Traveling to destinations whose main economy is tourism has its pros and cons. On the one hand, you are assured that the language barrier is not going to be too much of an issue and there will be plenty of organized tour packages and options for you. There is also likely to be a lot of content online helping you make good decisions with your time and money.

On the other hand, as a visitor, you are always going to have incomplete and potentially inaccurate information, and nowhere is this more noticeable than with restaurants.

tourist trap

Sure, you can read Trip Advisor reviews, but how do you know the people leaving the reviews share your tastes or standards? They might be raving about a tourist trap restaurant with overpriced food that doesn’t really care whether you have a good experience or not because there is an endless line of people just like you coming and going. Great food and a memorable experience isn’t this kind of restaurant’s business model.

With that in mind, below are 5 ways to spot a tourist trap restaurant.

1. The Menu is in Multiple Languages

If eating local is the goal, bear in mind that if a restaurant’s menu is available in multiple languages, it’s likely that they’re catering to tourists. They know that many visitors to their city or country will be from other places and might not speak the local language fluently.

This doesn’t necessarily mean the restaurant is a tourist “trap” in the sense that the food isn’t made with love and care. It is, however, one of many signs that you should start to be suspicious.

2. Novelty or Gimmick Factor

It’s almost impossible to go anywhere in the world and not see a Taco, Pizza, or Sushi restaurant. While I love all of these things when made authentically by people who know the cuisine, what are the odds you’re getting authentic sushi at the place beside The Hard Rock Cafe in Cancun or Tacos in Chiang Mai?

bad tacos
Sketchy-looking tacos

3. There’s a Long List of Foreign Dishes

Tourist trap restaurants very often try to be all things to all people. You’re in Greece, but the menu you’re looking at is advertising Greek, Italian, American, Chinese, and whatever else they think might attract international tourists. While it is not impossible to get good Italian outside of Italy (and the same holds for all the other cuisines mentioned above), too many menu options are always a bad sign.

4. It’s Always Crowded

Another sign that you may be in a tourist trap is if the restaurant is always packed, no matter what time of day or night it is. They’re usually popular for a reason – they’re located in a prime spot for tourists – but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re serving up great food. I always take a stroll past this type of restaurant to see what the food on people’s plates actually looks like. Does it look fresh and local or like something out of a massive can or jar?

crowded restaurants
Crowded restaurants near popular sites

5. Overpriced

One dead giveaway that you’re in a tourist trap restaurant is if the prices are sky-high. They know that visitors to their city or country often have more money to spend than locals do, so they charge accordingly. If you see entrees that cost more than you would normally pay, chances are you’re in a tourist trap.

How to Find the Gems

In my experience, the best way to find the best local restaurants anywhere you go is to cross-reference Trip Advisor and Google Reviews with foodie travel bloggers and then run a restaurant’s menu (if available) through the above gauntlet of tourist trap criteria. If it looks like it is consistently mentioned by people who have spent a while in a place (e.g. a digital nomad), it has solid online reviews, and the menu is simple and mostly local fare, it’s probably worth checking out.

Ready to dive first into some Australian grub (slang, for tasty food)? You might be interested to know that the Aussie enjoys a very multicultural diet. Many dishes that Australians consider truly Australian have been inherited from Italian, Chinese, and Greek immigrants during the gold rush times, or dishes the British settlers brought with them.

You will find indigenous dishes and Italian pasta going hand in hand. So when people want to try Australian cuisine, they are more than likely trying a twist on a dish that’s come from somewhere else. Without further explanation here are some classic Aussie meals you may not have heard of however don’t worry they are all bloody delicious!

Fairy Bread

A true favorite at every Aussie birthday party under 10 (maybe 20) is fairy bread. You make fairy bread by buttering some white bread and pouring hundreds and thousands on it then cut it into small triangles or squares. Now that may sound odd, but it is truly a delicacy. If you mention fairy bread to any Aussie adult you will see memories of childhood and happiness floating past their eyes.

Fairy bread

Aussie Scones

It’s not a muffin, a cake, or a biscuit but falls somewhere in the middle. These baked goods were brought over by the early British settlers and have found a home in Australia with a good old cuppa tea. Slap some cream and jam on top for those special occasions.

Aussie scones

Kangaroo Snags (Sausages) and Emu Pies

Australia is one of the few countries that don’t mind eating their emblem animals. So while you’re visiting Australia make sure you try some kangaroo sausages or an emu pie. Spicy kangaroo sausages are commonplace and a favorite amongst the locals.

Give them 5-10 minutes on the grill then serve them with bread, tomato sauce, and the caramelized onions.

You can find emu pies at most bakeries around the country, and they are equally just as delicious. You can purchase kangaroo sausages at most supermarkets in Australia and they certainly won’t be breaking the bank.

Emu Pie

Surf and Turf

Surf and turf is a combination of seafood and steak served together. With the huge array of seafood in Australia such as Balmain bugs, oysters, calamari, or yabbies, this is a must. Australia is revved as producing some of the best beef in the world. Hot tip, make sure you try this in a coastal area to ensure you get the freshest possible seafood.

Snags & Skewers

Snags (sausages) & skewers. You will notice that skewers and snags are an essential part of all Aussie barbies (BBQs).

When you pick up the snags make sure you grab some bread, onions & tomato sauce! You will notice at every BBQ everyone will pile on onions. All you need to do to prepare them is thinly slice and throw them on the barbie with some oil to caramelize. Let them cook down for 20 -30 mins before serving.

Now the skewers can be tricky to cook, ensuring the marinade doesn’t burn before the chicken is done is a tough balance. Get this right or you won’t have people lining up to come over for your next barbie! If you want to see some get Aussie BBQ recipes head to Simply Meat Smoking.

