Another year in the books. Another year of great eats. As it has become a Global Heartbeat Travel tradition, I’m laying out my most memorable meals of 2017 so that you can keep these tasty bites in mind for your future travels. Bon appetite!
HIKING THE ITALIAN COAST: FRESH CATCH IN CINQUE TERRE
In the spring, Justin, #BasiltheKooiker, and I spent a long weekend on the Ligurian Coast of Italy to visit those famed five fishing villages. As I shared in this post, our trip to Cinque Terre was a complete delight, and so was the food!
Anchovies on the Ligurian Coast
Normally, I meet a plate of anchovies with unconcealed suspicion… and perhaps you do, too. But let me tell you, never EVER have I enjoyed eating tiny fish as much as eating fresh anchovies in Cinque Terre – and I lived in Spain, the land of itty bitty fish snacks. Seriously, the anchovies were exquisite. I had them at least once a day in some form or another, but the best way was just those silver slivers in olive oil and salt.
Trattoria dal Billy in Manarola
I possibly had the best pasta dish of my life in Manarola. It just so happened to have an entire lobster in it, too. I kid you not. When I ordered the seafood pasta off the evening menu, I had no idea it would be a boatload of deliciousness. Otherwise, I never would have ordered the fresh fish as a second course!
I loved this little restaurant, and I’d dine here again if my feet ever take me back through Cinque Terre. I recommend you make reservations here for your tour of the 5T!
CRUISING THE BALTIC SEA: TASTES OF THE REGION
For our “Babymoon” holiday, we toured the Baltic Sea via cruise ship. With only a few hours in some cities, we were deliberate with our meal times to find unique culinary creations and local flavors. I have to say that I enjoyed eating our way through the Baltic States.
Riga Central Market in Riga, Latvia
Riga is a lovely city, and we got a great taste of the Baltic State at the Central Market, which is housed under five enormous zeppelin hangars! So much to see, so much to eat! First, we sampled some doughy pastries to curb our hunger pains and then we saddled up to a fish stand. The girl at the counter was super sweet and pointed out her favorites: pickled herring and fresh salmon. We loved it.
Later, we pulled up two chairs to an outdoor cafe and ordered some local brews. We picked up a small sample of Latvia’s infamous liquor, Black Balsalm. I think it’s so famous because it’s so awful…
Restaurant V in Tallinn, Estonia
Even meat lovers can enjoy a meal at Restaurant V in Tallinn’s adorable old city. This vegan establishment wowed us with a delicious mezze platter and a mouth-watering beet burger. Tallinn is a fairytale town, and this darling restaurant is a health-lover’s dream.
Nytorget 6 in Stockholm, Sweden
As I mentioned in Best Eats of 2016, we loved our dinner at Nytorget 6 on our first visit to Stockholm that we trekked across the Södermalm island during our port of call to have lunch there again! I also took the opportunity to indulge in a chocolate ball for my fika-like dessert.
Fika and Fish Soup in the Markets of Helsinki, Finland
We started our morning with a proper fika – coffee and cinamon buns – at the trendy Hietalahti Market Hall. After a little sightseeing, we took shelter from an abrupt snowstorm in the Old Market Hall by the ferry port. We took a seat at a popular stand that specialized in traditional fish soups, the perfect Finnish fare on a cold day.
Chops Grille on The Serenade of the Seas Cruise Ship
In between cruising by all these great Baltic cities, we wanted a few nights of fine dining to celebrate our Babymoon status. Twice, we had dinner at Chops Grille, one of the specialty restaurants onboard, where we dressed up and felt like we were on a date. Of course, we enjoyed some great steaks, and we always ordered dessert. #pregoperks
Vinnies in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Before we set sail on the Serenade of the Seas, we stopped over in Amsterdam. Our Airbnb host recommended a great little café down the street called Vinnies, which is only a 10 minute walk from the Central Station. With heaps of fresh veggies, whole grains, and delicate flavors, this meal was a standout lunch for sure. I would go back here the next time I’m in Amsterdam!
