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A Travelling Foodie’s Bucket List

22 Dec 2017

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Like ticking off historic icons, adventurous foodies scour the globe in search of tantalising new flavours and culinary experiences. While some find joy slurping noodles while crouched on tiny stools in the bustling backstreets of Southeast Asia, others treat themselves to refined meals dished out by Michelin-starred chefs. Either way, the pleasure of travel is often in the eating. Take a seat at some of the world’s best tables for a sensory feast encompassing flavour, heritage and culture.

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foodie bucket list sounds of silence
The Red Centre is Mother Nature's finest dining room (image: Luxury Lodges Australia)

Dinner Under The Stars In Uluru, Australia

Find yourself in the dunes of the desert, against a backdrop of Uluru’s surprisingly rugged face. The hues of sunset: reds, oranges, blues and purples are reflected in the iridescent shimmer of sparkling wine flutes clinking among dining companions.

Taste your way through bite-size morsels of crocodile, damper and desert lime; then onto capsicum mousse with akuderra bush tomato chutney, and before long, the sun disappears and you take your place at a white tablecloth-clad setting.

The dulcet sounds of didgeridoos echo as local Anangu people act out legends and lore, and then, dinner is served. Bush tucker at its finest, your taste buds tingle with inspired Australian fare, including barramundi in coconut and lemon aspen dressing, and crocodile Caesar salad complemented by drops from stellar Australian wine label, Lorimer by De Bortoli Wines. Then all goes eerily quiet as you gaze to the heavens and listen to the resident astrologist decode the wonders of the Milky Way and beyond. Embrace the best of the Red Centre in four magical hours under a sparkling outback sky; the award-winning Sounds of Silence dinner is a Northern Territory evening beyond comparison.

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foodie bucket list bluff oysters nz
Bluff oysters are different to your average oyster: plumper and bigger – with a price tag to match (image: Anna Howard)

A Bluffing Good Time In New Zealand

When it comes to New Zealand’s greatest hits, far from the jet boat rides, beyond the steaming sulphur pools of Rotorua and snowy peaks of The Remarkables, are the tasty treasures of Foveaux Strait. This intensely icy outreach off the coast of the South Island produces the Bluff oyster, a prized seasonal delicacy only available in New Zealand between March and August each year.

With only 10 million harvested from the dozen boats legally permitted to dredge the oceans for such riches, the Bluff oyster is legendary, and one of the few remaining ‘wild’ oysters anywhere in the world. Free of any sort of metallic finish, the Bluff oyster is rich and creamy, but not without that familiar hit of the sea. Different from anything you’ve ever tasted, it’s no wonder these plump molluscs are a national obsession.

Bluff season is celebrated extensively throughout New Zealand.

Happy hour specials in capital cities such as Auckland (try Oyster and Chop on Viaduct Harbour) invite the masses to knock back dozen after dozen for a fraction of the usual cost – with the obligatory pairing of a crisp white or sparkling. Roadside stalls from north to south offer Bluffs to hungry road trippers, while gourmands can continue the festivities in May during the Bluff Oyster and Food Festival. Naturally, tasting oysters fresh off the boat here is a classic Kiwi experience.

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foodie bucket list napa valley
With no shortage of award-winning restaurants and vineyards, Napa Valley is a gourmand's paradise

A Galaxy Of Michelin Stars In Napa Valley

With its green sprawl of chateau-like homes, country estates and lush vineyards, Napa Valley is the epitome of wine country. This northern California holiday hotspot calls to epicureans and oenophiles alike with the promise of decadent drops and gourmet grub. Its culinary pedigree is world class. Prestigious Michelin stars, 11 in fact, have found their way to seven restaurants in the region for inspired, progressive and of course, delicious food. 

Yountville, the town who has claimed the most Michelin stars per capita, is home to the famed French Laundry, attributed to great US chef, Thomas Keller. French techniques combined with local fare and fresh Californian influences deliver a truly indulgent multi-sensory tasting menu experience. Three Michelin stars and a slew of other awards ensure a meal here is one to remember – just make sure to book at least three months in advance. Visitors can even walk the restaurant’s culinary gardens, where chefs gather produce for the night’s menu.

For a meal with a view, head to the lovely terrace of The Restaurant at Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford. If you can tear your eyes away from the views of the Silverado Trail, you’ll discover eye-popping plates of veal sweetbreads with creamed gem lettuce and Liberty Farm duck with apricots and Marcona almonds.