Snags and skewers

Tim Tams

Have a look in any Australian cupboard and you’re bound to find a packet of these delicious chocolate biscuits. They now come in a variety of flavors but the double choc or traditional is a must when performing the “Tim Tam Slam”. Watch the video for this mouth-watering delight!

Beetroot Burger

You might find some strange additions to your burger in Australia. Don’t be shocked to find things like pineapple, and egg making an appearance. It’s also pretty commonplace for a couple of slices of beetroot to be added. Now it might sound weird to first-timers however, it is a beloved burger ingredient and you will find it adds flavors you never knew were needed.

Beetroot Burger

Anzac Biscuits

This sweet biscuit is a welcome treat for Aussies and can be found at many cafes and patisseries. Made up of rolled oats, flour, sugar, butter (or margarine), golden syrup, baking soda, and water – they can be crunchy or soft and chewy. The name comes from the association with the ANZACS (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps). Apparently, the soldiers were sent these biscuits during World War 1.

Anzac biscuits

Lamingtons

In addition to the Anzac biscuit and Tim Tams, Lamingtons are another popular Aussie treat that makes the perfect combo with a cuppa tea or coffee. Smack two squares of spongecake together, whack some cream in the middle, then coat it in a layer of chocolate before sprinkling some desiccated coconut on top. Yummo!

Lamington

Slow-Cooked Greek Lamb

The classic slow-cooked lamb roast glazed in herbs served with potato and mint sauce is something most Australians grew up on. You will find that Australia produces a high quantity and quality of lamb. So like in any culture, if there is an excessive the locals learned to cook with it especially well. Either find a welcoming family to join for their weekly roast or head down to a local pub.

Chicken Parma

Chicken parma (parmigiana) is the most classic Aussie pub food, you will find it either served on a burger or with a plate of chips. The parma is a crispy chicken fillet that is smothered in Marianna sauce and topped with cheese that is then melted. It is what every Aussie will turn to when in doubt of what to order.

Chicken parma

Potato Cakes & Dims Sims for the Win

I don’t know if anyone told you, but Australia has quite a beach culture, and one thing every Aussie loves after or during a beach session is some fish and chips. Australians love their fish and chips and you’ll be able to purchase them in any town in Australia. Make sure you order a couple of dim sims and potato cakes (you will thank us later).

Dim sims

So there you go, you’ve now got some more dishes to add to your list when you visit Australia. Are there any meals here you wouldn’t try? Aussies – have we missed anything?

Being born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand, I grew up in a country internationally known for its amazing cuisine, and to be honest, I am quite proud of the reputation we have for our food here.

Thai food is truly like no other, and it is the kind of food that seems to appeal to people of various cultures. Everyone likes Thai food, and it’s been rare to come across someone who says otherwise.

What makes Thai food so special is that it is simple yet so flavorful. Using staple ingredients that most people love such as garlic, onion, and soy sauce, most of the dishes you’ll find in Thailand are guaranteed to hit the spot.

However, it just happens to be so that when most foreigners think of Thai food, they think of Pad Thai. Don’t get me wrong, it is incredibly delicious, but the thing is that there is so much more to Thai cuisine than just Pad Thai. In fact, if you ask any local what their favorite Thai dish is, the answer would most likely not be Pad Thai.

With that being said, if you want to experience the true taste of Thailand, here are the 7 ultimate local dishes that you must try when visiting the country. These meals are Thai locals’ absolute favorites and trust me, nothing tastes more like home than these dishes do.

1. Khao pad kraprao (ข้าวผัดกระเพรา)

Stir-fry with basil topped on rice

khao pad kraprao

This first dish is one that locals swear by. Khao pad krapao is quick and easy to make and is a staple meal that is guaranteed to be delicious no matter what restaurant you order it from. When indecisive, it is often the first dish that Thais think of.

This meal offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to your choice of meat. You can either pick chicken, minced beef, or minced pork as your base, but there are also other seafood and vegetarian options available. As the cherry on top, a fried egg can be added to make this dish even better.

Do note that regular versions of this dish tend to be more on the spicy side. If you are sensitive to spicy food, be sure to order the mild or non-spicy version of this dish.

2. Khao moo daeng or Bami moo daeng (ข้าวหมูแดง / บะหมี่หมูแดง)

Barbecued red pork with rice / Barbecued red pork with egg noodles

khao moo daeng

Next up on the list is the infamous barbecued red pork. With this meal, you can either get it served on top of rice or a fresh bowl of egg noodles. The two versions are quite different from one another but are both worth trying.

Barbecued red pork is different from regular pork as there is a hint of sweetness to it. The meat is often served thinly sliced therefore the sweetness isn’t overbearing; it is just right.

When having it with rice, the dish comes with a thick sweet sauce that is poured on top. It is also often served with a hard-boiled egg and some green chili pepper on the side for an extra kick. As an option, you may also choose to have some crispy pork added to the dish, which is a very popular preference for many Thais.

bami moo daeng

In contrast, the noodle version of this dish is served dry and plain with some fried garlic, steamed vegetables, spring onions, and maybe some added wontons. As an option, you may also choose to have it as a noodle soup dish. Although seasonings can be added for some extra flavor, the dish is already great on its own.

3. Guay tieaw kua gai (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวคั่วไก่)

Fried rice noodles with chicken

guay tieaw kua gai

Guay tieaw kua gai is yet another simple Thai dish that is going to wow your taste buds.

This dish is not as commonly found as the ones I’ve mentioned earlier, but if you ever come across a street food stall that sells them, be sure to try it out. Believe me, it will not disappoint.

