A year of good food. Twelve months of tasty cuisine. It doesn't sound bad, does it? And that's the hardship our writers have suffered through as they've sought to take the world's gastronomic pulse once again.
Welcome to the Hot [Food] List, Traveller's annual summation of global food trends, of the restaurants, the bars, the wineries, the tours, the cruises, the hotels, the neighbourhoods, the cities and the countries that have delighted our senses and inspired joy over the past year.
Some of these entries are classics that continue to impress; others are up-and-comers that are bringing something new and exciting to the global scene. All, however, are contributing to the pleasure of travel for those of us who love to eat.
These inspiring entries don't have to be expensive, though some certainly fall into the luxury category. They don't have to be particularly stylish or innovative either – though again, there are plenty here that fit that bill. The key to a great gastronomic experience in any country, at any price-point is heart, soul, honesty and passion.
And that's what we've looked for. A simple plate of food can, after all, say so much about the person who cooked it, and so much about the place they've come from. Food is culture, it is history, it is pride and it is ambition. It is, in short, one of the world's great pleasures, and one our great passions.
We've spent 12 months sampling the best of it. We hope you spend the next 12 sharing and enjoying our discoveries and making your own, too.
With its scenic valleys and terraced vineyards watched over by ancient castles, Saale-Unstrut is a secret that Germany's wine lovers want to keep to themselves. Not far from Leipzig, the country's most northerly wine region is home to about 40 mainly family-run wineries that can be explored by car, by bike or even by boat. Along with traditional dry whites, winemakers are increasingly producing quality reds. Try a tasting at Weingut Herzer or the Freyburg winegrowers' association. See saale-unstrut-tourismus.de/en weingut-herzer.de winzervereinigung-freyburg.de
BEAUPASSAGE, PARIS, FRANCE
Want to knock over some of France's most acclaimed gastronomic names in one hit? Head for Beaupassage, a plant-filled, open air, courtyard passage opened in the heart of the Left Bank in 2018, where France's finest have been tasked to do more ''everyday" versions of their gastronomic arts and crafts. Hence, Allenotheque, a new wine bar from the acclaimed chef Yannick Alleno; healthy lunchtime bowls at Daily Pic from Anne-Sophie Pic; a casual cafe from macaron maestro Pierre Herme; an artisanal bakery by Thierry Marx; and street seafood from Mersea by chef Olivier Bellin. Trust the Parisians to take the idea of a food court and turn it into a chic destination in its own right. 53-59 Rue de Grenelle, 7 th. See beaupassage.fr
LA DAME DE PIC, RAFFLES HOTEL, SINGAPORE
One of the world's leading female chefs with a total of seven Michelin stars to her credit, Anne-Sophie Pic's dishes are defined by their "aromatic complexities, flavour combinations and powerful tastes". Now Pic, in her latest restaurant outing, has injected new culinary verve into the slightly stuffy, recently refurbished Raffles Singapore hotel. Pic's degustation menu at her off-lobby contemporary French restaurant, La Dame de Pic – her first outing in Asia – is an imaginative triumph with surprising drink pairings such as tables wines and fine sakes from Japan. It's a high-brow, high-cost experience in an elegant high-style room but sans any of the usual Gallic gastronomic pretensions. See raffles.com/Singapore
REDCURRANT FOREST FRUITS TART AT CHEZ GERMAINE, AUBRAC, FRANCE
France in spring comes with an abundance of berries, often transformed into "tartes aux fruits rouges". A particularly delectable one can be found in the village of Aubrac, perched on Aveyron's high Aubrac plateau, a way station for Camino pilgrims. Three generations have passed on recipes at Chez Germaine on Aubrac's main Place de la Fontaine et des Fetes. Their wild fruit tart is a tangy concoction of redcurrants, blackberries and blueberries and will sustain any pilgrim en route to Santiago de Compostela. See tourisme-aveyron.com
ARSTIDERNA, MALMO, SWEDEN
Photo: Jenny Leyman
Housed in a vaulted brick cellar in Malmo's fine medieval building, the Kockska Huset off the main square, Stortorget, Arstiderna produces Swedish cuisine using local, seasonal produce. Expect dishes such as herb-baked fillets of reindeer or local duck with chanterelles. This is not the cheapest, but consider the three-course set menu ($90). Currently on the menu Swedish toast Skagen (shrimps, dill mayo and vendace roe), slow-baked trout and roe with asparagus and cauliflower, then ice-cream with summer berries, poppyseed meringue and cream. See arstiderna.pieplowsrestauranger.se/
BASQUE COUNTRY, SPAIN
Is there a region more obsessed with cuisine than the Basque Country of northern Spain? Is there anywhere else that defines itself so readily by its cuisine; that enjoys such an embarrassment of Michelin-starred riches, where world-famous names such as Arzak, Mugaritz, Etxebarri, Azurmendi and Akelarre exist within minutes of each other; that boasts such an incredible volume of affordable, accessible, high-quality dining establishments? Surely not. If you love food, this is paradise. See tourism.euskadi.eus
HASSELBACK POTATO, BARR, COPENHAGEN
"To hasselback'' is to cut a potato in thin parallel slices without going completely through, then baking it with lashings of butter until golden. It's the star dish at Barr, housed in an atmospheric old whaling warehouse in Copenhagen, where it comes oozing with creme fraiche and caviar. Thorsten Schmidt's menu is drawn from the eating and drinking traditions of northern Europe, so follow with crumbed pork schnitzel, and a salad in which you hand-pick your own baby cucumbers from a whole lettuce, and match with beer, aquavit or natural wines. Strandgade 93, Copenhagen. See restaurantbarr.com
POINT LEO RESTAURANT, MORNINGTON PENINSULA, VICTORIA
The winery's two-hatted restaurant, Laura, tends to get all the love, but we're here to sing the praises of its little sister. The bistro-style Point Leo Restaurant is a much more relaxed venue but there are no shortcuts taken with the food. Bring a bunch of friends so you can graze your way through all the heavy-hitters on the menu, from wallaby pies to the stand-out Dutch carrot souffle. See ptleoestate.com.au
PORT ON THE ROCKS, PORTO, PORTUGAL
Port aficionados already know their ruby from their tawny. But in a newly heretical move, the traditional port houses of Porto, such as Crofts, or the Portuguese-owned Pocas established in 1918, are luring the millennial drinker with promises of a lighter, pinker, port. Their pretty, pale pink, rosé port is light and berry-fresh without being overly sweet, demolishing port's fusty slippers-and-cigars image with every sip. Serve over ice, or spritz with a splash of tonic. See pocas.pt
LITTLE MALOP STREET, GEELONG
The beating heart of Geelong – its dramatically old/new arts precinct, where the soaring honeycombed dome of the Geelong Library merges with the sculptural Performing Arts Centre and the historic Geelong Gallery – is now the eating heart of Geelong as well. Just metres away in Little Malop Street is a traffic-free laneway in which to drink and dine, with fun ramen at Sober Ramen, robata grills at Sumi, fried chicken and natural wines at Hot Chicken Project, fiercely local wines at Geelong Cellar Door, exemplary coffee at Cartel Coffee, craft beer and meatball at Big Ears and live music at Workers Geelong. It's the new eat beat. See gpac.org.au
BASQUE TOURS, SPAIN
Want to have lunch at a members-only gastronomic society? Want to eat a traditional paddock-to-plate meal in a Basque farmhouse? Want to enjoy a private visit to a family-run txakoli winery in Getaria? There's only one way to make these things happen, and that's with local who has the right connections. Noemi Lekube, a tour guide from Basque Tours, is that local. See basquetours.com
AUSTRALIANS IN NEW YORK, US
