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As a tourist, do you plan your trips around food?

Miss Needle Mar 11, 2008 11:46 AM

I'm curious as to how many of you plan your vacations around food/restaurants. The reason I ask is I see a lot of threads where NYers recommend Difara's in Midwood, Brooklyn for tourists to NYC. Being from NY and having eaten (and loved) Difara, I can easily say that if I was a first-time visitor to NY for about a week, I would not be schlepping my butt there because I feel that there are so many other things to do and a trip to Difara would just not fit in my schedule. I'd gladly go to a lesser quality (but still good) pizzaeria if it's more central or near other tourist destinations.

Many things drive me, and food is definitely one of them. One of the reasons I've held off so long visiting Costa Rica is that I've heard the food is pretty bland. However, I don't find food to be the most important component of my vacation (and life) -- probably not the most chowish statement to make. Food's up there, but I like to find a balance between food and other things. What do you guys do?

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  1. p
    pilches Mar 11, 2008 11:55 AM

    I wouldn't say that I plan my entire vacation around food/restaurants, but I would have to admit the food plays a large part. I have found myself in some very out of the way places in search of that perfect meal. And not just restaurants, but markets, specialty food stores, wineries, etc. I have been known to plan the day's activities around the restaurants I want to get to. I don't think I would exclude a destination that I want to visit because the food is supposedly bland, but I would definitely spend as much time as necessary to find the best they have to offer.

    1. s
      swsidejim Mar 11, 2008 11:56 AM

      Always,

      I research for months ahead of time, making a list, and doing a rough schedule of where we are eating for what I consider the important meals of the day(lunch & dinner). Breakfast is a rarity, since on vacation I rarely am up in time, and typically recovering from the previous nights festivities.

      7 Replies
      1. re: swsidejim
        s
        Snaps Mar 11, 2008 01:51 PM

        What are a few of your favorite food destinations?

        1. re: Snaps
          s
          swsidejim Mar 11, 2008 02:07 PM

          I have liked Honolulu, San Francisco, & London. I also crave fresh fish, & seafood so Sanibel Island Florida, as well as Marco Island Florida. I also like Hilton Head South Carolina.

          Living in Chicago I can get all the ethnic type foods and prime steaks I can handle, but fresh seafood is lacking

          1. re: swsidejim
            Bill Hunt Mar 11, 2008 08:02 PM

            You hit a few of my favs. along the way. Have not done Sanibel & Marco Island, but still have wonderful dreams of Fernandia Beach and also Charleston. To the list, I'd add New Orleans, Paris and also the current crop in Las Vegas. Considering that I dislike that town, and have yet to drop $0.25 in any machine, I've spent many, many $ for great food and wine, so I have helped make their economy.

            Hunt

            1. re: Bill Hunt
              s
              swsidejim Mar 12, 2008 05:20 AM

              How could I forget New Orleans..? one of my favorite cities for food.
              I also enjoyed some of the food I ate in Las Vegas. I have not been to NYC since I was a kid, so I have no recent food memories of there.

        2. re: swsidejim
          Bill Hunt Mar 11, 2008 07:59 PM

          Sounds like my house. I end up with a spreadsheet of the restaurants for each trip. Unfortunately, most are for business, so there are always the "events," that we must attend. Still, every open night goes into the spreadsheet, with a copy in my briefcase, so I do not forget what time, how many diners, and where, we'll be dining.

          The trips are, for the most part, not directed at food, but include dining for every one.

          For example, we have a conference in New Orleans and I filled every free moment with reservations, including brunch, the day we fly out. I would not have it any other way.

          Hunt

          1. re: Bill Hunt
            m
            moh Mar 11, 2008 08:08 PM

            New Orleans is definitely a place I would travel to just for the food. I've been trying to figure out when i can next get there. When Uglesich's was still around, we went back three times in 5 days, and would have been there all 5 days, except that they were closed on the weekends. We had the cab driver stop there on our way to the airport so we could pick up yet another soft shell crab po-boy for the ride home. I still dream of that wonderful sandwich... although Uglesich's is no more, there are still so many special foods there that it is a must- do place.

            1. re: moh
              Miss Needle Mar 12, 2008 08:24 AM

              I think somebody purchased Uggie's as it's still around. Yeah, they were the best.

        3. Scrapironchef Mar 11, 2008 12:10 PM

          Why else would you go somewhere?

          Don't be afraid of Costa Rica, yes, there's beans and rice with every meal, but they have a great variety of simple tasty foods.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Scrapironchef
            d
            dfrostnh Mar 11, 2008 12:45 PM

            I don't exactly plan our vacations around food although when we go to Maine we basically visit all the best lobster places and try to find new ones. Wandering the roads sort of fits our way of exploring. If I have the opportunity to visit a local grocery store, I jump at the chance. I was stunned to find fresh peach juice on Nova Scotia. And I usually include some food/condiments in my souvenier shopping.

            1. re: dfrostnh
              c
              cimui Mar 11, 2008 02:18 PM

              Ah, that's a really good point. I love wandering around a city or town and getting lost with just some loose idea of finding a place for lunch. I suppose in some cases, food is just an excuse to wander. That's my favorite way of getting to know a place.

