I have recently returned from a trip to Bretagne, tasted the best seafood I have had for a long time. After all, the best seafood is straight form the ocean and what could be better than Bretagne oysters from Canacale.
Creating memories through food and drink during our travels is one of the reasons we travel. If I close my eyes, I could take myself back to the place where I experienced that food- the taste, the aromas and the image and I am transported back to the destination. When we travel, we want to to have a different experience from our life at home. The memories we create from the food we experience connects us with the people and that country.
Culinary tourism has been growing in recent years and most of our curated experiences include some elements of the gastronomic:
Cooking classes; Food tours – escpecially street food; Wine tasting; Coffee & Tea Tasting; Speciality dining experienes.
Through local tours we create immersive experiences with cooking classes for a few hours, full day or multi day. The more adventurous will opt for a cooking classes in local people’s homes, a village in Rajasthan or a middle class home in Hanoi. These are some of my more memorable cooking classes. I remember an evening spent learning to make Vietnamese summer rolls at the home of university lecturer, discussing politics, understanding that eating of dog meat started as a result of lack of protein during food shortages. It was an enlightening evening.By traveling to villages, we can give back to local communities economically as well as to understand and appreciate the challenges that they face.
Many cooking classes also include a market tour or tour of kitchen gardens. The most interesting (perhaps shocking ) was my tour of a market in Luang Prabang where I witnessed the process of creating authentic fish sauce and dehydrated rats on sale. What a fabulous way to learn about the production of food by visiting farms and artisan producers
Street food tours by foot, bike or Vespa entwined with cultural sites- allowing foreign tourists to catch a glimpse of what daily life and cuisine look like for those in the country they’re visiting. Both the local hosts and foreign guests benefit from the cross-cultural experience.
In Hanoi, you could be picked up for a ride from the old quarter, to the surrounding areas where most tourists would not visit with chance to taste local delicacies. A chance to live like a local (as a pillion passenger), enjoy a cup of tea or coffee sitting on a low stool. Have lunch at an authentic Vietnamese Bia Hoi (draft beer) Restaurant with simple but freshly prepared dishes which can cater for every taste.
Discover what makes wines made from the same grape variety but from different regions in Europe and in the New World different. An opportunity during travel to experience the different tastes in South America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand versus the traditional European wines with the opportunity to stay in the chateau or a wine lodge. Our favourites – Canvas wine lodge at the foot of the Andes in Argentina and bike tour around the vineyards.
The Franschhoek Wine Tram hop-on hop-off tour is one of the best ways to discover the true essence of the Franschhoek Valley – picturesque vineyards, breath-taking scenery, world-class cuisine, fine wines and a 300-year history. The not so new. new World!
There is more than consumption to experiencing and learning about tea and coffee. Tourism offers the opportunity to visit production sites and experience local coffee cultures and tea traditions. The distinctive landscapes created by cultivation of the coffee bean or the tea leaf, you can also learn about local cultures through related rituals and ceremonies. We would say that our favourite is from Rosyth Estate house which we own. An opportunity to walk the tea trails and visit the tea factory to learn about the process of making black tea.
The high brow distinctive tea culture experiences -Japanese tea ceremony is a cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha, powdered green tea, the art of which is called temae. The ceremony weaves in Zen Buddhism and creates a truly spiritual experience not to be missed.
If you are not restricted by budget, fine dining with the Grand chefs. The ultimate sushi experience from the master at Sukiyabashi Jiro which maintains the tradition of Edo-style sushi. You need to have a friend with influence to be able to get a reservation.
The original Noma was, undoubtedly, one of the most important restaurants of its generation. René Redzepi developed New Nordic cookery looking back to look ahead; creating a menu based seasonality to explore foraged products. It may be the way forward for us all to enjoy seasonal locally sourced food and develop our sustainable way of life.
Food is an universal language. Weave your gastronomic experiences into your itinerary and create an unforgettable experiential journey.