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Food-Focused Trips: Reviews From Our Travelers

by | March 14, 2023

Do you travel for food? We get countless requests for food- and drink-focused private itineraries, and we know trip-planning specialists who are connected to the local food scene everywhere from Athens to Zihuatenejo. Not only are there award-winning chefs in unexpected spots, but there are fascinating local people who will open their homes, farms, vineyards, fruit orchards, and olive groves for traditional meals, cooking lessons, and much more. There’s a smorgasbord of possibilities out there. If you can imagine it, our Trusted Travel Experts can make it happen. Here’s what it means to get a WOW trip.

Switzerland: in-depth tour & lunch at a cheese factory, private workshop at a boutique chocolatier…

Variety of Appenzeller cheeses in switzerland

Cheese selection from Appenzeller dairy. Photo: Billie Cohen

“The plan that Nina and her team put together for our two-week trip matched our interests perfectly. We had asked for a trip that would provide insight into the culture and history of Switzerland. The trip was a delight. Some highlights were: walking through villages in the Bavona Valley where people live without benefit of electricity; making our own chocolate bars from scratch at perhaps the best boutique chocolatier in Switzerland; getting an in-depth tour of a cheese factory, followed by a wonderful lunch just for us where we could enjoy their products; a private musical performance featuring the Hackbrett, a kind of hammered dulcimer; and of course a visit to the charming town of Zermatt with amazing views of the Matterhorn.

It was our guides’ efforts that brought the trip alive and made our visit unforgettable. One guide, Pascal, drove us off-road through parts of Switzerland generally accessible only to hikers. We wound up at a picture-perfect Swiss Alpine Club hut where we enjoyed what was perhaps the best lunch of our trip. We are fortunate that Wendy’s WOW List connected us with Nina.” —Stephen Behnen

Read more reviews of Switzerland trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Southeast Asia: “Like Napoleon’s army, we travel on our stomachs and the food we had on this trip was extraordinary”

Delicious dishes from Laos.

Local Lao food. Photo: Shutterstock

“We just returned from a fabulous three-week plus trip to Thailand, Laos, Viet Nam, and Cambodia organized for us by Sandy. While we have traveled a great deal, this trip was among the best, if not THE, best trip we’ve taken. The diversity and specialness of our experiences made it stand out.

Like Napoleon’s army, we travel on our stomachs and the food we had on this trip was extraordinary. One evening in Laos we went to the home of our guide who Sandy has worked closely with for years. We helped prepare dinner, were blessed by the family elders in a baci ceremony for success on our journey, ate the delicious food we had helped cook, and danced and sang with the family. Another night in Cambodia, we ate at a local village restaurant. With travel to Cambodia down due to the pandemic, it’s a great time to visit and we were the only people at the restaurant. After a foot massage and passion fruit mojito, we were escorted to our table overlooking vibrant green rice fields while being serenaded by lovely music. In Hanoi, we went to Bun Cha Sinh Tu and had the famous soup it’s known for. It was table-pounding good. And our Vespa food tour of Saigon which Sandy had strongly suggested was both delicious and terrifying. Driving a motorbike in Saigon should be an Olympic sport and we just rode!

Our excellent guides in Laos and Viet Nam shared with us the experiences of their families during the War and recounted working with American veterans who returned years later as well as a reporter who had covered it. These personal and moving stories touched us and helped us better understand the profound effect of the War on the people who lived through it.

In Cambodia, we went to a Buddhist temple at 5:30 in the morning and meditated. Afterwards, we were showered with lotus petals as part of a blessing ceremony and had breakfast at the monastery as the sun rose. Early one morning in Laos, we gave sticky rice to saffron-robed monks who extended their begging bowls to us. Through this daily ritual, the monks demonstrate their vows of poverty and humility. Our guide took us to a quiet place where her family normally gives alms, avoiding other tourists.

