"Wow, these tomatoes actually taste like something." The vibrant produce grown in gardens mere steps from where we dine during our Backroads trips through Croatia often garners this reaction. Leaders often jokingly respond, "Because it's grown with love," but, in all seriousness, that's the simple truth. After leading Backroads trips here for the past two years, I've been lucky enough to dine on some of the most delicious, fresh and original meals in all of Croatia, in some of the most undiscovered places. More than just great meals in the homes of our local hosts, these are experiences that offer a window to the genuine culture, passions and real day-to-day world of the people who call this place home.
Nothing beats traveling with your family - experiencing new things through the fresh eyes of your kids, while instilling in them a sense of adventure and new perspectives. Europe is full of ideal family trip destinations that are close enough to be accessible, yet far enough away to be new and exciting.
Hawaii is a foodie's paradise. There's no other way to say it. You'll find roadside fruit stands boasting smoothies, popsicles, and baked goods filled with local tropical fruits like strawberry, mango and pineapple. Local organic farms host a variety of tours where you can sample luscious sugarcane treats with a fresh squeeze of lime, prepare your own fresh coconut milk and indulge in a myriad of local chocolate delicacies. Fine dining establishments in Hawaii bestow modern twists of island favorites like macadamia nut-encrusted Mahi Mahi and salads decorated with edible flowers straight from the chef's garden. Food trucks dole out fresh fish tacos while locals crack open young coconuts from the back of their trucks to satisfy thirsty beachgoers.
My grandfather, a chef, often said that "cooking is an art, my friend." If so, the Italians are minimalists with the mind of Salvador Dali. How else do you explain prosciutto and melon? Biscotti dipped in vin santo? Or olive oil gelato? I marvel at their creativity, their ability to perfectly pair seemingly disparate food choices that result in the creation of something altogether new and often quite extraordinary. Combining contrasting flavors, common and uncommon, familiar and unfamiliar, leave a lasting impression that transforms the enjoyable but ordinary into an experience both memorable and sublime. In my experience, the pairing of travel destinations can have a similar effect. Italy's Piedmont and Portofino are two distinct destinations that perfectly complement each other.
Backroads has long embraced the philosophy that, after a day spent biking or hiking in off-the-beaten-path corners of a new and beautiful region of the world, an outstanding meal is the perfect way to immerse ourselves even further in the local cuisine and culture. For this reason, our guests in Europe and the United States enjoy exquisite meals at over 30 Michelin-starred restaurants, including California's Madrona Manor, Italy's Ristorante Villa Crespi, Spain's Marqués de Riscal and France's Auberge de l'Ill.
Here at Backroads we like to find adventure in the great outdoors--cycling through rural countryside or hiking over mountain passes with the wind whipping through our hair. All of this is wonderful, but sometimes our most memorable adventures can be found right on a plate in front of us. Bugs, intestines, rodents. In many parts of the world, these are delicacies in the same league as lobster or caviar. So how "weird" does it get? Who better to ask than our fearless, world traveling, eat-anything-that's-not-poisonous Backroads Trip Leaders!
Writing about the "why" of picnics at Backroads in a recent blog post got me thinking about the "how..." I certainly wasn't born knowing how to create a bountiful spread for 20+ people in the middle of nowhere, and our guests are always curious where this seemingly magical skill comes from when they roll up to an overflowing lunch table. So here are a few tips and tricks I use when creating some of my favorite dishes. Try them the next time you're tasked with pleasing a throng of long-lost relatives or picky eaters and bring some Backroads organization, aesthetics and deliciousness to the table!
As Backroads leaders, we wear many hats in a given day: concierge, mechanic, translator, chauffeur, navigator, motivator… the list is infinite. One of my favorites to don, however, has to be that of “chef,” because that’s when we get to perform the magic that results in the famous Backroads picnic lunch!
If you've spent any time traveling internationally you've undoubtedly encountered some form of curry on menus and local tables in just about any region of the world, and especially in South Asia. So what exactly is curry, and why does it seem to be everywhere? With a little bit of knowledge about this delicious culinary tradition, your traveling adventures (and your palate!) will be enriched as you learn to appreciate all that curry has to offer. I'm here to help you out!
It’s often said that one of the best ways to explore a city is with your nose. Fortunately, Paris is no exception, as the city is burgeoning with intoxicating aromas wafting from bakeries, bistros and bars. From sweet to savory, creamy to crunchy, no matter what neighborhood you find yourself in, there’s a plethora of places to eat in Paris. And the best part is that many of the city’s tastiest meals are small, simple and inexpensive.