World's best food experiences: 34 bucket-list meals and drinks to try

 

'THE FOREST' AT IN SITU RESTAURANT, SAN FRANCISCO

Located in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, In Situ is an innovative restaurant that curates benchmark dishes by more than 80 celebrity chefs. One of the most popular items is Mauro Colagreco's "The Forest" – a quinoa risotto covered with a tangle of leaves, mushrooms, flowers and twigs. It looks like a handful of artfully arranged undergrowth and tastes earthy, rich, creamy and delicious. See insitu.sfmoma.org

WHITE LADY COCKTAIL AT THE OLD MAN, HONG KONG

Hong Kong is well-known for its rooftop bars, but the city also has a less heralded but equally intriguing speakeasy scene. One of the best is the Ernest Hemingway-themed The Old Man bar, which features seven cocktails named after Hemingway books. It also carries some of the writer's personal favourites, including the surprisingly feminine White Lady – a potent mixture of gin, Cointreau and lemon juice. See theoldmanhk.com

HOT CHOCOLATES AT THE SEBASTIAN, VAIL, US

There's only one thing that will lure me off the ski slopes early in Vail and that's a gourmet hot chocolate at The Sebastian hotel. Cinnamon-flavoured hot chocolate is poured from a teapot onto a gold-dusted handmade sphere of Valrhona chocolate full of chocolate crunch pearls and marshmallows spiked with Baileys Irish Cream. Other decadent flavours include dulce de leche and dark chocolate with truffle and raspberry. See thesebastianvail.com

BREAD TROLLEY AT JOEL ROBUCHON, MGM GRAND, LAS VEGAS

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THE BREAD TROLLEY AT JOEL ROBUCHON, MGM GRAND, LAS VEGAS
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Every aspect of Vegas' only three Michelin-starred restaurant is an exercise in excess – from the sweet trolley with 40 handmade petits fours to the 33-page wine list with bottles for $US20,000. However, it's the bread trolley that is most memorable. Containing more than a dozen types of freshly baked bread, it's wheeled out by a whispering waiter who introduces each one in reverent tones. See mgmgrand.com

WHITE COSMO AT DANIEL, NEW YORK

Most of us can't afford to dine at Daniel Boulud's eponymous two Michelin-starred restaurant on the Upper East Side, but there's nothing to stop you sitting at the bar and indulging in the restaurant's signature cocktail – the $US22 White Cosmo. Served in a martini glass, it's a potent mixture of vodka, St Germain Elderflower Liqueur, fresh lime and white cranberry with a perfect sphere of orchid-filled ice. See danielnyc.com

WINE TOWER AT AUREOLE, MANDALAY BAY, LAS VEGAS

H378ME Wine storage inside Aureole Restaurant in Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.Las Vegas,Nevada,USA. Image shot 2016. Exact date unknown. SunSep16coverdesire - Travel objects of desire cover story
Credit: Alamy
Rob McFarland

Photo: Alamy

Ordering wine at Charlie Palmer's Aureole restaurant at the Mandalay Bay hotel is an experience in itself. After using a tablet PC to choose a bottle from a 3000-label selection, you get to watch a silver-suited "wine angel" fly up a four-storey wine tower on a cable to retrieve it. Unsurprisingly, the eatery has received a Wine Spectator's Grand Award every year since 2000. See mandalaybay.com

A SLING FOR ALL SEASONS

Thanks to Raffles, the Singapore Sling cocktail has been a favourite of travellers for more than a century. Boozy and fruity, with gin, cherry brandy, triple sec and tropical juices, it's as well-known as the grand, colonial-era hotel where it was invented. Travellers may be surprised (and delighted) to learn that each of the Raffles properties around the world has created its own version of the Sling. Even better, you can try them all at the Long Bar of newly opened Raffles Europejski Warsaw. See raffles.com

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YES, CHEF

The nine-course chef's tasting menu at Thomas Keller's NYC landmark restaurant, Per Se, is arguably the best in the city. Night after night, Keller's team work modern miracles with a changing menu that may include Maine sea scallops and Thomas Farms pigeon, Hudson Valley duck and oysters from Island Creek. Service here is as enjoyable as the cuisine; helpful but never obsequious, always calm and confident. At $US340 per person, the experience doesn't come cheap, though it will be long remembered. See thomaskeller.com

