Foraging for Wild Food
Where last year’s food travelers sought out cooking classes with chef-led visits to local markets, today’s wandering gourmands are searching for an even deeper connection to food and the local terroir. They’re looking to go straight to the source to hunt, fish, forage and even dive for their dinner.
Wild food foraging is one of the hottest trends in culinary travel today.
Contrary to stereotypes, foraging isn’t just for granola lovers and survivalists. Luxury hotels around the world have added wild food adventures to their list of upscale culinary offerings. The Four Seasons in Nevis, West Indies, for instance, offers a Dive and Dine program where guests join the resident chef and dive master beneath the turquoise waters of the Caribbean and learn to lasso spiny lobsters the way the locals do. The underwater adventure culminates beachside with an extravagant lobster feast.
Most foraging experiences end with a gourmet meal that features the foraged food prominently on the menu.
Foraging is often seasonal, depending on the type of treasure you seek. Truffles in France’s Dordogne Valley, for example, are only in season from mid-December to the end of February. If you have your heart set on a particular foraging experience, check with the hotel or tour company well in advance to avoid disappointment.
We’ve curated a collection of some of the best foraging experiences available in 2015. Now all you have to do is choose one.
Forage and feast culinary retreat in Charlottesville, Virginia
From fishing at the private fully stocked and undisturbed lake to foraging for wild grown herbs, mushroom, and berries, the “Forage & Feast” package at Virginia’s Clifton Inn offers a full sensory experience. After fishing and exploring, guests will join the Chef in the state of the art demonstration kitchen for a fun, hands-on preparation of the meal – utilizing some of the edible delights that have been gathered.
“We have a long history of locally sourced ingredients for Clifton Inn’s award-winning dining program starting with our cultivated gardens and wild grown ingredients,” said Clifton owner Mitch Willey. “We wanted to create an opportunity to involve our guests in this unique program, experience a great meal or two and take home some knowledge on how to locally source and grow one’s own food.” Guests can see Chef Jarad Adams regularly foraging for seasonal ingredients in the sprawling gardens, surrounding woods or the property’s own vegetable garden picking items to include on that night’s menu, ensuring ingredients are at their peak.
Foraging and cooking expedition in Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town’s Table Bay Hotel recently introduced a guest experience to allow food connoisseurs to discover authentic South Africa experiences and explore Cape Town’s flora and fauna with the hotel’s Executive Chef – Jocelyn Myers-Adam. The Table Bay hotel guests will be able to join Jocelyn as she hosts customized foraging expeditions on Table Mountain to be followed by her own cooking workshop to use the fruits of the expedition.
“The Cape’s exquisite ecosystem boasts a diverse array of native plants that can be used creatively to enhance the flavours of food and even define dishes,” says Jocelyn who is recognized for putting The Table Bay hotel’s new restaurant Camissa firmly on the Cape Town fine-dining map. “It is great to be able to highlight South African cuisine by sourcing beautiful local products and creating dishes that will showcase them in their full glory.”
The foraging experiences are guided by recognized local urban hunter-gatherer Charles Standing, who has developed an intricate knowledge of the Cape’s landscape and its opportunities to harvest wild plants for culinary use.
Sherwin Banda, General Manager at the Table Bay Hotel comments: “Foragers, depending on the season, are taken on informative and scenic tours of some of Cape Town’s beautiful areas, from Rondebosh and Tamboerskloof, to Sea Point and Cape Point. Each experience is unique and will leave lasting memories.”
Cooking demonstrations, tastings, and foraging in the Riviera Maya, Mexico
The ultraluxe Rosewood Mayakoba recently unveiled a 20,000-square ft outdoor dining concept, La Ceiba Kitchen & Garden, designed as an interactive environment for guests to partake in cooking demonstrations, tastings, and foraging from over 45 types of organic vegetation.
