Love can mean many different things to many different people but something we have discovered here at H&L is that the universal language of love is food. The saying goes that ‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’ but quite honestly this saying is just as true for women. For all of the foodie couples in the world there is something so tantalizing about sharing a beautiful meal together. If you are anything like us, some of your best holiday memories will involve food. With this in mind, we have put together a fabulous list of gourmet foodie breaks and experiences around Europe that are not to be missed.
Almadraba Tour At Annie B’s Spanish Kitchen
Based in the stunning Andalucian white town of Vejer de la Frontera, Annie B’s Spanish Kitchen have added a new 4-night escorted Almadraba Tour for 2016, based around a traditional fiesta celebrating the arrival of blue fin tuna in the Med. Follow the journey of blue fin tuna from sea to table during a 5-day cultural and gastronomic trip centred-around the age-old, Mediterranean tradition of the Almadraba, a sustainable method of catching Atlantic tuna which was introduced by the Phoenicians. Based in the Costa de la Luz, Annie welcomes a handful of guests on the Almadraba Tour, a brand new itinerary imparting a nose to tail appreciation of Atun Rojo de Almadraba. A revered type of tuna, often weighing in at a hefty 200kgs, its Omega 3-infused flesh is highly prized for its health properties as much as its melt-in-your-mouth texture and flavour. Taste buds are orientated with a tapas tour of Vejer and visit to the Barbate fish market, teeming with fish of all shapes and sizes – the perfect place to buy provisions and visit a tuna preserve factory. Then it’s time to roll-up sleeves in the kitchen preparing traditional dishes such as Tuna Tartare, Prawn Ceviche, Squid Salad, Pistachio, Rosewater and Fig cake, and matching these with quality wines. A boat trip transports guests to watch the Almadraba nets being lifted. Guests then follow the journey of the prize catch as it arrives ashore to be butchered for the market, before they enjoy a hearty lunch at El Campero, regarded as Spain’s top fish restaurant
Departing 10 May 2016, Annie B’s Spanish Kitchen offers a 4-night Almadraba Tour from £1,060pp based on 2 sharing, including 4 nights’ B&B accommodation at the gorgeous El Califa hotel in Vejer, all food and wine during class hours (with Ruta d’Atun feasts and dining in local restaurants), 1 cooking class, 3 transfers to Barbate, transfers to Zahara and morning boat trip. Flights and airport transfers extra. Choose between the airports of Gibraltar, Jerez, Seville or Malaga. Airport transfers from Jerez cost from €70 or from Gibraltar €90.
Foraging Expedition at Aristi Mountain Resort & Villas
The secluded Aristi Mountain Resort & Villas is now offering guests a curated foraging expedition and feast prepared with gathered ingredients as part of their new Mushroom Hunting Package. Mushroom orientated dishes will draw on traditional recipes and be complemented by wild boar brought in by local hunters, greens collected from the mountainside, cheese from nearby farms and a cellar brimming with extraordinary Greek wine. Barely on the tourist radar, is the surrounding Zagori region currently under consideration for the UNESCO world heritage list and home to a myriad of hidden enclaves. The Salvia Restaurant at Aristi Mountain Resort uses local and organic produce as the basis of all its dishes, many of these vegetables are grown in the Aristi vegetable garden based just outside the village. If you are not already tempted to visit then perhaps the fact that Aristi Mountain Resort Villas has been invited to join National Geographic`s Unique Lodges of the World will persuade you.
Aristi Mountain Resort & Villas offers the Mushroom Hunting Package in autumn from €250/£176 for 2 people, including two nights stay in a double room, breakfast, transport to and from the excursion point, expert led foraging session, all equipment and freshly foraged dinner at Salvia Restaurant.