              1. re: cimui
                steinpilz Mar 11, 2008 02:51 PM

                This is pretty much exactly what I do also.

                1. re: cimui
                  Bill Hunt Mar 11, 2008 08:05 PM

                  I'll do this in many cites, while wife is in a meeting. Grab a map from the concierge and walk, until I find a place that tells me I need to eat there. Dinners are always reserved and usually months out, but lunch, or breakfast is done by wandering. Some cities, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, New Orleans (which I know very well) are better, than some others for this endeavor. One just has to trust the look and the feel, and I have only had a few mistakes in many years of doing it this way.

                  Hunt

              2. re: Scrapironchef
                b
                BostonCookieMonster Mar 12, 2008 08:10 AM

                I kind of agree with the sentiment "Why else would you go somewhere?" Hee. And I'm not that crazy about going around viewing tourist attractions in general, so having a food destination in mind often gets me into interesting neighborhoods. But that said, I'm actually heading to Costa Rica next month for non-eating-related reasons. What do you recommend? I imagine the coffee is good ...

                1. re: BostonCookieMonster
                  Scrapironchef Mar 12, 2008 01:47 PM

                  I loathe the whole "church and castle" tour standard and avoid tourists like the plague, so food is what usually drives me anywhere. I don't get why you would travel to somewhere and not be interested in the food.

                  As to Costa Rica, I'd hesitate to make specific recommendations as it was a couple of years ago, but if you smell chicken roasting just follow your nose. The coffee is wonderful and, touristy as it is, if you want to learn about the whole process take the Britt tour. We had wonderful seafood down near Manuel Antonio Park and didn't have a bad piece of fruit the whole trip.

                  See pictures for one meal shot, the ubiquitous chicken roaster, the view from our room and the security guard outside.

                   
                   
                   
                   
                  1. re: Scrapironchef
                    b
                    BostonCookieMonster Mar 13, 2008 06:39 AM

                    Thanks! A hammock, a cup of coffee, and a roast chicken sounds pretty good to me.

              3. m
                moh Mar 11, 2008 01:52 PM

                I have planned the occasional trip around food, solely for the food. NYC is one of those kinds of destination. But for the most part, I go to a destination for a conference or to see friends, and then once I know where I am going, I plan out a lot of food-related stops along the way. I will definitely schlep out to a distant part of town to get something special (like donuts, fried chicken, soup dumplings, chocolate, etc), and I often find that I discover new fun places on the way. The food may be the destination, but there are always other things to look at too.

                I also love stopping in places that look interesting or good. Some of our favorite eats have happened because we happened to drive by, and I made my poor hubbie stop and go back. We've had some really great tacos and pupusas, soul food, Asian meals, pastries, candies, etc. this way. My hubbie claims I have a sixth sense for places to eat. I must say, we've been awfully lucky so far.

                I have posted on this before, but I really love the fruit tourist thing, where you travel to a destination in time for a fruit season, like peaches in the South, cherries in B.C. There is nothing like tree-ripened fruit. Again, there are always other things to do along the way, but the fruit is the goal.

                1. c
                  cimui Mar 11, 2008 02:08 PM

                  I think food is a legit, motivating reason to visit a place. Sometimes, I plan my vacation destinations around the best rock climbing or the best skiing or the best beaches; other times, I go for the best food.

                  My most recent vacation involved a long excursion in Singapore. There aren't a lot of reasons to visit Singapore other than for the food, if you're not going for business. (BTW, it did not disappoint: I got to try fresh mangosteen for the first time and sample an almost infinite variety of fantastic street fare.)

                  And all those weekend trips my then SO and I made down to Baja California when we were living in L.A.... He thought we were going for the cheap booze and neverending parties; I was going for fish tacos, eaten on the beach the next morning to salt air and sun.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: cimui
                    t
                    torty Mar 11, 2008 02:40 PM

                    Ditto. Used all the American Express points after the marriage broke up and took the kid to Singapore. The market food did not disappoint. Nothing like having a kid who recognizes the smell of durian (we were there in the season) from afar and had to point out to me that domes of the Esplanade were modeled after durian. Also Baja in the early 80's before fish tacos wantabes were everywhere- seafood in Rosarito and Ensenada was clearly the reason for going. Margaritas in those heavy pale green glasses with the blue rims may have played a part as well.

                  2. c
                    cor Mar 11, 2008 02:28 PM

                    Yes.

                    1. Sam Fujisaka Mar 11, 2008 02:29 PM

                      I accept or try to get out of work trips around the globe in part due to food.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                        Scrapironchef Mar 11, 2008 06:28 PM

                        I used to lobby heavily for the better food locations, if I have to be away from home the food better be worth it. It got to be a regular thing that I was the guy on the team responsible for where we ate.

                      2. p
                        phoenikia Mar 11, 2008 02:43 PM

                        I plan my trips around scenery first, but as soon as I know where I'm going, I start to plan the meals for the trip by determining the regional specialties, then researching to draw up a short list of restaurants for the places I'll be visiting.

