Courier April/May Courier - Page 28

Foodie cities and scenes A culinary focus commands travelers’ attention (and appetites) BY PATTI NICKELL Remember the days when travel was all about the destination and the sightseeing it offered? Do you recall when food was just something you partook of between museum visits … or when travel was all about feeding your intellect and your craving for adventure—and not your stomach? Well if so, then you’re remembering travel before the advent of the slow food movement, the farm-to-table evolution or even the farm-to-fork renaissance. These days, destinations are often selected—at least in part— for their commitment to unique food and drink experiences as essential travel components. These five NTA-member destinations have plenty to offer tour operators whose clients are a hungry and thirsty bunch. It’s no secret that, with 400 wineries, Napa Valley is one of the premier wine destinations in the world. But what some don’t know is that the long, slen- der valley has more Michelin-starred restaurants per capita than any of the world’s other wine regions. Your group can eat and drink to their hearts’ content on specialty tours such as True Taste of the Napa Valley. If tour operators book by May, they can work with a Napa food and wine expert who will curate an experience designed just for their group. “Walk. Taste. Sip,” is the slogan of the Napa Culinary Crawl, offered every other month starting in February. Groups can enjoy downtown Napa’s wine tasting rooms and restaurants, with each stop featuring specially pre- pared bites paired with specialty drinks. Two fall events showcase the best of the valley. Celebrate September harvest with Calistoga’s Harvest Table. A 1,000- foot long table is set up in the center of Lincoln Avenue, offering bounty from 20 of the valley’s top restaurants, and libations from 40 of its wineries and breweries. After the grapes come the olives. Bring your group in November, and you can experience the olive harvest. One of the best places to do so is at Round Pond Winer y, where guests can taste the estate’s hand-crafted olive oils paired with seasonal bites. If you want an experience you can get nowhere else, book your group on the Napa Valley Wine Train, which offers a range of tours including a six-hour journey that features a four- course meal as well as tours and tast- ings at three wineries. Finally, you can arrange a cooking class at the house conceived by two leg- ends—Julia Child and Robert Mondavi. Greystone in St. Helena, once home to the Christian Brothers Winery, is now part of the Culinary Institute of America, and it offers classes for Calistoga’s Harvest Table 24 April/May 2018 Napa, California: We’ll take food with that wine