Portugal Restaurant Recommendations

panorama of beautiful Porto with traditional boats. PortugalPortugal is known for its five-star cuisine. You may wish to enjoy a meal at leisure at one of these restaurants, which specialize in everything from Portuguese delicacies to Asian fusion.

Lisbon

100 ManeirasRua do Teixeira 35, 1200-459

This intimate eatery serve a nine-course tasting menu of seasonal Portuguese dishes

JNCQUOIAv. da Liberdade 182-184

This fashionable spot offers “timeless artisan food with clever twists”

Olivier Avenida, Rua Júlio César Machado 7

Noted chef Olivier da Costa’s restaurant serves Mediterranean cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere

Yakuza (sushi), Rua da Escola Politécnica 231

Another Olivier da Costa restaurant, Yakuza specializes in sushi, sashimi, and East-West fusion cuisine

Loco (one Michelin star), Rua dos Navegantes 53-B

Alexandre Silva, who won the first Top Chef de Portugal competition, offers two enticing tasting menus

Belcanto (two Michelin stars), Largo de São Carlos 10

In the heart of historic Lisbon, this sophisticated restaurant serves “revisited Portuguese cuisine”

Cervejaria Liberdade, Tivoli Avenida Liberdade

This elegant restaurant specializes in fresh seafood sourced from the Portuguese coastline

GambrinusRua das Portas de Santo Antão 23

This classic spot offers superb seafood and other local specialties in a comfortable setting

Darwin’s CafeAv. de Brasília Ala B

Known for its lovely views of the Tagus River, Darwin’s Cafe serves modern European cuisine

Tapisco, Rua Dom Pedro V 80

Created by chef Henrique Sá Pessoa, cozy Tapisco celebrates both Spanish and Portuguese gastronomy

Porto

Antiqvvm (one Michelin star)Rua de Entre-Quintas 220

Overlooking the Douro River, this lovely restaurant is known for its excellent tasting menu

Cantinho do AvillezRua Mouzinho da Silveira, 166 R/C

This unpretentious place serves exceptional Portuguese cuisine “inspired and influenced by travel”

Cafeína, Rua do Padrão 100

Among Porto’s best restaurants, elegant Cafeína specializes in contemporary European creations

TerraRua do Padrão 103

Split into two floors, Terra is known for top-quality Mediterranean food (upstairs) and sushi (downstairs)

FlowRua da Conceição 63

This relaxed restaurant and bar dishes up Mediterranean specialities, Portuguese favorites, and sushi

OficinaRua de Miguel Bombarda 282

Art and gastronomy mix at Oficina, which serves innovative cuisine in a revamped auto repair shop

For a full list of restaurants in Portugal that have been awarded Michelin stars: http://portugalconfidential.com/2018-michelin-star-restaurants-portugal/

 

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The Hippest Spot in Havana

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History is on the move and Cuba’s capital is no longer a prisoner of the past. A recent New York Times feature on Cuba noted that El Cocinero restaurant, where our January travelers to Havana will enjoy dinner, “makes Brooklyn look as cool as a suburban Ikea.” After sampling the empanadas and hot crab dip at this cooking-oil-factory-turned-hipster-haven, you can wander next door to the Fábrica de Arte Cubano (Cuban Art Factory), which the Times called “a mix of CBGB, Art Basel Miami, a community center, a coffee shop, a bar (or two or three), and a bomb shelter.” Who could resist?

The Art & Architecture of Havana
January 14 – 21, 2017

With Stephanie Herdrich, Assistant Research Curator at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

 

 

15 Great Restaurants in Southeast Asia

Vietnamese cuisine at Home restaurantKnown for diverse cuisines and fresh ingredients, Southeast Asia is a foodie’s paradise. Whether you’re looking for amazing curry, a steaming bowl of pho, or something Western, here are a few of our top picks for restaurants in this fascinating region.

CAMBODIA

Malis Restaurant, 136 Norodom Boulevard, Phnom Penh Serving traditional and contemporary Khmer cuisine as well as Western dishes, Malis is known for its lovely outdoor garden, excellent service, and exceptional food. Chef Luu Meng, a Cambodian celebrity who has appeared on television with Gordon Ramsay, has created an impressive menu filled with grilled meats, fresh seafood, and complex curries.

