Foodie holidays on a budget

BNKHW4 Outdoor restaurant in Denia, Spain. A table set with black runner, dishes, wine glasses, pink magenta cloth napkins

Thanks to the increasingly multicultural cities of the modern age, not to mention the many-and-varied cookery shows on TV screens, our palates have been treated to ever-more exotic flavours from around the world. But there's nothing quite like sampling the culinary delights of other nations in their local setting - and cooked by those who truly know their stuff.

If you can't afford the Nomas and Fat Ducks of the world, check out these cheaper destinations that will nonetheless provide a mouthwatering holiday to remember.

The French have a long history of fabulous food, and with good reason. But you don't need to fork out on Parisian haute cuisine to eat well in France. In fact, it's almost impossible to find bad cooking, even in the tiniest, most remote villages. The Burgundy region is a great place to start. While it is home to the most Michelin-starred restaurants outside the capital, not to mention great wine, it is also responsible for the famous beef bourguignon, and even budget eateries will serve up their own melt-in-the-mouth version of the famous stew. Wherever you go in France, you'll find small restaurants and bistros serving wonderful food, and getting there won't cost you a fortune. If you're on a serious budget, simply rent a self-catering property or even camp out, and hit the local bakeries, charcuteries and patisseries.

For some years now Spain has been the big destination when it comes to gastronomy. With El Bulli closed, San Sebastian is now the foodie capital of the country, but the nearby region of Navarra offers a cheaper culinary experience. Its wines are world renowned, and there are plenty of food fairs, festivals and farmers' markets to get your mouth watering. The beef in many areas has been awarded Protected Geographical Indication status, and it's the T-bone steaks cooked over charcoal fires in 'Asador' restaurants that are a highlight. Lamb, duck, game and local cheeses are other delights to try, while the Feria de la Trufa, which takes place in December, is a must if you fancy a little bit of truffle luxury. The Andalucia region in the south of Spain is famous for its tapas, small dishes served as snacks alongside a drink such as a cold cerveza or fino (sherry).

Holidaying in Italy, particularly if you're keen on sampling the best cuisine, can turn out to be a costly experience. Head instead to Istria in the north of Croatia, where you can stay and eat more cheaply, and still enjoy much of the food you would in Italy, including cured meets, sheep's cheese, pasta, risotto, and grappa. Excellent seafood can be found in Opatija and Rovinj, and Buzet is a town renowned for its truffles.

Street food from the Far East has been growing in popularity on British shores in recent years, but if you can stump up for flights to Vietnam, you can enjoy a culinary treat on almost every corner and all for a few pence. Local eateries and markets serve up fresh noodle, fish and meat dishes, all of which are incredibly fresh. The key is to try markets that are dedicated to food only, and seek out those that specialise in one dish. At the best open-air markets, meat is slaughtered and sold within a few hours, so the fewer the flies, the fresher the produce, but bear in mind that those stalls surrounded by discarded paper orders are often the ones the local favour, and that's usually a good sign.

A big up-and-coming destination amongst adventurous eaters, Georgia offers bold but simple traditional cuisine, combined with influences from both the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Khinkali, meaty soup dumplings flavoured with coriander, buffalo yogurt and khachapuri, a delicious cheese-stuffed flatbread, are specialties. Better still, according to historians, Georgia has the oldest recorded history of fermenting grapes for wine, so you'll have plenty of vino to go with your budget local cuisine.

Are you a serious foodie? Which cheap destinations would you recommend to others? Leave your comments below...
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