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Where would you go for the food?

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my wife and I are planning some sort of adventure in the next year, sort of a bucket list type thing, This is what we agree on.
The main city, hopefully is less than 100,000 people. The weather should be nice, the warmer the better but definitely not cold.
The area should have a vast selection of wines, house wines, regional wines are the key. Don't bother with bottles of $50 or $150 wine, it is not part of the trip.
Cheese, we love cheese from all over the world. Once again, a very good selection of local and regional cheeses.
Seafood would be nice to see and enjoy the local recipes and flavor. We can eat seafood everyday of the year, living where we live, so having it available is good but there must be more.
Personally I would like to run across some good cabrito, really good salami and sausages.
Fresh markets to wander around in and buy a few things to cook up while there. Walking around markets to work up an appetite is pretty much a perfect day.
and last, the usual tourist things...museums, culture, site seeing, an occasional tour, etc..
There are many travelers in CH, lets see what you can come up with to fit the idea.

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  1. I would suggest Normandy coast in France...so many small towns, that are actually fishing villages, so quaint and charming...

    3 Replies
    1. re: PHREDDY

      I really have no desire to go to France, any other suggestions?
      I actually meant to add in the OP to exclude France, sorry.

        1. re: genoO

          C'est dommage, il y a beaucoup de coins sympas en France. Not just stereotypically rude Parisians. In any event, I don't think Normandy is warm enough for your criteria. It can be quite cool, even in the summertime.

      1. I went to Portugal in April, and it was fantastic. Of course, Lisbon and Porto have populations greater than 100,000. But there are other cities. And we also went to Madeira, whose city (Funchal - translates into English as fennel, a good food-related word!) is about 100,000.

        6 Replies
        1. re: drongo

          I am leaning toward Portugal. I'll probably have to for go over the 100,000 number but that is not a big problem.
          We are looking towards a month away and hope to find a place like a short term apartment rental...like VRBO offers. Something besides a hotel or all inclusive, more old and family run.
          And olives! Wine and cheese and olives, Oh My!

          1. re: genoO

            I loved the food in Porto and Lisbon.
            I'd also love to spend a month dining off the beaten track in Greece (esp Crete, Thessaloniki, some smaller islands) or Turkey.

            Sardinia, Sicily and Corsica are also on my wishlist, but I think I'd spend closer to a week if I was to visit.

            1. re: genoO

              One of the smaller towns in Tuscany (particularly the Chianti area) might be ideal - hard to beat for cheese, wine and olives.

              1. re: genoO

                Portugal for sure. And Spain is just over the border!

                1. re: Puffin3

                  I am tending to agree, still affordable for the most part as compared to other places, great history and weather .

              2. re: drongo

                Madeira or the Azores might be choices, but the largest town in the Azores is smaller than you specify.

              3. It would easier to say where I wouldn't go for the food! And even those I am positive someone would argue about its deliciousness.

                1. At a population of ~120K [30k+ are students], but I think that Innsbruck Austria would be a good summer choice -- not as touristy as in the snow months and would fall unfer your 100K limit.

                  Lonely Planet:
                  http://www.lonelyplanet.com/austria/t...

                  UK tourist aimed site:
                  http://www.austria.info/uk/tags/innsb...

                  I can't comment on wine, but the internet says:
                  http://allthingsaustria.com/innsbruck...
                  http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/popula...

                  1. Consider the AZORES perhaps.

                    It just seems like a very *untarnished* destination complete with all the food and drink you can handle: wines, cheeses, meats, seafood ... and, ALL very very local (it's an archipelago).

                    I remember Bourdain mentioning that Azoreans love to eat. He goes on to say that it's one of the few cultures he knows of where the people talk about what they're going to eat for dinner WHILE they're eating lunch.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Cheese Boy

                      You beat me to that one. Though the largest town is less than half the size OP specified, if that isn't a problem. They do have hospitals, medical services etc. because the archipelago has to be fairly self-sufficient day-to-day.

                    2. australia or new zealand fit that description if you want to think outside the european box.

                      1. Bologna. It's a bit larger population-wise than your target, but it has a very small town feel, and it's located within day-trip distance of many other charming towns (and the Adriatic coast). The food can't be beat.

