Four adventures for foodies
From a wine-tasting near Tokyo in Japan to a Ottoman-style eatery in Croatia, Chris Carter looks at four foodie paradises.
From a wine-tasting near Tokyo in Japan to a Ottoman-style eatery in Croatia.
Yamanashi is the most important of Japan's four major wine regions, says Elin McCoy on Bloomberg. It's here that koshu, a grape variety unique to the country, is grown. Yamanashi is also "an easy day or weekend trip from Tokyo, and most wineries have tasting rooms and cafes open daily".
Haramo Wine is one. It is a small and popular family-run lunch stop, housed in a building once used for silkworm production. "You can enjoy simple Japanese vegetable plates with maitake mushrooms and sausages as well as meat curries on rice, then superb coffee." Koshu wines used to be "sweet and reviled", Ernie Singer, a Tokyo wine merchant, who produces Shizen sparkling koshu on Mount Fuji, tells McCoy. But with the help of some Bordeaux savoir-faire, "now almost all koshu is dry", he says. The wines from Yamanashi have "floral aromas" and "delicate, distinctive flavours" that lend themselves to Japanese mainstays such as sushi and sashimi.
Off the beaten track
The Maskovica Han hotel is an "impressive complex built in traditional Ottoman style" in the Croatian countryside, dating from 1644, says Lynne Hyland in the Daily Express. It had originally been intended as a summer house for an admiral of the Turkish fleet until a fall-out with the Sultan scuppered his plans. These days, it's an upmarket hotel with an "atmospheric dining hall, converted from the former mosque". It's also a good base for a drive to Plastovo, "a tiny village perched on top of a hill", where a blackboard announces that you've arrived at the "Bibich tasting room and wine shop", says Polly Russell in the Financial Times.
The area is on the same latitude as Tuscany, but it is higher. So, while there is still sufficient sun to ripen the grapes, the cool, salty air adds acidity to the wines, the winemaker Alen Bibic explains. Bibic's wines are accompanied with food cooked by his wife, Vesna, who is a trained chef. "Along with a rounded, honey-coloured sauvignon blanc, we were treated to a tiny glass of frothy, creamy homemade yoghurt, smoked over juniper wood," says Russell. The food from this region is amazing, and it pays to get off the beaten track.
From €120, maskovicahan.hr
A unique sandwich in Tel Aviv
"It was not the plan to follow our stomachs so assiduously, but Israel is a country that eats," says Alice Hancock for Spectator Life. "Every corner has a pastry shop oozing honey-coloured baklava or a spice hawker or simply a mound of dates." The old port town of Jaffa was once a "humming orange export hub" from which, in the 1920s, 66 Jewish families founded the modern city of Tel Aviv. This is a city to see on your feet from the "uptown boulevards lined with the earliest Bauhaus buildings of the so-called White City' down to the ramshackle graffiti covered walls of Florentin". Stay at Hotel Saul, which has posters of iconic buildings in each room and a "distinctly Bauhaus flavour". Better yet, though, is the best sabich shop in Tel Aviv that just so happens to be on the same street. Sabich is an Iraqi-Jewish egg and aubergine pitta sandwich. It is unique to Israel and one of Tel Aviv's most popular snacks.
From $167, hotelsaul.com
Farm to table in Thailand
"Renowned for its authentic food, Trisara is the grande dame of Phuket's five-star beachside boutique scene," says Adam Hay-Nicholls in City AM. Restaurant PRU, one of three dining options, is the only Michelin-star winner on the island of Phuket.
The name stands for "Plant, Rise, Understand", which translates as sustainable dining a concept that is at home in the West, but relatively new to Thai tables. Locally sourced okra, hot basil and lemongrass are reimagined in the PRU kitchen as Asian-European fusion dishes. The restaurant even has its own farm, PRU Jamba, where fish is caught, and chickens and ducks are reared. "Meat is purchased at the morning market in Phuket Town, and saltwater fish arrives in hand-hewn rattan traps and nets delivered by the fishermen themselves; translucent-skinned tuna and hefty amberjack still flopping about."
PRU's six-course dining experience with wine pairings costs 7,000 baht (£170). See prurestaurant.com