Feel like a flat white, sausage roll, or all-day breakfast? Then head for New York, baby, and check out all the Aussies bringing a little touch of Down Under sunshine to the Big Apple. Australian-owned cafes such as Ruby's, Little Collins, Brunswick, Flinders Street, Bluestone Lane, Two Hands, Toby's Estate and the all-pink Carthage Must Be Destroyed from Amanda Bechara of Alexandria's Bread and Circus, mean you're never too far from a lime-drenched crushed avocado on toast. New for 2019 is Surry Hills' Bourke Street Bakery (the sausage roll takes Manhattan), Marrickville's acclaimed Coffee Alchemy from Hazel de los Reyes and Clare Lim, and Peppi's Cellar from Restaurant Hubert's Jason Forte, where the negroni is made with Australia's Four Pillars gin and Regal Rouge Wild Rose. See peppiscellar.com
CEVICHE AT LA CASITA, BRUNSWICK HEADS, NSW
La Casita suits Brunswick Heads. It's a little roadside cottage, open to the elements, fired by wood and wreathed in smoke, with bare feet, cold beer and natural wines never too far away. And while there's nothing new about ordering ceviche in a Mexican restaurant, the ceviche at this hot, hot Northern Rivers Mexican cantina (from the crew behind the tiny, two-hatted Fleet) is something else again – not fish, but fresh, plump, local oysters marinated in mescal on a dice of cucumber and watermelon rind. See lacasita.com.au
The Portuguese capital was once known for pasteis de nata, the famous sweet tarts, and little else; however, Lisbon has been undergoing a foodie renaissance over the past few years, with a slew of high-quality, cosmopolitan eateries emerging. Check out Belcanto, holder of two Michelin stars, recently crowned No. 42 on the 50 Best list. Or try Bairro do Avillez, a sprawling emporium of impressive cuisine. And that's just the beginning. See visitlisboa.com
J. H. & M CHOAK TRADITIONAL CORNISH PASTIES, FALMOUTH, ENGLAND
As you walk up the hill towards J. H. & M Choak in the charming seaside village of Falmouth in south-western England, pretty much everyone you meet coming down is clutching a rather large Cornish pasty. Blame the Choak family, who have been making Cornish pasties to the same traditional recipe since 1948. They're meaty, using top quality beef skirt, and are chock-a-block with vegetables, with a real, peppery undercurrent. Order the Classic, because nobody should muck around with a Cornish pasty. See choakspasties.co.uk
Logrono is the capital of the La Rioja region, and the city has a thriving tapas culture all of its own. Many of the tiny bars along the famed Calle de Laurel serve only one dish – say, a tower of grilled mushrooms on a slice of bread, or an egg yolk wrapped in pastry and flash-fried – designed to match the local wines, and to be eaten on the run. It's buzzing, it's delicious and it's fun. See lariojaturismo.com
HIGHLAND PARK, LOS ANGELES, US
Forget Beverly Hills or Santa Monica, this low-key hangout in Los Angeles' unexplored north-east is the best new spot in the city for foodies in the know, with everything from hipster vegan cafes to the best pizza restaurants in southern California. Find them along Figueroa Boulevard, though don't be afraid to turn off the main drag and dig deeper. See discoverlosangeles.com
Rishi Naleendra was born in Sri Lanka, cooked at Sydney's Yellow and Tetsuya's, and opened Cheek by Jowl in Singapore in 2016, winning a Michelin star. Now he has the restaurant of his dreams, a 40-seat degustation fine diner in Singapore's hottest food street – Amoy Street. With a bold, transparently open kitchen at its very heart, this is a contemporary interpretation of both his own background and Singapore's multicultural heritage, married with a very Aussie love of the charcoal grill. The Sri Lankan yellow curry of binchotan-grilled WA marron with millet is the taste of Singapore right now. See cloudstreet.com.sg
SMORREBROD AT PALAEGADE, COPENHAGEN
"We are a team of young fresh minds, but our hearts beat for classic Danish cooking." So reads the website of the restaurant that has set a whole new benchmark for Danish smorrebrod, or open sandwiches. Former head chef of the venerable Restaurant Schoennemann, Karina Pedersen, heads a talented team redefining Copenhagen's favourite lunch. Don't miss the herring with crisp-crumbed egg; liver pate with bacon and pickled beetroot; and the soaring feat of engineering that is the pile of sweet little shrimp on toast. See palaegade.dk
SICHUAN MOON, MACAU
China's fascinating regional cuisines have long been ignored by the major global restaurant guides. Former three Michelin star chef Andre Chiang is about to change all that with his luxurious new fine diner, Sichuan Moon, in a gold-and-cream dining room adorned with an exquisite chandelier of 700 Murano glass butterflies at the splendiferous Wynn Palace Cotai in Macau. Dining here is a major commitment of both time and money as you journey through 32 courses, from an elegant Sichuan hot-and-sour soup dotted with precisely 15 drops of chilli oil, to hand-made noodles pulled from the spout of a teapot. See wynnpalace.com
FRITES MUSEUM, BRUGES, BELGIUM
The world's first – and so far, only – museum devoted to the humble potato chip, is housed in a splendid 14th-century building known as the Saaihalle, in downtown Bruges.When you've had your fill of picturesque canals, black swans, winding streets and cobbled squares, head here for a slow walk through history, from the origins of the potato in Peru, to all manner of chip-making paraphernalia. Like all single-subject museums, it is slightly hysterical, but ends by being quite fascinating. (Skip the fries in the cafe though, and head back out to the streets for fries alfresco). 33 Vlamingstraat, Bruges. See frietmuseum.be
O PITEU DA GRACA, LISBON, PORTUGAL
If you always wished you had a Portuguese grandmother, this is the restaurant for you. O Piteu da Graca is a classic, no-frills Lisbon eatery that does simple, traditional food and it does it extremely well. You can't go past the grilled sole, served with boiled potatoes and sauteed greens. Like O Piteu itself, it's far greater than the sum of its parts. See restauranteopiteu.pt
PIPIT'S BAY LOBSTER WITH HONEY AND GARLIC, POTTSVILLE, NSW
Earlier in 2019, Ben Devlin of the two-hatted Paper Daisy at Cabarita Beach, packed his bags and travelled all of seven kilometres south to Pottsville, where he set about redefining what he calls Australia's "coastal cuisine". That means no beef or lamb; just a focus on sustainable seafood and locally grown vegetables, in a breezy, informal, dining room open to the village's main street. Star of the show is a glazed and grilled bay lobster (Moreton Bay bug), that comes with broad, flat ribbons of potato cooked in buttery whey. See pipitrestaurant.com
BELON, HONG KONG
This oh-so-precise little jewel box of a French bistro is racing up the charts. Gifted young British chef Daniel Calvert has worked in London, New York and Paris – and now Hong Kong, opening Belon in 2015 with the Black Sheep restaurant group. His perfectly pitched cooking has a luxurious contemporary spin (the white asparagus and oscietra caviar dish is beamed directly from heaven). In 2019, it gained its first Michelin star and came in at No. 15 in Asia's 50 Best Restaurants Awards, making it HK's hardest restaurant to get into. Put it to your concierge as a test. See belonsoho.com
KOREAN BREW, SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA
Everyone is familiar with Japanese sake, but the Korean rice wine makgeolli is a mystery to most. The Insadong Taster Tour run by the Sool Company ("sool" meaning alcohol in Korean) introduces visitors to this popular drink, going to three very different makgeolli bars in the atmospheric back streets of a historic Seoul neighbourhood. With tasty food and funky decor in the mix, it's a refreshing night out. See thesoolcompany.com
PRINCELY WINERY, LIECHTENSTEIN
To eat like a king in Liechtenstein, you can start by drinking like a prince. The Hofkellerei des Fursten von Liechtenstein, otherwise known as the Princely Winery, has a scenic location above grapevines in the sleepy capital, Vaduz. Tastings and cellar tours are available, or you can simply enjoy the wine with a meal at the winery's bistro, or at its fine-dining restaurant Torkel with mountain views. See hofkellerei.li
SOLITARY RAMEN, FUKUOKA, JAPAN
Ramen is a serious business in Japan, and even more so in the outlets of Ichiran. On entering, the diner orders a serve of Fukuoka's famous Hakata ramen from a vending machine, tailoring the ingredients. Then the noodle dish with its slow-cooked pork broth is delivered from behind a screen to your seat in a solo alcove. Sit, slurp, and contemplate the infinite as you enjoy the flavour. See ichiran.com
WESTWARD, SEATTLE, US
