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Feature: Flavours of the world - Top learn-to-cook holidays

Thursday, 3 February 2013 10:56 AM

Just as you’re about to break those resolutions, here we are with inspiration to help you keep the one about learning a new skill – and take a holiday at the same time! Sounds too good to be true? Well, if you had asked us last week, we would probably have said that it is. But that was before we discovered the joy of culinary holidays – where you actually learn to cook the dishes yourself. Here, you can indulge your passion for food on a fun, cookery course and learn to cook authentic dishes in stunning surroundings.

Tired of serving your family the same dishes over and over? Or perhaps your family is tired of your signature dish. Well, to help find new inspiration, we have sampled our top learn-to-cook holidays around the globe that blend hands-on lessons, tours of local culture, wine and architecture and plenty of good food, of course. We wouldn’t have it any other way! Here, you can discover the joys of cooking, using the finest ingredients and learning the secrets of local dishes in a unique cooking experience. Spectacular holiday destinations provide the perfect backdrop for relaxed and friendly cookery classes where you can indulge your culinary passions.

Where else to start a tour of culinary experiences than in France? A quick journey across the Channel and you can indulge your passion for food, from fondues to wines and everything in between. Whether you’re looking to perfect your patisserie, learn how to cook up a cassoulet or merely aspire to the sybaritic pleasure of gathering wild herbs on a Provencal hillside and simmering them up into something fragrant, a cooking course in France turns a short break into an exciting and memorable event. And there are plenty of options to choose from. Many weekend courses combine hands-on practice with excursions to sample local specialities. Cook in France offers a number of short break courses across France.

Basque country
San Sebastián is one of the great gastronomic capitals of Europe, famed for its Michelin-starred restaurants and its pintxos, the Basque country’s delicious take on tapas. And you can learn to make those pintxos yourself. San Sebastian Food can tailor-make culinary adventures to suit everyone’s culinary desires, ranging from a guided pintxo tasting tour to a lesson in the kitchen of a local chef. This is also the perfect opportunity to cook and eat delicious Basque speciality fish and seafood dishes. And if you’re feeling really adventurous, you can even find inspiration at the three-Michelin-starred Arzak restaurant – or perhaps you’ll just have dinner there!

Moving away from Europe, Morocco is often underestimated by the many visitors that come to the country each year. True Moroccan cuisine is a heady mix of Persian, Indian and Spanish influences, so if you’re ready to let yourself be inspired by all corners of the world, Morocco is the place to learn to cook exciting and colourful dishes. Gourmet on Tour offers week-long trips based just outside the city of Marrakech, where culinary enthusiasts can learn how to make the salads that form the starter of a Moroccan meal, lamb dishes and, of course, tagines. Many of the courses also include a guided visit to the souks, a trip to the Atlas Mountains and plenty of time to explore the city on your own. Memorable cooking in memorable surroundings!

Many of us have probably already tried our luck at making Thai food at home, or what we consider Thai food! But a wok and a bunch of finely chopped vegetables don’t do it! For a true culinary experience of Thailand, an experience that is bound to move you beyond the traditional stir fry, take the Lemon Grass Trail offered by Telltale Travel. The Lemon Grass Trail is a two-week trip around Thailand, picking ingredients at organic farms, buying vegetables at morning markets, and fishing in the Andaman Sea. The trip begins in Bangkok and then transfers to Sena in the rural Central Plains, where the wife of the village’s headman will demonstrate authentic Thai cookery techniques. Then it’s on to Isan in the north east before ending up on the Andaman coast, to cook the fish you catch. It doesn’t get fresher than that.

Wild mountain herbs, olive oil, grilled meats and Cypriot wines and cheeses. Many of us have already had mouth-watering experiences with the Cypriot kitchen when visiting the destination on a beach holiday, and many of us have tried to cook the dishes at home in our own kitchens – without any great outcome! Now, you can learn from the experts at Paradisos Hills Hotel in Lysos in Cyprus. The hotel organises one- and three-day cooking classes for anyone who wants to learn the secrets of true Cypriot cuisine. The courses aim to teach you the skills and knowledge that are easy to repeat when you are back at home in your own kitchen. The course also introduces you to local ingredients, many of which are grown in the hotel’s organic garden.

