There are a million reasons to travel and there is no reason not to mix those reasons up while traveling. We all do it – combine business with pleasure, or pack in a good mix of culture and the great outdoors. One of the very best ways to heighten any trip is to make sure you eat well and we all know how hard that can be while traveling. It ends up being a lot of fast food if you don’t plan ahead.
I make sure to set my restaurant plans ahead of time, even when I’m traveling somewhere I’ve been a dozen times before. Obviously, these days it is commonplace to eat all different cuisines without ever leaving home, but there really is something special about trying something new in the place it was born.
To help you do the same, here are my Top 5 restaurants to travel for, with a bonus shout-out to one of my favorites.
Of course this is on my list. Mamma Agata and Gennaro cook Italian food the way its meant to be cooked – in the family kitchen, with fresh ingredients, and with superb attention to detail. This was where I got my first real taste of eggplant parmigiana and deep-fried zucchini blossoms; let me tell you, after that, there is no turning back! What’s especially exciting about Mamma’s is that it is also a cooking school. Not only to you get to taste, but you can bring a little of it home with you as you practice with your recipes!
We’re still in Italy with this one, but it definitely deserves a spot. At this gem, soup, pasta and meat get center stage as chefs Alberto and Giuseppina take on the most traditional of Tuscan cooking and make it their own. It is comfort food at its finest and the perfect way to cap off a day after wandering around the magnificent city of Florence. Not to mention, Zeb’s location in the San Niccolo neighborhood of the city means you will be treated to stellar views of Florence from the Piazza Michelangelo.
One more for Italy! Down in the heel of the boot is a culinary destination that has no parallel in Italy, and this is the best of the best. Chef Antonella Ricci puts a spin on classic dishes and makes full use of the incredible local products that Puglia is known for.
Spain is at the height of gastronomic prowess, and Dani García is an undisputed master. It really is a fairy tale to walk into his restaurant in Marbella and watch how he translates children’s stories (his main influence) into world-class cuisine inspired by Antoine de Saint-Exurpery’s “The Little Prince”. He uses all the best flavors and the hottest techniques – nitrogen, textures, cold, heat- in his truly inspiring menu. Meats, seafood, vegetables, fruit, oils, and things one can hardly imagine promises the menu is uniquely playful. An exceptional experience to do once in your lifetime.
In North America we tend to think of Indian food as an acquired taste. Visiting a innovative kitchen, like the one run by Manish Mehrotra at Indian Accent, gave me a whole new view of Indian cuisine. He takes the famous spices and flavors and transforms them into dishes like tandoori bacon prawns with wasabi and stuffed tandoori panneer, not to mention some masterful desserts. Bonus: there’s a location in New York as well!
I couldn’t put together a list of my favourite places to eat without including one of my favorites. Montreal is well-known for its restaurant scene and deservedly so; Montrealers expect quality and innovation from their chefs. Le Club Chasse et Peche is hands-down one of the best. Traditional French in some respects, the chef at this institution makes all the dishes sing with creativity. It is one of those Montreal restaurants where you can really get a feel for the quality of Quebec products and how they can be transformed into an unforgettable experience.
These are some of the reasons I travel for food.
Carol Ketelson is the owner and operator of Delectable Destinations LLC. Dedicated to designing and co-ordinating customized small group tours to hand-picked destinations. Each trip is arranged by experienced travel planner, and European culture and culinary arts specialist, Carol Ketelson. Bespoke luxury travel, personally escorted, and intimate first-hand experiences, ensure memorable and inspirational journeys. The tours are ideal for anyone with a passion for travel – discovering local flavors, culturally rich traditions and mesmerizing sights. For over 10 years, Carol’s tours have captured the true essence of some of the most beautiful regions of the world, including the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany, Sicily, Puglia, Spain, Ireland and India. Our business defines the key to experiential travel, while creating memories to last a lifetime.