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A great meal can position itself in the history book of our hearts with just a simple bite. The smells, the atmosphere, the people, and the complete sensory experience that is involved when you taste something really special is the reason why we go out to eat. During my travels I’ve tasted some amazing and unique foods as well as some horrible stomach churning foods. While, everyone remembers the hamburger that gave them food poisoning, but wouldn't it be better to remember the foods that swept you off your feet?
Pizzeria Del Ghetto - Via Luigi Cadorna, 17, 00053 Civitavecchia RM
Call me a romantic but one of the best foods in my travels was a no-named pizza place in the port of Civitavecchia (Rome) during our honeymoon. When we arrived at this place and asked for a menu, the friendly Italian waiter said in english with his strong accent, “no menu’s here. We have two types of pizza, with and without cheese. I recommend you get half and half.” We agreed and then asked if there was a wine menu. He quickly responded. “No wine menu. We have red and white, I recommend the red.” Again we agreed (Side tip: always take the waiter recommendation). While most memorable eating experiences include fancy white linens in Michelin star restaurants with white glove service, this one took place at a picnic table on cobblestones in a sleepy port town square served on wax paper. The simplicity of this restaurant was amazing as they put all their effort into their food. Focusing on delivering the best pizza with the simplest and freshest of ingredients. Without any superfluous toppings, the pizza’s flavor spoke only with its crust and sauce. The pizza was a thin crust pizza with the most amazing marinara sauce I’ve ever had. If you’re ever in Civitavecchia, you must stop by here. Make sure to workout before since you’ll probably be eating a lot!
Secret Parrilla - Av. Dorrego 2720, Buenos Aires
The land of tango, Maradona, and Messi is also the land of malbec and steak; Argentina. After accumulating more than 6 weeks in Buenos Aires, I was fortunate to try most of the myriad of parrillas or steak houses. (In Argentina, it’s pronounced ‘parrisha’, the ‘LL’ in Argentina is a ‘sh’ sound not a ‘ya’ sound like most spanish speaking countries). Parrillas are very common in Buenos Aires but you have to search a little for the good ones. Our favorite one is, as you’ll see in the name, a secret, “Secret Parrilla.” To find this restaurant you need to have the exact address and there is no signage outside or on the door. Since there is no signage, you must have the confidence to knock or let yourself into the restaurant. There are no windows so it’s difficult to find the restaurant. Once inside, the decor is simple and underwhelming but the food is the opposite. Our 4 course meal meal for two which included, appetizers, salads, two rib-eyes, dessert, and a bottle of wine would have easily been $300 in the States was only.... $40! And you might think, the steak was bad or cheap, but Argentina doesn’t know how to make a bad steak, all of them are spectacular...and most of them are grassfed!
Most people see breakfast as a necessity and not a fine dining experience but in Canggu, Bali, everything revolves around breakfast. With a strong surfing and digital nomad community everyone wakes up early ready to enjoy some big blue waves or some fresh flat white coffees. One of the best breakfast dishes is “The Barber” at Crate Cafe. This delicious diabetic coma inducing dish is a french toast and banana sandwich topped with scrambled eggs and bacon. I recommend adding avocado and ordering a flat white with coconut cream. While this is far from healthy, vegan, or Indonesian, it’s quintessentially Canggu, Bali. After enjoying this mountain of joy, hop on your moped and spend the day at Batu Bolong Beach.
Kyoto Gogyo, Kyoto, Japan
Everyone who visits Japan raves about the sushi. While the sushi is indeed the best in the world, specifically at places like Sushi Dai and Daiwa Sushi where I got up at 3:30am to have the world’s freshest sushi, the best food to eat during Japan’s cold winters is Ramen. Some of you might say, “The crap I ate when I was 19?” Good ramen is very different from the $1 microwaveable junk most westerners think of when they hear ‘ramen’. Good ramen is made with a rich broth that’s normally prepped for several hours before serving it to a rush of customers. My favorite ramen location was in Kyoto, Japan at Kyoto Gogyo. Here they have two specialities, burnt soy and burnt miso ramen. My favorite was the burnt soy as it filled my mouth with a unique and distinct ramen that’s unforgettable. One taste of this rich broth and thick noodles will warm your soul and take you back to the times of Geishas and Samurais. Just don’t sit too long as it’s rude to loiter after you finish your dish.
Street Vendor, Vietnam
Asia is filled with delicacies that will make any westerner gag at the idea, smell, or sight of some foods. One of the most challenging to swallow was balut or duck embryo. This partially incubated egg is a delicacy in some areas. It originated in the Philippines and quickly spread to Southeast Asia to Cambodia and Vietnam. It was in Vietnam where I tried balut, an egg that is incubated for 1421 days then boiled with the shell on and served in a flavored sauce. A full incubation period is around 30 days so these “chicks” are nearly fully developed. The sight of the duck embryo was stomach churning and shocking. Like most food challenges, it’s best to bite it quickly and not think about it too much. In the end, like most things, it tasted like (delicious) chicken. The idea of eating an embryo is much more disturbing than the taste itself. Of all the great food experiences, here’s a quick list of restaurants and dishes you must try if you’re in the area:
- Pastries Portugal Pastéis de Belém Pastéis de Nata - The best pastries EVER! Many try to replicate but the recipe is a 100+ year old secret
- Sushi Tokyo at Sushi Dai - Set the alarm, the line starts at 3:00. If you get there by 4:15 the wait shouldn’t be too long.
- Coffee Melbourne, Australia Market Lane Coffee - Melbourne is the coffee mecca. In Melbourne or “Melbs,” coffee is life. No major chains here, only small cafes. Australians are so selective about their coffee that Starbucks failed miserably when they tried to enter Australia. The drink to order is a ‘flat white,’ similar to a cappuccino but creamer and richer.
- Iced Coffee Canggu, Bali Deus ex Machina - The iced coffee here is dangerously strong and wickedly delicious. One bottle has 78 shots of espresso. I recommend splitting a bottle with your friend.
- Burritos Ambergris Cay, Belize Coconut Cafe - This small cafe is run by some retired expats who are living their dream after retiring to Belize. At Coconut Cafe, their made to order burritos are wrapped in fresh, unforgettable hand made tortillas(mmmm)
- Italian Florence, Italy Trattoria Baldovino - While most restaurants give you a few pieces of bread, here you order a whole loaf of warm focaccia. After that, try the pici pasta, an eggless pasta that’s always “al dente”. Pair it with a delicious Brunello for a perfect afternoon.
Scott Stohler is the co-owner of Roamaroo.com a luxury and adventurous travel blog designed for those seeking to get more from travel. After 8 years as a chemical engineer he decided to pursue his passions of travel, fitness, and adventure by packing his life into two bags and departing for an around-the-world trip with no end date. An avid crossfitter and science geek, he’s always testing new "biohacks" and methods to get stronger and healthier.
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