2016’s Best Meals

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2016 was an incredible year for travel. This past year, I traveled to over twenty different countries, revisiting old favorites and discovering new ones.

Well, I saw some fascinating things, and, as usual, I met some fantastic new and intriguing individuals. But, above all, what about the food?

Here are the Best Meals of 2016:

Georgia, Republic of-

I decided to go on this vacation on the spur of the moment. I have some wonderful friends there who recommended the wine, and I was able to locate an inexpensive airfare. That’s all I needed to know. When I arrived, I was blown away by the quality of the cuisine and drinks.

Georgia is recognized for its wine, maybe not well enough, but known nevertheless. The nation boasts the world’s oldest documented history of wine production, going back to 8000 B.C. Needless to say, they’ve honed the craft in that period. Many people believe that Georgia is the origin of wine.

But what I didn’t realize was how delicious the meal would be.

My favorite Georgian food, which I ate almost every day, was khinkali, which were gigantic soup-filled dumplings. Fillings vary by area, but are often a combination of beef and pork with onions, chile, and cumin. This mixture is rolled into a dumpling with a strong knot at the top that you hold while taking the initial bite and sucking out the soup within. This meal, which is served either steamed or deep-fried, is frequently dusted with black pepper and is always eaten with your hands.

This is a different kind of khinkali than I’m accustomed to—deep it’s fried. #khinkali are dumplings that are often filled with a combination of beef and pig, as well as a soup created from the meat liquids that are released during the cooking process. They were wonderful, but I like the traditional style.

A picture posted on August 11, 2016 at 7:55am PDT by Restaurantweekfingerlakes.com (@foodieflashpacker).

Lviv (Ukraine) –

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know that I fell in love with Lviv this summer. I haven’t stopped thinking about it. Lviv offers the feel of Western Europe at some of Eastern Europe’s greatest pricing. There’s so much to see and do, as well as so much delicious, extremely reasonable cuisine. This T-bone steak with dill butter and cranberry sauce is the most memorable dinner I had in Lviv. It’s also one of the most visually appealing platters of food I’ve tasted in a long time.

Tenderloin steak with dill butter and cranberry sauce.

A picture posted on July 31, 2016 at 10:22am PDT by Restaurantweekfingerlakes.com (@foodieflashpacker).

Click here for a list of the top five weird or most distinctive restaurants in Lviv.

The Portuguese Azores-

Is it considered cheating to mention everything I ate while in the Azores? Do I have to limit myself to just one meal? It’s my blog, therefore I’ll do anything I want! Really, the Azores are a seafood lover’s paradise. And, given the islands’ location in the center of the Atlantic, halfway between Europe and the United States, this makes perfect sense. If I had to choose just one dish, it would be this platter of wonderfully grilled octopus.

Roasted octopus with carrots was the finest dinner I’ve eaten since arriving in Portugal. It was fork tender and bursting with flavor.

A picture posted on June 13, 2016 at 11:27am PDT by Restaurantweekfingerlakes.com (@foodieflashpacker).

Click here to learn more about Azorean cuisine.

Thailand’s Chiang Mai-

Brunch is one of the things I miss the most about home. Brunch is just not a thing in many areas of Asia. In Chiang Mai, however, this is not the case. Since Chiang Mai is home to a large number of expatriates, there are several excellent restaurants providing Western and Asian-Western fusion cuisine.

The brekkie stack at @rusticandblue on Sunday brunch. French toast, bacon, sausage, and a fried egg with syrup on the side. Very delectable.

A picture posted on April 3, 2016 at 8:43am PDT by Restaurantweekfingerlakes.com (@foodieflashpacker).

Click here for a comprehensive list of the finest brunch eateries in Chiang Mai.

Hong Kong, China:

I thought Hong Kong’s cuisine would not disappoint, and I was correct. Although my initial thoughts of the city were mixed, the cuisine was a definite yes from the first mouthful. Nothing beat the dim sum vendors we discovered on the strolling food tour I took on my stay. Since the little meals were designed to be shared, I got to experience a little bit of everything—Asian tapas, if you will.

To learn more about my walking #food tour of #hongkong, follow the link in my profile. Photographer: @eating adventures

A picture posted on March 29, 2016 at 8:05am PDT by Restaurantweekfingerlakes.com (@foodieflashpacker).

Istanbul (Turkey) –

Here is another spot where I’m inclined to mention everything I ate while there. I came to Turkey for the second time this year, and I remain convinced that Turkish cuisine is one of the world’s most underappreciated cuisines. We associate Turkish cuisine with kebabs at home, but there is so much more! Turkish cuisine varies greatly by area, and they have a whole mezze (appetizers) culture centered on drinking!

This is my second trip to #turkey, and I just realized I’ve been making a major mistake by calling this #turkish #pizza. That is, in fact, #lahmacun, and it may precede pizza. This delectable dinner is made by swiftly cooking minced beef, garlic, onion, and spices on top of a thin layer of chewy bread in a wood burning oven. Before serving, squeeze fresh lemon over the top and garnish with parsley. Thank you so much to @culinarybackstreets for including me on their incredible tour. I learnt so much about the city’s history and sampled far too many delicacies to list. When planning a trip to #istanbul, contact them to schedule your own #foodie walking tour!

A picture posted on September 8, 2016 at 9:32am PDT by Restaurantweekfingerlakes.com (@foodieflashpacker).

Morocco, Marrakech

Moroccan cuisine is another underappreciated cuisine. We tend to think of Moroccan cuisine as solely tagine at home. When I went on a walking culinary tour of Marrakech, I realized how wrong I was. The cuisine is diverse, and each dish has a rich history. I’d want to go back to Morocco and eat more of this wonderful food!

This morning’s meal included #coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice, fried #eggs, sliced meats, bread, local cheese, olive oil, butter, jam, honey, and peanut butter. $5 USD

A picture posted on May 27, 2016 at 4:30am PDT by Restaurantweekfingerlakes.com (@foodieflashpacker).

Italy, Pisa

Last but not least, if you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that the charcuterie plate I had in Pisa, Italy, comfortably beat out the competition as my finest meal of 2016. Since I ate it twice, I think it would be more appropriate to say the platter was the finest meal(s) I had last year. Within a week. There is no shame. I’m not sure there’s anything more I could say about this lunch that I didn’t already say when I wrote about it here. That was nothing short of flawless. Local meats and cheeses, fresh breads, and house wine, all while lounging in the Tuscan sun and devouring the whole plate myself. Don’t be shocked if you see this same meal on my Best Dinner of 2017 list- I’m sure I’ll go back for more!

One of the greatest dinners I’ve ever had. Click on the link in my bio to read about this massive plate of local meats and #cheese I discovered in #pisa #italy… #food #foodie #foodpic #delicious #solotravel #gaytravel #instafood #foodblog #foodforfoodies #foodgram #foodporn #foodgasm #traveltheworld #rtw #thedailybite #foodphotography #foodworthtravelingfor #cheeseheads #che

A picture posted on December 7, 2016 at 3:02am PST by Restaurantweekfingerlakes.com (@foodieflashpacker).

If you’re always curious what I ate today, go here to start following me on Instagram calorie for calorie.

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Was there one meal from last year that stood out above the others for you? Tell me what it was in the comments area!

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