Mahob Restaurant, #137, Traing village, Group 3, Siem Reap This restaurant, whose name is the Cambodian word for “food,” uses the freshest local ingredients to create Khmer cuisine such as local clams with tamarind and fresh basil, green mango salad with roasted prawns, and wok-fried local beef with red tree ants. The restaurant offers a daily cooking class.

FCC Angkor Kitchen, Pokambor Ave., Siem Reap Located in a lovely colonial-style building next to the Royal Residence, the restaurant offers Cambodian cuisine as well as Western items ranging from pizza to steak. Sit outside on the verandah to watch the street life and enjoy views of the river.

Madame Butterfly, National Road 6 – Airport Road, Siem Reap A great spot for a romantic dinner, Madame Butterfly serves authentic Cambodian cuisine in a traditional wooden house surrounded by tropical gardens. Travelers recommend the Khmer crepe, lobster in coconut, and chicken curry.

Sugar Palm, Taphul Road, Siem Reap  Located on the second floor of a traditional wooden structure, this restaurant dishes up old-fashioned Khmer food. Sit at a table on the terrace. Starters include pomelo salad and crispy spring roll, and popular entrees include fish amok, grilled eggplant, and chicken stir-fried with ginger. The restaurant also has a location in Phnom Penh.

Cafe Indochine, No. 44 Sivatha Boulevard, Siem Reap
Among the city’s longest-running restaurants, Cafe Indochine serves Khmer specialties in a romantic setting.  The restaurant’s menu also has a “steak house” section with locally sourced beef, Italian pastas, and salads.

MALAYSIA

Bijan, 3 Jln Ceylon, Golden Triangle, Kuala Lumpur Award-winning Bijan serves up Malaysian specialties in a sophisticated setting. Some of the restaurant’s best dishes include the Rendang Kambing (lamb shoulder cooked in spices) and Opor Rusuk, (slow cooked beef ribs). Desserts include homemade ice creams and creamy durian cheesecake.

SINGAPORE

Image by Edsel Little

Image of food at Iggy’s in Singapore by Edsel Little

Iggy’s, Hilton Hotel, 581 Orchard Road, Level 3, Singapore Spearheaded by owner Ignatius Chan, an award-winning sommelier, Iggy’s offers a set tasting menu for lunch and a “gastronomic” menu for dinner. Dishes vary depending on the season, but the menu includes items such as crab with white asparagus, ginger, and radish.

Restaurant André, 41 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore Chef André Chiang serves up exquisite Southern French nouvelle cuisine at his award-winning restaurant. Located in a peaceful, art-filled space in Chinatown, the establishment serves an imaginative tasting menu (dishes change daily) and fine wines.

THAILAND

Gaggan, 68/1 Soi Langsuan, Ploenchit Road, Bangkok Serving “progressive Indian cuisine,” Gaggan has been recognized by the press as one of Asia’s top restaurants. Chef Gaggan Anand creates playful dishes such as Green with Envy, green peppercorn chicken kebabs with coriander foam, which are served in an elegant colonial-style dining room.

Nahm, Metropolitan Hotel, 27 South Sathorn Road, Tungmahamek Sathorn, Bangkok This “temple to Thai gastronomy” serves authentic Thai cuisine in an understated dining room. Executive chef David Thompson and his team create dishes from all of the country’s regions as well as delectable desserts.

L’Elephant, 7 Sirimangkalajarn Soi 11 | Suthep, Muang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai This gourmet bistro specializes in casual French fare and has an impressive wine list. Menu items include smoked duck breast salad, steak tartar, and pork tenderloin in morel mushroom sauce. In addition to serving food, it is a gallery and boutique.

VIETNAM

Bahn Mi 25, 25 Hang Ca Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. This small bakery specializes in bahn mi (Vietnamese sandwiches) that are among the best in the city. Pick between three types of meat, or opt for a vegetarian version.

