February 6, 2014Posted by Andrea Seifert
Armed with a suitcase and a spatula, Alex Estrada from foodie travel blog The Travelling Chopsticks eats her way around the world; posting recipes, restaurant and hotel reviews, and travel experiences along the way. The British-Swede grew up in Singapore and has also lived in the UK, Mexico and Brazil, sprouting some pretty multi-cultural tastebuds along the way. Read on for her top eateries from Asia, South America and Europe.
My Favourite Restaurant Experiences around the World
By Alex Estrada
One of the perks of being a diplospouse (Foreign Service speak for spouse of a diplomat, who I indecently call my Peruvian) is the chance to live and travel to rather exotic countries around the globe. This opportunity, coupled with my insatiable appetite and passion (some would say obsession) with food has provided perfect fodder for my blog, The Travelling Chopsticks.
Whether it’s in the country I’m currently living or the places that I visit, I am always on the lookout for ways that will allow me to gain a deeper understanding of my surroundings, or a glimpse into the lives of the local people. Food, I believe, is the ideal method for this!
So, when I was asked if I would be interested in writing a guest post for The HUNT, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. Here is a company who is as food obsessed as I am, and are fully committed to supporting local businesses and industries. What could be more fitting than talking about some of my favourite eating experiences around the world? So without further delay here are my top 5 favourite places to eat in countries that I have recently visited.
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – Café Norden
I fell hopelessly in love with Café Norden one cold summer morning while strolling through Copenhagen. The minute I walked through their doors and was greeted with a wonderful aroma of freshly brewed coffee, warm baked bread and saw their enticing cakes on display, I knew this place was something special.
This magnificent art deco style cafe is located in the centre of Copenhagen’s picturesque shopping district, Strøget. Boasting wonderful views over Amargertorv (Amarger Square), Café Norden has become a favourite with both locals and tourists alike, who are in desperate need of a place to rest their weary feet and get a good bite to eat.
With an emphasis on clean produce and sustainably sourced coffee beans, Café Norden embodies the food culture of Scandinavia – fresh, simple and delicious. All of which is wonderfully portrayed in their brunch options. An array of fresh fruit, thick slices of home-made bread, Danish hams and cured meat, salmon patė, scrambled eggs with crispy bacon, a wedge of cake, and of course not forgetting the expertly made café latte. The Danes really take the idea of brunch literally and showcase Scandinavian produce at its best.
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – San Angel Inn
For many, the idea of Mexico City conjures up a plethora of adjectives, however I’m pretty certain tranquillity isn’t one of them! Yet, believe it or not, dotted around this vast megacity are wonderful pockets of calm and beauty – San Angel Inn being one of them.
Situated in an old converted Carmelite monastery in the south of the city, San Angel Inn offers a respite from chaotic city life. With its perfectly manicured courtyard, and Spanish colonial-style interior, there is a sense of old world charm surrounding San Angel Inn, harking back to a time when life was just a tad slower, and people a touch friendlier.
Sitting in the courtyard, enjoying a long leisurely lunch of traditional classics like chile relleno (stuffed chillies), cochinta pibil (Mexican pulled pork) or sopa de Azteca (Aztec soup) while sipping the best tamarind margaritas in town, is in my opinion, the only way to spend an afternoon in Mexico City.
LIMA, PERU – Canta Rana
I was introduced to this rather scruffy little eatery in the bohemian neighbourhood of Barranco in Lima, by my Peruvian the first time I visited Peru. This was his lunch spot growing up, and as soon as I stepped through those unassuming doors it won my heart.
Today, a trip to Lima is not complete without at least one lunch at Canta Rana. Having been in operation for over 25 years, there’s a laid back style and ambiance that is so synonymous with this place, it would be impossible to recreate elsewhere. The menu is extensive and offers typical home-style Peruvian food, with wonderfully tart ceviches, deep fried crispy seafood, and my all time favourite; prawns in garlic oil.
The quirky interior is packed with with world flags, framed photos and foot ball memorabilia, (all of which were gifts to the owner) adorning every inch of available wall space. The tables are simple wooden squares covered with a white paper table cloth, and the clientele are predominantly locals with a smattering of adventurous tourists.
Canta Rana or ‘Singing Frog’ in English, has a lot to sing about!
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Rio Scenarium
Oh, where do I start with this jewel? If there is any place that I have been to in Brazil which embodies the spirit of the country it must be Rio Scenarium! What started off as an old antique shop that got a second lease of life as a film set for Brazil’s famous tella novellas, Rio Scenarium is now firmly in place as one of Rio’s hottest nightspots.
Located in the historic Lapa district of Rio de Janeiro, which is becoming known for its culture, gastronomy and music, Rio Scenarium easily encompasses all three elements. With over 10,000 antiques tastefully exhibited throughout the three floors, it is without a doubt one of the most impressive and photogenic bars I have visited. The unique decor, coupled with the live jazz-influenced samba, choro and pagode music played nightly by some of Rio’s best known bands, has attracted a loyal following.
Next time you are in Rio de Janeiro and in search of food, samba and a great caipirinha (or two!), look no further than Rio Scenarium.
SINGAPORE – Burnt Ends
Very seldom do I leave a restaurant as excited as I was after having dined at Burnt Ends. What an experience! Chef David Pynt brings a level of sophistication and showmanship to this modern BBQ restaurant in the trendy Chinatown district of Singapore. With diners sitting side by side against a long bar directly overlooking the kitchen, there is a sense of real intimacy and familiarity with the chefs who are preparing your food. Every word between the chefs can be overheard, and every action witnessed. For the foodies amongst us, this privilege is like gold dust!
Having no real idea of what ‘modern BBQ’ entailed, I had notions of large slabs of meat slapped onto a grill – but this could not have been further from the truth. Instead, we were served delicate smoked quail eggs, perfectly grilled fish, crispy suckling pig and beef which had that wonderfully crusty exterior, yet tender melt-in-your mouth meat (I see where the name Burnt Ends comes from…). The ingredients are simple, the flavours are sophisticated and the execution is superb. This truly was a meal that I will remember for years to come.