For many of us, travelling successfully means indulging in local food and drink. Too often a good day on vacation can be ruined by an uninspired meal, while on the other hand, experiencing good local cuisine can enhance a trip and give a completely new outlook on any region or destination, not to mention you may find yourself a new favourite dish! Here are a few tips to help you find your way across the epicurean landscape.
Do Your Homework…….
Before you leave on your adventure take some time to check out the place you’re planning to visit. Many local bloggers will likely be able to guide you on your quest to find the best local fare – be it fine dining restaurants to the beach shacks with the best conch fritters (as an example!). Read some reviews and learn what local treats to try and where to find them. It certainly won’t hurt to browse through guidebooks, as well. Take notes of a few ideas and places that interest you and arrive on your vacation armed with a preliminary idea of what you are looking for.
Ask the Locals…….
To dine as the locals do it can be as simple as asking one for their recommendations. Most people in any region are generally proud of their food and will gladly steer you to some of their favourite places. Taxi drivers and hotel staff are good options, although they may get compensated for sending you to less than authentic places. Best to be cautious here! Other travellers may also have some valuable tips on what gems may be in the area. Just as importantly, they may also be able to steer you away from places that are more hype than quality.
Take a Tour……
Often the best way to get a feel for local fare is to engage in a walking culinary tour – this is something that can certainly be arranged through your Local Host. Many destinations offer tours that emphasize fresh and local food and the information can be priceless. They can help you learn about local dishes and will usually stop at some of the better spots to dine. You may also be able to pick your guide’s brain for other ideas to dine and it certainly is worth learning the local dining etiquette as well.
Try a Local Market…….
Nothing says local like a regional farmers’ market. Most areas have at least one and it is here you will get a real sense of what people in the area are shopping for and eating. Along with seeing local preferences, you may also meet some fellow shoppers who can direct you to some of the more popular spots.
Cook It Yourself……
Most destinations offer various cooking classes that are fun – especially for kids – and informative. Spend a few hours learning about local dishes and what to look for on menus in front of the restaurants. You may come home with a new favourite recipe!
Look For Line-ups and Locals……
As most of us know, a line-up outside of a busy restaurant usually means decent food for a good price. Be careful, though! Check to see if the crowd seems to be made up of locals or tourists. Avoid places too close to large tourist attractions as they can seem popular but aren’t actually all that great. The off-the-beaten-path places are usually some of the best.
The HostedVillas Difference…….
When you travel with HostedVillas, finding the best local restaurants, markets and more, is easy, as your Local Lost is just that… local. They will have recommendations, can make reservations, can give you directions or arrange a car for you for market outings and more. They can tell you where to find those off-the-beaten path, local gems, and what to order when you get there. Many of our villas also come with a dedicated staff, including a chef, who you can ask to surprise you with a regional specialty or perhaps even join when they go shopping for produce.
In short, why eat food that you can easily get at home? Try something new and you may just come home with a new favourite dish. Follow some of these tips, and the advice of your Local Host, and you will be sure to appreciate anywhere you travel, just that much more.