Image courtesy Home restaurant

Image courtesy Home restaurant

Home Restaurant, 34 Chau Long Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi Located in a former French residence in Hanoi’s Truc Bach neighborhood, Home Restaurant serves traditional Vietnamese as well as fusion dishes. The establishment tries to use organic ingredients and free-range meat.

Image courtesy of Hoa Tuc

Image courtesy of Hoa Tuc

Hoa Tuc Restaurant, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Dist. 1, Ho Chi Minh City This elegant restaurant whose name means “Poppy” is located in Saigon’s old opium refinery and serves contemporary Vietnamese cuisine. Hoa Tuc has an a la carte, set lunch, and kids’ menu, plus an extensive wine list. The restaurant also offers cooking classes.

Academic Arrangements Abroad, together with leading cultural and educational institutions, is proud to offer a diverse portfolio of exceptional trips.

“Kings, Gods & Dragons,” our upcoming journey to Cambodia & Vietnam, features meals at several of these restaurants including Malis Restaurant, Madame Butterfly, and Hoa Tuc. For additional information, call us at (800) 221-1944 or email trips@arrangementsabroad.com.

Ten Great Hotels for Food Lovers

In December 2013, a new culinary themed establishment named The Epicurean Hotel opened in Tampa. The hotel’s foodie guests can take cooking classes, munch on gourmet snacks from their rooms’ pantries, and enjoy wine on the rooftop bar.

Other hotels also cater to people who love to eat and drink. (See our list of the best accommodations for chocoholics.) Here are a few of our favorite hotels around the world for foodies who love to travel.

Ballymaloe, County Cork, Ireland

Ballymaloe restaurantLocated in an elegant country home, this hotel offers “simple and elegant” rooms as well as an exceptional restaurant. “Our restaurant serves locally sourced and home grown food from our walled garden and farm,” says Ballymaloe’s website. The hotel also has wine events and a well-known cooking school, which is two miles from Ballymaloe House.

Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables, FL

South Florida’s Biltmore Hotel has several dining options including Palme d’Or, where guests can savor French cuisine prepared by Michelin-starred and James Beard “Rising Star” nominee Chef Gregory Pugin. The establishment is also home to the Biltmore Culinary Academy, which opened in 2009. According to the hotel’s website , “the academy has a dedicated learning area and a fully equipped professional kitchen offering a variety of classes, workshops, team-building events, for both adults and children.”

Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN

Blackberry FarmThe luxurious retreat is renowned for what is it describes as Foothills Cuisine, “borrowing from both haute cuisine and the foods indigenous to Blackberry’s Smoky Mountain heritage.”The dining venue, The Barn, has been featured in publications including Food & Wine, Gourmet and Bon Appétit. Joseph Lenn, Executive Chef of the Barn, was awarded the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southeast in 2013. Blackberry Farm also has a wine cellar, a cooking school and epicurean events.

Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay, Indonesia

Four Season Bali kids culinaryThis Balinese luxury resort offers a variety of dining experiences ranging from a café on the pool terrace to Sundara, which dishes up everything from pizza to Indonesian specialties. One of the hotel’s “epic dining experiences” is a lobster dinner served in an oceanfront gazebo. The hotel also has an on-site cooking school, where guests can learn the secrets of Balinese, Indonesian, and Asian cuisine.

Hotel Grano del Oro, San José, Costa Rica

This luxury boutique hotel is home to one of Costa Rica’s best restaurants. The establishment’s French chef, Francis Canal, merges Costa Rican and European cuisines. The Grano de Oro restaurant has an extensive wine list, and it is a favorite of locals as well as international visitors. Get a glimpse of the restaurant in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUW6X3zGCNI

Loews New Orleans Hotel, New Orleans, LA

New Orleans is known for amazing food, and travelers to the Big Easy can enjoy Creole cuisine at Café Adelaide at the Loews New Orleans Hotel. Local and regional food writers have recognized the restaurant as one of the city’s best. The hotel also offers a “Precocious Plates” menu, a special menu the chef composed that introduces adult flavors to kids in smaller portions.