Seattle is not a dress-to-impress kind of place. So although Westward is known not only for its superb seafood but also for the best view in town, it's perfectly fine to rock up in a fleece. Perched on the shores of Lake Union, Westward has a dedicated oyster bar as well as a daily selection of ocean-fresh seafood. Don't forget to order some vegie sides fresh from the wood-fired oven. See westwardseattle.com
CASA JULIAN, TOLOSA, SPAIN
Since 1954, Casa Julian, a traditional Basque eatery in the northern Spanish town of Tolosa, has been serving one dish: steak. Sure, there are a few starters and a couple of desserts, but the main menu consists solely of beef. It's also some of the best in Spain, possibly even the world, cooked over fire by passionate chefs in charming surrounds. See casajulianmg.com
HOTEL LA ROUTE D'ARGENT, NASBINALS, FRANCE
French breakfasts are generally simple affairs – bread with jam and coffee. This unpretentious establishment, however, serves a breakfast fit for pilgrims, which is good as it sits on a major pilgrim route – the Le Puy Camino. Expect a feast of orange juice, Aubrac cheeses and "charcuterie de pays", croissants, all-you-can-eat baguettes, butter, jam, bottomless good coffee, hot chocolate or tea. From Nasbinals it's a steep climb onto the Aubrac Plateau, so this fortifying €9.50 repast is pilgrim gold. See bastide-nasbinals.com/
PODVORYE, ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA
What does a man like Putin do for his birthday? He comes here, to the log-house restaurant billed as the most authentically Russian in Russia, to feast on massive portions of hearty local fare such as borsch, beef stroganoff and roast elk. It's all washed down with vast lakes of vodka to Russian folkloric tunes and songs, with the audience given musical instruments to join in. Kitsch? Absolutely. But fun? Enormously. See podvorye.ru/
FYNKOS, KIRSTENBOSCH BOTANICAL GARDENS, CAPE TOWN,
This much-loved-by-Capetonians cafe-restaurant in the upper part of Kirstenbosch offers Pamela Shippel-Granoth's fresh home-cooked breakfasts, lunches and teas. Tourists often use the lower carpark, happening upon the lower restaurants first. But it's worth heading further uphill to Fynbos. Dishes include Pamela's beef bobotie, Cape pickled fish, salads, cakes, scones, good coffee, Callebaut Belgian hot chocolate, and, yes, it sounds weird, but the famous anchovy toast – balls of whipped butter and anchovies melting into wholegrain toast with a fresh salad. See ktr.co.za/
LA RIOJA, SPAIN
Spain's most famous wine region offers the chance to visit classic vineyards in spectacular terroir, that also feature some of the most interesting modern architecture around. There's Bodegas Ysios, with its stunning, wave-like cellar; Vina Real, which looks like a Bond villain lair; Baigorri, with its glass tower overlooking the vines; and the Frank Gehry-designed Marques de Riscal. See lariojaturismo.com
From an early age, Malcolm Lee was taught the traditional Peranakan cooking of the Malay Straits by his Nyonya mother. Now he has elevated those classic dishes to a whole new wine-friendly level in the only Peranakan restaurant in the world to win a Michelin star, Candlenut, housed in the classy Como Dempsey restaurant precinct. Lee makes all his rempahs (spice pastes) from scratch, and the care shows in a scorchy, spicy lamb neck satay; a rich, creamy yellow coconut curry of blue swimmer crab; and turmeric and Tiger beer-battered prawns with a green sambal hijau. See comodempsey.sg/restaurant/candlenut
AIR FRANCE, TAIPEI TO PARIS, BUSINESS CLASS MEALS
Airline food, even in business, can be unlovely – pre-cooked, chilled, stodgy, altitude-dulled. Air France uses quality, simple ingredients for unusually elegant, fresh dishes from Michelin-starred "grands chefs". My lunch, for example, is a delicate, zucchini-wrapped salmon tartare and chicken roulade "a la truffe", a glass of Taittinger, a clean, crisp salad, perfectly sauteed beef with cepes sauce au vin and steamed vegetables, a 2015 bordeaux, then a perfect slice of roquefort and excellent coffee. See airfrance.com.au/
SLATE, CLARE VALLEY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Photo: Daniel Blackman
First there was the on-site brewery, then a new tasting room; now Pikes Winery has upped the ante even further with its superb Slate restaurant. The sleek interiors feature native stone and timbers, and chef Max Stephenson's menu uses local ingredients in sophisticated dishes such as buttermilk-marinated lamb with spiced grains, kale, smoked eggplant and puffed rice. Seafood fans will love the hotpot with carrot puree and saffron broth. See pikeswines.com.au
OMAANDA, WINDHOEK EAST, NAMIBIA
Namibia isn't a foodie destination, but the Ambo Delights restaurant at Omaanda, one of Namibia's newest and most luxurious lodges, could change that. Set in an exquisitely styled hut overlooking the savannah and helmed by Belgian chef Annelie Maes, the focus is on local produce and game meats. The Omaanda breakfast, an egg hidden inside a seasoned meat ball, served on house-made spicy baked beans, is almost as sensational as the dinner menu's oryx steak with mieliepap and ratatouille. Their edge-of-the-world gin bar is where you'll be between game drives. See zannierhotels.com/omaanda.
THE PEARL DISTRICT, SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
A reimagined late-1800s brewery spanning 16 city blocks, the hip Pearl District has become San Antonio's culinary hub. Home to 19 restaurants and cafes, including the meat-focused Cured set inside the brewery's century-old administration building, it also houses a new food hall, the Culinary Institute of America, and a twice-weekly farmers market. You'll likely end up eating almost all of your San Antonio meals here. See atpearl.com.
Photo: Albert Mollon
Press the buzzer on the door of what looks like a historic apartment building on a busy Barcelona street, and it will mysteriously click open. Go up the darkened stairs as if to somebody's apartment, and you have arrived at one of the most provocative restaurants in Barcelona. Jordi Vila's super-modernist, six table Alkimia restaurant pushes the boundaries of Catalan cooking by combining traditional techniques with a Japanese aesthetic – such as the much-loved "pa am tomaquet'' of tomato-smeared bread coming as nigiri sushi. See alkimia.cat
LE NORD, LYON, FRANCE
In Lyon, France's gastronomic capital, the first brasserie the late, great Paul Bocuse opened in 1994 still holds its own. The Michelin chef's menu features the classics of the "cuisine de tradition Lyonnaise et Alsacienne". Fresh, seasonal dishes include Lyonnaise sausage pistachio brioche, Burgundy snails with parsley butter, coarse-grained andouillette sausage (if you dare – made with pork or veal intestines) and a gorgeous seared beaujolais beef fillet served with spinach and tiny, seasonal roasted potatoes. See brasseries-bocuse.com
NORWEGIAN TAPAS, BRYGGEN, NORWAY
Housed on Bergen's UNESCO heritage-listed Bryggen wharf, Bryggen Tracteursted could be a tourist trap. Instead it offers wonderful, curious "smakfulle smatterier" – Norwegian and Hanseatic-inspired tapas. Small, delicate dishes include reindeer tartare with Aquavit marinated egg yolk, King Oscar sardines with tomatoes and olives, Kattemat (catfood!) stewed cod cheeks, Aquavit marinated smoked salmon, Pinnekjott salted dried ribs of mutton, spiced herring, and, rather confrontingly, smoked whale with pickled vegetables and horseradish. Desserts include the charming spiced apple "veiled peasant girls". See bryggentracteursted.no
SIBILLA, TIVOLI, ITALY
Looking for the perfect day trip from Rome? Then hop on a train to Tivioli and spend an hour or two wandering around the beautiful Villa d'Este estate. When you are ready, stroll down to the nearby Sibilla restaurant, where you can gaze out over the ruin of a Roman temple as you dine. After your lunch – we recommend the squid stuffed with asparagus – take a post-prandial stroll to the nearby waterfalls. See ristorantesibilla.com
STREET FOOD NIGHT, FOUR SEASONS RESORT THE NAM HAI, HOI AN, VIETNAM
Every Thursday, the magnificent Four Seasons The Nam Hai throws a street food night, a fun and delicious (not to mention perfectly safe) entree into Hoi An's street food scene. Traditional food carts illuminated by lanterns line the pool, each offering an exquisitely executed local dish. Think steaming bowls of bun bo hue spicy beef noodle soup, crispy stuffed rice flour banh xeo pancakes, and barbecued skewers of pork, beef, chicken and calamari. See fourseasons.com/hoian.
