Famous Cafes

Coffee houses and cafés have historically had a very rich tradition of serving as not only social hubs but as important gathering places for intellectuals of all kinds. Here are some famous cafés that have played a role in both the history of coffee as well as politics, literature, art, and science.

Antico Caffe Greco (Rome)

Opened in 1760, as the oldest bar in Rome and second oldest in all of Italy, Antico Caffè Greco began as a haven and meeting place for intellectuals of all sorts and remains one today. Historical figures that frequented the cultural hub include Stendhal, Lord Byron, John Keats, and Hans Christian Anderson. Located near the Spanish Steps, it still has that an atmosphere heavy with history, like much of the beautiful city that surrounds it.

Café Riche (Cairo)

Café Riche, founded in 1904, has been a coffee house and planning center for revolution since its beginnings. Egyptian intellectuals gathered there to prepare for the 1919 revolution against the British. In 1952, Nasser sat there to plan the dethroning of King Farouk, and, in much more recent times, it has played a role in the Egyptian “Arab Spring.” Today it combines the old and the new, from relics like an old printing press in a secret wine cellar, to serving as a safe haven for modern day protesters in Tahrir Square.

The House Under the Blue Bottle (Vienna)

In 1683, Jerzy Kulczicki, a hero that defended Vienna from the Turks by acting as a spy, was given all of the coffee left behind by the defeated troops as a reward. Though this was a drink unfamiliar to the people of Vienna, he decided to open up a coffee shop. He was slow to win the Viennese over to the new beverage, but the addition of some milk and honey made for a popular new meeting place and social scene.

Le Procope (Paris)

Paris’ first café, opened in 1686, was established just as coffee drinking began to grow in popularity amongst the upper social circles. Like most of the first coffee houses, it attracted a very intellectual crowd, with regulars like Voltaire, Rousseau, and Diderot. It also laid down the foundation in the city for what would become a very rich culture of coffee houses and cafés that is still going strong.

Jonathan’s Coffee House (London)

In 1680, Jonathan Miles established a coffee house in Exchange Alley, London. At the time of its inception, it actually doubled as one of the first public stock exchanges. Government restrictions were strict about where stock exchange could take place, and this coffee house become a popular stop to handle such business. Its convenient location by the docks was perfect for collecting news and information on economic trends. Today, however, they are back to selling coffee, under the new name, “The Stock Exchange.”

Food Travel Primer And Tips

Food travel used to be a necessity back when humans had to hunt for sustenance. Now, it’s more of a pleasure and a passion for those with an urge to satisfy their taste buds. From restaurant critics forever on the lookout for a new find to culinary learning vacations and walking foodie tours, there’s a whole new world awaiting discovery.

All the major types of food travel are listed below, but those interested should realize that it’s not just about eating or taking a city tour. This has as much to do with preparing food and learning about the culture behind each dish and place. Not to mention the pleasure of the journey and getting to know each city intimately, as opposed to flying to ten different destinations just for the tourist attractions.

The single most popular type is culinary tourism. This can be in the form of visitors getting a package deal which includes a resort stay, free meals and cooking classes taught by expert chefs. It could also be a tour of a region famous for its culinary offerings, like Italy’s Tuscany, France’s Loire, California’s Napa Valley or Australia’s Hunter Valley.

Similar to culinary tourism are wine country vacations involving winery & vineyard tours and wine tastings. These areas are renowned for their fine dining restaurants offering gourmet cuisine and extensive wine lists. Wine country vacations in these scenic valleys can combine quality cuisine and wine with a leisurely getaway.

The simplest way is for foodies to take themed city tours that take visitors for a taste of the city’s best culinary offerings. This can be a walking tour of a specific neighborhood that is packed with restaurants. It can also be a bus or private vehicle tour that takes visitors all over the city to taste a specific dish or item, like a pizza or burger tour, or a visit to classic cafes or bakeries, and so on.

Wine/Beer Festivals also offer an easy way to sample many different cuisines from different regions or countries. Another trend that’s slowly getting more followers is the slow food movement. It’s a whole new subject, but let’s just say that those who have the time and patience to practice it will gain valuable insight into the local culture and learn how each dish is prepared.

Yet another big trend these days is the habit of eating at organic restaurants while on the road and frequenting only those establishments that use sustainable and local produce. Some travelers even stick to Vegan or prepare their own meals on the road to ensure it is organic and sustainable. It’s not as hard as it seems, but it does need a lot of advance planning to map out suitable restaurants along the way.

For those planning on embarking on a food travel trip or adventure, it might be worthwhile to consider becoming a restaurant critic. Most magazines and publications don’t have the budget these days to hire an in-house critic, so they’ll be happy to pay only for each restaurant review. There’s only thing better than tasting all kinds of cuisines while traveling, and that is getting paid to do the same.

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