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The culinary capitals of the world

  • tajine.JPG

    Marrakech is famous for its tajines, cooked with lamb and fruit like apricots. (iStock)

  • Kyoryori.jpg

    Kyo-ryori is a type of regional cuisine in Japan. (Kyoto Ryokan Association)

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    A woman shops in one of Paris' fresh foods market. (Reuters)

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    Paris is known for it's pates, breads and of course cheese. (iStock)

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    New York City has regional favorites like pizza and amazing sandwiches.

Part of the magic of traveling is exploring new and exotic cuisines and dining experiences. In fact some individuals – known as gastro-tourists – travel to the far reaches of the globe for the sole purpose of broadening their culinary horizons. For more casual foodies, exploring the local dishes of a new city or region can be just as enriching and memorable as visiting landmarks or museums. With this in mind, Michelin lists four cities that should rank at the top of any gastronome’s itinerary.

Kyoto, Japan

With 29 Michelin three-star restaurants, Japan holds the crown as highest-rated country in the world, according to the Michelin Guide. Kyoto represents the very best of Japanese cuisine, offering an array of culinary delights in some of the country’s finest restaurants. The city boasts its own brand of sophisticated local cuisine, known as Kyo-ryori, which is linked to seasonal foods sourced from the surrounding regions. Many of these dishes date back hundreds of years, when the country’s finest chefs developed exquisite dishes for traveling Buddhist pilgrims and members of the emperor’s court. Much of the traditional pomp and ceremony associated with Kyo-ryori still exists today, with aspects of ikebana (flower arranging) and sado (tea ceremony) featured in many eateries. Of course, more famous Japanese staples such as sashimi, sushi, tempura and agedashi tofu still feature prominently on menus throughout the city.

Paris, France

Perhaps nowhere in the world encapsulates the phrase “culinary capital” better than Paris. The city that practically invented culinary innovation will overwhelm the senses with some truly unforgettable dining experiences. Gastronomes will delight at the sheer number of world-class restaurants offering every kind of culinary experience imaginable. Parisian markets, merchants and boulangeries sell the highest quality foods, including distinctive cheeses, luxurious pâtés and the finest pastries and breads. Wine lovers are sure to delight at the extraordinary selection of top-quality wines from the country’s most revered regions.

Marrakech, Morocco

Over the past 15 years, Marrakch has propelled itself to the top of “culinary hotspot” lists. Thanks to a recent surge in the country’s tourism industry, a plethora of new restaurants have emerged, offering diners outstanding local dishes as well as world-class international cuisine. Aesthetics play a central role in Moroccan food and as Michelin explains even a “simple snack at an improvised stand can be an unforgettable moment.”  Tajine dishes, for example, fill the senses with rich aromas of exotic spices, emanating from ornate clay pots. Hundreds of food stalls populate the Jemaa el-Fna marketplace, tempting visitors with local specialties like harira, a tomato soup filled with lentils, chickpeas and fresh herbs.

New York, USA

The endless list of New York eateries can be slightly overwhelming to those not in the know. While the Big Apple may not be renowned for its own distinctive homegrown cuisine, its staggering array of restaurants offers the very best of all varieties of global cuisines and fusion fare. Rather than being pigeon-holed with one variety of cuisine, there is truly something for everyone in New York City – from tiny hole-in-the-wall joints to the most luxurious and unique dining experiences in the world. Visitors will need to stray from tourist territory to find many of the city’s greatest restaurants, in neighborhoods like the Upper West Side, Chinatown, the East Village and the outer boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.