Culinary talk |

Why Great Food Makes Great Vacation

Culinary Talk | 2 December 2016

If you’re like me, you’ll agree that it’s never too late to start planning for your next vacation. By default, families with school children, bound by school calendar, are forward planners, while the rest of us may be blessed with more flexibility. Whichever crowd you belong to, you’ll realize that around this time of year would be a good time to hunt for ‘early bird’ 2017 holiday bargains – so why not book a couple of short breaks around long statutory holiday weekends when, after all, everyone has to take time off!

Why Great Food Makes Great Vacation
Neal Yard Cheese shop, Borough Market

The question many of us ask is what to do differently when the time comes?

I personally feel that it’s high time for travelers to stop looking at food as an afterthought and instead embark on foodicationtrips, because there’s simply no limit to how much one can enjoy good food and good vacation.

Plus, there is now an increasing range of choices. You need only begin by browsing at for ideas on food-focused trips that are equally passionate about food and local culture.

Another good thing about food tours is that they’re very flexible. I’ve enjoyed an interesting day in Cumbria, England, making cheese, sampling delicious steaks and homegrown vegetables at an organic long horn cattle farm and discovering how to operate a water powered flour mill while enjoying some exceedingly good cakes.

Why Great Food Makes Great Vacation
Champagne and Cheese lunch at Brixton Market

During a family visit to Copenhagen, we explored a microbrewery, confectionery works and a number of specialty food shops in just one afternoon. One obvious idea is to tour some famous and endless wine-growing regions in Australia and New Zealand – which also boast many excellent places to eat and stay in the vicinity.

Foodications, as I like to call it, can be a great way to discover something completely new about an already familiar destination.

When heading to Europe, try a stopover in Istanbul. But instead of touring the usual historical sites, go to the famous spice market and take a ferry across to the Asian side of the Bosphorus, where you’ll find vibrant street markets and restaurants filled with locals.

Next time you’re in London, go to London Bridge station, cross the road and spend a few hours in the famous Borough Market or go south on the London Underground to the vibrant Brixton market and hunt for some exotic Caribbean fares. In fact, wherever you are in the world, it’s always a good idea to discover whether there’s a local farmers’ market or market day. You’ll be in for some very pleasant surprises.

Why Great Food Makes Great Vacation
Organic Farm By Permata Ayung Estate Resort

Also don’t miss out on local attractions. You’ll often find some great ideas by staying at a farmhouse, a concept known asagriturismo in Italy. Your owner host is often far more knowledgeable when compared to a commercial hotel concierge. What’s more, the food served always tastes fantastic because it’s literally grown on the doorstep.

Last summer, we enjoyed earthenware bowls of hot ricotta cheese freshly made right in front of our eyes in southern Sicily using a thousands-year-old method. It proved an unusually simple yet delicious breakfast. On a visit to Maumere, Flores we harvested and then enjoyed fresh pineapple, thanks to the hospitality of an organic cocoa farmer. By making short food events part of the holiday, the holiday is so much more fun.

Why Great Food Makes Great Vacation
Ricotta cheese making in Sicily

Still stuck for ideas? Then why not visit places associated with food. The list is endless and very varied. Cheddar, Wensleydale, Emmental, Gouda, Edam, Gruyere, Brie, Camembert and Gorgonzola cheeses are all named after their places of origin. While Parmesan is from Parma, Stilton is not made in Stilton. Go visit to find out why. The Jerusalem artichoke, the Brussel sprout, the Hamburger and the Frankfurter give you some further clues. More opaque is Corinth in Greece, from which we get the name ‘currant’ or dried raisin. Black Forest Gateau might be geographically authentic, but it’s the region’s cherry harvest that makes it famous. Baked Alaska was in fact created in a New York restaurant in 1867 to celebrate the purchase of the 49th state. While Peking duck needs no explanation, one might need an intro to Bombay duck, which is certainly Indian but made using fish. It’s also a revelation to discover that the humble peach actually originates from Persia, better known today as Iran.

Why Great Food Makes Great Vacation
spices at Istanbul market

Closer to Closer to home, Ubud in Bali has become a major foodication attraction and gastronomic centre. Food-related activities include visits with coffee farmers, coffee roasters, artisanal sea salt makers, chocolate makers as well as taking Balinese cooking classes and enjoying how to make the famous Bebek Betutu, a duck dish slowly cooked with spices wrapped with banana bark and cook underground with the fire set on top.

At Permata Ayung Estate Resort, I was pampered with a magnificent and unforgettable spa treatment, unique architecture, impeccable services and of course mouthwatering dishes that included a Balinese rijstafel. Most impressive was that so many ingredients especially vegetables, herbs and some local fruits came from the hotel garden.

Don’t make food the sideshow in your holiday, especially when traveling across Indonesia. It’s a burgeoning world cuisine that is bound to gain more popularity in the next few years. Make your next vacation a foodication and may I wish you all a very Happy Christmas!

Photos By Permata Ayung Estate Resort