Culinary Adventures on Five Continents

One of the great pleasures of travel is leaving your diet at home and sampling the culinary delights your destination is famous for. Paella in Valencia, new Nordic in Copenhagen, street food everywhere: What you eat is a big part of the experience. A few of our Virtuoso partners have put together some fabulous journeys that will ensure your trip is excellent to the last bite.

Sicily

At the crossroads of the Mediterranean, Sicily has absorbed a lot of different cultures into its culinary history. Influences from Greeks, Spaniards, Normans and Arabs blend to form a rich cuisine. Sailing June 26, 2019, Ponant is offering a nine-day Sicilian Food & Wine Experience highlighting the arancini of Agrigento, Palermo’s revered street food and the pasta, sardines and eggplant of the islands east. The volcanic soil around Mt. Etna produces spectacular wines to wash it all down.

Chiloe Island, Chile

Bespoke Journeys by Sportstour takes you into the mystical heart of Chiloe Island, whose culture is based on a unique mythology of witchcraft, ghost ships and forest spirits. The culinary tradition features curanto stew, which is made from meat, seafood and potatoes cooked in a hole in the ground. You’ll eat in the home of a local family which has been preparing the dish for generations and sample fresh oysters in between following in the footsteps of Charles Darwin in Chiloe National Park and marveling at the 16 island churches that have UNESCO World Heritage status.

Rotorua, New Zealand

Treetops Lodge & Estate showcases local produce including herbs traditionally used in Maori cooking. Karengo (sea vegetable) makes an appearance in plenty of seafood dishes on the menu, while a rub made from the leaves of the kawakawa tree is used to spice meat. Led by a local expert, guests can head out into the forest in search of such ingredients at their source, learning about the nutritional and medicinal properties that played a large role in the traditional Maori diet.
New York
Beyond Times Square wants visitors to get to know the Big Apple through its food scene. Get a taste of the different cultures that have made New York home with Norwegian smoked salmon, Sicilian cannoli and much more on the Eating Your Way Through Manhattan tour, or just focus on Italian food with The Real Little Italy tour along Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. Throw in artisanal chocolate and a perfect slice of pizza on the Brooklyn Biking & Food Adventure, and you can stuff your face in three boroughs.

Cape Town

As part of Belmond’s worldwide Art of Gastronomy program, the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel aims to educate visitors about the dangers of food waste while showing them just how good the food we often throw away can be. In a five-course chef’s table menu, Rudi Liebenberg showcases items such as beef tendons, trout collar and other overlooked products to demonstrate how to make the most of what the earth yields. The “fashionably rejected” parts of fruits, vegetables, meats and fish become the stars of the show.

Top Trips for Foodies

It’s Thanksgiving week, time to stuff your face with abandon and enjoy all your favorite foods. While 2017 has been a tough year for travel in a lot of ways, especially hurricane season, there is plenty to be thankful for, such as the lifting of the laptop ban on certain flights. One of the best things about travel is sampling foods from all over the globe and experiencing different flavors, smells and atmosphere throughout the culinary world.

Sometimes you find amazing dishes in unexpected places, like on Celebrated Experiences’ Dublin food walking tour, featuring traditional and contemporary fare from a range of bakeries, food halls and cheesemongers. Wherever you go, there’s always a new taste to be discovered, and below is a rundown of some of the best Virtuoso-preferred companies for going around the world in 180 plates.

EXO Travels

Asia is a tapestry rich with unique spices, vegetables and styles of cooking. EXO can please your palate in a variety of ways, whether you’re looking for an immersive 12-day culinary tour of Vietnam or smaller samplers. Learn how to make the national dish, pho, during a half-day tour in Hoi An, where the day starts with ingredient selection at Cua Dai Market. Once you’ve made your picks, you take a paddle boat to a restaurant, where you make your own noodles and while they dry learn how to make the traditional beef broth, a mix of beef bones, ginger, different herbs and spices that needs to marinate to become the secret of the pho. The final touch is to boil the rice noodles and cook the beef.

If you prefer to leave the cooking to the experts, stroll through Hanoi’s Thanh Ha and Dong Xuan markets with a food blogger to sample delicacies and rarities while learning about the role food has played throughout Vietnam’s history, including the incorporation of dishes introduced by foreign occupiers such as the French. It can be tough to escape the crowds in Ho Chi Minh City, with its population of more than 8 million, but with EXO’s Saigon’s Secret Food Tour, you can breeze through on motorcycle and cram as much food from banh khot to bun bo hue as possible in 4.5 hours.

Beyond Times Square

A crossroads of cultures, New York is a melting pot of the best from all ethnic groups who have settled there. On Beyond Times Square’s Eating Your Way Through Manhattan tour, you visit Hell’s Kitchen, Little Italy, Greenwich Village and the Lower East Side noshing on Norwegian smoked salmon, Sicilian cannoli and everything in between. For a taste of another borough, the Brooklyn Epicurious tour spotlights pizza and Middle Eastern delights. It also showcases a chocolatier in the DUMBO neighborhood, but if you want all sweets, go for the 3-hour History of Chocolate program. For more sophisticated fare, try the private culinary experience, in which you expand your skills preparing a 3-course meal using fresh, local produce and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Urban Adventures

Having just joined Virtuoso in May, Urban Adventures has food and beverage tours in dozens of cities. Among the most intriguing are in countries with great culinary history. In Spain, soak up Basque culture in San Sebastian with the Grab Your Pintxo tour, see why Valencia is much more than the birthplace of paella with the Tastes and Treats tour or blend the old with the new on a Madrid Tapas Adventure.

The cuisine varies a great deal across the regions of India, too. Sink your teeth into Rajasthani favorites and try your hand at a few with the Jaipur home-cooked experience. Munch on shawarma and kulfi-falooda in the markets of Delhi or taste more spices than you can imagine with a home-cooked meal. Barter with vegetable vendors in Varanasi before enjoying lunch with a local family or explore South Indian delicacies on the Mumbai Masala tour.

Got a taste for Thai? You’ll love the Courageous Kitchen cookery class in Bangkok, featuring the sights and smells of bustling markets and teaching Thai cooking techniques for your favorite classics. Enjoy authentic khao soi and khao man gai with the Taste of Chiang Mai tour, or go deeper and challenge your taste buds with the Chiang Mai Off-Grid Food Adventure.

VizEat

Another tour operator that joined Virtuoso in the spring, VizEat pairs travelers with hand-picked local hosts for authentic, intimate food experiences. One of the best ways to familiarize yourself with a culture is through its food, and when you’re in a family’s house eating a traditional dinner, you can really immerse yourself in a destination.

Whether it’s tajine in Marrakech using grandma’s recipe or diving into New Nordic cuisine with a former chef in Copenhagen, you’re sure to feel like a local sharing a meal with friends. Take a pasta master class in Bologna and discover why the city is known as la grassa e dotta (“the fat and learned one,” famous for its cuisine and universities). Go on the cutting edge of French cooking with a creative fusion and specialty dinner in Lyon. You’ll be welcomed with open arms and emerge with a full belly and a full heart.