This year is shaping up to be a good one for folks who want a side of fine dining with their outdoor activity.
The French have a term—terroir—for that sense of place that makes food or wine particularly special, and it deepens when you've actually experienced that place. For example, a Sauvignon blanc will always taste better after kayaking down the Loire River, just as the Loire is best viewed through that rosy lens of a few glasses of local wine.
Now that adventure travel companies are offering more itineraries that put food at the forefront, we made a short list of five trips you need to take if you're passionate about both food and adventure. Some are all-inclusive, but you won't find a carving station or days-old dinner rolls within a 10-mile radius of any of these trips.
You Catch, They Cook at Viceroy Snowmass
If you need a day off from the slopes, head out with the Aspen Outfitting Company for an afternoon of hunting in Colorado’s backcountry. “The venue is a scenic hour and a half drive from Aspen, situated on over 28,000 acres of the most ideal upland bird habitat imaginable,” says Will Nolan, the executive chef at Viceroy’s Eight K restaurant. “It’s a area unmatched in the world, with its deep canyons, rocky draws, open meadows and wooded river bottoms,” he adds.
Once you’ve captured your dinner, Nolan will walk you through how to harvest and prepare it during a private cooking lesson. And if you don’t catch anything, don’t worry; you won’t go hungry. Aspen Outfitting Company’s guides will step in to help. And if even they don’t have luck, Nolan will bring whatever fowl the restaurant has on hand to cook for your dinner.
And if you’re not a hunter, Viceroy also offers a day of skiing and snowboarding with Chef Nolan, followed by an après-ski cooking lesson, no blood, guts, or bullets required.
You Catch, We Cook is available with advanced reservations only. Prices start at $100 and hour, accommodations not included.
Cycle, Eat, Drink, and Eat Some More in Italy
João Correia jokes that if you lose weight on one of his trips you get your money back. The former pro roadie is serious about his food and his wine, and both flow freely during his weeklong bike tours. “I don’t care what pace you ride at, but if you can’t keep up at the table we’ll kick you out,” he says. (He’s kidding…mostly.)
Correia spent much of his pro cycling career in Italy, so he knows the roads and restaurants intimately. You’ll ride between 30 miles and 80 miles per day (on top-of-the-line Pinarellos), receive rub-downs by pro tour massage therapists. The rest of the time you’ll be at the dinner table.
"We ride and we do good riding, but I tell people that at 1 p.m. I want to be at the table, eating lunch," says João Correia, founder of InGamba, a food-focused cycling tour company. "I joke that for every hour we ride we spend three hours at the table."
Tours are available in the Dolomites, Chianti and in Portugal. Full service tours start at $6,750 per person, while self-guided tours start at $2,500.
Trek and Picnic on the Pemberton Icefield
If picnicking has always seemed just a little “99 percent” to you, maybe it’s time you tried heli-picnicking. Guests at the Four Seasons Whistler can pay a bit extra to helicopter to the Pemberton Icefield where you'll be served a once-in-a-lifetime picnic. While the chef is grilling lobster tails and rubbed Canadian prime rib eye steak bites, you can take a 2-3 hour trek through the glacier’s ice caves or have a private yoga session on the ice—followed by a trip to a secret hot springs.
Trip starts at $1,300 per person, with food costs depending on the menu.
Tour Vietnam’s Markets By Bike
VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations has been leading recreational cyclists through Vietnam for nine years, but a few years ago the company decided to add a food-focused trip to its offerings. “It’s for people who want to be outside but who also really want to be exposed to the country’s culinary delights,” says Chris Skilling, the vice president of worldwide product for VBT.
The trip lasts 13 days and includes two cooking classes, two guided visits to markets, a noodle factory visit and a tea ceremony performed by monks. “Plus you’ll see a lot of the country’s must-see sights,” says Skilling.
The biking is definitely geared towards the recreational rider, with daily rides ranging from 15 miles to 30 miles. VBT’s clients do skew a bit older too, but that shouldn’t deter you from joining. Just know that there probably won’t be any town line sprints on the comfy—though not particularly swift—hybrid bikes VBT provides.
This year’s trip departs Nov. 17, last 13 days and costs $4,245 including international airfare.
Drink Whisky at the Edge of the Earth
In Scotland’s remote Orkney Islands you’ll find Highland Park, a farflung Scotch whisky distillery. Highland Park was founded in the late 18th century by Magnus Eunson, a church official by day and a smuggler by night. According to local lore, he hid his product from government officials by stashing it in coffins during the smallpox epidemic, when no one wanted to lift the lid to double check what was inside. While the distillery alone is cool, the Orkney Islands are worth a trip for their unique topography and ancient ruins, including the Ring of Brodgar, a Neolithic stone henge.
There are companies that do whisky tours in Orkney, but it’s also easy to navigate on your own. Flights and ferries can get you to the islands from the mainland, although frequent bad weather, especially in winter, can delay things. While you’re island-hopping, consider traveling also to Skye Island to visit Talisker and Islay to visit Lagavulin.