Taste of Thailand Bangkok Food Tour

Taste of Thailand Bangkok Food Tour

Although we have been to Thailand numerous times before, I still feel like such a novice with the Bangkok food scene.  I love my Pad Thai and my mango sticky rice, and can recognize a few more dishes beyond those, but I still find Bangkok intimating.  It is a street food mecca and I often find myself paralyzed by indecision when looking at the variety of foods on offer. During this trip to Bangkok, though, I wanted to explore more, I wanted to learn more, about the neighborhoods, and about the food. I wanted to get over this intimidation I felt. We therefore spent four hours on a Bangkok food tour with Taste of Thailand Food Tours in order to remedy this deficiency.  Exploring Thailand Through a Bangkok Food Tour Our small group explored the Bang Rak neighborhood, which lies just to the east of the Chao Phraya river.  Referred to as the village of love, I certainly fell in love with the city all over again on this Bangkok food tour. We started just under the Saphan Taksin BTS station, where we learned a little about Bangkok and Thai history, before making our first pitstop, just around the corner.  We stopped at a street stall selling curry puffs, called kalipap, in all different flavors.  I really wanted to go with an old standby, like curry potato, but actually chose the black sesame seed puff, trying to be more adventurous.  It was amazing, with a sweetness to the sesame seeds offset by the savory flavor of the crust. Already I was pleased with the tour for offering me foods...
Exploring the Best Food Market in Barcelona

Exploring the Best Food Market in Barcelona

On our prior visits to Barcelona, we found ourselves staying in hotels near the tourist center of town, Las Ramblas.  It also meant that we frequently found ourselves in one of the most beautiful markets we have ever seen – La Boqueria, probably the most popular food market in Barcelona, but that does not mean it is the best food market in Barcelona. We knew La Boqueria was touristy, but we did not care. With fruit, vegetables, meats, and cheeses displayed stunningly, and a few bars and eateries tucked in the back, we thought we had found heaven on earth.  Since our first visit, we have told anyone we know who was heading to Barcelona, to stop at La Boqueria.  Until now. We met Carlos on our Devour Barcelona food tour.  Spanish born, Australian raised, he is a tour guide who brings groups through Spain.  He luckily told us about his favorite food market in Barcelona, which was only a five minute walk from our GoWithOh apartment.  Why Santa Catarina is the Best Food Market in Barcelona We found the market on a Saturday, and it was gorgeous.  The displays were not only amazing, but the lighting was done in such a way that every little morsel under the huge ceiling looked delectable.  There is just something about food markets in Europe, and in particular markets in Italy and Spain, that just makes me drool. And, because it was a Saturday, the market was packed with people buying food to make their big weekend family meals.  We saw a butcher delicately preparing meat for a customer, taking so much pride in...
Devouring Catalan Cuisine on a Barcelona Food Tour

Devouring Catalan Cuisine on a Barcelona Food Tour

How is it possible to eat almost every Catalan speciality within the span of just a few hours?  With the Devour Barcelona food tour anything is possible. During a little more than 4 hours, our guide, Renee, showed us the town, literally, by walking us around the neighborhood of Gracia, taking us to the local market, old family run establishments, and newer foodie havens.  During our nine (yes, nine!) stops we had the pleasure of trying everything that Catalan cuisine has to offer, from olive oil to cava to meats, cheese, and fish.  It was the perfect Barcelona food tour. Considering we have been to Barcelona twice before, and Madrid once as well, I thought that I was fairly knowledgable about Barcelona, and Spanish cuisine.  But, I realized I still had a lot to learn. A Barcelona Food Tour in Gracia First off, this Barcelona food tour took us through the Gracia neighborhood, one that I had never stepped foot in before, despite being just a few metro stops up from the popular Las Ramblas.  It is a fiercely proud neighborhood, that held off for years before being annexed into Barcelona.  Even today, people will say they are from Gracia first, Barcelona second.  Most important, this Barcelona food tour celebrated the Catalan cuisine, famous for this fiercely independent region.  We tried many foods I had never had before in Spain, many of which I would eat over and over again. So, what did the Devour Barcelona food tour have in store for us? At Casa Pages, we ate a grilled botifurra sandwich, with homemade aioli accompanied by a glass...
A Tour of the Dubai Gold Souk – a Photo Essay

