1. Okinawa, Japan
What to eat: Sure, you’ll find gyoza to soak up your Orion beer or awamuri, a high alcohol content sake, but you’ll also find tangy, sweet pork sausages with grainy mustard and plenty of fish dishes on this island off the coast of Japan. Umi dubi (sea kelp) and Okinawa soba are popular dishes, though you’d be remiss to confuse the former with the Japanese buckwheat variety - these noodles have more in common with ramen. Tropical fruits like pineapple and guava are on heavy rotation in both appetizers and entrees, however it’s more likely that you’ll find sata andagi or doughnuts on the dessert menu than in a fruit parfait.
Where to stay: The Sunset Beach House is a lovely boutique hotel on the central Okinawa island, Onna-son. The tiny facility has only four rooms, but is smack dab on a beautiful stretch of ocean. Rates from $26 per night.
2. Prince Edward Island, Canada
What to eat: Prince Edward Island is a shellfish junkie’s dream. Just imagine...lobsters caught a few miles from your table, PEI oysters shucked within arms reach of their beds instead of being trucked down in the bed of eight-wheeler. For the more adventurous foodie, go clam-digging or learn to shuck oysters, then sit back and sip on some local vino. If you go in September or October, the area is ripe with food festivals including the PEI International Shellfish Festival.
|The Great George|
3. Louisville, KY
What to eat: This is Bourbon Country y’all. In Louisville, you’ll find an impressive amount of top-notch restaurants featuring both rustic and city-fied food...to pair with your brown spirits of course. Visit some distilleries (Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, Buffalo Trace) before dining at upscale restaurant, Proof on Main, where dinner could include chickpea-ham fritters or split pea panisse and should include some housemade charcuterie. The infamous hot brown - a turkey, bacon and tomato open-faced sandwich covered in mornay sauce - can be found at the Brown Hotel, where it reportedly was created.
Where to stay: The 21C Museum Hotel is THE place to stay in Louisville. This boutique spot boasts eclectic decoration in the heart of Bourbon country. Bonus: Proof on Main, one of the top area restaurants is located in the hotel. Rooms from $185 per night.
4. Cornwall, England
What to eat: Opt out of visiting London to say cheerio to beautiful Cornwall on your next holiday jaunt and you’ll be rewarded. Regional specialties like Cornish pasties (a filled pastry) and crab salad lightly dressed with lemon, salt and pepper are especially good here. Clotted cream is also a pride of the area whose rivalry with nearby Devon’s cream makes the product a point of contention in the region. Some restaurants to check out include Sam’s on the Beach, The Alba Restaurant, Porthminster Beach Cafe and The Gurnard’s Head.
Where to stay: You’ll swear that you’re staying in a manor house circa 1800 when you bunk at the Roundhouse Barn Bed & Breakfast which is actually a compound of multiple farm houses. You’ll be wooed by its stone facade and charming gardens, and of course the full English breakfast. Rates from 95 euros per night, which includes breakfast.
5. Vieques, Puerto Rico
What to eat: The island of Vieques isn’t large, and you’ll need to rent a car to traverse it, so it’s no big deal to drive around looking for a spot to eat. Which is good, because you’ll never know what you’ll find. But among its culinary highlights, food-truck culture pervades the tiny island. Pull over to the side of the road for a chicken pulled right from the rotisserie, quickly hacked and tossed into a to-go container with a side of plantains, for just a ten-spot, to tote to the beach. Or grab some barbecue, skewers of meat or conch-filled pasteles pastries. Then roll up to one of the bars along the Esperanza boardwalk for a rum punch.
|Hix Island House|
6. Morelia, Mexico
What to eat: Morelia is a town located within Michoacan, an area that grows avocados year-round. However, don’t expect guacamole and chips at the table. Instead, you’ll find sliced avocados spritzed with lemon and sprinkled with salt as a side dish to every meal. It’s worth a quick jaunt to Cupatitzio National Park to dine at La Terrazza de la Trucha, a restaurant specializing in avocado dishes from halved fruit stuffed with spicy macadamia cream to sparkly avocado smoothies and multiple avocado soups. Back in Morelia, Lu Restaurant (overlooking the cathedral and its Saturday night fireworks) and Los Mirasoles offer sophisticated plates like a beef carpaccio with Caesar sauce, suckling pig and mole-sauced pork shoulder.
Where to stay: Walk through the front gate of the Hotel de la Soledad and you’ll find yourself under the stars, in the middle of a beautiful landscaped courtyard, circled by hotel rooms. Right in the middle of town and around the corner from the main cathedral, it's the perfect home base for your adventure. Rates from $116 per night. Important Note: Currently the U.S. State Department has issued a Travel Advisory for the region in which Morelia is located. Check with your travel site before booking.
7. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
What to eat: Kuala Lumpur is a melting pot of Asian cuisines with influences from Cantonese to Penang. The street-food scene is a big part of the culture and discovering new favorite dishes in the open-air mamaks or stalls is an activity in and of itself. Look for dishes like gulai alam (chicken curry), iyan bakar (grilled fish) and ulam ulam, a crudite-type dish of uncooked vegetables and sambal dip. Cafes and pubs litter the streets, and food courts take up huge swaths of shopping malls. Insomniacs will be at home in “KL” where night markets rule. There, you’ll find traditional foods - noodles, kebabs, roasted duck - in addition to handheld foods and sweets.
Where to stay: The Sarang Mas Vacation Home may not be the most luxurious locale in Kuala Lumpur, but it is owned by a duo of English-speaking owners who are happy to guide you to the best food locales in the city. Even better, they’ll give cooking classes upon request. Rates from $65 per night.
8. Cairo, Egypt
What to eat: Egyptians have a huge sweet tooth, so one of the first things you’ll notice roaming Cairo is the vast amount of stalls devoted to treats. Cakes, cookies and pastries are drenched in honey and studded with nuts and dried fruit. Vegetarians will feel comfortable here as the main ingredients are legumes and vegetables. Many familiar Mediterranean standards can also be found like rice stuffed grape leaves and baba ghanoug eggplant dip with eish masri, pita bread. Fava beans are prevalent and are used in both dips as well as an alternative to chickpeas in falafel-type fritter. For those who can’t go even a day without meat, you’ll be happy to feast on exotically spiced ground meat kofta and shewarma sandwiches.
Where to stay: Le Riad’s colorful rooms and festive atmosphere are fun and welcoming. The rooftop breakfast overlooking the city? Well, that’s just a thing of beauty. Rates from $315 per night.