Jaillan Yehia

Savoir There World Food Awards 2013

Written by Jaillan Yehia

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Keeping food simple in Siem Reap

Keeping food simple in Siem Reap

As the year drew to a close I found myself writing a post recapping my favourite travel memories of 2013 and I learned a couple of things about myself in the process – firstly that many of my favourite moments of the year involve nature and animals, and secondly that when I’m not looking for an animal-related activity, I’m basically eating.

So to celebrate and commemorate all the fantastic food that I’ve enjoyed in the last 12 months I decided to hold my own mini world food awards based on all the places I’ve travelled to and eaten in during 2013. No golden envelopes or teary speeches here, just a list of my best eats of 2013…

And the nominees are…

Favourite Food Market

Granville Island Public Market, Vancouver

Granville Island

Okanagan apples are just one of the fresh foods on sale at Granville Island Market, Vancouver, Canada

Gadong Night Market, Brunei

Gadong Night Market, Brunei

Bargain snacks are plentiful at Gadong Night Market, Brunei

Namdaemun Market, Seoul, South Korea

Namdaemun Market

Local delicacies, for better and worse, at Namdaemun Market

And the winner is…

Winner is...I have to go with Seoul’s Namdaemun Market for sheer culture shock value. At one point my (dog-loving) Cox and Kings guide pointed at a restaurant within the market and said to me in hushed tones ‘I’m sorry to have to tell you but that place specialises in dog.’

Favourite Food With A View

Rocky Mountaineer Train, Canadian Rocky Mountains

Rocky Mountaineer

Hard to look at your food when this is going on out the window, right?

Dylan’s Restuarant, Isle of Anglesey, Wales

The view from Dylan's patio

The dreamy view from Dylan’s patio, which was one of my favourite places to eat in Anglesey

Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Resort, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Sofitel Siem Reap

The vista at breakfast, not bad at all

And the winner is…

Winner is...The Rocky Mountaineer for challenging me to look up while I’m stuffing my face, which really doesn’t happen too often.

Favourite Alcohol Sampling Session

Vodka Tasting at the Belvedere Vodka Ice Room, Whistler

Belvedere Ice Room

Clutching just a wee dram of vodka with Arnette of RTW Girl

Wine Tasting at Siena’s Enoteca Italiana, Tuscany, Italy

Siena's Enoteca Italiana

Siena’s Enoteca Italiana – The largest collection of Italian wine in the world

Organic Cider Tasting at The Cowichan Valley’s Merridale Cidworks

Apple juices and ciders at Merridale Cidery

Freshly made apple juices and ciders on sale at Merridale Cidery

And the winner is…

Winner is...

I love all alcohol tasting, in fact I love alcohol (is that a weird thing to admit?!) – whether it be wine, cider, beer or vodka, and special mention has to be given to the tasty ciders at Merridale, but I have to say that doing shots of vodka in the ice room from miniature ski boot-shaped shot glasses with three other people in unison, off something called a shot-ski makes this the clear winner.

Favourite Cooking Class

Mexican night with The London Chef, Victoria, Vancouver Island

The London Chef

Dan Hayes, aka The London Chef, in action with the class

Traditional Gambian dishes with Yabouy Gambian Home Cooking, Gambia

Yabouy Gambian Home Cooking

Ida and her assistants huddle round the outdoor pot at Yabouy Gambian Home Cooking

Cooking classes at Well Seasoned, Langley, British Columbia

Angie of Well Seasoned

Angie of Well Seasoned

And the winner is…

Winner is...

This is tricky as I’ve taken some really enjoyable cookery classes this year but the three I’ve narrowed it down to are all inspirational because they’re run by chef entrepreneurs who’ve taken their knowledge and passion for food and turned it into thriving businesses.

Ida is helping tourists get hands on experience of Gambian cuisine while also teaching us how to shop in Gambian markets and use local ingredients.  Chef, entrepreneur and co-founder of the Langley cooking school Well Seasoned , Angie uses a relaxed and practical approach to food to run cooking classes and a foodie emporium and she’s also the lady behind The Missing Ingredient a subscription service that sends boxes of mystery goodies to your door with recipes and ideas on how to cook out of the box, but I think the ultimate winner is The London Chef – I loved the modern and spacious setting for the class, and the fact that I learned a few lessons about how certain local fish is used (or not used) by restaurateurs. Dan has a flourishing business here running not just the classes but a catering company and a cafe too, and his knowledge and professionalism really shines.

