Interactive Epicurean Adventures Are on the Rise


Fishing in the Maldives. COMO Hotels And Resorts

Interactive Epicurean Adventures Are on the Rise

barrons.com – March 11, 2022
by Eric Grossman

Globe-trotting gourmands eager to enhance their culinary credentials are seeking out unique, interactive experiences where they can roll up their sleeves and work for their meal.

A growing number of notable luxury resorts, award-winning restaurants, and innovative tour providers are letting amateurs try their hand at activities such as white-knuckle sport fishing, traditional truffle hunting, and digging for giant clams—with the added bonus of being able to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Whether it’s an immersive challenge or a hands-on educational experience, these next-level adventures are worthy of being added to even the most discerning foodie’s epicurean bucket list. Many of these experiences require advance booking, so remember to check for the latest travel requirements and restrictions.

JAPAN

Located along the Seto Inland Sea is Kagawa, also known as Japan’s udon capital. This coastal prefecture has been perfecting the art of the chewy, sanuki-style udon noodle for centuries, and is home to more than 600 udon restaurants, the highest concentration in the country.

In Mitoyo City, Udon House is an udon-themed hotel where guests learn the art of udon making from local specialists, visit a nearby farm to learn about the native agriculture and pick fresh udon toppings, and embark on udon-hopping journeys in which a guide directs them to the neighborhood’s best hole-in-the-wall udon restaurants.

MAINE

Lobster lovers come from across the globe to sample Maine’s most famous crustacean. At the legendary White Barn Inn, Auberge Resorts Collection, in the charming town of Kennebunk, enthusiasts take their lobster knowledge to a new level by lobstering with a local expert.

A private tour along the coast includes an education about the lobster fishing industry and its sustainable future, and the main event comes when first-timers try their hand at emptying lobster traps. Once back on dry land, participants meet with the resort’s chef and select the lobsters to cook, then move on to a lobster cooking class with the chef to earn their lunch.

THE MALDIVES

Soneva Fushi’s Shades of Green lets guests pick and choose which ingredients end up in their meal.
Soneva Fushi

Some of the Maldives’ most notable resorts tempt with fun, food-focused activities. In the South Malé atoll, COMO Cocoa Island gives  guests a try at the traditional local sunset pastime of reef bottom fishing for humpback snapper and grouper. Visitors can also hop aboard the resort’s sports fishing boat for game fishing adventures, with the guaranteed excitement of fighting bluefin trevally, snappers, and dogtooth tuna. After these activities, the fresh catch can be cooked by the resort’s chefs for lunch or dinner the next day.

Soneva Fushi, a luxury resort hidden among dense foliage within the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, provides a unique dining experience at its Shades of Green, a 20-seat plant-based restaurant located in the resort’s organic garden. To begin the experience, visitors are guided through the garden and encouraged to examine, pick, and taste the herbs, vegetables, and fruits grown on the land, ultimately choosing which ingredients should be used in their meal.

NEW ZEALAND

Minaret Station Alpine Lodge’s heli-fishing and seafood adventure is a must for any thrill-seeking epicurean visiting New Zealand’s rugged West Coast. After a scenic helicopter ride, the crew collects crayfish pots from the frigid waters using the helicopter while participants wait on the beach; the bounty is then prepared into a gourmet picnic lunch with a spectacular mountain backdrop.

One of the country’s most lauded luxury resorts, Kauri Cliffs, might be best known for its jaw-dropping ocean views and championship golf course, but it also impresses with foodie activities such as land-based fishing. Guests join a local guide at one of the property’s private beaches to test their skill at hooking snapper or kahawai; the fresh catch can be brought back to the lodge, where the chef will prepare it for dinner.

Hidden among 2,500 acres of native forest in Rotorua, Treetops Lodge & Estate offers a Maori food trail in which guests slip into the wilderness in search of native plants and herbs, while learning about the nutritional and medicinal properties, as well as ties with Maori cultural traditions. Participants sample what they find, fresh from the land, and harvest it for the chefs to use at the resort.

HAWAII 

Hawaii Island’s most acclaimed luxury resort, Four Seasons Resort Hualālai, offers a sustainable fishing experience exclusively to its guests. After a private, marine biologist-led tour of a state-of-the-art Kanpachi farm, participants board the resort’s Ribcraft boat to view the open-ocean pens and a fish feeding session. On the way back to the resort, adventurers work up an appetite by snorkeling with Hawaiian sea life, then finally settle in for a customized, five-course wine dinner in which the Kanpachi is prepared in various ways.

Over on Kauai, The Lodge at Kukui’ula, a Destination by Hyatt hotel, offers up the Mahealani, a 35-foot fishing boat used for expeditions in Kauai’s well-populated waters. Ahi, mahi, and marlin are the typical catches of the day for guests, many of whom are all too happy to offload their bounty to the resort’s culinary team, which then transforms the fish into a delicious feast. There’s also a kayak fishing adventure in which participants drop a line into the water and bring the fresh catch back to be prepped at the resort.

ATLANTIC CANADA

Clam digging in Prince Edward Island, Canada. Stephen Harris, Tourism PEI

Canada’s maritime provinces are the source of fresh, world-class seafood year round. Gourmands exploring the heart of Central Newfoundland are wise to visit Indian Falls Chalets, which offers salmon fly fishing and smoking workshops. Guests spend a day on the Indian River mastering the art of fly fishing for Atlantic salmon and brook trout, then take part in a smoking workshop in which they learn a time-perfected technique for how to prepare and smoke local salmon from start to finish.

In New Brunswick, Cielo Glamping Maritime invites active types to harvest their own oysters while on a stand-up paddleboard in the Bay of St. Simon. After harvesting and shucking, participants get to taste the difference between those harvested at water temperature, served on ice, and charbroiled to perfection.

Prince Edward Island’s Tranquility Cove Adventures delights bivalve lovers with its clam digging tours to the deserted island of Boughton. All the necessary gear is provided, letting first-timers safely dig in sand bars for giant clams. After enough clams are harvested, the party moves to the beach, where the clams are steamed in salt water. The experience also includes the chance to haul a lobster trap, crab pot, and mussel sock, plus a crash course on each fishery.

THAILAND

Halfway between the tourist magnets of Phuket and Krabi lies the less crowded island of Koh Yao Noi, home to the chic Cape Kudu Hotel. A must for any seafood lover, the hotel supports its local community through joining local fishermen to forage for shellfish, the types of which vary due to the tides and seasons. After taking a calming boat trip around the island, during which guests can scour the beaches for shellfish, their haul can then be taken back to the hotel for the culinary team to prepare a delicious meal.

Set along Phang Nga Bay, one of Thailand’s most spectacular seascapes, travelers will find the serene Six Senses Koh Yao Noi, a luxury wellness retreat offering various gourmet experiences. Participants take a classic long-tail boat to visit a local floating fish farm and select their own fresh catch for chefs to prepare back at the resort. Thai cooking classes feature an interactive tour through the resort’s organic vegetable garden.

CROATIA

Foodies have been flocking to Istria, the westernmost region of Croatia, to try their hand at truffle hunting. The specific scent that comes from truffles in damp soil, mostly in oak woods, is impossible for humans to discern, so trained dogs are used to assist the hunt. Karlić TartufiPietro & Pietro, and Prodan Tartufi, a trio of family-run businesses, share their traditions while letting visitors enjoy both the challenge of finding truffles in the wild, preparing said truffles, and sampling a range of truffle products and delicacies.