Sarnic Hotel, Istanbul, Turkey

Sarnic hotel in IstanbulThe Sarnic Hotel in Istanbul offers a four-hour cooking class in the hotel’s kitchen. During the course, which features a local chef as instructor, participants prepare a five-course meal of traditional dishes. Afterwards, they head to the rooftop restaurant to eat the meal they’ve created.

Villa San Michele, Florence, Italy

Belmond Villa San Michele restaurantThe Belmond Villa San Michele’s restaurants include La Loggia, with exceptional Tuscan cuisine and a 16th-century setting. The hotel also has a cookery school, where renowned chefs give hands-on cooking lessons, and an academy where children ages 6 to 14 can learn about Italian food.

Zero George Hotel, Charleston, SC

Zero George foodCharleston’s Zero George Hotel was distinguished as a 2014 Best New Food Hotel by Condé Nast Traveler. The seasonal menu at the Kitchen Carriage House features locally grown ingredients. The hotel is also home to the Zero George Cooking School, recently recognized by FOOD + WINE as one of the best new cooking classes. A Create + Savor package combines luxury accommodations and an intimate cooking class with the hotel’s chef.

Le Mas De Pierre, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France

Le Mas de PierreSituated at the foot of the Saint-Paul-de-Vence fortress, Le Mas de Pierre and its seven country houses have a Mediterranean garden with hundred-year-old olive trees. Chefs Michel Rostang and Emmanuel Lehrer have created new menus for the two Mas de Pierre restaurants. Guests on the postlude for Academic Arrangement’s Abroad’s September 2014 Barcelona to Nice cruise will stay at this lovely property and enjoy dinner at the hotel.

 

Top Tips for Magical Colombia

Colonial House in Cartagena A current Colombia tourism campaign exclaims, “Colombia is magical realism,” a reference to the famous author Gabriel García Márquez. Born in Aracataca, García Márquez won the Nobel Prize in 1982 “for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent’s life and conflicts.”

We’re not sure how the Colombian writer would feel about the tourism board’s tagline, but we agree that Colombia is fantastic. The South American country is home Cartagena, known for charming Spanish colonial architecture and excellent beaches; Bogota, with its top museums and great restaurants; and Medellín, noted for its gorgeous mountains and flowers.

Here are some travel tips for the capital of Bogotá, high in the Andes Mountains; historic Cartagena; and beyond.

BOGOTA:

La Candelaria BogotaStroll through Bogotá’s Oldest Neighborhood: La Candelaria is the oldest neighborhood in Colombia’s capital. Highlights of this historic part of the city include Plaza de Bolívar, La Catedral Primada, and Casa de Nariño, the home and workplace of the President.

Great Museums: Colombia’s capital is home to some remarkable museums. The Museo del Oro, the Gold Museum, which is home to over 34,000 pre-Hispanic gold pieces, the largest collection in the world. The fascinating Museo Botero includes 123 works of art by Colombian figurative artist and sculptor Fernando Botero. Other great picks for art lovers include the Museo Nacional and the Museo de Arte Moderno.

Terrific Places to Try Traditional Colombian Food: Colombia is making a culinary comeback, and options in this cosmopolitan city include French, Italian, and Japanese food. For authentic Colombian cuisine, check out Club Colombia, which is located in an old hacienda, or Casa Santa Clara, in a beautiful house that has amazing views of Bogota.

CARTAGENA:

Historic Center CartagenaSee the City’s Historic Center: Situated on the northern coast of Colombia, Cartagena is famous for its vibrant Old Town. The historic walled city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is home to many fortresses that were built to expel the pirates. Of particular interest are San Pedro Claver Church, the Cathedral, and the Inquisition Museum.

Comfortable Hotel in the Walled City: The Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa has two wings: one that dates back to the 17th century and another that was built at the beginning of the 20th century. According to the hotel’s website, accommodations have “traditional elements of Cartagena,” but rooms also feature modern conveniences such as cable television.

Convent with a View: Be sure visit to 17th-century La Popa Convent. Located on a hill at the city’s highest point, the convent offers spectacular views over Cartagena and the harbor. The convent’s chapel has a lovely image of La Virgen de la Candelaria, the patroness of the city, and there’s also a flower-filled patio.