For more information please visit www.aristi.eu/en or call +30 26530 41330
Castell Son Claret in Mallorca
Castell Son Claret’s Chef Fernando P. Arellano has been awarded a second Michelin star in recognition of the hotel’s Restaurant Zaranda – the only two Michelin star restaurant in the Balearics. Located within the grounds of the historic 19th century luxury boutique hotel Castell Son Claret, the award-winning chef showcases extraordinary culinary compositions using international techniques combined with local produce, fresh from the market, alongside traditional spices and aromas and herbs from his own herb garden. Specialities such as the glazed pavé of veal, with leak and potato salad, the ‘four seasons of the Mallorcan almond’ or the famous ‘black egg’ – an egg with skin blackened from sepia and caviar of Calamari, demonstrate the ingenuity and the creativity of the Zaranda kitchen. To celebrate its two Michelin stars, Castell Son Claret is offering a Gourmet Zaranda experience for their guests to enjoy Chef Fernando’s culinary talents. Upon arrival guests are welcomed with a refreshing glass of home-made lemonade and fresh fruit platter. During the stay, daily breakfast – which is served in Restaurant Olivera, access to the spa Bellesa de Claret, the fitness room, tennis course and high speed internet connection, Castell bikes to explore the estate and local area are free of charge.
The Gourmet Zaranda package costs from €600 per suite per night and includes one night in a deluxe double room on BB basis, a Tramuntanta cocktail before dinner at the Castell bar, a five-course gourmet menu at restaurant Zaranda with wine pairing, water and coffee. This package is valid from 19th February to 26th May 2016, subject to availability.
For more information please visit www.castellsonclaret.com or call +34 971 138 620
Crillon le Brave – Truffle Hunting in Provence
The magical Crillon le Brave in Provence runs truffle & wine weekends and has once again teamed up with the Jaumard family, whose farm at the foot of Ventoux has been producing truffles for three generations. The weekends held in February and March include truffle hunting and preparation, wine-tasting, and a visit to the local antique market for an unforgettable Provençal experience. Deep within the Provençal hills in South Eastern France, sits the charming 36-room hotel boasting delicious food, high-quality service and unparalleled views of Mont Ventoux and the landscape. A destination renowned for its wine and local produce, guests will also find some of the best truffles in the whole of France. Crillon le Brave is now offering two English speaking wine and truffle hunting weekends for the early 2016 diary, as well as a French one. Guests will accompany the Jaumards, and their trusted dogs, on a mornings hunting followed by a delicious truffle infused rustic lunch back at farm. The afternoon is then left to spend at leisure, winding down with a walk in the countryside around Crillon or taking a dip in the outdoor heated pool. On the Saturday, guests are invited to a wine tasting at one of Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s finest estates followed by a truffle cooking demonstration with the head chef Jérôme Blanchet. Jérôme will be teaching guests his secrets behind creating his signature truffle dishes such as, Duck foie gras pot au feu (beef broth) with black truffle potato gnocchi. To finish off an incredible day, a truffle infused meal in the hotels stone vaulted restaurant provides an unforgettable gastronomic experience. The weekend will end with a picturesque drive on the Sunday morning to the antique capital of Provence, Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. This quaint, medieval town, is full of winding streets of cafes and boutique shops, alongside a beautiful canal and of course one of the most famous and fascinating antique markets in the world.
Crillon le Brave’s English-speaking truffle-hunting and wine weekends are for groups of up to 16 people and will be running from Thursday 25th February to Sunday 28th February, Thursday 3rd March to Sunday 6th March. For French speakers, there is also an additional French-speaking truffle and wine weekend on Thursday 10th March to Sunday 13th March.
The price for two people for three nights sharing a classic room is €1,299/£974 or €1,533/£1,150 in a deluxe room and includes room, breakfast, dinner each day for two (drinks not included) and the events mentioned.
Festival de la Gastronomie- Crete
The annual Festival de la Gastronomie located on Crete takes part during June, July and August and is one for the diary. It is held at luxury hotel Domes of Elounda and is Greece’s most prominent culinary festivals in which three Michelin starred chefs take over the fine dining restaurant for one week each. Menu items such as Snail fillet mousse served on fresh sage gel, 24k gold and crispy microgreens, Duet of lobster medallion and lobster ravioli on hibiscus sauce and octopus carpaccio with lime foam, Lobster blinis, crab tartare, milk-fed veal followed by absinthe sorbet and a reconstructed Cretan dakos are just some of the star turns from previous menus. Given only a list of exactly the same local and fresh ingredients, each chef must create their own entirely original, gourmet menus. This greatly anticipated foodie festival is held at Domes of Elounda, Autograph Collection’s highly acclaimed Anthos Restaurant, helmed by Michelin-starred chef, Philippe Geneletti. Stunningly scenic, this seaside restaurant is in an open air space dotted with crisp white linens, olive trees and extraordinary views of the historic island of Spinalonga. As of last year, British Airways flies directly to Crete with four direct flights per week. Only 3 hours and 55 minutes out of Gatwick, Heraklion provides easy access to some of the islands most popular holiday destinations.
