Our team here at Taste Vacations has traveled all over, sampling some of the best (and on the flip side, probably some of the worst) food the world has to offer. For this month’s Taste Vacations Team Dish, we wanted to know “What’s the best food region you’ve ever been to?”
Here’s what the team had to say:
Kerala India, the city – Kochi, the restaurant -Dal Roti, the dish – Fish Molee. Aromas engage your senses as your boat harbors in the port, locals and tourist’s alike flock to one alley every day around noon, they stay well past sunset often mingling in line to help the time pass as your stomach growls. Smile after smile leaves the door, reminding you that it is worth the wait. And it was, every day. We extended our stay in Kochi to three weeks not because we loved the city or because the daily activities were so abundant and fun but because it was the best food I have ever had in my life. I will return one day hopefully with nothing more in mind than growing old and fat, but ever so happy.
I am absolutely enthralled with Oregon’s food scene, currently. And not just because I am an Oregonian! Keep Portland Weird is the motto of the city and this transcribes just a little bit to the food scene. It’s not a weird food scene but, rather, a food scene that pushes boundaries and encourages experimentation.
We are so fortunate to have access to an amazing breadth of food products in the pacific NW and the chefs in Portland utilize the fresh bounty of the sea, produce from the Willamette Valley and southern Oregon and ranches in Eastern Oregon to their fullest advantage. Salmon and steelhead from the rivers and the Pacific ocean during spring and fall. Cherries from the Gorge in early summer. Fresh blueberries, blackberries and filberts (aka hazelnuts) fill plates in the late summer.
Dungeness crab that is such a sweet, sweet delicacy. Grand taco trucks. Hops from the Willamette Valley (and Yakima Valley in WA) go into our craft beer. Pinot noir grapes plucked from some of the best pinot producing vineyards in the world. Hipsters in skinny jeans and with tailored mustaches. Ranchers with dirty boots and skin tanned by hours working in the hot eastern Oregon desert. Salty commercial fisherman whose ocean hauls make me smile the most.
The restaurants in Oregon (and not just in Portland) are thriving with creativity and access to amazing food products.
I absolutely love the cuisine of Italy and could eat Italian food every day for the rest of my life. But in terms of cuisine that knocks your socks off, I feel the French produce meals that jump out as outstanding. It really doesn’t matter whether you are in Paris or an outlying region, it just depends on the restaurant, the chef, and what you order. I have been guiding our sister company, Zephyr Adventures’, Provence Biking, Wine, & Food tour frequently in recent years and so this region stands out to me now for its excellent cuisine using fresh ingredients. Plus, being down south in France, I get some of the Mediterranean garlic and olive oil-based dishes I love in Italy.
Oaxaca, Mexico is one of my favorite places in the world. Not only is the food outstanding but the people are so kind and the culture is authentic. I’ve been to this part of Mexico and specifically Oaxaca City several times over the years, including one time when I first experienced La Noche de Rabanaos, the Night of the Radishes. During this event, people from throughout the countryside arrive in the city’s zocalo (town center or square) to exhibit their elaborate carvings of oversized radishes.
The last time I visited was for my honeymoon. My wife and I took a private cooking class during our time in the city. It started with a shopping trip to one of the city’s many farmers markets. Walking through the market is an experience on its own with so many unique things to see, touch, smell, taste and hear. Back at the home of the chef we spent the day with (who is now a friend), we learned the secrets to Oaxaca’s molé, although we have never been able to duplicate it since.
We also made fresh Squash Blossom soup and fresh tamales using a recipe that had been passed down for generations in our chef’s family. That meal is something we often remember fondly. In fact, thinking about any meal in Oaxaca makes my mouth water. With so much of the food being produced in the surrounding countryside, almost everything you order is fresh and local. Something we learned during the most recent visit was the fact that dried peppers are considered a spice, so it’s okay to bring these back to the United States. Their peppers are unique and are a key ingredient in several of our favorite recipes. And, one can never return from this region of the world without some of Oaxaca’s authentic chocolate and maybe a bottle of Oaxaca’s delicious Mezcal. !Buen Provecho!