One of the best things about travelling, apart from getting away from every day life, is that you get to experience so many new things. A big part of this for me is the food – the different tastes, flavours and spices that are often so intriguing and different to what we eat at home. We get lots of inspiration for cooking from our travels and always come back with new ideas – not that I cook much. In all honesty that is my husband’s department. I do however love eating and so wanted to write about five of my favourite restaurants around the world. I’m lucky enough that at this point, I have been to a number of Michelin starred eateries and some are not always as well-known as some of the more commercial names. We actually make it a point whenever we travel to look for these restos and give them a go. So here they are; the first instalment of five of my favourite restaurants around the world!
Dinner – London, UK
I’m going to get this list going with a London-based restaurant, since I’m based in London and this is the city I get to explore most. The great thing about living in such a diverse, international city is that you get some of the world’s best chefs cooking almost any cuisine you can think of – just like NY or Paris or any other big city for that matter. I have a lot of favourites, but one that I went to recently was just so yummy I’m going to include here – Dinner By Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge. The location and entrance to the restaurant is beautiful and so elegant. Not sure how that might have changed since the recent fire though. The food is influenced by historic British gastronomy and apparently each dish is researched by food historians. The menu has a ton of interesting yet traditional items such as roast marrow bone, savoury porridge or spiced squab pigeon. I try to avoid meat and so went for the braised celery, which was super yummy. That being said, I did bend and taste one of their signature dishes called Meat Fruit – the most delicious chicken liver parfait disguised in an orange mandarin-like casing! Two Michelin stars well-deserved!
Tetedoie – Lyon, France
Lyon is meant to be the gastronomic capital of the world. It is for this reason that we decided to visit Lyon during last year’s August bank holiday weekend. Since we booked the whole trip last minute, we had no plans and made no reservations anywhere. We also didn’t know that so many places in Lyon would be closed during that time of year due to summer holidays. Because Lyon is so well-known for its food scene, you need a reservation if you want to try some of the city’s finest restaurants. We were extremely lucky and managed to get a reservation at the one Michelin star restaurant, Tetedoie. The restaurant sits high up on the Fourvière hill in this futuristic looking space and offers fantastic views of the city of Lyon. We went for the tasting menu – I really liked how you had the choice of 5, 7 or 9 courses. I often start feeling really full towards the end of a tasting menu, at which point you stop enjoying it and just want to lay down. The idea behind the menu was to take typical Lyonnais recipes and inject some life into them, so that they are both familiar yet new. We were not disappointed!
The French Laundry – Yountville, California
The French Laundry is a fantastic three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Yountville, California, and it should be the restaurant that is most vivid in my mind as it is the one I went to most recently. Alas, this is not the case. You may have read in this blog post how we tried really hard to get a table, and were only able to get one on the day we landed – after flying over ten hours. We remember being so impressed with the food, but we were so jet-lagged and exhausted that we probably did not experience it as best we could. We dared not get wine pairing in case we ended up snoozing under the table. The nine course tasting menu was delicious and they also have a vegetarian option, making me very happy indeed. As the name suggests, the restaurant focuses on classical French cuisine, with some American influence, and they have had plenty of practice – it’s been operated by the same chef, Thomas Keller, for 24 years. I found out that the name itself was actually chosen because the same building was used as a French steam laundry in the 1920s. The restaurant building is also beautiful, so if you do plan to go there, spend the night and take some time to explore your surroundings. The Napa vineyards are close by and a day in the vineyards sampling wine under the sun makes for the perfect weekend.
Maaemo – Oslo, Norway
I am not ashamed to say it. I work hard to play hard, and if that means flying to Oslo specifically to try a restaurant then so be it. We had first come across Maaemo on an episode of Master Chef and before the episode was over we had booked our flights and were on the wait list for a table. It was a little risky on our part as we did not have a reservation until much later, but we booked well enough in advance that we must have been top of the list for cancellations. We finally got our reservation, flew to Oslo, and much to my surprise and delight, we were given the chef’s table. It was so incredible that I suggest you request it. The chef’s table is one floor up, all on its own and facing the kitchen, so that you can watch the chefs prepare the food (all with tweezers of course) as you eat. The other cherry on the cake was that when we walked up the stairs to the table, the chefs were all waiting to greet us – amazing given that we did not plan it! Maaemo is a feast of flavours using solely Norwegian-sourced ingredients – think 100-year old scallop from the north and a Norwegian classic porridge made with sour cream and a sprinkling of reindeer heart shavings. If it isn’t from Norway, it is not available. For example, I asked for lemon for my water and was told sorry – they do not buy lemons as they are grown overseas! The tasting menu again is incredible, as is the juice and wine pairing. How they managed to create a juice that tastes like beer, fizz and all, is beyond me. Just like The French Laundry, this place has three Michelin stars so expect it not to be cheap (think high three figures if you go for wine pairing too) but it is so incredible that it really is a once in a lifetime dining experience. A must if you are in Oslo!
Astrid y Gastón – Lima, Peru
I left my very favourite to the end. My absolute favourite restaurant in the whole wide world is located in Lima, Peru. We had visited Peru as part of our around the world honeymoon but did not know that it had such a massive food scene. If I was to head back there, which I expect I will at some point, I would definitely pack my visit with a whole load of restaurants that I didn’t know about on my last trip. The sad thing is, I have practically no pictures of this one, as the few that we did take were with my husband’s damaged iPhone. Take my word for it, the tasting menu is to die for!! You can also order à la carte, but if you do manage to get a reservation – go for the tasting menu and wine pairing! The restaurant focuses on Peruvian cuisine and every dish is just so incredible, with favours dancing all over the place. The location is also pretty amazing; set in this beautiful white hacienda which has its own history altogether. You can read more of that here, but if you are travelling to Lima any time soon – do not leave without visiting!!
These are just five from so many places that deserve a recommendation and I plan to write another post featuring some more of my favourite restaurants soon! We’re heading to White Rabbit in Moscow this week and am pretty sure that it will make its way over to the blog too. What are your favourite restaurants around the world? Leave me your links in the comments section! xxx