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hot food trips for 2016

Looking for travel inspiration for 2016? Let food be your guide. Here’s a bumper, region-by-region guide to some of the new openings and trips we’re looking forward to most over the coming year

UK

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English wines were big news in 2015 and that trend is likely to continue in 2016. But while much of the action will remain in Sussex and Kent, cast your eyes southwest, too, as Star Castle’s HolyVale Vineyard, on the Isles of Scilly, which bottled its first vintage of wines in 2015, will launch lobster lunches this coming spring at the vineyard’s new outdoor café.  Book in and you can enjoy a glass of fine wine produced an arm’s stretch away, a plate of fresh lobster, collected that morning from St Mary’s harbour, and a new potato and rocket salad made using produce grown in the kitchen garden of the island’s Star Castle Hotel.

Also in the southwest The PIG at Combe House, a Grade-I listed Elizabethan Manor in Devon’s Otter Valley, will be the latest, and fifth, opening from what was the hottest hotel and restaurant group in the country in 2015 (and is likely to remain so in 2016). Launching in the summer, expect 33 bedrooms, a 600 year-old thatched longhouse sleeping a further eight guests and a restaurant that will make the most of an on-site kitchen garden.

Nearby, Michael Caines leaving Gidleigh Park in Devon means two exciting new restaurant openings, as Michael Wignall takes over the helm at Gidleigh Park in January and, in the run-up to Michael Caines opening his own Devon hotel and restaurant, Lympstone Manor, in 2017, a new Michael Caines’ restaurant at Palé Hall Hotel in north Wales the summer.

Further north, in post-flooding Cumbria, where local food and accommodation businesses are keen to get guests returning and supporting them, there are plenty of reasons to heed that call, not least with the opening early next year of The Forest Side, a 20-bedroom hotel set in a 19th-century Victorian hotel outside Grasmere in the Lake District. Heading up the kitchen will be Kevin Tickle, former chef and head forager at L’Enclume, who is planning to offer daily menus according to produce available within the hotel’s 46 acres of forageable grounds and Victorian kitchen garden.

And, in Scotland, we were excited to hear about the new Grapevine • Haar supperclub popping up in Culloden for three nights only in late March and early April. But disappointed to note that they’ve sold out already; let’s hope more dates are added.

In London, Le Gavroche will close on Mondays, from February onwards, to host a series of pop-up culinary events run in collaboration between Michel Roux Jr. and his daughter Emily. The pair will cook together and also host wine tastings and events; expect tickets to be snapped up at super-fast speed.

And, across the water, Northern Ireland Food and Drink 2016 is a whole year dedicated to food and drink from the region, with a packed schedule of food festivals and events tapping into this culinary celebration. While you’re there sign up for one of The Krazi Baker’s (aka Mark Douglas, of Potato Apple and All Butter Shortbread fame) Irish Bread Bakery Classes in Belfast. New for 2016, these will focus on traditional baking methods (with the help of a well-used griddle) to cover soda bread, potato bread, oven scones and more and can be booked with or without accommodation.


EUROPE

Across the Channel, Paris’ iconic Ritz hotel is finally set to re-open in March, following almost four years of renovation. Rumour has it that many of the original fittings and furnishings will be staying in place (including golden swan fixtures on sinks and vintage records and typewriters at Bar Hemingway) while a lavish Chanel spa, indoor pool and fitness centre will be added. On the food front, the hotel will have three restaurants, three bars, an expanded École Ritz Escoffier plus the historic Salon Proust for a classic afternoon tea.

If that’s beyond your budget, just-opened Paris hostel, Les Piaules, is creating almost as much of a stir with its designer dorms and fab food and bar menus (think sharing platters of charcuterie rather than fridge-cold baguettes).

Elsewhere in France Duck and Truffle is new gastro-travel company with some interesting spring trips in the pipeline (we like the sound of its gastronomy and wine-pairing trip in March. It’s based at Le Vieux Logis, a small Relais & Chateaux hotel in the Dordogne and includes a range of experiences from cookery demos and wine tastings to dinners at local bistros (keep an eye out for the February issue of olive, which gives the full lowdown on Marina O’Loughlin’s recent stay at Le Vieux Logis).

Mini-coach company Rabbie’s has reinvented itself as a more upmarket operator over recent years. In 2016 it sets off on its first adventure outside the UK with a Champagne, Vineyards and the North Coast 5-Day French tour, taking in Reims, Arras, Amiens, Rouen and Honfleur – and sampling plenty of Champagne and Calvados along the way.

In Italy, it would be rude not to visit Parma in the coming year, as it’s been designated UNESCO City of Gastronomy, Italy’s first, for 2016. You can read more on that in our May issue. Book now, though, if you want to be sure of a place on Stirred cook school’s new short-break courses. Based at Palazzo Casagrande in the Northern Veneto, these hands-on workshops kick off in September, with trips to the famous Rialto markets in Venice and plenty of food and wine tastings packed into the short time-scale (the company’s week-long courses are already cult favourites so these shorter ones are sure to be popular).