If you haven’t had enough of Asian food (will we ever?!), On the Menu is featuring a great introduction to Asian cuisine by offering a cookery course which takes in trips to local markets and fishing villages, eating at authentic restaurants and learning how to use the herbs and spices that are so integral to Vietnamese cooking. Vietnam is a fascinating country, beyond its cuisine – rich in history, beautiful, friendly. The course takes place at a comfortable resort hotel in the French colonial quarter of Hoi An on the country’s central coast. The hands-on cooking lessons promise to cover the three regional cooking influences – north, south and central.

Where better to finish our gastronomic tour than in the food capital of Europe, Tuscany in Italy?! But this is not your ordinary cookery course. Ramblers is offering a combined walking and cooking tour of Tuscany called ‘Tuscan Lifestyle’. The Italian walking holiday includes lessons in local cooking, where morning walks go hand in hand with afternoons in the kitchen. The active holiday mixes relatively easy walking, some sightseeing and some insight into – and practice at – Italian cooking, to provide a ‘lifestyle’ holiday full of local interest.

What better way to discover a country than through its food? With our selection of culinary trips, you’ll return with expert skills to brighten up your daily dinner table and spice up your life – and make that holiday feeling last a bit longer. Who said New Year resolutions can’t be kept? We didn’t!

Luxury wine tours around the world

Feature: Luxury wine tours around the world

Wine – the drink of the ancients. One of the oldest alcoholic beverages on earth, and possibly the most refined drink in the world. For thousands of years the drink has been perfected and crafted, and in the eyes of many is the epitome of luxury. There has never been more choice when it comes to gourmet tours of the world’s most premier wine regions.

Find luxury during a long weekend

Feature: Top chic weekend breaks - away from it all

It will be a miracle if anyone manages to get any work done next April. Well, except for wedding planners, florists and travel agents, that is. An extra bank holiday and a royal wedding - what better excuse to enjoy a long weekend in luxury?!

World’s best places for wine tasting holidays

World’s best places for wine tasting holidays

Imagine cycling from vineyard to vineyard through the rolling green hills, sipping your favourite Pinto Grigio, Merlot or Chardonnay, paired with world class gourmet cuisine and beautiful scenery - this is a relaxing holiday at its most luxurious. We’ve come up with a list for you of the world’s best places for wine tasting holidays.

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Feature: Culinary excursions in Germany and Spain

The delights of Western European cuisine is known all over the world. From the gastronomical melting pot of London to the refined dishes of Paris, visitors to this affluent part of the world are spoilt for choice when it comes to eating well.

Thai curry

Feature: Thai cookery in Chiang Mai

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from a cookery class as I had never been on one before, but all I could imagine was a kind of 1950s style home ec. class. I had always wanted to go on a cooking class though and when I heard that the city of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand was one of the best places to learn Thai cooking, I jumped at the chance.

Best of the cooking holidays – from China to Italy

Feature: Best of the cooking holidays – from China to Italy

Nothing is better than enjoying a good meal, and it is even nicer when you make it yourself. There has never been more holiday choice when it comes to culinary trips around the world where you can mix eating and cooking with seeing sights.

The Far East is a land of serene beauty

Feature: Luxury tours of the Far East

For centuries the mystical world of the Far East has been steeped in deep spirituality and ancient tradition. Although the modern world has encroached in, many of these ancient customs have survived. It really a fascinating region.

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Feature: Top gastronomic destinations in Western Europe

When it comes to fine dining, many people look no further than the refined and sophisticated cities of Western Europe. Combining ancient architecture, world-class museums and some of the most luxurious restaurants in the world, you can't go wrong.


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