For more information please visit www.domesofelounda.com
6th Genoa Pesto Championships
The Genoa Pesto World Championship takes place every two years in Genoa in the beautiful rooms of Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace). During the year there are preliminary competitions all around the world before 100 finalists are invited to Genoa for the final competition where they compete to become the World Champion. The competition will be held in Palazzo Ducale in Genoa’s historic centre, where each of the 100 participants will be given 40 minutes to produce their pesto. The sauce must be made according to the traditional methods of grinding with a wooden pestle and marble mortar using the original Genoese recipe; fresh PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) Genoese basil, garlic, olive oil, salt, pine nuts, pecorino and parmesan cheese. The prize, aside from the glory, is an olive wood pestle with a gold plated handle worth nearly £2,000. In the week leading up to the Championship, Genoese and Ligurian restaurants offer typical dishes based on pesto with special fixed price menus. The aim of the championship is to promote the local food of Genoa and Liguria and its territory. This year the Genoese Pesto made by mortar has been nominated to have UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage status. Those not competing can watch the spectacle for free and tie in the contest with a Genoa city break. Genoa is Italy’s sixth largest city and boasts a UNESCO World Heritage historic centre, over 40 palaces, a regenerated port area designed by Shard architect, Renzo Piano and stunning cathedrals and churches.
A standard room at the NH Plaza Hotel Genoa for two adults is available from £80 per night including breakfast on the Championship weekend (15 – 17 April 2016)
A Junior Suite at the Hotel Le Nuvole for two adults is available from £108 per night including breakfast on the Championship weekend (15 – 17 April 2016)
A double room at the Hotel Metropoli Genoa for two adults is available from £101 per night including breakfast on the Championship weekend (15 – 17 April 2016)
Return flights from London Gatwick to Genoa start from £95 with British Airways.
Gourmet Ski Safari at Dolomite Mountains
Combine some of the most fantastic skiing in the world, with fine dining on incredible Italian cuisine – what could possibly be better? On this ski safari traverse you’ll enjoy 12 ski areas featuring 1,200 kilometres (746 miles) of prepared pistes (all on one ski pass!) that will lead you to discover the breath-taking beauty of the Dolomites. With such expansive skiable terrain, this is truly a vacation in paradise: you’ll move from valley to valley on skis, enjoy the welcoming atmosphere of the rifugios, explore the fascinating culture and history of these mountains, all while dining on incredible cuisine and sampling fine wines found in the region. The imposing peaks of the Dolomites emerged from primordial marine expanses, created by microorganisms that were embraced and moulded by the glaciers during the ice age. Providing extraordinary terrain, these incredible mountains have become famous the world over as one of the most beloved areas for winter sports. Boasting the number one ski resort in the world, the Dolomites are a winter sports paradise for families, beginners, and champions alike. This ski tour offers you the opportunity to explore the Ladin valleys of the Dolomites and their people, as well as discover the traditions and history of these places, all while engaging in the beautiful sport of skiing and eating exquisite Italian produce.
28 March – 4 April or bespoke to suit- Gourmet Ski Safari – from 2290 euros pp for 5 nights/6 days.
For more information please visit http://www.dolomitemountains.com/en/winter_spring_trips/ski_safari2652.htm?list=ski_safari&id=2652&depart=237&0
The captivating Swiss city of Lausanne – regarded by many as one of Europe’s hidden gems – is fast becoming the number one destination to visit for the discerning traveler and a great choice for foodies. The second-largest city on Lake Geneva, Lausanne boasts enchanting gothic architecture juxtaposed with the modern, trendy FLON district. Food lovers will enjoy the annual food festival – Lausanne à Table held in the summer months usually between June and September. With events held in the city, parks and streets catering for locals and tourists alike – it’s a festival not to be missed! The full programme for the 2016 Lausanne à Table (Switzerland’s largest foodie event) will be announced on 31st March. Visitors in Lausanne will enjoy the picturesque short train ride climbing the mountains to Lavaux. Here, wine-lovers will be spoilt by the nearby UNESCO World Heritage terraced vineyards where wine tasting can be enjoyed at Les Frères Dubois, amongst many others.
