Thursday, January 29, 2009

Guest Blogger: Five Culinary Travel Tips

Today I'm featuring a guest blogger, Holly McCarthy. If you'd like to guest blog, let me know!

Culinary travel is something that has increased in popularity over the last several years, thanks to some different television shows that have highlighted the culinary experiences while traveling through distant lands. Sometimes, you don’t have to travel far to enjoy the benefits of culinary travel; many cities and regions in the US are known for their specific flavors. There are a few rules of thumb to go by when traveling and looking for those culinary gems that are worth writing home about, some of which are listed for you below.

Do Your Research

Before taking a trip of any length, it is always great to learn as much as you can about a certain area. Read books, peruse articles online, and check out what other people who have visited have to say. Of course, many guidebooks and sites are going to be pushing certain restaurants for various reasons, so take in as much information as you can and establish some sort of game plan.

Avoid Chains

Although this may sound like common sense advice, avoid going to places that you could just as easily try when at home. Understandably, some regional chains are well-known for certain specialties, and this can be an exception to the rule. More than likely, however, chains fail to capture the essence of a region or city and play toward a more homogenized appeal. Additionally, the emergence of massive restaurant chains has undermined the efforts of local businesses and agriculture, so supporting them is not the best option.

Locate Landmark Restaurants

Every major city has them. Do your best to try at least one landmark or famous restaurant when you travel to a major metropolitan area. Although the cost may be a little out there, trying one of the city’s best is a good indicator of the pulse of their culinary offerings. High-end dining experiences are often some of the best meals you can have, especially when you allow yourself to be guided through your meal by the employees of the establishment.

Talk with the Locals

Don’t be afraid to talk to the locals when you get to your destination. People who have lived in a town for any length of time will know of some great places for you to try that you never would have found otherwise. Let them know that you aren’t just looking for places where the tourists go, but that you really want to get out there and try the best of the best. You may be directed to some of the rare gems only enjoyed by those in the know.

Search for Hidden Gems

Once you are out and about, keep your eyes peeled for those hidden gems. Look for places that have that “lived in” look; if a restaurant has been open for a long time, there’s a good chance that they’re doing something right. Street food and stands can also be surprisingly good and affordable as well. Make a day of sampling different local delicacies from out of the way places and feel your sense of adventure grow along with your experiences.

This post was contributed by Holly McCarthy, who writes on the subject of culinary schools. She invites your feedback at hollymccarthy12 at gmail dot com



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