MIDNIGHT COWBOY, AUSTIN, TEXAS
Set on Austin's anarchic Sixth Street, guests enter this reservations-only speakeasy using a secret buzzer marked "Harry Craddock" (a renowned 1920s bartender). Inside the narrow former brothel with its pressed tin ceiling and booth seats, bartenders wheel the drinks cart to your table to craft exceptional cocktails in front of you. Try the Afrikan Rif, a potent mix of rum and Moroccan spices, or the Rayon de Soleil, blending yellow chartreuse, golden vermouth and black lemon. See midnightcowboymodeling.com.
SORA SUSHI, OITA, JAPAN
Take everything you think you know about food and flip it on its head. In Japan, airports have excellent, high-end cuisine. Case in point: Oita, a tiny domestic hub on Kyushu island, which is the surprising host of a famed sushi restaurant, Sora. Japanese celebrities have been known to fly from Tokyo to Oita just to eat here. The horse mackerel nigiri is some of the best in the country. Well worth a stopover. See oita-airport.jp
ST-JEAN-DE-LUZ FARMERS MARKET, FRANCE
Every Tuesday and Friday, the southern French coastal hamlet of St-Jean-de-Luz buzzes with activity as farmers sell their wares from small stands outside the permanent Les Halles. What makes this market special is the quality of the local produce, which is incredibly high, with everything from cheese to bread to fish to vegetables to charcuterie sold direct from the source. See st-jean-de-luz.com
BA'THELI, MILAIDHOO ISLAND, MALDIVES
Ba'theli restaurant on elegant Milaidhoo Island is the archipelago's only Maldivian fine-dining restaurant, set in a recreated traditional dhoni boat jutting out into the lagoon. It doesn't get much more bucket-list than sitting on the deck at sunset, eating elevated versions of local dishes such as mashuni (coconut and tuna salad) and coconut milk poached fish and shellfish with island spices, while watching eagle rays feed in the water below. See milaidhoo.com
LA PLAGE, ASHWEM BEACH, GOA, INDIA
With its quirky artworks, umbrella-topped tables set in the sand and excellent music, La Plage is a favourite among Goa's style set. But it's the superb French fusion food (created by the French chef owners) that really sets it apart from the other beach "shacks'' lining Ashwem beach: think rare tuna with wasabi mashed potatoes or a luscious steak tartare, washed down with chilled rosé and followed by a dip in the ocean. See facebook.com/pages/La-Plage
CATALAN CALCOTADA, SPAIN
It happens every winter in the hills of Catalonia, as the calcots – long, sweet onions – come into season, and the celebrations of this unique ingredient begin. A "calcotada" is all about the roasting and the devouring of those onions, but it's also about the drinking of wine, the singing of songs, the time spent with family, and the preservation of Catalan culture. And it's absolutely delicious. See calganxo.com
HONG LIM COMPLEX, SINGAPORE
This local-favourite hawker centre might not have the fame of Maxwell Centre or Tiong Bahru, but it does feature a few excellent versions of Singapore's best street food. Don't miss the killer noodles at Outram Park Fried Kway Teow, the equally delicious pork version at High Street Tai Wah Pork Noodle, the laksa at Sungei Road Trishaw Laksa, or the award-winning wantons at Ji Ji Wanton Noodle Specialist. See visitsingapore.com
MAITENIA, CIBOURNE, FRANCE
This small, charming restaurant in Ciboure, a French-Basque village near the Spanish border, represents everything that's great about local cuisine. Maitenia serves as few as two entrees and two mains a day, dishes that utilise fresh produce bought from across the river in St-Jean-de-Luz, or direct from the trawlers that land nearby, cooked with minimum fuss, and paired with local, natural wines. See maitenia.com
COLLINE EMILIANE, ROME
Ordinarily it would be a crime to order tagliatelle alla bolognese in Rome – this is not a local dish. However, Colline Emiliane is a restaurant whose heart and whose culinary traditions lie in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, which makes eating its delicious food – Bologna's famous pasta sauce, as well as tortellini in brodo, cotoletta, and prosciutto – perfectly acceptable. See collineemiliane.com
LOR MEE, SINGAPORE
Lor mee is the Singaporean dish you've never heard of but need to try. This Chinese-Malay soup is notable for its thick, rich gravy, which is served with flat yellow noodles, a fish cake, a boiled egg, fresh coriander and chilli, and – best of all – "shark nuggets", hunks of battered, deep-fried fish. Try it at Lor Mee 178 in the Tiong Bahru hawker centre. See visitsingapore.com
Though its popularity is waning on the global scene, jerez, or sherry, is still very popular in Andalusia, and it's a complex and tasty drink worth getting to know. Work your way from fino sherry, the driest variety, to the likes of the darker, richer amontillado, the round and slightly sweet oloroso, and the elegant, sweet pedro ximenez. And do it at Las Teresas, a character-filled sherry bar in Seville. See andalucia.org
THE COCONUT CLUB, SINGAPORE
Its name and location – on Ann Siang Hill near Chinatown – make the Coconut Club sound like a tourist trap, but this friendly eatery is serving up a seriously good version of classic Malay nasi lemak. Every element is top-notch: the fragrant coconut rice, the chicken fried with lemongrass, galangal and turmeric, the perfectly fried egg, and the best chilli sauce in town. Save room for the cendol for dessert, too. See thecoconutclub.sg
SAN GIOVANNI, ROME
San Giovanni is a formerly shabby, working-class area of Rome that is still, admittedly, shabby and working-class in some parts; it's also, however, making a name for itself as a foodie hub, with a spate of high-quality restaurants and wine bars opening. Legendary pizzaiolo Stefano Callegari is churning out pies at Sbanco, chef Sarah Cicolini is cooking arguably Rome's best carbonara at Santo Palato, and Taberna Recina focuses on slow food paired with local wine. See turismoroma.it
CAOBA FARMS, ANTIGUA, GUATEMALA
Walk through Antigua's cobbled laneways to the outskirts of town and you'll find this bucolic gem, set in the outdoor gardens of an organic farm. The produce used in their salads, sandwiches, pizzas and organic juices is pulled from the farm, and the bread is made in-house. There's regular live music, a Saturday farmers market selling locally made products (the cacao wine is fantastic) and a small shop selling kombucha, raw chocolate and more. See caobafarms.com
GELATERIA LA ROMANA, VERONA
What is the perfect gelato flavour? It's probably pistachio, an absolute classic. Or is it? Just wait until you visit Gelateria La Romana, an old-school gelateria that features such distinctly modern combinations as ricotta, fig and caramel gelato, and white mascarpone with wild "fragoline" strawberries. We might just have a new champion. See gelaterialaromana.com
VALOIS, CHICAGO, US
A favourite haunt of former US President Barack Obama, this Chicago institution is among the best places in the city for a no-nonsense, inexpensive slap-up breakfast or hearty lunch. Breakfast classics include anything from steak and eggs, pancake stacks or omelets, while rotating lunch specials consist of blue-collar staples such as beef liver and onions, classic goulash, steaks and more. Service is blunt, fast and ruthlessly efficient. See valoisrestaurant.com
NUEMA, ILLA EXPERIENCE HOTEL, QUITO, ECUADOR
Hidden inside the new 10-room Illa Experience hotel in Quito, Nuema is an intimate restaurant specialising in Ecuadorian cuisine by chef Alejandro Chamorro (who worked at Noma and Astrid y Gaston) and his wife and pastry chef Piedad Salazar. The talented couple combine traditional recipes and ingredients with modern techniques to create a spectacular degustation menu of contemporary Ecuadorian cooking. See illaexperiencehotel.com
SUNDAY ROAST, THE ABBEVILLE, LONDON, ENGLAND
This village style gastro pub in Clapham serves one of the best Sunday roasts in the city. Using all free-range pork and chicken as well as beef aged in-house, the dishes are paired with classic English staples such as Yorkshire pudding, apple sauce, bread sauce, roasted potatoes, fresh vegetables and rich, dark gravy. Combine this lavish feast with a traditional English bitter and you'll never poke fun at Anglo cuisine again. See theabbeville.co.uk
