You can’t have the best food year without having the best food day.
This series may be focused on having the best food year of your life, but to paraphrase a great philosopher, a journey of a thousand meals begins with a single breakfast. You can’t have the best food year without having the best food day. So we talked with chefs who spent the last year travelling and eating in preparation for their fantastic new projects to share their ultimate food itineraries. The only requirement was that they had to be able to eat everything in a single day. Here, take tips on where to go and what to eat from French legend Alain Ducasse (who just opened Rivea at the Delano Las Vegas), Italian entrepreneur Mario Carbone (of the new Carbone, also in Vegas) and Stephanie Izard (who will dive into Chinese flavors at Chicago's upcoming Duck Duck Goat). To start, though, here's your new Nashville hot list from F&W Chef-in-Residence Andrew Zimmern, who's new show Meter's Running is greenlit for next year.
Nashville, Tennessee – by Andrew Zimmern
Zimmern is as well traveled as any chef in the world, but for his perfect food day, he picked the criminally underappreciated food scene in Nashville.
“Monell’s is an old-world southern charmer in a 150-year-old building with family-style food. It’s the breakfast joint of my dreams. They just might have the best fried chicken and tomato-onion salad in the South.”
First Lunch: Arnold's
“My favorite from-scratch classic southern ‘meat and three.’ Grab a tray and get in line, choose from an amazing array of southern staples. Don't skip the chocolate pie.”
Second Lunch: Martin's BBQ
“Pat Martin is a barbecue pit master of legendary proportions. His whole hog is the best in the region, not just the state. His smoked bologna sandwich is my all-time favorite. There isn't a dud on his menu; it’s barbecue heaven.”
First Dinner: City House
“Tandy Wilson has something special going on at City House. Hyper-local food resources in the framework of traditional southern cooking bound by the best of Italianate culinary philosophy. Seasonality, simplicity and zero kilometer foods are the hallmark of what Tandy is doing in an accessible and southern format. And the food is simply delicious.”
Second Dinner: Husk
“Sean Brock has taken his world-class Charleston restaurant and cloned it in Nashville. Located in a 150-year-old building on Rutledge Hill—just a few blocks south of Historic Broadway, in downtown Nashville—the kitchen reinterprets the bounty of the surrounding area, exploring an ingredient-driven cuisine that is all about the rediscovery of heirloom products. As Brock puts it, ‘If it doesn’t come from the South, it’s not coming through the door.’ This is all about the reality of Southern food. Seed saving, heirloom husbandry, in-house pickling and charcuterie programs are what Husk’s cuisine represents.”
Moustier-Saint-Marie – by Alain Ducasse
Ducasse is perhaps the greatest French chef of his generation; he brings his decades of knowledge to the newest incarnation of the Mediterranean-inspired Rivea, which just opened in Las Vegas (also in St. Tropez and London). For his perfect food day, he chose the mountain village of Moustier-Saint-Marie, a two-hour drive inland from the busy Riviera of St. Tropez.
Morning: The Mistral Goat Farm in Quinson
“To learn about (almost) all of the small, creamy, fresh secrets, pop over to this traditional production farm. A skilled palate could guess whether a Tomme is made with winter or summer milk provided from an animal grazing fresh grass or hay.”
Midday Break: Atelier de Faïence Soleil
“This is one of the oldest pottery workshops in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. The techniques practiced here date back to the 18th century; the Atelier du Soleil also creates a contemporary collection. Its modest owners do not shout this from the rooftops, but they received the Living Heritage Enterprise label.”
Afternoon: La Grignotière
“An optimistic patio, decorated with hand-painted colored metal works. A simple and inspired cuisine made from the heart. It is easy living with Jean-François and Sandrine." The chef’s suggestion: the Seguin sandwich, to enjoy in the shade under olive trees.
Evening: La Bastide de Moustiers
The former home and studio of a master potter, Ducasse transformed the Bastide into a romantic country inn in 1988. Nestled among lavender and olive trees, the restaurant serves a menu of provincial dishes that changes daily on the inspiration of chef Christophe Martin. Once you're done make sure to stay the night and fully immerse yourself in the idyllic countryside.
