Nothing has been an even better vehicle for the rapid expansion of travel and dining tourism than the internet, with more culinary travelers offering their followers the chance to ogle local dishes from Shanghai to London, whetming up millions of hungry appetites for the chance to taste a whole world of new cuisines and exploring a world of culture. And it’s not just traveling that benefits from the internet revolution. More people are choosing to base their travel itinerary around food, creating opportunities not only for exciting new cuisines to be tried in stunning cities like London but also for budding chefs to showcase their wares around the globe. As well as expanding the traveler’s market for tour operators, this type of marketing has also created a lot of opportunities for small restaurants and bistros to expand their reach. And why not?
For anyone working in the restaurant industry, even a half-day food trial can seem like a major risk. You’ve spent weeks or months collecting ingredients, training your kitchen staff, labeling your menus, selecting your glasses and finalizing your service. And then you come up against the one thing that can potentially kill your business: a customer’s unforgiving refusal to try your wares. Faced with such rejection, many restaurant owners choose to pull the plug on their kitchens and doors, letting staff go and focusing their energies on the development of new services or the expansion of existing ones. A cultural tour, however, presents a perfect opportunity for established restaurant owners to take on this exciting challenge.
There are some big benefits to this type of tour, beyond the obvious one of expansion. It challenges the foodie to think outside the box. This is hardly surprising, given that the gastronomic sector is one of the most vibrant sectors in any city, where cutting-edge culinary concepts are gathering strength by the day. So what does a culinary novice do when faced with an unapproachable establishment that serves nothing remotely close to the region’s best cuisine? It’s simple: sample the region’s fine dining delicacies!
The world-famous South Beach of Miami is fast becoming known as the epicenter of the Florida dining scene. This metropolitan area has a smorgasbord of restaurants, bars, nightclubs and boutique hotels that serve anything from global delicacies to low-priced street eats. A luxury tour of the area promises to whet the appetite for those who love to eat well but aren’t keen on fighting the crowds. For example, head to one of the many locks that line Holmes Island and look around. Each small block is devoted to a unique cuisine; so if you’re looking for gourmet pizza, you’ll find it in an area of town defined by locally sourced ingredients and exotic cuisine. Or head to one of the restaurants on Holmes Island that serve authentic Cuban food – authentic Guido, cuban-style pupus, or Caribbean jerk dishes served on wooden hot-plates, just a few steps from the sidewalk.
Just north of Holmes Island is another Cuban delight worth exploring: Papi Noms, a delightful half-day food festival. Every Thursday, Papi Noms features fresh cuban and Caribbean food, along with traditional or international cuisine, from five-star restaurants. On any day of the week, you can stop by for a bite to eat, take a photo with your favorite dish and have it mounted by your hotel window. If you have kids, this is a great way to foster a sense of community. The kids tend to love meeting new people and talking about the foods they’ve learned over the course of their travels. And the afternoon market at Holmes Island, where you can buy seasonal fruit, flowers, handmade jewelry, handmade pottery and other wares, is also a good chance to get into the spirit of the area’s culture tour.
Just steps from Holmes Island, you’ll find the best foodie vacations in Mississippi, including the Sea tours, Cajun cooking classes and Shrimp festivals. On the south side of the state you’ll discover the annual Black Dog Grocery & Wine Festival, featuring 50 local merchants selling local wines, beers, and desserts. A great afternoon could include a free tour of local wineries; join a wine tour for an afternoon of learning the difference between Merlot and Pinot Noir. If you’re lucky, you might even meet a bottle of delicious Cabernet Sauvignon!
The next stop on your New Orleans tour should be booked by a food tour group, which knows the best areas to scout for traditional Creole dishes and the hidden treasures of the city’s culinary delights. These groups are particularly helpful when you’re researching local restaurants before you arrive in town. Many of the best New Orleans culinary tours will also help you book accommodations, too. These groups know the best places to stay during your stay, where to eat and what to look forward to during your culinary odyssey.
For those who are interested in making a culinary pilgrimage to New Orleans, the perfect tour would combine historic exploration with one of the best foodie vacations ever. The “Big Easy” is one of the most fertile places in the country to grow produce in the spring and summer. Jazz lovers and foodies will appreciate the experience of sampling the many diverse flavors from locally grown vegetables, fruit and herbs. Those who are interested in history will love a night out at a historic re-enactment of the Civil War at a re-enactment park; or simply exploring the many historic gardens around the city. A little food and wine might be just the ticket to get your mind away from history for one of the best foodie vacations ever!