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Taste of the highlands: Oysters from Three Chimneys Restaurant in Scotland.
Taste of the highlands: Oysters from Three Chimneys Restaurant in Scotland. Photo: Alan Donaldson

Sarina Lewis

FRANCE

Market delivers delights by the barrowload

As the central entry and exit point for food imported to and exported from France, Rungis market on the outskirts of Paris serves as the heart of this food-loving nation. There are hectares of warehouses alive with the shouts of wholesalers, the icy glint of freshly caught fish and the ripe scent of fruit, meat and – bien sur – cheese. Visitors are rare but tours are worthwhile, not least for the experience of an early morning verre de vin and steak tartare in the meat hall restaurant with market workers clad in blood-stained white coats. The equation of the freshest meat in Paris and the most critical clientele equals perhaps the best tartare in the world.

Indian bread can be stuffed with everything from green chillies to paneer and peas.
Indian bread can be stuffed with everything from green chillies to paneer and peas.

1 rue de la Tour, BP 316, 94152, Rungis cedex, rungismarket.com

SCOTLAND

Three Chimneys Restaurant, Isle of Skye

Forget every joke you have ever heard at the expense of Scottish cuisine. Long before restaurants such as Denmark's world-renowned Noma began playing the locavore card, this beautifully modest croft house dating back more than 100 years, and perched in the midst of a rugged island landscape, offered an incredible taste of the Highlands. Food is heavily focused on the immediate region, bringing lobster from nearby Loch Dunvegan, Loch Harport oysters, and the best of the area's meats and cheeses. Five-star rooms in The House Over-By have sea views and access to the restaurant's vegetable garden.

Colbost, Dunvegan, Isle of Skye, Scotland, threechimneys.co.uk

UNITED STATES  

Cooking classes at Chez Panisse

Alice Waters is well-known as one of the pioneers of the American food renaissance that began in the early '70s, laying the groundwork for current big-name chefs making a global mark (think luminaries such as David Chang). That said, a cooking class at her iconic West Coast restaurant stationed in Berkeley offers the opportunity to learn, not only technique, but the philosophy of using fresh, seasonal ingredients. Along with maintaining its status as one of America's best restaurants, the establishment of the Edible Schoolyard Project – which was designed to spread the zeal of good food through the school system – is ensuring Waters' influence is spread.

1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, California, chezpanisse.com

SPAIN 

Pintxos crawl in San Sebastian

Forget the idea of the bar crawl as Australians normally understand it. In the Basque quarter of Spain the tradition of quite literally grazing away into the night is a well-established part of local culture. But the experience is not for the faint-hearted. Welcome to San Sebastian, an historical town on a rugged part of the Spanish coast where old gents have no hesitation in letting you know that, while red wine is for drinking, "water is for washing your hands". Many bars are self-service, allowing even non-Spanish speakers to grab a plate of marinated anchovy, quail egg omelette or – as modernity moves in – perhaps a Kobe beef slider. Etiquette insists bar crawlers drop used napkins to the floor and hand empty glasses to the bar tender.

sansebastianturismo.com

INDIA

Paranthe Wali Gali

When a "local" secret makes the pages of Lonely Planet it's safe to say, well, the secret is out. But even inclusion in the world's mainstream travel guides fails to diminish the impact of this famed laneway in Old Delhi specialising in the cooking of North India's staple food: paranthe, a nuanced ghee-cooked traditional flatbread. Of course, the bread – stuffed with everything from green chillies or delicately spiced potato, to paneer and peas – is only half the experience. The buzz of entering an alleyway almost three centuries old is a thrill, while the increasing presence of tourists helps to alleviate the nerves of newbies justifiably cautious in the bustle of the Chandni Chowk market.

Paranthe Wali Gali, Chandni Chowk market, New Delhi, chandnichowknowonline.in