Expedia.com.au reveals the Top 10 Emerging Food Destinations

On October 07, 2008 at 01:00 PM

European countries such as France, Italy and Spain, and closer to home Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore have long laid their claim as the world’s ‘culinary capitals.’ While their cuisines continue to attract tens of millions of travellers each year, Expedia.com.auTM, which is operated by Expedia Inc., the world’s leading online travel company, has revealed the Top 10 Emerging Food Destinations for travellers seeking not only a new and fascinating travel experience but also an exotic culinary sensation.

In a recent poll* conducted by Expedia.com.au, almost two-thirds of Australians named travelling to a completely new and different destination as their number one travel resolution for this year, while over one-fifth said that trying a country’s local cuisine was their main travel resolution.

“This combination creates the perfect motivation to seek out new and interesting travel destinations that offer exotic taste sensations through their local cuisines,” said Arthur Hoffman, Managing Director Expedia Asia Pacific. 

“Trying a country’s local produce and traditional dishes reveals fascinating aspects of that country’s culture and way of life, not to mention the excitement of seeking out authentic restaurants in hidden side streets, strolling through a produce market touching, smelling or tasting exotic fruit and vegetables or simply stopping for a snack at a food stall on the side of a busy street,” he said.

The Expedia.com.au Top 10 Emerging Food destinations:

1. The Philippines

A mere eight-hour flight from Sydney, the Philippines has countless hideaways and attractions to explore, including cascading waterfalls, pristine beaches, incredible diving spots and rare wildlife. Filipino food is the perfect cuisine for those with a more sensitive tastebud, with most dishes using chillies sparingly – a refreshing change from neighbouring Asian countries. The Malay, Spanish and Chinese influence is obvious in many dishes and the unique and often surprising combinations of flavours make Filipino food striking and interesting. Fresh seafood is a prominent ingredient, often served uncooked, in vinaigrette. Coconut is also regularly used to create exotic savoury and sweet dishes, ranging from meat and vegetable dishes to luscious rice puddings.

Dish not to miss: Sinigang, a diverse soup dish made with stewed fish, pork, chicken, shrimp or beef, combined with rice.

2. Mauritius

In the heart of the Indian Ocean, located just east of Madagascar, the beauty of the island of Mauritius will not disappoint travellers seeking an alternative to the South Pacific. It has beautiful turquoise beaches, jagged mountain ranges, exotic flowers and an interesting Indian ambience. Mauritian food stems from a combination of African, Indian, French and Chinese cuisines, complemented by its own unique ‘Mauritian Creole’ touch. The enormous variety of dishes range from slowly braised meats, curries, stir fries, seafood and pickles – not to mention a healthy selection of French-influenced sweet tarts.

Dish not to miss: Vindaye Ourite, a zesty octopus vindaloo curry with a strong Indian influence but with an undeniable Mauritian ‘twist’; made with octopus, saffron, onions and green pepper.

3. Sri Lanka

Located in the north Indian Ocean, for those after a more soothing and ‘spiritual’ travel experience, Sri Lanka is the perfect meditation and relaxation destination. For more adventurous travellers there are activities such as rock climbing, hot air ballooning, wild water rafting or even an elephant safari. Sri Lankan food is just as unique and expansive as its rich and colourful culture. Local dishes include a plentiful mix of hot and spicy curries, as well as delicious fresh prawns, crabs, and even fish and chips with a ‘twist’. Being among the greatest tea producers in the world, there is possibly no better way to finish your meal with a nice relaxing ‘cuppa’.

Dish not to miss: Pittu, a mixture of roasted rice flour and freshly grated coconut steamed in a bamboo mould.

4. Laos

The hectic markets that are often overflowing with a wide variety of exotic fruits, colours and smells are an ideal way to explore the unique delights of Laos. Visiting the tiny villages and spending a morning with the friendly locals is a rewarding experience and a great opportunity to try some of the local foods. Laotian cuisine is not for the faint hearted, being typically very hot and spicy. Influenced by its Thai neighbours, Laotian dishes are often quite dry with explosive flavours and accompanied by sticky rice. The French colonial influence in some areas of Lao is surprising and provides an enjoyable alternative to the fiery nature of most Laotian food. In the larger towns, travellers can pick up a French baguette with pâté for breakfast, or for what must certainly be unique to Laos: baguettes dunked in coffee.

Dish not to miss: Barbecued Son Moo. Made with transparent rice paper, thin noodles, vegetables and lettuce, it is a fun dish to enjoy preparing with the locals.