                        If I don't have a list of places, I'll walk around, reading menus, but unfortunately, the description often sounds better than what ends up being served. I'm very specific when I ask a concierge for recommendations now, after being sent to a tourist trap when I asked for a "good psarotaverna" in Crete last year. For the rest of the trip, I asked slightly more specific questions like, "where would you eat, if you wanted traditional food, and you weren't able to get it at home?" or "which restaurants do the locals eat at, if they want a good, home-style cooked meal?".

                        I'll also check to see what's in season, before I go, and try to order seasonal specialties if I can.

                        Depending on what country I'm visiting, sometimes I'll review my vocabulary, so I won't accidentally order rognone (kidneys) again. I usually bring a phrase book, just in case I encounter a word I don't recognize.

                        Right now, I'm researching restaurants in Brittany and the Lakes District. Cartmel sticky pudding, kouing amann, and possibly the best lobster in the whole wide world? I can't wait!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: phoenikia
                          Scrapironchef Mar 11, 2008 06:31 PM

                          I used to ask the locals "where would you take your wife out for a nice dinner?" after they gave me that answer I'd ask "Where would you take your girlfriend?" . The second answer was always better.

                          1. re: Scrapironchef
                            p
                            phoenikia Mar 11, 2008 06:54 PM

                            Lol...will try your questions out on my next trip;)

                        2. steinpilz Mar 11, 2008 02:49 PM

                          I definitely enjoy researching restaurants, markets, and local foods, before traveling. Once I arrive I'm not really scheduled though, in a city I prefer to walk about and work in as many foodie highlights as reasonable as I progress, with a car I do pretty much the same thing.

                          1. BarmyFotheringayPhipps Mar 11, 2008 03:54 PM

                            When I was a kid, my family vacations to the gulf coast of Texas were always scheduled to hit a certain restaurant in Menard, Texas (now sadly closed) at a meal time. That's probably where I got it from.

                            Now I wouldn't say I plan my trips around food, but if I'm going to a city I've been to before, there are certainly meals and foods I'd like to have again while I'm there!

                            1. h
                              Harters Mar 11, 2008 04:01 PM

                              Nope, we never plan a holiday destination around food. But once a destination is agreed, I enjoy researching restaurant using sites like this one and other surfs. More of an issue when we are touring rather than staying in one place - if you're in one place, you are likely to hear of somewhere or come across it while out and about. When touring, you never come across "the great little place round the corner", unless you research.

                              J

                              1. limster Mar 11, 2008 04:21 PM

                                Yes and no. Yes in the sense that I travel to eat, but no in the sense that I will always set aside time to to explore, where I throw away the guidebooks and recommendations and just hit the ground cold to see what I stumble upon. There's nothing like serendipity.

                                Regarding the schlep to Di Fara's, I certainly wouldn't make a recommendation for great chow that is out of the way on a regular travel board. But on chowhound.com, when I make recommendations, I always do so with the assumption that the people asking about where to eat are hardcore chowhounds who are willing to go the extra 10 miles for serious chow. Assuming otherwise would be a serious sign of disrespect.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: limster
                                  hill food Mar 17, 2008 08:06 PM

                                  "There's nothing like serendipity."

                                  Yes! sadly I don't take notes, so I can never give specific recs beyond "it's one of the little dumps behind the X, not the one with blank, but the other one"

                                  but the hunt is a BIG part of the fun so why spoil it for others?

                                  I do research the area and season so I have an idea of what to look for on a menu when I'm there.

                                2. Cookiefiend Mar 11, 2008 04:54 PM

                                  I don't plan a trip specifically for the food, but once I find out where we're going...

                                  The search begins.

                                  I drive Mr CF nuts. ;-)

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Cookiefiend
                                    m
                                    moh Mar 11, 2008 05:30 PM

                                    "I drive Mr CF nuts. ;-)"

                                    I so hear you! I used to drive Mr. Moh nuts too, but now he is on board. he has been well-trained or "assimilated" (a la the Borg). Now he even starts planning before I do...

                                    1. re: moh
                                      Cookiefiend Mar 11, 2008 06:14 PM

                                      :-)

                                      If both of us were on here, we'd never get anything done!

                                      I'm usually at the office when 'researching' the area we're traveling to. Mr CF walks by and says "Are you on there again!?!".
                                      Who, me?

                                      But when I pick a great place and we have a fabulous meal, he knows why.
                                      And I think he likes that!

                                      1. re: Cookiefiend
                                        Manybears Mar 11, 2008 06:27 PM

                                        We sort of combine duties... he finds a list of must-do stuff and I obsessively research nearby eats in case we're hungry while we're in the neighbourhood. I'm still willing enough to be caught off-guard on random wanderings through town or country though (in-person discovery is twice as fun as online discovery before you go), and I also make sure that if there's something I absolutely have to eat while I'm there (or a place I have to eat at) I work it in to the plan.

                                        1. re: Manybears
                                          Cookiefiend Mar 11, 2008 07:51 PM

                                          One of the best things is finding some place you didn't know about, popping in, grabbing a little bite and having a marvelous time. Last time this happened, I inadvertently wore my very delicious carnitas for the rest of the afternoon, the juicy things dripped on my pants.

