The most underrated and overrated food and drink experiences of 2019

Here are the most underrated and overrated food and drink experiences of 2019.



This alpine nation is well-known for chocolate, cheese, fondue and perhaps rosti, which seems to be spreading to hipster cafes worldwide. But Switzerland has a far more varied food scene imagined, with more than 400 types of cheese for a start, and vineyards that produce more than 200 grape varieties. Swiss wine is one of the country's great unsung pleasures and there's more Michelin-starred restaurants per capita than any other country.


The Nagano prefecture on the island of Honshu has been quietly making excellent wines for years. Comprised of four high-altitude valleys, the area has more than 30 wineries, many of which offer tastings and tours. Visitors can sample fruit-forward sauvignon blancs, hearty, full-bodied merlots, delicate sangioveses and elegant sparklings made using the rare ryugan grape. 


Grab a crusty loaf, a bottle of vino and a roll of nduja – spreadable salumi filled with pork, spices and fiery peppers – and you've got yourself a typical Calabrian feast. 


"Zazdarovye!" we cheer, lifting glasses to our lips, shooting back the icy liquor and waiting for the burn. But this Russian vodka, bought for a pittance at supermarkets, is surprisingly smooth. Better, dare we say, than the Scandinavian versions we're accustomed to. 



You rarely hear people rave about Brazilian cuisine, which is odd given the country's size and variety of produce. Highlights include lip-numbing Amazonian soups, creamy coconut stews and an astonishing array of exotic fruits.


We should all be eating more vegetables and less meat, and vegan menus offer incredibly imaginative dishes that both taste good, and do us good.


Wine production started here with settlers from ancient Greece and has been improving ever since, with their fruity whites and big reds now among the world's best quality wines. Croatian wine was served at the weddings of Prince William and Kate Middleton and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. 


Set aside your preconceptions about Chile producing quaffable but unremarkable wine. The vine-cloaked valleys of Maipo, Casablanca and Aconcagua all have world-class wineries that can be visited on a day-trip from Santiago. Short on time? Drop into Vinolia, an immersive new wine tasting experience in the suburb of Vitacura.  See


This north-western outpost is known in Spain as having the country's best seafood – and this is a nation with a lot of good seafood. Galician cuisine is fresh and simple, making the most of its oceanic bounty. Look out for classic dishes such as octopus with paprika, steamed mussels, pork and chickpea stew, and Galicia-style empanadas with tuna. 


The share-plate fad is suffering some resistance from those who'd rather just eat their own meal, thank you very much, but, guess what? This is the way most of the world eats.  



Sometimes a parade of little samples feels just too finicky, and you long for a big plate of something you can really get your teeth into.


Of all the delicious food in Thailand that there is to get excited about, pad Thai is perhaps the most pedestrian and unimaginative. 


Undecipherable menus, snooty sommeliers, choreographed stuffiness, artery-clogging French fare at eye-watering prices, and an atmosphere of rectitude. No thanks.


Australians have developed a collective obsession with wagyu beef – every steak has to be wagyu; even burgers have to be wagyu, despite the necessary mincing of that perfectly marbled beef. However, in some of the world's great steak-eating cultures, the likes of Spain and Argentina and even the US, wagyu isn't even a thing. 


At best, it's cheap and cheerful food eaten off plastic plates without restaurant overheads – or dine-in comfort. At worst, it's a trendy name for fast food.


The world has gone burger mad. Gourmet burger joints continue to pop up with alarming regularity, yet they all offer a similar experience – "innovative" toppings, loud music, industrial decor and extravagantly tattooed staff. Ditch the artisanal razzle-dazzle and stick to places that use high-quality meat and fresh ingredients.


Have you ever eaten 12 courses and not felt bloated? And did you genuinely love every dish? Go for the a la carte menu and spend the cash you'll save on wine. 


Queue for an hour to get into a cafe that's half-empty during the week only to scream at your dining companions over deafening music and mimosa-fuelled patrons.


Do you really prefer the taste or are you just trying to appear sophisticated? In most places, the tap water is perfectly drinkable. You'll save money and help save the planet.


Fine dining is great, every now and then. But expensive restaurants are not the pinnacle of food culture and shouldn't be treated as such.

CONTRIBUTORS: Ben Groundwater, Brian Johnston, Catherine Marshall, Rob McFarland, Kerry van der Jagt, Sue Williams  

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