The saying is often true: some travelers are "led around by their stomachs." Yes, they want to see the sights and visit the attractions in their chosen destinations, but these things are secondary to experiencing the food scene. Cuisine lovers are always on the lookout for places that are ideal for foodie retreats. They do not see Rome as the city where the Colosseum is located, but as the city with great pasta and pizza and gelato. Paris? Forget Eiffel; it's all about finding the best creperie, trying the softest foie gras and discovering amazing neighborhood bakeries.
There is certainly nothing wrong with planning a retreat for yourself and your friends based solely on food. (And, more importantly, there is nothing wrong with forgetting your diet for a few days and letting your taste buds lead you around).
If you want to host a foodie retreat, here are the best destinations you could possible choose.
Valle de Guadalupe
Mexico has an amazing cuisine scene. Valle de Guadalupe might not be on the tourist radar, but it has a lot going for it. Easily accessible from San Diego, this valley on the Baja Peninsuala is known for its wines. It also has some of the country's best artisan food producers. In this Mediterranean micro-climate, grapes and olives grow in abundance. These are served at area wineries and resorts alongside the local Mexican specialties. The result: an amazing array of dishes that rely on quality ingredients and bring a whole range of flavor experiences to eaters. Of course, we also have to mention the wine, which is some of the best in the Americas.
Thailand is a haven for food lovers. This country's spicy curries and hearty noodle dishes are known the world over. However, nowhere are they made with fresher ingredients than right at the source. Koh Samui, an easily accessible island not far from Bangkok, is Thailand's fruit and seafood heartland. Here you can eat your fruit favorites right off the tree, and you can also try sweet natural treats that you have never tasted (or even heard of) before. Whether you head to one of the island's fine-dining restaurants or sit at a humble mom-and-pop eatery, you can be certain about one thing: only a few hours ago, the seafood on your plate was swimming in the sea. Koh Samui is also the perfect place for a catered party. Resorts and rental villas will help you hire one of the island's best chefs to create amazing dishes for your event. The head chefs at top Samui resorts often moonlight as caterers for private parties.
India is another destination known for its fiery cuisine. Actually, the level of spice depends on what region you are traveling in. Everyone is familiar with a few keywords of Indian food: roti, masala, curry, vindaloo.... The truth, however, is that India's cuisine is very diverse, and the number of dishes is vast. Head to the Tamil and Malayalam heartlands of Southern India and you will experience tastes and ingredients that are completely different from those you would get in West Bengal or Rajasthan in the north. If you are searching for a place to enjoy an extended, progressive foodie retreat, look no further than India.
You have to include Tuscany on any list of destinations that are ideal for foodie retreats. Italy's most famous wine-making region is filled with vineyards, but you can also find some of the freshest, most-delicious Italian staples here. Yes, Italians take their cuisine very seriously. If you can avoid the tourist restaurants in Rome or Milan and find good neighborhood trattorias, you will certainly get authentic food. But what could be better than trying a dish while looking out over the fields where its ingredients were grown? Better yet, you can wash your pasta and off-the-vine tomatoes down with a bottle of wine that the waiter just grabbed from the very cellar where it was aged in a hand-made cask. If you want to host a food-related event, this is arguably the best place in the world to do it. The wineries of Tuscany are very experienced when it comes to catering events for food lovers.
Do you consider yourself a food lover? Tell us about your favorite destinations for foodie retreats....