Venice, Italy – by Mario Carbone
Carbone’s eponymous Italian restaurant in New York has won accolades since its 2013 opening; now the chef, along with his partners Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick, is bringing his food to Las Vegas, too. Carbone says the new restaurant will not be a replica of his Greenwich Village spot, but will instead be inspired by the rat-pack era in Vegas. For his perfect food day, however, Carbone went even more classic Italian—he chose Venice.
Morning: Locanda Cipriani
“Locanda Cipriani is a tiny bed and breakfast owned by the Cipriani family on a tiny island just outside of Venice. The rooms are perfectly simple and beautiful, each overlooking their gorgeous gardens. When I’m here, I tend to eat more vegetable preparations (I think it's just because I'm sitting in a garden). It's the most perfect place in all of Venice for a quiet outdoor meal. Especially perfect if your bedroom is 100 feet away.”
Late-Morning: Caffè Florian
“Caffè Florian is the oldest café in the world. The decor is stunning and decadent. The live music on piazza San Marco helps take you back in time. I like to order a coffee and a tremezini (perfect little crust-less tea sandwiches of Italy). The prosciutto cotto has always been my favorite. They also have an excellent egg salad. This restaurant is special because this place makes it OK to be a tourist.”
Lunch: Al Gatto Nero
“Al Gatto Nero is located on the island of Burrano. Not to be confused with Murrano, which is the home of blown glass, Burrano is the home of all things linen. The food at Gatto Nero is as good as any restaurant anywhere. Unpretentious but supremely delicious. You must order the crab fettuccine and ask for the homemade chili oil on the side. Also, don't miss the whole roasted turbot carved tableside. I love this restaurant because it reminds you just how difficult simple can be.”
Dinner: Harry's Bar
“Harry's Bar is one of my top five favorite restaurants in the world. It's the epitome of Italian elegance and ease. I find this restaurant a tremendous source of stylistic inspiration. I order big! Classic carpaccio, king crab simply steamed, lobster salad, tagliarini in white amatriciana sauce, grilled scampi with aioli and any desserts they have of the night. Always start with a bellini (obviously!). When I think of Italian fine dining, this is the first place that comes to mind.”
Second Dinner: Osteria alle Testiere
“Alle Testiere reminds me of my first restaurant, Torrisi. It's a menu of the day that changes daily, made up of almost entirely seafood. Here, you order whatever the chef and waiter tell you to eat that night. It's a sexy date spot—as cozy as it gets. I recommend sitting back, relaxing and letting the staff do their thing. Perfect night out. Book way in advance!!”
Beijing – Chosen by Stephanie Izard
Since 2010, Izard has been masterfully handling some not-so-well-loved ingredients like duck tongues and pig face at her first restaurant, Girl and the Goat, in Chicago. For her new Chinese concept, Duck Duck Goat, opening this winter, she spent weeks tasting her way through China and fell in love the food in Beijing.
“Get pastries at Ichido in the food court at Parkview Green Mall. You can go with something sweet and cream-filled or savory, topped with dried fish flake and mayo. After you’ve digested for 30 seconds, go get noodles at Du Hsiao Yueh in same food court at Parkview Green.”
“Explore some of Beijing and head to Da Dong for Peking duck. Then do some more walking (and digesting) on your way to Orient King for an assortment of dumplings.”
“Head to Great Leap Brewing—Beijing’s first microbrewery. Make sure to snack on some of the spicy Szechuan peanuts on your table.”
“You'll need to take a cab and make a reservation in advance, but dinner at 99 Yurts is an experience unlike any you've had before... Get a whole lamb!”
F&W's new series reveals the best ways to maximize your food year through travel, wine, cooking, tech, style, events and experiences. Use #BESTFOODYEAR on Twitter and Instagram to tell us about the ones you want to try. We'll continue to share more tips with the hashtag throughout the year and want to hear about how you celebrate food every day, too.