Culinary Vacations: Fine dining on cruises, resorts and more!

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Are you a foodie?  Does every day seem better looking forward to fantastic food and wine pairings?  If so, have you ever considered a culinary vacation?  What could be better than a trip that pairs everything you love while on vacation?  Best part is, it doesn’t have to leave you in the poor house when you return home from your trip.

What options are available for a culinary vacation?

Culinary cruises:  There are so many different types of culinary cruises available these days that there simply are too many too mention, but I will mention a few:

  • Silversea Cruises “Cooking School Voyage:” Sails October 19, 2013 for a 12-night Asia cruise.  “Silversea guests can experience a unique cooking school concept at the first Relais & Châteaux L’École des Chefs cooking school at sea. A broad curriculum of tantalizing culinary events has been designed exclusively for Silversea by Relais & Châteaux. Witness culinary vision and creativity up close with an exciting array of cooking classes hosted by Silversea’s Culinary Trainer, Chef David Bilsland.”
  • Celebrity Cruises “Excite the Senses Culinary Theme Cruise:” Sails December 20, 2013 for a 10-night Ultimate Caribbean Christmas cruise.  “Immerse yourself in fine food, drink and entertaining. Each voyage will be lead by a member of the Celebrity Culinary Team and a beverage partner. Enjoy a Meet & Greet event, a book signing, two demonstrations of recipes from the book, two hands-on classes, and a Food & Wine Pairing Dinner. Each expert will also incorporate elements of the sailing’s ports of call.”
  • Crystal Cruises “Crystal Wine and Food Festival:” Sails November 23, 2013 for a 16-night Song of South America cruise.  “Cuisine and travel are inextricably connected, with the unique flavors of each destination offering authentic insight into customs and cultures of the region. World-renowned chefs, wine experts and mixologists share their talents and knowledge.”

Tour vacations: These types of vacations vary widely, but you basically pay for all of your vacation in advance and are escorted either all of the time or part of the time during your trip.  Maybe you’ll be visiting somewhere new and like the security of a tour guide or escort so this would make a great option for you.  Here are a few examples of what you might find.

  • 6-Nights Culinary Delights of Umbria:  Dates throughout 2013 and 2014.  Begins and ends in Rome and includes twin-bedded rooms in hotels listed or similar; hotel taxes, service charges and baggage handling, 6 breakfasts; 1 lunch; 3 dinners; services of an English-speaking local travel and culinary expert; travel by private, luxury, air-conditioned mini-coach; 6 guided tastings; sightseeing, special features and scenic highlights as indicated in the itinerary, including admission charges; portfolio of travel documents.
  • 8-Nights Cuisine, Wines & Chateaux of the Loire Valley, A Slow Food Travel Program:  Beginning and ending in Paris with dates throughout 2013.  Often called the “Cradle of the French Language,” the Loire Valley certainly inspires such phrases as c’est magnifique.  You’ll plunge into the history of kings and nobility, winemaking and war, cave dwelling and garden tending. Here in the Loire Valley, all these topics are dialed up a notch: The kings are the likes of Henry II and Louis XI, who made homes of exquisite estates that are today the famed châteaux of the Loire. See several enchanting castles and discover other attractions of the region—the wines, gardens, foods, villages, caves (of Medieval cave dwellers and of mushrooms—yes, mushrooms), plus the scenic river that connects them all. See why the central Loire Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and why it is considered not only the incubator of the French language, but also the “Valley of Kings” and the “Garden of France.”
  • Castel Monastero, Italy.
    Castel Monastero, Italy.

    Vacation Inclusions:

  • 4 star and higher boutique accommodations
  • Receive the utmost in personalized service
  • Land transportation and private transfers
  • Immersive insight facilitated by local travel experts and insiders
  • All culinary experiences, tastings and hands-on activities
  • Enjoy breakfast daily and signature meals, as indicated in itinerary
  • High-touch adventures and more

Hotels and resorts with culinary offerings:  Perhaps you don’t want to take an entire week or more off to indulge your culinary interests.  Drop in for a weekend or longer and immerse yourself at your own schedule.  Here are a couple of examples:

  • Casa de Sierra Nevada, Mexico: This Orient-Express boutique hotel (feature photo)  includes 37 rooms and suites spread among six colonial mansions dating back to the 16th century. Indulge in one of the weekly cooking classes at Sazon, a cooking school and boutique housed in a magnificent 18th century casa in the heart of San Miguel de Allende, situated in the highlands of central Mexico. Sazon offers a number of acclaimed cookery courses, taught by Chef Emanuel Cervantes and a team of in house chefs, exploring the different forms of Mexican cuisine, including traditional regional specialties and modern favorites with the robust flavors that Mexican cuisine is famed for.
  • Castel Monastero, Italy: This beautifully restored medieval monastery is surrounded by Chianti vineyards and is located just 15 miles from Siena. Dine on gourmet Tuscan cuisine at Contrada and La Cantina. Or join a small group to go truffle hunting in the adjacent Tuscan countryside. Guests can also take part in the Tuscan Retreat Cookery Program created by Chef Gordon Ramsay and the resident head chef. Learn how to recreate dishes featured at Castel Monastero in your own home. Courses host up to 5 people enabling each guest to receive one-to-one guidance and tuition. The program offers both short and advanced courses, each followed by dinner.

Don’t bury your head in a cookbook or watch Food Network and call it a day.  Consider immersing yourself in a culinary vacation soon!

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