I was in Boston recently, speaking at the Women in Travel Summit and, of course, while I was in Beantown I had to check out the food scene. Food is often one of those things that I remember best about the places I visit. Over the past decade Boston has been experiencing an emerging foodie scene focused on local ingredients. There’s a lot more going on than just clam chowder.
I wanted to eat well in Paris. I really did. Sometimes I failed – too many ham and cheese baguettes. Sometimes I did ok – like Boeuf Bourguignon and a French red while sitting at the next table over from a couple of industry women in town for Fashion Week. And sometimes I hit it out of the park. Like the night I ventured, almost on a whim, to the 9th arrondissement to check out Bouillon Chartier. Zut alors!
I thought I’d want to stay close to Las Ramblas when I was visiting Barcelona but after one visited I actually wanted to stay far, far away. Thankfully my Devour Barcelona food tour introduced me to a whole new neighbourhood. Gracia is only a mile away but world’s apart from the tourist traps.
A big hurdle for first-time solo travellers is eating alone. It may even keep them from travelling at all. Will people judge us and our table for one? Will we get poor service? How will we occupy our time before the food comes? Never fear. I’m here to show you how to kick ass at dining solo.
For many people food is a big part of why they travel, what they do when they travel and what they reminisce about once they come home. I asked some of my fellow bloggers what ingredients they discovered on their travels that they wish they had easy access to at home.
There’s nothing like a little nostalgia of the year gone by. I’ve always loved looking back at old photos and reliving the memories. It’s almost like you get to experience them all over again. I know I’ve already told you my top travel moments of 2013 but since I’m such a sucker for visuals I want to share some with you some photos that may not have made it to this site or Facebook.
It’s been over a year since I was in Costa Rica. On my first morning there I discovered a dish that I now refer to as “breakfast candy” – fried plantains. Starchier than bananas they were sweet and almost melted in my mouth when cooked. I could’ve happily eaten them with gallo pinto, pineapple and coffee every morning for breakfast. What’s been your favourite food discovery while travelling?
I’m still a bit of a n00b when it comes to world cuisine but I was pretty sure that banh mi was a Vietnamese sandwich, so I was confused when my friend insisted we go to Bahn Mi Boys for kimchi fries. “But kimchi is Korean,” I thought. I just chaulked it all up to both being Asian countries and off we went in search of fries. I both praise and curse her now for that invitation.
For a fast, light meal in South Korea, gimbap (김밥) is one of my favourites. The word “gimbap” literally means “seaweed rice” – gim (김) being the dried pressed seaweed and bap (밥) being the word for rice. At first glance you might call it sushi but they’re very different aside from containing rice, being rolled in seaweed and sliced. Gimbap rice is usually seasoned with a little sesame oil rather than vinegar. Filler ingredients include veggies like cucumber, carrot, spinach and pickled radish. Imitation crab, tuna, ham, eggs or beef are popular protein options. The best things about gimbap other than being tasty is that there are a ton of varieties, it’s healthy and won’t break the bank. A basic roll from a street vendor will probably only set you back ￦1200-￦1500 ($1.07-$1.34) whereas tuna (chamchi) may cost ￦2500/roll ($2.24).
Tokyo is a city of big. Big buildings, big crowds and, big markets. The Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market, commonly known as the Tsukiji Market, is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world and also one of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind, anywhere. As such, it’s become quite the tourist attraction, especially the tuna auctions and I knew when I was planning my 60 hours in Tokyo that it would be a must-visit.
I must admit that I hadn’t done my research before I found myself at a black pork restaurant in the Jungmun Resort area of Jeju, South Korea. I didn’t really know what to expect. Was the pork charred? Was it coated in dark spices? It’s actually meat from a breed of black skinned pigs native to Jeju. Don’t let their colourful past turn you off, black pork is delicious!
Korean food surprised me in a few ways. I didn’t expect it to be so flavourful, so varied, so healthy, so communal or so spicy. I also wasn’t prepared for how many plates would end up covering the table by meal’s end or how small the bill would be. I even liked the kimchi…eventually.
Korean street food can be a great way to have a quick, cheap meal. But it can also be quite an adventure. There are delicious, recognizable food like gimbap, dumplings and fried potatoes. And then you have this mystery I snapped on the streets of Busan… it may be tasty but I have no idea what it is. I’m willing to bet that it’s seafood but can anyone accurately identify it for me?
Food in Dubrovnik was disappointing. Nothing bad per se, but just rather mediocre. Maybe I was eating at the wrong restaurants. Maybe it’s all just geared towards the never ending stream of cruise ship passengers who prefer familiar foods. Restaurant Mimoza was like port in a storm of blandness. Reasonable prices and good, tasty simple food in a pleasant atmosphere. Get yourself out of Old Town and its crowds and check out Restaurant Mimoza next time you’re in Dubrovnik.
Sometimes it’s the simple, unplanned things that leave an impression, like the lunch my father and I had in Mullingar, Ireland. It wasn’t a planned stop. We had no list of things to see or places to eat or have a pint. We were simply on our way from Galway to Belfast and in need of food and Mullingar was in the right place at the right time.