Vacations that incorporate culture and culinary experiences have grown in popularity in recent years, with cooking classes and food-related activities providing opportunities for avid travellers to dig deep into a destination’s culture and flavours beyond the confines of sightseeing.
Travellers tend to associate cooking classes particularly with vacations to Thailand, but there's certainly more than that on offer.
Check out this list of captivating culinary experiences around the region to understand a new culture through its food.
ART OF SOBA MAKING
Curated and led by Walk Japan, the Kunisaki Retreat is a 7-day, 6-night guided tour centred on the spiritual Kunisaki Peninsula. Aside from immersing into Japanese culture of past and present, venturing through ethereal scenery and sleepy hamlets, travellers will also have the opportunity to dabble in the art of soba making.
Soba noodles have a long history in Japan, and is part of washoku – traditional Japanese cuisine culminated across centuries of cooking practices. During their stay in Fuki-ji, guests will be taught to knead and roll out soba dough before cutting it into noodles under the guidance of a local expert.
COMPOSE TRADITIONAL TONIC
At Capella Ubud, Bali their resident Jamu Specialist, or ‘Mbok Jamu’ will guide guests through the complex medicine and fascinating history, beginning with a trip through the rice paddies to a local farmers’ hut, where guests will compose the celebrated health tonic, using an ancient recipe which has been passed through the generations.
Now a millennial health fix go-to, Jamu has been embedded in Indonesian life for centuries. The herbal medicine is made up of natural ingredients, such as roots, bark, flowers, seeds and leaves, and is believed to have otherworldly healing powers. Guests can take away a bottled version of their concoction to enjoy within three days.
HAWKER CENTRE CRAWL
Guests at Capella Singapore will be able to participate in a hawker centre crawl across Singapore with Evelyn Chen, well-known food journalist, blogger, social media influencer, and one of the regional academy chairs for World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Cheap street food in the city has flourished since the 1800’s, when Singapore started thriving as an entrepôt; with permanent food stalls serving a variety of cuisines that have become a staple in Singapore’s famed culinary heritage. Evelyn Chen’s Hawker Haunts will showcase the nation’s favourite dishes such as kaya toast, chicken rice and char kway teow.
At Capella Breidenbacher Hof, in Dusseldorf, Germany, guests can embark on a tailor-made tour through the picturesque old town where they are privy to an exclusive behind-the-scenes of some of the city’s finest breweries.
Drinking ‘Altbier’, the indigenous beer of Dusseldorf, is arguably the city’s most prominent tradition, harking back to over 3,000 years ago.
After the tour – and a couple of samples along the way – the Master Brewer himself will accompany the group for a local meal at the brewery and has been known to end the experience with a shot of something stronger.
VINEYARDS AND COUNTRYSIDE
Scott Dunn can showcase the unique culture of Croatia and Slovenia, with trips that incorporate its bustling cities, scenic countryside and the country’s varied local cuisine. Guests will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn the art of foraging for truffles from locals and hear stories behind traditional Croatian cuisine.
Wine enthusiasts will also enjoy a private tour of the family-owned Kozlovic winery from one of the family members, before tasting the delicious vintages. Food lovers can indulge in the freshest Croatian oysters in Ston before heading onto the historical city of Dubrovnik for two nights at Hotel Bellevue, where each suite has a breathtaking sea view overlooking the tranquil Miramare Bay.
Peru’s bustling capital Lima is fast becoming the food capital of Latin America, it is home to an impressive selection of Michelin-starred restaurants. Peruvian cooking combines traditional practices with local ingredients, fusing together the country’s rich biodiversity and culture to shape its food.
Scott Dunn can organise an excursion to the vibrant Surquillo Market, one of Lima’s best food markets, before journeying onto the San Isidro Fish Market to meet local Chef Gonzalo for a private cooking lesson where they will learn how to prepare a typical Peruvian meal as well as the national drink, a Pisco Sour.
ENJOY WORLD CLASS CUISINE
As pioneers in low-impact luxury safari, Singita has phenomenal culinary programmes that showcase the heart of Africa and safari. Menus follow a farm-to-table ethos and chefs use local, seasonal ingredients from the lodge’s on-site vegetable gardens, nearby farmers and small enterprises – Singita supports the community as part of their 100-year purpose, as well as ensure guests world-class cuisine.
Alongside Singita’s food offerings, guests will enjoy premier wine from Singita’s extensive cellar, from South Africa and further afield.