MEDELLIN:

Luxurious Hotel in the “City of Eternal Spring”: Stay at Hotel Park 10 in the upscale Poblado neighborhood. This boutique hotel has comfortable rooms, an attentive staff, two restaurants (La Terraza, which serves gourmet breakfast, and Restaurant Bar Lussac), and a spa and gym.

Top Spot for Garden Lovers: Explore the Botanical Garden, with its many tropical and desert plants. Marvel at the wooden architectural structure called the Orquideorama, which weaves its way through the garden’s heart and features important collections of orchids.

Great Museum You’ve Probably Never Heard of Before: Visit the Museo de Antioquia, housing an extensive collection of works by Medellín native Fernando Botero.

Want to discover Colombia’s magic? Explore the colonial city of Cartagena and the capital of Bogotá during our December 2014 program “The Jewels of Colombia & Panama.” For additional details, please visit our website or call us at 800-221-1944.

For additional information about traveling to Colombia, visit the official travel guide from the government of Colombia.

Simon Bolivar Statue in Bogota

Top Tips for Fascinating Sri Lanka

Monastery Buddha in Sri LankaSeven centuries ago, explorer Marco Polo described Sri Lanka as “the finest island of its size in all the world.” The island’s treasures continue to captivate travelers into the 21st century. Sri Lanka is home to ancient monuments, magnificent temples and golden beaches. Here are a few travel tips for Sri Lanka, from the capital of Colombo to the country’s Cultural Triangle (located in the center of the island and home to a wealth of archaeological heritage sites) to Galle, situated on the island’s southwest tip.

Great museum in Sri Lanka’s capital: In Colombo, visit the National Museum, which was established in 1877. The museum was founded by Sir William Henry Gregory, who was then the British Governor of Ceylon (Sri Lanka).  Today it features displays on Sri Lanka’s cultural and natural heritage. Highlights include 12th-century bronzes of Hindu gods.

Sigiriya Monks, Sri Lanka TourismTop UNESCO World Heritage site: Although Sri Lanka is home to eight World Heritage sites, you don’t want to miss the extraordinary site of Sigiriya (Lion Rock), built by King Kashyapa in the 5th century CE.  A blend of fortress and palace on a massive rocky hill, Sigiriya is justly famous for its frescoes of celestial dancers and its rock garden.

Comfortable resort in the Cultural Triangle: Cinnamon Lodge Habarana is the perfect base for exploring ancient Buddhist sites.  Located on lush forested land, this eco-friendly property has 137 chalets. Cinnamon Lodge Habarana also gives guests the option of enjoying cuisine made with produce from the resort’s organic farm.

Tooth Relic Temple in KandyMost remarkable religious sites:  Visit Dambulla Cave Temple, whose history dates from the 1st century BCE. Carved into the hillside, the caves still have important sculptures as well as 19th-century paintings.  Another fascinating place is the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy. A famous pilgrimage site, the temple houses Sri Lanka’s most significant Buddhist relic: a tooth of the Buddha.

Good spot for garden lovers: Stroll through the Royal Botanical Gardens outside of Kandy. Renowned for their outstanding collection of orchids, the gardens are also home to aquatic plants, an arboretum, a bamboo collection, a spice garden and a medicinal garden.

Most dramatic lodging in Galle: In the vibrant port city of Galle, stay at the Jetwing Lighthouse , spectacularly situated on the coast.  Designed by Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, the hotel is known for its beautiful setting, friendly staff and excellent food.

Hammock Garden at Jetwing LighthouseIn November 2014, Academic Arrangements Abroad will explore Sri Lanka’s Buddhist legacy. We hope you’ll join us for “Tracing Ancient Buddhism,” a journey from the monasteries of Anuradhapura to the cinnamon trees of Hikkaduwa. Visit our website or call us at 800-221-1944 for additional details about this travel program.

For information about visas, health precautions, photography restrictions and more, visit the Sri Lanka tourism authority’s official website.

