World's Most Memorable Food Experiences
Lonely Planet Magazine India|July 2019

Pack your passport and loose-fitting clothing, and join us on a tour of the world’s most memorable food experiences.

DENMARK

Grab a slice of smørrebrød, Copenhagen’s bread of heaven

Want to know what the best thing is since sliced bread? Danish smørrebrød, that’s what. Take a slice of rye bread, butter it, then heap it with whatever tasty ingredients you like.

Actually, it’s not that simple. There are some rules that help elevate smørrebrød beyond a piece of bread with toppings. Thin toppings go on first, followed by the bulkier kind; second, when eating more than one kind of smørrebrød at once (this is always the case – good luck stopping at one), you start with the slice that features herring, move on to other fish, then meat and finish with cheese. This sequence is designed to walk your palate through the flavour combinations, so that one never overpowers the other.

There are some classic combinations you’ll see all over Denmark: pickled herring, onion and dill; mayonnaise, boiled egg, shrimp, dill and lemon; roast beef, pickles, onions and horseradish. But these are just a tiny sample of the almost limitless number of toppings.

Copenhagen’s smørrebrød institution, Restaurant Schønnemann has been serving the open-faced sandwich since 1877. The presentation is so delicate it resembles sushi. Try the following for an ultimate smørrebrød experience, otherwise known as the world’s best sandwich degustation: herring marinated in dill cream with capers, onions and a fried egg; smoked salmon and halibut with a crab and mayonnaise salad, tomato and basil; a breaded cutlet of pork with apples, thyme and onions; and camembert with blackcurrant jam. And to drink? Why, there’s 140 different schnapps, aquavit and genevers to choose from. That should do nicely.

EAT UP For the ultimate sandwich tasting, head to www. restaurantschonnemann.dk/en, or grab a takeaway box from Aamanns (www.aamanns.dk/?lang=en).

GREECE

When night falls over Athens, tuck into souvlaki

It’s late night in Athens, and the seductive aroma of herby grilling meats is beckoning you towards an open doorway. The Greek take on the nocturnal flatbread sandwich format is fresher and healthier than most. A souvlaki is composed of grilled meat (chicken, pork, lamb or beef), a salad of tomato, red onion and cucumber, and some refreshing tzatziki, all wrapped in a large soft flatbread. The meat is the crucial ingredient. Skewers of small chunks are grilled and flavoured with herbs, salt and lemon juice. Vegetarians are not forgotten: a grilled halloumi souvlaki is an equally wondrous end to a legendary night out in Athens.

EAT UP

In the swanky district of Kolonaki, head to Kalamaki Kolonaki at Ploutarhou 32. If you’re in Gazi, Elvis (Plateon 29) offers a shot of booze with your souv and a side order of the King.

RUSSIA

Make like a millionaire in Moscow with a dish of caviar

Caviar is one of the most exclusive, luxurious and expensive foods on the planet, with roe from the Iranian beluga fish having been known to fetch prices as astronomical as 24,39,750 for just one kilo – perfect for yacht-owning oligarchs, but perhaps not so accessible for mere mortals like us. In this context, a much more reasonable splurge is the caviar degustation with red pancakes from Café Pushkin in Moscow. The combination of old-world opulence and the selection of salmon caviar, vendace caviar, sturgeon caviar and beluga caviar for a smidge under 9,700 (plus drinks) is a relative bargain. Speaking of drinks, there’s champagne, of course, though many Russians prefer a straight shot of Beluga vodka.

EAT UP Café Pushkin is the tsarina of haute-russe dining, with a different atmosphere on each of the floors of its 19th-century building (www.cafe-pushkin.ru/en).

