Over the Christmas holiday we spent time with friends in Copenhagen. On Christmas Eve our friend Bengt, a designer and chef, asked “What is the best place for eating you have been?”. It was a difficult and loaded question. We appreciated Cape Town for the quality of everything from service to ingredients and taste and Hanoi because the food culture just blew us away. Some of our best experiences are unique to myself and Maya and many times was just good timing. When I thought about Bengt’s question a bit more I realized what he was really asking, “What were the best food experiences you’ve had so far?”. And that is something we can definitely share.
A home-cooked Christmas Eve dinner with friends
It sounds like a cliché, but it was one of the best food experiences we’ve had on the trip. As I mentioned before, we spent Christmas Eve with a couple of friends in Copenhagen. We were fortunate enough that Bengt offered to cook us a Swedish meal. Being a chef from Sweden we were more than happy to indulge.
We sat around drinking amazing beer from Mikkeller while Bengt seemed to effortlessly whip up an extraordinary meal. The dishes themselves would sound rather ordinary, salmon tartare, slow roasted salmon, and oven-roasted potatoes, but the preparation and flavors were unique and delicious. Yes, we were lucky enough to have a trained chef cook for us, but the reason this really stands out for me is it was a great home cooked meal with friends. It’s something that has been very rare on this trip and something we certainly miss from home.
Hemelhuijs in Cape Town
In our Exploring Cape Town post we shared our experience at Hemelhuijs and we can’t overstate the great dining experience. It is a distinct experience that really captures the special things happening in Cape Town. The owner and staff design everything from the menu to the tableware and entire interior. It is unpretentious, but elegant and surprisingly affordable. Oh, and the food extraordinary.
Happy Hour Steak @ La Cabrera
If you haven’t heard, Argentina is known for its beef and there are a select few parillas in Buenos Aires that know exactly how to prepare it. We went to a few that all made an excellent steak, but the place that stands out is one that forgoes the typical leisurely dining experience. La Cabrera offers a nightly happy hour special from 7-8, where everything on the menu is about 40-50% off. The catch is that you have one hour to order and eat your meal because the tables are reserved after 8. With a couple of friends visiting from New York we lined up 30 mins early and when the doors opened we were the first seated. We had a great time, sharing a bunch of amazing food, including a bottle of wine we normally wouldn’t have been able to afford. As an American, I don’t fully understand the need for people to take 4 hours to eat at a restaurant, so the 1 hour time span was kind of perfect. And don’t think that the quality is sacrificed here; we went to 3 highly regarded parillas and La Cabrera was the best.
Learning about Vietnam through its food
Our visit to Hanoi is was different from any other. Hanoi is a serious food destination, unlike any other place we have been to. When I say “food destination” I don’t mean in the same way New York or Hong Kong is. You go there for one thing: to explore Vietnamese culture through the cuisine. Of course, there is much more going on in that city, but in my honest opinion it all comes down to the food. The variety of ingredients and flavors that are achieved are unlike any other cuisine. We thought we’d had some pretty solid Vietnamese in the US (New York and SF), but we were wrong. Honestly, we didn’t have a clue what Vietnamese food was supposed to taste like, let alone the significance behind it.
We’ll be sharing much more about this soon.
Full Moon Market in Prince Albert
Having lived in the Bay Area for five years we are very accustomed to different types of outdoor marketplaces that showcase artisanal goods. The reason the Full Moon Market was a rare treat in more ways than one. The market only happens 4 times a year in the tiny town of Prince Albert on Friday or Saturday during a full moon. It was also dumb luck that we got to go. It was by chance that we even stayed in Prince Albert this night and even better luck our host told us about it. It was really more of a community event where local restaurant owners take the night off to cook for the market. It was simple and rustic with excellent food for very little money.
Experimental wine and the chocolate laboratory
If you read our post An Unexpected Awesome Day in SA you know what we are referring to. If not, it’s worth checking out.
Other Notable Food Experiences
Enjoying superb rest stop smoked salmon along a glacial lake in New Zealand
Slurping beef brisket noodles in Hong Kong @ Kau Kee
Deconstructed hamburger with pasta salad in an ice cream cone (damn good) in Hong Kong @ Holy Chef
Learning about Australian accents over burgers in Sydney @ Coogee Pavilion
As you can probably tell, most of these experiences will be ours and ours only. However, you will have your own unique experiences and they will be equally amazing.