Incredible Epicurean Vacations

PHOTO: Cultures & Cuisines in OmanCourtesy TCS & Starquest.
Cultures & Cuisines in Oman

intro: Culinary travel is getting more delicious--and ambitious--every time we turn around. A slew of new, creative and highly specialized culinary travel experiences take the entire niche to the next level.

Click through the next few pages for amazing epicurean adventures.

quicklist: 1 category: title: Cultures & Cuisines in Oman url: text: For those with a hefty vacation budget and three weeks to disappear off the grid, TCS & Starquest Expeditions present the jet-set extended version of a progressive meal. Instead of lasting for hours, this itinerary goes on for 19 delicious days Travelers will press olive oil and tour ancient monuments in Crete; enjoy an Arabian Nights feast in Muscat, Oman; and learn about Punjabi cooking in Amritsar, India. Dates: Sept. 17-Oct. 5, 2012. Rates start at $59,950 per person, double occupancy. media: 16466309

quicklist: 2 category: title: Michelin Helicopter Lunches at Hotel Arts, Barcelona url: text: This offering is all about convenience, for those whose every hour is worth thousands of dollars. Catalonia, the region where Barcelona is situated, contains multiple famous Michelin-starred restaurants that are too far for a day's drive, but are easily accessible by helicopter. For guests staying in the hotel's lavish Arts Suite, helicopter service is provided to any of three Michelin restaurants in the region: Les Cols in Olot, El Cellar Can Roca in Girona, or Miramar in Llança. media: 16466381

quicklist: 3 category: title: Sickles Market – Buyer's Trip to Sicily url: text: People who prefer a more involved, slow-paced experience should look into a "buyer trip" such as the Sickles Market " On the Road" tour of Sicily. Organized by a family-owned New Jersey gourmet grocer that has been open for more than a century, the tours are led by current owner Bob Sickles. media: 16466520

quicklist: 4 category: title: Sickles Market: Behind the Scenes in Sicily url: text: Amateur foodies can travel on his coat tails, visiting artisan producers, having lunch at family farms, tasting wines not distributed in the U.S., and basically discovering all the delicious secrets that F+B industry people usually keep to themselves. Tour dates: Oct. 1-10, 2012. media: 16466531

quicklist: 5 category: title: Culinary Cruising with Lindblad Expeditions url: text: Though all cruise lines claim to have a culinary focus, too many of them confuse quantity with quality. Lindblad is another story. The expedition cruise operator is tapping into its knowledge base gained over 20 years of Pacific Northwest river cruising to launch a new cultural/natural/culinary itinerary this September. It will follow the Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery Expedition route, on a 7 day/6 night small-ship journey with shore excursions to farms, wineries, and Pacific Northwest parks and preserves. media: 16466371

quicklist: 6 category: title: A Luxury Farm Stay at Foxglove Farm url: text: lands, temperate climate and natural abundance make British Columbia a great place to experiment in living off the land. At Foxglove Farm, a working organic farm on Salt Spring Island, "farm- and field-to-table" retreats introduce guests to every aspect of the small-farmer lifestyle. Guests get lessons in beekeeping, making preserves, basic butchery, cheese-making and "soups, sauces and stocks." media: 16466349

quicklist: 7 category: title: Plate & Pitchfork in Portland url: text: Sure, Portland's earnest farm-to-table focus has become something of an IFC punchline, but that doesn't make the food any less sensational. Fresh from the field and ready for its close-up, Portland farm-fresh fare gets the spotlight during the Plate & Pitchfork series, now in its 10th year. As the tag line promises, "farms transform into dining rooms"…and the foodies flock. media: 16466473

quicklist: 8 category: title: Go Garagiste in Paso Robles url: text: The sassiest wine region in California gives you yet another reason to love it: Appropriating a term that the French once used to mock low-budget, independent, "garage" winemakers, the micro-production wineries of Paso Robles band together to hold a series of Garagiste mini-events throughout the county. Taking place in wine shops, galleries and restaurants, these artisan showcases will lead up to the second annual Garagiste Festival on Nov. 10. media: 16466360

quicklist: 9 category: title: Outside Lands, the Gourmet Music Festival url: text: Quick quiz: Are you looking at a photo of a West Coast music festival or a West Coast gourmet event? Answer: Yes. San Francisco's Outside Lands distinguishes itself from all other music and arts festivals by offering a diverse 200-vendor epicurean lineup. Only in California could crowds like the one pictured migrate from a Stevie Wonder show to an open-air wine tent to the Taste of the Bay, featuring mini-menus from 50 restaurants and a farmers market. media: 16466427