The rice noodles are simply stir-fried with some eggs and chicken and are served with some sriracha on the side. Although noodles and sriracha may seem like a weird combination, the spice and tanginess from the sauce are what truly makes this dish complete.

4. Guay tieaw ruea (ก๋ยวเตี๋ยวเรือ)

Thai boat noodles

boat noodles

Surprise, surprise. It’s another noodle dish! In Thailand, boat noodles are definitely a must-have. This is a traditional dish that Thai people have been eating since the 1800s, and the reason why they are called boat noodles is that they were once served on little farmer boats along the river!

Boat noodle soups are made with various herbs and are therefore extremely rich in flavor. Thin rice noodles are often used as a base and various meat toppings are added to give it some volume and texture.

If you are someone who loves spicy food, you are going to love this meal. The added chili powder is what gives the soup a good kind of fiery flavor. However, if you cannot handle spice, you may also ask for a non-spicy version of this dish.

5. Khao gaeng (ข้าวแกง)

Rice and curry

khao gaeng

The name ‘Khao gaeng’ literally translates to curry rice, but interestingly, this dish involves more than just rice and curry.

Rice and curry is one of the most common meals that Thai locals have daily. Due to it also being one of the cheapest food options you can get, many Thai people tend to have this meal during their lunch break at work or at their university.

Rice and curry is typically found within food courts and local street food areas. It is usually a large stall of its own that serves more than 10 different Thai dishes, including various types of spicy curry, soup, stir-fries, as well as vegetarian options.

These dishes are served on top of a plate of rice as a ‘side dish’, and the best part about this meal is that you are free to choose whichever and as many side dishes as you’d like. With so many options to choose from, you’d most likely never get bored of it.

6. Khao kha moo (ข้าวขาหมู)

Stewed pork leg with rice

khao kha moo

This dish is one that every Thai local has loved ever since they were a child. Unlike many of the dishes listed here, Khao kha moo is actually one of the few non-spicy meals that are easy to eat for everyone.

The stewed pork leg is packed with flavor, and many people tend to like this dish for the fatty part of the meat. It’s extremely soft and tender which adds more texture to the meal.

However, if you are not a fan of fatty meat textures, you may also ask for the skinless part of the pork. The meat is served along with rice and drizzled with some sweet stew broth. For some added spice, a special chili vinaigrette sauce is served on the side.

7. Som tum (ส้มตำ)

Papaya salad

som tum

And of course, the best dish is saved for last. Som tum, or basically Thai papaya salad is the one dish you cannot leave Thailand without trying. It’s perfect for having it on a hot day in the city, along the beach, or up in the mountains. Simply, you can have this meal everywhere because it truly is sold in every corner of the country.

Papaya salads are a refreshing treat to have and are the lighter and healthier meal option. They are made out of fresh green papaya with shredded carrots, chopped tomatoes, and green beans added to it. Peanuts and dried baby shrimp are also sprinkled on top to give it more flavor.

The dried shrimp will definitely require an acquired taste, but you can always ask for the salad without it. Papaya salads are often made pretty spicy so be sure to ask for less or no chili peppers in it.

All in all, food is such an important part of Thai culture, and these are some of the best and most authentic dishes that you will often see people eating in Thailand. To experience the local way of life to its fullest, you should definitely try them out whenever you get the chance.

Let me know in the comments down below if you have ever tried them and what your thoughts are on them!

Italy, the land of amore, Vespa’s and, of course, great food. Italian food is one of the most popular cuisines in the world. Dishes are often kept simple, showcasing high-quality, fresh ingredients. Ingredients are best sourced locally, and there is a strong farm-to-table connection. The traditional recipes are passed down through generations. Ask any Italian person who cooks the best food, and the answer will likely be “my mother.”

Although some dishes are eaten all around the country, each region in Italy has its specialties and local varieties. These specialties are based on the local produce and cooking style. Enjoying the food in Italy goes far beyond trying every pasta dish on the menu. Food can be an immersive experience in Italy. If you want to know more about Italian cuisine and food culture, here are the top 10 food experiences to have in Italy:

1. Take a cooking class

pasta
Learn how to make fresh pasta by hand

After trying the food in Italy, you won’t be able to go without it. So why not learn how to cook all those delicious dishes yourself? That way you can take a bit of Italian cuisine home with you and delight your friends and family. You can find cooking classes in any Italian city, but the biggest selection is in tourist hot spots such as Rome and Florence.

Some teach you specific skills such as pasta or pizza-making; others focus on local traditional dishes. Cooking classes are a fun activity to do with friends, family, or a significant other. But cooking classes are also a great way to meet other travelers and make new friends. Check tour sites such as Viator, Tripadvisor, and Airbnb experiences for classes at your destination.

2. Visit a local farmers' market

italy market
Rub shoulders with the locals at an Italian market

To cook Italian dishes, you’ll need Italian ingredients. There is a reason everything tastes so good in Italy, and that reason is all the fresh produce. Especially in the summer, you won’t believe the flavor of the fruit, tomatoes, and vegetables. The Italian sun turns everything into flavor bombs. Although supermarkets in Italy tend to have great food selections, local farmers' markets are even better. This is where the local's shop.

Like all places in Italy where groups of people converge, expect it to be loud and chaotic. A lot of Italian markets have both an outdoor and indoor space. Outside is where you find the fresh produce and sometimes clothing, home equipment, and other goods. The indoor space is for meat, fish, cheese, and deli products. This is where you find delicious hams, tasty seafood, and beautiful cheeses.

Immerse yourself in the smells, sounds, and sights of a local farmers' market. Walking through the stands and negotiating prices with the vendors is a quintessential Italian food experience.

