10 Craziest Food Festivals Around the World

Food festivals are a great way to get a flavor for local customs. But as these over-the-top food festivals suggest, some local customs are crazier than others.

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St. George Spirits in California
St. George Spirits; Alameda, California

St. George Spirits; Alameda, California

St. George is stretching the boundaries of traditional styles of gin, very successfully. More than 30 years ago, a young German man named Jorg Rupf fell in love with the Bay Area’s food culture and the quality of fruit growing in California, and subsequently founded St. George Spirits in 1982. He began making eau de vie (a clear, colorless fruit brandy) from pears, raspberries, cherries, and even kiwi fruit before there was a craft distillation movement in the U.S. to speak of. A lot of early gin distillers here kept to a London Dry style, which is very juniper-forward, but as the editor of Bevvy.co notes, now distillers are creating modern gins that are a lot more diverse. “Citrus peel is one of the botanicals that has come to the forefront, and local herbs and spices are becoming popular with people who want to make gin with a bit of hometown pride. St. George Terroir Gin is a great example of that, it tastes like the California coast.” 960 1280

  

Koval Distillery; Chicago, Illinois

Koval Distillery; Chicago, Illinois

The first distillery in Chicago since well before Prohibition, Koval was founded by a dynamic husband and wife duo who are changing the way America distills. Dr. Robert Birnecker and Dr. Sonat Birnecker-Hart have won countless awards for their dry gins, 100 percent Midwestern grown organic rye whiskey, millet-based bourbon, and more. The power couple also prioritizes education, hosting a selection of cocktail classes and whiskey workshops at their North Ravenswood Ave location. Talent seems to run in the family—their distinctive laser-cut labels have also received a lot of attention, designed by Sonat’s sister and her firm Dando Projects. 960 1280

Jaclyn Simpson  

Seven Stills; San Francisco, California

Seven Stills; San Francisco, California

Tim and Clint of Seven Stills Distillery started out by coming at everything backwards—no one was pushing whiskey from the beer angle, but a huge craft beer segment in the San Francisco Bay Area along with their extensive beer knowledge provided a nice segue into making whiskey from extremely high-quality craft brew. Now their robust road map of spirits includes “a still for every hill” in San Francisco using a different artist to design each bottle (Chocasmoke is made from a chocolate-oatmeal stout in honor of Twin Peaks, and Fluxuate is distilled from a coffee porter to celebrate a rapidly-changing, post-Gold Rush Rincon Hill), to add to their collection of small-batch, seasonal bitters like Meyer lemon, prickly pear, and cranberry. 960 1280

  

Clear Creek; Portland, Oregon

Clear Creek; Portland, Oregon

For the past three decades, Clear Creek Distillery has been honoring the intimate marriage between farming and distilling, utilizing the world-class fruit from the farms around their Portland, Oregon home base. Well known for its eau de vie (a clear, colorless fruit brandy), Clear Creek’s diverse portfolio of more than 25 products rivals the best of their European counterparts, and is anchored by the flagship Williams Pear Brandy, which has been named one of the top spirits in the world. 960 1280

  

House Spirits Distillery; Portland, Oregon

House Spirits Distillery; Portland, Oregon

Beloved and very well respected in the industry, House Spirits Distillery is making whiskeys that have been listed among the best in their categories. Their Westward Oregon Straight Malt Whiskey matures in new American oak barrels for at least two years, allowing Oregon’s dry, hot summers and wet, cold winters to contribute to its rich, smooth flavor. Accompanied by Aviation American Gin, Krogstad Aquavit, and Volstead Vodka, almost everything in their line of spirits is ideal for mixing a cocktail. Their new distillery and tasting room on Portland’s famous distillery row opened to the public in November 2015, and hosts regular classes on making whiskey, cocktails, and bitters. 960 1280

  

Kings County Distillery; Brooklyn, New York

Kings County Distillery; Brooklyn, New York

The founders of Kings County Distillery quite literally wrote the book on making whiskey a thome. Their Guide to Urban Moonshining is a look at America’s indigenous spirt, from the whiskey made by the early colonists and sprawling distilleries of Kentucky to the adventurous, modern-day craft distillers across almost every state. This is all quite fitting, as they run NewYork City’s oldest operating whiskey distillery, the first since Prohibition, located in the iconic Brooklyn Navy Yard and just steps from the legendary site of the Brooklyn Whiskey Wars of the 1860s. Their moonshine, bourbon, peated bourbon, and barrel strength bourbon have all won numerous awards, along with their recent accolade of being named Distillery of the Year in 2016 from the American Distilling Institute. 960 1280

Valery Rizzo  

Corsair Distillery; Nashville, Tennessee

Corsair Distillery; Nashville, Tennessee

Corsair founders Darek and Andrew are Nashville natives who have been collaborating since high school. They began by home brewing beer and wine in Darek’s garage, but soon decided that whiskey would be “much more satisfying.” Their adventurous, innovative, and big-flavored craft whiskeys—including a quinoa whiskey, a handful of rye whiskeys, some malt whiskeys, and more—consistently receive high marks among respectable critics, along with countless international spirit awards. Ones to try: Triple Smoke Malt Whiskey and Wry Moon Unaged Rye Whiskey. 960 1280

