FOOD & WINE
European culinary adventurers and wine lovers will be well-rewarded should they explore further outside their own continent. The following five countries not only offer an exhilarating range of foods to suit all palettes, but they also produce some of the best varieties of wines on their respective continents.
Think beyond the multi-national fast-food franchises associated with the States and instead embrace localism. Head to Boston for a bowl of their warming clam chowder, then hop the state line for a Philadelphia cheese steak sandwich. Take in New York and Chicago and decide for yourself whether you’re a thin-base pizza purist or a deep-dish kind of person. In the Southwestern states the spicy Latino influence is potent. Take some time researching the best Los Angeles taco trucks and taquerias. Breakfast in the US can involve a dizzying range of choices. If it’s all too much go for a humble slice of apple or cherry pie. For wine it’s all about California. Napa Valley should be on any wine-lover’s list. For reds head to Sonoma valley. The vineyards of Los Carneros are within easy reach of San Francisco and are well known for their chardonnays.
Check out our suggested food & wine trip template for California here
Meaty, hearty, and wholesome South African cuisine takes its influence from countries as diverse as France, The Netherlands, India and Malaysia. Barbecues – or simply “braai” – are popular, not just for the succulent grilled meat but the sense of communal inclusivity they represent. The meat theme continues with Vetoek, mini minced-beef sandwiches using fried dough instead of regular bread. They’re a street food staple in South Africa. The Dutch influenced is perhaps best represented by the Potjiekos style of stew making – a small, cast-iron pot filled with meats and vegetables is slow-cooked outside over a woodfire. Another stewing style, this time from Malaysia, is Bredie. It’s rich in Eastern spices and uses lamb as the main ingredient. Indian workers are credited with inventing Durban Bunny Chow, a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with various curries. As the name suggests Durban is where the most authentic version is found. Groenekloof, on SA’s south-western coast is famous for its Sauvignon Blanc wines. In Cape Town? Head north to Swartland and try the Shiraz/Syrah wine variety. Walker Bay, again not far from Cape Town, is known for its Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs.
Check out our suggested food & wine trip template for South Africa here
Australian cuisine is a heady mix of Aboriginal “bush tucker” and outside influence. The meats of the native kangaroo and emu are both eaten; the former lightly grilled in steak form, the latter best smoked and served cold. The Witchetty grub is a nutty-flavoured larvae eaten either raw or lightly barbecued – not necessarily appealing to squeamish Europeans but widely regarded as delicious and healthy. On the vegetable side of things Warrigal greens are blanched and used similarly to spinach leaves. Australia’s unique biosphere offers an array of native fruits; try Kakadu plums (50 times the vitamin C content of an orange!), Tasmanian Snowberries and dried out quandongs to name just three. Given its location it’s no wonder Aussies have fully embraced the cuisine of their far-eastern neighbours; Thai, Malaysian and Singaporean dishes are popular. Outside of the exotic the humble bite-size meat pie is an everyday favourite among Aussies, a simple pastry-encased mix of meat, mashed potato and gravy. While Western Australia dominates the Bordeaux blends southern and eastern Australia – in particular New South Wales and Queensland – are the biggest producers. The cooler climate of Victoria, meanwhile, makes for excellent Chardonnays.
Check out our suggested food & wine trip template for Australia here
A carnivore’s paradise, Argentinian cuisine is centred around the high-quality meat and dairy it produces, most notably “asado”, a technique originally associated with the country’s legendary “gaucho” cowboy population. The traditional method involves huge sides of beef skewered on a spit and tilted over an open fire to roast. In Patagonia lamb is a favourite, again roasted over an open flame. Where’s there’s beef there is usually dairy: Argentina produces exceptional sweet milks – “dulce de leche” – and ice-creams. Of course, given the country’s history, the European influence is ever-present. Empanadas have made their way over from Spain and come in an array of both savoury and sweet options. The Italian diaspora has also had a substantial influence on Argentine gastronomy. For wine the Malbec variety is what Argentinian is best known for. The Mendoza region is a must for wine enthusiasts. The sunny hillsides and valleys of La Rioja also make for an excellent range of white wines.
Check out our suggested food & wine trip template for Argentina here
With such a lengthy geographical footprint it’s little wonder Chileans enjoy a diverse culinary range, both native, in the form of the Mapuche cultural cuisine, and imported. Beans and potatoes feature widely in soups and cazuelas/stews. In the south of the country, in particular the Los Lagos region, the latter is used to make a hearty bread, “milcaos”, which itself accompanies Curanto, a seafood and meat soup also popular in the southern regions. Empanadas come with various fillings, but the most popular is the De Pino variety, made with beef, eggs, raisins and olives. This Pino method of beef preparation also features in national favourite Pastel de Choclo, a savoury tart of beef, eggs, onion, and red pepper encased in a layer of corn paste. Unsurprisingly, with 4000 miles of coastline, a huge range of seafood is also eaten in Chile. For wines head to the central valley region of the country, more specifically the Maipo, Colchagua and Maule Valleys, this is where the majority of Chilean wines are made. Be sure to try the Carménère variety of red wines, a grape almost unique to Chile having died out in Europe.
Check out our suggested food & wine trip template for Chile here
So there you have it, five countries whose gastronomic offerings are as richly rewarding as their wine varieties. Book a flight, plan a route and give your tastebuds the holiday they deserve!
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