Also in the north of the country, Inntravel’s self-guided Flavours of Piedmont trips, part of the company’s new SlowMotion range of holidays, are launching in March and designed to take in the landscapes and produce that inspired the birth of the Slow Food movement 30 years ago. From Barolo and Barbaresco wines to white Alba truffles, chocolate and Montebore cheese the trip takes in many of the region’s must-try foods as it winds from Turin to Bra and Monforte d’Alba.

In Rome, look out for the re-opening of The Dorchester Collection’s Hotel Eden in the autumn following a major overhaul of bedrooms, bars and restaurants – including the Michelin-starred La Terrazza dell’Eden. While, for more earthy culinary pleasures, continue south, to Sicily where tour operator Sunvil is launching a new fly-drive foodie itinerary, Delicious Sicily, for 2016, winding a gourmet (and good-value) trail between family-run wineries, traditional Sicilian cooking classes, Marsala tastings and small agriturismos.

France and Italy have long been two of the most popular destinations among holidaying olive readers but if Spain doesn’t give them a run for their money as a foodie holiday hotspot in 2016 we’ll eat our sombreros.

As anyone who reads our April issue will agree, the Basque Country is one of Spain’s most exciting regions for cooking at the moment. If reading about it isn’t enough, sign up for a Basque Foodie Explorer trip with Pura Aventura and you can work up an appetite for the region’s food first-hand, with its mix of outdoor activities and food: among its highlights are the chance to walk among hills with the shepherds who produce Idiazabal cheese before tucking into the curds, drizzled in local honey and washed down with Basque cider; help bottle a couple of vintages in a family vineyard before tasting your share of the results and join one of San Sebastian’s top chefs to learn some of their best tips before enjoying the fruits of your labour.

Two other new trips worth considering in Spain next year include Village Ways’ new Grass Routes hiking holidays, which launch in the remote Vall de Gallinera valley in March and include visits to local farmers, shepherds, beekeepers and artisan wine makers, and Sherry & Spice, new two-centre cooking trips organised by Annie B’s Spanish Kitchen holidays that combine time in both Andalucia and Tangiers.

For seriously starry dining, head to Madrid at the start of the year for Grant Achatz’s Alinea pop-up at NH Collection Eurobuilding in Madrid (guests looking to boast of eating a six Michelin-star meal will be able to split their dinner in half to eat at both the Alinea and the hotel’s DiverXO during the residency, which will run from 12 January to 6 February).

And set your sights on Menorca, too. British Airways, Monarch and Jet2 are all expanding capacity to the Balearic island next year and, with luxury villa operators such as Scott Williams, increasing their portfolios there, expect Menorca’s gin bars and restaurants to be in for a boom summer.

Finally, if you prefer more off-beat flavours, specialist tour operator, Iceland Traveller, is introducing a new Iceland For Food Lovers tour in August in collaboration with local food hero – and food festival guru – Eirný Sigurðardóttir. From tastings at a geothermal bakery to a session at a ‘Salt Kitchen’ cookery school, the tour will culminate in a visit to Reykjavik’s summer food festival – and a chance to meet producers from all over the country. Alternatively, head to central Europe, on Imaginative Traveller’s new Taste Tour of Slovenia and Croatia. A 10-day trip, from Bled to Split, it takes in everything from vineyards, salt pans and olive groves to slow-cooked meats, Dalmatian-style, and truffles, and aims to illustrate why the region is fast-becoming a foodie must-do. Or, sign up for Scandi specialist Taber Holiday’s new new A Taste of Skåne and Copenhagen tour, combining Sweden’s southernmost county of Skåne and the Danish capital (think The Bridge but with more food and fewer bodies). Highlights include Ångavallen Ecological Hotel, which is listed in the White Guide, Sweden’s equivalent to the prestigious Michelin Guide, and uses 100% organic produce, a gourmet stay at Kokkedal Slot (Castle) and the chance to dine with local people in their homes.


AFRICA

One of Marrakech’s most elegant courtyard hotels, Riad Farnatchi is opening a new restaurant, Le Trou au Mur, in February. With décor blending traditional local craftsmanship and contemporary European style – and a traditional clay mechoui oven on view – the restaurant will offer some unexpected dishes, including a range of carefully researched recipes normally rarely tasted outside private homes. Bespoke cookery courses and spice market visits will also be available for guests keen to delve deeper into Berber cooking techniques.

Towards the end of the year all eyes (and stomachs) will be on Cape Town and the opening of The Silo. Part of the V&A Waterfront development (also the location for the first African Radisson Red Hotel, scheduled to open in late 2016), the Thomas Heatherwick-designed re-imagining of this iconic building will see the hotel occupy the grain elevator section of the complex, above the new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. Details of the Silo’s food and drink arrangements haven’t yet been released but preliminary plans include a rooftop restaurant and several bars.


