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VIP’s Favorite Foodie Experiences

July 30, 2015 by Michael Eiseman divider image
Cooking class in Mendoza, Argentina

If you snap pictures to post on Instagram of everything from wood-fired pizza to the perfect roll of sushi at each restaurant you visit or regularly dine at 5 Star eateries, you might be a foodie.

If you turn your nose up at chains and seek out only off-the-beaten path restaurants serving up authentic gastronomic wonders, you might be a foodie.

If you’re planning your next vacation around what you’d like to eat, you’re definitely a foodie— and you might want to add a few of these culinary adventures to your list!

Here at VIP, we love good food almost as much as we love traveling, so we thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite vacation experiences that brought together the best of both worlds:

MIKE

Mataderos Market Buenos AriesI’ve had more than a few really memorable experiences during my travels, but the one that takes the prize for best foodie experience was a tour of Feria de Mataderos followed by a private chef’s asado (barbeque) in Buenos Aires.

Feria de Mataderos is an open-air, free trade style market in the working class barrio of Mataderos. Although many tourists visit for its eclectic collection of handmade artisanal folk arts and crafts, insiders know visitors also get to sample homemade regional dishes that characterize Argentina and its cultural roots while perusing potential souvenirs and enjoying live entertainment, including gauchos, singers, dancers and more.

After immersing myself in the culinary culture of Buenos Aires (mostly wine and meat) for several hours at the market, I was whisked off to a closed-door meal at the home of Chef Sergio. We were greeted by the hostess and seated in preparation for a truly authentic and unique culinary journey through a multi-course meal with one of the city’s best chefs.

Good thing I didn’t eat too much at the market!

CAROL

Cooking class in Mendoza, ArgentinaI will never forget the cooking class I took one evening at Finca Aldalgisa in Mendoza with Chef Cristina Brino. She’s a former student of famed Argentine chef Frances Malmand, and truly lived up to his reputation!
After a day exploring the countryside, we came back starving, so it was such a welcome respite to soak in the surrounding landscape, sip a glass of wine and learn to prepare regional favorites from fresh ingredients.

First, we prepared Empanadas Mendocinas in the clay oven, learning to cook the meat and veggies on an open fire before blending a fresh chimichurri sauce made with olive oil harvested from the Finca.

As the sun set, we grilled the most delicious steaks I’ve ever had and topped them with chimichurri. These were the most melt-in-your-mouth, perfectly cooked, savory cuts— better than any 5 Star steakhouse!

We finished the evening with dessert— caramelized fruit topped with herbs from the Finca gardens.
The class was intimate and relaxing, and we had a wonderful time talking with other guests. Of course, the piece de resistance was the food. I can’t imagine why anyone would go anywhere else when this is waiting for you at Finca Aldalgisa!

MEREDITH

Ruby's Cafe Ambergris Caye BelizeA few year’s back, I was in Belize on a girl’s trip for eight days. We stayed in a private villa on Ambergris Caye right next door to Las Terrazas Resort & Residences— about 3.5 miles from San Pedro and accessible only by boat or, if you’re feeling sporting, bicycle.

Although we ventured over to Las Terrazas almost every evening for cocktails and had a number of delicious dinners during our stay, the foodie experience I can’t forget (and often have serious cravings for) was a simple breakfast item unique to the area.

We happened upon it out on a morning walk our first day on the island and went back every single morning despite the distance from our villa. What was this siren food item? The Johnny Cake at Ruby’s Café.
Ruby’s doesn’t look like much from the outside, and you won’t find many tourists in the winding line stretching out the door, but trust me when I tell you it’s the best thing going for breakfast in San Pedro, and you can’t beat the price.

Johnny Cakes are the Belizean equivalent to biscuits, and they’re crafted into a breakfast sandwich with your choice of eggs, bacon, beans and more. I can’t quite explain what makes them so good, but I’m a Southerner, and I loved them more than a cat head.

SARAH

Cooking class in Lima, PeruThe last time I was in Lima, we took a culinary tour and cooking class that was unforgettable! We started with a tour through a traditional Peruvian market, and ended with a Peruvian culinary classics lesson and self-prepared meal.

Before we got down to cooking, we tasted a ton of fresh, exotic fruit we’d brought back from the market. It’s difficult to chose just one that stood out, but the highlight for me was the Pitahaya or Dragon Fruit. This vibrantly colored fruit can be found at U.S. groceries, but you won’t find them as refreshing or sweet as when they’ve just been plucked from their native land.

For dinner, we learned to make (and happily ate) a layered potato dish called Causa Rellena, Ceviche and a Peruvian beef stir fry known as Lomo Saltado, all of which was delicious. For dessert, we helped create the Peruvian classic Picarones, which are squash and sweet potato donuts topped with syrup.

Know before you go: Wine isn’t served with the meal, but you’re welcome to bring your own bottle to accompany this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

AMANDA

Gaucho cooking experience in MendozaMy favorite foodie travel experience was going horseback riding and condor watching in Mendoza and getting to immerse myself in a true Andean Asado experience. It was so interesting to watch our gaucho guide build a fire and prepare an authentic outdoor gaucho meal while regaling us with stories of the Andean highlands.

SUSANA

Fisherman Playa Blanca ColombiaThere’s nothing better than watching a fisherman catch your dinner and fry it right in front of you, and that’s just what we did in Colombia a few years back. We had taken a tiny sailboat from Taganga over to Playa Blanca and just happened upon a fisherman. Not only was the fried fish flavorful and flaky, but the fish stew he made to accompany it was so good we couldn’t get enough of it!

MIKE REDUX

For our fearless leader, Mike, it was really hard to pick just one foodie experience to share, so we’re adding his honorable mentions you might also want to add to your foodie bucket list:

Glacier hike PatagoniaIn Patagonia, at the end of the glacier tour, the guides chip off ice from a 1,000-year-old glacier to put in your complimentary glass of Scotch. Now that’s some cold Scotch!

Fasano Punda del Este RestaurantAt Fasano Punta del Este, Mike found the favorite thing he’s ever eaten— a pate of chicken liver similar to foie gras served with fresh baked breads. According to Mike, it was so good that dessert came and he was still munching on pate covered bread.

If you’d like to tempt those tastebuds and embark on your own culinary odyssey, call us today to begin planning your foodie journey to Latin America!


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