THE CHOCOLATE PISTACHIO TART ABOARD PONANT'S LE LYRIAL

Was there ever such a divine patisserie as French cruise line Ponant's chocolate pistachio tart? Sitting among the jewels of the Le Lyrial dessert buffet, this light-as-air, yet popping with flavour Gallic tart is a culinary object of utter desire. Yes, there are fine competitors, like the marquise au chocolat, the strawberry pate de fruit, the creme brulee or the delicate eclairs, but they are as Marie Antoinette is to the hunchback of Notre Dame. The recipe, sadly, is a closely guarded secret. See au.ponant.com

THE MOON IN PARIS

Not just any moon but "La belle lune Parisienne", which rises majestically into the sky above Montparnasse as the City of Lights switches on. This regal orb is the crowning spectacle for diners at Jules Verne restaurant in the crown of Paris' Eiffel Tower. An evening chez Jules Verne includes a procession of complex flavours, a wide velvet sky, the hourly dance of the tower's 20,000 illuminations, all bathed in the light of that exquisite silvery moon. Closed until next year for renovations – worth the wait. See lejulesverne-paris.com

CAIPIRINHA ON A PRIVATE PLATFORM IGUASSU FALLS

It's a close contest for the perfect Brazilian caipirinha between Rio's historic Belmond Copacabana Palace's offering that reportedly toppled Janis Joplin into the pool, and the Iguassu Falls lime-scented beauty. Winner by a nose is the just-shaken-and-poured caipirinha, sipped overlooking the three-kilometre wide falls on the Argentine-Brazil border. Our private picnic at the falls' first giant drop, gazing down at Iguassu's La Garganta del Diablo or Devil's Throat, is a small but miraculous part of a Captain's Choice Ultimate South America journey. See captainschoice.com.au

TRUFFLE AND PORCINI RISOTTO, HOTEL BEL SOGGIORNO, TUSCANY

If any dish captures the quintessential flavour of Tuscany, it is our perfumed porcini, pecorino, fine herbs and truffle risotto, accompanied by a local, ruby-red, full-bodied Podere La Cappella "Querciolo" Chianti Classico. We eat it slowly, grateful for such an experience, as the evening turns rose-gold outside the giant windows of the family-run Hotel Bel Soggiorno's restaurant, inside San Gimignano's historic walls. See inntravel.co.uk/holidays

KOREAN BARBECUE LAMB CHOPS, PACIFIC RIM ON REGENT SEVEN SEAS EXPLORER

All the food is amazing on the so-called "most luxurious ship ever built", but the offerings at its Pan Asian restaurant are extra-special, with the Korean barbecue lamb chops a succulent stand-out (you may, however, prefer the foie gras gyoza, Miso black cod or lobster tempura). Blessed with lavish Oriental-inspired decor, Pacific Rim is super-popular, so reserve a table well in advance. See rssc.com

FRESH COCONUTS POOLSIDE

Could there be anything better than a fresh coconut plucked from a palm tree? The Hilton Fiji Beach Resort and Spa's poolside coconut cart service goes one step further. Place your order and a smiling Fijian waiter, in loud tropical print shirt, will deftly lop off the top and pop a straw in for you. Add a nip of rum and you'll truly be on Fiji time. See hilton.com

COCONUT AND CHILLI MARTINI, THE GOLD COAST

Slip into your private circular booth at the uber chic rooftop bar Nineteen at the Star Gold Coast's new hotel, The Darling. Nineteen's alfresco deck offers daybeds and a private booth (complete with outdoor heaters and cosy blankets) that appear to float on an infinity pool. Order a signature coconut and chilli martini as the sun sets and the Gold Coast skyline lights up. With chilli-infused vodka, lime, housemade coconut syrup and a chilli garnish it's basically a hot summer's night in a glass. See star.com.au

DESSERT, WILL MEYRICK'S HUJAN LOCALE, UBUD

SALTED CARAMEL POPCORN ICE CREAM DESSERT, WILL MEYRICK’S HUJAN LOCALE, UBUD.
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Take a seat upstairs at Will Meyrick's fabulous Hujan Locale in Ubud with its concertina wood-panelled windows, rattan chairs, and slow-turning ceiling fans, evoking a feel of the colonial era. Whatever you decide to eat – be it the sensational crispy squid with chilli jam or Javanese short ribs – be sure and save room for dessert. The salted caramel popcorn ice-cream comes with sticky caramelised bananas and burnt Italian meringue. Order your own as it's way too good to share. See hujanlocale.com

