For anyone who travels because of food or gets excited about the meals awaiting in the destination, preparedness is essential. You want to be able to enjoy the meal and whatever drink accompanies it as much as possible, especially given the limited amount of time in a certain place. These four everyday items will ensure that you have the right tools to do so.
A Good Corkscrew
A nice corkscrew serves a few purposes. Feel like having a quiet night in the room with a bottle of wine from the supermarket? The corkscrew avoids the awkwardness of having to request one from the hotel’s restaurant or front desk. Want to hit the beach with a couple of beers for a sundowner? The bottle opener on the corkscrew will save a chipped tooth. Most importantly, the corkscrew is what makes a good picnic possible. The serrated knife on the back of the corkscrew can cut through bread, cheese, meat and produce, so you’re ready to make sandwiches or a snack once you’ve thrown a few items from the market in your bag.
A Vintage Chart
When traveling in a country renowned for its wines, knowing the ratings for each region by year can make a big difference in your wine-dish pairing. If you’ve narrowed the selection down to a Rioja and a Ribera del Duero from 2009, do you know which one should be better? A vintage chart, which can be found online quickly and printed out, will remind you that the 2009 Ribera vintage rated higher and would be the (marginally) better choice. By the end of your trip you may have the ratings down, but a pocket vintage chart is very useful for those first few dinners.
Pen & Paper
The simplest of implements can be the most effective. Dining with a pen and paper means that you can note the names of dishes you’ve enjoyed or disliked, as well as your take on the drinks. This will be of assistance when you encounter something new that you want to try again, especially where the menus are in a foreign language. Additionally, the other side of the paper can be a cheat sheet of emblematic regional or national dishes that you researched prior to your trip.
A Photographic Device
I realize that the title is a bit lawyer-ly, but a camera itself is not necessary. Any gadget that snaps photos ranging from the camera on your smartphone to a fancy DSLR will suffice. Having a camera handy will allow you to photograph dishes you like. Having these photos is very useful when you do not speak the local language and are trying to order a dish you loved a couple of dinners ago. The food shots are also colorful memories of the dining experience. If you feel a little shy about taking pictures of your plate in a restaurant (I have long since lost this apprehension and am used to the looks), just act like you’re photographing your dining partner and then shift down to the food.
Do you have any easy essentials not on this list?