Packed aisle to aisle, food, and wine is a luxury that has become ordinary and thoughtless to many a consumer. The quick access and ease of the grab and go meal has disconnected people from the beautiful origins of their daily sustenance. Every meal and beverage hail from somewhere, a rolling countryside, a century-old vineyard, the list is endless. Choosing to travel back to the roots of food and wine, is the embodiment of connecting mindfulness with eating. This journey of the best tasting and experiencing all a region has to offer begins in Western Europe, a wonderland for wine lovers.
A land brimming with love, leisure and lots of things to taste, France is a hub for all things delicious. Round a corner in almost any French city and there will be excellent food on the other side. Although there are numerous highly esteemed restaurants throughout the country, two, in particular, stand out. The world-renowned Parisian restaurant Arpege, is famous for its vegetable-forward dishes that star produce grown in their own organic gardens. Enjoy a fine dining experience under the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower at Le Jules Verne. Indulge the senses with an overlook of Paris and perfectly prepared classic French cuisine. This is truly one of the best culinary experiences in Western Europe.
Accompanying fine French food is the abundance of vineyards gracing the countryside. One of the most popular celebration wines in history is native to the French landscape. Champagne is a sparkling white wine that is versatile in its pairing and festive for any occasion. Known for its earthy and floral notes, Bordeaux is a red wine with a medium to full body that is grown in the southwest region of France.
Venturing south, Spain has a unique spin on its refreshments as they incorporate their regional ingredients and Spanish heritage. The boundaries of restaurants begin to be pushed in this southern country as chefs and eaters alike strive for new and invigorating culinary experiences. This three-star restaurant is the perfect example of this new era of food as Asador Etxebarri strives for groundbreaking food created out of sustainable practices. Containing a greenhouse for mindful growth and a buyer of ethical animal products, this establishment accomplishes its mission to a “t.” Showcasing the perfect marriage between progressive eating and rich history, Café Iruña remains one of the country’s favorites since 1888. This popular party spot is housed in the plaza square of Pamplona and still contains a majority of the original architectural elements.
Moving outside of the city streets of Spain, a slew of orchards pepper the surrounding land. With vineyards producing an expansive variety of wines, La Rioja is home to 673 wineries. This wine heavy region of southern Europe is perfect for travelers that want to get a little taste of everything. Zeroing in on a more specific taste, Bodegas Torres draws admiration from far and wide as they focus on the importance of sustainability and family. This internationally beloved winery has been producing unique alcohol for three centuries and fulfilling their commitment to love the land and make great wine.
Neighboring Spain, this small but impactful country is abundant with multicultural food and local wine. Portugal has greatly influenced culture, language, and architecture across the world, but has also diversified cuisine by its ocean-based diet. This fine dining experience in the heart of Lisbon serves traditional Portuguese dishes with an Asian influence. Alma offers one of the best culinary experiences in Western Europe.
The chef draws his culinary inspiration from life in Lisbon and strives for innovation and sophistication in all of their food. This same innovation turns plant-based with an entirely vegan restaurant located just blocks from the ocean. Ao 26 takes a cruelty-free angle on classic Portuguese meals while elevating ingredients and execution.
The cultivation of produce doesn’t stop there, as Portugal’s open spaces are lined with vineyards. One of the most popular regions for wine production in this lush countryside is in the Douro Valley. Host to a multitude of wineries this area is famous for its excellent alcohol and the railway line that runs to it. Founded by the same family that currently owns and runs the winery, Monte da Ravasqueira produces a diverse collection of wines. With a multitude of grape varieties, the opportunity for unique alcohol is expansive and continuous as this vineyard located in Arraiolos focuses on sustainability while producing the highest quality of wine possible.
Traveling through southern Europe to chase food and wine not only expands the palate, but also the world view. Experiencing firsthand the birthplace of alcohol consumed at home is unique and irreplaceable. Mindfulness is cultivated in a new way when connectivity between sustenance and its origins is regained. The journey of eating and drinking to encounter the culture of a country is one of openness and relaxation. Explore new destinations with some of the best culinary experiences in Western Europe. It may just change the way that you look at food.
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