What foods and utensils do you travel with?

Having just gotten back from a vacation on a remote island, on which there is only one restaurant that sells mostly fried foods, and one small native grocery store, I cooked a lot from our vacation rental. What foods and utensils would you pack for a trip like this?

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sstiavetti
sstiavetti April 13, 2012

Chopsticks. :)

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a Whole Foods Market Customer

Teaball, a good knife, small cutting board and a small saucepan. I'd also take tea leaves and basic Indian spices.

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ChefOno
ChefOno April 13, 2012

A digital thermometer.

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sexyLAMBCHOPx
sexyLAMBCHOPx April 13, 2012

None, I go with the flow. But if I was forwarned about something like this I would pack items in my suitcase. Hope you had a great trip!

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Panfusine
Panfusine April 13, 2012

a small set of spice blends, a rice cooker

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Melusine
Melusine April 13, 2012

The aforementioned good knife, cutting board and digital thermometer along with a simple knife sharpener, my spare oven thermometer and kitchen scale. An apron and good oven mitts. Parchment paper.

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ChefJune
ChefJune April 13, 2012

Knives, a cutting board, saute pan, half sheet pan, sauce pan, spatula, a couple of kitchen spoons, kitchen towels, sea salt, ground pepper, dried herbes de Provence

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Summer of Eggplant
Summer of Eggplant April 13, 2012

We recently had an island rental as well. We took a number of spices, a muddler, kitchen tongs, wine and the very most important item - coffee.

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Brain Health Kitchen
Brain Health Kitchen April 13, 2012

Yes! We ran out of coffee because I brought just enough for 2 weeks and the teenagers amongst us picked up an afternoon coffee habit. The last 3 days were rough! Oh, but wine, we brought a case.

Voted the Best Reply!

usuba dashi
usuba dashi April 13, 2012

Cork screw . . . . God forbid if I can't get my wine bottle open . . . otherwise, I can always make do with what is on hand when it comes time to cook.

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ChefJune
ChefJune April 13, 2012

A corkscrew goes without saying. I carry one in my purse at all times (except when flying, then it goes into the outside pocket of my checked luggage.

greenchilegal
greenchilegal April 13, 2012

Agree with the poster(s) who said knife, small knife sharpener and cork screw. Also, because I'm not a coffee drinker, I bring my own tea bags. (BTW, it's good idea to to put these in a labelled zip lock in hopes that TSA doesn't confiscate). A little advanced info helps, too. When doing a vacation rental, one of my questions is always about how the kitchen is equipped (at least the with basic pots/pans/utensils/grill). It's often the deciding factor if I'm torn between two or more locations. Would be interested to know where you were.

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Brain Health Kitchen
Brain Health Kitchen April 13, 2012

We were in an out-island in the Bahamas. Got sketchy info on condition of kitchen when renting, but never have I found a decent knife in any of these places.

pierino
pierino April 13, 2012

I frequently cook for friends when I'm traveling so I pack a knife bag. I quickly learned that if you are cooking in other people's homes because NOBODY has a sharp knife. A santoku shape is useful because it's practical for both chopping and slicing. And the thermapen is the best instant read. Just hope that United Airlines doesn't lose your bag.

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Veronica3
Veronica3 April 13, 2012

I have Celiac Disease so always travel with a few items. I like to have a couple of good knives, my tea strainer, toaster bags, a cutting board, a silicone spoon, my thermapen (I love this kitchen tool) a small whisk,a 1/2 sheet pan and a good saute pan.

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Brain Health Kitchen
Brain Health Kitchen April 13, 2012

Thermapen? Do I need one of these?

pierino
pierino April 13, 2012

Well, at least for me the thermapen is essential if you are going to be roasting or grilling anything. I never go by the time per pound standard. It's done when it's done and you'll only know that if you check the internal temperature. The thermapen will give you an accurate reading in two to three seconds. And it's light and compact. Just don't let TSA take it away from you.

Quinciferous
Quinciferous April 13, 2012

Whenever I go to India for long periods of time, I bring a bunch of dried herbs, dried mushrooms (shitake or porcini), and a hunk of hard cheese. I used to bring pasta, but that's easily available nowadays where I go. I also bring a santuko knife as Pierino recommended -- I have a Pure Komachi one that is light and fairly cheap, but gets the job done.