                        1. San sebastian is a bit bigger but has everything you want, also easy to take day trips to bilbao or take a train to another part of the country from there.
                          Tons of locals markets, excellent cheap wine, locally made specialty cheeses and seafood from the nearby ocean.

                          1. Dubrovnik, Croatia. Has everything you mentioned and then some. Beautiful city.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Alakar

                              I think you could add just about anywhere along the Croatian coast from Split down south to Dubrovnik. And I'd recommend trying to go off season if possible for that region.

                              1. Mallorca

                                Ticks all your boxes. Stay in Palma, the main city if you must, but preferably don't - stay in or near one of the smaller towns or large villages (preferably one with its weekly market). Palma has an excellent main market though (open every day, except Sunday).

                                Seafood availability is a given on the island.

                                The town markets will have a good range of locally grown produce, as well as locally made salami, and other preserves. The local olives are excellent - I love the bitterness. Wine is made on the island - good quality, although not a vast range.

                                And a goodly amount of touristy things to do, assuming you rent a car and get out into the countryside.

                                1. London, Vietnam, Morocco, Mexico, India to name a few. Looking forward to going back to London for our 40th anniversary next spring. Dinner will be at Le Gavroche.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Candy

                                    I live in Mexico, good luck finding local wine, salami and olives in my part of the country.

                                    1. re: genoO

                                      Yeah, but you've got the cabrito covered, and I could sub the wine for real margaritas, and I love wine. Just me.

                                      1. re: James Cristinian

                                        I only wish cabrito was covered. It is a regional food and nearly impossible to find in Veracruz state. I'm thinking climate and food where as lamb is easy to buy here, goat in the northern, hot, dry areas is common.
                                        Even finding queso de cabra, from a small family operation, is pretty rare. The stuff at Costco is really pretty lame.

                                        1. re: genoO

                                          I live in Houston and there is some very good cabrito here, of course the farther south you go into northern Mexico it is more plentiful.

                                  2. From personal experience:
                                    Normandy
                                    Bruge
                                    Carmargue/Arles
                                    Jerez de le Fonterra
                                    Madison Wisconsin
                                    Oporto

                                    1. Nice.

                                      I don't know about the cabrito but everyone in Nice seems to be a foodie and the Old Town is all restaurants. Seafood is the item all along that coast. The markets are delicious. For the best fun, rent an apartment by the week rather than stay in a hotel so you can take advantage of the markets and enjoy cooking. Nicoise food is a hybrid of French, French Provencal, and Italian. Also I see that you want some touristic intererest---you have it all, from Roman history to nearby Italy (and if you go twenty minutes to Italy you have a whole new array of ingredients in Ventimiglia). Have been there many times but never enough.

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: Querencia

                                        I thought I'd love Nice, based on the food photos and cookbooks I've seen, but I found it difficult to avoid tourist traps while I was there. I really wanted to have bouillabaise while I was there in 2008, since it would be the only southern French city I was visiting that was located on the coast, but most of the recommended restaurants for bouillabaise were charging around 100 euros per person, when most of my decent, mid-range meals in France had usually been in the 20-35 euro per person range. We decided to go to a Mom and Pop restaurant recommended by the small hotel where we were staying, where the employee claimed he dined when he wanted home cooking, where the bouillabaise was closer to our usual price point, but it ended up being a meh version (mediocre fish, somewhat overcooked, iirc). I've had better versions at home and in various cities in Canada and the US. I had the same feeling after I tried half a dozen different paellas in Spain, where most of the restaurant versions I ordered were meh at best.

                                        Maybe we should've splurged on the bouillabaise at the expensive restaurant in retrospect. I realize I only had 3 days worth of meals in Nice, and barely scratched the surface, but it's been easier for me to eat well in other parts of France (esp Brittany), and in Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal, than it was for me to eat well in Nice.

                                        1. re: prima

                                          I lived about thirty miles from Nice.
                                          Even way back then the city felt like one big tourist trap populated by locals who frankly did not show they had much respect for any foreigner. Only for their money.

                                        2. re: Querencia

                                          OP has specifically excluded France.

                                          1. re: Harters

                                            And people seem to be ignoring that the OP isn't craving seafood, although it would be acceptable so long as there were many other choices.

