OK, here’s a confession: Between watching the Food Network; tasting our way through the wine store and the olive oil shop; going to to dinner (or brunch, or lunch, or tapas) with friends, we spend way too much time thinking about food. And we do it even more when we travel: quiz our food-obsessed friends, devour food blogs and investigate chefs and openings. We’ve planned trips around restaurant openings or a certain food craving. Do you do the same thing? Consider a food-focused honeymoon; after all, you no longer have to fit into that dress or suit.
You can’t go wrong with food anywhere in Italy; that’s a fact. It’s a simplification to say it, but the cuisines changes as you move through the country, from heartier pastas and cured meats in the northern Piedmont district to lighter citrus-spiked seafood in the South. We love it all, but for pure ease and beauty, there’s nothing like Tuscany. One of our favorite trips ever was a week in Florence indulging in art and bistecca alla Florentine, followed by a stay in a Tuscan villa, riding horses down Roman-era paths and sipping wine from nearby hill towns.
Foodies the world over mourned last year when El Bulli closed its doors. But rest assured, Spain is still a culinary capital, with Michelin donning the coveted three stars to eight restaurants in 2014. Ferran Adria’s brother is winning raves with his new cocktail spot on Barcelona, and David Munoz’ DiverXO is winning over El Bulli’s high profile. But it’s not just the food we love there, but the way it’s approached: slowly, as something to be savored and admired over the course of an entire evening rather than gulped down in a hurry.
You have to love a city like Tokyo, where one of country’s most acclaimed chefs still works out of a tiny shop in a subway station. (If you haven’t yet seen Jiro Dreams of Sushi, netflix it asap.) For foodies, there is no other country like Japan. Tokyo is home to some of the world’s most expensive restaurants, as well as a vibrant street-food scene with tasty ramen, yakitori and takoyaki, best savored with a guide who knows the best spots. Follow up with some quiet days in Kyoto, and beach time in the Okinawa islands.
Most countries have a signature dish or cuisine style, but here? Our melting-pot culture is most evident in our food, which is as diverse as our geography. One of our favorite trips ever was a three-week drive through Louisiana’s Cajun country, eating crawfish, boudin and andouille at five-stars and dives all along the way. There’s fresh farm-to-table in California wine country, chile-spiced Tex-Mex in the Southwest, grits and gravy in the Deep South, lobster and whoopie pies in Maine, deep-dish and steak houses in Chicago. And don’t even get us started on barbecue, where chef cook-offs across the country fight over the merits of rubs vs sauce, and mustard-based vs tomato-based. Pick a flavor, book a car — and bring your stretchy pants!