Your Guide to Dinner Party Stories: Tables around the world

Our expert guides take you one step closer to unbridled travel experiences. From their unrivalled local knowledge to their passion for telling stories behind the sites, we don’t shy away from showing you the best regional delicacies either. Truly embracing the idiom, “home is wherever you hang your hat”, our guides also believe that, “home is wherever you have your dinner”.

Being your ultimate guide to dinner party stories, we’re reinventing the wheel, or in this case the table, when it comes to eating around the world. From slow cooking meats and vegetables underneath the sands in Wadi Rum to tucking into a steaming cup of Swedish broth in traditional huts as the Northern Lights hovers overhead, our trips offer the perfect setting for dinner party stories, swapping the best tales with like-minded travellers. Take a look at our five top picks for some of the world’s most memorable dinners.

1. Enjoy traditional Zarb dinners in the Wadi Rum

Having a traditional Zarb, some say, is the Bedouin answer to a barbeque. But this isn’t just your average barbeque – this is an ancient, nomadic tradition deeply rooted in the Bedouin culture across the Arabian Peninsula. Utilising “earth ovens” under the ground, the Bedouin people slowly roast meat and vegetables for family and guests out in the most remote corners of the desert, where the meal sometimes takes up to a day to prepare.

We get the chance to tuck into this traditional feast ourselves during our Petra & Wadi Rum Trek adventure. After embarking on our desert trek and taking in the awe-inspiring sight of ‘The 7 Pillars of Wisdom’, we make a short transfer towards Um Al Bdoun, a private campsite entirely run by the nomadic Bedouin community. Having known to roam the desert in search of water and pastures, Zarb feasts were the perfect, traditional way to cook on the move, and this tradition has been passed down for centuries. Palm leaves may have been swapped for ceramic plates, but otherwise this traditional way of cooking remains largely unchanged and is a must try when you’re exploring the Wadi Rum.

Slow cooked sizzling lamb, steamed zucchini, peppers and onions alongside a serving of soft potatoes make their big reveal, rising from the earth, as their delicate, tangy spices waft in the air come dusk. Now, it’s time to knock elbows with your fellow travellers and swap stories in the cosy, vibrantly coloured mess hall – a dinning tent draped in heavy woven rugs and tapestries that looks like a scene straight out of Lawrence of Arabia. For star gazers, the crisp nights offer some of the clearest views of the stars above, with some even catching sightings of shooting stars, if they’re lucky.

2. Try the world’s best pintxos in San Sebastián

It’s no secret that the jewel of the Basque country, San Sebastián, has a rich culinary heritage and deeply embedded gastronomic culture that’s just waiting to be explored around every narrow-lined street. But on our Basque Food Adventure, we like to go one step further to set the scene for a truly unforgettable dinner party in San Sebastián by heading to an exclusive Gastromic Society – or what they call, Sociedad Gastronómica. These famous eateries may not have the most extravagant interiors decorated in gold trimmings, but that’s not why we’re here – we’re here for the melt-in-your-mouth traditional pintxos and swapping travel stories.

This member-only private dinning club is where we’ll meet for our farewell dinner. Our host for the evening, will be a member of the society, who will be in charge of preparing the meal and explaining to us what goes in to making that perfect San Sebastián pintxos – a local delicacy that was actually invented in the city in the 1930s. From freshly baked bread topped with peppered chorizo and spider crab to tomato purée and mussels in a béchamel sauce, the array of pintxos on offer is sure to tick off everyone’s wish list when it comes to trying the local Basque cuisine.

Traditionally in Basque society, it is women who are the head of the household, managing the husband’s pay checks. So, the birth of Sociedad Gastronómica came from the desire to have a private community where only men could reserve a table and cook with friends. The society used to be exclusively male, but now both men and women can enjoy entering the Sociedad Gastronómica to try the best regional pintxos for a unique culinary experience, but the kitchen remains a man-only job.  To this day, these societies still play an important role and serve as meeting places where men of all social classes, known as cuadrillas, enjoy the simple pleasure of cooking, eating and socialising.

