Chef Andrew Zimmern, known for travelling the globe to discover the most unique tastes, is back on TLC Southeast Asia on 5th February, 9.55pm with Season 5 of Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations. This time, the well-loved TV personality is travelling to popular holiday destinations to uncover the most exotic and iconic local dishes that define the location, as well as reveal the secrets and stories behind these legendary meals. Here’s Chef Andrew’s guide to foodie spots you should visit when you are in….
A popular honeymoon destination, Santorini’s picturesque Aegean Sea holds much allure for travellers. Besides frolicking by the beach, make sure to head to The Fishermans’ Cave House on the southern end of the island for their famed Kakavia or fish stew. Named after the kakavi, a three-legged Greek cooking pot fishermen used at sea, Santorini’s version of fish stew uses sea bream, local vegetables like zucchini and tomatoes which have a smoky flavour due to the island’s volcanic ash soil and a healthy splash of olive oil.
Also, a must-try, when you’re in the Mediterranean, is Grilled Octopus. According to Chef Andrew, Dimitris Ammoudi Taverna, which he visited in episode 20 is the best place to sample this staple mezze. Here, they clean the octopus with sea water, infusing it with salt at the same time, and then slow grill it before dressing it with vinegar, oregano and olive oil.
Helsinki is a vibrant and progressive seaside city with modern style and rustic tastes. A trip to ‘the pearl of the Baltic Sea’ will not be complete without a taste of fresh seafood such as the Rapu, a freshwater crayfish that’s boiled and served whole. If you’re there during summertime, do not miss out on the “Rapujuhlat”, a traditional crayfish feast. Many consider Restaurant Särkänlinna, located in a fortress on the island of Särkkä, the place to go for this traditional delicacy.
Another national treasure is the Vorschmack, a unique mix of minced beef, lamb and pickled herring that is served as an appetizer or a main dish. Legend has it that the Vorschmack was introduced to Finland by war hero and gourmand Marshall Gustaf Mannerheim at the Restaurant Savoy overlooking the Helsinki Esplanade. Intense in flavour and served with baked potato, beetroot, pickles and a dollop of Smetana (sour cream), the traditional recipe hasn’t changed much since the dish was first served in the 1940s.
Finns are big fans of pastries and the classic Karelian Pie is a must-try. An open thin rye crust pastry filled with savory rice porridge and crowned with eggs and butter, this delicious and salty snack is best paired with strong aromatic coffee. Stop by Cafe Ekberg, Finland’s oldest patisserie-café, for a bite of this classic Finnish favourite.
Mention New York and Manhattan is usually the first place that comes to mind. Manhattan, the borough that never sleeps, is home to world-famous attractions and top-notch restaurants. When in Manhattan, don’t miss out on classic deli fare like the Pastrami, Corned Beef and Matzo Ball Soup from Sarge’s Delicatessen & Diner, a 24-hour Jewish deli which opened in 1964. Its fourth-generation owner churns out 1,300 pounds of brisket a week for hungry New Yorkers, who have the Jewish to thank for this old-world tradition.
Another Jewish snack that Chef Andrew recommends to try when in Manhattan is the Knish, a comforting blend of mashed potatoes, onions and seasoning. He says that the Knishes from Yonah Schimmel’s Knish Bakery are light, fluffy and absolute perfection. For those with a sweet tooth, the black and white cookie from Zaro’s Family Bakery is a must-try. Evenly coated with chocolate and vanilla fondant, it’s the iconic symbol of New York in one bite.
Considered one of the most romantic and most visited destinations in the world, this Italian city is best known for its charming waterways and canals. Apart from the popular tourist sights, one of the best-kept secrets of Venice is its food. A birthplace of many Italian favourites, there is no better way to kick-start your Venetian food adventure than with the classic Beef Carpaccio at La Cantina. Prepared using lean cuts of tenderloin which has been aged to enhance its flavour, the meat is expertly sliced so it’s only 3mm thick and spritzed with seawater so it retains its tender texture. Next up on the list is Pasta alla Granseola or tagliolini tossed with spider crab meat. The granseola (crab) is first boiled till tender before being sautéed with olive oil, garlic and onion.
To add a hint of sweetness, the crab meat is also flambéd in white wine and brandy. For this local specialty, Chef Andrew highly recommends dining at the Poste Vecie, a restaurant that has served up quintessential Venetian dishes since 1992. To round-off the perfect Italian getaway, one must definitely make the trek to the town of Treviso, a 20-minute drive from Venice, to sample its Tiramisu. Touted as the birthplace of tiramisu, Le Beccherie is the ultimate spot to savour the espresso-infused dessert.