JALAN ALOR, KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA
Forget the soulless, airconditioned food courts, the good stuff can be found at Kuala Lumpur's best loved eat street in the heart of the city. Comprising hundreds of different hawker stalls, restaurants, coffee stands and more, this is a hub for adventurous foodies who want to sample local specialties and delicious dishes at comparatively cheap prices. While a few venues open during the day, Jalan Alor really comes alive at night. See visitkl.gov.my
FRESH CRAB ROLLS AND CHOWDER, SPUD POINT CRAB CO,
The folks at this unassuming crab shack on the California Coast understand that quality ingredients speak for themselves. Their crab roll served on a soft bun is a simple blend of picked crab meat lightly seasoned with a homemade sauce, no unnecessary toppings piled up. Consequently, you can actually taste the freshness of the star ingredient and when paired with their earthy New England style white clam chowder, it's almost impossible to beat. See spudpointcrabco.com
BRITISH COMFORT FOOD, TEA AND SYMPATHY, NEW YORK CITY, US
Established in 1991, this delightful New York nook specialises in all time British classics. Favourites include shepherd's pie, Welsh rarebit, bangers and mash as well as fiendishly good deserts such as sticky toffee pudding or baked rhubarb crumble with custard. If you're looking for lighter fare, the fresh baked scones and clotted cream washed down with a simple cup of builder's tea are the finest you'll find outside Britain. See teaandsympathy.com
SACHA LODGE, AMAZON, ECUADOR
Peruvian chef Julio Avendano spent six months working with local indigenous groups to introduce more Amazon ingredients and recipes to the menu at Sacha Lodge, a stunning property on a 2000-hectare ecological reserve in the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon. The result is a lavish twice-weekly buffet lunch of Amazon produce including yucca soup, palm hearts, grated plantain, smoked pork and steamed catfish. See sachalodge.com
EDGE, NIYAMA, MALDIVES
Located half a kilometre offshore from Niyama Private Islands Resort in the Maldives, this spectacular floating restaurant is only accessible by boat. Arrive in time to savour a sigh-inducing ocean sunset with a glass of champagne, then settle down to an alfresco five-course seafood extravaganza featuring oysters with Kristal caviar, crab gratin dusted with truffle and succulent lobster wellington with miso lemon sauce. See niyama.com
PUESTO, SAN DIEGO, US
Mexican food rarely gets the acclaim it deserves. Puesto aims to change that. Utilising fresh, locally sourced ingredients and preparing everything in-house, this innovative eatery in the former San Diego Police Headquarters and its flagship property of six restaurants in California has elevated the humble taco to gourmet status. Standout combinations include the fillet mignon taco with spicy pistachio salsa and the smoked tuna taco with a tangy manzano pepper and corn sauce. See eatpuesto.com
PARADISE CLUB, NEW YORK
More than just a restaurant, this intimate venue inside the new Times Square Edition Hotel is a glamorous revival of the New York supper club. While guests enjoy a six-course sharing menu featuring oysters and nachos with caviar, an immersive burlesque theatre experience unfolds around them. Once the show's over, the tables are cleared away and the space morphs into a sophisticated nightclub. See editionhotels.com
HIGH NOTE SKYBAR, ARIA HOTEL, BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
Voted No. 1 hotel in the world by TripAdvisor in 2017, this gorgeous music-themed property's trump card is a stunning rooftop bar with gasp-inducing views of the city and St Stephen's Basilica. Featuring a split-level design with two private terraces accessed by spiral glass staircases, it's particularly enchanting at night when the space morphs into a romantic haven of twinkling lights. See highnoteskybar.hu
ENGLISH MUFFIN BURGER, R17, NEW YORK, US
Sometimes it's the most unlikely pairings that work the best. At R17, a new rooftop bar in the Seaport District overlooking the East River, they've wedged a dry-aged prime mince burger topped with cheddar cheese and green chilli mayo between two handmade English muffins. The result is a revelation – a succulent snack-sized burger with a subtle hint of spice. See r17nyc.com
PRONTO, LAS VEGAS, US
The latest venture from Emmy-winning chef Giada De Laurentiis plugs a glaring gap in Vegas' culinary repertoire – the stylish, affordable grab-and-go eatery. Located inside Caesars Palace, Pronto offers a tempting range of freshly made paninis, platters and pastries plus speciality brews by Counter Culture Coffee and more than 40 wines by the glass. Highlights include the lemon ricotta cookies and a dangerously quaffable grapefruit mimosa. See caesars.com
SUBSIX, NIYAMA, MALDIVES
Submerged six metres beneath the surface, Subsix is an underwater bar located a short speed boat ride from Niyama Private Islands Resort. After descending a chandelier-lined staircase, guests can enjoy a Deepwater daiquiri while parrotfish and groupers glide past floor-to-ceiling windows. Featuring funky sea anemone-inspired seating and a shell-covered ceiling, the venue is an atmospheric setting for the resort's weekly glow party. See niyama.com
The Spanish port town of Getaria has only 5000 residents, and yet it plays host to the 30th best restaurant in the world (the seafood eatery Elkano, according to the latest 50 Best list), as well Kaia Kaipe, a seafood joint that has earned Michelin's "plate" rating, plus a hugely popular and easily accessible pintxos bar scene, all set around cobbled old-town streets with ocean views. There are few better places to spend a hungry evening.See tourism.euskadi.eus
FISH CUTTER, CUZ'S FISH SHACK, BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS
The recipe for this traditional Barbados beach snack is deceptively simple: take a crusty Bajan salt bread roll and fill it with a fried fillet of freshly caught marlin and salad, then smother it in mayo, barbecue or hot sauce. It's sold all over the island, but ask anyone and they'll invariably recommend Cuz's Fish Shack near Bridgetown. See cuzsfishshack.restaurantsnapshot.com
CONNIE, TWA HOTEL, NEW YORK, US
The standout feature of the new TWA Hotel in New York's JFK Airport is Connie, an intimate cocktail bar located in a refurbished 1958 TWA Lockheed Constellation Starliner. Sink into a generous armchair-style seat, sip on a martini with a swizzle stick and enjoy a nostalgic soundtrack of classic '60s tunes by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Petula Clark. See twahotel.com
NEWSTEAD BREWING COMPANY, QLD
Brisbane's craft brewery scene continues to evolve with the Newstead Brewing Company opening a second brewpub in Milton, conveniently located opposite Suncorp Stadium. Newcomers will enjoy the easy-drinking Golden Ale and Session Ale while more intrepid suppers will appreciate Newstead's experimental brews, such as the toe-curling 9.2 per cent barrel-fermented double red. A glass-fronted production facility means you can watch the brewers in action. See newsteadbrewing.com.au
TIPSY SNOWMAN, FOUR SEASONS, WHISTLER, CANADA
An Instagram sensation, the Tipsy Snowman is an adorable snowman made out of marshmallows who comes propped up in a mug of hot chocolate spiked with a liqueur of your choice (we recommend Baileys or Frangelico). Served from a cute retro 1960s campervan parked next to the Four Seasons' outdoor firepit, the drink sets a new benchmark for apres ski indulgence. See fourseasons.com/whistler
Who knew Japan produced wine? It turns out the Nagano prefecture on the main island of Honshu has quietly been making excellent wines for years. You'll find refreshing sparklings made from the lesser-known ryugan grape, fruity sauvignon blancs, delicate sangioveses and rich, full-bodied merlots. Comprised of four high-elevation wine-producing valleys, the area has more than 30 wineries, many of which offer tours and tastings. See nagano-wine.jp/english
JAMBU CACHACA, BRAZIL
Cachaca is the distilled sugarcane spirit in Brazil's national drink, the caipirinha. Feeling adventurous? Try it infused with the mildly anaesthetic Amazonian jambu leaf. At first, you'll feel some tingling on your lips and tongue, then a sudden rush of saliva and finally an explosion of saltiness as it shuts down three of your four tastebuds. Sample it on an Eat Rio food tour. See eatrio.net