3. Take a vineyard tour

vines chianti
Wine tasting is the best way to day drink

No Italian meal is complete without a glass of Italian wine. Viticulture was first brought to Italy by the Greeks in around 800 BC. Now, Italy is the biggest wine producer in the world. You’ll be amazed at the quality of even cheap house wines in restaurants.

Different grapes fare well in different regions, so there is a large variety of wines in Italy. Generally speaking, the north mostly produces lighter white wines, the south heavy reds. The best Italian wines have a DOC label, which signifies a regional product. The production of these wines is closely monitored and has to adhere to strict rules.

One of the most famous regional wines is Chianti. The Chianti region lies in Tuscany, close to Florence. Because Florence is such a tourist hot spot, many people choose to spend a day in the Chianti countryside. The vineyards there cater to the tourists by offering tours of the grounds, the factory, the cellar and, of course, a wine tasting. Some tours combine several vineyards and transportation to and from the city. You can also drive yourself as many vineyards allow private visits and walk-ins.

4. Visit the Balsamico Museum

balsamic vinegar
Balsamic vinegar is aged in wooden barrels

Few Italian foods are as typical as balsamic vinegar. Unlike other types of vinegar, balsamic is sweeter and thicker. Making traditional aceto di balsamico takes a lot of time and patience. Grape must is cooked down to a syrup and aged in wooden barrels. As the vinegar ages, it evaporates and thickens. Every year, part of the vinegar is added to a smaller barrel to fill it back up. A full set of traditional balsamic vinegar barrels contains 8 barrels of different types of wood.

The making of balsamic vinegar used to be a task for women, and they were often given a set of barrels upon marriage. Each wood gives a distinct flavor to the vinegar. Traditional balsamic vinegar from Modena has to age at least 12 and a maximum of 25 years. A single set of barrels produces about a liter of vinegar a year. As a result, this balsamic vinegar is quite expensive. Lower quality balsamic vinegar can be mixed with regular vinegar and doesn’t have to age as long.

The highest quality balsamic vinegar comes from Modena. At the Museum of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar in Spilamberto, you can learn all about this fine art. The guided tour teaches you about balsamic vinegar and includes a tasting of 12-year-old and 25-year-old vinegar. Be sure also to visit the nearby gelato shop which has balsamic vinegar ice cream.

5. Try an olive oil tasting

olive oil
The bright green color of fresh-pressed olive oil

Although olive oil is produced in many parts of Italy, one region takes the crown, Liguria. Liguria is famous for its cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil. This olive oil has a bright green color and incredible flavor. Many olive farms allow visits and organize tasting for you, where you can try different varieties of olive oil.

The OliOliva festival celebrated the new harvest with olive products and, of course, food. If you want to learn more about this liquid cold, visit the Museo dell’Olivo in Imperia.

6. Eat authentic pizza in Naples

pizza margarita
Eat the best pizza of your life in Naples

Sure, you can eat great pizza all over Italy. But the undisputed best place to eat it is Naples. Pizza, as we know it today, was invented in Naples, and it does taste the best there. Some say it’s the minerals in the water; others say it’s the quality of the tomatoes, either way, this is pizza heaven. Traditional Neapolitan pizza is made from hand-tossed dough with a thin crust and only a few toppings, either marinara or Margherita, baked in a wood-fired oven.

The margarita pizza was invented in honor of Queen Margharita in 1889. The green basil, red tomato, and white mozzarella represent the Italian flag. Although many toppings have been created since, the Italians, and especially the Neapolitans, still prefer a simple pizza. Aside from this traditional pizza, Naples also has a “pizza fritta.” This deep-fried calzone is a popular street food.

There are amazing pizzerias all over the city. One street, Via Dei Tribunali, is even nicknamed “pizza street”. Here you’ll find one of the best pizzerias in Naples: Sorbillo. Another beloved pizza place is Da Michele, made famous by the movie “Eat, Pray, Love”. They only serve marinara, and margarita pizza, and the lines sometimes wrap around the block.

7. Visit a Parmesan cheese factory

parmigiano reggiano
Parmesan cheese is left on shelves to age

The Emilia-Romagna region is home to some of Italy’s most popular dishes: tortellini, lasagne, and parmesan cheese. Parmesan cheese, or “Parmeggiano Reggiano” as it is officially called, is one of the most iconic Italian cheeses.

The cheese can only be made in this part of Italy according to very strict guidelines to earn the name “Parmigiano Reggiano.” Around Parma, Modena, Regio Emilia, Mantova, and Bologna, you’ll find many dairies producing this delicious cheese. Some of them offer guided tours through the factory. On these tours, you’ll be able to see and learn how the cheese is made and ripened. Most tours also include a delicious tasting of parmesan cheese of different ages.

8. Tour a pig farm

parma ham
Cured ham at its best

Even with the rise of big factory farms, you will still find plenty of small family farms in Italy. Partially due to strict quality control, a lot of livestock farming is extensive and small-scale. Pork is big business in Italy, for beloved products such as salami and ham. One of the best-known examples is prosciutto di Parma. This type of cured ham is produced in the area around Parma and aged at least 12 months.

The rules and regulations around Parma ham are stringent. Although most farms are not open to the public, they sometimes allow a visit if you call ahead. Because Parma ham is so well known, there are also guided tours available for a peek behind the scenes.

9. Eat authentic gelato

gelato
A gelato a day keeps the doctor away

Everyone loves ice cream, but no one does it like the Italians. Italian gelato is denser, creamier, and richer than other ice creams. The frozen dessert was first invented in 1600 by a Sicilian chef.