A Tour of the Dubai Gold Souk – a Photo Essay

I was initially more excited to visit the spice souk than the Dubai gold souk.  Only one of these markets was within my price range.  I will let you guess which one.  But, while walking through them both, it became immediately clear that one seemed more along the lines of a market where people actually shopped.  The gold souk was that place. Apparently, people come from all over the world, or at least all over the region, to buy gold in Dubai.  The Dubai gold souk was much larger than the spice souk, with alleys radiating off the main covered walkway, and with gold shops covering the surrounding roads.  There were tourists and locals walking the area, some actually shopping.  There were some alleyways that specialized in typical tourist shops, you know, if you wanted to buy a belly dancing outfit, some sunglasses, or a men’s kafiyah, or head scarf.  But, the destination really focused on the gold and jewelry shops.  Some of the gold seemed somewhat tasteful, and others seemed entirely garish.  Some of the large golden pendants are given as a dowry to the bride during a wedding, worn for show at the wedding, and then never worn again – probably because they weight a ton. Although I am more of a silver or white gold person, and to me the gold in the shops was just a tad “too” much, the Dubai gold souk was certainly a sight to see.   Dubai Tourism hosted us for our tour of Dubai, but all of my opinions are my...

A Tour of the Dubai Spice Souk – a Photo Essay

As part of our initial city tour of Dubai, we made a quick pit stop to see the spice and gold souks. Pit stop was the appropriate word.  Having been through the spice market in Istanbul, I was not expecting something similar, but thought I could at least pick up some spices for our friends in London who we were on our way to see.  They love to cook, so I thought it would be perfect. Our stop was quick, as the spice souk was really only one alley, with a bend in it.  I could have walked through in about 60 seconds, but I stopped to take photos along the way. As the case with many similar markets around the world, the size of the Dubai spice souk has become diminutive in direct proportion to the number of supermarkets and stores that are now available.  The Dubai spice souk in particular had an air of tourism – almost like it was merely established, or at least maintained, for the benefit of the tourists.  I could not clearly judge this fact, though, and also understand that much of the souks in Istanbul are touristy indeed.  There were some local Emerati walking nearby, through the covered market walkways, but none of them seemed to be stopping along with the tourists at the little shops.   Regardless of my lightening fast tour of the tiny Dubai spice souk, and my quick realization that I would probably make out better at the Tesco or Carrefour for spices, I managed to grab some decent photos.  In fact, I think the photos came out...
Food Tour Malaysia

Food Tour Malaysia

I feel like I know the food scene in Malaysia fairly well, a country that blends Indian, Chinese, and Malay influences so perfectly.  But, when an opportunity came up to take a foodie walking tour of the city, with Food Tour Malaysia I figured why not? I expected the tour to cover the basics of the foods I already knew, like roti canai, teh tarik, and nasi kandar, but hoped for at least a few surprises.  By the end of the day, though, I had tried a bunch of things I had never tasted before and better understood the neighborhoods where we have walked numerous times before. Kuala Lumpur’s Little India We met our guide, Charles, at the Bangsar LRT station, and took the back roads into Little India, after stopping for a refreshing sugar cane juice at the train station.  He explained some of the cultural and historical background of the neighborhood, immediately demonstrating the tour had more to offer than just food.  At 11:30 in the morning, a few stalls were already setting up for the rotating night markets that are a center piece of each neighborhood around KL, for at least one night a week.  I had no idea there were night markets that rotated around the city. We walked through Little India, as the festival of lights, Deepavali, approached, and Charles explained the flower market, the produce market, and brought us to try tasty fried treats, which had always intimidated me, but now seemed more approachable and understandable.  We stopped at a South Indian curry stall that had been set up temporarily for the holiday,...
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