Best in Travel for Foodies
We travel to have new experiences, to explore other cultures, to learn, and — of course — to have fun. Each of us has our own specific passion — wildlife, shopping, performing arts — but we share an interest in trying new foods.
Food and travel. It’s a natural connection. But what’s a foodie to do? What are the best ways to find and enjoy good food away from home?
Sharing a meal
You already know that Airbnb makes it possible to stay in local homes, but did you know that other platforms make it possible to dine with locals at their table? For instance, Withlocals, operating in a dozen countries, provides a way for travelers to connect with the local food culture as the guest of talented homes chefs.
These authentic dining experiences often bring together a wide assortment of global gastronomes who like nothing more than trading tips (“Hey, if you’re going to be in Paris next week…”), sharing recipes, and relishing superb flavors. (www.withlocals.com)
The Web site Meal Sharing has an even greater reach. Operating in 450 cities worldwide (including San Diego), this global player in the sharing economy seeks to build connected communities through home cooked meals. Hosts can accommodate one or many guests per meal and locals, as well as travelers, are welcome. Similar options are provided by EatWith. (www.mealsharing.com, www.eatwith.com)
Taking a food tour
How about a walk through the historic Les Halles neighborhood of Paris with a knowledgeable guide from La Cuisine Paris? This area is the heart of the French gastronomic scene. The tour includes a stop at France’s most loved cooking equipment store, which dates from 1820. You’ll also visit a foie gras boutique, a favorite fromager, and, of course, a boulangerie.
La Cuisine Paris was founded in 2009 by Chicago native Jane Bertch, an international banker who landed in Paris for business and met her future husband. The rest is history: She moved to Paris, and soon friends and family started to visit and ask her for “insider information” about places to eat and where to find the best pastries, chocolates, and cheese.
Recognizing a need for English-language culinary info, she founded La Cuisine Paris, where high-quality cooking classes and food-related walking tours are offered. (www.lacuisineparis.com)
Another innovative company — Exclusive & Private — also offers tours of the Paris food markets, followed by a cooking lesson with a chef. (www.exclusiveandprivate.com)
Cooking local dishes
When I travel, I enjoy going to farmers’ markets, but I usually don’t have time to take cooking lessons. However, the food in Peru was so amazing that I just had to learn everything I could about it.
What’s makes it so good? As our Ancient Summit guide explained, Peru has 84 of the 104 microclimates in the world, so farmers can grow a huge variety of fruit, vegetables and herbs. Add to this: very fertile soil and a population that’s a blend of many cultures, including Inca, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and other European.
Ricardo Behar, chef and owner of Tres Koros Restaurant in the Sacred Valley, was my guide and teacher. We started the day at the Urubamba public market, where I saw a mind-boggling array of produce in every imaginable color, shape, and size. Hearts of palm, papaya, starfruit, and native avocados come from Peru’s jungle. At least 1,800 kinds of potatoes, the most bizarre corn I’ve ever seen, and a several kinds of quinoa grow in the Andes. The coast produces tangerines, gorgeous watermelons, olives, and much more.
Ricardo says peppers are “the babes” of Peruvian cuisine, and back at Tres Koros, we made them into a paste for Anticuchos of Beef Tenderloin. We also blended them with evaporated milk, oil, water crackers, and feta cheese, for the sauce over Papas Huancaína. Yum.
My lessons continued — albeit more informally — at Salineras Ranch near Urubamba. Here, host Pablo Navarro is passionate about slow food, traditional Incan farming methods, and providing a space for guests to truly relax. Over the course of our stay, we ate eggs from his hens, vegetables from his organic garden, wild potatoes gathered from a high mountain pass, locally made goat cheese, and homemade elderberry compote. (www.cuscoforyou.com)
We also rode his beautiful Peruvian Paso horses along the river that borders his ranch and — yes — truly relaxed. As I said, we travel to explore other cultures, to learn — and, of course, to have fun. Elizabeth Hansen
Quinoa Pancakes — Direct From Peru
Quinoa wasn’t even on my list of must-have adventures for our recent trip to Peru. Machu Picchu? Yep. Riding Paso horses? You bet! But after I tasted these pancakes, “trying quinoa in every form possible and collecting quinoa recipes” became a top priority.
Quinoa Pancakes Ingredient:
200 gr. cooked red quinoa
200 gr. flour
1 Tsp vanilla
2 Tsp baking power
3 Tbs port
3 Tbsp sugar
Dash of salt
Dash of cinnamon
Mix all ingredients and leave to rest 30 minutes. Cook in a frying pan without oil or butter for about 2 minutes each side.
I cooked the red quinoa in chicken broth instead of water. I used 1 cup each cooked quinoa and flour and substituted sherry for port. I used way more than a “dash” of cinnamon and 1 T of vanilla instead of 1 t. They were delicious.
Photography courtesy of La Cuisine Paris, Withlocals, Mealsharing, La Cuisine Paris & ADAMS / HANSEN STOCK PHOTOS