My Three Course Taste of Travel Menu

One of the greatest joys of travel is being able to taste authentic food around the world. To discover new and exciting dishes as well as identifying where some more familiar ones originate.

As a vegetarian I do tend to plan ahead to a certain degree, researching what veggie dishes to search out before arriving, using blogs, Pinterest and the amazing Happy Cow app/website (a community-driven resource for veggie and vegan travellers). It really is amazing what is out there for non-carnivores: Russia has some wonderful vegetarian restaurants, who knew?

I bring many ideas back with me, keen to try them at home, from simple meals to baking inspiration. I must admit that I rarely take photos of my food, I’m not sure why, I’m probably too eager to eat it! I do however jot it all down, I usually keep a journal when I travel and food seems to be a recurring theme throughout them.

I was invited by the lovely Ayla of Mrs Ayla’s Adventures to take part in Celebrity Cruises Taste of Travel Competition, to share my ultimate three course travel menu from grub I’ve devoured on my adventures.

This is not the easiest thing to do, I mean, how to narrow it down? I’ve eaten so much delicious food!

Great food isn’t just about the taste, or the presentation, great food is about the whole experience: the location, the atmosphere, the memories that linger on, months, years after.

tasteoftravelMy Taste of Travel Menu
Starter

Dosa. I couldn’t possibly do this menu without including dosa, it is my absolute favourite food in the world! This southern Indian crispy pancake can be found all over South East Asia and I’ve eaten it from Saigon to Singapore! 

It makes the perfect snack, breakfast, starter or main: I’m not fussy! I usually have a Masala Dosa: the crisp rice and lentil pancake is filled with spiced potato and served with sambar and coconut chutney and it’s best eaten without cutlery!

For me, masala dosa is comforting, reassuring and completely delicious; I love eating it in busy restaurants, squished up on a communal bench, everyone digging in with their hands. Hoorah for Little Indias around the globe!

It is the one foodstuff I dream of the most; I’ve never successfully cooked it and I think I crave the whole experience, not just the  dish.

Southern India is still on my to-do list, but if anything is going to get me there, dosa will!

Main Course

Beijing Noodle Bar

I’ve thought long and hard about this one, to be honest I could probably have Indian food for each one of these courses: a thali (I totally agree Ayla!) would be an obvious choice. India has taken vegetarian eating and turned it into an art form.

But, I’ve been to many places and one meal that particularly sticks out was in Beijing, China. Not only was it one of the cheapest meals I’ve ever eaten, it was utterly delicious and also a bit of a novelty!

My friend found it near her accommodation and she was super excited to take us there, it was a noodle bar: the idea being that you take a basket and fill it from the selection of ingredients in the chiller cabinet. There was a large choice of tofu, sliced vegetables, noodle varieties, mushrooms, gluten balls, seafood and meats. You then take the basket to the counter and they transform it into an incredible bowl of noodles. 

The owner turned this great dish of food into a fabulous travel memory: he was so thrilled we visited his noodle bar! He welcomed us in, every time (we ate there a few times), with open arms and a wide grin, he particularly liked that we wanted the noodles spicy. It was a wonderful introduction to China and great to experience this local Beijing eating establishment.

I’ve tried to recreate the noodles at home but never to such deliciousness: his secret spice blend, the exotic ingredients, the stock (which I presume was chicken – I know, I’m a veggie! I’d never eat chicken stock at home but I’m sure I’ve had it in soups and broths on my travels) all combined to make a tasty dish that had us coming back for more.

I ate some incredible vegetarian food in China, in dedicated vegetarian restaurants – a particular one in Shanghai blew me a way with its vegetarian versions of Shanghai dishes – but the restaurants lacked the atmosphere to transform them into truly memorable meals. I will never forget this happy noodle man beaming as we walked into his shop!

Dessert

Munkki (Finnish Doughnuts)

You haven’t tasted an amazing doughnut until you’ve had a Finnish one!

