Eating  a tasty sandwich in a low-key diner in Salvador, Brazil, thinking about how much I love experience the food of a place as I travel.
Eating a tasty sandwich in a low-key diner in Salvador, Brazil, thinking about how much I love experience the food of a place as I travel.

Ever since I explained my travel philosophy of eating like a local last week, I’ve been thinking a lot about all the amazing food I’ve had while traveling. Considering both atmosphere and flavors, this post is dedicated to the five best casual dining experiences I’ve had while on the road.

1. Quattro formaggi pizza

We bought quattro formaggi pizza from a take-out window in Manarola, and ate it while sitting on a bench on the Cinque Terra trail watching the sun set over the Italian coast.

This particular four cheese pizza was like nothing I've ever had in the United States. The four cheeses were each independent in flavor and strong — I wish I knew what types of cheese they were were because it was so delicious.
Jim enjoying the sunset and the pizza.

This particular four cheese pizza was like nothing we’ve ever had in the United States. The four cheeses were each independent in flavor and strong. It was delicious.

2. Esquites

Esquites is a Mexican street food that includes corn and other ingredients in a cup. We ate it under the stars while strolling the cobbled streets of a small Mexican city in Tabasco.

Photo courtesy of Angelica Portales
Courtesy of Angelica Portales.

The esquites we ate in Villahermosa looked very similar to the ones pictured here. Esquites is a cup full of sweet corn mixed with butter, chili peppers, salt, Mayonnaise, and other spices — made to be eaten hot.

3. Pão de queijo

We purchased pão de quiejo by the bag from a bakery in Largo do Machado, then took a moto-taxi up Tavares Bastos to the Maze Inn and ate it from a rooftop balcony overlooking Pão de Açúcar mountain, Botofogo Bay, and the city lights of Rio de Janiero.

Our view as we ate pão de queijo — the Brazilian bite-sized bread balls that are chewy, dense, moist, and delicious. We bought them in small paper bags by the kilo while in Brazil, and spent months afterward perfecting our own recipe back home substituting the local minas gerais cheese, which we've never been able to find stateside with a blend of Romano and Parmesan.
Our view of Rio de Janiero as we ate our paper sack full of pão de queijo.

Pão de queijo are Brazilian bite-sized bread balls that are chewy, dense, moist, and delicious. We bought them in small paper bags by the kilo while in Brazil, and spent months afterward perfecting our own recipe back home substituting the local Minas Gerais cheese, which we’ve never been able to find stateside with a blend of Romano and Parmesan.

4. Cannoli 

We ate cannoli from Modern Pastry in Boston’s North End while taking shelter from a chilly spring thunderstorm in an alcove off Paul Revere Mall.

Cannoli is
Jim checks the map on his phone as we take a break from the rain and eat some cannoli.

Cannoli is a Sicilian cream-filled pastry, and Modern Pastry’s American Italian family recipe for it is over 150 years old. There’s nothing  quite like a sweet treat to accompany a performance of thunder and lightening, and to help wait out the rain.

5. Aish Baladi

I ate aish baladi that was baked in a portable sidewalk oven and cooled on the spikes of an iron fence in Cairo, while intently watching the crazy chaos of Egyptian street traffic from my bus window.

Photo courtesy of Cairo-29ago004.
Photo courtesy of Cairo-29ago004.

Aish baladi is a type of pita bread and an Egyptian staple. It is light and airy — they puff up while they bake, then deflate as they cool down.  The Aish Baladi I ate had a light crispy exterior, and soft and chewy interior with a large air pocket. It was an earthy flavored bread and simply sensational.

— Laura Rowley

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Written by Laura Rowley

I am an artist, flight attendant, and travel blogger.

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