How To Plan Your Holiday Based Around Food
Weather, culture, getting up after noon, vegetating into a state of utter relaxation. There are many things we go on holiday to experience, but there is one glorious activity that sits above them all: eating.
As you wait for the time to head to the airport to come, you’re most likely sat at your desk during your lunch hour, choking down a supermarket meal deal sandwich while you lust at all the 5-star reviewed restaurants at your destination, meticulously planning an itinerary based on what local delicacies you will sample on your gastronomic pilgrimage.
But instead of trawling through unreliable reviews from tourists whose idea of a slap-up meal is a box of twenty chicken nuggets at 3am, check out our global culinary suggestions instead, where we map out breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks, covering all food trends and pallets.
Everything about this diner is fresh. The bread is baked on the third floor, the butter is prepared on site, the sausages are homemade, and the vegetables freshly picked. But it’s the waffles with strawberry, vanilla ice cream and blueberry balsamic sauce that has to be ordered.
Whoa whoa whoa, we hear you say. You’ve come to China, you want to try some authentic cultural eats. Alright, calm down mate. There’s a green tea baked cheesecake for dessert (you’re on vacation, breakfast cake is fine).
Going to Tokyo and not having ramen is like visiting Rome and not eating pizza, going to Dublin and not trying stew, or flying to Ibiza and not coming back with a strong sense of shame and dread. Basically, it’s an unforgivable crime of the highest order.
We are spice fiends so we would gulp down the pork belly and sesame kikurage mushroom ippudo karakamen, which you can specify the spiciness of depending on how much miso paste you. Add crispy chicken and vegetable dumplings on the side, because why not? You've left calories behind at home my dear, bloated friend.
If you Instagram only one dish on your trip, then make sure it’s from the no-filter-needed Azure 45. This Michelin-Star restaurant found at The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo, specialises in contemporary French cuisine with flavours that you probably won’t have tried anywhere else in the world (well, at least not as good).
From the Racan pigeon breast with blueberry and cabbage, to the lavender roasted lamb, to the veal sweetbread beignet with orange nougat, head chef’s Shintaro Miyazaki's imagination has no limit when it comes to concocting experimental dishes. Trust us, it’s a meal you’ll never forget.
Tucked away off the bustling and commercial Oxford Street is the magnificent London EDITION hotel (a far cry from the Angus Steak Houses plaguing the area). To the side of this luxurious accommodation is Berners Tavern, a restaurant filled to the brim with art like you’re dining with an eccentric billionaire hoarder.
The menu is overflowing with modern food trends (avocado on sourdough toast, vanilla waffles, baked eggs with harissa). But when in London you have to order the Berners version of the iconic full English, crafted with sausages, eggs, smoked beef bacon, roasted tomato, Portobello mushroom and baked beans. Order a strawberry, apple and mint juice on the side if it makes you feel better about yourself.
Not as glamorous as the above restaurant, but this just isn’t any old sandwich shop. It’s a beautiful Frankenstein mess of a sandwich shop, but instead of chasing it down with pitchforks and fire you devour their creations and wonder: how could a simple sandwich taste so good?
Well they’re not simple, really. The ingredients in every decadent sarnie are well-thought through by Max himself. Take the Korean Gangster, for example, soy braised beef, kimchi and kraut, baby gem and parsley, deep-fried noodles, and "incredibly slutty gravy" (his words, not ours). This is held together lovingly in his homemade ciabattas to bring you flavours like nothing you've ever tasted between two slices of bread. Pure bliss.
We get stuck in a rut sometimes returning to the same old restaurants. Even when we go back to the same place on vacation, the nostalgia builds up in us and we want to recreate the first time we experienced those life-changing flavours of that original trip. But nostalgia can be a cruel thing, and original memories can be put on a pedestal and ruined. And that's it. Holiday over. You're on the next plane home.
That’s why we’re such big fans of Carousel, it’s one amazing restaurant, but with an ever-evolving menu thanks to its rotating chefs. You’ll never have a similar experience at this hyped London establishment, as it has a different fine dining menu every week from up-and-coming and famous chefs from around the globe, featuring everything from Brazilian, to Korean, to French and beyond. Nothing is off limits here.
