The six places foodies need to visit this year

There's a whole new year ahead and plenty of places to explore — we've picked out some of the best upcoming spots for every style of traveller.
Try authentic jerk chicken while on holiday in Jamaica. Food / 123RF
Try authentic jerk chicken while on holiday in Jamaica. Food / 123RF

Jamaica

While its known for its beautiful beaches and laid-back reggae sounds, the food of Jamaica is one of the most important parts of the culture. It is a cuisine infused with the taste of history, diverse and flavourful - somewhere between the old and new worlds. There's a great variety of juicy tropical fruits, meat and fresh seafood available.


While many ingredients are native to the island, many foods that were introduced are now grown there. Be sure to try a traditional Jamaican breakfast of ackee and saltfish, boiled green bananas and dumplings. Spices that originate in Africa evolved into the well-known and delicious jerk seasoning. Rich stews are also popular here, with yams and plantains forming the base. Wash it all down with some local rum.

Read more: Jamaica: A birthday party like no other

The US south

Forget about that New Year's resolution and eat yourself stupid on a culinary tour of the southern states of North America. Traditionally, the food is homely and old fashioned, with a spoonful of bacon fat added for extra deliciousness. There's mind-blowingly good fried chicken, barbecue, fresh seafood and so much more.

Revelers pack the French Quarter's famous Bourbon Street during the annual Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans. Photo / AP
Revelers pack the French Quarter's famous Bourbon Street during the annual Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans. Photo / AP

Visit Louisiana for the unique Creole flavours, which blend French cuisine with local cooking styles. New Orleans' French Quarter offers a multitude of restaurants to sample gumbo soup or a po'boy sandwich, and wash it all down with a drink - New Orleans is known for its cocktail culture.


Heading towards Florida, the South Beach Wine and Food Festival takes place at the end of February and boasts an impressive lineup of celebrity chefs. In its 15th year, the festival takes place right on the beach, so there's plenty to do.

Read more: Five reasons to visit New Orleans

Taiwan

Taiwanese cuisine is unique, quite different to that of mainland China. Chinese styles are blended with Aboriginal recipes and a touch of Japanese influence.

Visitors eat Taiwanese aboriginal cuisine at the Dajeeli Tribe Restaurant in Taiwan. Photo / Eli Orzessek
Visitors eat Taiwanese aboriginal cuisine at the Dajeeli Tribe Restaurant in Taiwan. Photo / Eli Orzessek

There's a real focus on snacking, with vendors selling fried snacks and the ubiquitous tea eggs - hard-boiled eggs marinated in tea and spices, seen in nearly every convenience store. In the cities it can be hard to escape the smell of one of these favourite snacks: stinky tofu. As its name suggests, it smells really bad but actually tastes very good. Also be sure to try a big bowl of beef noodle soup - it's Taiwan's national dish.

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Taiwan is also the home of numerous themed restaurants. Robot Station in Tai Chung offers robot themed cuisine that you can eat in the company of a large collection of toy robots. There's also a Barbie cafe and a Lego restaurant where customers build while they eat and can take home their creation based on weight. On the more extreme side of things, Modern Toilet is a bathroom-themed restaurant that serves meals right out of the toilet bowl. It's so popular that it's extended into three other Asian countries.

Read more: Taipei: A night on the town

Australia

One need not look too far from home for a great culinary experience - thanks to its size and wide-ranging mix of immigrant cultures, Australia has plenty to offer. The seafood is fresh, cheap and delicious and the produce isn't bad either.

In the big cities, each different suburb is a snapshot of its cultural makeup. In Melbourne, Footscray has a mix of Asian, African, Indian and Eastern European influences - and everything's cheap. For a similar experience in Sydney, take the train out to Cabramatta for some of the best Vietnamese cuisine on offer.

Crowds enjoy the flavours of the Tasting Australia festival in Adelaide. Photo / Supplied
Crowds enjoy the flavours of the Tasting Australia festival in Adelaide. Photo / Supplied

For real foodies, the Tasting Australia festival takes place in Adelaide from May 1 to 8. There will be plenty of wine tasting, a wild mushroom forest feast, a "beergustation" dinner and presentations by a variety of top chefs.

Read more: Melbourne: Walking up to the lime light

Vietnam

Culinary tourists can't go wrong with Vietnam and its light, aromatic cuisine. The country is a real melting pot, with 54 ethnicities and colonial influences from France and China, resulting in a unique food culture.

A woman cooks barbecue meat on the streets of Hanoi in Vietnam. Photo / 123RF
A woman cooks barbecue meat on the streets of Hanoi in Vietnam. Photo / 123RF

Eating Vietnamese food is also a great way to explore eastern philosophy and the importance of the number five. Vietnamese dishes carefully balance five taste senses (spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet), include five types of nutrients and try to include five colours. The principle of yin and yang is also applied when mixing cool and warm ingredients.

The resulting cuisine is fresh and well-balanced, kept to appropriate levels of spicy, sour or salty flavours. Sip a bowl of pho in Hanoi, visit a loud and colourful beer hall and be sure to check out as many markets as possible, because street food is where it's at.

Read more: Vietnam: Biting the love bug

Peru

Peruvian cuisine is also born out of fusion of cultural exchange, with conversations between Spanish, African, Chinese, Japanese and Italian immigrants. The geography of Peru also contributes to its national flavours, with fresh seafood on the coast and seasonal fruit from the lush Amazon rainforest.

The 15th-century Inca city of Machu Picchu in Peru. Photo / Supplied
The 15th-century Inca city of Machu Picchu in Peru. Photo / Supplied

While you're tramping through winding mountain trails, exploring Inca ruins and taking in the vast and fascinating history of the country, you're sure to build up a big appetite.

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Intrepid Travel offers a Real Food Adventure to Peru, which gives the opportunity to try a bit of everything. Learn to make the popular raw fish dish of ceviche in a Lima food market, try traditional cuy (roasted guinea pig) in the Sacred Valley and finish off with a pisco sour at a local bodega.

Read more: Peru: Mountains of food

- nzherald.co.nz

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