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foodie bucket list lyon
If you're still hungry for more after lunch, Lyon is full food markets hidden down atmospheric streets (image: Getty)

Leisurely Lunches In Lyon

Never mind the delicate haute cuisine and prix fixe lunches of Paris, Lyon is the true food capital of France.

With a picture-perfect setting on the Rhone and Saone rivers, Lyon is celebrated for its revolutionary use of local produce and international influences. Whether you’re traipsing a marketplace or nestling into a humble eatery, Lyonnaise cuisine has a heavy emphasis on meat, and master charcutieres take the nose-to-tail approach very seriously in their creations. Many specialise solely in swine and adventurous palates can try delicacies such as andouillette, a course sausage made from pork offal, while others may prefer to stick with Lyonnaise classics such as coq au vin, a chicken stew.

With one of the highest concentrations of restaurants per capita in France, the city is peppered with humble ‘bouchons’ where the focus isn’t exclusively on the meal itself, but on establishing personal connections in a relaxed setting of homey decor, cosy bar stools and tiny tables nestled side by side. In Lyon, lunch is the order du jour, and often turns into a half-day affair – leisurely, lingering, full of conversation and never-ending carafes of vino.

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foodie bucket list singapore
Singapore's nightlife scene is a polished affair, complete with city views and heady cocktails (image: Getty)

Cheers To The View In Singapore

A city-state whose skyline is dominated by soaring glittering towers certainly isn’t short on panoramic views.

While you may spend your days pounding the pavement in search of cheap and cheerful satay skewers or scouring hawker centres for the best chicken rice (succulent chicken, intensely savoury rice and lashings of ginger and spring onion sauce to bring it all together), by night, head upwards for a more polished gastronomic experience, served alongside views of the bay and beyond.

While the obvious pick is the Marina Bay Sands rooftop, why not head to Southbridge to enjoy views of the sail-like hotel as well as the Singapore river and Boat Quay area? Order the speciality oysters topped with Avruga caviar to enjoy with crafted cocktails or top-shelf liquors and wine.

If you’d prefer something more laidback, Level 33 is a European-style casual restaurant and lounge. Its key talking points are the copper brewing kettles – not just style points, but the creators of quality brews inspired by European ales. Sample a few local favourites with a tasting paddle, accompanied by contemporary dishes from the great mind of chef James Tegerdine.

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A lovo feast is alfresco dining at its best (image: Getty)

Enjoy A Feast From The Earth In Fiji

In the island paradise of Fiji, cuisine is as much about tradition and family as it is flavour. The nation’s best-known feast, the lovo, is a prime example of this.

Families and friends gather together for these traditional meals, whereby various meats, fish and vegetables are wrapped and smoked on hot stones in a large hole in the ground, covered by large leaves, coconut stalks and damp cloth.

Common at special events like weddings, birthday parties and funerals, the lovo represents more than just incredible flavours and an efficient means through which to cook large amounts of food. It’s also about the coming together of people, and the honouring of a sacred tradition.

No matter what area in Fiji you choose to stay, most resorts and hotels will put on a lovo feast for guests, with all the trimmings and traditional entertainment, so be sure to take advantage, and as they say in Fiji: ‘Kana!’ (Let’s eat!)

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foodie bucket list italy food
Enjoy a home-cooked meal with ingredients you helped forage for as part of a farm stay in Italy (image: Getty)

Discover Life On A Farm In Italy

Where the rushes of modern-day life are forgotten and the only background noise is the distant chirruping of crickets in the early evening, agriturismo is your invitation to country life in Italy.

The concept of staying with local families offers an insightful welcome to organic food, wine, local folklore and music, and of course, captivating landscapes, with the help of openhearted folk exuding light-hearted hospitality.

Whether your interests are in cuisine or viticulture, an agriturismo holiday can take many forms, from medieval villages high in the hilltops of Tuscany or Piedmontese palaces surrounded by orchards and olive groves. You can spend your days ticking off marketplaces, before donning an apron and stepping into the kitchen where Italian nonnas can teach you the intricacies of pasta making.

Touring specialists such as Trafalgar also extend an invitation to the homes of locals with their signature Be My Guest experiences on many of their guided holidays. Travel along with like-minded folk and discover the culture from the inside as you’re welcomed into the homes of providores and their families, complete with a joyous feast around the family table.

Anna Howard

I thrive on discovering hidden gems and local haunts wherever I travel, from hole-in-the-wall cafes and dive bars, to antique stores and eclectic markets. I feel just as content in a cosy cabin in the wilderness as I do lost in the crowd of a buzzing city.