A worldwide tour for food and wine lovers

Frommer's 500 Places for Food and Wine Lovers

By Tricia Brown
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500 places for food and wine lovers

500 places for food and wine lovers [©John Wiley & Sons]


A culinary adventurer's guide to food and wine around the world, Frommer's 500 places for food and wine lovers will lead you on a tempting worldwide tour of epicurean hot spots.

This first edition has been put together by author Holly Hughes who lives in New York and has travelled the globe as an editor and writer and co-author Charlie O’Malley who lives in South America’s wine capital – Mendoza in Argentina – where he, among other things, runs a wine tour company called Trout and Wine.

Food and wine lovers the world over know that half the joy of travelling is in browsing the local open air market with the locals, finding the perfect little vineyard restaurant or sampling the best the region has to offer whether it be wine, cheese, ham or the local grappa. But, as 500 places for food ane wine lovers says, there is nothing worse than arriving home to, “You mean you went all the way to…and you didn’t eat at…?” An experience that most of us has had at some time.

Selecting just 500 places must have been a daunting task, “I could just as easily have covered 5,000 such places, and they’d all be wonderful,” says Holly Hughes. However the criteria was for not just a restaurant list but rather 500 diverse places from organic farms to gourmet delis, bakeries to coffee shops as well as vineyards that were the most fun to visit.

Going to the source section includes open air markets, gourmet shops, street eats, cookbooks and kitchenware and food museums. As a market lover some of my favourites are here including our very own Queen Vic in Melbourne and the Borough Market in London. Others are on my to-do list like the English Market in Cork, Ireland which sounds fascinating and of course the famous Tokyo fish market.

The Gourmet shops pages have me reliving time spent in Harrod’s food hall, Fauchon in Paris and Zabar’s in New York. On Manhattan's Upper West side, Zabar's is a Jewish deli with sawdust floors and all sorts of intriguing goods crammed to the ceiling. It's also elbow to elbow with local neighbourhood shoppers. There is an excellent collection of housewares and cookware upstairs too.

In the cookbook section I am delighted to find Books for Cooks in Fitzroy, Melbourne, a wonderful place to spend a happy hour or two and if you can’t find it in this shop then it probably doesn’t exist.

In food vacations there are a number of big names including Sebastien Bras who was at the Sydney Food Festival World Chef Showcase last year. The Bras restaurant, in the South of France, is famous for Gargouillou, a salad of some 40 native vegetables, flowers, herbs and seeds, many of them gathered from the hillsides just that morning, resulting in a marriage of tastes, shapes and colours.

In meals to remember you will find famous name chefs and restaurants like El Bulli but also some smaller, more unusual places. Au Pied du Cochon in Paris is famous for its onion soup, grilled pigs’ feet and rum babas along with never closing (it last closed its doors sometime in 1947). Dine here not just for the food as the décor is vintage Parisian café straight out of the movies. Some years ago, even though our waiter was obviously outraged at our limited French and thereafter ignored us, it was a memorable meal.

Trattoria Sostanza in Florence, Italy first opened in 1869 and is the quintessential Florentine dining experience. When told by locals we must go and have the house specialty – petti di pollo al burro (thick chicken breasts fried in butter) – we were not so enthusiastic but it proved a truly memorable meal. All this whilst seated on hard benches and stools at crowded communal tables…and I can’t wait to go back and do it all over again.

On the road in America has 61 pages of delis, diners, seafood shacks and more and this is actually a problem I have with the book as the coverage for countries outside of America, particularly Australia and New Zealand, is quite limited. An impossible task of course to cover the globe so maybe the second edition can give a bit more coverage to the Southern Hemisphere or maybe we just need another guide – 500 Places in Australia and New Zealand for Wine and Food Lovers.

What are the top vineyard picks for Australia? Well, according to the guide they are Penfolds in Adelaide (home of Grange), Seppelts in the Barossa, Stonier’s on the Mornington Peninsula, McWilliams Mount Pleasant Estate in the Hunter and Vasse Felix in the Margaret River. Again, the discrepancy here bothers me with 18 vineyards listed for America’s West Coast, 15 in France, 10 in South America and even Italy has 7 listings whereas Australia has only 5 and South Africa just 1!

In New Zealand, Stony Ridge on Waiheke Island, Craggy Range Winery in Hawkes Bay, Two Paddocks in the Central Otago and Montana Winery in Marlborough get a mention. Montana is New Zealand’s biggest winery and inside you’ll find a modern, slick operation as well as an excellent restaurant serving the local mussels and salmon farmed along the coast. Yes, it is popular with tourists but well worth a visit.

There are pages of microbreweries and distilleries (Melbourne gets a mention here) as well as where to find the best coffee and tea. Want to know where to find the best gelati in Italy (Vivoli Gelato in Florence is a favourite of mine), the best macarons in Paris (if you are into the current macaron madness) or what about the best chocolate shop in Spain (we do have the Spaniards to thank after all for bringing chocolate to Europe)? It’s all here and more.

A useful major food fairs and festivals calendar – Melbourne’s Food and Wine Festival included – is towards the back and the book ends with maps. However it is somewhat disturbing to find the Mornington Peninsula is now north of Melbourne and the Hunter Valley has moved to Victoria, just east of Melbourne. One hopes that the information included with the listings (contact details, accommodation recommendations etc) is more accurate than the maps.

This book will rekindle travel memories and inspire new ones with "500 irresistible places to indulge your appetite". A great read though slightly disappointing for its limited inclusions of the great gourmet food and wine experiences to be had in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.


Frommer's 500 places for food and wine lovers by Holly Hughes is published by John Wiley and Sons (2009; RRP A$27.95). Subscribers of VisitVineyards.com and Winepros Archive can purchase this book at 12.5% discount from our book partners Seekbooks (postage extra).



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June 20th, 2010
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