Culinary tourism seems to be about the most popular ingredient in the travel demand for new and involving experiences. Certainly up-close and personal touring is on the menu when browsing in outdoor markets, learning to prepare native dishes in hands-on cooking classes, ingesting the mix of local cuisine and culture when out on a street-food tasting or sitting down to a home-cooked meal. Among dozens of foodie-friendly travel products now available, consider some of these client-pleasing possibilities.
Most of us Peru fans have always credited the Land of the Incas with the best food in South America, and nowadays we all know that Peruvian restaurants and their innovative chefs sit high on the best-in-the-world lists. Food-focused experiences are liberally sprinkled through Latour’s Flavors of Peru tour exploring Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. In Lima, guests, fitted out with a shopping list, head for the local markets, known for their variety of fish, fruit and vegetables, then take notes as a local restaurant chef demonstrates the preparation of ceviche and lomo saltado. In Cusco, learning how to cook three typical dishes the “Andean way” is a highlight of a home visit with a local family, while participating in a pachamanca feast is the ultimate Inca experience. Staying in the Sacred Valley is the time to make an offering to Mother Earth and enjoy a traditional lunch made by the community women. Offered as both Silver and Gold programs, this 9-day tour includes choices of excellent hotels—from Casa Andina Private Collection and Sol y Luna to Hotel B and Sumaq Machu Picchu—most meals and guided sightseeing; priced from $3,745 pp dbl.
We think of Argentina as a country all about beef, prepared asado-style by roasting over a smoldering wood fire. But, of course, there’s more to love and taste, as Ladatco Tours shows in its Culinary Argentina tour, highlighting cooking tours, hands-on classes and other culinary experiences.
During a 4-night stay in Buenos Aires at the Alvear Palace Hotel, the gourmet highlight is a cooking workshop, whose chef teaches the techniques of preparing empanadas (meat-filled turnovers) and pastelitos (pastries), as well as an afternoon at Lo de Joaquin Alberdi, a boutique wine shop, to learn about and taste Argentina’s famous varieties. Food and wine next blend together during a 3-night stay at Cavas Wine Lodge outside Mendoza. Activities include winery visits; lunch is included daily either at the lodge, at a winery or on a vineyard picnic, while dinner choices include a meal at Francis Mallman’s 1824 restaurant. Highlights of a 3-night stay in San Carlos de Bariloche at the Hotel Llao Llao include a culinary outing to the Los Juncos Lake House where clients join the chef in preparing a full meal. The 13-day luxury tour, with deluxe hotels, private cars and guides, and most meals, is priced from $9,900 pp dbl.
As a complement to Costa Rica’s known superlatives in nature and adventure travel, Latin American Escapes whips up an extravaganza of the country’s most famous food products—coffee, chocolate and cheese—into a new Costa Rica Culinary Adventure. This 7-day food-lovers vacation features specialty lodgings, cooking workshops, market-gardens-farm touring, mouth-watering dining, and farm-to-table tours. During a 3-night stay at luxury Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation Resort guests not only enjoy the pool and spa, but also take a guided tour of the organic coffee farm and roasting house, followed by a coffee cupping. They also visit the town of Heredia’s central market, learning about its exotic fruit, vegetables, spices and herbs, and partake in a full-day Sibu Chocolate workshop. Dining experiences include a welcome dinner with a farm-to-table menu, the chef’s traditional Costa Rican tasting menu, and a coffee connoisseurs dinner.
The next three nights are spent in the cloud forest highlands near Cerro Chirripo Volcano at the boutique Monte Azul mountain resort, with accommodations in one of four luxury casitas and truly exquisite farm-to-table dining by chef Esteban Acuña. Complementing good food is a visit to a sustainable home dairy where one learns to milk a cow before getting involved in cheese-making. Other activities include lessons in soap-making and tamale-making, a yoga session or in-room spa treatment, as well as forest hikes along the trails of the resort’s 125-acre preserve. The tour is priced at $1,725 pp for a party of four; $2,445 pp for two.