Acclaimed Lebanese food writer Anissa Helou’s Syrian tours (anissas.com) offer first-hand culinary insights. Highlights include visiting authentic sweet makers, time spent with a chef who specialises in Aleppo cuisine, as well as memorable dining at in-the-know eateries. Guests stay at arty hotels. From £1,600 for seven nights, excluding flights.
Experience epicurean Kerala on a five-day itinerary, which includes visits to Cochin, Kumarakom and Kovalam, with accommodation in luxe Taj Hotels (tajhotels.com). Tours are led by Michelin-starred chef Sriram Aylur, of London’s Quilon restaurant. Guests are taken to reputable street food stalls for authentic local cooking, attend specialist cookery demonstrations and enjoy lavish dinners. From £1,395 for five nights, including flights. Contact coxandkings.co.uk.
Even the most committed Francophile will be impressed by historian Carolin Young’s knowledge of gourmet Paris. Her ‘Belly of Paris’ package was inspired by Zola’s novel of the same name. The walking tour of the city focuses on talks and tasting pit stops in specialist shops and cafés, once frequented by Balzac, Proust and Picasso. £60 per person. Similarly tempting is ‘Le Restaurant, a Parisian Invention’, which includes highbrow discussions on the origins of the restaurant, a three-course lunch at Lapérouse, one of the city’s first-ever eateries dating from 1766, and a tour of the Left Bank. £162 per person. For both tours, visit contexttravel.com.
In Bologna, visitors can spend an evening absorbing the secrets of home cooking by visiting a local’s house for a traditional meal mixed with culinary advice. From £32, plus £3 membership of the Home Food Association. Contact homefood.it. In the same city, Grand Hotel Baglioni’s ‘Learn to Cook Bolognese Style’ package includes a tour around the medieval market and a hands-on cooking lunch. From £409 for two nights, excluding flights. Contact baglionihotels.com.
The Hidden Japan trip (insidejapantours.com) travels from Tokyo, via Ida Valley, to Kyoto, by train and boat and includes a traditional kaiseki meal – lots of tiny tasting courses. Visitors stay in Ryokan inns, and the trip includes a visit to the world’s largest fish market, Tsukiji in Tokyo. The cost: from £2,250 for 14 nights.
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