AUSTRALIA

Slurp down Tasmanian oysters straight from the ocean

Whether you chew first or swallow ’em straight down, if you’re an oyster lover, you owe yourself a pilgrimage to the bivalve mollusc motherland of Tasmania. For fans of fresh shellfish, the whole east coast is a dream destination, from beautiful Bruny Island in the south to the spectacular Freycinet Peninsula in the north. With a national park occupying most of the peninsula, you’ll find yourself immersed in granite rock formations jutting above soft sandy beaches and tranquil bays opening onto the Tasman Sea. Operating within the wetlands and estuaries are the Pacific oyster farms that draw so many seafood aficionados. At Freycinet Marine Farm, you can buy a dozen oysters straight from the sea to enjoy at a nearby beach or at the farm’s picnic tables. Or take a tour to see how the industry works firsthand, from incubation to grading.

Cultivated in Japan for centuries, jumbo-sized Pacific oysters were introduced to Australia in the middle of the last century and became an instant hit for their thick, meaty flesh and speedy maturation. Feeding on aquatic algae and nutrients, oysters have a healthy concentration of vitamins and minerals, including one of the highest natural concentrations of zinc, which is great for the immune and digestive systems.

In the early 2000s, Italian scientists found that oysters contain certain amino acids that may promote libido, lending credibility to the legend that they are an aphrodisiac. So, whether you prefer them raw, drowning in Tabasco or with just a dash of lemon juice, eat your Tasmanian oysters with pride.

EAT UP Take a tour, or just guzzle down a platter of the freshest seafood at www.freycinetmarinefarm.com.

SPAIN

Dive into the tapas bars and sherry of Seville

Great food, great wine and great conversation are a national obsession in Spain, and every city has a superb selection of tapas bars. Seville, though, offers something special: it’s right next to the sherry-producing heartland in Andalucía. Start your day discovering the city’s history at the Real Alcázar, then work up an appetite wandering the medieval streets until you find yourself at a small tapas bar. Now, it’s time for another education.

Years of refinement have gone into the dishes that the Spanish serve with a small glass of something. And, when that drink is an aged manzanilla, deep amontillado or bone-dry fino, the food and wine pairing becomes next-level sublime. Whether you stumble onto a square with a hole-in-the-wall bar or hunt down a restaurant with a stellar reputation, don’t hesitate to ask locals for sherry or tapas recommendations: “¿Qué me recomiendas?”(What’s good?).

The following plates should be on your must-try list. First, la Bomba, a sphere of soft, mashed potato, crumbed and fried, and served with an aioli mayonnaise and a spicy tomato sauce. Next, acorn-fed Andalucian jamón ibérico. Then a simple gilda (a lollipop of anchovies, chilli peppers and green olives) and chipirones (tiny, sweet, whole squid served with lemon); and lastly, albóndigas, or meatballs. Beyond those, the joy of your bar crawl will be finding your own favourites.

EAT UP A classic hangout is El Rinconcillo (www.elrinconcillo. es/en), or try the traditional Las Teresas (www.las teresas.es [in Spanish; pictured])

MALAYSIA

Choose your curry laksa stall beneath the towers of Kuala Lumpur

Rich and creamy curry laksa is just about as tasty a bowl of food as you will find anywhere on the planet, but it’s in Malaysia, and in particular in Kuala Lumpur, that you’ll find some of the best ways of eating it. Here are fantastic little hawker centres tucked into the shadows of towering skyscrapers, and, at Madras Lane, just off Petaling Street, you’ll come across competing curry laksa stalls vying for your attention.

Pick the one with the longest queue and, when you have the bowl in your hands, choose a plastic chair (make sure it’s connected to the stall where you bought your laksa or you’ll be in trouble) and begin the lip-smacking, sweat-inducing process of eating. Come again the next day to try the neighbouring stall’s version. A heady mix of spices and flavours (such as fresh turmeric, galangal, chilli, candlenut and shrimp paste) go into the curry mix which, when combined with coconut milk, creates the signature fiery orange appearance of the noodle soup. Two types of noodles (thin rice and thick egg), along with shredded chicken, shrimp, cockles, tofu puffs, bean sprouts, a sprinkling of fresh chilli and mint, and a squeeze of lime, make up the rest of the ingredients. It’s an only-in-Malaysia experience.

EAT UP Pick from the hawker stalls along Madras Lane, off Petaling Street, in Kuala Lumpur.

USA

Let off some steam at a crawfish boil by the bayou

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