps in search of spice and sentiment. Here's what's on my list - and I can't wait to hear what's on yours!
Flying fish tops my wish list.
This has been on our radar for nearly a year and we can’t wait to try it. Our friends have been absolutely raving about the amazing fresh produce all over the Caribbean and the freshly caught and expertly fried flying fish sounds irresistible.
It's famous in Barbados but you can find it throughout the Caribbean and it's a very inexpensive dish you can buy right beside the beach, making it the perfect meal for a cheap holiday. And we're just as excited about the side dishes as the fish itself, like macaroni pie, spicy rice, and fresh veggies. Could there be a more delicious escape from the Canadian winter?
Superb wine from sweet Slovenia.
Before the French, the Spanish, and the Germans had wine, vineyards were flourishing in Slovenia. Slovenia is at the very top of my travel radar for 2016. It seems like everyone is talking about it these days and everything I hear is absolutely wonderful.
I’m absolutely enthralled with planning our trip to this tiny, charming country. Visiting Slovenia's wine regions is at the top of my list. I have never been disappointed trying local wine and I can't wait to add one more country to my list!
(Update! We DID go to Slovenia in 2016! Alas, we didn't get to visit the vineyards but we did try a ton of Slovenian wine - well worth the visit!)
Satay, sambal, and sauce in Malaysia
Our plans aren’t firm but we really, really hope to make to Malaysia in the fall. The next TBEX Asia conference is in October and, let's face it, any excuse will do for more travel and more food. But why Malaysia, exactly, when there are so many wonderful culinary destinations all over Asia?
In short: Peanut sauce, peanut sauce, peanut sauce! This is one of my favourite ingredients in the entire world and I can’t wait to try it out on its home turf. Sign me up for satay! I’m also really eager to try some spicy sambal on my taste buds as well. The more I hear about Malaysian food, the more eager I am to experience it first hand.
The best looking pie I've ever seen....
You didn’t think I’d forget about my sweet tooth, did you? Not a chance! Toronto Life's amazing list of the city's best pies has inspired me to declare next year as my very own year of pie. And I know exactly where I want to start!
This epic, old fashioned, homemade cherry pie is made with fresh Niagara, Ontario cherries – no neon red canned filling here. I’ve been wanting to get back to Toronto for a long time now and spend more time enjoying (read: inhaling) the city’s renowned food scene. Madeleines Bakery and their glorious cherry pie sounds like a fantastic place to start.
A curry quest
A million moons ago, Ryan had the best Indian food of his life in Inverness, Scotland and he very unhelpfully doesn’t remember the name or the location of the restaurant. Yep, this is going to be a challenge! But we’re going to Scotland for Ryan’s birthday in the spring and I think we’re up to the task to tracking it down.
I know Scotland conjures up visions of scones and shortbread and, trust me; we’ll have plenty of that as well. But Scotland, and all of Great Britain, does a mighty fine job when it comes to serving up traditional Indian cuisine. And since India isn’t on our travel radar right now, we’ve got high hopes the Scotland can step up to the plate. When a quest for the perfect curry is in order, it’s hard to say no!
A comfort quest
There’s another amazing restaurant we need to return to in 2016, but happily this time we know exactly where we are going! Lux is one of Stockholm’s best restaurants and is 100% splurge worthy. We were there in 2014 and we have been talking about our wonderful meal ever since.
One of the things we love most about it is that it’s not on Stockholm’s best known island of Gamla Stan but instead on the more low key island of Lilla Essingen. It's quiet, sophisticated, and it feels like a real local's spot. And the lobster poached in warm butter is the stuff that dreams are made of! It's just a lovely spot and I can't wait to return.
Finally, a crazy quest!
In 2001, when I was a sweet, innocent young backpacker on a budget, I made my way to Switzerland, a country known for killing frugal dreams. But the city of Bern turned that around. It would be an understatement to say that I fell in love with the city. This was my kinda place and there was delightful free fun to be had, like jumping in the river with the locals and bobbing downstream in current. (Yes, this is indeed a thing. And it’s much safer than it sounds!).
Like most properties in Switzerland, Bern’s Hosteling International was clean, well-organized, and inviting and I wanted to make the most of my stay. So of course when it came to breakfast, I was eager to load up on free food. But Swiss style black bread isn’t my favourite thing so I heaped my toast with plum jam, a plum jam that has since become my life’s obsession!
It was the perfect blend of sweet and tart, with not so much sugar that it obscured the delicious fresh flavour of the jammy, smooth plum flesh, perfectly complimenting the bits of plum skin mixed in the jar. I’ve purchased dozens of inferior jam all over the world since, hoping I’ll come close to replicating this holy grail of condiments.
Of course, I know logically that the odds that this particular hostel still serves a particular brand of jam 15 years after the fact are astronomically low but a girl can dream, right?
UPDATE! We did go back to the hostel, they ARE still serving the same jam, and - surprise, surprise - it actually isn't plum but it's wild cherry jam. Getting to experience it all over again felt like life was coming full circle.
What's on your menu for the new year?
How does food fit into your travel plans? Will you travel to a destination just for a certain dish or ingredient? Or will you stick closer to home and experiment with new flavors there? Are you an adventurous foodie or do you have more simple tastes? No matter your style, we want to hear about your delicious plans!
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