Foraging was a concept that I never gave a second thought to, until watching an episode of Top Chef when celebrity chefs CJ Jacobson and Stefan Richter competed in a dual to prepare a foraging-themed meal for actress Shailene Woodley–a self-professed food forager. Intriguing in theory, the thought of foraging doesn’t exactly scream gourmet. For me, it conjures up some less-than-pleasant images, like digesting worms and tree branches–sorry Bear Grylls!
Until now, the idea of searching for provisions for a meal meant hitting my local farmers market, Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s with a grocery list. But recently, some of the most luxurious hotels have begun offering luxury foraging experiences designed to bring out the inner foodie in the pickiest of eaters.
Here are three unique experiences to tempt your palate.
Gather and Garnish – The Farm @ The Carneros Inn, Napa
For a curated cocktail experience, head to the award-winning, Napa Valley restaurant located at The Carneros Inn. Here at The Farm, the lead bartender engages participants in an authentic farm to table mixology class.
After foraging the on-site gardens, produce trees and apple orchards for fresh, local ingredients, guests return to the bar to create a signature cocktail. Your mixology lesson comes complete with a recipe to take home, so you can practice your bartending skills long after the experience is over.
Truffle Hunting – The Palazzo Seneca in Norcia, Italy
Located in the heart of Umbria, a region known for its gastronomy, is a skillfully restored 16th Century Palace called The Palazzo Seneca. This stately, 24 room property in the town of Norcia, has been lovingly owned and cared for by The Bianconi Family since 1850. For those who love Black Truffle, there’s no better place to travel for an opportunity to forage for this precious tuber.
The Palazzo Seneca offers a two night gastronomy package that includes an afternoon in Monti Sibillini National Park with an experienced truffle hunter and his dog to dig up the “black gold” and a dinner with guided menu including truffles.
Forage to Fork Experience – The Capella Marigot Bay Resort and Marina, Saint Lucia
The Capella Marigot Bay Resort has created a foodie experience designed to immerse its guests in the rich culture of Saint Lucia. Spend an afternoon with a local Rastafarian farmer on his third-generation estate, where he will teach you traditional methods of cooking and baking…such as the famous “roast bake” bread of Saint Lucia. After harvesting fruits and vegetables from his farm, learn how to prepare your own coffee and cook your hand-picked vegetables in a clay pot to enjoy for a delicious lunch.
Later, the farmer will share his knowledge of the indigenous trees, herbs and fruits of the island as you savor your chosen fruits, served in a calabash.