Andrea Behrends  

Few Spirits; Evanston, Illinois

Few Spirits; Evanston, Illinois

Named after suffragette and temperance advocate Frances Elizabeth Willard (FEW), Few Spirits is a true grass-to-grain distillery, sourcing all of their grain (corn, wheat, rye, and barley) from no more than 150 miles away. It is also the first (legal) alcohol-production facility of any kind in Evanston, a city that banned alcohol sales for four decades beyond the end of Prohibition. Their bottles show up everywhere among the craft spirit community, and their rye whiskey has received acclaim as Whisky Advocate’s 2013 Craft Whiskey of the Year, as a gold medal winner in the 2014 World Whisky Awards, and was rated one of the top five whiskies in the world by the Beverage Tasting Institute. 960 1280

  

Death's Door Spirits; Middleton, Wisconsin

Death's Door Spirits; Middleton, Wisconsin

What was once a robust potato farming region, Washington Island, Wisconsin fell prey to vertical integration in the potato industry in the early 1970s. More than 30 years later, two brothers started growing wheat on the island and soon Death’s Door Spirits was born, focusing from the beginning on how to support local and sustainable agriculture on the island. Death’s Door pioneered white whisky, which became very popular as a cocktail ingredient, featuring an 80:20 ratio of Washington Island Wheat to malted barley from Chilton, Wisconsin. Other Death’s Door family members include a London Dry style gin, a double-distilled vodka, and Wondermint Schnapps Liqueur—the first and only artisan craft peppermint schnapps in the world. 960 1280

  

Montanya Distillers; Crested Butte, Colorado

Montanya Distillers; Crested Butte, Colorado

Montanya Distillers are best known as purveyors of high-altitude craft rum, distilled in the breathtaking Rocky Mountains. Not surprisingly, their ingredients list reads as an ode to America’s inspiring outdoor beauty: Non-GMO sugar cane from family farmers in Louisiana who grow and mill for them; water from one of the purest spring and snowmelt charged aquifers in the USA; and they even heat their building from the alembic copper pot stills. Award-winning Montanya Platino and Oro rums are joined by a limited-release Exclusiva rum that is aged for 30 months in American white oak barrels and then finished in French oak barrels that previously held Sutcliffe Vineyards’ Port. 960 1280

  

shawarma, meat, gyro
Shawarma

Shawarma

Delicious Middle Eastern spices are infused into either lamb, chicken, turkey, beef or veal, and then the meat is slow-cooked for nearly 24 hours to create shawarma. The most popular ways to eat shawarma are in a gyro or with flatbread (aka taboon bread). Find shawarma at countless places in Jerusalem, including Hamarosh and Moshiko. 960 1280

Rez-Art/iStock/Getty Images  

Falafel

Falafel

The falafel, made of fava beans and/or chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), is extremely good and healthy. It's normally topped with a variety of ingredients, including tahini, cucumbers, tomatoes and more. Almost always sold alongside shawarma, falafel has found its way to the West, quickly becoming a go-to for a quick meal in large cities such as New York City  and Washington, D.C. 960 1280

Justin Michau/iStock/Getty Images  

Rugelach

Rugelach

This gem is made of yeast-leavened, sour cream or cream cheese dough that’s filled with some of the sweetest combinations around: raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, chocolate, marzipan, poppy seeds or fruit preserves. When in Jerusalem, try rugelach at the popular Marzipan Bakery. 960 1280

Alexandra Grablewski/Digital Vision/Getty Image  

Beigeleh

Beigeleh

A tasty treat similar to its Italian cousin, the pretzel, beigeleh (or ka'ak in Arabic) is rolled-up dough covered in sesame seeds and served with an herb packet of za'atar for dipping. Beigeleh is sold on the streets in the Christian and Muslim quarters of Jerusalem's Old City.

Related: Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock

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Alexeys/iStock/Getty Images  

Musakhan

Musakhan

Incredible flavors, along with a tasty bird, top a piece of taboon bread for musakhan. Cardamom, black pepper, olive oil and onions — to name a few of the ingredients — make this dish very tasty. Enjoy it from vendors in the Muslim Quarter or at Philadelphia Restaurant in East Jerusalem. 960 1280

Paul Cowan/iStock/Getty Images  

Hummus

Hummus

Usually served with taboon bread, hummus consists of ground chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) with sesame seeds, olive oil, lemon and garlic. The Middle Eastern staple comes with almost every dish. New twists on traditional hummus include adding eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes, figs, spinach, feta and countless other combinations. 960 1280

Silvia Jansen/Getty Images  

Sachlab

Sachlab

Sachlab, a pudding-drink made from a certain orchid plant, is served hot and enjoyed with coconut shavings, nuts and cinnamon. If you're up for trying something new, sample sachlab at the 24-hour Mifgash HaSheikh café. 960 1280

Kerim Heper/iStock/Getty Images  

Lamb

Lamb

Served a variety of ways (e.g., shawarma), lamb is a staple meat in Jerusalem. Enjoy it slow-cooked at Darna, a fine-dining Moroccan restaurant in Jerusalem.

