Today's travelers are interested in hands-on dining experiences that connect them to far-flung destinations. The rising foraging trend goes far beyond the farm-to-fork concept and takes diners on a hunt for their own food. Focused on more than just picking herbs and vegetables from a garden or going to a local market with a chef followed by a cooking class, foraging affords a rush of adrenaline and adventure as you search for, hunt and catch your next meal in the wild. And these next-level tours are elevating and celebrating dining to emerging culinary destinations around the globe. So, pack your bags and head to these six exciting locations to enjoy rewarding gastronomic excursions and delight in unforgettable meals.
While not everyone may be able to venture into the woods or stroll along the Danish coastline with renowned chef and the world's most famous forager, René Redzepi of Noma, they can now download his recently launched app. Part of a three-piece initiative called Vild Mad (Danish for "wild food"), Redzepi's program includes a website and tools to learn the art of foraging and teaches the average person how to identify wild foods. He believes everyone should understand the basics of foraging and consider the world around us a larder and pantry. If you hurry, there's still time to jet off to Copenhagen for the Vild Mad Festival 2017 in late August. Held at a local nature reserve, this will be the largest wild food event ever hosted in Denmark. With local guides, rangers and chefs, guests will learn to forage and cook with wild ingredients, such as mushrooms, berries and herbs.
Join the legendary Captain Alf Roald aboard "My Lady" for a private food-focused cruise. The man behind one of Norway's most notable seafood restaurants, Cornelius, which features a meteorological menu inspired by the weather, is only reachable by boat from Bergen. Located on a small island with spectacular views of the fjord and mountains, the dining experience alone is unforgettable. But if dinner at Cornelius isn't enough, or you have a taste for more seafood plucked fresh from these pristine waters, then venture out on a private excursion with Captain Alf.
"Most of our guests want to experience something different than the typical tourist attractions – something special, hidden pearls. They want to explore our beautiful coastline, visit spots that not even Norwegians get to see – such as lighthouses with sleepovers," says Karianne Godøy, the marketing manager for Cornelius. "The archipelago near Bergen has an impressive number of inlets, channels, numerous small islands with sea swept rock structures. And the coast offers excellent diving," she adds. Visit these undiscovered gems while Captain Alf dives for shellfish, scallops, crabs or spears flat fish as you watch onboard the ship with live footage taken with his camera. Better yet, take your own gear and go diving with him and then climb back aboard to prepare your dinner.
Asheville, North Carolina
An adventure awaits in the lush forests and Blue Ridge Mountains in the Asheville area. Alan Muskat offers what is known to be the country's first forage-to-table experience and has been taking adventurous guests into the woods since 1995 to gather their own food for dinner. His company, No Taste Like Home, has been featured in many magazines and television shows, including a segment on "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern" in 2009. Muskat has seen a dramatic increase in business over recent years, especially since he's partnered with several restaurants in Asheville, where guests can drop off their wild catches of the day and the chef will prepare a complimentary dish to start their evening's meal. "The best way to get a real 'taste' of a place is to eat what's truly local to it; that means what grows there wild," Muskat says. This concept has become so popular, acclaimed chef Katie Button of Heirloom Hospitality Group, has partnered with Muskat and is now hosting a monthly foraging and dinner series called "Gathering Asheville" at Nightbell where guests can forage earlier in the day or attend the evening's dinner or sign up to experience both.
Kachemak Bay, Alaska
Head northwest to the rich bounty and Alaskan ruggedness at Tutka Bay Lodge. Located on a remote fjord across the bay from Homer on Kenai Peninsula, this area is known for its abundance of fresh seafood, wild foods, mushrooms and berries. The sea salt used at the property is even harvested from the surrounding ocean waters. This intimate and upscale lodge will create an individually tailored experience for travelers. Depending on the season, guests can go fishing for salmon or halibut, harvest local Kachemak Bay oysters or forage in the wilderness before joining chefs Kirsten and Mandy Dixon in the Widgeon II, a repurposed crabbing boat, for a cooking class and memorable meal.
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
If your idea of an extreme culinary destination includes warm sunny days, sandy white beaches and sparkling Caribbean waters, then head south and join Captain Rick of Swashbucklin' Tours for a thrilling adventure aboard the "Sea Weasal" out of beautiful Hull Bay on the north side of the island. An army veteran and former commercial Alaskan fisherman living in Washington State, Captain Rick moved to St. Thomas 10 years ago and never looked back. Once onboard, he'll teach you the ropes of spearing fish and snaring lobsters, but it's up to you to do the deed. Be sure to help out the environment and catch a few of the spiny colorful lionfish, an invasive species that's delicious thanks to its buttery flesh. Then, come back to shore and grab a rum punch at Hull Bay Hideaway while Captain Rick fires up the grill to prepare your catch.
Nevis, The West Indies
For an unforgettable underwater adventure, head to this tropical paradise to dive with a local dive master and a chef from the Four Seasons Resort Nevis for a "Dive and Dine." Here, in the stunning Caribbean waters, you'll learn to catch the sly spiny lobster just as the locals do, with a handmade lasso. Back on shore, sip tropical cocktails on the island's volcanic golden-sand beach while the chef prepares your catch with a marinade made from ingredients from the resort's organic garden. End the day by relaxing in one of their lovely beach houses.
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