Travel

Land of plenty: top 10 UK foodie breaks


Foraging and wild pizza, Dorset

If you’re looking for a sustainable, eco-friendly foodie gift, this coastal foraging experience with Fore Adventure will hit the spot. Set against the beautiful backdrop of Studland Bay, the half-day course begins with exploring the beach for seaweeds, sea vegetables, cockles and crabs, before using the ingredients to create a “wild pizza” cooked in a woodfaired oven. Stay just a stone’s throw away at the Pig on the Beach, a gorgeous yellow-stone country house with wonderful beach views and chic, chintz-free bedrooms (doubles from £215, thepighotel.com). Half-day foraging and wild pizza-making course, £50pp, foreadventure.co.uk

Wine tasting tour, Kent

‘A range of tour-and-taste experiences’: Gusbourne, Kent.
‘A range of tour-and-taste experiences’: Gusbourne, Kent

English sparkling wine is becoming a serious challenger to French champagne, and Gusbourne produces world-class white and rosé bubbles, alongside pinot noir and chardonnay. The estate offers a range of tour-and-taste experiences; for the ultimate Christmas treat splash out on the estate tour, which includes welcome drinks, an extended vineyard tour and the chance to taste some rare-release and limited-edition wines, before an indulgent three-course lunch. Stay at the Woolpack, a delightful 16th-century inn in the picturesque village of Warehorne (doubles from £120, woolpackwarehorne.co.uk). Estate tour, £95pp, gusbourne.com

Blend your own gin, Cambridge

‘The chance to taste, blend or simply learn about gin’: the Cambridge Distillery.
‘The chance to taste, blend or simply learn about gin’: the Cambridge Distillery

Gin has become something of a national obsession in recent years, and the Gin Laboratory at the Cambridge Distillery offers the chance to taste, blend or simply learn about gin. The hour-long Make It class explores distillates and botanicals, enabling visitors to blend their own gin, while Mix It is an exploration of the best gin cocktails (mixology boffins should book the two-hour Molecular Class). Close by, the Varsity Hotel makes a stylish base, and the rooftop bar and restaurant, Six, offers more than 30 gins (double rooms from £178, thevarsityhotels.co.uk).

Courses £30pp, cambridgedistillery.co.uk

Learn baking skills, Abergavenny

‘There’s no better place to come to polish up your baking skills’: the Abergavenny Baker.
‘There’s no better place to come to polish up your baking skills’: the Abergavenny Baker

Famous for its annual food festival and surrounded by specialist producers, Abergavenny is a gastronomist’s dream. The Abergavenny Baker offers courses in everything from Italian and Nordic breads to Christmas and coeliac-friendly loaves, with gift vouchers available if you’re not sure what course to choose. The Angel in Abergavenny (doubles from £175; angelabergavenny.com) is famous for its gargantuan afternoon tea and lies just across the road from the Angel Bakery, home to the best breads and cakes in town. A day’s baking course, £160, abergavennybaker.co.uk

Pork pies, piccalilli, Derbyshire

‘Make the perfect pork pie’: Hartington’s of Bakewell.
‘Make the perfect pork pie’: Hartington’s of Bakewell. Photograph: Alamy

Fans of traditional British foods will love this four-hour course at Hartington’s of Bakewell, focusing on making the perfect pork pie, from hot-water-crust pastry to herbs and flavourings. After a ploughman’s lunch, the second half focuses on making traditional piccalilli. The course takes place in a converted mill just outside Bakewell, which has its own world-famous treat, the bakewell pudding (never a tart!) Pop into the Bakewell Pudding Shop (bakewellpuddingshop.co.uk) and stay at the H Boutique Hotel (doubles from £140, thehboutiquehotel.com). Classes from £145pp, hartingtons.com

Seafood Safari, Ullapool

‘There’s no better place for seafood’: the west coast of Scotland.
‘There’s no better place for seafood’: the west coast of Scotland

There’s no better place for seafood than the west coast of Scotland, and this day-long safari includes a visit to an oyster farm, lunch at a seafood shack and a tour of Ullapool’s smokehouses, as well as time on a fishing boat and dinner at the Salt Kitchen, with glorious views across to the Summer Isles. Make a weekend of it with a stay at the Ceilidh Place – a unique mix of art gallery, bookshop, hotel and bunkhouse, with a winter weekend offer of two-night breaks for £300 per room with dinner and breakfast (theceilidhplace.com).

Ultimate seafood safari, £249pp, mountaintoursscotland.com

Cheese-making day, London

‘How to make a perfect cheese’: Wildes.
‘How to make a perfect cheese’: Wildes

Wildes offers a range of half- and full-day courses, giving an insight into the ingredients and techniques needed to produce showing how to make a perfect cheese. The popular Morning in the Dairy course goes through every step of making cheese, from adding the cultures and rennet to breaking the curds and whey., and the price includes a 300g cheese to mature at home. Stay in hip Stoke Newington, a short hop from the Tottenham Dairy, in the buzzy Rose and Crown pub (doubles from £144, roseandcrownn16.co.uk). Morning in the Dairy, £45pp, wildescheese.co.uk

Fish and cook, East Sussex

‘Stay with the fishy theme…’ Brighton.
‘Stay with the fishy theme…’ Brighton. Photograph: Xavier D Buendia/XDB Photography

Plan a jaunt to the seaside with a weekend built around a fishing and cooking trip on the English Channel. Brighton Lure Boat fishing trips are suitable for everyone from complete beginners to experienced fishermen, with the chance to catch mackerel, bass, plaice or cod, and cook it at a local restaurant. Stay with the fishy theme with dinner at Riddle and Finns (riddleandfinns.co.uk), one of Brighton’s best seafood restaurants, and a night at the Malmaison in the marina, perfect for blustery walks by the water (doubles from £89, malmaison.com).

Silver Bass package, £230 for up to four, brightonlureboat.co.uk

Chocolate masterclass, York

‘Three-hour chocolate masterclass’: York.
‘Three-hour chocolate masterclass’: York. Photograph: Holly Davies

York has been the UK’s chocolate-making capital for over a century, and a weekend in the city – dipping into chocolateries and tasting or creating chocolatey treats is a great gift for fans of the cocoa bean. York’s Cocoa House is the place to start, with three-hour chocolate masterclass, covering everything from tempering chocolate to making ganache, caramels and fondant. Afterwards, dip into Monk Bar Chocolatier (monkbar.com), which offers 60 different varieties of handmade chocolates, and stay at the Lamb and Lion, a charming pub with 12 sleek rooms, some with views of the Minster (doubles from £109, lambandlionyork.com). Chocolate Masterclass £55pp, yorkcocoahouse.co.uk

Smoking and curing, Bath

‘Learn how to hot- and cold-smoke meat and fish’: Bath.
‘Learn how to hot- and cold-smoke meat and fish’: Bath

For some foodies, the ideal gift is a new technique rather than recipes, and this day-long course at the Vale House Kitchen is just one of a range including foraging, butchery, game and fishing courses. Learn how to hot- and cold-smoke meat and fish, curing and brining, and how to produce pancetta, braesola and chorizo. Keep to the country feel with a stay at the charming Carpenters Arms in nearby Stanton Wick, renowned for its locally sourced food (doubles from £130, the-carpenters-arms.co.uk).

Smoking and Curing Masterclass, 13 February, £195, valehousekitchen.co.uk



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