Food travel, also known as culinary tourism, has become all the rage in the last decade. Contrary to what many travelers think, you don’t have to be a self-proclaimed “Foodie” or a budding gourmet to enjoy food travel. Also, food doesn’t have to be the sole focus of your trip to qualify as food travel. Here are some favorite ways to integrate a food experience into your travels.
Experiences That Qualify As Food Travel
- Visit a winery to see beautiful vineyards, learn about the process of winemaking and taste the end product. Be sure to ask questions to learn why you like what you like and buy a bottle or two to take home. Travel Maestro tip: Visit smaller wineries where you can meet the owner or winemaker and feel their passion for wine.
- Food Trucks are one of the best places to find the cutting edge of fresh, funky and hip food in many cities. Many cash-strapped aspiring chefs dazzle hungry hordes with culinary creations served from their kitchen on wheels. Food trucks often provide high quality, creative cuisine at low prices. TM tip: Austin, New York City, Portland, Seattle, LA and somewhat surprisingly, Minneapolis all have great food truck scenes.
- Michelin-stars are the coveted designation conferred on only the best fine dining establishments. Restaurants with one to three stars are considered the top culinary experiences in the world and deep pockets are usually required. TM tip: Copenhagen, Denmark has just received 17 stars across 15 restaurants.
Farmer’s Markets all over the world bring fresh seasonal goods directly from the farm to the consumer. Shopping for organic produce, free-range eggs and poultry, handmade cheeses and pasture-raised meats is a social and cultural window into the lives of the local farmers and community. TM tip: Market shopping with a trained chef is a particularly engaging cruise excursion in European ports.
- Microbreweries or craft breweries produce limited amounts of beer using diverse flavors and techniques, so tastes vary. Their popularity has skyrocketed in the past decade, creating a craft beer culture of people who enjoy trying new beers. Portland, Oregon is the reigning champ with San Francisco, San Diego, Denver, Boston and Philly also in the top 10. TM tip: Asheville, North Carolina has a burgeoning beer scene with at least five major beer events throughout the year.
- Farm-to-table restaurants focus on bringing the freshest locally produced food to diners. The movement supports sustainability, organic growing practices and local farms. TM tip: A farm-to-table restaurant should be able to tell you the name of the farm where each element of your meal was sourced.
- Cooking classes are a hands-on way to experience the local food and immerse yourself in the native culture. Learn the secrets of regional specialties so you can recreate them at home. TM tip: An Italian cooking class in a private Tuscan home, followed by dining with your host is an experience you’ll never forget.
Try a new ethnic food to get a taste of their culture. If you’re in a foreign country, you may have little choice, but you can also seek out ethnic neighborhood restaurants all over the U.S. TM tip: Seek out Middle Eastern food in Detroit, Cuban food in Little Havana of Miami, Indian food in the Mahatma Gandhi District of Houston.
- Pick a food category and try regional variations when you travel. Barbeque, for example, is different in St. Louis, Texas and North Carolina. Pizza styles vary from California to Chicago and other cities claim they have the “best” way to do hot dogs or cheesesteaks. TM tip: I’m partial to spicy pulled pork barbeque, loaded veggie pizza and cheesesteaks with mayo, but the “best” is different for everyone.
Tasting the local ingredients, learning regional preparation methods, and talking to community food suppliers is all part of food travel. It doesn’t have to be the central focus of your trip, but is a delightful way to experience a destination. Food travel gives you an insight to the customs and traditions of the place you’re visiting – plus, it tastes good!
Let Covington Vacation Advisors help you craft a food travel experience, customized with just the right level of food focus for you.