Along with visits to farmers markets that have ramped up for the season come dreams of fresh fare in foreign lands.
Now’s the time to plan where to be come fall when harvests are bountiful and airfares, especially in September and October, are more affordable. Plus, when eyeing Europe, it’s also the time that crowds thin out and the mood is more carefree.
, the pacesetter in luxury multisport and active vacations worldwide, has designed fall harvest itineraries in five European destinations: Spain, Italy, Croatia, Germany and France. Here are the highlights:
Spain: No one throws a culinary party like the Spaniards. From toasting with freshly bottled wine in La Mancha to savoring jamón ahumado on bread with a drizzle of Spanish olive oil, harvest means pressing grapes and also gathering chestnuts, mushrooms and bundles of crocus blossoms from some of the world’s largest saffron fields to deliver the spice that puts the pizzazz in paella.
Italy: Gourmands turn naturally to Italy for wafts of roasting chestnuts or hazelnut-infused chocolate truffles along with, in the mountains of the South Tyrol and the Dolomites, sightings of foragers on the alert for rare mushrooms and truffles. The next meal may well be a bottle of Valpolicella paired with tagliolini tossed with butter and shaved fresh white truffles, speck (seasoned, smoked prosciutto) and insalata di porcini freschi, topped off with a steaming apple strudel.
Croatia: Gastronomical surprises abound while biking, hiking and kayaking through this must-see destination. Flavors dazzle even the dullest of taste buds, especially when topped off with freshly harvested olive oils and truffles. Paški Sir (Pag cheese) risotto, Fuži (foo-shee--a hand-rolled pasta dish), Punjena Paprike (stuffed peppers) and Kulen (hot-peppered flavored sausage) can be washed down with the national wine, Prošek. The Dalmatian Coast is an adventurer’s paradise that in addition to biking mixes up a UNESCO World Heritage Site with hiking and beach time.
Germany: Come fall there’s more to Germany than Oktoberfest beer and bratwurst. While pedaling along the Romantic Road guests discover Germany’s robust wine region and such dishes as Swabian Maultaschen ravioli, rostbraten, zwiebelkuchen (there’s bacon in this one!), bubenspitzle and even asparagus. The humble potato achieves new acclaim.
France: Gastronomy here is a UNESCO “intangible cultural heritage” treasure that in the fall ranges from an abundance of figs to the perfect ratatouille that showcases seasonal vegetables. Guests are known while biking on roads flanked by vineyards to pluck a pear or apple or two. Roasted chestnuts, chanterelles mushrooms and truffles are in all the markets and on Michelin-starred menus. And because this is also hunting season, pheasant, quail, wild boar, hare and venison can be topped off with a tart tatin or poire poche and a glass of Calvados.