Sometimes you find amazing dishes in unexpected places, like on Celebrated Experiences’ Dublin food walking tour, featuring traditional and contemporary fare from a range of bakeries, food halls and cheesemongers. Wherever you go, there’s always a new taste to be discovered, and below is a rundown of some of the best Virtuoso-preferred companies for going around the world in 180 plates.
Asia is a tapestry rich with unique spices, vegetables and styles of cooking. EXO can please your palate in a variety of ways, whether you’re looking for an immersive 12-day culinary tour of Vietnam or smaller samplers. Learn how to make the national dish, pho, during a half-day tour in Hoi An, where the day starts with ingredient selection at Cua Dai Market. Once you’ve made your picks, you take a paddle boat to a restaurant, where you make your own noodles and while they dry learn how to make the traditional beef broth, a mix of beef bones, ginger, different herbs and spices that needs to marinate to become the secret of the pho. The final touch is to boil the rice noodles and cook the beef.
If you prefer to leave the cooking to the experts, stroll through Hanoi’s Thanh Ha and Dong Xuan markets with a food blogger to sample delicacies and rarities while learning about the role food has played throughout Vietnam’s history, including the incorporation of dishes introduced by foreign occupiers such as the French. It can be tough to escape the crowds in Ho Chi Minh City, with its population of more than 8 million, but with EXO’s Saigon’s Secret Food Tour, you can breeze through on motorcycle and cram as much food from banh khot to bun bo hue as possible in 4.5 hours.
Beyond Times Square
A crossroads of cultures, New York is a melting pot of the best from all ethnic groups who have settled there. On Beyond Times Square’s Eating Your Way Through Manhattan tour, you visit Hell’s Kitchen, Little Italy, Greenwich Village and the Lower East Side noshing on Norwegian smoked salmon, Sicilian cannoli and everything in between. For a taste of another borough, the Brooklyn Epicurious tour spotlights pizza and Middle Eastern delights. It also showcases a chocolatier in the DUMBO neighborhood, but if you want all sweets, go for the 3-hour History of Chocolate program. For more sophisticated fare, try the private culinary experience, in which you expand your skills preparing a 3-course meal using fresh, local produce and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Having just joined Virtuoso in May, Urban Adventures has food and beverage tours in dozens of cities. Among the most intriguing are in countries with great culinary history. In Spain, soak up Basque culture in San Sebastian with the Grab Your Pintxo tour, see why Valencia is much more than the birthplace of paella with the Tastes and Treats tour or blend the old with the new on a Madrid Tapas Adventure.
The cuisine varies a great deal across the regions of India, too. Sink your teeth into Rajasthani favorites and try your hand at a few with the Jaipur home-cooked experience. Munch on shawarma and kulfi-falooda in the markets of Delhi or taste more spices than you can imagine with a home-cooked meal. Barter with vegetable vendors in Varanasi before enjoying lunch with a local family or explore South Indian delicacies on the Mumbai Masala tour.
Got a taste for Thai? You’ll love the Courageous Kitchen cookery class in Bangkok, featuring the sights and smells of bustling markets and teaching Thai cooking techniques for your favorite classics. Enjoy authentic khao soi and khao man gai with the Taste of Chiang Mai tour, or go deeper and challenge your taste buds with the Chiang Mai Off-Grid Food Adventure.
Another tour operator that joined Virtuoso in the spring, VizEat pairs travelers with hand-picked local hosts for authentic, intimate food experiences. One of the best ways to familiarize yourself with a culture is through its food, and when you’re in a family’s house eating a traditional dinner, you can really immerse yourself in a destination.
Whether it’s tajine in Marrakech using grandma’s recipe or diving into New Nordic cuisine with a former chef in Copenhagen, you’re sure to feel like a local sharing a meal with friends. Take a pasta master class in Bologna and discover why the city is known as la grassa e dotta (“the fat and learned one,” famous for its cuisine and universities). Go on the cutting edge of French cooking with a creative fusion and specialty dinner in Lyon. You’ll be welcomed with open arms and emerge with a full belly and a full heart.