Favourite Baked Goods

Fix Cafe at Nita Lake Lodge, Whistler

Fix Cafe at Nita Lake Lodge

The butter tarts in particular are spectacular at Fix Cafe

Cafe Droog, Amsterdam

Droog Cafe Amsterdam

The achingly hip Droog Cafe Amsterdam is a great place for a baked snack in the city

 Bon Macaron Patisserie, Victoria

Bon Macaron

Multi-coloured and multi-flavoured macaroons at Bon Macaron

And the winner is…

Winner is...

When macaroons come in flavours like hummus and poppy seed and bacon and cream cheese it makes them pretty memorable. But by god do I have a soft spot for those butter tarts at Cafe Fix!

Favourite Food Production Tour

Halen Môn Anglesey Sea Salt, Wales

Halen Mon sea salt factory

Messing about with Halen Mon co-founder Alison

Balsamic Vinegar specialists Acetaia Sereni, Emilia Romagna, Italy

Balsamic vinegar factory

The oldest barrels at Acetaia Sereni date back to before WWII

Bertinelli Parmesan Cheese Factory, Emilia Romagna, Italy

Parmesan Cheese Factory

One of my fave shots of the year – in a Parmesan bank!

And the winner is…

Winner is...

Purely for the amount of conversation the photos sparked on social media, I have to pick the Parmesan factory – and it was absolutely fascinating to see the production process too.

 Favourite Drink Production Tour

Fernwood Coffee Company, Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada

Fernwood Coffee Company

Artisan coffee made by the folks at Fernwood

Molson Brewery Experience, Vancouver, Canada

Molson Brewery tour Vancouver

You learn plenty of interesting facts and stats on the Molson Brewery Tour

Merridale Ciderworks, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, Canada

Merridale cidery's brandy and Eau de vie

Merridale cidery’s brandy and eau de vie were delicious

And the winner is…

Winner is...I learned a lot about cider when I was shown around by owner Janet Docherty who has been running these orchards for 13 years, and I visited at Christmas when the orchards had been turned into an enchanted Christmas walk complete with lights amidst the orchards and Santa’s workshop.

 Favourite Meal Overall

Chef Laudico’s Bistro Filipino, Manila, The Philippines

Chef Laudico

Ulla, Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada


It looks like scallops and it tastes like heaven

And the winner is…

Winner is...I’m not going to choose a winner here, I just can’t narrow it down any further than these two equally impressive restaurants on opposite sides of the planet, as in each I was blown away by both the chefs and the food they produced.

Despite being worlds apart in location and cuisine there are a few common themes – both small and very personal restaurants with a chef/owner at the helm who is one half of a powerhouse couple who’ve created eateries that feel like part of their family, and that’s because they really are..

In Bonifacio Global City, Manila, Chef Jacqueline Laudico is the French-trained pastry-enthusiast wife of equally celebrated Filipino chef Rolando Laudico. Chef Jac pioneered the idea of making Filipino cuisine to world-class standards in a destination-setting, using intricate and modern presentation, yet retaining the home-comfort flavours and accessible dishes most Filipinos love and most tourists want to sample.

Over on Vancouver Island Chef Brad Holmes and his hospitality-industry expert wife Sahara have worked hard to create an intimate restaurant whose welcoming and casual air belies the genuinely innovative and exciting food that will leave you running out of adjectives to describe what’s on your plate. The fact that they’ve done this in an area where the dining scene is more attuned to ma’s cooking than Noma’s cuisine just adds to the feeling that you’ve stumbled on something special, almost secret. Apart from the fact that with dishes like this at prices like this, the secret is kinda already out. Shhh.