                                            1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                              The OP did title the post "Where would you go for the food?". I think at least a few Chowhounds (including myself) are responding to the more general question posed in the title. I hadn't even noticed the not-craving-seafood part of the original post until you mentioned it. I can't imagine going out of my way to visit Portugal ( or Mallorca, Greece, Sardinia, Sicily or Croatia ) specifically for the food, then not seeking out the seafood. The seafood and desserts are the best things to eat in Portugal, if you ask me.

                                              As someone who lives in land-locked Canada, the main food groups I look forward to eating while travelling are better seafood than I can get at home and better produce than I can get at home (specifically tomatoes and watermelon in Greece and Turkey).

                                              I realize the foods I seek aren't what the OP is seeking, but I guess I expect tangents when general questions are posted on the General Topics Board.
                                              :)

                                              1. re: prima

                                                based on the title, i'd recommend singapore, thailand, shanghai, japan, malaysia, and korea; i'd also say brazil, argentina, mexico, el salvador and chile. i think the thread title was misleading.

                                                1. re: chartreauxx

                                                  thialand and korea are another trip, one I would like to last a couple months.....when I really retire.
                                                  I have lived in Mexico 12 years so that is pretty much taken care of. Argentina is a place I would like to visit but our summer here is winter there. I do most my business during the winter (tourism) so that too will need to wait a few more years.

                                              2. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                I hoped I'd responded to the OP's comment about seafood that "having it available is good but there must be more".

                                                1. re: Harters

                                                  I was trying to ameliorate your comment, not correct it.
                                                  I argued with myself about where/ how to respond about seafood, and attached to "Not France" seemed the best place.

                                          2. I lived for a while in Sequim, Washington, and was a frequent traveler to SEATTLE. Loved the seafood, the markets ( Pike Place on the waterfront and the one on upper Queen Anne Hill). Many, many interesting shops in the downtown area, where I rented an apartment. Located near the main part of the downtown market is a wonderful cheese shop, as well as the original Starbucks coffee shop. Spend the money you save on air fare eating at the uncountable terrific restaurants; buy some veal at Don & Joe's in Pike Place Market, cook it in your apartment with the foraged chanterelle mushrooms you'll also find in the market; buy a whole Dungeness crab in the market and take home to your rental, along with a loaf from the French bakery to enjoy with the luscious crab. Enjoy the urban parks in Seattle, both on the waterfront in uptown. Check out the exhibits at the Seattle Art Museum. Go to a play or movie at one of the refurbished 1920's theaters. Stroll the area for some of the best people watching in the good old U S of A. Great way to enjoy a week in early September (also
                                            known as summer in Seattle).

                                            er...also know as summer in Seattle.

                                            1. Padova, Veneto is a surprising small city. Do your research and see if it is for you. We have been spending a month there for the past 3 years.

                                                1. Twice as large as your desired city-size, but how about Burgas, Bulgaria?

                                                  1. Population 100,000, wine cheese sausage, seafood nice but not required, not in a cultural desert. After reading your post again as well as the suggestions, please allow me to shift my suggestions.

                                                    Verona, Italy is in the culinary heaven of Emilia and a short train ride from Tuscany and the Veneto. More than just Romeo and Juliet.

                                                    Wiesbaden Germany is again centrally located for German culture. In the home of the Riesling grape, you have sausage, a wonderful pedestrian district, wine shops galore, pork, sekt wine, and a world class casino. Frankfurt, Mainz, Trier, Coblenz, the Moselle, are an hour away by train. Or take a day trip on the Rhine viewing the castles.

                                                    I stick with Bruge, Belgium and Jerez de le Fonterra, Spain.

                                                    I would recommend the two islands of Patmos and Samos in Greece, but they are more of a reflective, lounge on the shore type of vacation. Mykonos is international, just like Cancun. But the food, wine, and cheese are unlike anything in your home country.

                                                    Am I the only one here who enjoys the British Isles? The stickler is keeping the population down, as I do not have much experience outside the cities. But here are two I did spend time in.

                                                    Canterbury and York. York exceeds 100,000 population, but is not on the international radar as a tourist town. Architecture, history, a jaw dropping Cathedral, Vikings. and plenty of food. Canterbury is the home of the Church of England, roman ruins, a great shopping district, and close enough to London to hop the train to eat and see a play. Leeds castle should be on any visitor's bucket list. And definitely search out the new English wines. You may just like them.

