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Talefeathers: The Latitude 35 Blog

It's All About the Food: 5 Memorable Meals

What makes a great meal? It's not just about "fancy" food.

In my previous post, It's All About the Food: Eatables as Experience, I had started writing about 5 memorable meals, but got sidetracked into musings on food and culture. Some of those foods were deliciously memorable, while others were regrettably memorable. But they're all part of the sensory experience of travel.

In no particular order, below are my reminiscings of five meals that were memorable not only because of the food itself, but because of the overall surrounding experiences. I recommend them all if you're ever in these cities.

Lima, Peru: Maido

Maido: Gindara (sablefish/black cod) with sudado (sauce/stew) reduction and seaweed; chicha de jora (a fermented beverage made from maize)

Sure, Maido is one of the World's 50 Best Restaurants, but I'm sure it was even better because it was my birthday dinner, capping off an overall fantastic day.

In 2019, I was flying home from Buenos Aires — my last trip before COVID-19! I got a super-cheap upgrade to United's Polaris Business class, those amazing seats where you're basically in your own wonderful cubbyhole. The catch? It came with a 12-hour layover in Lima. Normally, long layovers are dreadful waits in airports. But Lima makes it easy to go out and explore. I had plenty of time to walk in the parks alongside the ocean, explore the Huaca Pucllana historical ruins, and check out the Centro Histórico.

With that terrific day as a backdrop, I headed to my birthday dinner. The food at Maido is Nikkei — Japanese-Peruvian fusion — probably my favorite cuisine. Usually I don't like eating alone at fancy restaurants, but you know what? No one cared! And I was in my own glorious world, savoring every delicious bite and sip. I also discovered a new (to me) saké which reminds me of that day every time I drink it.

Hakone, Japan: Onsen Hotel Gorakan

Onsen Hotel Gorakan: The best wagyu beef I've ever had. Tender, juicy, and lots of umami. Grilled at the table.

Onsen are hot springs and in Japan, onsen hotels have baths that are fed by the mineral-rich natural springs. At Onsen Hotel Gorakan, I had stunningly beautiful breakfasts and dinners — the kind where they bring you a dozen or two small dishes in beautiful ceramics and lacquerware. The staff were so kind and tolerant of my rusty Japanese, and willing to make small talk. After dinner, I relaxed in the private open-air onsen and reflected on my day of sightseeing (Mt. Fuji, Lake Ashi, Owakudani hot spring eggs, Hakone Open-Air Museum...) while my muscles and stress turned to mush. Brilliant!!

Barcelona, Spain: Quimet y Quimet

Quimet y Quimet: Foie gras (yum!!) with volcanic salt, white asparagus and salmon, loquats with anchovies (my fave!), and pink bubbles.

In 2022, I headed to Barcelona for Primavera Sound. It was a working trip — at the laptop during the day and seeing outstanding lineups of some of my old favorites (Low, Einstürzende Neubauten, Gorillaz, Fontaines DC, Nick Cave, Bauhaus...) and fun new discoveries (Les Amazones d'Afrique, Gustaf, The Armed...). Having seen most sights on a previous visit, it was then all about the food. And the Spaniards do it best!

Anthony Bourdain had exquisite taste, so I followed his footsteps to Quimet y Quimet for tapas and montaditos. In fact, I loved it so much the first time, I went back a couple days later. The food was terrific, but it was also about the experience. It's standing only and you're limited to one hour. There were lots of other solo eaters, so I met several people and had interesting conversations I don't normally have at restaurants. We even shared some bites. Those interactions made it so fun!

(Tip: Get in line half an hour before they open. You'll be more likely to get in right away and maybe even get a spot at the bar where they prepare the food.)

Buenos Aires, Argentina: La Fuerza

La Fuerza: A pile o' grilled veggies, hummus, and La Fuerza rojo vermouth.

I still remember the huge smile on my face and the bliss I felt at La Fuerza. The day before, I had landed in Buenos Aires after three flights and 23 hours. Flying always dehydrates me, I have a really hard time sleeping on airplanes, and it seems like most airplane food is so carb heavy and dense. So after a good night's sleep, I was super excited to get some fresh air and healthy food. The grilled veggies and hummus were exactly what I needed, and, though I hadn't planned on consuming alcohol, it was the best vermouth I've ever had. The casual, lively atmosphere made it even better.

Nashville, TN: Robert's Western World

Robert's Western World: The famous fried bologna sandwich. Not pictured: fried pickles!

I like fancy and I like no-frills. Robert's Western World is the latter. I don't usually like bologna and hadn't had it in decades. But Robert's fried bologna sandwich really hit the spot. There's something surprisingly comforting about it, and it's the perfect foil to whatever alcoholic beverage you're sipping. What made it even better was that I was with my friend Peggie, and there was great band playing in the front, and it was part of a wonderful, long weekend exploring Nashville, listening to tons of music and eating lots of delicious food I don't normally eat. I'd totally go back to Robert's, half for the music and half for more fried bologna goodness.


What are your memorable food experiences? Have you been to any of the places above? Let me know in the comments!

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