Traveling around the world has taught me that no matter where you are, the best food you will ever find is right at home. The love incorporated into homemade food nourishes the soul—something that is lacking when you eat out day after day.
When I’m on the road, I like to look out for those little corners where you can get a meal in someone’s house, or that small family business that’s been around a few generations because the magic has stayed alive. Below, I’ve put together a list of very special places (in no particular order) in a two part series where the food experience will take you to another dimension.
1. Lunch in Bentota, Sri Lanka and Quepem, Goa
Lunuganga Gardens an extremely beautiful and peaceful place, and despite it’s luxurious, yet, simple appearance, the food you find there is homely and mindblowing—authentic Sri Lankan cuisine. This was my meal: pumpkin soup, red rice, cucumber yoghurt curry, dhal, spinach with coconut, beetroot sabji, okra, young jackfruit curry, brinjal moju (spicy, sweet, and sour fried eggplant chutney), plantain chips, pappad, and caramel custard with coffee. Needless to say, I was beyond thorough satisfaction after lunch, especially because the food was so healthy and prepared in a balanced way with local ingredients.
The closest experience I’ve had to the food at Lunuganga is the lunch at Palacio de Deao in Goa, where the family that runs the place puts their soul into preparing your meal. They weren’t confident in their ability to prepare vegetarian food, but what I ate was outstanding. Palacio makes the most incredible homemade feni & kokum cocktail too. If you eat at either of these places, you must stroll around the gorgeous gardens while you’re blissed out from the meal.
2. Popsicles in Beacon, New York
The quaint little town of Beacon, located in the Hudson Valley, is so lovely to visit in the summer. That’s also the season when Zora Dora’s, a micro batch ice-cream shop, is the perfect place to stop. They use whole, seasonal, and natural ingredients to craft refreshing and exciting popsicle flavours. I’ve been there a few times and tasted blueberry with lime and basil, Thai yellow curry (sounds weird, tastes amazing), grapefruit and ginger, pineapple chilli lime with sea salt, chocolate raspberry, avocado strawberry, plum tea, lavender bee pollen, and cucumber chilli mint. I swear, I haven’t eaten all these ice pops. I went with friends and sampled their flavours.
3. Pastries and coffee in Manhattan, New York
Oh, how I love The Hungarian Pastry Shop on the Upper West Side. All their pastries are good, but my order is always the same when I go there—Hungarian coffee (coffee with a dash of almond extract) and beigli (pastry roll filled with a poppy seed walnut paste). Sigh!! This is the best for breakfast because it’s not super sweet or rich, and there’s something about it that makes you feel so good.
If you prefer something more decadent, go to the café in Neue Gallerie—café Sabarsky. They have Viennese cakes (the one with chocolate and apricot paste…) and fantastic cheese strudel that goes well with coffee with whipped cream. This place is the ultimate, unregrettable, indulgence.
4. Tasting Menu in Amsterdam
Balthazar’s Keuken is a restaurant where you’ll need a reservation a little in advance, which should be taken as a sign that it’s worth planning in advance for. The chefs create a set menu that changes weekly. The food is paired with meticulously selected wine, and the atmosphere is homely, as the open kitchen is right next to where you eat.
I ate at Balthazar’s in the summer, when white asparagus was in season, so I enjoyed roasted asparagus, beetroot mascarpone, smoked herring with sweet potato, roasted fish for the main, and a profiterole with fresh strawberries and fresh caramel sauce for dessert.
5. Chocolate in Amsterdam
Pompadour is the most dreamy chocolate shop I’ve ever had the luxury of visiting. They are experts at what they do, and their quality is unfaltering. The coffee and pastries are a must try, but their chocolate is on another level. I particularly love their chocolate covered ginger and citrus peels. And of course, sampling the truffles is a must. This place is run by the chocolate gods, and I bow down to them.
**Watch out this space for Part II. This is a guest post contributed by Hanna
Hanna is a health chef who finds joy and fulfillment in reconnecting people with their bodies and facilitating the development of their strength, sensitivity, and responsibility in leading healthful lifestyles. She offers a personal and nutritious culinary experience that impacts people - in taste and nurturance.