Making gelato is both an art and a science. Although there are plenty of gelato factories, the best gelato comes from small artisan shops. If you are looking for delicious gelato, always go to a shop that advertises gelato artigianale. This means that the ice cream is made fresh daily, by hand. Good gelato contains only fresh ingredients and no artificial flavorings. Traditional gelato shops don’t pile their ice cream up in mountains, instead, they keep it in submerged metal containers with a metal lid.

There are two types of gelato: cream and fruit. Fruit gelato is made without cream, milk, or eggs. Vegan gelato is also on the rise, often made with soy or rice milk.

You will be able to find fantastic gelato everywhere in Italy, but most Italians will agree that the very best gelato comes from Sicily.

10. Go truffle hunting

winter truffle
Truffles are also known as "black gold"

Some food requires more effort to produce than others. Truffles are a big part of traditional Italian cuisine, especially in central Italy. Unfortunately, truffles cannot be farmed. It only grows in the wild, and finding them isn’t always easy. This is why truffles are so expensive.

The Italian province of Umbria is the biggest producer of truffles. Here, truffle hunting is a family business, and these locals know the woods inside and out. Originally, pigs were used for hunting for truffles, but they cause too much damage. Truffle hunters now train dogs to find the elusive mushrooms. To meet popular demand, some hunters will now take tourists out with them to find this “black gold.”

Romania has a rich history and plenty of places to see. The people are friendly, and most of them have excellent English skills, but the fascinating thing about them, the idea that will drive you straight there is their traditional food. Your taste buds will be delighted with an explosion of flavors.

If you are curious to hear more about these traditional dishes, you will be happy to hear we have picked the top ten traditional foods in Romania, so you can add them to your list for your next trip to this beautiful country.

1. Cabbage Rolls

First of all, we need to say that most of the traditional Romanian food is challenging to digest, and it contains lots of various meats. This dish is the first one you must try when you get here. Usually, the minced pork meat gets mixed with rice and spices; then it’s rolled into sour cabbage leaves. Then it will be boiled for hours in a special sauce that is usually a tomato juice which makes it simply delicious.

Cabbage rolls
They are just waiting to be eaten.

2. Grilled Minced Meat Rolls

Number two on our list, pork meat appears center stage again! Romanians call them “mici” or “mititei” which means “small ones” because they are only as long as one adult’s finger. This food is created using a mixture of minced pork and cow, or pork and sheep, all mixed with spices and garlic; then they are grilled and eaten while hot with mustard or ketchup.

Grilled Minced Meat Rolls
This dish is perfect for meeting your friends at a barbeque party.

3. Beef Tripe Soup

When you hear the words beef tripe, you might not be so impressed. But you will put your preconceptions behind you after trying the Romanian Beef Tripe Soup aka Ciorba de Burta. This is the soup of a beef’s stomach served with sour cream, vinegar, and a traditional garlic paste, also known as “mujdei”.

Beef Tripe Soup
You must try it once you get here.

4. Polenta with Cheese and Sour Cream

Polenta, locally known as “mamaliga” is probably the second food Romanians will serve foreigners traditionally. This food is often served after Cabbage rolls or even grilled minced meat rolls.

How to cook it? Put some cornflour in hot water with a dash of salt, and sometimes you can add a few drops of sunflower oil. Mix everything until it gets the consistency you like.

It is usually served with sheep cheese and some sour cream, and sometimes you can even add some eggs.

Polenta with Cheese and Sour Cream
This dish is mostly eaten in the mountainous regions.

5. Papanasi

This food is a desert people will love. It is donuts served with sour cream and sweet cream. Some restaurants prepare it a little differently meaning the donut will contain sweet cow cheese and topped with jam or berries.

Papanasi
This dessert will sweep you off your feet.

6. Soup from Radauti

This delicious soup is not for someone on a diet! Be aware it contains a lot of fat from the chicken meat, but it also contains many vegetables. You can usually serve it with sour cream, and you will love it!

Radauti is a city in Romania situated in the northeast region where all the incredible monasteries are. This soup is originally from here, but you can eat it all over Romania.

Soup from Radauti
This soup will warm you from the inside on a cold day.

7. Greaves with Onions

Greaves is a pork product that is obtained by frying bits of bacon and fat, they are delicious and indulgent. Usually, they are served with large chunks of onions sprinkled with salt. This is an old traditional way of eating anything in Romania.

Lots of Romanian dishes are served with onions and salt.

Greaves with Onions
This dish is perfect on a winter day.

8. Cozonac

Cozonac has no English translation, yet the closest one is sweetbread filled with a sweet walnut paste, whole nuts, or Turkish delight. Be aware this dessert is usually served during the Christmas and Easter holidays, but you can often find it during the rest of the year. Every supermarket sells it, but the real taste that will impress you is the homemade version.

Cozonac
This dessert will make your Christmas a lot sweeter.

9. Beans with Hocks

This is another dish you can serve with big onions chunks. It’s all about mixing beans with a big chunk of smoked pork hocks or any other type of smoked meat. The results are delicious and the smell…Don’t mention it!

This dish is usually served during the winter when the temperatures are low, and this hot dish will warm you from the inside especially if you pair it with a traditional drink made of plums called plum brandy, in Romanian, it is called “țuica.”

Beans with Hocks
If you love smoked pork, this is the dish for you!

10. Sweet Dough Rolls

This dish is another dessert, but this one is only eaten once a year, every 9th of March. In Romania, there are two types of sweet dough rolls eaten in two different regions of the country. One in Moldavia, and another one in Muntenia, the Southern part of Romania.

The photo below presents the Moldavian version, which is way more significant. These 8-shaped pieces of sweet, sweet dough, are baked in the oven, and they are served with a honey and walnut paste topping.

