5 Of The Top Culinary Destinations

Enjoy quality local dishes when travelling with us in Vietnam | Lachlan Gardiner
Enjoy quality local dishes when travelling with us in Vietnam | Lachlan Gardiner

The food and flavours of a destination are integral to the overall travel experience, and if you want to really immerse yourself in a new culture, you must also taste it. We’ve narrowed down the top culinary destinations around the world which offer exceptional flavours, ingredients, and foodie experiences.

1. Peru

Peru is widely recognised as a hive of trendy, inventive and distinct culinary dishes that are gaining the attention of food critics from around the world. While the traditional staples of indigenous Peruvian cuisine centered around corn, chillies and potatoes (not surprising, given there are over 3000 different potatoes), today the Peruvian cuisine is a melting pot of local and foreign influences, including Spanish, African, French, Asian, Italian and British cuisine. With this unique fusion of flavours, cultures and traditions, it is no wonder Peru, and in particular Lima and Cusco, are emerging as a new global culinary epicentres.

cevicheWhat to Eat: You simply cannot leave Peru without sampling the national dish "Ceviche". This fresh and zesty marinated fish dish is served with boiled sweet potatoes or corn, and can be found in almost every restaurant in Peru!

What to Drink: When thinking about Peruvian drinks, the first one that jumps to traveller's minds is the Pisco Sour – a cocktail that originated in Lima in the 1920’s and remains Peru’s national drink today! The pisco drink also includes lime juice, egg white and sugar syrup, and Angostura bitters to top it off!

Fun Fact: There are over 3000 types of potato in Peru, and it’s said that the potato was first domesticated in southern Peru between 8000 and 5000 BC.

Experience Peru’s Cuisine: 

Peru offers so much variety, with the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, vast Amazon jungle and the cultural highlights of Cusco and Lima, so why not explore everything Peru has to offer - including its culinary scene! The 16 day Best Of Peru itinerary combines it all into a spectacular exploration of all of Peru's highlights!

 2. Myanmar

If you are looking for the next “IT” destination when it comes to top culinary experiences, look no further; Myanmar has it all! Burmese food, having previously slipped under the radar when it comes to tasty cuisine, is finally being recognised for its smorgasboard of mouth-watering flavours. With influences from India and China, it heralds a unique balance of sour, salty, spicy and bitter flavours destined to leave you salivating for more. No matter where you explore in Myanmar, you will find a wonderful offering of salads, noodles, seafood, soups, curries and more – all served with fresh vegetables and fragrant spices.

Myanmar_cuisineWhat to Eat: If you’re after the ultimate culinary experience in Myanmar, a Burmese curry is a must. While the base of the meal features curry as a central element (whether it be pork, shrimp, beef or mutton), it also includes a seemingly never-ending accompany of dishes. From rice, a tart salad, soup, fried vegetables and an array of fresh and par-boiled vegetables, you can bet you’ll leave the meal full and content. Add to the mix a selection of dips, crispy pappadums and a traditional Burmese dessert and you’re in culinary heaven.

What to Drink: Tea is an important part of culture and social life in Myanmar, and you’ll be hard pressed visiting any restaurant or cafe that doesn’t serve tea. To drink it like a local, drink your Myanmar tea (Lah Phet Yay) with condensed and evaporated milk – best drunk at a local tea house for the truly authentic experience.

Fun Fact: The typical meal in Myanmar consists of steamed rice, meat, fish, vegetables and soup. Locals don’t use cutlery-  they use their fingertips to mould the rice into small balls and then mix it with the various side dishes.

Experience Myanmar’s Cuisine:

Why just stop at experiencing Myanmar’s cuisine? Book on the Myanmar Adventure trip and discover the natural beauty of Myanmar on foot and explore the magical sites of Bagan, Mandalay and Yangon, and taste the exceptional cuisine first hand in restaurants and beautiful monasteries.

3. Sri Lanka 

Situated in the Indian Ocean between eastern and western culture, it’s no surprise that the island of Sri Lanka is a melting pot of rich, flavoursome culinary delights. Heavily influenced by its geography, Sri Lanka’s cuisine is jam-packed full of flavour, spice, texture and food experiences. The contrasting flavours of chillies, curry, coconut milk, garlic and cinnamon create a unique fusion of flavours, and resemble the influence of Indian, Arab, Malay, Portuguese, Dutch and English immigration. With so many flavours and textures, a culinary journey throughout Sri Lanka is as much about the culture which has shaped the country as it is about the food.

