Vacations are all about indulgence, so treat yourself to something extra sweet this holiday. Epicure & Culture has rounded up the best foodie vacations for travelers with a sweet tooth. Whether you want to see how chocolate is farmed in Central America, how to whip up Italian desserts or know where all the best bakeries are in Paris, this list has you covered!
1) Make a Favara Lamb – Sicily, Italy
Experience Sicily is hosting an 8-day culinary and cultural “Stirring Sicily” vacation filled with hands-on cooking experiences and tastings on the Island of the Sun. On the 4th day of the tour, you will learn how to make an unique Sicilian Easter treat called Favara Lambs made of marzipan (sweet almond paste) with a center of pistachio pesto. The local instructor (from GoSicily Cooking Experience) has been making these lambs since childhood and is from Favara — the town that is famous for making them.
The 8-day experience will be based in Castelvetrano, Sicily, Italy on an olive farm that produces U.S. certified organic olive oil. You will also visit western Sicily, enjoy two other hands-on cooking lessons with local “mammas,” and do a street food tour of Palermo, famous for cannoli. You’ll enjoy a tour, wine tasting, and exquisite, wine-paired lunch at a nearby vineyard, and dine at restaurants featuring both traditional and contemporary Sicilian cuisine.
Click here for more information. This tour starts at $3200 per person and runs from September 15-22.
2) Bean to Bar along the Ruta del Cacao – Ecuador
Join Real World Holidays to journey from bean to bar in Ecuador, one of the finest chocolate producers in the world. This 7-day tour is designed to incorporate as much chocolate as possible with multiple tasting stops along the way. From tasting chocolate in Old Town Quito to sipping hot chocolate at a small-family run factory, and touring cacao plantations, you will get your fill of this decadent dessert.
Click here for more information. This 7-day tour starts at ~$1,695 per person.
3) Walking Tour of Khmer Sweets – Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Strolling Ganesha, Phnom Penh’s first walking tour company, runs a biweekly walking tour for foodies with a sweet tooth in Cambodia. During “Underbelly’s Sweet Side” tour of local markets, you will learn about different types of rice and how they are manipulated to make Khmer desserts with different textures and sample a variety of desserts. You’ll try everything from num kook (rice cupcakes) to banh chanoeuk (rice dumplings).
Click here for more information. Tours cost $25 and run biweekly on Friday mornings at 8:30 AM. Check the website calendar for dates.
4) Immersive Italian Cooking Lessons – Tuscany, Italy
It’s hard to imagine a more authentic experience than learning to cook from a nonna (grandmother) in a medieval walled village in Montefollonico, Tuscany, Italy. Cook in Tuscany will make your dreams come true with their 6-day immersive cooking and culture stay. By having grandmothers teach their courses, you get to sample the lifestyle of the locals as well as get firsthand information on the cuisine and wine. Every day, you’ll make a dessert to accompany your meal. For example, you might make panna cotta with fresh berry sauce, topped with chocolate, crostata filled with fresh local jams, white chocolate truffle mousse, fresh-baked cantucci and freshly made cheese (made by you) paired with local fruits and honeys.
You’ll feel like part of the family, sharing meals and experiences with other culinary travelers, students and instructors. You can spend your free time roaming local shops and markets, wine cellars and vineyards, savoring local landscapes. Your stay will include daily excursions and tours of local and historic sites.
Click here for more information. Your 6-night stay starts at $3,750 per person.
5) Cocoa Dreaming – Costa Rica
Learn how to turn a cocoa bean into a delicious bar of chocolate with Contiki’s 12-day tour of Costa Rica. The Costa Rica Unplugged tour is geared toward millennials and will take you through jungles & rainforests, volcanoes and beaches, from coffee plantations to a chocolate farm. You will learn how cocoa beans are harvested and turned into chocolate, complete with a session where you will make white chocolate.
Click here for more information. This tour starts at $2129 and runs throughout the year.
6) Forage for your dessert – North Carolina, United States
“No Taste Like Home” makes sure you work for your dessert. Join them on a woodland shopping spree near Asheville, North Carolina to gather edible wild plants and mushrooms, and sample all sorts of natural treats that you might find in your own backyard.
Their “Forage to Table” tours cover a number of wild fruit that you’ll make into desserts, including kousa dogwood, wine berry, Paw paw, autumn berry, wild persimmon. You can even make “Chaga-lot” ice cream with one fungus. After you cook up a sample of wild food for a picnic, you can take home the rest of what you found, or take it to a local restaurant where a chef will prepare it for you. They have just partnered with Rhubarb Restaurant run by a three-time James Beard award finalist and a real wild food pro.
Click here for more information. The foraging excursion has a suggested donation of $75 for adults and $30 for children. They operate on Wednesdays, Saturdays and other days by requests.
7) Private Cooking & Pastry Tours – Paris, France
Paris Perfect is a luxury vacation apartment rental company in Paris that offers customized services for guests to get the most of their stay in one of the world’s greatest culinary destinations. Foodies with a sweet tooth might appreciate their Café Gourmand Cooking Class. Here, a local Parisian chef will come to your apartment to teach you about the art and science underlying France’s most indulgent treats. The chef will reveal secrets behind delightful desserts of your choosing, including a decadent chocolate mousse, the perfect madeleine, or a delicate fruit tart. You’ll conclude the class by tasting the treats and chatting over espresso.
If you’d rather enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor, try a walking tour of Paris’ best chocolate and pastries in the Left Bank. You’ll start with a melt-in-your-mouth macaron in the glittering neighborhood of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. You’ll continue to be delighted by the city’s pastries and meringues as you continue to taste your way through charming bakeries. At some, you’ll be able to go behind the scenes to discover the traditions of Parisian pasty chefs and chocolatiers. With your professional guide to answer your questions, your mind and stomach will be satisfied with this tour of Paris’ sweeter side.
Click here to explore the options and pricing.
8) Italian Cooking Classes and Walking Tours – Various Locations in Italy
The Lazy Italian Culinary Adventures is a new company providing culinary tours to Florence, Bologna and Rome, Italy. The tours include three cooking lessons, one focusing on sweets or gelato. In addition to learning to make your own food and dessert, you will enjoy walking tours with culinary stops, including pastry shops and gelato shops.
Click here for more information. Tours will begin in October 2016, but visit the website for rates and dates.
What awesome foodie vacations would you recommend? Please share in the comments below.
*Featured image courtesy of Jorge Zapata/Unsplash
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