The Culinary Traveler's Life List

Fifteen things every true foodie should accomplish before taking that final bite of Creme Brulee.
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Hop-Heads Unite!: The Austrian beer spa, Starkenberg.

1. Eat food endemic to the location
This one's a no-brainer. There's a reason why New Orleans is famous for crawfish etouffee and Marrakech is famous for tagines—the people in these cities know their local dishes inside and out. So go ahead, make it a life-long pursuit to eat kangaroo in Australia, Kobe beef in Japan, veggie curry in India, pizza in Italy, papaya salad in Bangkok, lobster in Maine... Why do it anywhere else?

2. Follow a grape 'round the world
Chose a particular type of wine and then follow the grape variety responsible for that type of wine across the world. Example? Shiraz (or Syrah in France or the United States). This grape produces spectacular—and uniquely different—wine in the United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and France. Tour the vineyards and then sample a glass in each of these countries to discover how climate, soil, and growing traditions shape the taste of a single variety.

3. Dine at a restaurant's table-in-the-kitchen
At Chicago's Charlie Trotter's restaurant, booking a seat at the "Kitchen Table" provides four to six patrons with a first-hand view of the activity in this world-class kitchen. The menu is spontaneous, but it typically consists of 15 courses. At Galileo in Washington, D.C., the Laboratorio can hold up to 30 people, offering front-row seats as Chef Roberto Donna and three assistants create a 12-course tasting menu while juggling the chaos of a highly-ranked kitchen during a hurried dinner service.

4. Attend a cooking school
Synch your love for a particular cuisine by visiting the country itself and enrolling in cooking school. Not only will you be steeped in the atmosphere of the cuisine's origin, you'll learn the ins and outs of the country's famed recipes by locals, from Florence's L'Amore di Cucina Italiana to Chiang Mai's Thai Cookery School to Provence's Cuisine et Tradition. Closer to home, you can brush up on your pastry skills, learn to make an Italian meal from scratch, or give your cooking a healthy makeover at New York's Culinary Institute of America Boot Camp (courses typically run from two to five days). Even easier? Check local restaurants and gourmet-food shops for day classes.

5. Tour the beer of Belgium
If you tried a different beer every day in Belgium, it would take well over a year to sample all the different varieties produced there. More precisely, it would take you some 450 days to work your way through the delectable brews, which range from whites to lambics to reds and come in their own uniquely-shaped, flavor-enhancing glass. You'd better get stated soon.

6. Embrace café society
Itineraries typically dictate the pace of traveling, but all epicures know that the most vital thing to do, sometimes, is to find a nice place to sit outside and watch the day roll by. Sipping café ole outside of a Parisian café in April; finding a table at one of Vienna's famed pastry shops for some sinful, sweet indulgences; reliving the revolutionary conspiracies of Vaclav Havel in Prague's Café Slavia while carts of desert orbit your table and the an afternoon slowly fades to evening out the window, whichever your locale, it's the culinary equivalent of stopping to smell the roses, and the best way to breathe in the particular nature of a city.

Published: 11 Aug 2006 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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