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The Med: Best Food Holiday of Your Life

The Mediterranean Sea is one of the best holiday places on earth for someone to enjoy memorable food and wine. Our editor, Jenni Pressfield tells us all about it!

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Imagine a vibrant sunset in Greece, the water lapping gently at the beach down below, strikingly white villas stretching out on every side of you, the bluest of blue skies still overhead, and you bite into a succulent or olive: salty, plump, flavorful.

greek food in crete

Or picture a warm summer’s night outside in Tuscany, earthy scents lingering alongside the smell of candle wax, and a simple pasta with the freshest of vegetables, the tastiest of tomatoes, paired perfectly with a local wine.

For anyone who loves food and travel, the Mediterranean is undoubtedly the holy grail of destinations. Combining some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, varying widely from Spain to Croatia, with an incredible variety of delicious cuisine and a culture of hedonistic delight in food, it’s a foodie paradise. Here are some of our best suggestions for the gastronomic holiday of your life.



The Unusual: Croatia

It’s not the prototypical Mediterranean destination, but it’s so much the better for it. Following a devastating period of war, Croatia is now regaining its reputation as a beautiful and safe tourist destination, and is celebrating record tourist numbers year after year. Despite the boom, it’s a country that has retained its authenticity and avoid giving into tacky tourist ploys, relying on its genuinely jaw-dropping natural beauty and tourist attractions to suit every taste to draw visitors in droves. Look at Croatia on the map, and you’ll see that the country is all about its coastline and islands, boasting beautiful sights such as Dubrovnik – called the “pearl of the Adriatic” by George Bernard Shaw – and the stunning Plitvice Lakes. It’s also home to the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. The local cuisine is an intriguing combination of Mediterranean, Greek, Turkish, Austrian, and Slavic, the result of Croatia’s varying allegiances, occupations and cultural contact throughout history. Enjoy Germanic-influenced salted pork and sauerkraut, the more Hungarian-style pot roasts and stews, Turkish-inspired “burek” pastries, or the more Mediterranean fare of shrimps, cockles, and the freshest of fish.

The Classic: Wine Cruises Through France and Italy

What’s better than a cruise? A cruise centered around food and wine, in the Mediterranean. In a region where food and wine is inseparable from culture, the best way to explore is through the tastes. A cruise is the ideal opportunity to enjoy cooking classes and sampling sessions while on board, stopping at a variety of ports to see far more of the region than you could travelling by land. Bask your way through Cannes, Monte Carlo and Nice in France, learning about the history of the vineyards, the relationship between the wine and the distinct regional cultures, and giving your palate the opportunity to revel in the complexity and richness of the tastes.

pisak

When it comes to food, you’ll be able to enjoy the well-known variety of pastries, cheeses, and breads, but take care not to miss the opportunity to branch out and enjoy the less stereotypical fare: marinated shrimp, seafood stews and soups, ratatouille, and delicious, creamy potato gratin, accompanied by the tenderest of roasts. In Italy, a cruise might take you to dramatic Portofino, where you can enjoy the very best in your favourite pastas, risottos and pizzas, but cooked as you’ve never experienced them before. Enjoy fresh artichokes brimming with flavor, spaghetti with seafood that was in the ocean only hours before, and sample classic caponata, an eggplant and olive stew. After you’ve soaked up the delights of the shore, rejoin your cruise for more relaxation and luxury.

The Adventurous: Turkey and Lebanon
If ever there were a land of culinary delights, it would be Turkey. Home to so much food that the world has come to know and love, Turkish cuisine is at the same time both comfortingly familiar and dazzlingly exciting. For coffee lovers, the first and most obvious essential is Turkish coffee, a thick dark coffee made from ground and boiled coffee beans, and ideal as the complementary partner to sweet baklava.



Delicious, tender lamb can be found in more forms than could be imagined, as meatballs, kebabs, and in burgers, partnered with all the eggplant and yoghurt dips and sauces you could possibly desire. In Lebanon, take a step further towards the Middle East, savoring baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, and the best falafel you will ever taste.

The best part is that, wherever you go in the Mediterranean, there’s no need to feel that focusing on the food is drawing you away from experiencing the destination at large. Enjoy your Tuscan wine overlooking the ocean, drink your Turkish coffee while enjoying a sweet hookah pipe, or explore a Lebanese market while relishing the street food. Everywhere you turn, the food and culture are inextricable, making the Med the most exciting tourist destination for foodies everywhere.

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