Last updated: 12:08 AM ET, Thu July 02 2015

Avanti Augments its Culinary Options

Tour Operator | Avanti Destinations | David Cogswell | April 03, 2015

Avanti Augments its Culinary Options

PHOTO: Chilean wine country. (Photo by David Cogswell)

One of the most pronounced trends in cultural evolution to have a strong bearing on the travel industry in recent years is the rise of culinary America.

A country that used to be all about packaged foods, fast food joints, cheeseburgers and pizza, has morphed into a nation of epicureans. Cooking shows are so popular now they run on cable practically 24/7. So you can just sit and wrap yourself in culinary culture nonstop if you are so inclined.

Cuisine has always been part of the attraction of travel, but with the rise in epicurean consciousness stateside, the culinary element has become ever more concentrated in the offerings of tour operators.

Avanti Destinations, a leading purveyor of custom-designed travel packages in Europe and Latin America, recently generated a new wave of culinary experiences to attract the rising population of American epicureans, culinary enthusiasts, or, as we prefer to call them: foodies.

Avanti added 12 new culinary options to its vast menu of things to do while traveling. Avanti now offers more than 150 excursions and itineraries for food-focused travelers.

You think culinary oriented activities are popular? According to Harry Dalgaard, president of Avanti, it is the most popular special interest of the company’s customers.

“Food and drink tell you so much about a place and a people,” said Dalgaard. “We have more requests for gastronomic tours and activities like cooking classes or wine tastings than any other type of special interest program. We are always on the lookout for new ways that travelers can taste other cultures, whether it’s dinner in a local’s home, a villa stay with cooking class or touring historic coffeehouses in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, where coffeehouse culture was invented long before Starbucks.”

Imagine! A coffee house pre-Starbucks! Something for real history buffs.

Here is a sampling of some of Avanti’s most mouth-watering new culinary flavored options.

Sicilian Culture is an eight-day/seven-night package traveling through Palermo, Agrigento, Ragusa and Taoromina, Italy, with a driving guide and two three-course dinners.

Highlights of Lyon is a short three-day/two-night experience in the gastronomic mecca of Lyon, France, with dinner in a bouchon restaurant, a wine tasting and a private city tour.

Private coffeehouse tours in Prague and Vienna. Avanti offers a four-hour coffeehouse tour of Prague and a two-hour coffeehouse tour of Vienna, as well as a three-hour Culinary Walking Tour of restaurants, bars and cafés along Vienna’s Ringstrasse.

Local in Focal Icelandic Cooking Class provides the opportunity to learn to make Scandinavian specialties from fresh local fish and lamb in a group cooking class at Salt Eldhus in Reykjavik.

A wine tour of the Douro Valley in Portugal is three days and two nights along the Douro River and the local vineyards, stopping for wine tastings along the way.

Taste of Franconia is a culinary and wine package with a two-night stay in the medieval citadel of Wurzburg in the heart of wine country, with a dinner and wine tasting.

Taste of Tuscany is four days and three nights stay at Bagno Vignoni, notable for its hot springs near the hilltop towns of Pienza and Montalcino, with two dinners, a cooking class, a cheese tour, a wine tasting, and a rental car.

Journey to the Source of Chocolate is a three-day/two night excursion into the Ecuadorian Andes and the rainforest to visit an agrotourism project where cacao is harvested and Pacari organic chocolate is made.

Luxury Chilean Wine includes a night in Santiago and two nighs at the Chilean winery Casa La Postolle, owned by the same French family that created Grand Marnier. The package includes a cooking class, a wine tasting and tour of the wine-producing Colchaqua Valley.

Mistura Festival is a three-day/two-night package for Lima, Peru in time to attend South America’s largest gastronomy festival. The package includes entrance to the festival, food vouchers and a gastronomy tour.

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