Secret food hotspots 2018
If you're looking for new foodie hotspots in 2018, read our expert guide to some of best places to eat, drink and stay. From wine tasting in Beaune, France, to eating crunchy popcorn pork in Tainan, Taiwan, and drinking ‘farm-to-glass’ cocktails using local fruits and edible flowers in Padanaram, Massachusetts
Here are the best places for foodies to visit in 2018 around the world, from France to the Faroe Islands, Macedonia to Taiwan.
South of Boston, gazing towards Cape Cod, Padanaram is quietly becoming a foodie favourite. This slow-lane, sea-salty village sits on the fecund Farm Coast, near the thriving fishing port of New Bedford, deep in wine country. Fresh local produce is in rude supply. Spearheading Padanaram’s locavorism is Little Moss (pictured below). Opened in 2015, this white-clapperboard restaurant fills its innovative menu with regional, seasonal dishes, such as Cuttyhunk oysters, macomber turnip soup, Raw Bay scallop sushi and organic salad greens from the experimental beds at Eva’s Garden. Even drinks get in on the act at Little Moss, with ‘farm-to-glass’ cocktails utilising local fruits and edible flowers. Just opposite, Farm & Coast Market has the same ethos, stocking meats, cheeses and veggies from small producers; there’s daily baked bread and cannoli, plus an all-day cafe too. Stay nearby at the harbourside Paquachuck B&B. This 200-year-old inn was once the chandler for Westport Point’s whaling ships. Now you can fish for your own supper from its private dock.
With no native trees or land mammals and a climate only root veg can abide, the food culture of the far-flung Faroes has long been limited, with no tradition of dining out. But times are changing. Leading the charge is Koks (pictured below), opened near capital Tórshavn in 2011 and awarded a Michelin star in 2017 for its 17-course tasting menu spanning such dishes as minced fulmar and dried mutton on reindeer lichen. Owner Johannes Jensen has opened more eateries in Tórshavn’s old town, including fish-focused Barbara and Ræst, specialising in the Faroes’ famed fermented dishes. Coffee culture is advancing too, with the best being brewed at Brell Café, a bright hangout that imports ethical beans, roasts them on site and uses a range of gadgetry from espresso machines to Hario Syphons. The contemporary Hotel Føroyar, poised on a hillside a mile from central Tórshavn, is well-placed for a foodie exploration.
Prepare to be intoxicated: the walled, winding streets of Beaune seem sloshing with wine. From the 15th-century, appreciative patients began donating vine plots to the town’s Hôtel-Dieu hospital – now a museum – turning Beaune into the viticultural capital of Burgundy’s Côte d’Or. These days vineyards streak across the surrounding plains and pavement cafes are a-swill with wine tastings. Learn more about local specialities at The Cook’s Atelier (pictured below). As well as selling vintage-inspired cookware, it runs classes that combine a shopping spree at the market (Wednesdays and Saturdays) with a masterclass in French culinary techniques and an afternoon eating your efforts. You can stay nearby in a light, bright apartment owned by the same team (it has a little kitchen if you want to practise). Or, book in for bed and breakfast at the Hungry Cyclist Lodge, a converted 17th-century millhouse ten minutes outside Beaune, set amid fruit orchards and a kitchen garden – the spoils of which end up in owner Tom’s delicious dinners.
Macedonia embraced the concept of Slow Food long before the official term existed. Meals in this under-explored Balkan nation have always been made from scratch with whatever’s good, local and in season. Finally, outsiders are taking notice. In the far south, the former Ottoman capital of Bitola has a lively cafe culture, with coffee bars serving Turkish rocket fuel and perfect macchiatos lining pedestrianised Širok Sokak. For a more alternative scene, sip a coffee or craft beer at Artikultura (Brakja Mingovi), Macedonia’s first cooperative cafe. However, it’s in the nearby foothills of Pelister National Park that suppers really slow. A ten-minute drive from Bitola, Villa Dihovo (pictured below) is a rural guesthouse with a cavernous wine cellar and an authentic food ethos. Meals comprise organic veg from the garden and produce from local cheesemakers and beekeepers. There’s a ‘pay what you feel’ policy – the only set prices are for the homemade wine, beer and rakija – and joining foraging walks is encouraged.
Taiwan is taking London, as evidenced by the 2017 opening of up-market restaurant Xu plus a slew of street-food stalls. But for the real deal, visit Taiwan’s food capital, Tainan. The traditional south-west city is renowned for its xiaochi (small eats), such as crispy shrimp rolls, guāncaibǎn (‘coffin toast’), sautéed yam leaves and rou yuan (meat balls). The best grazing is at Flower Garden Night Market (Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays), where hawkers sizzle everything from popcorn pork to giant squid on sticks. Or head to vintage-styled Chihkan Peddler’s Noodles cafe for its taster menu – a street-food sampler without having to wander the streets. A must-try are danzi noodles, invented in Tainan in 1895 by a local fisherman. His family still serves the dish at Du Xiao Yue, now a chain, though the original is on Zhongzheng Road. Handily, it’s close to the JJ-W Hotel, an arty bolthole with eccentric rooms each designed to tell stories about Tainan.
Words by Sarah Baxter