Switzerland is home to some of the world’s finest chocolate, and with chocolatiers and chocolate experiences on every corner, Lausanne is no exception and is the perfect place to seek out an Easter egg or two! For a glance inside a traditional chocolatier and for the opportunity to make their own cocoa based delight visitors should try the well-respected Durig Chocolatier or La Chocolatière.
The Saturday morning market is a great place to seek out more foodie delights and locals recommend the Le Barbare for the best hot chocolate in town! A local tip is to visit La Ferme Vaudoise who offer a great selection of traditional and local foods. Evenings can be lost over cosy, candle-lit dinners in local bistros and gourmet restaurants or cruising along the waters of Lake Geneva.
With new flight routes to Geneva from Cardiff, London Gatwick and Manchester, reaching Lausanne has never been easier. The direct train journey from the airport to central Lausanne is 45 minutes and the city’s Metro is an efficient and quick way to get around the city.
Palazzo Seneca, Norcia
Norcia is one of Italy’s three completely walled medieval towns and the birthplace of St. Benedict, founder of the oldest monastic order in the West. It is also home to the Italian black truffle and the most prized salami in the country. This undiscovered town is where the Italian national fencing team train for events such as the Olympics. Palazzo Seneca offers guests the chance to hunt for truffles with a traditional Italian cavatore and his dog, or to learn to fence in the footsteps of the national team with individual and group lessons as part of its new fencing package. The hotel itself is part of Relais & Chateaux and is set in a stunning converted 16th century palace owned by the Bianconi family who have lived in the town for 150 years. It is home to the newly Michelin-starred restaurant Vespasia, featuring regional specialities from truffles to lentils.
Rooms from €150 per room based on 2 adults sharing on a B&B basis.
SeaDream Yacht Club
SeaDream Yacht Club and their new Wine Voyages for the spring and summer months are starting from June 2016. There will be six special itineraries on offer that have been designed by new wine director Ida Dønheim. Every voyage is personally escorted by Ida and the chosen Winemaker (different for each voyage). The wine voyage include visits to local wineries along the sailing route (wine purchases can be shipped directly back home) and at the Winemaker Dinner on the last night of the voyage, expertly prepared local dishes are paired with wines from visited ports.
Prices are fully inclusive yachting fares per person based on double occupancy and exclude flights and transfers. For more information please call 0800 783 1373 or visit seadream.com. The two mega-yachts are also available for private charter.
The Tarn, France
The Tarn is a relatively undiscovered region in south, west France, renowned for Foie Gras (the liver of a duck or goose which has been fed using a method designed to fatten it rapidly. The most expensive is foie gras entier and it may be obtained cooked, semi-cooked or fresh.) Lautrec Pink Garlic (a garlic grown exclusively in and around the medieval town of Lautrec, distinguished for its aromatic and subtle taste, sweeter and milder than the usual white garlic.) Cassoulet (a rich-flavoured, slow-cooked casserole made with beans, sausages, and other meats such as pork and duck.) Saussice de Toulouse (said to be the finest French sausage, it contains pork, smoked bacon, red wine and garlic.) and Gaillac premier wines (all the Tarn’s specialities can be accompanied with the extensive range of premier wines produced in the Gaillac wine region, one of the oldest wine-growing regions in France.)
Throughout the summer, the Tarn celebrates its renowned specialities with a number of festivals including La Fête de l’Ail Rose de Lautrec (The Lautrec Pink Garlic Festival) : The Pink Garlic Festival is a free festival taking place over two days from the 5th-6th August this year, and encapsulates the passion that all French people have for food and wine. Festivities include free tasting of the Pink Garlic soup, competition for the best string of pink garlic and best artistic model made entirely out of pink garlic. Another festival worth visiting is the Gaillac Wine Festival held on the 6th-7th August 2016. An annual festival held in the in the heart of Parc de Foucaud in Gaillac to celebrate the range of wines grown in the region.