3. Taste Mexican delicacies from Frida Kahlo look-alike, Beatriz Vázquez

On our Mexico Food Adventure, we head 35km south of Oaxaca City in Southern Mexico to the town of Ocotlán de Morelos to try some of the best regional delicacies at Beatriz Vázquez food stall. Loved by travellers and locals alike, Beatriz’s Vázquez Gómez creates her very own Oaxacan specialities from scratch.

Full of shoppers tucking into Frida’s typical Mexican fare of chiles rellenos (stuffed chillies), fried chapulines (grasshoppers) and enfrijoladas (fluffy tortillas folded around creamy black beans), these delectable dishes aren’t the only reasons why people are being drawn towards Beatriz Vazquez’s food stall. This Mexican local is also said to bear a striking resemblance to the famous Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo. Putting on bright fuchsia lipstick and donning a traditional Tehuana long embroidered skirt, Beatriz also wears flowers in her hair daily and pencils in those prominent Kahlo signature brows for the finishing touches.

Opened by Beatriz’s mother over 60 years ago, Beatriz has since took over the stall, and so La Cocina de Frida was born. She explains, “I never met Frida, or knew much about her, but so many people in the market told me I looked like the painter over the years,” she says, “and when I read about her, she became my hero. It’s a gift to look like Frida.” While you’re here, we’d recommend trying her speciality sauce – the delicious mole coloradito (spicy red sauce), which is a perfect addition to your tamales and enchiladas.

4. Enjoy some Svenska Fisksoppa on ice

So, this one may need a little explaining. Svenska Fisksoppa is the Swedish equivalent to our English beef stews. This scrumptiously hearty seafood broth is made with baby potatoes, creamy garlic salmon, cod, leek and cooked in one cup of white wine – the perfect remedy after a cold winter’s day of snowshoeing in the outdoors. It’s here, on the frozen shores of the Lulea Archipelago in the Gulf of Bothnia, that we enjoy this Swedish delicacy while on the Swedish Lapland Activity Week.

On one evening during your holiday, our expert guides alongside our Boutique hotel staff, help to create the ultimate winter wonderland experience on ice, where you will be drive out on a snowmobile to a small little hut that has a prime position on the glittering lake – welcome to your dining quarters for the evening! Get cosy with your group tonight, as your guide cooks a fantastic Swedish meal, where you’ll drink cups of Swedish Glogg and if you’re lucky pop out for a front row seat to the Northern Lights hovering above you. If that isn’t the perfect recipe dinner party story, then we don’t know what is! 

5. Go for a hands-on jack fruit curry experience in Sri Lanka

Taking travellers firmly off the tourist trail, our expert Sri Lankan guide,  Roshan Fernando, shows visitors the way to the Kalu family farmhouse for a completely raw, authentic Sri Lankan welcome. For over 20 years, Roshan has been leading the way when it comes to immersive travel experiences, but on our  Discover Sri Lanka and Discover Sri Lanka Premium trips, he also found a way that he as an individual, can give back to his local community and be a positive instigator for change. After meeting Kalu, his wife Chandra and their three young daughters, Roshan gave them the support they needed to build and create a sustainable business – preparing authentic Sri Lankan meals at the Kalu family Farmhouse.  

On two of our Sri Lankan adventures, we master the art of eating with our hands and swapping travelling tales over oak tables, while tucking into Chandra’s speciality – her spicy jack fruit curry. Known as “Ambul Polos” in Sinhalese, this delicious aromatic dish is almost as good as the company of Kalu’s family and hearing more about their unique story and traditional Sri Lankan customs. You may come to Sri Lanka for the sites, but it’s beautiful dinner parties like these that will leave an indelible imprint on your memory.

To find out about the culinary experiences you can have with us, click here.

 

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