Belgian Bites in Bruges
And before we went to Amsterdam, we fell in love with Bruges, one of the most romantic cities in Europe! Of course, when in Belgium, our mission was to drink lots of beer (non-alcoholic for me), eat mussels and frites, and learn the difference between how Belgian waffles are made in Brussels and in Bruges. #missionaccomplished
TRAVERSING THE ALPS: FAVORITE BITES IN SWITZERLAND
I was bound to have a few good meals in my country of residence this year. Here are my favorite places from eating across Switzerland in 2017.
The Blind Kuh in Zurich
Dining in the dark is a novel experience for most. But for some, like my friend and Taiwan-travel companion Kyle Coon, it’s not a choice. Justin and I had dinner at Zurich’s “blind restaurant” early in the year. You know, one of those places where you eat in total darkness. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience, even though it was quite a challenge. Thankfully, dinner at The Blind Kuh wasn’t only memorable; it was delicious, too!
Schäferstube in Zermatt
When my mom and I stayed in Zermatt in the winter, we supped at the Schäferstube. Forbes writes some pretty good things about this historic, family-run restaurant. But what Forbes won’t tell you is that when you order the lamb chops, you’re going to be eating for two – even if you aren’t pregnant! After I savored my meal of succulent lamb, mashed potatoes and vegetables and cleared my plate, the waitress came over to ask if I was ready for my second portion. Excuse me? A second portion? But I just ate an entire meal! For some unfathomable reason, the Schäferstube is extremely generous when you order this delicious dish, and I have to say it’s quite the deal (and makes great left overs)!
Chez Vrony in Zermatt
As I’ve already shared in this post, our lunch at Chez Vrony was a standout meal for many reasons: the unencumbered view of the Matterhorn, the excellent food, and the kind service. I found out later that Veronica is a member of the Julen family, who have been running Schaferstube for decades. We loved hanging out on the sundeck of Chez Vrony after hiking the Five Lakes Trail. It was the perfect day in Zermatt.
Oh, by the way, Chez Vrony is recommended by Swiss Chef Ivo Adam in the 2015 edition of Where Chefs Eat: A Guide to Chefs’ Favorite Restaurants. So, it’s not just me who’s raving about this mouth-watering mountain destination!
The Berghaus Jochpass above Engelberg
In the summer, we hiked with a big group of friends through the Melchsee-Frutt valley to the Jochpass, which is just above Engelberg. We spent the night at Bärghuis Jochpass, which has to be my favorite mountain inn to date. The friendly staff treated us to a sumptuous three course meal: salmon salad starter, pork tenderloin with scalloped potatoes and glazed carrots, plus a decadent tiramisu dessert. The dinner was fantastic, as was the company.
Restaurant Winteregg near Mürren
When our Little One turned one month old, we took her on a birthday trip to one of our favorite parts of Switzerland, the Jungfrau Region. While riding the train from the Grütschalp Station to Mürren, we noticed a lot of people getting off at the Winteregg stop. After a quick lap of Mürren, we decided to return to Restaurant Winteregg. Out on their sundeck, we shared a generous salad and a darn good good burger while staring at the most grand vistas – a perfect view of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau peaks. It was epic!
The Milch Bar in Zurich
After my portrait session with photographer Jeremy Seow to jazz up the new website, we took refuge from snow flurries at one of the cutest little bars in Zurich – The Milch Bar. This hip establishment is tucked away in the center of the city near Paradeplatz. In addition to being a local favorite, it’s now one of mine and forever immortalized by Jeremy’s photography. Yep, he snapped this post’s featured photo :)
So, that’s it for 2017! As you can see, food is a very important part of all my travel experiences. In fact, trying new flavors and traditional dishes is one of my favorite things to do while traveling! If you’re making plans to visit a new country or culture this year, let me plan your trip for you! I’ll make sure you eat so well that you’ll have to start your own “Best Eats” series!
Hello Fellow Foodies!
Do you seek out the best eats whenever you visit a new destination? What were some of your most memorable meals last year?
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