Favourite Cocktails

The Cocktail Car, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai's cocktail car

Chiang Mai’s cocktail car – open for business every evening

The Luxury Sling at The Fairmont Makati, Manila, The Philippines

The original Singapore Sling (left) and the Makati Luxury Sling

The original Singapore Sling (left) and the Makati Luxury Sling

 Happy Hour cocktails at Heritage Suites Jazz Night, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Cocktails at Heritage Suites

Cocktails at Heritage Suites on Thursday Jazz night

And the winner is…

Winner is...

Enjoying a Makati luxury sling at the bar of Raffles Manila, complete with colonial wooden ceiling fans and monkey nuts strewn on the floor in keeping with Raffles Singapore’s tradition is a classic experience that will stay with me forever.

Favourite Sushi / Japanese Food

Coast Restaurant, Vancouver

Superior Sushi at Coast

Superior Sushi at Coast

Cafe Sushi, Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Cafe sushi Sihanoukville

The picture is grainy because I was too busy tucking in to even take a decent photo. Yes I was craving sushi!

Street Market, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Gyoza Chiang Mai

Great gyoza from a solitary Japanese stall in a Thai street market

And the winner is…

Winner is...

Tough one to call as the cravings I get for Japanese food when I’m travelling are strong and it’s hard to separate the gratitude for finding decent sushi or gyoza in a new setting from the genuine quality of the dish itself so for this reason I’ll award the title to Coast – because there’s no shortage of Japanese food in Vancouver but this was exceptional – perhaps because the Executive Chef here may be called Pedro Gonzalez, but he’s spent plenty of time in Japan – and Mrs Gonzalez hails from Kobe so his standards have to be high for both the abundant seafood dishes on offer in general and for the tantalizing sushi menu, overseen by sushi chef Max Katsuno.

Most Memorable Hotel Restaurant

Long Beach Lodge, Tofino, Vancouver Island

Long Beach Lodge

Dessert at Long Beach Lodge

Kroya Restaurant, Shinta Mani, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Shinta Mani

The delightful swing tables at Shinta Mani

Bacchus at The Wedgwood Hotel, Vancouver

Bacchus at The Wedgwood

Just one of the many perfectly crafted courses served at Bacchus

And the winner is…

Winner is...

While I loved the other two meals, one overlooking the ocean on Vancouver island and the other in a sophisticated setting amidst the hustle and bustle of downtown Vancouver itself, there was something so unique about lounging on a gigantic swing seat while enjoying a delectable three-course meal on a balmy Asian evening that makes it the winner in this category.

Most Unusual Food

Bacon Cream Cheese Macaroons at Bon Macaron

Bon Macaron's craziest flavour macaroon

Bon Macaron’s craziest flavour macaron

Deep Fried Tarantula at Romdeng, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

You get to hold a tarantula before you eat one

You get to hold a tarantula before you eat one

Tableside Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream, The Bearfoot Bistro, Whistler, Canada

Liquid nitro ice cream

And the winner is…

Winner is...

When there are arachnids on your plate it’s kinda hard to beat that as far as unusual food goes!

Most Surprising Culinary Find

Authentic Swedish Meatballs at Soria Moria in Siem Reap

Soria Moria

I was very surprised to find authentic Norwegian meatballs and potato salad at this Norwegian-run hotel in Siem Reap

Purple Sweet Potato Latte at Caffe Pascucci in Seoul

Purple Sweet Potato Latte

Um, say whaaat?!

Cashew Nut Fruit at Mandina Lodges, Gambia

Cashew Nut fruit

No wonder cashews are so expensive – all that fruit and just one nut

 And the winner is…

Winner is...

I actually really enjoyed the taste of the cashew fruit and had no idea it could be eaten, so I got an unusual snack and learned a little something, what’s not to like?

Humorous Food And Drink From Foreign Supermarkets That I Just Had To Photograph

Loser beer, Canada

loser beer

Fancy a pint of loser?

Awake Chocolate, Canada

Awake Chocolate - it's like coffee and chocolate at the same time!

Awake Chocolate – it’s like coffee and chocolate at the same time!

Banana Cream Biscuits, Cambodia

banana cream biscuits

Banana flavoured cream biscuits, really?!

And the winner is...

Winner is...

Chocolate, with caffeine in it. It’s genius is what it is, is what it is.

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