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My Top 16 Food & Travel Memories

| August 26, 2013 | 0 Comments
Coffee Collective coffee & Meyers Bageri pastries, Copenhagen

Coffee Collective coffee & Meyers Bageri pastries, Copenhagen

I’ve put together a list of my top 18 food and travel memories because my husband and I were recently discussing our favourite eating experiences over the last twelve years since we’ve been married. We’ve drawn this up based on a combination of factors including how welcome we were made to feel, the mood we were in at the time, the people we were with who made the meal even more special, how often we’ve recommended each place to friends and family, whether we’ve recreated certain dishes at home and so on. One or two places may no longer be around, but the memories are certainly still vivid.

More importantly, my husband has been a vegetarian since he was a teenager, while I’m a dedicated carnivore. He’ll eat fish if he has to, but only certain types, and definitely no seafood. So before each trip I do a lot of in-depth research to make sure that there are enough options for him at the restaurants that we plan to visit. It’s not a big problem, but it would be difficult to eat harmoniously at a barbecue meat shack or share a tasting menu at the likes of The Fat Duck or Noma, because they’re either not flexible or the vegetarian tasting menu is vastly overpriced.

So this is a very personal list to us. We may have eaten better quality food at other times, but these are among the most meaningful and memorable meals we’ve had together. And we look forward to many more in the future!

In no particular order than chronological, starting with the oldest memories first:

  • Pasteis de Belém

    Belém, Lisbon, Portugal – we took a bus from central Lisbon to picturesque Belém just to try the pasteis de nata. I remember how pleased we were when a table became free as soon as we arrived and can still picture our table by the door in the quiet section of the café

  • Trattoria Terrazza sul Lago

    Nemi, Alban Hills, Italy – driving through the Alban Hills outside Rome, we came across a trattoria in Nemi. They were just opening for lunch and we were given a table on the small balcony dramatically overlooking the volcanic lake hundreds of metres below. My wild hare ragu tagliatelle was delicious, as was the husband’s smoked provolone and cream sauce tagliatelle. The latter was later recreated at home

  • Olde Hansa

    Tallinn, Estonia – we spent one Christmas just relaxing in Tallinn, a time when the hen and stag parties were noticeably absent. And we ate not once but twice at the wonderful medieval-themed restaurant Olde Hansa. We even saved the wooden figure of Hans from burning down, and were rewarded with tankards of honey mead

  • Gloria

    Tallinn, Estonia – the highlight of the Tallinn trip was dinner at Gloria, which has been serving customers since 1937 and has a well stocked wine cellar, where you can also eat. We sat in a luxurious private booth separated from the rest of the restaurant by thick red velvet curtains, while outside bigwigs were being entertained by a full orchestra in the main dining room

Afternoon tea, Reid's Palace Hotel, Funchal, Madeira

Afternoon tea, Reid’s Palace Hotel, Funchal, Madeira

  • Reid’s Palace Hotel

    Funchal, Madeira – we had a traditional afternoon tea relaxing on the terrace overlooking the ocean. The signature tea blend was so aromatic that we bought tins of it to take home with us. I can still remember the almond flavour, for which we’ve only just about managed to find a replacement six years later

  • Dal Pescatore

    Runate, near Mantova, Italy – a truly memorable dining experience at Nadia Santini’s three Michelin-starred restaurant in a tiny hamlet with a vegetable garden. We were treated to a tour of the kitchen where we met Nadia’s mother-in-law, and of course the food was spectacular, in particular the signature dish of tortelli di zucca. How many restaurants have their own helicopter landing pad and can give out GPS coordinates?

  • Trattoria Meloncello

    Bologna, Italy – lunch at this tiny trattoria run by two sisters was near perfect. There was no fixed menu at the time (you can see one online now), so the server just talked us through the choices of the day. The tagliatelle al ragu, polpette and zuppa inglese are all classics. And afterwards we went up the long porticoed walkway to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca before making our way back to the centre of town

  • Din Tai Fung

    Beijing, China – I first tasted Din Tai Fung’s legendary xiao long bao in Taipei, where the restaurant chain first started. Three years went by before I had another chance to try them again, this time with the husband, at one of the Beijing branches. Fortunately the vegetarian options were also very good and we lost count of how many baskets of dumplings we managed to get through

  • Noodle Loft

    Beijing, China – a huge loft-like space with an open noodle preparation area where chefs make countless varieties of handmade noodles from Shanxi province. Knife-shaved noodles were particularly impressive to watch, as were noodles by one chopstick

Mrs Sato soba rolling, Nagano, Japan

Mrs Sato soba rolling, Nagano, Japan

  • Mrs Sato’s soba making class

    Shibu Onsen, Nagano, Japan – we paid for a private soba noodle cookery lesson with Mrs Sato, an elderly farmer. She spoke no English and was absolutely charming. We learnt so much from her, enjoyed a delicious lunch of our soba noodles served with her homemade pickles and finally left armed with her crunchy farm apples and buckwheat seeds

  • Ninja restaurant

    Tokyo, Japan – this wasn’t a restaurant we would have chosen ourselves, but we were invited for dinner and it turned out to be unexpectedly fun and entertaining, with creative, good quality dishes. Ninjas guided us through a dark corridor full of traps and hidden dangers to our private dining room. There in between multiple courses, we were treated to amazing ninja magic tricks

  • Japadog

    Vancouver, Canada – whenever someone asks me what they should eat in Vancouver, I always say ‘have a Japadog’. There are several food stall locations where you can order a Japanese-style hotdog. I had the Kurobuta Terimayo and the husband the Veggie Terimayo. Naturally we had a Japadog party as soon as we returned home

Pork buns, Momofuku Noodle Bar, New York

Pork buns, Momofuku Noodle Bar, New York

  • Pizzeria Guerrin 

    Buenos Aires, Argentina – founded in 1932, this is one of the traditional pizza joints in Buenos Aires and where we ate three times during our stay. The portions are gigantic and the husband still dreams about the fugazetta, a thick pizza completely covered with cheese and sliced onions

  • Alvear Palace Hotel

    Buenos Aires, Argentina – we celebrated my birthday over a traditional afternoon tea served in the beautiful conservatory. The service was excellent and this must be the only location that actually recommends you share an afternoon tea rather than be charged per head. And the Alvear Blend was so good that we went to buy some afterwards at Tealosophy based in the hotel

  • Meyers Bageri

    Copenhagen, Denmark – we lost track of the number of hindbaersnitter or raspberry slices we managed to consume during our three day visit. We had our first one paired with a Coffee Collective coffee at Assistens Cemetery and even bought four to take home with us (they survived the plane journey remarkably well)

  • Momofuku Noodle Bar

    New York, United States – we ate at many places on our last trip, but one of the most memorable was our lunch here. The husband loved the ginger scallion noodles and he’s recreated many versions of this at home, including with grilled salmon on top

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading our ‘traveleating’ list. It was a lot of fun to write and to relive each meal again…

Helen Yuet Ling Pang

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Category: food, long leaps, short hops, travel

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