I’ve always enjoyed traveling to unusual and quirky places (like, say, Iceland). Sometime in 2014, news coverage of the unfortunate Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 crash started to bring the world’s attention to the Indian Ocean, and something made me ask myself, “Hey, is there anything neat to see there?” Some google searching turned up several possibilities: the Seychelles, Mauritius, the Maldives…. and Île de la Réunion. The last of these piqued my interest. I had heard about Réunion from a few places. Every time I pick up my bottle of Pink Peppercorns from Penzey’s, the variety name is “Réunion Pink” (even though they now source them from Brazil). And I had remembered that Madame Arandjelovic, my high school French teacher, had made rather a big deal of it (as well as Guadalupe and Martinique) as travel destinations.
So I started researching it, and discovered a few things. First of all, it’s probably one of the tourist destinations least-visited by English-speaking people, with very few English-language resources (the overwhelming majority of visitors are French-speaking). But digging into the French-language web resources (viva la Google Translate!), I quickly learned that it’s actually quite a phenomenal place: excellent scenery, friendly people, good hiking, and wonderful food.
So in April 2015, we packed our bags, and headed off to Réunion (via stops in Reykjavik and Paris). Here are a few other writeups I’ve done on the island and it’s food:
- Île de la Réunion: A nice overview of the island and its history.
- Carri, Rhum Arrangé, and other Réunion culinary traditions: A primer on the unique dishes and traditions of Réunion
And, despite Réunion being even smaller than Iceland, I still found over a dozen places worth reviewing on this trip, primarily due to a combination of interesting locations and exotic ingredients. So, if you want a nice survey of Réunion cuisine, check out some of these articles (from the list below, the map at right, or a list of all of my Réunion reviews):
- Zanzibar Cafe: sampling Andouillete sausage in a little cafe in St-Denis
- Crêperie Le Gall: crêpe made with native chouchou in a scenic mountain village
- Le Reflet des Îles: Native Creole food in a pleasant St-Denis restaurant
- Le Manta: More excellent Creole food on the beach of Hermitage-Les-Bains
- Camion Bar Broderie: Hot dogs from a food truck, Réunion style
- Domain Papangue: Home-cooked Creole meals in a French Chambre-d’Hote (B&B)
- Gîte de la Caverne Dufour: Surprisingly high-quality, high-altitude dining on one of the island’s mountain gîtes (“guest house”)
- Pizza Del Forno: Wood-fired pizza, Réunion style
- Maison du Laurina: An excellent sampling of Bourbon Pointu coffee, one of the best and most expensive coffees in the world
- La Kaz a Lea: More Creole dining in a converted house in St-Pierre, including an octopus carri (curry)
- Gîte du Volcan: Mountain guest house dining on the island’s active volcano
- Matilona: A most excellent chef’s table dinner in a supermarket converted to a guest house
- La Mer Casée: Dining outside on fresh-grilled chicken
I hope these reviews inspire you to visit the island like we did. It truly is a stunning destination.