Sweden is on a short list of countries that boast both beautiful people and delicious cuisine. Landing in Stockholm, my initial goal would be to tuck into a plate of gravlax and/or Swedish meatballs (whichever I could find first). Then, I’d order any dessert that comes with cloudberries before digging deeper into all-things-Scandinavian. I’d wake up to coffee with crisp rye crackers smothered in cod roe and thick butter before taking to the streets to find my next meal.
There are plenty of exotic locations on my fantasy food vacations wish list — a tiki cocktail quest in Hawaii, touring the vineyards of the Canary Islands. But given that bourbon is my spirit of choice, there’s one trip in particular that I am just dying to take: a road trip along Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Distillery tours, tastings, driving through scenic Bluegrass country — the prospect warms my heart as the bourbon would my stomach. And to keep me on sober ground, there’s another bonus to mention: plenty of great, real-deal southern fare.
My next food pilgrimage, without a doubt, would be a trip to Paris. I'd book a room at Hotel Relais Saint Germain (partly for their funky lobby decor and spacious digs, and partly for their amazing breakfast at the hotel restaurant, Le Comptoir du Relais). My days would be spent carrying around a baguette (bien sur) and wandering the streets (the Marais, Montmartre, and the Latin Quarter), and my nights would be spent eating at restaurants like Les Papilles and Chez L'ami Jean. No trip to Paris would be complete without a stop at L'as du Falafel on rue de Rosiers, followed by a pastry at Sacha Finkelsztajn, a tiny, old-fashioned Jewish bakery in the Marais.
In my mind, I’m booking a trip to Nepal right now. I’d go for the Indian food, the Himalayan food, and the trekking (which will burn tons of calories meaning, more food). There’s so much to take in from the roadside chai sellers to the overwhelming view I imagine when hiking the Himalayas, I’d barely know where to start! The chaos and charm of Kathmandu might start me off with stops at the Monkey Temple and the monasteries that line the surrounding valley.
One of my dream trips would include taking a tour through the Napa Valley wine country and then eating my way through Yountville and Berkeley. Aside from being a true gastronomical destination, this gorgeous scenery in this region is an added bonus. Specifically, I’d stop to taste at the Rubicon Estate, Yountville’s Hill Family Estate, Duckhorn Vineyards, and Ladera Vineyards. A pit stop for sweets at Sweet Dreams in Berkeley would be a must.
I would love to stay at the historic, illustrious Greenbrier Resort to luxuriate in all their top-of-the-line amenities and succumb to the gorgeous red and gold fall foliage decorating the rolling hills that surround it. The Greenbrier offers everything from culinary demonstrations to off-road adventuring to (yes) falconry. What’s more, I would not miss the chance to tour the Greenbrier bunker. Built during the Cold War, it existed to house all of Congress and the President in case of nuclear attack. And did I mention the casino?
I still haven't taken my round-the-world eating trip that was my dream destination at Christmas, but I have been lucky enough to hit some amazing major culinary destination in the interim: Aviary, Moto, Wiener's Circle, Alinea, Pizzeria Bianco, Per Se, Mozza, Incanto, and Le Bernardin among them. Given time and money to go on specific food pilgrimages I'd go:
Texas Barbecue Tour of Hill Country with a detour to Chico’s Tacos in El Paso
A day spent at Blue Hill at Stone Farms
A trip to Barcelona to visit 41 Degrees and Tickets
Or, if I could only go to one place, and money was no obstacle, my culinary destination would be much closer to home: Masa.
I feel it’s impossible to find any wine region not connected to a fantastic food scene and, as a lover of all Latin cuisines, I am sure Chile is no exception. Unlike other wine regions, Chile’s wine-soaked valleys are separated by grape (determined by weather), so you can trick yourself into thinking you’ve taken multiple vacations in one! I’d start northwest of Santiago in the Aconagua Valley, then make my way to the cool Casablanca Valley to the west for classic Chilean white wines. The Maipo Valley, Chile’s most famous wine region, would come next for a glass of Malbec, and I’d round the tour out in the Colchagua Valley.
A trip around Puglia with chef Liza Shaw? Yes please. A former chef at San Francisco's A16, Shaw has left the kitchen to lead week-long culinary tours of Italy. Focusing on small artisanal producers and local fare, the tour exposes guests to the inner workings of one of the top food regions in the world — perfect for any food lover. On my dream trip, I'd be sipping wine, nibbling on olives, and taking in all the delicious aspects of Mediterranean cuisine of Puglia, while gazing happily at a sea of olive trees. Plus, I'd tack on a bicycle tour of the region to help me work up a healthy appetite.