Sweet Dough Rolls
You will learn to love Romanian traditions.

Romanian traditional food is delicious, and you definitely will enjoy it. People who eat it once are so impressed by it that they return to Romania to eat it again and again!

Being the largest and most populous continent, Asia also holds an incredibly diverse and flavorsome cuisine, which many tourists fail to properly explore. Scattered throughout the multitude of countries, are some must-experience gems of the Asian culture which are necessities for any connoisseur. From Bangkok street food to Kyoto fine dining, this list of essential dining experiences will leave any tourist with a new appreciation of the Asian culture.

1. Seafood in Hakodate

crab japan
Hakodate seafood market selling fresh crab

In the southern corner of Hokkaido lies one of the world’s most famous seafood markets, the Hakodate Morning Seafood Markets. Spanning across 4 city blocks and clocking over 300 stores the Hakodate markets is home to the freshest, widest arrange of seafood you will likely lay your eyes on. The narrow and congested lanes are bursting with color, radiating from the rows of freshly caught crustaceans. Explore long enough and you will find a pool near the center of the Ekini market, where fisherman catch their feed and present it to a master chef nearby, where he turns it into the freshest sashimi that will hit your taste buds.

2. Bangkok Street Food

bangkok street food
Street food stall creating your dish fit to your desires

Ranking number 1 in “Lonely Planet’s” survey for the top city to visit if you are a food lover, Bangkok is renowned for its outstanding cuisine. In particular, the world-famous Yaowarat street food in the Chinatown district is an absolute must when traveling to Asia. With a mouthwatering variety of Asian delicacies you’ll never have to visit a restaurant in this city.

3. Kyoto Fine Dining

kyoto kitrcho
Stunning and tranquil setting of Kyoto Kitcho

If you’re looking for a more sophisticated experience, Kyoto is the city for you. Kyoto is home to multiple, brilliant fine dining restaurants whose chefs are able to turn the freshest ingredients into a delectable masterpiece. Paramount to them all is Kyoto Kitcho. With three Michelin stars expect an expensive but world-class meal, encompassing the exquisite and tranquil nature of the Japanese.

4. Tiong Bahru Food Markets

Tiong Bahru food market
Bustling Hawker Centre with rows of delicious food stalls

Located in Singapore, the Tiong Bahru Hawker Centre is home to a vast amount of food stalls within a newly renovated, clean and spacious building. Scattered throughout the stalls you will find some must-try dishes, often indicated by the long lines, such as “the best chwee kueh in Singapore” located in Stall #2-5. Other recommended delicacies include roasted duck rice (#02-60), prawn noodles (#02-31) and pig organ soup for the brave tasting! (#02-29)

5. Cygnet Hot-Pot Palace

hot-pot
Beef Brisket Hot-Pot

You won’t find food more tongue-searing in all of Chongqing than at the notorious Hot-Pot Palace. Hot-Pot palace has multiple branches throughout Chongqing but for the most lavish experience ensure you make the trip to the 6th floor of the New Chongqing Square. Between these dazzling stone walls, red poles and winding corridors you will find house specialties such as the “medicine meal hotpot” and the “red and white composite hotpot”, which can bring even the bravest to their knees.

6. Kitchen with a Cause

kitchen with a casue
Workers who have had their lives changed by Kitchen with a Cause.

It has never been easier to do your part for the less fortunate. Kitchen with a Cause believes “an idea can change the world” and strives to achieve this, by employing young adults in poverty and giving them valuable workforce and life skills. While enjoying a delicious and affordable meal, you will struggle to decipher if that fuzzy feeling in your chest is from the contribution you have made to young adults in poverty, or from the hot tikka masala making its way to your stomach. Located just west of Connaught Place, New Delhi, you are sure to be in need of a meal while exploring the famous Delhi Madame Tussauds and the large commercial district of CP. There is no better choice for an affordable, tasty meal than Kitchen with a Cause.

7. Home Finest Saigon Restaurant

interior home finest
The luxurious and peaceful atmosphere of Home Finest Saigon Restaurant.

Surrounded by historical schools and landmarks, the Home Finest Saigon Restaurant is an elegant restaurant with exquisite style. The dark earthy tones paired with lush greenery and relaxing water features create an atmosphere of luxury and authenticity. Sourcing the finest ingredients from North to South Vietnam, only the best is fit for the executive chefs, guaranteeing an unforgettable meal. Located on Dien Bien Phu St, District 3, Ho Chi Minh, ensure you drop in for a brilliant Vietnamese dining experience.

8. Wen Shu Monastery

Wenshu Monastery - Chengdu China
The luscious gardens of Wen Shu Monastery

You won’t find a more authentic Chinese experience than at the Wen Shu monastery. The grounds range from tranquil gardens to a chattering teahouse. The restaurant within the grounds is fitting of the humble atmosphere of the monastery, consisting of small wooden tables and the monk inhabitants serving as waiters, the meals consist of beautiful fresh and vegetarian ingredients. A beautiful monastery well-worth exploring, with a delicious and authentic restaurant and teahouse, this monastery is a must for the dining experience as well as the insight into Chinese culture offered within the monastery grounds.

One of the best aspects of traveling for me is food! Traditional recipes, exotic spices, aroma, and the flavors… there is something about the culinary world which is exciting, and every destination will take you on a different journey. So, when you’re planning your vacation, or enjoying this incredible gastronomic adventure, you must keep in mind that eating smartly will not only help you avoid getting ill but also aid in this adventure. So, here are a few tips to keep you happy and healthy during your next vacation.

braai

1. Research only if you must

Trip planning can be quite a task, and researching the different restaurants and eateries only adds to the work. While researching the type of food, just so you’re prepared, is quite essential, it is best to just go with the flow when you travel. Be safe, not paranoid!

