Bucket-list builder: great foodie destinations
PUBLISHED: 09:08 24 April 2020 | UPDATED: 09:32 01 May 2020
Build your own bucket list - including a great gastronomic destination.
We’re at the point now where most of us are probably dreaming of a different diet to whatever store-cupboard staples are carrying us through the lockdown. When this is over, many people will sieze the opportunity to make those once-in-a-lifetime trips to places we’ve been dreaming of – and why not head off in search of culinary delight? The hardest part is deciding where to go...
We’ve been building a bucket list of British and European foodie destinations – the kind of places that make for a nice weekend break, with the added bonus of putting great food at your fingertips (or fork tips, anyway). From the comfortingly familiar to the refreshingly foreign, there are so many options – but here are our favourites, for starters.
Plenty of lovely foodie locations along the East Anglian coast – with Holt and Cromer in Norfolk, or Southwold and Aldeburgh in Suffolk making strong cases for themselves. However, we’d head to sleepy Orford, which is home – slightly confusingly – to the annual Aldeburgh Food Festival, as well as the highly regarded Butley Orford Oysterage. There’s plenty more to see (and eat) in the area – plus with those other foodie towns so close by, you could have a weekend your waistline will never forget...
How to get there: Orford is 10-12 miles from the A12, north of Ipswich. There’s no train, but the 71 bus from Woodbridge will get you there. More information.
France is famously full of good food and much of it is regional – from the rich red-wine stews of Burgundy to the fresh Mediterranean dishes of Provence. Every area has its own cheese or speciality dish, so you’ll always find something to delight your taste-buds, whether that’s tartiflette in the Savoy Alps or galettes by the Brittany shore. Regional centres like Grenoble, Toulouse, Dijon and Reims are all brilliant at showcasing local food, but small-town France can be even better: Honfleur in Normandy is perfect for seafood; or to celebrate the snail, head to Digoin in the Saone. But if we had to pick just one town for food, we’d go to Perigueux, in the Dordogne, capital of the Perigord region and home of the truffle.
How to get there: Perigueux is a full day’s drive from Calais or – more easily – from Caen, after an overnight ferry. It’s a short hop in a hire car from the airports in Bordeaux or Brive. More information.
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Italy is so full of great food, it can hard to know where to start – though the standard recommendations is Florence. True, it’s a beautiful city and is full of good food, but other Italians often dismiss the people of Tuscany as mangiafagioli, which means “bean eaters”. For a richer regional food experience, we’d take their cue and head to the neighbouring province of Emilia Romagna. This is where you’ll find Parma – home of the ham and Parmesan cheese – and Bologna, source of Bolgnaise sauce, lasange and a host of other rich, meaty dishes. Packed with culture as well as great restaurants and markets, a weekend in Bologna is an unforgettable foodie treat.
How to get there: There are direct flights to Bologna from some regional and all main UK airports. The city has good public transport and plenty of taxis so you won’t even need a hire car. More information.
Billing itself as Britain’s capital of rural food, this tiny town on the border of Leicestershire and Rutland is home to stilton cheese as well as the eponymous Melton Mowbray pork pie (and honestly, the real deal is in a different league to anything that comes in a Cellophane packet). Surrounded by picturesque countryside, with a proper market in the town square, it’s a fabulous destination for a short break with lots to see and eat in the local area.
How to get there: Melton Mowbray isn’t on any major roads, but it’s within half an hour of the A1 and 40 minutes of the M1 at Leicester. More information.
Spanish food has gradually become recognised one of the world’s great cuisines and, at the top end, there are Michelin-star restaurants all across the country. But you don’t need to spend a fortune to have a fantastic food experience in Spain – from San Sebastian in the Basque Country to Almeria on the Mediterranean coast, there is amazing food and wine to discover everywhere. We’d head to Logrono, capital of the La Rioja region – famous for its red wine and also for its food. Enjoy a tasting at one of the nearby vineyards during the day (don’t drive yourself) and in the evening head out to Calle del Laurel to taste the tapas in its host of fantastic, friendly restaurants.
How to get there: Ferries run from the UK to Bilbao and Santander, a half-day drive away on Spain’s north coast, or it’s a half-day in a hire car from Pamplona or Madrid airports. More information.
This traditional North Yorkshire market town is increasingly hip and trendy, not only filled with cool eateries and craft-type bakers, butchers and brewers but also boasting a cookery school, gin distillery, monthly artisan food market and its own annual food-lovers festival. Small wonder Malton describes itself as Yorkshire’s food capital. There’s lots to do in the surrounding countryside – from visiting Castle Howard to walking on the North York Moors - but the real attraction is a leisurely lunch and a stroll through town. Time your visit for when the food market is on (or the festival) and you’re in for a treat.
How to get there: Malton isn’t directly on any motorway, but on the A64 that runs from York to Scarborough. A more pleasant drive is crossing the Humber Bridge and taking the B1248 across the Wolds. More information.
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