EAT RIO FOOD TOUR, RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
Led by Lonely Planet writer Tom Le Mesurier, this entertaining tour showcases traditional Brazilian cuisine in parts of Rio few tourists visit. Expect to sample a mildly anaesthetic Amazonian soup, a bouncy tapioca pancake and a cinnamon-dusted Portuguese egg custard tart. The tour concludes with a hearty three-course feast of north-eastern cooking including mashed cassava and coconut shrimp stew. See eatrio.net
TREE RESTAURANT AT SIX SENSES KRABEY ISLAND, CAMBODIA
Former Saffire Freycinet chef Todd Adams has run off to the jungle to headline the restaurant of the glamorous new resort on a gloriously green island off Cambodia. He's using ingredient from local farmers and his own organic farm as well as freshly caught seafood to serve a modern Khmer take on traditional dishes, including coconut-poached free-range chicken and a tangy lime and pomelo Cobia crudo, all eaten with drop-dead views of the ocean. See sixsenses.com
CYCLING GIN SAFARI, LONDON, UK
It's tempting to think of the current gin obsession as a new craze but it's nothing compared to the drink's popularity in London during Victorian times. Learn more on this entertaining gin-themed cycling tour around the lesser-known suburbs of Bermondsey and Southwark. Along the way, you'll visit a 1000-year-old food market, London's largest street art gallery and, of course, sample plenty of gin. See tallyho.cc
AL TERRACE, SOUQ WAQIF, DOHA, QATAR
The best Lebanese feast outside Beirut is served daily in Doha, either inside, in the moody dark interior, or outside on a sunny alfresco terrace next to the sights and sounds of the market. Try it on a Qatari stopover and order the stunningly nutty hummus Beiruti with fava beans, paprika and chopped pickles, and the monstrous mixed grill with the lamb kofta, shish taouk and lamb kebab. See tivolihotels.com/en/
MELEA, PALACE GATE HOTEL, PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA
A favourite of Australian Geraldine Cox, the saviour of so many local orphans, this fine-dining restaurant has both top-line French fare and Cambodian dishes done with real flair. Many of its herbs and vegetables are picked from the hotel's rooftop, the only organic garden of its kind in the country. It's a serene setting for sampling specialities such as Mekong river lobster in lemongrass liquid with organic fresh herbs and lime juice. See mealeapalacegate.com/
HELI-PUB CRAWL, BRISBANE, QLD
This is one of many food and drink-themed tours offered by Pterodactyl Helicopters from its base in Kholo, 35 kilometres west of Brisbane. Led by the affable Captain Mike, Pterodactyl can create a tailored itinerary that includes visits to character-filled country pubs, wineries, luxury retreats such as Spicers Hidden Vale and lesser-known destinations such as Summer Land Camel Farm (try the milk – it's amazing). See pterodactylhelicopters.com.au
IVY BRASSERIE IN ST JOHN'S WOOD, LONDON
Character, atmosphere and fab food – and for not too much cash at all, a rarity in London these days. There are art deco interiors, bird paintings everywhere and three-course set lunches for just £21. Go-to dishes include blackened cod fillet, baked in a banana leaf with a soy and sesame marinade, served with citrus-pickled fennel, grilled broccoli, chilli and yuzu mayonnaise and a gorgeously gooey chocolate bombe. See theivystjohnswood.com
DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA
Cape Town is an obvious gourmet destination, but Durban's the secret you should discover. The largest Indian city outside of India, try Indian-fused street food, like samosas (samoosas) and Durban's iconic Bunnie Chow – a quarter-loaf of bread hollowed out and filled with curry. The largest city in the Zulu kingdom, try shisa Nyama (barbecued meats), while afternoon teas are mandatory at Durban's colonial-era hotels. See visitdurban.travel/
MANHATTAN BEACH POST, LOS ANGELES
Got a few hours to kill before that 10.50pm flight home from LAX? Manhattan Beach, a 15-minute drive away, is LA's most under-rated beach-side address and offers travellers one last Californian sunset; and one last wholesome dinner on share plates from a Michelin-starred chef at communal tables amongst exposed rafters and a whole lot of reclaimed timber. See eatmbpost.com
NY used to take the glory as America's top food city, but no more. Chicago is now the US's best restaurant city (ranked by culinary bibles like Bon Appetit), with its finest restaurants, like Alinea, ranked inside the world's top five. But it's not just fancy fare, Chicago serves the country's best burgers at gastro pubs, while city icons such as deep-dish pizza and Chicago dogs are the stuff of legends. See choosechicago.com
HAVEN, SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA
Food that tastes good and makes you feel great is the order of the day at this training restaurant for vulnerable and underprivileged young people from orphanages, shelters and poor rural areas. The service might be a tad slow, but it's heartfelt, as diners eat everything from chef's pork ribs to banana flower salad and banana crumble with mango sorbet at tables around a leafy courtyard basking in a beautiful ambience. See havencambodia.com
BAR WA IZAKAYA, NORTH HOBART, TAS
Not so long ago a dinner out in Hobart meant either a steak, or Chinese. Not any more, especially in north Hobart which looks more Brooklyn than backwater. While some of the most lauded restaurants have taken to charging accordingly, Bar Wa Izakaya brings a Japanese gastro-pub to Tasmania, while keeping prices down and the vibe relaxed.There are two bars to eat at, or dine alfresco on Hobart's long summer nights. See barwaizakaya.com
LABART, BURLEIGH HEADS, QLD
One of Sydney's most innovative chefs, Alex Munoz (ex-Monopole and Cirrus Dining) packed his bags and moved north to start his first restaurant. He didn't go to Byron Bay, or Noosa; instead he saw the potential on the Gold Coast, creating a cute Parisian-style 60 seat-restaurant in the middle of Burleigh Heads. Book ahead. See restaurantlabart.com.au
WAN CHAI, HONG KONG
Once most famous for its red light district, Wan Chai is gentrifying fast, becoming one of Hong Kong's best underground foodie 'hoods. In a city with the highest ratio of restaurants to eaters on Earth, isn't it nice to think there's still a secret food hot-spot? Michelin-starred secrets hide between cheap noodle joints, beside some of the best rooftop bars in Hong Kong. See discoverhongkong.com/au
HAMAMATSU EEL, JAPAN
The Japanese town of Hamamatsu sits right beside a large lake that just happens to be Japan's No. 1 location for farming freshwater eels. This highly prized seafood is sent around the country, but it's also prepared to perfection at many of Hamamatsu's restaurants, which cook them in both the Tokyo style (steamed then grilled) and the Osaka style (just grilled), served over rice in traditional lacquerware boxes. See jnto.org.au
BAMBU RORAS, BALI, INDONESIA
Does Bali even do Balinese food any more? Wander the streets of Canggu or Seminyak and you'll find cuisine from every other country on Earth … but Bali. But new restaurant, Bambu Roras, serves quintessential Indonesian cuisine in a secret temple in the middle of Kuta – an oasis from the T-shirt hawkers. Sample the satay chicken, and finish with padan crepes with coconut and palm sugar. See bamburoraskutabali.com
WEST LOOP, CHICAGO
Chicago was voted the No. 1 food and drink city on Earth in a poll of 34,000 people in 48 cities by Time Out magazine, and the No. 1 food neighbourhood nominated was the West Loop. Formerly a no-go zone, it's now wall-to-wall with bars, restaurants and cafes run by the city's most innovative entrepeneurs, with a new eatery opening weekly. See choosechicago.com
One of Tokyo's more traditional districts, Yanaka still has an old town atmosphere because its buildings were spared the bombing which destroyed many parts of the city during World War II. It's also Tokyo's culinary secret. In a city regarded as the world's best food destination, Yanaka is still to be discovered by tourists, meaning you'll find inexpensive restaurants where only locals eat. See gotokyo.org/en/