2. Fresh and cooked

Make sure that the food that you eat is freshly cooked, and cooked well! Anything that is boiled, fried, baked… it’s all safe. Raw vegetables, on the other hand, are avoidable. Also, while you’re in the restaurant, do check out the ambiance and cleanliness, but don’t be overly protective of yourself, you will be fine. 

3. When in doubt – SKIP!

Water, meat, fermented products, and more… if you think there is something wrong with the way it looks or tastes, it’s best to skip it! The best and the most healthy tip for travel is to carry your own water. 

4. Know yourself and be prepared

Understand what may cause you trouble, and how much your stomach can take. Things like buttermilk, yogurt, and lime juice are all good for the gut, and if you have a favorite amongst these, stick with it all your trip! And, if you do fall ill during the vacation, be prepared in advance. Make sure that the food that you eat is freshly cooked, and cooked well! Anything that is boiled, fried, baked… it’s all safe. Raw vegetables, on the other hand, are avoidable. Also, while you’re in the restaurant, do check out the ambiance and cleanliness, but don’t be overly protective of yourself, you will be fine. 

5. Observe

When it comes to street food, the key to a good meal is observation. Small things like the food counter, the equipment used and most importantly the rush will help you determine how good the food is. If there are many people at the counter, the ingredients are bound to be replenished, the crowd also ensures that the quality of the food is good. 

6. Spice is nice!

It is said that a little bit of spice is good. It keeps your metabolism going, and helps get rid of all that’s bad. So, it’s always better to indulge in a little bit of spice, but do be careful, a lot of it may take you where you don’t want to go! 

7. Give into the experience

Last but not the least, go with the flow. Experience the journey and follow the only rule of travel, enjoy!

The last thing that you want while you’re traveling is to fall sick. Hopefully, the above tips help you plan your upcoming culinary vacation! So, what are you waiting for? Plan your next holiday! 

If you’re like me, whenever I’m at home and steeped in my usual routine, I cannot start my day without a cup of delicious coffee.

As the world’s most addictive drug, a trip to Nicaragua naturally included a visit to Cafe Las Flores, which has been cultivating coffee for three generations. Situated along the slopes of Mombacho Volcano (we got there from Granada), Cafe Las Flores has been recognized by the Rainforest Alliance Certification for its sustainable and organic practices.

Cafe Las Flores
Cafe Las Flores

Cafe Las Flores offers tours that include a walkthrough of the coffee production process, which we kicked off by strolling through the plantation to pick up the few coffee cherries that were still available on the trees. Since we were there in December, we were nearing the end of the harvest season, but there were still a few lingering cherries to plop into our basket.

On the search for coffee
On the search for coffee
Picking the coffee cherries
Picking the coffee cherries

The terrain of the volcano slopes was also filled with a ton of fascinating wildlife – from tiny insects, reptiles, birds, and apparently, even deer! We were also able to spot quite a few termite mounds affixed to trees and sampled a bit of local protein along the way. It tasted woody, though not particularly crunchy.

Termite hunting
Termite hunting
Termites served on a stick
Termites served on a stick

After picking the cherries and sorting them, we checked out the next step, which is separating the skin and pulp from the bean before laying them out in the sun to dry in wide expanses. They are then milled further, removing the husk of the coffee cherry. Who knew that every coffee cherry has three layers?

Sorting the coffee cherries
Sorting the coffee cherries
Coffee beans drying
Coffee beans drying
Raking the beans
Raking the beans

Cafe Las Flores meticulously sorts through its coffee, with the lesser grade beans sold to other suppliers to make instant coffee. For the roasting, turns out that light roast beans have more caffeine in them, but it’s all a matter of preference on which roast you like best.

After the coffee tour, we strapped into harnesses and helmets to go ziplining across the treetops along Mombacho.

What better way to relax than with a cup of coffee or two? There are food options there as well as different espresso, lattes, and flavored coffee drinks (iced and hot). Being there before Christmas, we tried out a couple of holiday-themed lattes as well as more traditional hot drinks. And with that, we’d completed the final step of our coffee tour – from seed to cup.

Cafe Las Flores is a short drive from the picturesque town of Granada and well worth a visit on your trip!

If you’re interested in more info about coffee but can’t make it to Nicaragua, check out this article on the best beans for cold brew.

Delicious selection of frappuccinos
A delicious selection of frappuccinos

Sevilla, the Andalucian capital, is as Spanish as Spain gets. This is a city where you can still wander the labyrinthine alleys and find flamenco spilling out of the bars. A city where you can sit in ancient squares perfumed with the fresh blossom of orange trees. This is the place where many claim that the dishes known as tapas originated, and a wise Spaniard once advised me, as I wondered deliriously in the midday heat,  that stopping regularly for beer and tapas was the only sensible way to handle the heat.

This makes sense in what is reputed to be the hottest city in Europe, so I am here to help you do just that! Join me for an evening tapas tour of this sun-drenched Spanish city, and I can assure you that this fantastic place will be lingering on your taste buds for longer than you can imagine.

Rooftops of Seville
Rooftops of Seville

The tour starts in the neighborhood of the Macarena. This is not the overpriced, overcrowded, and overheated tourist center, but the traditional Catholic neighborhood. An intensely religious place where there are churches on every street, and the streets ring with only Spanish voices.

Our first stop is just off the Alameda.  This is a huge public square to the North of the city center, lined with white poplars and packed to the rafters with the hippest folk of Seville. This modern-day hipster hub is a nightlife center and plays host to many bars and tapas restaurants. Of which my favorite is Duo Tapas.