                                                    My final one is Salzburg, Austria. More than The Sound of Music. And Mozart. And bier, And dessert, the knockerl, and chocolates, and a cathedral, baroque architecture, day trips to Munich and Vienne, local wines, salt mines, and Alps. On second thought, this place is terrible. Crowded with tourists in July and August. Nobody should ever visit this town. Please stay away. :-)

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                      Indianriver - you may have spotted I didnt recommend my own country, but as you now have, I'll support your suggestion of Canterbury. Although we havnt got the hot weather the OP is after.

                                                      Certainly one of the UK's main foody areas - the county is coastal so seafood is good and it's also good lamb country. Wine is produced there commerically. County is often referred to as the "Garden of England", reflecting agricultural produce. Lots of good tourism in the area. As you suggest, London is a short train ride and a day trip to France, using the ferry at Dover, is very easy (which may be where to indulge in salami, as we're not really known for it).

                                                      In the unlikely event that I was ever to consider moving away from the north west, Kent would be high on the list.

                                                    2. buenos aires.. or for a small town there are many in the countryside to choose from

                                                      of course somewhere along the cost in chile would be interesting too

                                                      1. Corsica
                                                        Greek Isles
                                                        Croatia
                                                        Portugal
                                                        Mallorca
                                                        Sicily
                                                        Azores
                                                        Maui or O'ahu
                                                        Sydney or Melbourne
                                                        Napa
                                                        South Beach Miami/Siesta Key on the gulf

                                                        1. Spain, Italy, France or better yet all three!! Lots to see, always fresh food, great wine, cheese- well of course! Barcelona, Amalfi coast, Bordeaux. If I had to choose just one - Italy. Enjoy!!
                                                          Ps I never thought I wanted to see much of France either ( I live in Quebec) but Bordeaux is Fantastic and one of the few places I would return to.

                                                          1. The Ligurian coast in Italy -- stay in Santa Margherita.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. You can't have it all!!! (food, culture, ... )

                                                              I'd go to a smaller city/village in France (anywhere ni corsica), Italy (anywhere in sardignia, puglia or sicily) or Spain (Leon, Oviedo) or Portugal (don't know portugal)

                                                              Remember that in smaller cities, markets will be, well, smaller, and you will be done visiting in an hour or so and will probably not be open everyday (they will be open in different cities on different days)

                                                              1. In the summer only (since you specified "warm"), I would recommend the Ile D'Orleans near Quebec City. Winemakers, artisan cheeses, local charcuterie and produce abound. Just across the river you have the great historic sites of Vieux-Quebec. It's not an exotic locale, but you're going for the food, and I always eat well in the Province.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: pinehurst

                                                                  Thank you for mentioning this. Traveling to Toronto, Montreal, and Quebec for a few weeks next month. Can't wait to add this to our list!

                                                                2. Well, if one can't go to France, then what about Sicily? It's a bit of an acquired taste but will address all your requirements. A month will give you time to genuinely know the island and it's more reasonably priced than Tuscany or other regions of northern Italy. I do find Sicily more interesting than the Northern Italy hotspots (nothing against the lovely and very cultured Northern Italy but Sicily has a unique vibe of its own). Great markets, lovely produce, meats and cheese and wine and a slightly different approach to Italian cooking. You could base yourself in Palermo or Catania.

                                                                  If you'd rather be further up Italy, Bergamo is a charming town. Umbria has several lovely places.

                                                                  If money is not an issue, then Switzerland, somewhere on Lake Geneva? The food from the region is fabulous, lots of excellent cheeses, pastries, cured meat and chocolates. Stunning landscape. But it is undeniably expensive.

                                                                  1. Maybe some town in the Rioja and Castile areas of Spain, north of Madrid? Your post makes me think of an article I read some time back about a small city in that region called Aranda de Duero. It's got a population of about 30,000, and is famous for its very old interconnected underground wine cellars, local wine clubs, and roast whole young lamb. Don't know about seafood, but lovely weather, lots of incredible Medieval historical sites, and great little markets.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: ninrn

                                                                      sounds like a place to visit, thanks

                                                                    2. Going in Summer -
                                                                      Cochem/Mosel Germany

                                                                      Erfurt, Weimar, Jena also in Germany