As a keen home-baker I’ve eaten many baked goods around this beautiful world of ours, from macarons in France to coconut tarts in Hong Kong and waffles in Belgium but the king of them all is the Finnish doughnut.

So what does Finland do it its doughnuts that the rest of the world doesn’t? Cardamom my friends, cardamom. Yes, that most Indian of spices has found its way to Nordic Europe and is used in abundance in baking, and it is rather wonderful.

The soft, fluffy Finnish doughnuts are spiced with cardamom and they go exceptionally well with coffee, they are a match made in heaven. The Finns are expert coffee drinkers, they are the top coffee consumers in the world, so it makes sense they should create goodies to go perfectly with it.

I rarely have dessert when I’m travelling, the delicious mains usually fill me up. Dessert, for me, happens in between meals, when I can give it my full attention: exploring bakeries, cafes and sweet street vendors.

Drink

Gin and Tonic

I’m going to shamefully copy Ayla and include a drink, even though it’s not required, purely because this drink had become a bit of travel tradition for me!

The tradition began in the Baron Hotel, in Aleppo, Syria back in 2008. The wonderfully atmospheric bar in this old hotel is steeped in history and legend, what better way to experience this than with a G&T. 

After that, it has become a bit of a tradition to seek out old colonial style bars. A fun treasure hunt that has seen me quaffing gin in dusty old hotels and bars where time has apparently stood still: in Egypt, India, South East Asia.

The Baron Hotel gin will always be my favourite, the ghosts of Agatha Christie and Laurence of Arabia drifting through on the breeze as we sat in worn leather armchairs in candlelight (due to a power cut).

Kuala Lumpur-1657I found a couple this year, both in Kuala Lumpur: a marvellously unchanged Coliseum Cafe (above) and the ‘exclusive’ Long Bar at the Royal Selangor Club (which we got access to on a city walking tour), where the lovely view over Merdeka Square helped to overcome my amused outrage that women were not allowed in the bar!

The gin was bloody good though and I could totally picture myself as an expat wife! Cheers!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my #tasteoftravel menu, all that leaves me to do is to invite some fellow travelling diners to join me.

I’d love to invite Couple of Backpackers, Traveller’s Ink Blog, Travel each Day, and Bunks and Beaches to take part this competition. I’m sure you have some food-lusting stories to share ! >> Details here 

Do you have a favourite meal? Share the link below if you’ve blogged it!

By Rachel A Davis

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6 Responses

  1. Laura says:

    Such a great post and thank you for getting me involved too. Here is mine: http://www.bunksandbeaches.com/2015/01/taste-of-travel.html#more

  2. Lovely post! I’m feeling very hungry now! I could easily eat Indian every meal (although I’ve never actually eaten it in India), we always seem to track one down wherever we are in the world. I was surprised by the vegetarian food in Russia too. Despite neither of us being vegetarian, we ate at the vegetarian cafeterias almost every day. The food was delicious, and our bodies were very pleased to get a decent dose of vitamins! 🙂 x

    • Rachel Davis says:

      Thanks Jennie! I’ve eaten Indian food in India but I’ve eaten far much more out of it. Those veggie restaurants in Russia were so good, and so cheap compared to a lot of food there. We took a meat-eating friend to one and he loved it so much, he went back a second time: he said he appreciated the vitamins too!

  3. Ayla says:

    Love your menu Rachel! I could have easily picked Indian dishes for every course but thought I should shake it up a bit! The noodle bar in Beijing sounds like just the sort of local place I love to find when travelling. Little places like that end up being a highlight of a trip 🙂 I need to take a trip to Finland now just to try those doughnuts!
    Ayla recently posted…My Three Course Taste of Travel MenuMy Profile

    • Rachel Davis says:

      I know, I crave Indian food and hunt it out everywhere! In Helsinki it is disguised as Nepalese food, the menu looked Indian to me! You have to go to Finland, it is amazing and the doughnuts and cinnamon rolls are to die for, oh baked-goods heaven!

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