Take a gastronomy cruise through provincial France to the towns where your dishes originate from. Itineraries are planned to visit regions with celebrated food histories, and you'll eat dishes whose ingredients all come from the area, prepared by French chefs. Take a cruise through the Treasures of Brittany, or explore French wine on a Vineyards and Gastronomy tour. See en.ponant.com
BURLEIGH HEADS, GOLD COAST, QLD
The best meal at Burleigh Heads used to come with chips at the local surf club. Now it's the Gold Coast's best restaurant zone. Walk up hidden laneways to the Coast's best new restaurants like Iku Yakatori or Restaurant Labart, or sit a few metres above the waves at Queensland's No. 1 rated eatery, Rick Shores, or next door at Burleigh Pavilion. See destinationgoldcoast.com.au
TASTE OF SWITZERLAND PROGRAM, SWISS AIR
Fly first or business class with Swiss Air and you can eat from the Taste of Switzerland program. The menu changes every three months, and is selected by a guest chef who must have a restaurant in Switzerland with Michelin stars and Gault Millau points. See swissair.com/ch/en/
Think of food cities in South America and it's Lima and Buenos Aires that come to mind. Santiago never got a look in, until now. But there's a culinary renaissance going on, led by Santiago's incredible seafood, caught off its 4000 kilometre-plus coastline. And there's fine dining options that rate among South America's Top 10 restaurants, and the whole city barbecues come summer – a sensation for the nose. See chile.travel/en/
BOTAFOGO, RIO, BRAZIL
Rio has never been highly regarded as a food destination – but now Botafogo is changing the way the world feels about the city's restaurants. Cheap rents have attracted a wave of innovative young chefs and new-age entrepeneurs to create some of Brazil's most unusual bars and restaurants. Get creative. See visitbrasil.com
CLOUD NINE, FIJI
There are far hipper bars in the South Pacific – but what can really be better than a two-level floating platform bar anchored in the middle of a blue-water lagoon that serves pizzas straight out of a wood-fired oven to wash down your Fiji Bitter? Book a 40-minute speedboat transfer from Port Denarau and spend your day at play. See cloud9.com.fj/
NATIONAL AIRLINE SERVING NATIONAL FOOD, AIR INDIA
No airline's food has undergone a larger transformation than Air India's. Its food was infamous – greasy chunks of unknown meats served in oily curries only those with cast-iron stomachs should risk. But in the past five years, they've introduced a lighter offering of India's most iconic national dishes – especially on Dreamliner flights from Australia's east coast. See airindia.in
MAYLANDS LODGE, NEW TOWN, TASMANIA
Although you're staying in one of Hobart's grandest old mansions (built by colonial architect, Henry Hunter) with all the old-world grandeur of the late 19th century, there's an intimacy to eating at lodge restaurant, Deodara. Chefs grow, then forage, ingredients in the gardens outside, and the cosy setting is the ideal environment for a paddock-to-plate menu which changes with what's available each weekend. See maylandslodge.com.au
THREE BLUE DUCKS, W HOTEL, BRISBANE, QLD
The first foray into hotels for Bronte (and Byron) chef/ restaurateur team, Three Blue Ducks, this collection of surfing chefs bring their laid-back coastal vibe and sustainable, paddock-to-plate fundamentals to Brisbane, at the city's first new five-star hotel in 20 years. There's Michelin training in their pedigree, but dining isn't about three-hour-long degustation dinners, it's local produce served in simple dishes.See threeblueducks.com.au
DELFIN 1, PERU
Cruise down the Amazon from Iquitos on a luxury boat with just four suites and a restaurant whose decor changes entirely with every meal, that's rated within the top 10 of Peru's best restaurants. Enjoy classic Amazonian dishes such as patarashka – fresh fish marinated in tomato and onion sauce, wrapped in local bijao leaves all amongst fine crystal, sparkling china and romantic candlelight. See delfinamazoncruises.com
WHAT WE DO AND DON'T WANT TO SEE IN RESTAURANTS
CAN WE HAVE MORE OF ...
Four-hour lunches that take days to prepare? Yes please. Slow food is good food, which is something travellers are beginning to appreciate, setting aside as much time for a lovingly prepared meal as they would for a museum visit or walking tour.
Cucina povera is Italy's "food of the poor" – traditional recipes that extract the most flavour from humble vegetables and cheap cuts of meat – and it's surging in popularity, making its way onto restaurant menus not only in its homeland, but across the world, with off-cuts and comfort foods gaining popularity in France, in the UK and in the US, among others.
FEMALE CHEFS AND WINEMAKERS
From Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn in the US) to Elena Arzak (Arzak in Spain); from Virginia Willcock (Vasse Felix in Margaret River) to Maria Larrea (CVNE in Rioja) – women are blazing a food and wine trail across the world in these traditionally male-dominated industries, and we'd love to see more of it. (And fewer condescending awards like 50 Best's "Best Female Chef".)
Plenty of chefs around the world are forgetting what's trendy and ignoring the temptation to tinker with too many gels and foams, choosing instead to concentrate on what's fresh and local. It's the perfect approach.
Why does every half-decent New Zealand restaurant have it on the menu, but it's almost impossible to find in Australian restaurants despite it having more protein than any other red meat and more iron than beef?
FOOD BLOGGER RUNNING TOURS
In Rome and in Barcelona, in Dubai and in Singapore, and in so many other cities, local food bloggers have begun running their own walking and tasting tours, which are a great way to discover new local eateries you might otherwise have missed.
Australia produces some amazing, world-class wine, but there aren't many bargains out there. In the likes of Portugal, South Africa and even Argentina, meanwhile, you'll find many examples of high-quality wines that are eminently affordable, even in the best restaurants.
AUSSIE CAFES OVERSEAS
Australian-style cafes are popping up everywhere in the world, either owned by Aussies or influenced by them, serving great food and even better coffee. We selfishly hope this trend keeps going, so we can order a decent flat white and smashed avo no matter how far we roam.
COOKING CLASSES FOR THOSE WHO CAN ACTUALLY COOK
Plenty of people want to take a cooking class while they're travelling, to gain an insight into the local cuisine and take a few new skills home with them. However, most classes are pitched at those who don't know a lot about cooking. We would love to see more classes for those who can already do the basics and want to learn more.
We can't all imbibe – some of us have to drive, or we're pregnant and Australians are abstaining from booze like never before (26 per cent of Australians don't drink at all), so Wouldn't it be good to see restaurants offer non-drinkers a lot more than water, soft drink or tea?
The Australian Indigenous culture is the oldest on Earth (65,000 years and counting) – so why can't Indigenous dishes (or best of all: Aboriginal dishes cooked by Aboriginal chefs) be a much bigger part of the Australian culinary landscape?
LEGITIMATE AND HEALTHY KIDS' MEAL OPTIONS
Adults can eat food from every country's cuisine on Earth in Australia; yet their kids still must choose between chicken and chips, spaghetti Bolognese or fish and chips. Isn't it time restaurants let kids eat healthy too?
Australia has two kangaroos for every person: wild kangaroo levels have become unsustainable and yet the meat (which has less than two per cent fat) of culled kangaroos is being wasted because of lack of demand.
FREE SNACKS AND DRINKS IN THE MINI-BAR
With the rise of boutique hotels in Australia, hotel groups are beginning to understand that when we pay hundreds – even thousands – of dollars a night for a room, it's insulting to be charged $10 for the packet of chips we consumed, or $15 for a local beer that's $3 at the local bottle shop.
Bar dining is ideal for those dining solo (and let's face it, there's plenty of us), and it gives couples and groups an opportunity to make dining out a bona fide social event.
