Eat and Drink ‘To Do’s’

I have been lucky to check several items off my “food and beverage” bucket list.

Among my favourite:

Street Food in Bangkok
Row upon row of carts on sidewalks serving up fresh noodles, Thai pancakes, cold juicy fruit, papaya salad, coconut ice cream, hot broth with fish balls… you get the idea. The sheer variety and incredible quality of food were mind-blowing and all for the equivalent of a couple dollars. The knowledge and pride of the cook was palpable and heart-warming.

Tacos in Mexico City
None of that Old El Paso boxed stuff there! Into a hole in the wall one block from Zócalo city square, I followed a queue of locals to my taco destiny. It was as authentic as Mexican food gets with just a homemade soft shell and one filling of pork, beef, chicken, refried beans, or potato. Topped with chunky mashed avocado and spicysweet salsa verde from giant bins on high stool countertops. Many napkins required.

High Tea in London
Ten years ago, I travelled to London with my grandmother and she treated us to a traditional British afternoon high tea. We enjoyed flawless finger sandwiches, beautifully detailed cakes, and warm scones with clotted cream and jam in an ornate dining room. I hold this memory dear as one of the most special things I’ve ever done.

Market in Antigua, Guatemala
Along the cobbled streets of the small volcano-sheltered city, I visited a market selling an abundance of artistically presented produce and local “grab and go’s” like red tamales colorados, coloured with annatto seed and stuffed with tomato sauce, chilies, raisins, and meat. With so many exciting new things to try, it was the kind of place where you unknowingly point to an item and say “Uno por favour.”

Pho in Ho Chi Minh City
I am a noodle aficionado and there is no better place for noodles than Vietnam. I sat at a tiny table on a hectic street corner while rushes of motorbikes zoomed by mere feet away. A deep steaming bowl of fragrant broth and long slurpy rice noodles with fresh Thai basil, thinly sliced chilies, bean sprouts, and lime to top. To the eye, the dish appeared simple but the complexity in the layers of the broth revealed flavours only an expert could create.

Coffee in Salento
This past fall, I visited Colombia and spent a few days in the coffee region of Salento. The open-top jeep drove up a winding dirt road into lush hills where locals told us the climate creates the ideal growing environment for coffee. The owner of the small home farm walked us through the process from harvest to drying to roasting; everything completed on site. The black coffee tasted sweet and earthy. I felt honoured to experience a resource so deeply rooted in the heart of Colombian culture.

With each great food experience, I’ve only become hungry for more. My food and drink bucket list continues to grow, with the recent additions of the following:

• Sushi and ramen in Japan

• Wine and cheese in the south of France

• Pizzafest festival in Naples and truffles in Peidmont, Italy

• Spice market in Morocco

• Tapas in San Sebastián and La Tomatina

“the world’s largest food fight” in Buñol, Spain

• Dim sum in Hong Kong

• Ripe figs and dolmades in Greece

• Kottu, a dish made with crispy flatbread,

vegetables, egg and spices in Sri Lanka

• Christmas market in Berlin

Though I plan to check all of the above items off my bucket list, this summer’s more attainable but still personally exciting plans include:

• Grow my own herb garden

• Host a garden dinner party

• Brew fermented kombucha tea at home

• Learn about wine tasting, varietals, and food pairings

What’s on your food and beverage bucket list? Cheers and bon appétit!