Aligning with La Ceiba Garden & Kitchen’s menu, which boasts an inventive selection of both classic and contemporary Mexican dishes that are enhanced with the freshest of ingredients cultivated directly from the garden, the cooking classes will focus on: Yucatan’s Hacienda Classics, Moles from Oaxaca, Ceviches and Fruits of the Sea, and Asado, the Art of Grilling and Smoking. The launch of La Ceiba’s cooking lessons coincides with the début of Rosewood Mayakoba’s A Sense of Taste program, which invites guests to embark on a culinary journey that awakens the senses and explores the beauty and deep-seated traditions of the Riviera Maya food culture.
Wild mushroom foraging and gourmet dining experience in Valladolid, Spain
The estate Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine is set like a jewel among the string of exclusive wine estates along the Duero river. Thanks to the excellent work carried out by its kitchen staff, Chef Pablo Montero at the stove, their Refectorio restaurant has recently been awarded its first Michelin Star.
Pablo Montero bases his culinary offer on a creative vision of tradition and the use of local ingredients, among which the shoots, herbs and vegetables from the property’s vegetable garden stand out. During the Fall, LeDomaine offers a wild mushroom foraging experience where the chef takes guests out to forage and then cooks a gourmet meal for them featuring the wild mushrooms.
Périgord truffle experience in the Dordogne, France
The bucolic Dordogne region in south-west France is home to two of the world’s most luxurious foods -Fois gras and black truffles.
Indulge with a ‘Cook & Truffles” weekend at the stately 18th century Hotel Château les Merles where you can celebrate the most desirable of all truffles, the Périgord. The package includes an outing to a local truffle producer as well as a trip to the Sainte Alvère Truffle Market, cooking lessons and several multi-course truffle-themed dinners prepared by Chef Bas Holten.
Fishing trip with wine tasting and dinner in Torre Vado, Italy
Aria Luxury Apulia is a London-based tour company that specializes in offering exclusive holidays and experiences in Puglia, Southern Italy. They offer a stunning collection of private villas and hotels together with a repertoire of organized activities unique to Puglia, including a fishing and tasting experience. Accompanied by a chef and professional sommelier, guests can immerse themselves in a typical Pugliese day on the Ionian Coast, complete with the tang of salt air and a trio of local fishermen. Learn about net fishing, cleaning, and cooking before sitting down to feast on the catch of the day.
Edible hikes where gourmet meets wilderness near Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
On the southern edge of the Tobeatic Wilderness Area sits Trout Point Lodge, with a true devotion to ecotourism. Experience nature in a new and interesting way by taking an edible hike. Naturalists guide the way through the pristine forest exploring bogs, marshes and around the edge of the Tusket River. Discover new delicacies you never knew existed, such as wild cranberries, root vegetables and mushrooms, all from the Acadian Forest around you. Back at the lodge enjoy a culinary treat, cooking the bounty you have foraged.
It’s a truly unique way to experience the land with all of your senses, especially taste, within the UNESCO Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve. This luxury eco-lodge is far enough off the grid that you can leave your phone at home; there’s no cell phone coverage for miles.
Off-the-grid wild plant identification, butchery and outdoor cookery school in East Sussex, England
Hunter Gather Cook is a foraging and cookery school that specializes in adventures in wild food, outdoor living and self-sufficiency. All of their courses take place in an off-grid Tree House HQ set in the beautiful Sussex woods and are designed to teach participants how to identify, process and cook a range of wild plants and animals to a high standard.
Founder and survival expert Nick Weston’s vision was to create a ‘Hunter-Gatherer’ school that blended a mixture of foraging, animal butchery, cooking and bushcraft with an emphasis on living comfortably in the great outdoors and creating high-end dishes using wild produce. The school was established in March 2011 with the construction of the HQ.
At Hunter Gather Cook, you’ll learn about wild food by immersing yourself in the outdoors completely. Everything from butchery to brewing is conducted in the woods to ensure a great learning experience that will genuinely make you feel more comfortable in the woods and view the surrounding landscape as your very own larder, workshop and kitchen.