We take a trip around the globe to discover the 10 best spots for the discerning food-lover
The concept of street food has come a long way. What was once seen as cheap and basic fare is now finding a place of honour in Michelin-Star restaurants. The San Francisco Street Food Festival is a celebration of that. Attended by over 50,000 foodies, the Bay Area pulls out its best of street chefs and the finest organic produce they can lay their hands on, and they cook up unforgettably delicious treats in an informal, relaxed atmosphere.
A whole weekend of nothing but fresh oysters, the best beers on tap and lots of live music—no wonder this is the most famous festival in Ireland, attended by half a million people annually. Participate in the Oyster Olympics (the World Oyster Opening Championship), or the tasting events in Galway’s best restaurants; there is even a Mardi Gras-style parade through the city with family fun, live music, and tantalising oyster cook-off challenges.
Maine Lobster Festival, Rockland, USA (August)
For the American seafood enthusiast, it doesn’t get much better than this. Five days of the most succulent food cooked and served up on the gorgeous Maine coastline. Thousands of lobsters are crated in and prepared in many stunning, creative flavors; there are also US navy ship tours, a sea-goddess coronation, cooking contests by top chefs, and plenty of art, music and entertainment. The finale is the world’s largest lobster cooker with 20,000lbs of crustacean on the menu.
Bangkok, Thailand (September)
The Four Seasons Hotel hosts a gourmet festival for five days, a Michelin-Star extravaganza featuring intimate dinners with celebrity chefs and master-classes with pros. This is in addition to daily sumptuous lunches and dinners and wine-tastings from some of the world’s best vineyards. This is high-class indulgence, a testimony to the love and care that the world’s best chefs confer upon food, to ensure the sweetest possible experience for the discerning palette.
Melbourne is not called Australia’s cultural and culinary capital for nothing. Each year, the city devotes 20 days to the celebration of food and the joy of eating. From the great outdoors, on the banks of the Yarra River, to Melbourne’s finest restaurants, you can experience cooking demos, wine tours and exquisite food tastings showcasing Australia’s finest flavors. The piece de resistance is the World’s Longest Lunch for 1,500 guests on a gorgeous Oz summer’s day.
Collobrieres, France (October)
The Var village in the Collobrieres region of France is regarded as the chestnut capital of the world. They literally fall off trees here at this time of the year, and are presented to you in every shape and form. You can munch on roasted chestnuts all day, or buy chestnut preserve, chestnut cakes and pies, and even sample an exquisite dessert called Marron Glace. Other non- chestnuts delights are the merguez, North African sausages, and the wine, which flows non- stop.
Alba, Italy (Oct-Nov)
Italian cuisine’s pride and joy, the white truffle, gets its very own festival to celebrate the unique sensuality it brings to the tongue. The air is full of truffle-scent every weekend from mid-October to mid-November, with all-night concerts and stalls and restaurants serving dishes with the famed tartufo bianco. There is a truffle auction, a truffle walk for tourists; there is even a donkey race, but the overwhelming emphasis is on the magic that this delightful fungus brings to the palette.
Started in New York as a celebration of Far Eastern cuisine, the Lucky Rice Festival has now moved to LA, Vegas, Miami and SF. More than just a feeding frenzy, this festival aims to understand Asian culture through its food; this is achieved by special dinners hosted at the city’s finest Asian restaurants, and presided over by food-stalwarts such as Anthony Bourdain and Masaharu Morimoto. It also has the distinction of winning the Best Festival Name award.
Mexico City, Mexico (May)
Mexico is no slouch in the cuisine department for great-tasting wholesome food and the Mesamerica Festival is a celebration of that. Some of the world’s best chefs from Mexico land up in Mexico City for three days in May to cook and educate you on the wonders of their national cuisine. Foodies will recognise names like Rene Redzepi, Daniel Humm and Alex Atala, not to mention the organiser, Enrique Olvera, head chef and owner of Pujol, ranked 36 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Aarhus, Denmark (September)
The remote Nordic lands like to show they can hold their own in the culinary department, and it all comes together in Aarhus, Denmark. Some of the finest fish and shell-fish are found in these cold waters, along with the tastiest organic produce grown inland; festival guests can shop and learn about unique ingredients and methods of preparation. There are activities for kids, and cooking classes for people of all levels of expertise.