It’s hard to encapsulate all we saw and did because there was so much — seeing the temples of Angkor, kayaking in Halong Bay, boating on the Saigon River, biking through Hoi An. Part of what made this trip so good was the flexibility we had in determining what we would do and not do each day. We had great guidance and suggestions from Sandy but he emphasized this was our trip. We did make last-minute adjustments. For example, on the spur of the moment we decided we wanted to see the Bamboo Circus in Saigon and our guide helped us get tickets four hours before the performance. (I would, however, recommend booking earlier.) Thoughtful planning and flexibility helped make this the trip of a lifetime.”—Catherine Mathis

Read more reviews of Southeast Asia trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Morocco: market tour, cooking lesson, wine tasting…

A spice stall at a market in Marrakech, Morocco.

A spice stall at a market in Marrakech, Morocco. Photo: Shutterstock

“I had a general idea of the cities and sites that we wished to visit, and Radia developed them into a thoughtful and exciting itinerary, including such highlights as a gourmet lunch and wine tasting in a beautiful vineyard near Fez, an excursion to the Roman ruins of Volubilis, a motorcycle and vintage sidecar tour through Marrakech’s medina, and a sunset camel ride in the desert. Radia helped us choose excellent restaurants for all our meals and handled all the reservations, and she also arranged a very fun market tour and cooking lesson in Fez, where we learned to make chicken tagine on a rooftop kitchen overlooking the city. We cannot wait to return to Morocco.” —Sarah Balassa

Read more reviews of Morocco trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Argentina: winery visits, meeting Francis Mallmann…

Vineyards in Mendoza, Argentina

Vineyards in Mendoza, Argentina. Photo: Cavas Wine Lodge

“This was the second time that I worked with Maita and Santiago, and, once again, the trip was everything I’d hoped it would be and more. I started in Mendoza, Argentina, at Cavas Wine Lodge, which is located in a gorgeous vineyard and has gorgeous views from all angles. Santiago arranged for me to go to several wineries, and each was excellent and so much fun! There are hundreds of wineries to choose from, so I was delighted that Santiago found ones that were perfect for me.

Then I flew to Montevideo, Uruguay, and was driven to the absolutely delightful and gorgeous town of José Ignacio. Maita and Santiago had recommended this over Punta del Este, and they were spot on. I never would have found this little town and am now considering buying property there!  Santiago arranged very interesting tours to Garzon winery, lunch at Garzon restaurant, where I met Francis Mallmann(!) , and Pablo Atchugarry’s amazing and beautiful art, as well as the must-see Casapueblo.

Maita and Santiago will listen to your likes and dislikes, and what you want out of the trip, and will then create a bespoke itinerary that you will absolutely love! I am already working on a third trip with them.” —Susan Cunneen

Read more reviews of Argentina trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


France: private winery visits in Bordeaux

Vine-clad chateaux overlooking vineyard in Bordeaux, France.

Vineyard in Bordeaux, France. Photo: Shutterstock

“We were invited to a friend’s wedding near Montpellier. I lived in southern France many years ago, but my husband and son had never been there, and I wanted them to see Provence; my husband and I have become oenophiles, so we were also interested in visiting some winemaking châteaux in Bordeaux; and of course we had to see Paris.

Philip and his colleagues helped us pull together everything we wanted in our trip and more. They were amazing! We arrived in Paris and spent a couple of days there, with a dinner cruise on the Seine one night and dinner at Michelin-star restaurant L’Arpège another. We then traveled by TGV to Montpellier for the wedding weekend, followed by Provence, where we visited Nimes, Avignon, the Pont du Gard and many other beautiful towns and villages. Les Baux-de-Provence was a special favorite of my husband and son….

All our accommodations were top-notch—mainly small boutique hotels that were well-situated and each had their own charms. Philip’s team took care of all reservations, entry tickets, and train tickets. They really went above and beyond in Bordeaux, securing private tours for us at six châteaux in the region. It was an amazing experience to see the variety of châteaux and the winemaking process at each.—Helen and Glenn Miller

Read more reviews of France trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Mexico City: taco tour, mezcal tasting, snacking on crickets…


Tacos are a must-have in Mexico City. Photo: Shutterstock

“We have just returned from a spectacular trip to Mexico with one of Wendy’s WOW List planners. We were particularly interested in the differences and juxtaposition of the pre-Hispanic to colonial culture, visited many of the significant Aztec and Zapotec sites, as well as the Colonial churches and significant buildings. We loved the personal stories of our guides and their connections to their hometowns. As we were especially interested in the food culture, we had excellent restaurant experiences at Pujol in Mexico City, going on a taco tour, a mezcal tasting (really interesting and fun), and eating lots of chapulines–crickets—that were in season.