Galle Fort and Excursions

12 Top Tips for the Iberian Peninsula: Fado Music, Seafood, Museums & More

Landscape in Douro ValleyThe Iberian Peninsula offers fine wine, wonderful cuisine, and remarkable art and architecture. Academic Arrangements Abroad will visit Portugal and Spain during our “Enchanting Douro River” cruise from May 5 to 14, 2014. Here are a few travel tips for major cities including the Portuguese capital of Lisbon; Porto, which is Portugal’s second-largest metropolis; and the Spanish capital of Madrid.

LISBON

Best museum you’ve probably never heard of: Located in the Madre de Deus Convent, the fascinating National Tile Museum is renowned for its blue and white glazed panels that depict the life of St. Francis.

Fado at OceanarioMost unusual place to listen to traditional fado music: The Oceánario de Lisboa has live fado music at the aquarium on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. The price is 60 Euros person (without dinner) and 80 Euros per person (with dinner).

Great spot for art lovers: If you love art, be sure to check out the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, an extraordinary collection that includes masterpieces Mr. Gulbenkian brought from the Hermitage in the 1920s.

Amazing seafood restaurant:  Cervejaria Ramiro serves up specialties including grilled giant tiger shrimp, crayfish, rock crab or spider crab, which you can wash down with a Sagres beer or glass of fine Portuguese wine. To avoid a long wait at this unpretentious spot, go early or after 10 p.m.  Closed Mondays.

PORTO

????????????????????????????????????????Must-see attraction: The Casa de Música concert hall, home to the city’s three symphony orchestras, was designed by Rem Koolhaas. In 2005, the building was inaugurated by singer and songwriter Lou Reed, who played the first concert at the new venue. Today the Casa de Música is a space for all types of music ranging from classical to fado to rock.

A lofty place to take a photo: Climb the Torre dos Clérigos for great views of the entire city as well as across the river to Vila Nova de Gaia. The Baroque tower is open daily from 10 a.m. to noon and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

A fun way to get around: Consider taking one of Porto’s trams, most of which date from the late 1930s. The tram network’s three different lines pass by many of the city’s major landmarks. A single ticket (valid for one trip) costs 2.50 Euros. 

Spot for a unique souvenir: Porto Signs sells items such as shoes, belts and handbags crafted from cork. The store – which specializes in products of Portuguese origin – also has ceramic art, traditional toys, gourmet foods, wines and more.

MADRID

Cibeles Fountain in MadridReasonably priced comfort food: Specializing in Galician cuisine, Taberna Maceiras (Calle de Las Huertas, 66, 28014) is fun and lively.  The menus are handwritten on wooden palettes, and the walls are loaded with nautical themed decor. Wine is served in small ceramic bowls. The restaurant is known for its delicious pulpo (octopus).

Sweet place for a treat: Established in 1855, El Riojano (Calle Mayor 10, 28013) has lots of charm. The café has to-go pastries and candy in the front and a cute seating area in the back.  Relax over a café con leche and one of the fabulous pastries such as the napolitana de chocolate (similar to a chocolate croissant).

Lesser-known museum: If you’ve already been to the Prado, check out Museo Sorolla, which was once the home of Spanish painter Joaquin Sorolla.  Explore the beautiful tiled fountains and gardens in front of the house before continuing inside to admire the excellent collection of Post-Impressionist and early 20th-century art. It’s a small museum, but worth visiting for a couple of hours.

Market you shouldn’t miss: In the heart of the posh Salamanca neighborhood, Mercado de la Paz (Calle de Ayala, 28, 28001) is full of breads, cheeses, wines, olives and all other manner of delicacies. It’s a great place to pick up some edibles to take on a picnic to Retiro Park.

To find out more about Academic Arrangements Abroad’s upcoming Douro River voyage, visit our website or call us at 800-221-1944.

Seven Amazing Food Museums

RamenFoodies take note! A variety of museums around the globe are devoted to everything from chocolate to ramen noodles. Here are a few of our favorites.

Chocolate Museum, Vienna, Austria

Learn about the history of chocolate and how it is made at a museum devoted to the confection.  During a guided tour (offered in English and German), sample a tasty treat and see how typical Viennese specialties are made. The Chocolate Museum also has events and workshops such as “Drawing with Chocolate for Adults” and a holiday kids’ program.