Chateau de Salettes is a wonderful place to stay when visiting The Tarn. It is a four-star hotel and gourmet restaurant, built into the surrounding walls and towers of the 12th century chateau. Serving up a gourmet and sophisticated menu, specialities include Foie gras cooked with the Chateau’s own wine, and mushrooms sauce. Guests can accompany their visit with a wine tasting session in the chateau’s own vineyards, available every day at 6:30pm.
For more information please visit Le Tarn Tourisme, www.tourisme-tarn.com
Château St Pierre de Serjac
1st March 2016 saw the opening of one of the Languedoc’s most beautiful wine estates, Château St Pierre de Serjac, following an extensive two year, €25m renovation. A collaboration between winemaker Laurent Bonfils and hoteliers Karl and Anita O’Hanlon, a partnership that has been spearheading the Languedoc’s renaissance for a number of years, and whose Château Les Carrasses remains the go-to luxury property in the region. The Château has been converted into an intimate hotel with 8 spacious rooms alongside the bar and restaurant. At the heart of the property the winery has been fully modernised and the first vintages of the new era will be bottled in 2016. The restaurant, fittingly in what was the dining room of the Château, is striking in both design and ambition. With huge Venetian chandeliers and chic leather chairs, the dining room has the feel of a bygone Paris salon with a glamorous-yet-relaxed, speakeasy atmosphere. Most of the year though guests will want to be outside on the lovely terrace soaking up the magnificent countryside surroundings and picturesque views – the Languedoc is reputed to get 300 days of sunshine a year. At the helm is Chef Franck Pujol, whose menu has a distinctive pan-Mediterranean accent, drawing inspiration from the fabled French cuisine but also from nearby Catalonia and Italy, as well as further Mediterranean reaches such as the Maghreb, Turkey and further East. Pujol is a firm believer in local seasonal ingredients. From olives and truffles to the oysters and shellfish of the Thau lagoon, Pyrenean lamb, Aubrac beef and the extraordinary selection of cheeses (Roquefort is just 40mins North), the abundance of local produce will be put to work alongside a constant supply of seasonal fruit, vegetables and herbs from the estate gardens and orchards.
Understandably, the wine list majors on Bonfils wines – providing a full tour of the wines produced across their 23 Châteaux and Estates. A commitment to showcasing the Languedoc as a quality wine region is demonstrated via an outbound selection of wines from across the territory. The willingness to share the limelight is indicative of the ambience that marks St Pierre out from other French Château destinations – a generous, relaxed and welcoming atmosphere is pervasive throughout. According to Laurent Bonfils, this is the raison d’être of the operation – “Our job is to make sure that people relax, unwind, and have a great time. Anything that gets in the way of that is strictly off the menu” he says.
Walk with Shepherds and Dine like Kings on a Basque Foodie Explorer
Pura Aventura has introduced for spring 2016 an all-action itinerary that involves walking with shepherds and dining like kings in Basque country (home to a 2016 European Capital of Culture). Although mostly self-guided, local guides and artisan producers are on hand to point out the cultural and historical significance throughout the new journeys. This self-drive journey exploring the myriad flavours of the Basque Country’s coastline, mountains and vineyards, finishes in San Sebastian. Gastronomy is part of the Basque identity and guests will explore all corners of their taste buds, winding from urban kitchens to bustling markets and artisan food producers, and from the vibrant wines of Rioja Alavesa to the paprika-spiced txistorra sausage. Hands-on foodie experiences include walking in the hills with a shepherd who produces Idiazabal cheese; meeting the harvesters of Spain’s finest salt; tying on an apron to create Basque tapas dishes known as pintxo; and helping to bottle vintage wine on a family vineyard. Stay in comfortable characterful hotels, ranging from a striking modern hotel to a beautifully restored 17th Century palace.
Pura Aventura offers 10 nights from £1,995pp based on two sharing, including accommodation, 9 breakfasts, 2 dinners, 3 lunches, guided activities and excursions, and detailed notes and maps. Flights to Bilbao are extra. For more information visit pura-aventura.com or call 01273 676712