Zach’s staff was very accommodating in supplying us with names of cardiologists and hospitals at each city we visited, just for peace of mind. We ended our trip with two days on the beach near Puerto Escondido at a lovely small resort, Casona Sforza. We had wonderful food and a lovely room overlooking the Pacific—definitely our chill time before returning home. Zach’s staff provided a seamless trip: Timing on every event was flawless, and we had great vehicles, safe drivers, and local guides who were willing to make changes on the fly and accommodate our every request. Wendy’s WOW List will continue to be our gold standard for international travel. —Jim and Cathy Getz

Read more reviews of Mexico trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Peru: learning traditional Inca cooking techniques

A traditional Peruvian food cooked underground and stones.

Peruvian traditional dish, Peru. Photo: Shutterstock

“From Lima to the Tambopata Reserve in the Amazon, from Arequipa to Colca Canyon, from Cusco to the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu, we were spellbound by the warmth of the Peruvians and the beauty and diversity of the terrain and climates throughout the country. We didn’t encounter unmanageable crowds anywhere—in fact, we were pleasantly surprised by the tourism levels, even at Machu Picchu and in Cusco.  We are thrilled that we worked with Marisol and her team to plan this fantastic trip.

A definite highlight was our day exploring the ‘real’ Sacred Valley. The time spent with Maria and her family was priceless. From dancing with her parents to walking the Andean hills with her llama, from a spiritual ceremony thanking the gods to plowing the field with bulls, from sharing a lovely lunch made from locally produced ingredients to an in-depth demonstration of their textile artistry, we felt humbled and honored to have been offered a glimpse into their daily lives.

Another highlight was our WOW Moment in Ollantaytambo. On an organic farm, we learned the traditional Inca cooking technique of pachamanca and savored the delicious al fresco lunch while admiring the snow-capped peaks of Mount Veronica. Thank you, Wendy, for a delightful experience!” —Molly O’Neill-Emmi

Read more reviews of Peru trips. Learn how to get your own WOW Moment. Or use our trip questionnaire (reached via the black button below) to start a WOW trip.


Vietnam & Cambodia: grazing at markets, sharing home-brewed plum wine…

Traditional spring rolls in Vietnamese night market.

Traditional spring rolls, Vietnam. Photo: Shutterstock

“If you’ve considered a trip to Southeast Asia, do it now!  We are lucky to have been able to see Vietnam and Cambodia before the masses of tourists come back. Dan listened to our goals and worked these ideas into our itinerary. For example, we like to try all the foods. Throughout the trip we went to various markets and even stopped randomly on the side of the road and had a lot of fun trying some very interesting things! When I said I really wanted to find mangosteens, we did, even though they’re out of season. We ate at wonderful restaurants, street food, market stalls, and in the homes of local villagers. One of my favorite experiences was a hot pot lunch at a local’s home near the Chinese border in Bac Ha. We bonded with the local hosts, chatting with facial expressions, hand movements, and of course our guide translating, all the while drinking home-brewed plum wine.

We wanted to have some suits made for my husband, so for three days in a row, we made time to go to the tailor for fittings. We wanted to experience everything we could so, even when a torrential downpour interrupted the end of our street food scooter tour, instead of taking a taxi back to the hotel, we rode through the streets of Saigon in the rain on the scooter….so much fun and we were soaked! I decided last minute that I really wanted to see Angkor Wat at sunrise. No problem, done! And we learned so much more about the Vietnam War. We met a Vietnamese pilot that shot down two American planes during the war. What an interesting and moving interaction that was.

And then, the surprise for me was our WOW Moment. We had a special tuk-tuk ride to a boat ride on the river. On the boat we had cocktails, appetizers, entertainment with a traditional singer and a musician playing the dan tranh (which we got to try our hand at), and even lit lanterns. All of that was followed by an incredible multi-course dinner at a beautiful restaurant where our musician was playing another instrument. Everyone involved was amazing. Thank you, Wendy!” —Amy Evers

Read more reviews of Vietnam and Cambodia trips. Learn how to get your own WOW Moment. Or use our trip questionnaire (reached via the black button below) to start a WOW trip.