                                          It was totally worth it!

                                      2. re: moh
                                        Miss Needle Mar 12, 2008 08:29 AM

                                        Ha! Nice to see another Trekker on board. DH is not into planning for trips (yet he keeps a spreadsheet of all the restaurants he's been to with ratings and a spreadsheet of restaurants that are on his to-do list in our hometown) and gives me full liberty. He appreciates the research efforts as he said he eats better when he travels with me.

                                    2. im_nomad Mar 11, 2008 07:11 PM

                                      It depends on who i'm travelling with. I have a couple of friends and relatives who are all about trying all sorts of new and different things out there, some more reserved but still willing to spend some $ on maybe a good steak (but nothing ethnic), and others who just want a good cheap meal.

                                      Have to kind of work around it sometimes.....one fellow great travel companion I have a blast with, but won't go there when it comes to trying out unusual restaurants, and can't tolerate really spicey stuff. So sometimes i've had to do some take-out on the road with her, but i don't get to try some of the fantastic restaurants and cuisines i've heard of in the city. I have dragged her to some very large farmer's markets though too. I insist on trying these out in any large area i visit. On a side note, if wineries count, i will drive off into the wild blue yonder to suss one out...and have...

                                      Before i go anywhere however, i'm googling away to find restaurants i want to try. Even when i return to my home area, i plan out a few meals in old haunts i have to visit. I am planning a trip the end of June , and have already investigated several restaurants in the area to hopefully try, as well as the market. I am travelling with the somewhat unadventurous eater, so i'm trying to find places to make everyone happy !!

                                      On another note. ...i tend to travel back from where-ever i go, with an awful lot of extra baggage containing food items :)

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: im_nomad
                                        Ruth Lafler Mar 11, 2008 08:32 PM

                                        Good point. Since I'm single, I sometimes travel on by myself, and those trips tend to be very food-centric. I have a friend I travel with sometimes who is a chowhound wannabee: she's willing to participate in food-related (aka obsessive) activities, but she's also got long lists of things she won't eat, and she's cheap, so while we can do a lot of exploring, we can't do a lot of dining.

                                        I've spent a lot of vacations in the last couple of years with my cousins, and they totally aren't into food. They like good food, but they don't spend a lot of time thinking about it, planning it, etc. Although I did turn one of my cousins on to some fabulous cheese I bought at a great cheese shop near his house that I don't think he every went to.

                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                          Miss Needle Mar 12, 2008 08:34 AM

                                          Yeah, I've traveled with non-foodie friends as well. I remember going to a very good restaurant (which was on the pricier style) where my friend said that you can get the same quality of food at half the price. She was more into going to a restaurant because of the scene. We had to compromise a lot on that trip.

                                      2. linguafood Mar 11, 2008 07:12 PM

                                        While we don't travel somewhere exclusively for the food, is it always a *major* part of the planning -- I spend days on the internets (and since Nov 07 this wonderful place) checking out restos. Once I am in town, I follow my nose, or very often just 'happen' upon places, like the Marché du Vieux in Montreal, where I spent a good 45 minutes just looking around. Whenever we go to the city -- be that THE city, Philly or Bawlmer/D.C., at least one night is spent at a resto I've researched and we've agreed on.

                                        1. r
                                          rameniac Mar 11, 2008 07:14 PM

                                          is there any other reason, besides food, for actually going somewhere? ;)

                                          1. Bill Hunt Mar 11, 2008 07:51 PM

                                            To a degree. We travel on business, and I always research the location for food and wine. When we actually vacation, it is to places that we love, and they *happen* to have great food.

                                            This is not exactly what you are asking, and I understand the differences. Still, the only way my wife can get me to accompany her on a trip to Las Vegas, is if I get to pick the restaurants.

                                            So, food figures prominently into our travel plans. We seldom have time to do a trip, not around business, that we get to plan, just because of food. Fortunately, most of our travels are TO food cities, New Orleans, San Francisco (and its wine-country environs), London, Paris and even Las Vegas.

                                            We do plan "long weekends" for food events, tastings or chef's specials, so that might qualify under the terms of your question. We've been known to fly in, across the country, for one night of wine tasting, or a certain chef's event. We also subscribe to several wine/dine newsletters from places that we've enjoyed, like Blackberry Farm in Waland, TN. We hope to get back for some of their vintner's dinners, even if it's fly-in/fly-out.

                                            Hunt

                                            1. y
                                              YumTum Mar 11, 2008 09:04 PM

                                              I've got to admit- my trips are frequently based around food. A trip last year was centered around a 1 week cooking class in Provence. I also once finagled a 2 year assigment in Japan because I wanted endless access to fresh good quality sushi and shabu shabu!!! My sister in law says that I am the only person that she knows that literally lands in a new town and then heads straight for the local food markets.....

