Our expert panel rated San Sebastiàn the best food destination in the world for its fabulous all-budget eating experiences and its incredible culinary culture. But where have your favourite food experiences been?
It was no surprise to me that our experts ranked San Sebastiàn so highly during a recent panel day for Which? Travel.
The food there is fiercely distinct, passionately produced and on the gastronomic cutting edge.
But it’s not just fancy restaurants that impress. The locals are so food obsessed that you can walk into the most ordinary-looking eatery and be served something quite extraordinary, from intricate local tapas to the freshest seafood from the Bay of Biscay. San Sebastiàn is so special precisely because great food is not just confined to expensive eateries – it’s everywhere.
My personal favourite food experience in San Sebastiàn actually took place in a cider house, eating chorizo, salt-cod and char-grilled T-bone steaks with the locals. Drinking unlimited cider fired into the glass from enormous oak barrels was an unforgettable experience – or at least it was up until the third glass of cider…
Food for thought
It got me thinking about the different kind of food experiences you can have on holiday and how the simplest ones are often most memorable, like eating freshly shucked oysters on the beach, or sampling delicious-smelling street food from an exotic market.
Don’t get me wrong – the restaurant experience can be fantastic. And you don’t necessarily have to venture far to find the best foodie experiences. The 2013 edition of The Good Food Guide features some extraordinary restaurants throughout the UK from Nathan Outlaw’s Rock in Cornwall up to Simon Rogan’s L’enclume in Cartmel, Cumbria.
But today’s culinary tourists expect a range of foodie experiences on their travels. Paris, the once unrivalled culinary capital of the world, had to settle for joint fourth place in our report. It may offer some of the world’s finest formal dining, but it lacks the variety of other destinations and the street food scene is practically non-existent.
A taste of travel
Many of my favourite travelling memories involve food, from diving for and then cooking green-lip mussels in New Zealand, to sharing spit roasted guinea pig in Ecuador. And recently I had a superb meal in a converted convent in Lisbon. It’s these experiences that make holidays so deliciously memorable – the tastes and smells you experience, and the people that you share them with.
Where have your favourite foodie experiences been? Do you agree with our experts, or have you discovered a more exciting food mecca than San Sebastiàn?