(Lamb & spinach pizza wrap, St Ali, Melbourne)
The Greedy Diva blog is a wee piglet at less than 3 months old, but the Greedy Diva philosophy of exploring the world as led by the rumbling compass of her stomach has been a life long journey. Here are my top greedy travel adventures for 2009 - with more gastro-travel snaps to follow when my feet hit London where they're stashed (the photos, not my feet).
(Pickled vegetables, Japanese style)
Best of all (and that's saying something in Tokyo) was Kantera, a Korean shabu shabu restaurant hidden discreetly in the 'burbs of Tokyo, and recommended to us by Rob, a former man about Tokyo town. At reasonable prices, we tried 2 types of wagyu (including the richly marbled - premium wagyu tenderloin which will send you off into the clouds), barbecued pork, seafood pancakes, refreshing leafy salads with sesame, sizzling vegetables and plate after plate of delectable fare. All were selected by the manager who was so delighted to see two salivating westerners who had arrived on a recommendation that he gave us personal service all night. We lost count of the sake flasks. Make sure you take a taxi - impossible to find. Kantera, 3-12-26 Daizawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 155-0032
For fabulous gyoza in the funky Harajuku shopping area, we loved Harajuku Gyoza Lou, also recommended by the now beloved Rob. 6-2-4 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku 150-0001. Other fab foodie finds: eat fresh sushi washed down with a beer for a 5am breakfast at the stalls surrounding the amazing Tsukiji Fish Market (the giant tuna auctions begin at about 4.30 am); gulp in the breathtaking views of Tokyo over an expensive cocktail at Hyatt Hotel's New York bar (straight from the scenes of "Lost in Translation"); sample beautifully presented, delicate Japanese fine dining at Kozue (also at the Park Hyatt) where the panoramic views include a squizz at Mt Fuji on a good day - service is amazing (you'll be treated like a king or queen).
(Lashings of truffle at La Cocinella, Piedmont)
Some of the best eateries included La Coccinella (amazing fine dining quality food cooked up by 2 brothers, with a mix of homey and elegant atmosphere) and, at the more casual end of the scale, the brilliant Trattoria Nella Vigne in Diana D'Alba where, for around 20 Euros a head, plate after plate of delicious, rustic local fare was brought to our table as we slowly reached explosion point - never before have we been defeated before even making it to the main (meat) course (which was rabbit). All this, while soaking in the views over the hills and valleys of Piedmont.
These suggestions are just the smallest tip of the massive local culinary iceberg. We stayed at the excellent Hotel Castello di Sinio (centrally located in the cute local town of Sinio, with a pool overlooking the piazza, and a reputedly great restaurant which was unfortunately closed during our visit - but the owner, Denise, is free flowing with many other great foodie suggestions) and the stunning La Villa (closer to Asti, glamourous villa and gardens, friendly service, lie by the pool smelling the lavender and rosemary bushes at your feet while looking over sunflower fields, and enjoy views of the Alps to help digest your breakfast on the terrace after a morning bike ride through the local hilltop villages - however not so central and local scenery out on the tracks is not so stunning as that in the Sinio area).
(Smack your lips around the Little Owl burger, NY)
(Bedazzling Million Dollar Chicken & sprouts at The Standard Grill, NY)
Those were my top 3 foodie destinations for the year. Other culinary highlights for 2009, somewhere in my top 10, included:
(Parisian patisseries feature aplenty in the GD travels)
Miami: Some unexpectedly delicious finds, and none better than Michael's Genuine Food & Drink - see my posts here. And you're never too far from a palm tree.
(The Spot's Po Boy in Miami)
Kuala Lumpur: Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, Japanese, Portuguese and Korean influences for a touch of exotica - see my previous rant here. Let me know how it goes if you sample the frog porridge.
Happy New Year to all! I'm looking forward to clocking up more stamps in the passport and sharing further greedy adventures in 2010. A big thanks for reading the Greedy Diva throughout her infancy.