10 food holidays
Amphawa floating market in Thailand. Photograph: Getty
Shopping for supplies in the souk at the Medina of Marrakesh in Morocco. Photogaph: Getty
A typical pintxos bar in San Sebastian. Photograph: Getty
Basque in the luxury
Food heaven in Spain is in the Basque country, around San Sebastian. The city has the highest concentration of Michelin stars in a small city with three three-star premises. Every bar deserves a star too, as the quality of pintxos on offer is fantastic. Join San Sebastian Food for four days of tantalising cooking and tastings including in a Sociedad, a private gastronomic club,€525pp.
France, home of food and wine, is the ultimate gourmet destination and the six-day Bordeaux Wine Experience is the tops. Visit in autumn, the most important time of the year, to enjoy premier cru wine chateaux in Medoc, Saint Emilion, Graves and Sauternes. Combined with three days of French culinary arts, this holiday is foodie heaven. Price from €3,995pps includes accommodation in a private chateau.
Souk up the atmosphere
Morocco appears on the departure board from April with Ryanair, and how better to experience it than through its cuisine. Gourmet on Tour will take you from the private luxury riad in the Medina to experience the souks, desert oases, snowy Atlas mountains, Berber kitchens and cedar forests through its culinary traditions. Prices for three days tours from €890pps.
Down at heel
Explore the very heel of Italy through its architecture and wine, see villages with extraordinary Trullis and towns with stunning Baroque confections. Accessing through Bari, a suggested itinerary from Discovery Puglia includes visits to Lecce, Gallipoli by the Ionian Sea, Otranto for St Peter’s Byzantine Basilica and Nardo. Visit wineries in Leverano and Salento and enjoy food of the region. A five-day itinerary with traditional accommodation, wine museum tour and two cellar tours with food and wine tastings will cost from €450pps.
Who would think that there would be a vineyard in Wales teaching culinary courses? Angela Gray, chef and TV presenter, returned to her native Glamorganshire to set up Llanerch Vineyard and cookery school. Here you can delve into the intricacies of cooking skills, ethnic cooking, special and seasonal menus or just come to enjoy staying at a vineyard 15 kms from Cardiff. Cooking classes from £60 (€72) and overnight stays from £110 (€132) per night for two.
How better to learn how to cook then at the beginning, in the market, choosing ingredients with the experts. Where better than in a French market, one that is famous the world over, Cannes. One of the Travel Department’s food trips this year will be from June 10th to Nice and will also include visits to an olive oil mill, touring the markets, a city tour and lots of French cuisine, from €550 for three nights including flights, four-star accommodation, tours and cooking class.
Fish, cook, relax
Cook your way around Thailand with Responsible Travel and you will get to see a lot of the country. Beginning in Bangkok with lessons in a professional cookery school, the first four days will also be an opportunity to explore the city. Moving to the Central Plains where you will find yourself haggling with locals at the markets, and cooking your purchases. A plane hop will take you to Isan to discover Laos-influenced cuisine. The final part of the 15-day trip will be spent by the Andaman Sea, fishing, cooking and relaxing. Prices are from £2,050 (€2,472) with flights from UK, accommodation, most meals and all transfers.
Cook like an Italian
A 13th-century Italian villa in Tuscany is the ideal location to learn to cook like a real Italian – the surroundings alone will inspire you. In the heart of Chianti, classes at Villa Casagrande are fun and you get to enjoy the meals you cook with local wines. The four-day trip allows for some free time by the pool, in the spa or to take a short train trip into Florence. The price includes flights from Dublin three nights’ accommodation, transfers and classes from €775pps. GTI-Ireland.com.
Relish the ramble
Take a few days out of your busy schedule to discover the wild beauty and scenery of Wicklow and the food at Ballyknockan House Cookery School. A two-day break will include a rambling walk at Carrick Mountain, with a delicious picnic. A half day can then be spent at a hands-on cookery class with a delicious lunch. Two nights with B&B between Thursdays to Sundays from €239pps.
Could you manage 107 Michelin three-starred restaurants in 12 countries from Japan to the United States over six months? The ultimate gourmet tour will see you spending two nights at each location, in a luxury hotel visiting one restaurant every second day. On alternate days you can explore your destination or just use it to recover. You will be spending quite some time in Tokyo, it has 16 three-star restaurants and of course in Paris, London, New York, Madrid, Macau and Beijing. And the price is from a mere €216,000 for two.