Top 10 experiences for food lovers
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by Tom Marchant
Food and travel are the two loves of our lives, and there’s nothing quite like the appetite to ignite that spark of wanderlust, from the incredible street food in Mexico’s bustling capital to uncovering the hidden local hotspots in Vietnam. So we’ve scoured the globe searching for our favorite culinary experiences, from truffle hunting in Italy to tasting the freshest ceviche in Peru. Bon Apetit.
Vespa food tour, Saigon, Vietnam
We all know there are 9 million bicycles in Beijing, but what about the motorbike capital of the world, Saigon? Rumor has it that there are 4 million motorbikes whizzing round the city, meaning over half the population owns one, so what better way to see it than by joining them on a vintage Vespa. Saigon showcases an exceptional mix of ancient Vietnamese and French colonial culture as you zip through the streets where you can’t help but notice the delicious aromas wafting through the streets. Add in a couple of expert tour guides who know the roads and foodie hotspots like the back of their hand – and you’ve got yourself an unforgettable private food tour of Vietnam’s most enchanting city.
Fish market, Tokyo, Japan
It’s no surprise that Tokyo is home to the world’s largest and biggest fish market with such a love for sushi and sashimi. To make the visit worthwhile you simply must go in time to catch the 5 am live tuna auctions, where one of these rock-solid frozen fish, looking like steel torpedoes can sell for £6000. Master the arts of sushi-making and test your culinary creations in time for breakfast. The market is split into Inner and Outer markets, those willing to brave the extra fishiness will find themselves dodging fish laden trucks in the inner market whilst the rest might stick to the Outer where you’ll find every type of sea-food imaginable as well as the Real Wasabi.
Pasta making, Tuscany, Italy
Italy’s 20 provinces undoubtedly offer a rich and diverse selection of scrumptious food, so learn how to cook like an Italian and be the talk of the town. Tuscany is famous for its extraordinarily beautiful rolling hills as well as its mouth-watering pasta dishes. Getting the know-how from a chef that learnt from their mother and grandmother is certainly the way to master Nonna’s touch. You’ll learn how to make dough from scratch using a traditional pasta maker to stretch out the dough. Then it’s time to get creative and make your own shapes, either carefully by hand or through the pasta machine. And as a reward for all your hard work, sit back and relax with a glass of wine and a delicious dish as you take in the lush countryside around you.
Piedmont truffle experience, Italy
Step into the heart of the truffle county to learn about and sample the most expensive ingredient in cooking. First you’ll want to submerge yourself in la dolce vita and wander through endless stalls laden with the freshest produce in Acqui Terme market. The ‘Alba Madonna’ truffle is the holy grail of fungi so get ready to be introduced to one of Italy’s oldest traditions; truffle hunting. Not only is it a great way of discovering the surrounding countryside but with an expert guide (and his loyal dog) in tow, you will gain a unique insight into how these amiable villagers help fuel the global obsession with these little white fungi. After becoming a master in truffle hunting, become an expert in cooking the fungi with a personalized cookery lesson in La Villa.
Oysters and whiskey in Hobart, Tasmania
After nothing but biltong and bush food to feed your hungry stomachs, head to Hobart for world-class oyster and mouth-watering whiskey. The island produces 4 million dozen oysters each year and each oyster growing region, like wine, has a distinct flavour, colour and appearance. An education in Barilla Bay will give you a knowledgeable introduction to oyster farming in Tasmania in an exceptional setting, which has certainly come a long way since its humble tin-shed beginnings. Take the whiskey trail to the Coal River Valley to learn about the history of single malt whiskey and be taken through the brewing process in this sumptuous sojourn. You’ll be rewarded along the way with a selection of creamy oysters and oaky whiskey to satisfy your taste buds.
Street food in Mexico City, Mexico
In a nutshell, Mexico City is a must visit gastro-jungle. Learn how to tell your tacos from your tlacoyos in a tour of Mexixo City’s best street food hotspots. We just love the names rolling off the tongue of the Chicharrones, flautas, camotes, and tlacoyos. And they taste even better in the mouth. Especially the Pambazo, a Mexican sandwich made from hard white bread rolls soaked in guajillo chilli sauce, filled with generous portion of diced potatoes, chorizo, lettuce, sour cream and sprinkled queso fresco. You’ll be left scooping the remains with your fingers as it’s just too good to waste. Spot the masters of the tortillas flipping the corn treats straight from the tortilla press. Try everything, but don’t blame us if your diet feels somewhat mundane upon arriving home.
Sample succulent steak in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Argentina is home to the most talked about steak in the world, so you’ll just have to hop on over to form your own opinion. Head out late for dinner as the party doesn’t get started in BA until well past midnight so you’ll need to stay awake somehow. Steak and Malbec really does the job. There are plenty of other foodie experiences to enjoy. A cooking lesson with local chef Ezequiel Gallardo will get you whipping up tasty empanadas after choosing the ingredients in the fresh food market down the road.
Napa Valley food and wine tour
Enter the sun-kissed wine valleys of Napa for an ultimate food and wine jaunt. In a private tour it’ll just be you and the winemaker himself knocking back a glass or two whilst learning lots of very important things about wine. Food and wine is definitely a winning combination at the award winning Kendall Jackson Vineyard with the food and wine pairing menu. Ever wondered what goes hand in hand with a chilled Sauvignon Blanc? Fresh oysters of course. And that hearty Pinot Noir? It has to be the rich crème brûlée with white chocolate.
Gourmet tour of Lima
Lima is fast becoming one of the most cosmopolitan and sophisticated cities in South America and is experiencing a gastronomic boom to match. An evening food tour will see you learning to prepare the refreshing national dish of ceviche under the watchful eye of an award winning chef, and shaking pisco sours on the beachfront – definitely a dinner party staple for when you get home. Experience a flavour explosion with dinner at Ámaz which is a traditional Amazonian restaurant, before being whisked off for a Peruvian dessert in the bohemian Barranco district. It’s a hard life.
Eat like a local in Georgetown, Penang
Earning the title of being the street food capital of Asia is surely a good enough reason to go and check it out for yourself, right? Navigate the bustling streets of the UNESCO world heritage site and ‘hawker’ food heaven, Georgetown, for a culinary extravaganza. Your expert guide will take you where the locals go for the best ‘Char Koay Teow’ a delicious Malay rice noodle dish, which will leave you scrambling for more. After really adopting that grazing mentality (trust us you will need to), have a break from eating and visit a heritage coffee shop. Sample the delights of the evening hawker food and all that Malay, Chinese and Indian fusion cuisine is in full force until the small hours – who knows, you may even make breakfast.
Tom Marchant is Co-founder of Black Tomato.