                                              1. meatn3 Mar 11, 2008 10:36 PM

                                                I guess Scouting stuck with me in "be prepared". Food always is a fair aspect of a trip. Some it is the primary reason, sometimes it is the only highlight in a trip required for more mundane reasons. I will travel many hours out of the way for an amazing food situation. I research possibilities for food located near the area that non-food activities have been planned. Sometimes they are used, sometimes it doesn't work into the equation, other times my 6th sense & serendipity bring us to a new discovery. But a little research pays in knowing what seasonal & regional specialties await...just in case! As an aside, one of my most frustrating travel experiences was with a companion in Paris who would not stop to explore the food shops (we don't have a kitchen so why waste time). Consequently my next trip there will be all about food! Hopefully with an apartment with an equipped kitchen too.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: meatn3
                                                  hill food Mar 17, 2008 08:18 PM

                                                  Meatn3: in Paris' central tourist core - great open-air market near the Cardinal Lemoine Metro even in the dead of Winter and on the other bank there (is, was?) a small grocery store with a fascinating frozen food section, always fun to see how others might eat when home and lazy, on Rue St. Antoine near the St. Paul Metro (dove into the fresh broccoli - love French food, but craved a simple steamed green that night).

                                                2. AnneInMpls Mar 11, 2008 11:00 PM

                                                  Definitely! The only time I ever had bad food in Paris is when I failed to research restaurants (for a spur-of-the-moment weekend trip from London). And it was definitely bad food, so I learned my lesson! After I book the airplane tickets, I spend all available time researching restaurants, markets, and other food possibilities. I barely leave enough time to pack.

                                                  I'm currently trying to plan a trip to Portugal around the availability of fresh sardines. Tips, anyone?

                                                  Anne

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: AnneInMpls
                                                    nliedel Mar 12, 2008 07:40 AM

                                                    I don't plan my vacations around food per se, but I would not visit a place that has no culinary appeal to me. When I decide on a vacation destination food is in the equation, for sure. Along with other things, like things to do I enjoy. If I am going to a major city I spend a lot of time researching that city and the restaurants and I don't go home without hitting my favorite pizza place.

                                                  2. j
                                                    Janet from Richmond Mar 12, 2008 07:43 AM

                                                    Trips are planned around food and/or sports. I love good food and good sports and good drink. My husband proposed on the third date......LOL

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                      Ruth Lafler Mar 12, 2008 10:38 AM

                                                      Yeah, I end up going to some pretty un-foodie places on my sports-related trips (Reading, PA and somewhat surprisingly, Atlantic City). In addition, on those trips I usually have time and transportation constaints, but I do like to try to dig up some gems, even if they're only semi-precious. Thanks to this board and another board I found through this board, I'm famous among my sports-fan friends for being able to find the best restaurants and the best hotel deals.

                                                    2. r
                                                      Rick Mar 12, 2008 08:57 AM

                                                      Like some others I don't solely plan my trip around food but it certainly plays a large part. I WILL go out of of my way to try somewhere that is supposed to be excellent as opposed to somewhere that is similar but not as good. So yes, I would visit Difara in your example.

                                                      1. s
                                                        sporkgirl Mar 12, 2008 09:23 AM

                                                        Clearly. Being married to a chef has meant glorious forays into the food cultures of many cities while on Eating Trips. Although two dinners every night can get to be a little much...On our own time, we tend to wander a bit more, but with foreknowledge of the area's bounty. This board is my bible for overseas research.

                                                        How many of you have become beacons for your friends? I can't tell you the amount of calls I get that start with "I'll be in XXX for a conference, where should I eat?" I'm on the board today researching best hits in Amesterdam for a friend's business trip.

                                                        1. Passadumkeg Mar 12, 2008 11:05 AM

                                                          In a recent trip to Austin, I learned the geography from studying at length the Austin Chowhound site. Our daughter was very impressed (not an easy feat) that not only was I able to take her to new, inexpensive restaurants, but I could jump behind the wheel and drive us there w/o a map in a city I had never been before.
                                                          A hearty thanks to the Austin hounders!

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg
                                                            Honey Bee Mar 12, 2008 12:45 PM

                                                            Passadumkeg, I like the way you embraced the Austin chow scene with vigor. Hopefully, you adequately satiated your taco cravings while you were here.

                                                            1. re: Honey Bee
                                                              Passadumkeg Mar 12, 2008 03:20 PM

                                                              Actually I googled recipes recipes for making al pastor about 2hrs ago and tonight's supper was a mole verde w/ chicken and chorizo from Fiesta and thickened w/ tortillas from there as well.
                                                              What IS FUNNY is that during our next school vacation in April, we are visiting our son in Costa Rica and from all the research we doing it seems like it is going to be very touristy and it is taking some the anticipatory joy of exploration out of it. We used to the wilds and food of New Mexico, Norway, Finland, Bolivia, Maine and the Hill Country of Texas. Is Costa Rica over run w/ tourists in April? Has it been over found?
                                                              We'll be back next April. I already started looking at teaching openings at ACC!

                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg
                                                                Honey Bee Mar 13, 2008 07:32 AM

                                                                I visited Costa Rica in April once and some places were crowded but most were not too busy. Although the cuisine is simple, I had some good casado and ceviche there (once I overcame to odd habit of mayo packets served with ceviche). At the very least, everything I had was fresh and there is some beauty in that.