Image from Gelato MuseumGelato Museum, Bologna, Italy

Opened in 2012, Bologna’s Gelato Museum describes itself as “a center of cultural excellence dedicated to the understanding and study of the history, culture, and technology of gelato and the expertise of the innovators who drove its evolution over the centuries.” Visiting the museum, located in the Carpigiani ice cream company’s headquarters, is free of charge, but you do need a reservation.

Banana Museum, Auburn, WA, USA

 This little museum houses “close to 4,000 items, a mélange of artifacts, folk art and other cultural oddities devoted to the world’s perfect fruit.” Hours are variable, so banana fanatics should call before they visit.

Currywurst museum BerlinCurrywurst Museum, Berlin, Germany

Find out about the secrets of Currywurst at this Berlin museum dedicated to the spiced sausage.  The museum also offers guided group tours, which must be booked in advance, a shop that sells “everything Currywurst your heart may desire” and a snack lounge that offers (surprise!) a wide variety of currywurst.

SPAM Museum, Austin, MN, USA

Dig in to the history of Hormel’s canned meat product at the 16,500-square-foot SPAM Museum. According to the website, “Visit and you’ll be tickled pink by the SPAM® trivia and vintage SPAM® brand advertising. Plus numerous SPAM® displays including the World War II exhibit, SPAM® Game Show quiz, Monty Python tribute and more.” Admission is free.

Frietmuseum in BelgiumFrietmuseum, Bruges, Belgium

Bruges, a medieval gem laced with canals and gardens, is also home to the Frietmuseum. This educational museum devoted to the Belgian fry is housed in the Saaihalle, one of the city’s most beautiful buildings.  According to the Frietmuseum’s website, the museum “explains the history of the potato and fries and the different condiments with which they are habitually served.”

Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum, Yokohama, Japan

Founded in 1994, this institution describes itself as “the world’s first food-themed amusement park.”  Visitors to the museum can sample different regional varieties of Japan’s famous ramen noodle soup. “Our nine ramen shops are showcased in a street-scape replication from the year 1958, Japan,” explains the museum. “It was in this year that the world’s first instant ramen was invented.”

Our Favorite Fall Festivals

Munich from Munich tourist boardMunich’s Oktoberfest is in full swing. The famous festival has more than 14 tents serving everything from cold beer to warm potato salad, rides such as the Pirate Adventure and more. However, there are lots of other fall festivals that are worth visiting. Here’s a roundup of a few of our favorites.

October

Head Down Under for Australia’s largest food festival. At Good Food Month (October 1 to 31, 2013), top chefs will show off their skills in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra.

Watch 750 hot air balloons fill the sky at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (October 5-15, 2013).  If you want to get a different perspective, there’s also the option of taking a hot air balloon ride during the festival.

View and buy art by over 1,000 artists at London’s Frieze Art Fair (October 17 to 20, 2013). Designed by architects Carmody Groarke, the fair is housed in a bespoke structure in Regent’s Park.

Eat some of the best barbecue in the South while enjoying music by blues legends such as James Cotton at the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival (October 18 to 20, 2013). Presented by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, the event is free and open to the public.

Dia de los Muertos by Salvador AlcCelebrate the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico (October 31 to November 2, 2013). Participants honor the deceased family members through building special altars. Although festivities occur throughout Mexico and in Mexican communities throughout the United States, Oaxaca is an especially good place to witness the holiday.

November

Diwali in CoventryWitness Diwali, the Festival of Lights (Nov. 3 to 8, 2013), which is celebrated in India and other locations with large Hindu populations (such as the UK and Trinidad and Tobago).  The five-day festival includes fireworks, the lighting of clay lamps (called diyas), exchanging gifts and eating festive meals.

Pushkar Camels by Gloria DeLucaExperience Pushkar’s Camel Fair (Nov. 6 to 17, 2013), a five-day livestock fair held each year in Rajasthan. A favorite of multiple staff members here at Academic Arrangements Abroad, this extraordinary event attracts approximately 300,000 people and as many as 20,000 camels, cattle and horses.

Discover the Thai festival of lights, Loi Krathong, on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month during the Thai lunar calendar. This year, the festival falls on November 17. Loi Krathong is celebrated all over Thailand, but some of the most beautiful celebrations are in Chiang Mai, Ayutthaya and Sukhothai.

