FOOD WORTH TRAVELING FOR !
Do you eat to live, or do you live to eat? Denis and I are definitely in the latter category. In fact, we will travel long distances just to eat in the restaurant where a favorite recipe was created. Such a trip is even more exciting if the chef who created the original recipe is still alive and able to meet with us to discuss the inspiration. There is nothing like authenticity, especially when prepared under the auspices of the chef who created the dish, but for classics which have been around a long while, we are happy to simply enjoy the dish in the restaurant in which it was originally created.
At a time when we can no longer travel freely, we can still begin to dream about the future culinary experiences we wish to enjoy. Think of Proust whose memory of the enchanting aroma and taste of French madeleines inspired one of France’s most enduring novels, “A la Recherche du Temps Perdu” (Remembrance of Things Past). With those thoughts in mind, here are some recommendations for culinary experiences to enhance your travels. In fact, you might even want to design your future trip with some of these culinary delights in mind …
Sacher Torte at the Sacher Hotel in Vienna
What could be better than enjoying Sacher Torte for Afternoon Tea or Dessert in the luxurious Sacher Hotel located in the heart of magnificent Vienna? Perhaps it would be to savor a magnificent slice of Sacher Torte as the crowning glory of breakfast in the extraordinarily beautiful Sacher Hotel’s deep green breakfast room. The perfect excuse for another Viennese Coffee, Sacher Torte during breakfast takes indulgence to a new high. But, it was not just a freshly baked chocolate torte whenever I wanted it throughout the day that excited me when we stayed at this iconic hotel. The Sacher Hotel’s Sacher Torte has a depth of flavor and the perfect lightness to each bite which sets it apart from Sacher Tortes I have enjoyed in other great hotels from NYC to London. While the details of the original Sacher Torte recipe remain a closely guarded secret, if you love a divine dark chocolate cake like I do, put the Sacher Hotel on your bucket list. Hint: There is also a luxurious Sacher Hotel in Salzburg which of course also offers the one and only “Sacher” version of the divine Sacher Torte!
More on Vienna in our article about the Best Cafes and Coffee Houses in Vienna
Pizza Margherita at Pizzeria Brandi in Napoli
According to legend, pizza featuring tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil to represent the tri-colored Italian flag won the approval of Queen Margherita at the ball given in her honor at the palace of Capodimonte in 1889. The pizza was elegantly presented by Rafaele Esposito and his wife Maria Giovanna Brandi, the owners of the oldest pizzeria in Naples now known as Pizzeria Brandi. Today, Italy’s Pizza Margherita, popular world-wide, is still the “queen” of pizzas, while Pizzeria Brandi remains renowned for its superb pizzas as well as its old world charm. And we can attest to both. A few years ago, while visiting Napoli, we decided to go on a walking (and tasting) tour of the most renowned pizzerias in the city. Our findings? If you want authenticity with a charming quiet place to converse and savor a good local wine with your delicious pizza, along with servers to chat with you about the history of pizza in Naples, most definitely go to Pizzeria Brandi. Not only is the pizza superb, but so is the service and the ambiance. Plus, the servers are justifiably proud of their pizza! Hint: Order your Margherita pizza with “buffalo mozzarella” cheese.
Bouillabaisse at La Mère Germaine in Villefranche on the Cote d’Azur
Just east of Nice in Villefranche-sur-Mer, La Mère Germaine serves the best bouillabaisse in the region and has been doing so since 1938. This legend of a restaurant occupies a prime location on the deep-water port of Villefranche. While we have enjoyed our bouillabaisse inside this impressive grande dame of a restaurant, our preference is to sit outside along the water’s edge where we can enjoy up close and personal the comings and goings of the yachts and the water taxis on this charming waterfront. As for the food, we can recommend the appetizers, salads and fabulous fish presentations, but our heart still belongs to the bouillabaisse with its divinely flavored broth, perfectly cooked fresh local fish, and impeccably flavored rouille. We would never dream of going to La Mère Germaine without enjoying bouillabaisse and a nicely chilled Rosé de Provence. Hint: Save room for dessert … if you can! They are as artistically presented and flavorful as all the other dishes and provide the perfect ending to the perfect meal.
For more of our culinary adventures along the French Riviera, read our article When in Nice, we live to eat !
Afternoon Tea at Brown’s Hotel in London
Since the mid-nineteenth century, Brown’s Hotel has been serving Afternoon Tea to the rich and famous, from Napoleon III and Empress Eugenia to Queen Victoria and both Presidents Roosevelt. In fact, Denis and I sat in the chairs favored by Eleanor and Franklin in Brown’s iconic English Tea Room where we were truly impressed and delighted by our Brown’s Afternoon Tea experience. First, The Tea Room’s Tea sommelier introduced us to Brown’s fabulous and fascinating Seasonal Tea Library and we placed our orders, next we began our Afternoon Tea with a glass of Ruinart Champagne, a small French boutique champagne which Forbes has called “The best champagne you’ve never heard of”, and then came the divine Afternoon Teas we ordered… a healthy “Tea-Tox” and a “Traditional” Afternoon Tea. The food was sublime, the piano player played some of the world’s most beautiful music discreetly in the background, our server returned often to offer us additional tea sandwiches or sweet treats as well as fresh tea, and then much to our astonishment, our server came by with a dessert cart featuring a gorgeous array of cakes .. what would Madame and Monsieur enjoy now? Brown’s Hotel has its own personal tea blended to be the perfect accompaniment to their savory sandwiches. It is this dedication to excellence and detail which clearly puts Brown’s English Tea Room at the apex of London Tea Rooms serving Afternoon Tea “fit for a Queen”. Hint: If you’re a history buff like me, see if you can arrange a brief tour of the establishment before you are seated.
Read more about our Afternoon Tea at the Legendary Brown’s Hotel.
I hope the above culinary experiences bring back fond memories of similar experiences you’ve enjoyed, or that they inspire you to travel to Vienna, Napoli, Villefranche, or London.
Bon Appetit & Bon Voyage!
Stay tuned to BonVoyageurs.com for our writings about other Countries of the World as we share our joie de vivre from around the world. Luxury escapes, cruises and city breaks to Québec City, New York, Washington, Buenos Aires. In Europe and the Mediterranean, places like Paris and Nice in France, Florence, Rome, Napoli and the Amalfi Coast in Italy, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in Israel. In Asia, countries like China, India, Nepal and so much more!