                                                                PS- If you are looking for jobs in the world of higher ed, don't foget to search St. Edwards, UT, and Concordia. Additionally, Texas State and Southwestern are within commuting distance. Good luck!

                                                            2. re: Passadumkeg
                                                              Scrapironchef Mar 12, 2008 01:51 PM

                                                              I don't leave home without loading all the places I want to visit loaded into my PDA as contacts. It ties to my GPS software and makes life easy, although people wonder why I have a dozen different bakeries in Paris on my contact list at work.

                                                            3. s
                                                              starbucksbrew Mar 12, 2008 02:31 PM

                                                              For the original poster, the food in Costa Rica is not bland (at least not in Nasara). They put garlic in everything! The bakeries are really good too.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: starbucksbrew
                                                                Miss Needle Mar 12, 2008 02:52 PM

                                                                Funny you say that. I heard food on the Eastern coast was spicier as they was more of a Caribbean influence. Perhaps I'll check out Costa Rica in the near future. I still don't think it will be the most chowish destination (at least for me). I don't drink coffee and I like a wide range of veggies. I love tropical fruit, though. But hopefully the scenery, beaches, volcanoes and rainforests will make up for it.

                                                              2. p
                                                                pellegrino31 Mar 12, 2008 03:15 PM

                                                                I would say food is always on my mind in some way when going on a trip - sometimes it's more or less but in the end it's always a pretty substantial consideration and generally takes up a lot of my attention with planning. The one thing I try to do is consciously prepare myself when I know the food isn't the reason for why I am traveling. This came in handy when I was at a recent company meeting in AZ and one of the planned dinners was at Dave and Buster's. I did a bang up job at skee ball but wow that food was terrible. Terrible.

                                                                My SO and I two years ago started a tradition where we pick an underrated or under the radar city in the US to see what their urban life is like - especially their food - so those trips are food focused. We had utterly amazing meals in Kansas City and did an okay job in Pittsburgh (the highlight of that trip was the Strip District). Austin and Portland, OR are on the short list for the '08 trip.

                                                                I'm going to LA in June to see my brother graduate from film school so that's the reason getting me out there but I am super focused (some might say obsessed) about the food and figuring out the meals for the 5 days I'll be there. I haven't really thought of the sights in any way, just the food. I've been lurking on the LA board for about a month now doing my research and grilling my brother on places he wants to have his graduation dinner - which is over 3 months away - and he thinks I'm nuts but I have to be prepared.

                                                                1. FoodieKat Mar 13, 2008 11:41 AM

                                                                  Food is important to me when travelling. I always scope out the restaurant scene before flying to my destination. Having said that, I don't base my choice of vacation destination solely on food (but it is important). After all, I have to have something else to do in between meals and street vendor snacks. ;-)

                                                                  1. b
                                                                    BlueHerons Mar 17, 2008 12:44 PM

                                                                    Since I stopped working, I now mainly travel for marathons.

                                                                    I spent a lot of time on extended working trips in Manhattan so I know the New York food scene pretty well.

                                                                    We are fortunate enough to live about an hour outside Charleston, SC so are able to eat there a couple of times a week.

                                                                    1. mrsjenpeters Mar 17, 2008 01:35 PM

                                                                      we don't pick a destination for the food, BUT once we have our destination chosen, i immediately start researching where we can eat when we get there. :)

                                                                      that being said, with our recent move from the south to the midwest, we're really looking forward to making some food centric trips. i'm trying to figure out just how long we need to stay in chicago to eat at all the places i want to eat there... and just how many meals i can fit in my belly in a day...

                                                                      1. j
                                                                        jacinthe Mar 17, 2008 04:32 PM

                                                                        Like others, while I might not choose a location necessarily for its food, after a destination is chosen, I then figure out the best dining experiences I can have while there. For instance, last year a friend and I went to Cancun (because it was the most accessible beach place for a detour between LA and Boston), which isn't necessarily the hotbed of great dining - but we managed to find some awesome meals while there.

                                                                        Next up, though, are Vancouver, Paris, and Edinburgh. I'm rather confident on the good dining in the first two cities, but the third... maybe I should start my research now.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: jacinthe
                                                                          FoodieKat Mar 20, 2008 12:45 PM

                                                                          Actually, to my knowledge Edinburgh is a pretty cosmopolitan city. You shouldn't have much trouble finding great meals out there too. Check out the UK/Ireland boards for recs. Haven't been there yet but on my next trip back to the UK it's top on my list of places to go.

                                                                          1. re: FoodieKat
                                                                            p
                                                                            phoenikia Mar 25, 2008 01:26 PM

                                                                            I've only eaten one meal in Edinburgh, and it was excellent. The tasting menu at number one, the restaurant with a michelin star in the Balmoral Hotel, was one of the most memorable meals I've eaten.

                                                                            The dishes were more innovative than any fine dining I've experienced in Toronto/New York/Vancouver, and I enjoyed the food more than I did at my other Michelin star experience at Restaurant Greuze in Burgundy.