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Brain Health Kitchen
Brain Health Kitchen April 13, 2012

Clearly I should have consulted you all before I went! Will file away for future trips. I brought a good knife but forgot the knife sharpener. We were fishing, so I brought a sushi mat, nori, pickled ginger and wasabi powder for feasting on sushi and sashimi. I always travel with a small jar of EVOO (sorry Pierino), some good salt, a few boxes of de Cecco pasta, and a good hunk of parmigiano. Ran out of coffee (a disaster), and wished I had brought a rasp, a lemon reamer or hand juicer, and some olive paste. But, alas, we did have the foresight to bring that case of wine so all was well.

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Greenstuff
Greenstuff April 13, 2012

I'll never drive across the US again without a great bottle of olive oil. A drizzle of oil can improve the whole day.

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lbs70
lbs70 April 13, 2012

Micro plane grater... And good wine opener

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LucyS
LucyS April 15, 2012

I grew up while my family was living off and on in rural southern Africa. I realized that it all really depends on learning ahead of time (if possible!) what you can get where you are. For example, we could get GREAT wine super cheap, but occasionally all the stores would be completely lacking in other things, like cumin. So we would contact our friends every year and travel out with big duffel bags full of coffee and cumin and cheese. On the other hand, avocados and passion fruit were super cheap! Now every time I'm traveling anywhere: pack a leatherman, pack a corkscrew, ask anyone you're visiting what kind of food they miss, and bring it to them. We ate awfully well!

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CHeeb
CHeeb April 17, 2012

I like to pack my folding picnic knife from Opinel in France. They are small and carbon steel,so they keep a very sharp edge and safely fold up for travel. I save "miniatures " bottles and refill them with travel spices and salt and pepper . I keep an old boxy briefcase full of my picnic supplies, in a small cooler , in the trunk of my car . We, too , enjoy many spontaneous meals on the road . Life is too short to travel light !!!

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Brain Health Kitchen
Brain Health Kitchen April 17, 2012

I can't wait to quote you on that one to my husband who always complains of the weight of my luggage, bursting with food and utensils! I'm off to find an Opinel and a Thermapen so I'll be ready for my next adventure. Thank you!!

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CHeeb
CHeeb April 20, 2012

Amazon ,E Bay and (ubiquitously) William Sonoma all carry various sizes of Opinels ...NJoy...ch

creamtea
creamtea April 17, 2012

A dollhouse-sized grater, smallish pot, small sharp knife, collapsible bowl, flat pasta drainer (that you hold against the pot), light thin poly cutting board. Coffee cone, beans & filters (Don't leave home without it!). Everything slides into the top pocket of my rolling suitcase. Sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan, Trader Joe's "mixed grain" packets & possibly some cans of chick peas to round things out. Shop on location for lemons, small olive oil, parsley & other herbs, fruits, field-fresh corn or berries in summer, other vegetables. Sometimes I bring an electric burner if it's a driving trip.

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creamtea
creamtea April 17, 2012

and I always go online first (or call) to see if there's a grocery or, at least in US, Trader Joe's or Whole Foods or other nearby.

pierino
pierino April 17, 2012

Other portable burner options are a Burton butane fulled portable burner (it comes in its own travel case) and the Fagor Portable Induction Cooktop. The latter is good for indoor cooking but you have to use ferrous metal pots and pans for it to work; these are expensive at around $200 but will work with your Lodge cast iron.

BoulderGalinTokyo
BoulderGalinTokyo April 18, 2012

You guys this is a VACATION! I travel with a credit card. The pleasure of traveling is tasting the local food, learning how it is prepared their way.?

In Copenhagen I smelled a mushroom that smells like licorice and was an amazing turquoise color. Yes, a credit card is my favorite utensil (tool)!

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amysarah
amysarah April 18, 2012

I have to agree. With the exception of a few family vacations - e.g., beach cottages where cooking was part of the fun...and even then, part of the adventure was winging it with what was on hand. (My husband's pocket knife had a corkscrew - not very good, but it sufficed.) Kind of forced me to keep it blessedly simple - sliced perfect local tomatoes, steamed clams/grilled local fish, pie from a nearby bakery...

Otherwise, I definitely prefer to experience the cooking of where I've traveled. I figure I can have, e.g., my own pasta con vongole anytime - but not the one made by that tiny place by the harbor that smelled so fantastic when we walked by earlier that day. Doesn't mean eating out every meal - am happy to assemble some lunches from local outdoor markets, charcuteries, bakeries, cheese shops, etc.