ASIA

If you’re itching for further flung culinary adventures, Cox & Kings’ MasterChef Travel brand is offering a range of new group tours for 2016, including an October tour of Japan with MasterChef UK 2011 winner Tim Anderson. Also in Japan, InsideJapan is launching 13-night Gastronomic Adventures around some of our all-time favourite foodie hotspots in the country, including Osaka and Mount Koya as well as Tokyo and Kyoto (if you’ve never been wild about tofu this tour is certain to change your mind).

Elsewhere, Sri Lanka is set to be one of the hottest Asian destinations for foodies in 2016, with the recent opening of two stand-out hotels, the boutique Owl & The Pussycat in Thalpe and Tri Lanka in Galle, and more launches planned in 2016. One to watch is Tea Trails Sri Lanka; the luxury resort owned by the family behind Dilmah Tea is opening a newly renovated tea planter’s bungalow, Dunkeld, in February, and a spin-off Wild Coast Camp, a luxury tented camp, in the autumn on the edge of Yala National Park. Expect menus at both to blend European and Sri Lankan flavours, with expert curries, Sri Lankan-style breakfasts and fusion dishes such as pan-seared pink salmon pavé with braised potato, spinach and baby beetroot and cinnamon tea hollandaise.

Tea is also sure to be on the menu at the new Benzilan LUX* Resort, which opens in Yunnan, China, in January. One of several linked resorts along the Tea Horse Road, a thread of ancient tea traders’ routes that wound from Sichuan and Yunnan through Tibet to Bengal, this one promises mushroom-foraging, cooking classes and plenty of tea, whether you prefer a cup of Pu-er or a local cuppa, laced with yak butter.


THE AMERICAS

New York is, unsurprisingly, a favourite destination for olive readers and there’s more reason to visit in the spring when The Williamsburg Hotel opens in Brooklyn. Features will include a rooftop pool and three bars but it’s the restaurant that looks to create the biggest buzz with Adam Leonti of Brooklyn Bread Lab heading up the kitchen.

Staying in NYC, in the summer the Four Seasons New York Downtown is set to open in Tribeca with Wolfgang Puck’s first New York CUT steakhouse part of the plan, while the SLS Park Avenue is scheduled to open around the same time with décor designed by Philippe Starck and a José Andrés restaurant.

On the other side of the States, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art re-opens in May with an on-site restaurant, In Situ, headed up by chef Corey Lee and offering a menu of dishes contributed by the likes of René Redzepi, Alice Waters and Thomas Keller. And, while San Antonio’s The Emma hotel opened at the end of 2015, its culinary concierge service makes it one of the hottest new foodie hotels to visit Stateside over the coming year.

Further south, Peru is likely to remain a hot ticket for ceviche-loving travellers since, in May, British Airways will launch the UK’s first direct flights from Gatwick to the Peruvian capital, Lima. If you don’t want to go it alone, Access Trips is launching a nine-day culinary tour in 2016 covering the cultural attractions of Lima, Cusco and Machu Picchu as well as ceviche, coffee and Pisco tastings, an insight into traditional Andean cooking techniques and a chance to try fine dining Nikkei style (Japanese-Peruvian fusion food). Or, get even further off the beaten Peruvian track and sign up for sustainable travel company Crees’ Flavours of Manu tours, which take in foraging trips, producer visits and cooking classes in the remote Manu Biosphere Reserve, part of the Peruvian Amazon.


AUSTRALASIA

In Sydney, the 1930s Sydney Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board head office (more glamorous than its title promises – it’s packed with art deco flourishes) has just re-opened as the Primus Hotel, following an overhaul by architects Woods Bagot. Beyond a show-stopping lobby the prime attraction is The Wilmot, an open-kitchen restaurant overseen by Korean chef Ryan Hong.

Chippendale will become the city’s major food hub in 2016, however, with the recently opened Old Clare Hotel home to three must-eat new restaurants: ex-Momofuku chef Clayton Well’s first solo restaurant, Automata, ex-Noma chef Sam Miller’s Silvereye and, from January, Jason Atherton’s first Australian venture, Kensington Street Social.

And while Dinner by Heston in Melbourne and Rene Redzepi decamping (temporarily) from Copenhagen to Sydney will focus attention on Australia’s biggest food cities at the start of the year Perth also looks set to give Melbourne and Sydney a run for their culinary dollars in 2016 with the further development of Elizabeth Quay (already home to a regular Saturday producer market, Swan River Markets) and the opening of a new food hub in the restored State Buildings. The latter is already home to a sleek COMO hotel and its just-opened Wildflower restaurant (menus are designed around the indigenous concept of six seasons, and farmer- and forager-driven produce) is one to watch. David Thompson ‘s new Long Chim Thai restaurant and Petition, a wine bar, kitchen and craft beer tap room from the founders of Little Creatures brewery in Fremantle are two more reasons to make your way to the State Buildings development.

In New Zealand, keep an eye out for QT Hotels’ new acquisition, Wellington’s Museum Hotel, when it re-opens in February. The brand’s other hotels (so far all are in Australia) are known for their stand-alone coffee shops, bars and restaurants and the food and drink elements at this one are likely to be just as well thought-through.


Published December 2015

Written by Rhiannon Batten


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