The best food and drink travel experiences of 2017


Bruny Island, Tasmania

It's just a 100-kilometre long dot off the coast of Tasmania but Bruny Island is a foodie paradise. There's the Bruny Island Cheese Company, Get Shucked oysters, a chocolate-cum-fudge factory, a berry farm and Bruny Island Premium Wines (the most southerly vineyard in Australia) which knocks out cold climate pinot noir and chardonnay. Wherever you go on the island you'll also find Bruny Island Game Meat for sale, all shot locally. Go hungry. See


Octopus salad, Oliver Avenida restaurant, Hotel Avani, Lisbon

Chef Olivier da Costa is a bit of a culinary poster boy in Portugal – and deserves to be known further afield, if only for his softly delicious octopus salad. Thinly sliced and served carpaccio style with chopped tomato, red onion, bell peppers and coriander on a long rectangular plate, it not only tastes wonderful but is so perfectly arranged that it's a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach.



Bia Hoi, Hanoi

Hanoi's "bia hoi" bars – rowdy, cheap neighbourhood joints that brew their own beer and serve affordable and tasty food to go with it – are the perfect venues for anyone looking to mix with locals and sample authentic cuisine. Simply pull up a plastic stool at a low table, order a beer for less than $1, grab snacks like fried quail or air-dried beef, and soak up the atmosphere.



Sundowners don't come much better than the Countess with its perfect juxtaposition of sweet and sour. The citrusy wonder, served up by talented bartenders at the Fish Bar at the new Marriott Fiji Momi Bay, is a zingy mix of vodka, Limoncello, Campari and fresh grapefruit juice, served over ice with flamed orange zest. The Countess is best enjoyed watching a blazing Fiji sunset, with sand squelching between your toes. See



Midnight tuk-tuk food tour, Bangkok

Many visitors shy away from trying Bangkok's street food but this tour removes all the guesswork by taking you straight to the best vendors. As well as sampling authentic versions of Thai classics such as pad thai and chicken rice, the tour visits a secret rooftop bar, a temple and a flower market. How do you get around? By tuk-tuk, of course – a quintessential Bangkok experience. See


Waiheke wineries by horseback, New Zealand

Why drive to a winery when you can arrive by horse? Located a 40-minute ferry ride from Auckland, Waiheke Island has many vineyards and on this tour you'll visit two of the best on horseback. Cable Bay and Mudbrick both have welcoming cellar doors and restaurants with stunning ocean views. Enjoy tastings and a sumptuous lunch then ride back along the island's pristine beaches. See

Waiheke Island vineyard and winery.

Waiheke Island vineyard and winery.


Cafe Ruiz coffee tour, Panama

Panama has a secret. As well as having a famous canal, it also produces some of the world's most expensive coffee. Located in the stunning cloud forests near Boquete, Cafe Ruiz grows the rare geisha variety of the arabica coffee plant. This entertaining tour explains the coffee-making process and includes a taste of the finished product, which can sell for up to $40 a cup. See


Presunto, Portugal

You hear the Portuguese talk about presunto and you think, "Yeah, right". The locals say this cured ham is as good as Spain's famous jamon iberico. They say it's produced from the same black-footed pigs, it has the same rich butteriness, the same meaty lushness. Sure, you think. It can't be that good. And yet, sample presunto in the delis and restaurants of Lisbon and you have to accept that not only is presunto as good as jamon – it might just be better.



Habibah Sweets, Amman

You'll see the queue before you see the restaurant. Amman locals line up around the block day and night to grab their slice of the city's best knafeh, a traditional sweet treat of baked cheese and semolina, from Habibah Sweets. A slice of this delicious dessert, carved roughly from a huge metal tray and slung across the counter with little ceremony, will set you back about a dollar, and will have you on a sugar high for hours. See


Louisiana Bistro, French Quarter

Locals are always in the kitchen, serving the food and at the next table in Louisiana Bistro where the timeless flavours of New Orleans jam with cutting-edge creative Creole cuisine. Spontaneously composed tasting menus always include twists on the classics and, despite being smack bang in the tourist hub, high standards are sustained. See;