                                                                            I was pleasantly surprised with my meals in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and I was happy I didn't end up with any dreadful meals which seem to pop up during visits to London, Oxford and Cambridge.

                                                                            I've visited Paris 5 times over the past 20 years, and I haven't been wowed by any Parisian meals yet. Nice food, yes. Memorable? Not really.

                                                                            1. re: phoenikia
                                                                              j
                                                                              jacinthe Mar 25, 2008 04:27 PM

                                                                              I've been going to Paris nearly every year since I was 20, so at least I know where I can seek out good food, and the food I like, at not terribly high prices. Then again, when I do eat out in Paris, I don't go terribly high end or fancy but rather end up in small neighborhoody-type places. Memorable dining experiences there are perhaps less dependent on food (although food does play an important part), as fond reminiscences play an incredibly large role.

                                                                              But, it is good to know that there is plenty of good dining in Edinburgh - I wasn't necessarily doubting it, but I'm less familiar with the restaurant scene there than I am with Paris and other places I've gone to recently, and was wary of the fact that it was more like your experiences in London, which I've encountered too. That, and lots of friends have seen fit to tell me about all the fried food that seemingly comes out of Scotland. Also (to keep it a bit on topic) - this trip at least, I didn't choose Edinburgh for the food, but rather, have a conference there. So no food-related decision-making in destination planning this time around! And I'm glad I'll not have to "make do" (we're renting an apartment, so if worse had come to worse, we could at least cook), but can expect some good meals.

                                                                        2. e
                                                                          Ellen Mar 17, 2008 05:21 PM

                                                                          Food does not dictate where I vacation, but once I get there, finding the best places/foods to eat is one of my highest priorities. The one thing I consistently do is search the chowhound boards for references to the city I'm going to for recommendations and consolidate them into a single document I take with me, especially overseas. If I'm just going to a US city on business, I'll search the board and if I can't find what I'm looking for, I'll post a question. I rarely have to look beyond Chowhound for the information I need. However, i would never let a reputation for bland food stand between me and Costa Rica. Hell, the worst food in the world is found in Mongolia. I'd go back in a second and just pack more power bars and peanut M&Ms.

                                                                          1. f
                                                                            Fydeaux Mar 18, 2008 09:13 AM

                                                                            The food available at my destination is first among the qualifications for my choosing it in the first place, but I cant let it be the sole qualifier. There is one city in particular known as a food destination (I wont name it for it is beloved on this website, and I dont want to have to answer all of the "how could you NOT love it?" posts that are bound to follow) that I visited recently. Except for meals, I was not enjoying myself at all. After about a day and a half, I realized that the only reason to stay any longer would be to eat at more restaurants, and I left.

                                                                            1. vvvindaloo Mar 18, 2008 02:10 PM

                                                                              Absolutely. In fact, until I was old enough to travel on my own or with friends, I thought everyone did! Unfortunately, my overseas vacations have been few and far between over the past few years, but even a quick trip out to San Diego last summer became a "taco quest" :) What I remember most about New Orleans (mid '90s) was brunch at Commander's Palace and touring Emeril Lagasse's kitchen at his first restaurant. A more recent trip to Sicily was preceded by months of research on farms, vineyards and wine estates, fish and produce markets, and of course, pastry shops. I am really a traveler at heart, and would never turn down the opportunity to experience a new place based on food. That said, I would never go anywhere without exploring all resources for food info first, and planning a good amount of time around satisfying my foodie curiosity!

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: vvvindaloo
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                                                                                Canthespam Mar 18, 2008 07:13 PM

                                                                                Is there anything else to plan a trip around? Just kidding, but yes, all of our trips no matter where, are planned around food. I do research for months in advance and we often will include a specific area in a car trip just because of a recommended restaurant. Of course we find other things to do in that area and do just as much research on that and on inns, hotels etc... Most of our car trips have been in France, lasting 5 or 6 weeks, so there is plenty of food research involved in the planning. We have been highly rewarded for the amount of pre-trip planning involved.

                                                                                Years ago in Victoria, BC, I used the word 'tourist' to a waitress in a small restaurant and she immediately corrected me by saying that I wasn't a tourist, I was a visitor. Love those Canadians..

                                                                                1. re: Canthespam
                                                                                  steinpilz Mar 18, 2008 07:46 PM

                                                                                  Nice BC story, Victoria and Vancouver are way up on my "best places to live" list.

                                                                              2. p
                                                                                Panini Guy Mar 18, 2008 07:56 PM

                                                                                On our last trip to Rome, I got into an argument with Ms. PG about my wanting to take a train to Naples just to have two espressos (two different places) and a pizza (from a highly regarded recommendation). It would've taken most of the day and the train would've been about 10x the cost of the food.

                                                                                Turned out there was a garbage strike in Naples and there were some fairly strongly-worded advisories to not travel there if you didn't know anyone.

                                                                                So I didn't get my espressos or pizza. But I'd still say, "Yes", food goes hand in hand with travel itineraries at the PG househould.