When was the last time you went to a bakery and they sold out of the bread? That's exactly what happens by 4pm at the latest in this small but popular French ran Guangzhou bakery.
As well as cream cakes and apple pies fresh from the oven, they also have a signature bread called The Spring: medlar, wormwood, brown sugar and raisins from Xinjiang. Made to be drank with a lemon ginger tea, not a soy flat white. You uncultured swine.
LUNCH: HUANGSHA AQUATIC MARKET
This is not your average lunch, but it promises to be a memorable one. This locals' favourite aquatic market sells fresh (as in still alive) fish caught that day and is the biggest of its kind in Southern China.
Crabs, lobster, octopus, scallops, oysters, we wouldn't be surprised if they actually sold bits of the mythical Kraken. Whatever you want, they have it, all you have to do is pick your fish, barter until you get a better price, then take it to one of the specialised seafood restaurants in the area where they'll cook it up for you. Or name it and release it into the sea like Three Willy, your choice.
That work of art above you're wondering about? Oh, it's just steamed crab custard with crab meat caviar and Chinese rice wine. Yep, you won't find that in your local takeaway. It's really no surprise that this Cantonese restaurant is only one of eight places in Guangzhou to earn a Michelin-Star.
Award-winning Chef Gordon Guo who is at the helm of this fabulous kitchen focuses on perfecting colour, aroma, texture and taste whenever creating a dish at Lai Heen, whether that's in one of his contemporary concoctions featuring ingredients even the most cultured of diners won't have heard of (take the steamed grouper patties with fungus and sponge gourd or spicy jellyfish, for example), or classic regional dishes that have recipes dating back thousands of years (we're all about the Cantonese style roasted goose).
If we were you we'd reserve ahead of time and book one of the private dining rooms at The Ritz-Carlton, Guangzhou restaurant, so the rest of the customers don't have to see you weeping with pure joy into whatever delicacies you consume.
If you can't have waffles, fried chicken and cocktails for your breakfast on holiday, when can you have them (tip: not at your desk on a Monday morning, we learned that the hard way)?
This hip hop blaring dive bar has a laid-back vibe with its graffitied deco and flip flop wearing barmen, but their knowledge of good food, good coffee and even better cocktails is incredibly vast and high end. Owner Moe Aljaff came third in the illustrious Bacardi Legacy competition and has travelled the world working in different bars perfecting his craft, evident in his signature cocktail, the Schmucks Vesper, made with gin, vodka, Laphroaig and pecorino cheese.
Sick of amending your burger order to your exact taste only to be met with a mega eye roll from your waiter who is just not bothered in the slightest? Then create your own burger at this DIY joint in the heart of the city, where an exam style tick box menu is at every table for you to create what every beautiful monstrosity you want.
Five burgers, nineteen cheeses, six breads, twenty four toppings, fifteen sauces. Should man have this much power? That's for the philosophers to debate, in the meantime we'll be gorging on a chicken/beef hybrid burger with brie and blue cheese, topped with jalapeños, boiled eggs, avocado and peanut butter.
Thought tapas was just microwaved frozen prawns and tinned olives? Think again, because this Michelin-Star restaurant is reinventing the image of tapas into a premium, complex gastronomical experience rather than a quick bite to eat between necking two euro beers in the mid-afternoon sun.
Crunchy octopus with kimchi mayonnaise and cucumber, shark fin soup with tucupi and king crab, Iberian ham with manchego cheese foam and hazelnut oil caviar, delectable variations of oysters. Not your typical tourist menu with pictures on, is it? The hype is real too, as it's near impossible to get a reservation (but we hear if you book at 12am Spanish time on their site that's your best chance).
It's not just traditional Spanish dishes they specialise in however, as they also do mean Japanese (the spicy tuna belly tartar with nori seaweed, avocado cream and wasabi) and luxury Mexican (crunchy pig taco with hoisin mayonnaise and pickled cucumber).
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