Image Credit: explorelanka.comImage Credit: explorelanka.com

What to Eat: You’ll likely hear Kottu Roti being prepared long before you see it, as the rhythmic clang of the khottu maker echoes down the streets. This is the ultimate Sri Lankan meal, featuring a stir fry-style dish of roti, shredded vegetables, meat, spices, ginger and garlic, all chopped together on a flat iron skillet using two metal cleavers. It’s one part musical performance, one part advertising, and three parts deliciousness!

What to Drink: There’s a few reasons why Sri Lanka is the third largest tea producing country in the world – and one of those is because people just can’t get enough of Ceylon Tea. Sri Lanka’s tea is the national drink in Sri Lanka and said to be amongst the best in the world!

Fun Fact: The cinnamon spice originated in Sri Lanka and was discovered by the Egyptians.

Experience Sri Lanka’s Cuisine:

Experience Sri Lanka’s feast for the senses with Australian television personality Peter Kuruvita, as he leads two trips in August and October this year! From street food and egg hoppers to tea inspired dinners at some of Sri Lanka's finest dining establishments, Peter will take you behind the scenes to meet the people and discover the spices that make up Sri Lanka's melting pot. Want to discover the hidden areas of the North and East on the Food and Festivals of Sri Lanka trip? This are a must for lovers of food, culture and spice!

4. Vietnam 

Vietnam is a country with a diverse culinary history and culture, with France and China heavily influencing the nations’ cuisine choices. Vietnamese cooking is bright, fresh, light and healthy, with a diverse array of dishes that feature a perfect balance of spice and aromatics, sweet and sour. While ingredients such as lemongrass, ginger and chilli are fundamental to a lot of dishes, you may notice distinct differences from the north, central and south of the country thanks to each region's unique climate, culture and food traditions. Whether you experience the South and the Khmer influence of salad and grilled meats, the north’s Chinese influence with less spice and more black pepper, or Central Vietnam’s blend of the two styles... the only way to really experience the array of tantalising flavours of Vietnam is to explore them all!

pho-1461272_1280What to Eat: If you want to try the national dish of Vietnam, you can’t go past Pho – a beef brisket broth with noodles, herbs and chillies. It’s light on flavour but delicious none the less! Or, Com Tam is a can’t-go-wrong dish that mixes pork grill glazed with honey, fish sauce and white pepper, served with rice. It’s sweet, fragrant and texturally tantalising.

What to Drink: While it may seem like a common drink, nobody does a coffee like Vietnam! The French originally brought coffee to Indochina during the 19th century, and the Vietnamese-style coffee uses a metal drip filter over a glass containing a healthy amount of sweetened condensed milk and is served over ice.

Fun fact: Cakes are wrapped in banana or coconut leaves – these not only add an additional pleasant aroma when cooking, but are also eco-friendly as they are biodegradable.

Experience Vietnam’s Cuisine:

Unlock the secrets of Vietnam's cuisine on the Best Of Vietnam trip. Explore the cultural highlights of Vietnam, with visits to bustling cities and stunning highlands. Along the way, visit markets with a chef who will give an overview of typical Vietnamese ingredient,s before heading to a local home where traditional Vietnamese dishes are prepared fresh for you!!

5. Morocco

Spend a day in Morocco and you’ll soon realise why it is ranked as one of the top culinary destinations in the world. With subtle spices of saffron, cumin, ginger, cinnamon and caraway influenced by the Arabs, sweet and sour notes from the Persians, Southern European ingredients such as olives, olive oil, fruit and tomatoes, and decadent sweets from French patisseries, it is the delicious combination of flavours that make the cuisine so heavenly unique. Enhanced with apricots, figs, dates and raisins, preserved lemons and nuts such as almonds and pistachios, every bite is a mouthwatering exploration of the imperial and trade influences that have blended into Morocco's culture.

Tagine-mediumWhat to Eat: It goes without saying that a tagine is the must-try dish when visiting Morocco. This is the nation's most popular dish, and for good reason! A stew of meat is cooked with vegetables such as carrots and potatoes, in a conical shaped dish famous for its uniquely moist and hot cooking environment. Meat variations include beef with almonds and quinces, chicken with olive and lemon, or lamb with apricots.

What to Drink: Morocco’s mint tea is an integral part of Moroccan culture and is a green tea base with lots of mint and a heavy-handed serving of sugar. Served at the end of every meal, making a good mint tea is considered an art form and is one of the important rituals of the day!

Fun Fact: It is impolite to say no to meat when offered in Morocco.

Experience Morocco’s Cuisine:

Explore the Markets, Gardens and Food of Morocco on a cultural walking tour with Mary Moody in April 2017!

Food, Culinary Tours

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