Pack up your suitcase for a whirlwind trip around the globe as Hannah Burton goes in search of some epic foodie escapes…
Now that the Christmas break seems but a distant memory, it’s surely time to start thinking about holidays and weekend escapes. For us, a good holiday is always going to be about food, and rightly so. It’s pretty much impossible not to put on a few pounds when you’re away, so why not go for broke and plan your holiday around indulgence? Here are some of our favourite foodie holiday destinations, both home and away.
We are happily spoilt for choice for foodie destinations in the UK, and we at Fed Up & Drunk are lucky enough to live in the South West, where food often seems to take centre stage. Try Cornwall for a seaside escape full of pasties, pies and cheese, or come to our lovely hometown of Bristol for harbourside markets, hundreds of inventive restaurants and seemingly a new food festival every weekend.
Indeed, if food festivals are what you’re looking for in a UK break, then you have to plan a week-long stay in Wales, where two of the best UK food festivals are held. Head to Ludlow to experience the UK’s first food festival success story. Revel in the carnival atmosphere before escaping to the glorious Welsh countryside for the week to explore the Brecon Beacons National Park. Get some serious exercise in, because at the end of the week it’s time to head to Abergavenny in beautiful Monmouthshire: home to the mother of all UK food festivals.
Just three hours away from London on the Eurostar, Bruges is a foodie haven. This beautiful city is perfect for a weekend break, as it’s small enough to explore in a few days – quite frankly, any longer and your waistline may suffer permanent damage.
For beer alone, Bruges makes it onto the all-time foodie destination list. No self-respecting bar or restaurant there stocks fewer than 20 beers, usually with a selection ranging from light to dark and with endless information to help you choose. For an amazing beer experience, visit 2be, a specialist bar and shop showcasing Belgian beer in all its glory. They stock all 780 of Belgium’s brews. Yes, 780.
Belgium’s reputation for chocolate is pretty well established, but, just in case you were in any doubt, let me make it clear: Belgian chocolate is heaven. And Bruges is best known for praline. Surely you don’t need to know any more than that? If the British weather has followed you, skip down any of the pretty cobblestone streets and duck into a café for a warming hot chocolate, the last word in indulgence.
Does any country scream ‘decadence’ louder than Italy does? I’ve never found a more indulgent nation, or one where indulgence is so readily available at every turn. Think about it – can you even imagine a world without Italy’s exports? A world without pasta? Olive oil? Pizza, for crying out loud? What kind of joyless lives would we have without Nutella? I could do this all day…
Every region has its own culinary specialities, so Italy as a foodie destination is best enjoyed as part of a fairly epic tour. The north has given the world piadina, one of the single most satisfying snacks in the world – it’s like a tortilla wrap, but infinitely better, and best eaten with lashings of stracchino cheese, Parma ham and rocket. Work your way down to Bologna, for the best pasta sauces of your life, and then move across to Tuscany. Everything is good in Tuscany, but if you want specifics, try castagnaccio, a chestnut cake. Obviously you’ll want to head to Naples for pizza, and you’ll most definitely be needing a stretchy waistband. End your gourmand tour in Sicily for seafood and cannoli. It’s hard to get it wrong in Italy, and very easy to get it right.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
If you have the chance to go further afield, a dream trip to Thailand is one heck of a choice for foodies. One of the best destinations in Thailand for food lovers is miles away from the southern sand and surf; the northern city of Chiang Mai is surrounded by spectacular rolling hills and jungles, and is home to some of the finest local cuisine in South East Asia.
At the weekend, the centre of town opens its roads to a huge pedestrian market, and street food hawkers come out to offer everything from pad Thai (noodles with prawns and peanuts, garnished with lime) to naem and sai-ua – rolled pork sausages with garlic and chillies. The usual Thai curries take a milder and more aromatic twist here, due to the influence of nearby Myanmar. Another local favourite is slow-stewed pork leg; when we visited we were told simply to find the lady with the cowboy hat, and that we’d understand why. Hours of searching were eventually rewarded by some of the most succulent pork imaginable, and for less than £1.
Finish your stay in Chiang Mai with a visit to the nearby town of Pai (are we pushing the foodie theme too far?). Pai is a hippie enclave where health foods take centre stage, so you can start your detox before your flight home. Veggie delights, smoothies and beautiful Thai countryside – a real slice of paradise.