As a key component of all travels, food is the window to a different culture. I have decided to highlight my favorite food destinations along with some recommendations in a top ten list.
For those of you familiar with David Letterman and the Late Night Show, I give you…..Ms. Traveling Pants’ Top Ten Favorite Food Destinations.
10. Montreal, a great blend of bilingual culture, jazz, and dining. I have had the pleasure of visiting this great city twice with my husband who is an executive chef. Believe us, if you are in the mood for a great aged steak, you must stop by Le Queue Cheval and if you have a second night to dine please go to Peel Street and visit Ferriera’s Cafe.
9. Florida Keys…my number nine review is for an outstanding Islamorada restaurant called Pierre’s. With its own private white sand beach and beautiful Gulf views for sunsets, this is a special place. It is high end cuisine, but you can always just visit the inviting bar and lounge on the beach patio lit by tiki torches after the sunset. For lunches, I would recommend its sister restaurant Morada Bay. With great chips and salsa, live music, and that same private beach, it is one of the best lunch joints in the Keys.
8. Also, in South Florida, you must go to Le Tub in Hollywood. Award winning for its extra large burgers, the place certainly has a unique decor with a wooden enclosed eating area with benches for parties of two to six people. Some of the tables are waterfront (you need to get there when they open to get these prime spots) while the others are shaded by tropical trellises. Be prepared to wait an hour for your burgers and the servers are “no-frills.”
7. Whether in Casablanca, Marrakesh, or Tangiers, you must try the national dish of Morocco, tagine. Named after the actual cooking vessel, tagines are rather unusually shaped casserole pans with a cone shaped cover. It is with this heating and steaming method that the typical chicken and lamb combination is very moist and enhanced by the flavors of carrots, potatoes, onions, and many times dried fruits and nuts such as almonds and raisins.
6. When in New England, a stop in Beantown for “chowda” is necessary no matter what the season. Clam Chowder, a traditional thick soup with onions, potatoes, cream, and clams, is no better than at one of the most historic restaurants in all of Boston, the Union Oyster House. In fact, the Union Oyster House, near Quincy market and Faneuil Hall, was one of my husband’s first jobs in the culinary field.
5. Madrid is near and dear to me so I must mention one of its specialties. Cocido Madrileno is a very filling stew usually served in two stages. The first consists of a broth, straight from a large pan where all the stew’s meat has been slowly simmering. The second course is usually presented in a tray placed in the middle of the table containing chickpeas, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and all the meat: beef, chicken, ham, chorizo and sometimes morcilla (blood sausage). Only true Madrileno style restaurants do cocido and typically only one day a week.
4. New Orleans is a great stop for culinary travels. If you haven’t heard of it before, you must go to Cafe du Monde for a good coffee and the world renowned beignets, square fritters covered with powdered sugar. If you want an enjoyable Southern dinner on Bourbon Street, try the Red Fish Grill. Go for the Red fish….it is good enough to name the restaurant after.
3. Ixtapa, Mexico not only is a trendy, Mexican beach destination, but it has a great hamburger place called Ruben’s. Now you don’t think of burgers when you think Mexican food, but these charbroiled burgers are to die for. You can have them with the traditional ketchup and mustard, but I would recommend skipping both and going for the in-house pickled vegetable mixture to garnish.
2. Not to far from number 3, Zihauntanejo, Mexico…..This is where you would find Pollo Loco (crazy chicken) a small, local hangout that has the best hand made tortillas, grilled onions, peppers, and chicken a la brasa. Just order the 1/2 chicken, a Sol (a more authentic Mexican beer than Corona), and roll up your sleeves and dig in.
1. Nerja, Spain is one of the jewels of Costa del Sol and paella beachside is my number one pick. Paella is typically done by fire in a very shallow, metal pan (see picture above). It is a rice dish with fresh seafood, chicken, sometimes rabbit, saffron for color, veggies and is best accompanied by a nice pitcher of sangria. I would recommend Chiringuito Ayo, one of the most popular on Burriana beach.