Nestled in the Northwest corner, Duo offers a jostling interior and tables that spill out onto the streets during the kinder months of the year. Here you can enjoy a variety of traditional tapas, many of which are served up with an inventive twist. Make sure to try the risotto!
However, a word of warning: Don’t rock up at 7 pm and expect to get fed. The Sevillanos eat late. A siesta is taken after lunch, and then a few hours more work before dinner. This makes it around 9 pm before you can even contemplate eating.  The great thing about this is that as the heat of the day dies away, the streets of the city come to life. So adjust to the Southern Spanish rhythm of life and set your internal clock a few hours late.

Seville

Duo Tapas

Calle Calatrava 10, 41002, Seville

12:30 – 16:30, 20:30 – 00:00

From the bustle of Duo,  wander down through the Alameda through the alleys to the oldest bar in Seville: El Rinconcillo. This ancient drinking house, lodged firmly in a street corner, is over 340 years old. Built at a time when Spain’s rule stretched over Europe and Latin America, including countries like the Netherlands and the territories of Latin America. This was a period of flourishing for Seville, and the city boomed as Wealth poured in from ships returning from the new world. You can see this most clearly at the ‘torre del oro’ on the river banks of the Guadalquivir, a symbol of the wealth of the new world.

The jamon hanging on the walls of this bar, however, is not 340 years old, even though it might look it! But don’t let a Sevillano hear me say that! Iberian ham is the pride of the city, and here is the perfect place to try it. You could always wash it down with a glass of manzanilla sherry I suppose, but personally, I would opt for a nice plate of ‘espinacas con garbanzos’, or ‘spinach with chickpeas’. This creamy stew was once eaten by shepherds during chilly winter months.

Tapas bar

El Rinconcillo

Gerona St. and 2 Calle Alhondiga 40, 41003, Seville

13:00 – 01:30

Once you have filled your plate, you could either wander back up to the Alameda, where I recommend Café Piola for its excellent tarte de chocolate or pay a visit to the ice cream shop. The gelato at Helados Rayas is heavenly. Pick up a scoop, I recommend the cheesecake variety, and then wander down to investigate Las Setas, or ‘the mushrooms’, a massive raised public plaza, before stumbling back to your hotel.

Helados Rayas

Helados Rayas

Calle Almte. Apodaca, 1, 41003 Sevilla

15:00 – 00:30

Note on the Spanish spoken in Seville:

Andalusian Spanish is close to some Latin American dialects, and I personally found it quite difficult to understand. This dialect is spoken quite quickly, and they have a habit of swallowing some of the letters, making strange shortenings, and generally talking in such a spirited fashion that you might be left confused. Make sure you know a few key phrases, like how to get the bill ‘la cuenta’, order a beer ‘ una cerveza’ and say please ‘porfa’ or thank you ‘ muchas gracias’!

Over 125 years, five generations and a process that can take from four to 25 years. That’s the essence of Flor de Cana, Nicaragua’s delicious rum that has continued to be processed despite political unrest, volcano eruptions, and earthquakes.

Flor de Cana logo

A mere hour or so drive away from the heart of Leon, you can visit the Flor de Cana distillery and museum, where a two-hour tour will give you an overview of Nicaragua’s top spirit. Jumping into outdoor buggies, we were whisked away first by our guide to watch a brief video about Flor de Cana.

Buggies
Off we go in our buggies
Flor de Cana train
Flor de Cana train

Since 1890, Flor de Cana has been aged at the base of San Cristobal volcano, where the volcano-enriched spirit has been distilled. The drink was a fairly well-kept secret of the country until the 1950s when the rum started to be exported around the world.

The rum production process itself is also very sustainable. For example, each year the company plants over 50,000 trees, and the rum is distilled with 100% renewable energy.

A Tasting Like No Other

The next (and most important) stop on the tour, was to the family’s private tasting room to sample one of their finest products. The group was busting with anticipation and of course, what’s a rum tour without tastings?

Our guide
Our guide explains the process
Private tasting room
Private tasting room

Flor de Cana is available in four, seven, 18 and 25-year aged varieties, and during the tour, you can sample both the 18 and the four-year-old drinks. The younger varieties are typically enjoyed mixed with soda. We tried the 18-year-old distilled drink first in a cool underground room filled with barrels, where our guide talked us through the sight, smell (smooth, molasses) and taste of the rum.

Unlike other spirits, however, the sense of touch is added to the experience. Pour the smallest drops onto your hands and rub them together and you’re not only greeted with the sweet smell of the rum between your fingers. Once you’ve finished absorbing it into your skin, you realize that there’s no sticky residue remaining at all. It’s almost like you’ve washed your hands with a silky soap.

Photos are not normally permitted during the tasting but I managed to convince the guide to allow a quick snap of the bottle we sampled.

18-year-old rum
The 18-year-old rum we tried
Stacks of barrels
Stacks of barrels

The barrels themselves are imported from the U.S., where they previously stored whiskey and bourbon, adding to the flavors of the final product. We were able to see one of the many storage rooms they had in the vicinity, which housed literally thousands upon thousands of the good stuff. The barrels are tested regularly, to safeguard against any leaks or other issues.

Biggest rum barrel in the world
Biggest rum barrel in the world

Predictably, the tour finishes up at a museum/gift shop, where you can try the four-year-old variety and make any final purchases. And after a few more tastings, who can resist taking home a bottle (or two)?

Biggest barrel from outside
Biggest barrel from outside

If you are staying in Leon this tour is well worth the $10 entry fee. However, if you can’t make it to the tour during your visit to Nicaragua make sure you try one of these award-winning rums.

Flor de Cana range of rums
Flor de Cana range of rums
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