I know cuisine is a big part of a nation’s identity, but visiting markets and restaurants doesn’t seem enough to really get to know a place. What can I do to better immerse myself in a country’s culinary heritage?
Why: Food and identity are no more linked nowehere else than in Italy, so cookery classes are a great way of experiencing Italian culture more intimately. Through the guidance of locals in their own kitchens, not only do travelers get to sample delicious home-cooked dishes, but they can witness the importance Italy places on ingredients and tradition, as well as flavor and family. Italy’s cuisine is immensely varied, too, from the beefy and buttery dishes of the north, to the olives, almonds and Arabian influences of Sicily. There’s plenty of choice for anyone wanting to try their hand at kneading pasta dough or blending the perfect tomato sauce.
How: Cook in Tuscany offers visitors a seven-day opportunity to experience authentic Tuscan cuisine through the knowledge of local women in rural Montefollonico. Handmade gnocchi and stuffed flowers are on the menu, along with restaurant visits. From $3,750 for the all-inclusive course, flights not included. cookintuscany.com
I’m a foodie and love to learn about production and provenance, while my partner is much more interested in outdoor activities. Is there anywhere we can combine my passion for food and his love of the outdoors?
Why: The great thing about food production is it starts in fields, farms, rivers and oceans, often amidst spectacular scenery— so it’s easy to find a vacation that pleases you both. The wild landscape of Scotland is becoming a mecca for anyone wanting to get up close to outstandingly fresh produce, ranging from strawberries to shellfish. World-famous for its whisky distilleries, smokehouses, cattle farms and secluded fishing villages, Scotland packs a punch when it comes to cuisine, and much of the regional produce finds its way into local homes and restaurants within hours. Though the food and drink of Scotland’s highlands and islands is well worth the trip, the landscape is also stunning. Mountain glens, lochs, and hundreds of miles of rugged coastline — the Scottish countryside has plenty to offer in the way of adventure, with hiking, kayaking, climbing and diving all possible add-ons to a vacation in this beautiful part of the British Isles.
How: Best Scottish Tours are experts in putting together trips showcasing the best of the country. Their custom tours allow visitors to combine Scotland’s rich food and drink heritage with the most iconic sights and landscapes, depending on travellers’ desires. best-scottish-tours.co.uk
Where can I experience amazing food without having to leave the country?
Why: Exotic locales may steal headlines in food magazines and dominate shows on Food Network, but there is plenty of delicious adventures to be had here at home.
Most will think of the Deep South as a go-to destination, but Virginia vies for attention on the food front with its surprisingly diverse array of cuisine. The state has a long tradition of peanuts and pork, with peanut butter pie, Smithfield ham and sticky barbecue-style pork dishes common on local menus. There’s legendary shellfish in Chesapeake Bay, including oysters and crab, which are transformed into moreish, buttery crab patties. Grapes grown in the northern regions contribute to a growing wine economy, and harvest festivals celebrate the peach and apple orchards, where heartwarming Brunswick stew is served by the bowlful.
How: Epitourean offers a two-night Old Town Alexandria Culinary Getaway, taking in the historic city’s many foodie attractions. This includes a tour of restaurants and shops, hands-on cooking classes and indulgent six-course tasting menus. From $748pp. epitourean.com