Traditional gourmet regions lure with themed walking and sampling tours, bustling street stalls, tastings at famous cellar doors, breweries, distilleries and cheeseries. And joining a cooking class or strolling the farmers markets have become as coveted as waitlisting for a celebrity chef encounter at a legendary urban eatery. As travel experts who love to tour, taste and sit a while to smell the coffee, our most memorable travel moments have been those slightly off-kilter or hands-on gems where food, culture and magic all come together. From truffle hunting in Croatia; creating my very own blend at a vineyard in the foothills of the Andes; fly fishing in northern Alaska and cooking our catch of the day over the coals; to exploring the clandestine world of underground wine caves and champagne houses in France. If you’re looking for some ‘wine-spiration’, incredible eats or immersive travel experiences, we have the answer. Here’s a list of my top five delicious destinations. TASMANIA: Freycinet, Bicheno and the Swansea region on the east coast is a seafood and wine lover’s delight, with crayfish, abalone, oysters and tuna, plus stunning cellar doors, artisan cheese, national park walks, and picturesque sheep grazing lands rolling down to the sea. Perfect for a weekend escape, and only two hour’s drive from Launceston or Hobart. CHILE AND ARGENTINA: You’ll find world class Malbec, Syrah and Cabernet in the vine-fringed desert-oasis of Mendoza, dazzling Sauvignon Blancs in Colchagua Valley, and Grand Cru making in the The Rapel Valley near Santiago, where Bordeaux-style wines and Chile’s best Chardonnay are king. PIEDMONT, ITALY: Visit the region famous for its reds in Barolo and Barbaresco; the two most historically important wine regions of Italy. Or transport yourself back to the 18th Century in the Province of Asti, the home of sparkling white wine. With Alba, the birthplace of Nutella and Ferrero Rocher also in this region, this northern corner of Italy is not only famous for wine, but also rich in food and artisan products such as truffles, cheeses and don’t forget the chocolate! VIETNAM: Forage, fish or scour the markets for fresh ingredients, then create Vietnamese masterpieces under the guidance of a celebrity chef, or learn the art of rice noodle making and crafting your own chopsticks. WESTERN CAPE, SOUTH AFRICA: The lovely ‘garden and wine’ towns of colonial Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Wellington and Elgin are a cork’s throw from Cape Town. These irresistible detours slot perfectly into any African itinerary or a round world stopover. White, red and sparkling offerings are all found in this mild climate at the edge of the Drakensberg peaks, and architecturally splendid wine estates, elegant Cape Dutch-style country inns and refined restaurants welcome. Biltong and wine pairing anyone?
Other hotspots worth a visitCROATIA: Truffles, wine, oysters and underwater cellars. Enjoy stunning coastal cruising and visit UNESCO world heritage towns. EAST CANADA: Feast on French cuisine, game dishes, foie gras and patisserie, while immersing in your surrounds of fall foliage, elegant inns and the scenic rail. SCOTLAND: From robust peat-burnished whiskies through to elegant, soft blends and smooth single malts, pick your food and beverage trail encompassing great ales, scotch, seafood and castles. ICELAND: For the refined palate and also the brave, indulge in unusual delicacies of seafood and traditional offerings including some great lagers, which is surprising given beer was banned until 1989. SRI LANKA: Tea, fine dining, street food, seafood and plentiful vegetarian delights, what more could you want?
Small Group Journeys is a collection of bespoke worldwide adventures, cruises and tours designed and escorted by Jacinta Blundell. Follow Jacinta in Profile each month as she takes you beyond the tourist trail.]]>