A LUNCH SETTING AT ASPEN HIGHLANDS' CLOUD 9

Imagine; the world's most cashed-up skiers congregated into a Tyrolean-themed ski hut at the top of America. As lunch is served, $1000 bottles of Cristal are consumed like water, then sprayed over revellers dancing on tables in their ski boots. Outside, the beautiful people mingle as the sun shines over the Rockies, before skiing to the bottom. See aspensnowmass.com

A REAL MARGARITA IN MEXICO

It's a simple drink: tequila, Cointreau and lime juice; but you'll never have a margarita like the margarita you have in Mexico, or Southern California. Nothing screams beach holiday like that first margarita of the day – the rim of the glass crusted with salt, the tequila as smooth as honey, and the lime juice the right kind of bitter. They're perfect in Mexico, but in SoCal they're pretty damn close.

RUM BABA DESSERT

Alain Ducasse's three Michelin-starred restaurant in the legendary Hotel de Paris in Monte-Carlo is famous for its duckling breast served with peaches and French beef with seared artichokes. But for this sweet-tooth Ducasses' signature rum baba dessert – a glossy sponge filled with lightly whipped cream served with a selection of rums – is so good I half expected an orchestra to appear. See hoteldeparismontecarlo.com

MILESTII MICI, MOLDOVA

Chisinau, Moldova. 27 November 2017. The Tunnels and Interior of Milestii Mici Underground Winery
Kerry van der jagt
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Credit: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Milestii Mici is the largest wine cellar in the world, with the Guinness World Record to prove it. Home to more than 1.5 million bottles spread across 200 kilometres of underground tunnels just driving through is an adventure. An Indiana Jones-style door reveals a private room where visitors can sample some of the state-owned stash. Intrepid Travel offers a 13-day tour of Moldova, Romania and Ukraine. See intrepidtravel.com

HOT CHOCOLATE IN ZODIACS

You squint against the Antarctic light, the white glow of glacier against iceberg against fog rendering you colour blind. Then you see it, a lone Zodiac with a ghostly apparition at the bow brandishing a thermos of hot chocolate. As he glides alongside your Zodiac you lean to accept this gift from the gods, the first swallow burning with the delectable kick of rum on a Lindblad Expedition. See expeditions.com

SUNSET DRINKS AND CANAPES

Never have canapes tasted so good as when served on the pool deck of Cicada Lodge in Nitmiluk National Park near Katherine. As the sun sinks and bats stream across the sky, tasting plates of traditional Australian foods (with a contemporary twist) are handed around. Owned by the Jawoyn people this high-end resort provides a fully immersive experience. See cicadalodge.com.au

G&T AT THE STRAND, YANGON

When the heat and hustle of Yangon gets too much there's only one place to be – Sarkies Bar at The Strand. Overlooking the Yangon River, The Strand has been serving drinks to thirsty travellers since 1901. I'm not sure if it's the ghosts of ex-patrons such as Rudyard Kipling and Orson Welles urging drinkers on, or the gentile atmosphere, but all too easily one G&T becomes two. See hotelthestrand.com

HELP-YOURSELF WINE CELLAR

The second-best thing to do at the magnificent Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island is to curl up on the couch with a bottle of wine and be mesmerised by the panoramic views of the ocean thundering onto the shore. The best thing is the part immediately before: wandering into the lodge's wine cellar, which features a superb selection of South Australia's best drops, and choosing which bottle to open. See southernoceanlodge.com

ROAST CHICKEN AT NOMAD RESTAURANT NY

Whichever dining room you end up in – from the opulent Parlour to the romantic Fireplace – a meal at New York's Nomad Restaurant is always memorable. Order whatever you like, but be sure to finish with the roast chicken. Laden with truffle and foie gras, designed to be shared by two, it's hard to find a more decadent – or delicious – dish in the whole of New York. See thenomadhotel.com

BARISTAS CAFE ON OCEANIA SHIPS

Any Aussie who has cruised has felt the craving for a proper coffee on ships – even luxury ones – that almost invariably serve disappointing American brew. But on Oceania ships your caffeine hit comes with properly made espressos and lattes, is complimentary, and will be served up by Italian baristas (plus some well-trained Filipinos). The Italian-style biscotti go down a treat, too. See oceaniacruises.com