Mondrian Hotel, London

Forget that traditional British arvo tea malarkey and head to the Mondrian Hotel's funky Dandelyan bar for Wyld Tea. Settle in to the purple leather sofa and hoe into elderflower compressed cucumber and burnt herb cream sandwiches and '70s-style cakes with a twist (blackcurrant and verbena Battenberg cake, anyone?). Wash it all down with weird and wonderful botanical cocktails such as the Fluff & Fold Royale with lime, basil, cacao liqueur, orange bitters and prosecco. See


Adraga Seafood, Adraga beach, Portugal

Found quite by happy accident, this little white cube of a restaurant sits right on the edge of the beach. It bustles with local families so it's best to book (they squeezed us in) but this is no frills, no fuss, fresh seafood cooked simply. They even give us a free tasting plate of percebes, the little claw-like local delicacy also known as goose barnacles. An unexpected but wonderful discovery. See


Cao Lau, Hoi An

They say it's the water in Hoi An that's the secret to cao lau, a dish of thick, chewy noodles with slices of pork, crispy crackling and fresh herbs that's become so famous in central Vietnam, and is one of the country's best meals. At Cao Lau Thanh, a scruffy outdoor restaurant just outside the historic centre of Hoi An, cao lau is served up fresh and delicious every morning, and it costs about $1.50 a bowl for absolute perfection. See

Cao Lau is regional Vietnamese specialty served at Hoi An.

Cao Lau is regional Vietnamese specialty served at Hoi An. Photo: Flash Parker


The Marksman, Hackney Road, East London

This unassuming Victorian pub in hipster central manages to provide the best of both worlds. Downstairs it's a genuine corner boozer full of locals quaffing tap beers while upstairs it's serving traditional British food to such a high standard it was named Michelin Pub of the Year this year (2017). Think rissoles, pheasant pies, lemon sole, dripping spuds and British Beenleigh Blue cheese. Go the three-course Sunday lunch for £33 and come away grinning. See


The Sarojin ''street food cook for kids'', Khao Lak, Thailand

What sets The Sarojin apart from other luxury resorts is its dedication to the local community, a commitment that began in response to the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. By participating in "Street Food Cook for Kids" guests at The Sarojin have the opportunity to prepare and deliver nutritious meals to children with special needs at the nearby Camillian Social Centre. See


Taste of Lisboa, Lisbon

Lisbon foodie Filipa Valente's popular walking tours provide a great introduction to the city's underrated gastronomic scene. There are two itineraries to choose from: the "Tram 28 Walk", an exploration of the Campo do Ourique neighbourhood and its traditional flavours; and the "Downtown-Mouraria Walk", which takes in Lisbon's multicultural gastronomic influences, as well more familiar local dishes. Whichever you choose, you'll receive expert guidance from Filipa, and a belt-stretching selection of Lisbon's best cuisine.



Food and Wine Studio by Pilar Rodriguez, Chile

Celebrated Chilean chef Pilar Rodriguez invites diners into her home in the Colchagua Valley wine region to sample her delicious cuisine in an intimate setting. Food and Wine Studio is part culinary school, part catering company, and part restaurant, the doors of which are only thrown open on weekends for groups who book in advance. The experience, dining with Pilar among the grape vines on some of Chile's best cuisine, is worth the effort. See



While it's often overshadowed by better-known offerings from France and Spain, the wine of Portugal is extremely good, and almost unbelievably cheap. There are 29 distinct wine regions in the country, from the famous Douro Valley to lesser-known DOC areas such as Alentejo and Tras-os-Montes, and all produce multiple varietals of the highest quality. And if you're paying more than a few euros a glass, you're being ripped off.



Madam Khanh the Banh Mi Queen, Hoi An

It's hard to know exactly what it is that makes Madam Khanh's banh mi – the traditional Vietnamese pork roll – so good. It might be the soft-but-crunchy baguettes, baked fresh. It might be the sweetly spicy chilli sauce, the recipe to which will probably remain a secret forever. It could be the balance of farm-style pate with pickled green papaya and fresh herbs. Or, more likely, it's a combination of all these that makes this one of the world's greatest sandwiches. See

CONTRIBUTORS: Keith Austin, Andrea Black, Elspeth Callender, Ben Groundwater, Brian Johnston, Nina Karnikowski, Katrina Lobley, Sally Macmillan, Rob McFarland, Sheriden Rhodes, Louise Southerden, Alison Stewart, Kerry van der Jagt, Guy Wilkinson