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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Around the World in Foodie Days (Part 3) 12.22.10

Continued from 12.11.10…

By now you should already have your gifts wrapped and on their way to their destination or under the Christmas tree. If not, you should probably be at the mall right now. For those of you who are done, you’re probably in a baking mood…or at the very least, have some sort of food on the brain. Thinking of the holidays always makes me hungry. Between the cold and all the holiday parties, it’s definitely not a time you’re making a salad and thinking it’ll tide you over. I mean, I just printed out eight new appetizer recipes for myself and will probably only choose one or two of those to make for the couple places I’ll be going between Christmas and New Year. Of course, parties always put me in the mood for bite-sized nibbles. They are fun and let you try a bunch of things on one plate! I love variety, and I know at least a few other people like that. A whole dinner of appetizers? Bring it on! Too bad they can’t make the calories smaller, too.

Lasagna and salad lunch from the only restaurant open during a hurricane watch.

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And speaking of a dinner of appetizers gets me thinking about tapas and their origin: Spain. If the idea of sampling a bunch of little bites of food at a party has me ecstatic, then you must know that doing it while on vacation is even more exciting…and necessary! You know, if the option is available. Try as I might, I can’t think of a better or worse reason to travel far and wide than to sample food. I mean, sure there’s culture, architecture, the sake of travel and many more, but those reasons are all just as valid, so why not go where the food is enticing? You can do all the other stuff in between meals!
  • Learn the art of Flamenco, discuss some Dali paintings, take in a bit of scenery and then find a great little place to have lunch or dinner in Barcelona with this great package deal from Orbitz: 5-nights in a 3-star (or higher) hotel and RT airfare from $958 per person.  If you find a better airfare, you can just book your hotel through Orbitz.

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Got a sweet tooth and also think ice skating sounds like fun? Vienna, Austria just opened a HUGE free ice rink. You just pay to rent skates. If you’re already in Europe, RyanAir has some fantastic flight deals, including the London to Vienna route for £39. (Assuming the airports are open by January.) When you get there, strap on your skates and get some exercise, then put back the calories you just burned off with a dessert buffet. Try famous Viennese sweets like Sachertorte, Palatschinken, Knödel and grab a quick bag of Maroni on the streets (those are hot chestnuts). Vienna is a great place to buy “street food”. With many types of sausages available at street vendors and then also you can visit the Naschmarkt that sells stalls full of local and international foods. If you need to warm up, try some of the local wine, as Vienna is one of few world capital cities that have their own vineyard. 

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When you think hearty food, do any of these dishes come to mind? Bigos, kotlet schabowy, pierogi and gołąbki. While I don’t know how half of them are pronounced or even what they are, I CAN tell you they originate in Poland. This country is often overlooked as a travel destination, but if you like meaty comfort food, I’m told this is the place to be! Here’s a more recognizable list of ingredients that are found in a lot of Polish food: sauerkraut, beetroot, cucumbers (gherkins), sour cream, kohlrabi, mushrooms, sausages and smoked sausage. While those might sound like odd foods to get excited about, I found it an interesting contrast to my usual idea of “vacation food” and wanted to include it as a foodie destination. I mean, something like Żurek, a sour rye soup with potato, sausage or an egg that’s sometimes served in a bread loaf, sounds like it might really hit the spot on a cold day.
  • And if you book a flight before December 31st for travel early in the new year (Jan-Mar), you can fly on LOT Polish (Polish Airlines) for as little as $543 round-trip. There are no blackout dates and the only rule is that you need to stay over a Sunday night. And with 3 months to travel in, you have plenty of time to research foods and restaurants! Make sure to plan lots of walking. You’ll need to get the weight of that heavy food off before you sit down for your next meal.

Are you able to splurge on a vacation right now? Do you like pasta? If you answered yes to both of these, then an Italian Cruise might be in your future. Italy offers so much to see and do and is really on the top of many travelers’ “food to travel for” list, from ziti to polenta and bruchetta and gelato. You really can’t go wrong with anything you order. You can certainly take in the fabulous galleries and walk along the canals during your time not eating. All those carbs are going to make you want to do some sightseeing on foot, so find some good walking shoes. Practice your Italian before you leave, so you can explore the cities more and engage with the spirited and enthusiastic Italians. 
  • Sail in August 2011 from Venice and hit ports in cities like Hvar, Croatia and Sorrento, Italy on the Silversea Silver Spirit ship. With only 540 guests at maximum capacity and most cabins having private verandahs, you’ll certainly be treated like royalty. While on the spendy side, starting at $4,295 per person for a 7-day cruise, your airfare is included as are all your meals, which are gourmet prepared by Relaix & Chateaux, beverages (including alcoholic), stocked in-suite bar and refrigerator, 24-hour room service, entertainment and a $100 onboard credit per suite. The Silver Spirit is the newest ship to join the Silversea fleet and offers the largest suites, too. You’ll choose from four different dining locations and then decide what to do the rest of the time you are at sea. Whether that includes a trip to their 8,300 sq ft spa, enjoying a drink in the observation lounge or watching a Broadway-style show in the Show Lounge is up to you. (If you don’t already have a Voyage Prive membership, get an instant invite with my link on the right.) You save 64% off the regular price of these cruises with this offer. Must book by Monday.
If you aren’t able to splurge, but have a little bit of money to throw at a vacation and you like Seafood, maybe you would enjoy a trip to Nassau in the Bahamas. My husband and I took a trip there and loved it. It’s very colorful, the people are super nice and you can get on and off the bus anywhere along its route for only $1! Yeah, it doesn’t take much to make us happy. We even had fun doing laundry and walking up to the only restaurant open for lunch when there was a hurricane warning.  The hurricane didn’t actually hit us, but we did get some big winds and heavy rain. We used it as an excuse to gamble at the casino and eat a fancy dinner there. What kind of food can you expect to find in Nassau? Well, you HAVE to try the conch (pronounced: conk) fritters and/or conch ceviche. You’ll also encounter plenty of fresh seafood options as well as many regular foods you might want, like hamburgers or pizza.

It’s really a fun place to visit and explore with so much history. Make sure to hit up The Pirates of Nassau museum and also the Slavery Museum by the market. If you plan to visit the Bacardi factory, I would suggest renting a car for the day, unless you don’t mind a 90 minute bus ride and then an hour walk down a deserted road to the actual factory. We were lucky enough to get a ride to and from the bus stop from some nice Bacardi workers, but I probably wouldn’t suggest that to anyone else, and it was pure luck on both ends of our visit.)

  • BookIt brings you this amazing deal to stay at the Wyndam Nassau Resort, which is a beautiful all-inclusive resort right on the beach. Save 50% off regular rates and spend just $59/per night/per person on stays of 4 nights or more. Book by February 9 for travel through the end of June. With this deal, you’ll also receive a $300 airfare credit to book a companion airfare.
Well, I hope you enjoyed my three-part food tour around the world. I hope it made you hungry, made you book a trip or at least made you write a few more destinations on your travel list.

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