This post is published in partnership with our sponsor OpenTable. The world’s leading online restaurant booking platform, OpenTable has functionality that enables diners to search, discover and make reservations at restaurants across the globe, in their local language. Becoming a ‘Global Dining Passport’ to help the global traveller, become a global diner. The global booking functionality gives access to over 38,000 restaurants across more than 20 countries at the tap of on a button.
It has happened to you I am sure, it most certainly has happened me. A photo of a dish, an anecdote about a restaurant, somewhere that you are just dying to try because you saw it on instagram or read a story about it causes you to plan your travels around it. I have a fierce memory for dishes that have sparked me. Dishes that are so complete, so arousing, that they are all encompassing as you eat. Dishes that when they come along change a greyscale day to technicolour.
There are many dishes in my memory bank that I remember fondly and want to eat again. From the street to the stars, chief among them grilled pork cheek with smoky tomato sauce in the musky night air by the swimming pool at Nahm in Bangkok, immediately before I left for the airport for my overnight flight. The intensity of a tagliatelle with ragu forged with love, lard and perky white pepper eaten in the Emilia Romagna countryside, with long grasses waving in the field across from my table outside.
Where to start? I always return to Italy. In Piedmont, a bright green ravioli filled with air light fresh goat’s cheese, with crumbled Bra sausage on top. Eaten in a wonderful old room that I had to myself in that moment. Just me and that pasta and the sleepy summer light filtering through the nearby window that day. More pasta in Rome, a life changing carbonara, a gricia bold with peppercorns and rich with cheese, tense pasta underneath, aching to be seen. Slices of meltingly rich porchetta with crisp skin sandwiched in salty pizza bianca eaten outside the front of Panificio Bonci in Rome, and then returning for more to bring the airport to ease me into my journey home.
So many things in Japan. A tiny piece of fish fermented in rice for a very long time, reminiscent of the best blue cheese. A ramen rich with black garlic and garlic chips and a broth so deep that I couldn’t talk to the person I was dining with. Chicken wings in Bangkok intensified and enriched with fermented prawn paste before being enveloped in a crisp batter were divine. I ate them for lunch. I went back an hour later for more. I went back again the next day.
Flying for food
31% of the UK (and I wager most of you) factor where they eat into their choice of holiday destination according to the latest research from OpenTable. 55% profess to having flown for food in the last 5 years. Food is one of the most important drivers for travellers, more important than nightlife and outdoor activities. We especially love France with 52% of people here in the UK choosing France, and choosing it for the cuisine.
British holidaymakers are more adventurous when they travel
42% of British holidaymakers will make more adventurous choices when ordering in restaurants while on holiday. We want to eat like a local when we are abroad (34% of us), and the dream destination for over half those surveyed in the UK is Florence (and I do want to return there and have a lampredotto, a famous Florentine sandwich and some chianina steak). Research also shows that women are more adventurous in their choices than men with 44% making adventurous choices compared to 39% of men.
25 Fly to try Dishes
OpenTable insiders have compiled a list of 25 Fly to Try Dishes, a bucket list for food obsessives and those who travel to eat. I see Nahm has made the top of it. Take me back there, please! (I plan to take myself there as soon as I can manage it). I have always wanted to try the roast chicken Roast chicken with bread salad at Zuni Cafe.
Whole split lobster at Lobstar, Dublin
What are the best things that you have eaten? Where would you travel to to eat? My list is long but Bangkok, Seoul, Tokyo, Hanoi and Lima feature high. So many places! Which first? Time will (soon) tell.
Cooking and travelling, and sharing it all with you.