                                                                                Since the advent of the internet and review sites, we've traveled to numerous countries. The only one where I didn't research food extensively was a two-month stay in Sofia. There simply wasn't much published on it, so I relied more on the locals - and I found a lot of pretty interesting food.

                                                                                1. g
                                                                                  GoalieJeff Mar 18, 2008 08:06 PM

                                                                                  We travel specifically for food . I mean , it's sunny everywhere sometime , right ? Stay home in the summer and enjoy our awesome summers and food and produce , and get the hell out of Dodge in the winter and go somewhere where the food is good . If the sun is shining , thats a bonus . New Orleans when the crawfish are running , it don't get no better than that . Except maybe Oahu for wild uni . Florida for grouper sandwiches , Thats just North America . Mountains are mountains , paintings are art , even the Pyramids are just big piles of rock that ain't going anywhere . I hate all winter activities so skiing is out , I'll stay inside thanks , cold sucks . Food , clothing , shelter ? Whatever. Most modern Americans have a different list . Sex ? OK first . Then food . Good food . Then more good food . Then I worry about my house . Clothing is somewhere between doing laundry and high speed internet access . So yeah , I have planned entire trips around food events . Next up is the last weekend of the pork farmers at Eastern Market , I gotta score me some fresh hams !

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: GoalieJeff
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                                                                                    ThaiNut Mar 20, 2008 11:18 AM

                                                                                    Back to Costa Rica. I hope you've noticed that no one in this thread has said that Costa Rican food was great, and if you look further throughout ChowHound you won't find much more of a positive nature. In February I spent a week in San Jose and a few days down in the Osa Penninsula and I can say that the people are friendly, the scenery verging on spectacular and the animals really great but the food is not much better than terrible and only one of the two local beer varieties is drinkable. I might go back there again someday but it will not be for the food.

                                                                                    1. re: ThaiNut
                                                                                      c
                                                                                      Canthespam Mar 21, 2008 11:35 PM

                                                                                      I totally agree with ThaiNut, except for the beer, as I am not a beer drinker. Even in 'nice restaurants", the food was mediocre at best. Pack a BIG lunch.

                                                                                  2. l
                                                                                    lgss Mar 25, 2008 03:46 PM

                                                                                    My husband and I are vegan and I'm gluten-free so being able to find food is important when we plan trips or he gets sent on business trips. If we're going somewhere where we know it will be difficult to find our kind of food we plan ahead and take some with us. One of our frequent travel breakfasts is chips and salsa with juice. We've also stayed in a couple B&Bs which could accommodate our dietary needs. We begin our research by consulting www.happycow.net . We don't go somewhere specifically for the food, but we certainly take food into consideration when planning where to go. We have also opted for train travel recently for several reasons including that we can bring our own food more easily on the train than when flying.

                                                                                    1. Scrapironchef Apr 4, 2008 11:04 AM

                                                                                      Wifey just found out that her company is sending her to Beijing on 4/19, of course she's taking her personal resto spotter along (me, yay!). Our first discussion was "where do we _have_ to eat?"

                                                                                      Building locations into Mapking GPS software as we speak, will gladly take suggestions. Studying China board scrupulously.

                                                                                      1. k
                                                                                        keencook1 Apr 4, 2008 11:48 AM

                                                                                        We tend to travel to places for 1. food and 2. theater. I hate to go to a new place without knowing at least a couple of good places to eat. Just returned from NYC from a conference; hubby came down for weekend and we visited Donut Plant, Pickle Guys, Gus' Pickles, Zabars, Union Square Market, and ate street food. Saw Patrick Stewart in Macbeth as well. Yay. At work, I tend to be the "entertainment director" and research restaurants at every price level. I love to go to local markets and frequently travel with a cooler to bring goodies back. My ideal vacation is to go somewhere and stay in an apartment with cooking facilities so I can shop and cook. Only way I'll do Italy now.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: keencook1
                                                                                          Miss Needle Apr 4, 2008 12:59 PM

                                                                                          Sounds like you had a great trip (except for all of the pickle destinations -- I have a fear of them). And Patrick Stewart is amazing -- haven't seen him live but absolutely loved him in Star Trek.

                                                                                          I think we're different with ideal vacation ideas. As I cook my meals the majority of the time, I like to be lazy and go out to eat when I'm on vacation (except when I'm visiting places with not-so-good chow where I'd rather cook). But I did feel this urge to get an apartment when I was in Paris last year after seeing the gorgeous produce.

                                                                                          1. re: keencook1
                                                                                            Scrapironchef Apr 4, 2008 02:42 PM

                                                                                            Sounds like we travel the same way, except my #2 is odd museums. Put me in a foreign kitchen with access to what the locals eat and I'm a happy man.

                                                                                            I've got a great rec for a house in the Languedoc if you ever want to try France.

                                                                                          2. r
                                                                                            REFFI Apr 4, 2008 12:05 PM

                                                                                            We definitely plan specific food stops when we travel back "home" to visit family and friends in Western PA. When traveling to other destinations, it's catch as catch can for meals, unless we've had specific intelligence about a place. Discovered a wonderful pizza in Flagstaff just by serendipity.

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