LA RESERVE DEGUSTATION MENU ON OCEANIA SHIP MARINA

La Reserve dining area on Oceania Cruises' Marina
tra5-CRU-Polynesia

This seven-course gourmet dinner, with matched wines curated by Wine Spectator, would be remarkable anywhere, let alone on a cruise ship. It's an elegant meander into classical French cuisine of the 19th and early-20th centuries, running through flavour-rich dishes such as lobster souffle and roast beef with madeira sauce. The dessert takes that cruise staple, baked Alaska, into a whole new realm of deliciousness. See oceaniacruises.com

A MEAL AT RESTAURANT JOEL ROBUCHON IN MONTE CARLO

If ever there comes a time in your life when you throw all caution (and your budget) to the winds, do it here in Monaco on a meal by France's most famous living chef. It might set you back €600 for two but you'll enjoy the world's prettiest salads, lashings of truffle and caviar, and eye-popping cheese and dessert trolleys. See metropole.com

MIMO MICHELIN-STAR COOKING SCHOOL, SAN SEBASTIAN

Yes, the Basque seaside city of San Sebastian has nine Michelin-star restaurants, and you'd be a fool not to try at least one. You'd be a bigger fool, however, not to learn to create these exquisite meals yourself, with a ''Michelin Star Secrets'' cooking class at Mimo. Under instruction from an expert chef, you'll cook a multi-course lunch using foaming, sous-vide and other fancy techniques, and indulge in excellent Spanish wines along the way. See sansebastian.mimofood.com

THE 'AUSSIE NEGRONI' AT HARVEST NEWRYBAR

The Byron Bay hinterland is where those in the know head instead of the beach these days. And the quintessential hinterland experience is perching on the wide, white timber balcony at Harvest Newrybar, skin a little salty from a morning swim, sipping one of its perfectly crafted cocktails. The ''Aussie Negroni'', made with local spirits including Brookie's Byron Bay Gin and vermouth from the Adelaide Hills, will whet your appetite for the indulgent meal to local. See harvestnewrybar.com.au

LOUIS XV DESSERT AT ORE, CHATEAU DE VERSAILLES

A chic, gilded space that's a modern take on the opulence of Versailles, multi-Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse's Ore restaurant is a must for anyone visiting France's most famous and grand palace. The signature Louis XV dessert, a crispy praline topped with rich chocolate mousse, will have you feeling like Marie Antoinette reincarnate within the first bite. See ducasse-chateauversailles.com

EARLY MORNING VIETNAMESE COFFEE, SAIGON

When French colonists introduced coffee to Vietnam, fresh milk was in short supply. Never ones to shirk culinary improvisation, they began adding sweetened condensed milk instead, a tradition that stuck. Surprisingly, the resulting flavour is nothing short of magic and when combined with the ancient art of people watching in a city that's among the world's best for this past time, you're on to a winner.

WHISKY AND OYSTERS ON THE DOCK, HOBART

Hobart's Franklin Wharf is renowned for its picturesque maritime setting and blustery sea air, but there's more. Head around the corner to Lark's Distillery Cellar Door and Whisky Bar to sample some of the finest tipples Australia has to offer then duck back round to the wharf to feast on the freshest oysters you're ever likely to find, straight from the fishing boats rolling into harbor. See larkdistillery.com

A CESAR WHILE KICKING BACK ON THE ROCKY MOUNTAINEER, CANADA

Canada's most luxurious rail experience combines breathtaking scenery, world class cuisine and impeccable onboard hospitality. One of the signature hallmarks of the latter is the Cesar cocktail; Canada's answer to the Bloody Mary. Essentially swapping Clamato juice for regular tomato juice, the Cesar is a delicious, boozy treat that only enhances dreamy views of the snow-capped Canadian Rockies, glacial lakes, rainforest, canyons and much more. See rockymountaineer.com

CONTRIBUTORS: BELINDA JACKSON, BRIAN JOHNSTON, UTE JUNKER, NINA KARNIKOWSKI, KRISTIEKELLAHAN, ROB MCFARLAND. STEVE MEACHAM, SHERIDEN RHODES, ALISON STEWART, CRAIG TANSLEY, KERRY VAN DER JAGT, GUY WILKINSON

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