Over the last few years I have been able to travel to several wine regions. These trips have ranged from day trips to vineyards in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia to a trip with friends along the Mosel and finally on three wine and food tours to Tuscany, Piemonte, Spain and Portugal. These experiences have led me to some conclusions about how to travel. The first conclusion that I reached was that a long lunch is not a waste of time.
My previous travels were mostly on organized tours. These tours did give us the freedom to explore a city on our own. Generally I would go to multinational fast food establishments so that I would not take any time away from seeing all the sights that one is supposed to see. My attitude to lunch first changed when visiting friends who were based in Germany for four years.
Each day my friends would take us on a day trip to a different place. (Thanks Dan and Elizabeth) We went to big and small cities, small towns and quaint villages but everyday we would stop for a long lunch. It was Fall, so we usually ate on outside patios . It was here that I learned that people watching and savouring the atmosphere while sipping on a dry Riesling was more important as seeing every building of historical significance. When I look back on the trip sometimes the most memorable parts of a trip are based on the meals that were shared with friends.
When I took this trip I was just beginning to learn about wine. The Riesling on the right was likely paired with a tomato-based Cannelloni that I ate at an Italian restaurant in Monschau, a quintessential German village. I would likely rethink this pairing now.
Later, on the trip, I visited Paris and discovered that it was the same price for a glass of wine as my usual diet cola. It did not take long to discover the charm of enjoying a dry rosé on a warm Autumn afternoon.
More recently I have taken three wine tours with Halifax -based company By the Glass . When I first looked at the itinerary for my Tuscany trip. I was surprised at how much time was allotted for lunch. It did not take me long to realize that this was a wonderful way to savour and really get a feel for a place.
On my trips lunches have ranged from a rustic rabbit stew at a small family run restaurant in Tuscany to a six course meal at Fontanafreda in Piemonte. All of the meals were wonderful. They were great opportunities to get to know the other people on my trip.
There can also be some unexpected treasures along the way. Once, ten of us stopped for lunch at a pizzeria in a small town in Piemonte. The owners quickly went outside and brought in fresh mushrooms to prepare the pasta fungi.
Now whenever I travel, even if I am alone, I never look at lunch as time away from my sightseeing but as an integral part of the travel experience.