I also like to travel light - much happier coping with an imperfect pan or knife than schlepping extra baggage around. So yeah, a credit card, a little research on local specialties, rec's from friends familiar with the area, a good map....those are my essential culinary traveling tools.

healthierkitchen
healthierkitchen April 18, 2012

I bring nothing but a swiss army knife, though since 9/11 that only works if you check a bag. We've rented in a number of places and always cook, and it's part of the fun. We once were in a house in Umbria which among numerous other problems, had no can opener. One night, one of my sisters-in-law needed to open a can of tomatoes and we asked the caretaker where we might find a can opener. He arrived with an enormous chefs knife and hacked it open. Not the best way, but now it's a story that we will laugh about forever. My one exception was when, after a flood in my house, we had to move to a furnished rental apartment nearby for a month. For that amount of time, I went to Home Goods and bought a cheap ($10 maybe), but very sharp knife and a couple of wooden spoons.

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healthierkitchen
healthierkitchen April 18, 2012

I bring nothing but a swiss army knife, though since 9/11 that only works if you check a bag. We've rented in a number of places and always cook, and it's part of the fun. We once were in a house in Umbria which among numerous other problems, had no can opener. One night, one of my sisters-in-law needed to open a can of tomatoes and we asked the caretaker where we might find a can opener. He arrived with an enormous chefs knife and hacked it open. Not the best way, but now it's a story that we will laugh about forever. My one exception was when, after a flood in my house, we had to move to a furnished rental apartment nearby for a month. For that amount of time, I went to Home Goods and bought a cheap ($10 maybe), but very sharp knife and a couple of wooden spoons.

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creamtea
creamtea April 18, 2012

Different strokes...there are lots of reasons for needing to bring a small arsenal! jacksonholefoodie said they were on a remote island rental with limited dining options. Others may have special diets, but still want to see this wonderful world (like us--we refuse to stay put)!! :)

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Brain Health Kitchen
Brain Health Kitchen April 19, 2012

Ah, yes. Different strokes. The advantage of vacationing on a remote island is that you can forage for local seafood--mutton snapper, conch and lobster--and cook and eat very simply. You can feast on platters of sashimi made from fish you caught yourself, and teach your kids to roll sushi. You can seek out the woman in the village who bakes key lime pie and bread every day. And you can ask a local to crack open a coconut with his machete and snack on the warm flesh. But I do agree with BoulderGalinTokyo that a credit card can be a great tool as well...if I am in Rome, Buenos AIres or New York City!

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creamtea
creamtea April 19, 2012

Wow, jhf, that must have been amazing!

BoulderGalinTokyo
BoulderGalinTokyo April 27, 2012

jacksonhole, sounds like a fabulous trip you took!

Yes, your credit card will feel much lighter going home if you used it here in Tokyo, although these days you can pay with your cell phone.

Bevi
Bevi April 20, 2012

If I am traveling to cook, I bring my knives (as Pierino says - no one has sharp knives), my microplane, and sometimes my rolling pin.

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Brain Health Kitchen
Brain Health Kitchen April 27, 2012

A wine bottle works well in a pinch if you can't fit the rolling pin into your travel arsenal! I really did miss my microplane grater.


Raquelita
Raquelita April 20, 2012

i'd travel with split red lentils (in-a-pinch protein that cooks up quickly) packed in a metal or plastic tin (no bugs would get in) and a fine-mesh all-metal strainer (rinsing anything, straining tea, draining pasta or vegetables, steaming). spices: pepper, standard curry blend, hot chili, soy sauce if possible; dried vegetable mix if going for more than a few days to a low-produce area like an island

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mrslarkin
mrslarkin April 27, 2012

We usually travel within the U.S. We are never without our espresso pot, good coffee, and milk frother. We shop locally for everything else when we get to the destination, although this all went out the window last summer. On day 2, our rental was unreachable due to flooded roads during Hurricane Irene. Couldn't get back to the house, and had to stay at a hotel for several nights. Luckily, the hotel provided free breakfast.

The moral of the story is keep a spare bag of essentials in the car, including electronic chargers, clothing, tooth brush/toothpaste, soap, etc., or you'll end up spending a multitude of dollars at the 5&dime, like we did.

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petitbleu
petitbleu April 27, 2012

A good knife, some spices, and ingredients to anything special you plan to cook (for instance, if you really want to make pancakes for breakfast, take a little flour, baking powder, and syrup with you).
When we were in Hawaii, we had the use of a kitchen, and luckily a little natural foods store was within walking distance. The bulk bins provided almost all the necessary dry ingredients, and it meant we didn't have to pay an arm and a leg for spices, flour, etc.
If you're going on a road trip, and you want to make good time and not stop for lunch every day, I highly recommend packing yourself a killer picnic basket--canned or pouch tuna, pita bread, little packets of mayo, relish, mustard, sriracha (it's awesome that they make this in packet form); olives, nut butter, less perishable fruit (apples, oranges...), granola, etc.

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