For other suggestions, read our fun fall festivals post from last year!

Memorable Museum Restaurants

Museum restaurants used to conjure up thoughts of lukewarm cafeteria food. Recently, however, eateries at museums have won positive reviews from the press. For example, a May 2013 Departures Magazine blog post says, “With more establishments utilizing fresh local ingredients and offering housemade and innovative menu items, it should come as no surprise that foodies are flocking to savor something other than art or history.”

And a 2012 New York Magazine story describes a museum-restaurant boom in New York City. “Unlike many other culinary trends, this one shows no signs of abating,” The article’s author explains. “Cash-strapped cultural institutions need the income, and restaurateurs love the exposure.”

Staff members and tour directors at Academic Arrangements Abroad agree that a growing number of museum restaurants in New York City and beyond are worth a visit. Here’s a roundup of some of their favorites around the globe.

Europe:

Salad at Bistro Guggenheim Bilbao“I’d have to say that the lunch that I had on tour at the Bistro Guggenheim Bilbao 13 years ago is one of the ten best meals of my life,” says Richard Barcham, Vice President of Development and Sales. “I described the dessert as being “like eating clouds.” Visitors to the Guggenheim Museum can still enjoy amazing meals at the bistro. The regular menu includes a starter (such as seafood soup), main course (such as roasted lamb or grilled tuna), homemade bread, desert (pineapple ravioli, anyone?) and drink for about 26 euros plus tax.Desert at Bistro Guggenheim Bilbao

In Spain, tour director Clive Porter says he had “good coffee and pastries in the Picasso Museum in Málaga.” He mentions that there was a pleasant little garden. Café MPM also serves breakfast, fresh juices, milkshakes, sandwiches, salads and hot entrees.

Clive also recommends a museum restaurant in London. “There is a good view over the roof tops from the National Portrait Gallery in London – where the food is served and quite good.” The Portrait Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and pre-theater dinner. There’s also a “champagne afternoon tea” available during the afternoon (for £10 more than regular tea).

Elizabeth Maricic loved eating at L’Institut du Monde Arabe (Arab World Institut) in Paris. “The museum has a rooftop café and restaurant overlooking the city,” she says. “My friends and I grabbed falafels and mint tea at a cafeteria-style cafe, but restaurant Le Zyriab offers an elegant sit-down dining experience at modern white-clothed tables that match the museum’s minimalist design. The menu for both restaurants is Middle Eastern and North African cuisine. Everything looked so delicious, it was hard not to try everything on the menu!”

Middle East:

Food at IDAMPresident Jim Friedlander recommends Alain Ducasse’s new restaurant on the top of the I.M. Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art in Doha.  The restaurant, IDAM, is Ducasse’s first restaurant in the Middle East and serves delicacies such as foie gras with truffles, tender octopus, potatoes infused with saffron, marinated bonito and roasted blue lobster.

United States:

Grilled Vegetable Panini at Nasher in Dallas“Having a glass of wine on the terrace at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas was exceptionally pleasant,” says Richard. Overlooking the garden, the Nasher Café by Wolfgang Puck also offers seasonal soups, salads and sandwiches.

“On the second floor balcony overlooking the Great Hall of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, is also a beautiful spot to meet for a glass of wine before or after seeing a new exhibition,” says Vice President of Communications Gloria De Luca. “The bar is open on Thursday and Friday evenings and features live classical music.”

Editor Sara Welch recently dined at the café at the Morgan Library. “It’s a beautiful modern space in the new building designed by Renzo Piano: high ceilings, drenched in sunlight, etc. The food was decent and not horribly overpriced, either!”

Ingrid Ahlgren, a writer for the firm, recommends Mitsitam Café at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.  “The restaurant serves indigenous foods found throughout the Western Hemisphere,” she explains. “There are five stations: Mesoamerica, Northern Woodlands, South America, Northwest Coast and Great Plains.” Selections include traditional Native American dishes such as fry bread as well as more contemporary items like buffalo burgers.

Do you have a favorite museum restaurant?