Related: Moroccan Goat Tagine

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Stok-Yard Studio/Photolibrary/Getty Images  

Beef and Lamb Burgers

Beef and Lamb Burgers

They're probably not the first thing you think about eating in Jerusalem, but burgers made of juicy lamb and tender beef are served at the popular Black Bar 'n' Burger in the New City. Top your burger  with traditional items, such as garlic baked in olive oil, duck breast with hot peppers, and, of course, hummus, if you wish. 960 1280

Danielkrieger.com/Moment/Getty Images  

Kebabs

Kebabs

Kebabs (called shipudim, or "skewers," in Hebrew) are the essential Middle Eastern cuisine. Simple to eat and really tasty, they consist of skewered cuts of meat — and, sometimes, veggies — on a stick. There are plenty of options all over Jerusalem, including Hashipudiya. 960 1280

Robynmac/iStock/Getty Images  

Los Dos Kitchen, Mexico
Los Dos, Merida, Mexico

Los Dos, Merida, Mexico

The most popular class in Chef David Sterling’s Merida, Mexico cooking school Los Dos is “Taste of Yucatán.” The class includes an overview of Maya techniques and ingredients, a market tour, culinary instruction, and a full afternoon meal. 960 1280

Eduardo Cervantes  

School of Artisan Food, North Nottinghamshire, England

School of Artisan Food, North Nottinghamshire, England

Located in Sherwood Forest (yes, Sherwood Forest of Robin Hood fame), the Schoolof Artisan Food in North Nottinghamshire teaches all levels of students, including one-day classes in cheese making, bread baking and sausage making. 960 1280

John Bradley  

Giuliano Hazan’s Northern Italy Cooking School, Verona, Italy

Giuliano Hazan’s Northern Italy Cooking School, Verona, Italy

In this one-week immersive food and wine course with Giuliano Hazan, chef, cookbook author and son of Marcella Hazan, the godmother of Italian cooking, guests learn to make homemade pasta, risotto, meatballs and more. The class takes place in a sixteenth century villa in the heart of northern Italy’s wine country, where guests stay in luxury accomodations. 960 1280

Pettene Flavio  

James St. Cooking School, Brisbane, Australia

James St. Cooking School, Brisbane, Australia

With a variety of hands-on classes ranging from Modern Australian Cooking to Dude Food (meat-heavy, single serving one pot wonders), Brisbane’s James St. Cooking School offers three-hour classes in which professional chefs demonstrate techniques followed by small group hands-on work, culminating in a shared meal as a class. 960 1280

Photo Courtesy of James St. Cooking School   

Tokyo Kitchen, Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Kitchen, Tokyo, Japan

Students in Tokyo Kitchen’s three-hour classes learn about Japanese seasonings and table manners before diving into hands-on lessons in Japanese home cooking techniques. The menu rotates daily between different varieties of sushi, tempura and other Japanese specialties such as okonomiyaki, ramen, katsu and more. 960 1280

Photo Courtesy of Tokyo Kitchen  

Cass Abrahams Capetown, Capetown, South Africa

Cass Abrahams Capetown, Capetown, South Africa

Considered the doyenne of Cape Malay cuisine, South Africa’s oldest cuisine, local celebrity chef Cass Abraham teaches private cooking lessons in her home. These courses, organized by Cape Fusion Tours, have been described as a history lesson and a cooking class rolled into one. 960 1280

Photo Courtesy of Cape Fusion Tours  

Langlois Culinary Crossroads, New Orleans, Louisiana

Langlois Culinary Crossroads, New Orleans, Louisiana

Chef Amy Cyrex-Sins describes Langlois Culinary Crossroads as part dinner party, part interactive entertainment. While Langlois hosts private cooking classes by appointment, regular diners at Langlois can tour the kitchen, interact with the chefs and learn about traditional Cajun and Creole cooking.

 

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Charles Ravaglia Photography  

Beijing Cooking School, Beijing, China

Beijing Cooking School, Beijing, China

Offering one-day and 10-day classes in traditional Hutong cuisine, Beijing Cooking School trains students in both wok techniques and pastry, which includes dumplings, dim sum and noodles. Classes involve market tours and interactive demos as well as hands-on practice. 960 1280

Photo Courtesy of Beijing Cooking School  

GalilEat, Galilee, Israel

GalilEat, Galilee, Israel

GalilEat Culinary Adventures bring students into the homes of Druze, Muslim and Christian hosts to learn traditional Arab cooking. A typical day includes two hours of hands-on instruction followed by a shared meal. 960 1280

Photo Courtesy of GalilEat  

Issaya Cooking Studio, Bangkok, Thailand

Issaya Cooking Studio, Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand’s original celebrity chef Ian Kittichai and his team teach fun friendly workshops in a modern studio space. A favorite class features four recipes from his Issaya Siamese Club restaurant. 960 1280

  

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