Sicily: cooking class, street food tour, wine experiences…

A welcome lunch at the Fratelli Valenziani orange farm, a family-run operation in Sicily.

A welcome lunch at the Fratelli Valenziani orange farm, a family-run operation in Sicily. Photo: Agave Creative

Matteo did an excellent job of listening to us: We wanted time to explore on our own, unguided, but Matteo also knew where the value of a guide was indispensable, and he made that clear—and he was right!

We wanted several experiences on this trip: We wanted a food tour of the Sicily markets—and Matteo got us a fantastic guide for a great street food tour. We wanted to shop and cook with a chef—Matteo arranged this with a charismatic great chef. We wanted a day on the water to sail and enjoy the sea—Matteo arranged a phenomenal afternoon and sunset sail with Salvo, a very special person who set up an amazing afternoon for us. We wanted an e-bike tour, and this too was arranged for us. The vulcanologist on Mt Etna, the archaeologist who led us through the Villa Romana del Casale, and the guide at the Agrigento temples were all also fantastic.” —Jonathan Scharfstein

Read more reviews of Sicily trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Oaxaca, Mexico: cooking class, mezcal tasting…

Oaxaca Toys for sale, Mexico

Colorful toys for sale at a market in Oaxaca, Mexico. Photo: Shutterstock

“There is so much to see and do in Oaxaca, and we are glad that we hired Zach to help us plan and execute this trip. We had a wonderful cooking experience with a Zapotec family, and we spent an afternoon tasting mezcal and learning how it is made with the owner himself. The history in this area of Mexico is fascinating. Black pottery, Alebrijes, natural dyed wall hangings and rugs…. BRING AN EMPTY SUITCASE! (Or buy one in the market, as we did.)” —Candace Chiaruttini

Read more reviews of Mexico trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Sicily: meeting chefs, winemakers, vulcanologists…

Mt. Etna vineyards, Sicily

Mt. Etna vineyards, Sicily. Photo: Agave Travel

“My husband and I worked with Marcello to plan a 3-week vacation in Sicily which we took in September 2022. Marcello was fabulous to work with!  He listened carefully to how we liked to travel and what we were interested in doing. He gave us a wide range of experiences to choose from and helped us create a fantastic itinerary. He clearly loves his work and his passion and excitement for Sicily is contagious!

He arranged for us to have some unique experiences. Some of the highlights include —

A morning spent with a local chef. First we went to the open-air food market, learning how he chose fruits, vegetables, fish and meat. Then we went to his restaurant (which is closed at lunch) and had a cooking lesson, followed by the delicious lunch we had watched him make for us.

Another experience was spending an afternoon and evening sailing on the Mediterranean in a 52-foot sailboat. The couple who own the boat were lovely and welcoming. They served us delicious antipasti and wine while we were sailing and watching the sunset.

We also visited an organic farm/ranch. We loved spending time with the owner, who spoke so passionately about his way of farming and raising cattle and horses. He was a fascinating man and it was an unforgettable experience.

Thanks to Marcello, we had a fantastic trip in Sicily.  —Davi Harrington

Read more reviews of Sicily trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Sicily: vineyard tour, pastry class…

Sicily. Photo: Marcello Baglioni

“We just returned from an incredible trip to Sicily, curated by Marcello. From beginning to end, Marcello did a wonderful job of listening to the sometimes varied needs and wants of our two couples, crafting personalized experiences that truly helped us understand the beauty and uniqueness of Sicily, and staying in touch to make sure we were having a wonderful time. We knew very little about this amazing island before our trip – and thanks to the interesting places and knowledgeable guides and delightful experiences arranged by Marcello, we left feeling a great affinity for Sicily and looking forward to coming back.  While it is hard to pick a favorite moment, some of the highlights included an amazing vineyard tour and lunch in the hills of Camporeale, making pastries with the incredible 82-year old Maria Grammatico in Erice, experiencing the stunning Infiorata in Noto and hiking on Mt. Etna with a Vulcanologist during a very active time. We will be reliving this trip for years to come. Thank you Wendy for introducing us to Marcello and bravo to his entire team!” —Lisa Wollan

Read more reviews of Sicily trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.



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