At Butterfield & Robinson we appreciate that few impressions of a country linger as long as those memorable meals encountered en route. For us, eating well is an essential part of the journey not only for fueling our activities but for revealing both the preferred flavours and curious idiosyncrasies that distinguish every culture. While we may have precluded France and Italy in this Top 10 list for obvious reasons (they’ve already earned their stripes), there’s no shortage of delectable destinations for you to choose from.
Like its neighbours, Cambodian cuisine never lacks for feisty ingredients, and Fish Amok is a classic Cambodian dish – a fish mousse prepared with coconut milk and kroeung, a Khmer curry paste composed of lemongrass, turmeric root, garlic, shallots, galangal and fingerroot, also known as Chinese ginger. Upscale restaurants will serve the dish steamed in a banana leaf while the local versions more closely resemble a soupy fish curry than a mousse.
Many countries and cultures may lay claim to the perfect chicken soup, but Colombia’s Ajiaco ups the flavour quotient by combining chicken, corn, sour cream, capers, avocado and three types of potatoes. The key ingredient? Guasca, an aromatic herb that lends a distinct flavour, though the soup will take on different regional characteristics depending on where you sample it.
Want to get hooked on Ecuadorian food? Taste impeccably fresh fish the way it was intended: adorned simply with a squeeze of citrus juice and marinated in a few other ingredients. Ceviche de camarones (shrimp) and ceviche de corvine (sea bass) are two common versions of this classic South American dish, but you’ll likely come across a range of options. Ceviche is often served with popcorn (a corn nut—like seed), aji (hot sauce) and fresh bread.
Smooth, soothing and bursting with flavour, the lassi is India’s definition of refreshing. While this yogurt drink is more familiar as a sweet indulgence when blended with sugar or fruits, consider an entirely novel experience by ordering a savoury option, which is sometimes served with ground roasted cumin. The perfect way to punctuate the end of a bike ride.
Here’s the first thing you need to know about ordering Lap Lao Beef (beef salad) in Laos: make sure the meat is cooked in your version, as this dish will occasionally come half-cooked or even raw depending where you order it. Whichever meat is being incorporated – beef, fish, poultry or duck – the merging of flavours is simple and assertive as it is mixed with lime juice, salt, fish sauce, chili, onion, mint and – here’s where the texture takes on a unique touch – grilled rice powder. This is a common dish in Laos, but is typically served during ceremonies or festivals.
The slow simmering traditional braised stew that is tajine is an appropriate reflection of what adds to Morocco’s enduring appeal. The depth of flavours, the multiplicity of ingredients—including spices such as cinnamon, saffron, ginger, turmeric, cumin, paprika, pepper and the famous blend ras el hanout—and the conical-covered tajine pot all combine to create a rich, tender dish that is shared among guests.
The epitome of South African comfort food, umngqusho blends stamp mealies (broken dried maize kernals), sugar beans, butter, onions, potatoes, chilies and lemons, and simmers them until the ingredients are tender and tasty. In his autobiography, Nelson Mandela references umngqusho as one of his favourite dishes, and his personal chef recently published a cookbook featuring her recipe.
Whether at a formal sit down dinner or in the company of a street vendor, watching the preparation of freshly made som tam is almost as enjoyable as tasting the final result. The classic Thai balance of sour, hot, salty and sweet is on full display with this spicy salad made from shredded green unripe papaya.
Uruguayans, much like their Argentinian and Brazilian neighbours, are devoted meat lovers and their dish of choice is an asado, which is ostensibly a variety of grilled meats. Prepared in a “parrillero,” a wood-fired oven, the traditional cut used is a “tira de asado,” a cut from the beef rib about four inches wide. Many recipes also include grilled chorizos alongside, with a simple salad of tomatoes, shredded lettuce, vinegar and olive oil rounding out the plate.
The first pho restaurant opened in Hanoi in the 1920s and since that time the dish has grown into a worldwide phenomenon—perhaps one of Vietnam’s most popular dishes. This noodle soup mingles the comforting beef or chicken broth with a selection of ingredients, including rice noodles, fresh basil, saw tooth herb, rau om (rice paddy herb), cilantro, sliced green onion, lime juice and bean sprouts. Many of these ingredients are added to the dish by the diners themselves, depending on their preferences. Remarkably satisfying and addictive all at once.
As you can see, the B&R menu is long on choice and always fresh on possibilities. Click here to peruse your options and find a journey (and a cuisine) that fits your tastes.
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