Food and wine nirvanas

Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community!   For me, today is throwback Thursday as I’m thinking about one year ago (feels like a decade ago); I attended my last in-person travel event and weekend getaway pre-pandemic.  Reading this paragraph makes me wish for the future more than ever – have you had one of these moments recently?

As you’re reading this newsletter, I’m at the lovely Pierre Hotel in midtown Manhattan for a Virtuoso conference.  As you may recall, Virtuoso is my global network that specializes in luxury (as defined by you) and experiential travel.  I’ll be meeting with some amazing travel suppliers who treat my clients like VIPs and learning state-of-the-art techniques for designing unforgettable travel itineraries!  I love NYC (after living in there for many years) so will also be taking in a Broadway Show, eating at some delicious restaurants, seeing a few friends, and strolling around the newest, hottest neighborhood called Hudson Yards.  Have you been there yet? I’ve been half a dozen times already and am happy to give you some tips for your trip. 

OK – back to 2021 reality, this week the focus is on vacations that indulge your love of food and wine.  Get out your cutlery and napkin – you’re going to drool!  Read on for the scoop…

Paella in Spain

Foodie Paradise in Spain

If you’re a foodie, no doubt you’ve been to San Sebastian, Spain, or it’s at the top of your travel bucket list.  This coastal town in the Basque region is fascinating and in the shadow of Madrid and Barcelona for the typical tourist. 

It’s said that there is no better part of Spain for foodies than the Basque Region.  In 2019, the area had 40 Michelin-starred restaurants!  They invented a way of dining called pintxo where you eat standing up sampling bite-size dishes, hopping from place to place. 

In your itinerary, I can include a half-day tour with a wonderful local guide.  You’ll take in a city view from Mount Igueldo and then tour the city hearing stories about the local culture, people, and history.  The tour’s final leg is a pintxo tasting at the hottest, most delicious spots.  Your guide will help you select the tastiest plates and wines!  Note – my local connections allow my clients to experience their destination more deeply and uniquely resulting in a more memorable and meaningful experience = travel goals!!


Caribbean Foodies

If you’re a foodie who is heading to the Caribbean, I can arrange a plethora of experiences customized to your interests.  Here’s a shortlist of tasty hidden gems:

  • A French Caribbean cooking class on St. Barths where you learn about local ingredients, seasonings, and dishes.
  • Fish by day and feast by night on St. Lucia where a chef will prepare your catch expertly.  Or learn the process of chocolate production from grove to store.  
  • Take a cultural food tour in the Bahamas with a culinary and cultural ambassador who will weave the story of the island in between savory bites.
  • In Jamaica, take a street food tour with a local foodie.  Visit a jerk center and discover Jamaican culture one bite at a time.
  • Work alongside an expert chef to learn how to make four different styles of fresh ceviche in Anguilla and St. Maarten. 
  • Tour a rum plantation and learn to make a fabulous cocktail to enjoy before a rum-themed 3-course lunch in Barbados. 
  • Visit spice farms and production facilities with a local chef in Grenada and then head to the kitchen to try your hand at making Spice Island dishes.

Hidden Gem Tip:  Consider a culinary experience on your next family vacation– kids love to eat and many love to cook!  Getting a sense of place through your sense of taste is a meaningful way to connect to your destination. Cooking classes, preparing and sharing a meal with a local family, or a culinary tour geared to kids are wonderful ways to immerse your entire family into the culture of your destination.

Beautiful Porto

Wine & Food on the River

One of the hottest river cruise itineraries for food and wine lovers is Portugal and its Douro Valley.  AmaWaterways offers enticing trips.  For example, sail from Porto to Porto which takes you through rambling vineyards and charming family farms along the steep sides. 

The backdrop is the world’s oldest demarcated wine region, the Douro Valley, where you’ll taste wines from historic wineries and soak up the natural beauty of one of Europe’s most unadulterated landscapes.  You won’t gain a pound with AmaWaterways daily options for included walking and biking tours.  Special interest tours will allow you to deep dive into your interests. 

Pre- or post-cruise, spend extra time in Porto, the beautiful “City of Bridges” which will amaze you with its architecture, culture, and history.  It’s a feast for the eyes and one of many Portuguese vacations that indulge your love food and wine that I can arrange to be ideal for you.  

On my watch list:  A newish movie starring Joey Pantoliano (of Sopranos fame) is available on Amazon Prime.  It’s called From the Vine and is set in southern Italy.  It’s about a Canadian who runs away to southern Italy and resurrects his grandfather’s rundown winery.  Let me know if you watched and enjoyed it!

Salamander Resort & Spa, Virginia

Salamander Resorts – USA

Celebrate diversity through cooking classes and demonstrations, wine tastings and dinners, and panel discussions with world-class chefs and sommeliers.  Food & Wine Magazine is presenting a culinary event called The Family Reunion. The event will be held in August 2021 at the gorgeous, bucolic Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, Virginia – just one hour from Washington DC.

Throughout the weekend, presenters will delve into cooking traditions that have shaped cuisine in America with a focus on building a better and more inclusive future.  A portion of the proceeds will be used to create a mentorship and scholarship program that fosters diversity in the hospitality industry, as well as to support efforts to help end childhood hunger.

If you can’t make the event in August, add the Salamander Resort to your USA travel bucket list.  It’s an ideal nearby getaway and as my client, you’re a VIP when you stay.

Inspired?  If you’re ready to learn more about vacations that indulge your love of food and wine, here’s the direct link to my calendar to schedule a chat

💎 Hidden Gem Tip:  Follow my Facebook/Instagram pages this week for more travel inspiration about food and wine experiences: or Instagram:


Wishing you and your family continued good health,


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Hi, I'm Susan Wilson

I’m the founder of Hidden Gem Travel Consulting. As your personal travel advisor, I craft custom worldwide itineraries that astound and inspire you.


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