This month for the travel linkup we’re talking all things take-aways; souvenirs, lessons, that sort of metaphysical meandering. But, I’m going to go a little more literal. Travel Takeaways.
As in actual foods, usually found in cartons, that have been spoilt by visiting their country of origin or somewhere that really surprised us. It’s the gourmet equivalent of meeting your heroes, and once you start travelling you’ll always look back on amazing food that you probably can’t quite recreate genuinely enough. DISCLAIMER: This is the epitome of a first world problem and written very tongue in cheek, or fork in cheek you could even say.
Pizza – Florence, Italy
Mr Kiwi and I spent a fortnight a few years ago soaking in the Mediterranean sunshine, sipping delicious local wine and visiting as many glorious churches as I could convince him to enter. In a moment of superlative drenched waffling, I decided that Florence stole my heart many, many moons ago, Venice has my soul, Rome my thirst and hunger, Tivoli my artistically history-drenched imagination.
Whilst in Florence we discovered a small, busy pizzeria that not only encouraged my halting practice Italian but fed us the lightest, tastiest, most delicious pizzas we had ever sliced (and after hours of traipsing through the Uffizi gallery we definitely needed the carb hit.) We returned not once, but twice and then managed to track down another branch on the busy streets of Rome a few days later which made our tourist hearts happy. Luckily, fast forward several years, and my utter delight we discovered my favourite Italian pizza restaurant less than 1.5 hours flight away – in fact just a tube ride – tucked in the midst of Soho, London. We loved it so much, that when my Dad visited from New Zealand and demanded amazing pasta we took him there – only for him to order the world’s biggest steak.
Sushi – Tokyo, Japan
Just don’t do it to yourself, ok? Don’t visit Japan, don’t eat there and don’t have amazing fresh sushi handmade for your eager palate by time served chefs who have made hand crafting Ngiri their life’s work.
Ok, ok, do go, do enjoy and discover new amazing combinations and traditions that will add to your experiences that you’ll never forget. But, unless you find an amazing restaurant close to your home *cough* Aqua Kyoto *cough* you’ll always be pining for the unforgettable fresh, incredible morsels of rice and seaweed that somehow co-exist to make melt in the mouth experiences.
Pastries – Bordeaux, France
This one could get me kicked out of the food blogger guild for not listing Paris as the epitome of culinary finesse but bear with me. We woke up on one of those perfect blue sky mornings in Bordeaux. You know the ones, the bird were genuinely singing, there was a soft breeze that played across my brow and I really didn’t want to get out of bed for the hotel breakfast. In fact, at the time I wrote “Breakfast in our hotel was ok, but I wouldn’t recommend staying there or making a special effort to eat there – we walked into a Faulty Towers-esque situation where electrical wires hung from the ceiling, the hotel bar wasn’t open on a Friday night “just because” and irony of a gastronomy school located across the terrace wasn’t lost on us as the service was lackadaisical to say the least. The view over terracotta rooftops and the sparkling Garonne River was rather lovely though.”
What I cleverly did was send out my Mr Kiwi, tasking my brave knight with the challenge of finding coffee (we had been scuppered by a distinct lack of a coffee maker) and a croissant to fuel our busy day of walking. He disappeared for about 15 minutes and returned brandishing two cups of life-giving caffeine plus two pain au chocolat FRESH FROM THE OVEN. Yes, he had found a local boulangerie just at the exact moment that the bakers were pulling out hand-rolled scions of heaven that hadn’t even cooled properly from being baked. There has been no looking back. Ever.
Pasteis de nata – Lisbon, Portugal
Is it possible to summarise a city by the local dishes alone? Is it possible to go on a historical journey by fork? We started at least one morning with a classic – a plateful of warm pasteis de nata – fresh from the oven, accompanied by a strong coffee and a twist of icing sugar or cinnamon.
These infamous tarts are right in all the best ways – soft layers of crisp pastry enfolding a delicate egg custard, set just so. Rumour has it that only 3 chefs at a time have the closely guarded recipe. Then, we spent an evening drinking wine, eating bánh mì from a food truck, and grooving to the beats of Fat Freddy’s Drop, blowing my tiny kiwi mind. Talk about delicious travel takeaways.
Burgers – Cheesecake Factory, USA
Not really known for fine cuisine, Americans definitely know how to make some of the best unapologetically down and dirty fast food. But, when I asked Mr Kiwi what his favourite burger ever was, he immediately said his Cheesecake Factory burger was the best he’s ever eaten. 5 years after he ate his first one (ever since we have to pop in there, Olive Garden and Crackerbarrel at least once in each trip.)
The Americana Burger is as dirty as Christina Aguilera in her leather trousers phase. Served with American and cheddar cheese, crunchy potato crisps, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, pickles and secret sauce it was heaven on a plate. Allowing me a tiny nibble, he would have licked the plate clean if we hadn’t been in the middle of the enormous restaurant.
So, there you have it for travel takeaways – 5 dishes that travel has spoilt for me. Thanks so much wanderlust.*
Are there any meals that travel has forever spoilt for you?
*Again, I kid, I kid. Don’t take things so seriously man.