Stylist.co.uk: Top food destinations for 2012
The reputation of Mendoza – Argentina’s wine region – as a destination for gourmet holidays has risen sharply over the last few years, and boutique hotels are now popping up faster than you can open a bottle of Malbec. The wine-infused Cavas Wine Lodge (rooms from around £285 in the low-season) is one of the best places to stay here: set between vineyards and the Andes, it is ideally located for tasting trips to local wineries and its Moorish spa specialises in wine treatments – a combination that we find irresistible.
Florence’s charm lies in its history, its Tuscan location and beauty: where else can spend your days feasting your eyes on magnificent medieval art before rubbing shoulders with the locals at an excellent family-run restaurant next door? On our last visit, we were told that Florence’s young foodie crowd visit Il Santo Bevitore (Via di Santo Spirito 64/66) on the southern banks of River Arno for their Tuscan gourmet fix, and we can see why: the restaurant is a modern, slick reinvention of the enoteca e trattoria and serves fine Florentine classics with a contemporary twist.
Japan had a terrible 2011 with earthquakes, a devastating tsunami and nuclear debris oozing out of the Fukushima plant – all of which has made travellers stay away. But Tokyo, which emerged pretty unscathed from the natural catastrophes, is one of the best places for food in the world, and we remain big fans. Whether you choose to go for local authenticity at one of the yakitori dens underneath the railway arches by Yurakucho Station, blow the budget at the Michelin-starred restaurants at the Mandarin Oriental (the Tapas Molecular Bar on the 38th floor serves a tasting menu for just eight people per night so book before you go) or just want to sample drinks, snacks and skyline views at the Peninsula Hotel’s Peter Bar, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
The landlocked Spanish region that gave London both Brindisa and José Pizarro is the perfect place to go for a tapas-filled gourmet pilgrimage. Fly to Madrid before catching a train to region capital Cáceres, where you can rent a car in order to see as much of Extremadura as you possibly can: we’ll make Hospederia Convento de la Parra (from €85 – about £70 – per night) our base, setting off on eating excursions every morning and returning with full stomachs every evening. Pizarro recommends the modern Spanish cooking at Altair on Av de José Fernández López in Mérida (00 34 924 30 45 12) and the migas (fried breadcrumbs with chorizo and fried eggs) at Mesón La Troya on Plaza Mayor 10 in Trujillo (00 34 927 321 364), so make sure to stop off at both addresses.
Cape Town has long been used as a stop-off point for people going on roadtrips through the Cape Winelands, but the city’s own foodie scene is well worth staying put. On our next visit, we’ll be tucking into authentic Mexican food at El Burro in Green Point (81 Main Road; 00 27 21 433 2364) before having drinks at The Black Ram at The Power and Glory in Tamboerskloof (on the corner of Kloof Nek and Burnside Roads; 00 27 21 422 2108) and dinner at classic burger joint Royale Eatery in the centre of town (273 Long Street). We’ll stay at POD (pictured), a 15-room design hotel conveniently located along the beach in the very glamorous Camps Bay district (3 Argyle Road; room rates from R2,700 – about £217).