Scroll through my smartphone and you will find hundreds of photos of food.
Browse through the bookmarks on my computer and you will find hundreds of links to websites for wineries, restaurants, cooking classes and food tours around the world.
One of the best parts of travel is the discovery of the food and drink of a destination that is new to you.
Some of my trips are built around the flavors that I want to taste, while some are chosen for different reasons and the food experiences are a bonus.
This year, I have chosen two destinations which I have already visited, so I can vouch for their tastiness myself, and two destinations that I want to visit soon in order to explore their culinary scene, to make up my 2017 list of best food destinations for solo travelers.
Best Food Destinations – Solo Traveler Tested
Nova Scotia, Canada
I spent six days driving around the province of Nova Scotia, and I did not have a single bad meal. I went there with a plan to consume local fish and seafood at every single opportunity, and I did just that. I tried at least three different versions of chowder, I consumed an entire lobster (that is one messy job!), I had salmon and scallops and oysters and even good old fish ‘n chips. If you are a fan of the foods of the sea, you will love Nova Scotia!
I was also curious to try their wines. They have a relatively young wine industry, and I had not tried any of their products. I recommend taking a wine tour in the Annapolis Valley to get a bit of an overview of the wines that they are making now. I liked their sparkling wines best, but you may prefer others. Surprisingly, though, the drink that I unexpectedly loved was rum. Definitely visit the folks at Halifax Distilling Company for a tour and tasting (and take home some of their incredible rum cake).
You will find more reasons to visit and eat your way around the province in Flavors of Nova Scotia: My Top 5 Tastes.
Italy is well-known and loved for its food, so it will come as no surprise that it is on this list. My recommendation for this year is Lombardy. I stayed in Milan and traveled out of the city on day trips. There are an astounding number of trains moving in and out of Milan's Central Station, and within about an hour you can be transported to a different area to explore. In terms of wine, you must sample the wines of Franciacorta, birthplace of (in my opinion) Italy's finest sparkling wines. Take the train to Brescia and book a tour and tasting at Berlucchi Winery. Be sure to book in advance to ensure that you can get on a tour conducted in English, unless your Italian is much better than mine. It's a bit of a toss-up as to whether the palazzo or the wines are more stunning, but there's no need to make a decision either way.
Take a different train from Milan to Desenzano del Garda and book an olive oil tour and tasting at Frantoio Montecroce. You will never buy no-name grocery store olive oil again. Neither will you pick an olive off the tree and bite into it a second time. Trust me. But you will enjoy touring the olive grove, learning how the oil is produced, and tasting the end product.
Of course, there are hundreds of dining options in Milan itself. Take advantage of aperitivo which, for the Italians, is a drink and a snack between work and dinner, but for a solo traveler who has been exploring all day, can serve as dinner – especially if you have indulged in a long lunch earlier in the day. And don't forget: a gelato a day is expected.
Best Food Destinations: My Wish List
I have long wished to visit Armenia, ever since I made a number of Armenian friends when I was attending university in Montreal. An invitation to dine at one of their homes was always met with excitement. They introduced me to cheeses, spices and dishes – pastries, stuffed vegetables and grape leaves, kebabs – that I had never before tasted. To this day, there is always a jar of za'atar in my kitchen. I have not yet tried Armenian wine, but they have been making it for thousands of years. The oldest known winery in the world is found in Armenia, and it is 6,100 years old. Of course, Armenia is also known for their apricots, walnuts, and pomegranates.
Yerevan has an exciting food scene that will be fascinating and delicious to immerse yourself in. It also has the advantage of not yet being overrun with tourists, so now is the time to experience it in a more authentic way.
Yes, I know, Honduras has a bit of a reputation for being unsafe. It also produces my favorite coffee, Cafe Solar. I purchase the beans when they are still green and roast them myself. I have never visited a coffee plantation, but I want to see this one. The coffee is grown organically, and unlike the environmental problems caused by conventional coffee growing, Cafe Solar uses solar energy, and the co-op is managed by women, promoting gender equality and sustainable practices. The coffee is fair trade certified and they are pioneering innovative methods that are bird-friendly and contribute to the restoration of the rainforest. That's a whole lot of goodness in your morning cup! And how great would it be to tour the area and see, smell, hear, touch, and taste the origins of your coffee and meet the people responsible for creating it?
Beyond the coffee, the food of Honduras is also appealing. Carne asada, baleadas, tamales, and fried plantain are all on my must-try list. Followed by a cup of coffee, of course.
What are your best food destinations? Which destinations are on your food travel wish list?