Here’s one for the ladies – mostly. A fast-growing niche in the travel market is that of food travel – cooking tours, local foods, farmers’ markets, culinary cruises and chef master-classes. And they come with as little or as much of a focus on food as you want.
There are well-known destinations like Italy and France, where the love of food has been part of the culture for centuries. Places like Tuscany, Umbria, Paris and Provence all have exciting options where you can stay in local homestays or boutique lodges, learn from a local chef, shop in the local markets, visit the wineries and the cheese-makers and then cook and eat the fantastic ingredients that you’ve been discovering all day.
Italy is the home of the Slow Food movement and tours often feature this element of Italian cuisine. Tours wind through the countryside, visiting farmers and growers, and often ending the day with a shared cooking experience at your accommodation. Paris is famous for its little neighbourhood street markets, which are spread throughout the city. We found our own favourite along Rue Mouffetard where we could buy fruit and veges, wine, cheese, bread and fish on the street early each morning. Afterwards we’d stop for an espresso and a brioche for breakfast, and sit at a little table overlooking the local square – always a great start to the day.
Other food tours in Europe include places like Sicily, Spain, Ireland, Austria, Turkey and Hungary. Many of these tours are suitable for couples as food is often only one feature of the day, leaving plenty of time for sightseeing.
Asia is another area with plenty of cooking tours and options. Vietnam is the most popular foodie destination with tours running from Ho Chi Minh city north to Hanoi, or centred around Hoi An and Hue. There are several well-known cooking schools where the beautiful food of Vietnam is taught in courses ranging from a half-day to several days. Cambodia is a growing food destination, as is China. Tours include places like Sichuan, the French-Chinese fusion of Shanghai food and the Yao food of Yangshuo.
A new option is culinary cruising, where you can join chef master-classes and take part in the behind-the-scenes food preparation. Silversea Cruises also have L’Ecole des Chefs cooking school led by an on-board masterchef. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in beautiful food while relaxing at sea.
(C) by Sue Farley