Almost every restaurant on the planet now claims it's "farm to table" or "plate to paddock". So prove it. Don't just tell us the name of the places you're sourcing key ingredients from, tell us where they are and what makes them sustainable so we can make informed decisions about what to order.
BETTER FOOD IN ECONOMY
It's clearly possible to serve tasty, nutritious food on planes (they do it in business class all the time), so how about some of that love in Economy? We don't need five courses, tablecloths and fancy silverware, just a healthy main meal that's not an endurance test in blandness.
You try and do the right thing by carrying a reusable water bottle but then spend hours searching for somewhere to fill it up. We'd like more bubblers please, in cities, shopping centres and particularly in airports so we can refill our bottles after passing through security.
LOCAL FOOD AT AIRPORTS
How depressingly infrequent is it to find an airport with authentic, local cuisine rather than the same handful of global fast food chains? Here's a thought: if you offer decent dining options people can't find elsewhere, passengers may actually want to hang out there.
Bigger isn't always better. Wouldn't it be great if more restaurants offered half-size portions (particularly in the US where the average appetiser could feed a family of four)? Not only would it reduce food wastage, but it would also mean a group could share several dishes rather than everyone being lumbered with a towering mountain of food.
AND LESS OF ….
Doesn't going out for a meal involve the interaction you have with your waiters? Don't you like feeling warm and fuzzy when you get a really friendly waiter? If they can have servers at McDonald's, why make us use iPads at restaurants?
It's the indie darling of the wine world – "skin-contact" orange wine is now served in the best restaurants around the world; but doesn't it really just taste like kerosene?
DEGUSTATION MENUS BEYOND FIVE COURSES
Unless you're a food tragic, who wants to sit for three hours-plus waiting on minuscule offerings from the kitchen that just tease our stomachs, with each course requiring a long, detailed explanation thereby making conversation next to impossible.
Dry out a stick of broccoli, ground it into a fine paste and scoop it into your coffee – it's the latest health trend taking off in Australia; with two tablespoons of broccoli powder equal to one serve of vegetables. Although here's another idea: eat your vegetables and leave our coffees alone.
FOAMS AND ACIDS
Come on chefs, let's move on … it was fun while it lasted but now we'd just as soon eat real food again … please.
TAKING YOUR PLATE
Nothing like putting the spotlight on the slow eater of the table, or highlighting which of your group eats far too fast than a waiter clearing plates away as we finish. While it's common etiquette throughout Europe and the US to let us all finish first, too many wait staff in Australian restaurants don't follow this basic rule.
While most of us are fans of mood lighting, couldn't we at least have enough light so we don't have to use the torch on our iPhones to read the menu?
The food's terrible, the prices are high and people only go because they think that famous bloke or woman on TV somehow had something to do with what you're about to eat. But they didn't - they were too busy on TV.
LET US SIT FOR A MINUTE
You might know your menu inside out, but we don't; ordering the first drink of the night can set the tone of our whole meal so give us a few minutes to get it right. Same goes with breakfast, unless we're regulars, don't assume we all have the same coffee order every day and so don't need to see the menu first.
Give us five minutes from the start, that's all we need. Before you've even sat down, your waiter is asking if you're ready to order. If you tell them no, you'll need a minute, do you wonder too which black hole it is they disappear into for the next 20 minutes?
Menus that just list the ingredients – "okra, sesame, black garlic, jus" – but not the way they're prepared, inevitably forcing diners to either guess at what they're about to receive, or ask the waiter to describe the dish properly, are a pretentious nightmare. Make it stop.
Devouring a five-kilo hamburger patty isn't impressive. Making an extremely tasty burger, however, is. There's a trend towards competitive eating, particularly in down-home bars and restaurants in the US, although even in places like Japan. We would prefer this was replaced with a desire to just make tasty food.
Cocktails topped with fairy floss? Consommé served in a miniature bathtub? Absolutely everything topped with edible flowers? Please stop with these quirky, over-the-top creations clearly designed purely to make a splash on Instagram.
Britain has made great strides in recent years in improving its coffee culture, but not aboard its trains. We'd love it if British train companies realised that coffee should taste
stronger than hot water. In the meantime, we'll order tea when riding the UK rails.
REASONABLY PRICED HOUSE WINES
We understand restaurants make a substantial degree of their profits on marked up booze but paying $15 for a modestly poured glass of wine is just irksome, it's really hard not to feel ripped off. There is a cosy Italian restaurant in my neighbourhood offering an eminently quaffable house red for $6. Consequently, I go there all the time, I order more food, I drink more wine. Everyone's a winner. More places should do this.
TINY EXORBITANTLY PRICED "TAPAS" DISHES
What is it with tapas? Ordinarily people would balk at paying $20 for a tiny bowl of sautéed mushrooms or a couple of canned anchovies draped over a tomato but apply the word tapas and suddenly everyone's clamouring for it. Be honest, how many times have you been out for "tapas" with friends, spent a fortune and come home only to raid the fridge?
If I wanted my dinner to look like the video to Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart, I'd have asked for it. Mucking about with foams, liquid nitrogen and thermal immersion toys doesn't automatically make you an artiste to be revered. It makes you someone with rich friends, delusions of grandeur and way too much time on your hands. Get on and cook.
FOOD INFLUENCERS AND BLOGGERS
Entitled, drunk on their perceived power and strangely lacking in any discernible skill or talent. That's quite enough about travel writers, how about those influencers then? We're quite sure there's some good ones out there (no really) but for every one of those, there's the influencer all too happy to hold a business to ransom over the power of a tweet, demand outrageous freebies in exchange for 'exposure' and care far more about their own click rates and subscription numbers than the subject they claim to be an expert in. And can you please stop photographing my soup now, I'm ready to eat…
Some of the world's most impressive five-star hotel breakfast buffets let themselves down by using single-serve plastic containers of butter and jam. You've had teams of people working since dawn to prepare this lavish feast – how hard would it be to offer butter, jam and other condiments in reusable containers and let guests help themselves?
A big thumbs down to any establishment that is still using plastic straws. For a start, there are reusable metal or paper alternatives but, more importantly, how many drinks genuinely need a straw anyway?
The recent explosion of gins has made the previously simple task of ordering a gin and tonic a harrowingly complex task. Now we have to navigate a sea of fruit and berry-infused spirits plus an equally bewildering range of tonics. Please, no more gin varieties – we have plenty.
You're running a restaurant, not a nightclub. Background music is essential for creating a warm and congenial atmosphere, but let's keep it in the background. Don't make diners bellow at each other over a deafening soundtrack just to make themselves heard.
RUSTIC SUGAR LUMPS
They make look fancy and "artisanal" but these nuggety sugar lumps are really the work of the devil. You spend ages fingering through them to find one that's the right size (a hygiene issue in itself), then the cursed thing takes so long to dissolve your coffee goes cold. The same goes for those weird sugar-coated swizzle sticks you find in the US. Granulated sugar will do nicely, thank you very much.
It may look schmick and fancy but designer cutlery is often awkward to handle and topples over like a drunken Weeble when you set it back down. There's a reason why the standard knife and fork design has lasted so long – it works.
Dear wait staff, don't make someone feel bad about ordering tap water rather than the fancy bottled stuff. Perhaps they don't like sparkling water or don't want to create yet more recycling. Or maybe they just don't see the point of paying for something that already flows for free out of the tap. Either way, it doesn't mean they're unsophisticated or cheap.
THE CRUMB-CLEARING DEBACLE
Is there anything more awkward than trying to continue a conversation while a waiter diligently sweeps up the flotsam and jetsam from your previous course? Unless I've accidentally knocked over a glass of wine, a seafood tower or my dining companion, please don't come rushing over with your scraper or miniature dustpan and brush – I can cope with a few crumbs.
THE NAPKIN DEBACLE
Has anyone mastered the art of feigning indifference while a stranger drapes a napkin over your nether regions? We all know what a napkin is for and where it goes – we'll put it in the appropriate place when we're good and ready, thank you kindly.