5. Cambodia

Having reinvented itself in recent years, Cambodia is a unique holiday destination, offering incredible temples, uninterrupted beaches and ragged mountain ranges. For those ‘foodies’ who are prepared to step outside of their comfort zone, Cambodia is the perfect location to try plenty of strange and unusual foods such as bugs, betal nuts that turn one’s teeth a dark shade of grey, and prahok, a traditional fish paste made from rotten fish that is left to ferment. However, for less courageous culinary travellers, there is a whole range of tasty dishes, with most Cambodian meals made up of at least three or four separate dishes that may be sweet, sour, salty or bitter. The abundance of fruit is extraordinary, often used to create delightful deserts. For those with a sweet tooth, the great news is Cambodians love their desserts very sweet!

Dish not to miss: Kuay Namuan, an incredibly sweet yet delicious dessert made from simmered coconut milk and sugar poured piping hot over bananas.

6. Croatia

As a country made up of thousands of tiny islands, Croatia is often regarded as having one of the most beautiful coastlines in all of Europe. Croatia is an enchanting location and a perfect location to relax and rejuvenate. With all the sea around, it is not surprising that the best way to describe Croatian food is predominantly seafood dishes that have been influenced by the best parts of many of its surrounding Balkan neighbours’ cuisines. With an abundance of fresh seafood, Croatians know how to turn simple grilled fish into a masterpiece. Similarly, spit roasts of lamb and pork are also regularly enjoyed and cooked to perfection. The delicious desserts made from local and exotic fruits are a great way to finish a meal.

Dish not to miss: Janjetina, a hearty, creamed soup made with meaty lamb bones, green peppers, onions and tomatoes. It is regularly the first course of a hearty Easter lunch banquet.

7. Poland

The rich culture and incredible natural features of Poland – including some of the most remarkable forests in Europe – make it a breathtaking place to visit for people of all interests. ‘Substantial’ is probably one of the best ways to describe traditional Polish food. With many recipes from Jewish origin, some of the main ingredients used in Polish food are sauerkraut, beetroot, gherkins, sour cream, kohlrabi, mushrooms, sausages and smoked sausage. Usually served as a three-course masterpiece, and predominately made up of hearty meats and carbohydrates, these dishes are sure to stretch the cholesterol level. Fortunately, it only takes a few mouthfuls to experience the delicious flavours of each mouth-watering dish.

Dish not to miss: Zrazy zawijane. Succulent beef rolls stuffed with sizzling strips of bacon, gherkin, and onion served with a spicy, sour cream sauce.

8. Nepal

Home to some of the highest mountains in the world (the Himalayas), Nepal’s rivers offer some of the best white water rafting on earth, while the country’s jungles and more than 800 species of birds provide a paradise for nature fanatics. Nepalese food is renowned for its nutritional value and distinctive tastes, with an abundance of spices and flavours in a great variety of dishes. Lentils, rice and vegetable curry are some of the key ingredients in Nepalese cuisine with plenty of delicious relishes, pickles, garlic and spices to liven up wholesome yet delectable dishes.

Dish not to miss: Daal Bhaat. With the core ingredients being lentils and rice, the variety of different spices used and the number of different ways to prepare this flavoursome and diverse dish is astounding. The best thing about this meal is that it is most often eaten with the fingers.

9. Jamaica

The island nation of Jamaica, which lies in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, offers crystal clear waterfalls for morning swims, horseback riding through mountain ranges and world-class golf courses with spectacular views. Jamaica’s cuisine is another popular favourite for the health conscious traveller. With explosive flavours and some key ingredients indigenous to Jamaica, this cuisine makes for some of the best tastes in the Caribbean. Unprocessed foods, smaller portions of meats and an abundance of seafood make Jamaican food a wholesome and succulent cuisine to enjoy. The variety of sweet, hot and savoury dishes is abundant and with some of the most regularly used herbal medicines such as garlic, ginger, all spice and hot peppers forming the basis of Jamaica’s flavoursome dishes, travellers are sure to feel cleansed and rejuvenated after their stay. 

Dish not to miss: Jerk seasoning. The fiery flavours of a unique, yet simple spice mix forms a perfect marinade for pork, chicken, fish or tofu. Served with rice and peas, this adaptable dish is sure to clear out any travellers’ sinus passages.

10. Morocco  

The North African country of Morocco offers an abundance of places to explore and a wide range of activities including trekking in the Atlas mountain ranges, relaxing on the beautiful Mediterranean beaches and wandering through winding alleyways of the numerous ‘souks’. The hustle and bustle of the local markets where you will be overwhelmed by the colours and local produce is an experience not to be forgotten. After a hard day’s sightseeing, a traditional ‘Hammam’ massage accompanied by a refreshing mint tea will restore the body and senses. The raw scent of spices that waft from a Moroccan tagine pot is incredible. The superbly mixed flavours that have perfectly seasoned lamb or chicken alongside a plate of couscous, Morocco’s staple food, is sure to satisfy any traveller’s hunger.

Dish not to miss: Bisteeya, a savoury filo pastry delight, layered with chicken, eggs and a lemon and onion sauce, topped with crushed almonds, cinnamon and sugar.

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