According to the American Culinary Traveler report by Mandala Research, 77 percent of all leisure travelers can be classified as culinary travelers who have participated in specified culinary activities within the last three years. Some 51 percent of travelers learned about or enjoyed a unique and memorable eating or drinking experience in 2013.
There’s no better place to spend your next food vacation than Europe. Michelin’s guide “Main Cities of Europe” featured 2,380 award-winning restaurants in Europe, making it a foodie traveler’s paradise. But you don’t have to restrict your eating and drinking adventures to just the finest in Michelin’s guides. Check out these foodie destinations on the outskirts of some of Europe’s biggest cities.
The Michelin rated Château Neercanne in Limburg boasts five-course menus, complete with caviar and rack of lamb in an 18th century chapel with vaulted ceilings. Guests feel like they’re stepping into a wine cave and settling in for a decadent meal as dimly lit lights illuminate white linen tablecloths.
For an after lunch cocktail, head an hour outside of Amsterdam to the Nolet Distillery, home of Ketel One. Learn how the liquor is distilled from 100 percent wheat in copper pot stills before being slowly filtered over charcoal. The family-run company has been passing down its expertise for nearly 325 years from Schiedam. While you’re there, climb the replica windmill to see views of the fishing-village-turned-industrial-town below.
Get outside London and spend the night at the historic park in North Norfolk called the Gunton Arms. The property features eight bedrooms and a traditional pub serving venison, seafood and mussels. The historic 1,000-acre deer park supplies fresh venison and tranquil views while guests dine as the sun sets.
Over in historic Herefordshire, The Bridge Inn hosts families and shooting parties to spend the night or just stay for a meal adjacent to a 16th century bridge. Weeping willows sweep down along the bridge and river. Their game is hunted and shot locally, usually by their landlord, with dishes like bunny burgers and whole roast grouse with game chips. Afterward, walk off your hearty meal with a hike through Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Stay in the heart of Old Town and dine at Warsaw’s oldest restaurant. U Fukiera features an artistic ambiance of bourgeois aesthetics with traditional Polish and modern dishes alike. Try the herring snacks with cream and apple or potato pancakes with red caviar to star. Dig into an entree of duck breast on black currant mousse, red cabbage on honey and raisins or sturgeon served in caviar and champagne.
For something more laid-back, tour the Polish Koneser tour in Warsaw’s Prague district. The old Koneser vodka distillery is now the Connoisseur Cultural Center with the original boiler room. The rest of the area is filled with clubs and galleries with vodka tasting events served with traditional Polish snacks.
Italy has no shortage of award-winning restaurants that offer leisurely dinners that take hours to complete. Do something completely different on your next Italian vacation and learn how to cook while savoring your creations at Torre del TartufoTuscookany. Visitors are free to create their own menus, or favor the Tuscan dishes renown in the region from artichokes and zucchini pudding to fresh potato gnocchi with squash blossoms and saffron.
While you learn to cook authentic Tuscan meals, stay in a villa dating back to the 1700s and situated 90 minutes outside of Florence. The classes have proven so popular with aspiring foodies, a second villa was added on 30-acres of hillside close to Arezzo.
Go antiquing in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and stop for a gourmet lunch at Le Jardin du Quai. Guests are seated outside or at bistro tables while enjoying the warm afternoon sun. The changing market-based menu offers grilled asparagus, cod fillet and the freshest herbs and ingredients. Afterward, explore the island city’s mansions turned art galleries and explore the quaint streets by foot.