Ultra-luxe cruise line, Crystal Cruises, is celebrating culinary prowess in Europe this year, with more than 60 shore excursions that offer an ultra-local taste of the rich culinary regions in which Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony are sailing. Hands-on cooking classes, multi-course meals, comestible history lessons, food sourcing, and sampling will be hosted in traditional homes, farms, chateaus, Michelin-starred restaurants and markets. From spring through fall, Crystal offers 65 five- to 15-day European cruise itineraries visiting Spain, Italy, France, Malta, Greece, the UK, Sweden, Norway, Russian, Estonia, Romania, and Morocco.
“Today, there are more and more Crystal ‘foodies,’ who relish connecting with the culinary nuances and culture of a region in a very authentic, memorable and intimate way,” says John Stoll, v.p. of port and land operations.
Ports offering edible excursions include:
• Valetta: Shop at a local open-air market with a Maltese culinary ambassador, then join her at home for a group cooking and dinner party.
• Agadir: Create regional family recipes with Berber chefs, among olive groves.
• Malaga: Glean signature Andalusian dish secrets from the chef/owner of Andalusia’s only two-star Michelin restaurant.
• Sicily: Study Sicilian cuisine such as arancine di riso (rice and tomato croquettes) and pennette alla eoliana (pasta with capers, olives, and tomatoes) with mandarin plantation owners.
• Constanta: Cook sarmale cu mamaliguta, a Romanian dish of minced pork, spices, pickled cabbage, and corn flour, at a local restaurant.
• Casablanca: Prepare traditional lamb with plums and honey while sipping orange juice in orange flower water.
• Barcelona: Learn Catalan recipes, from paella to Crema Catalana, in the Gothic Quarter.
• Corfu: See how bread is baked in a traditional garden wood-fire stove, in a private home in one of the island’s most traditional old villages.
• Mykonos: Go on a tasting tour of local bakeries, with mouth-watering morsels including amygdalota almond pastry and koulouri sesame buns.
• Sorrento: From a typical farm house to Michelin-starred restaurants, learn from the best local chefs, including the nuances of different mozzarella cheeses, and their application on pizza.
• Bordeaux/Bassens: Sample wild nettle pie, dandelion flower jelly, and multi-course gourmet dinners in a wide range of excursions with topics ranging from the Slow Food movement to chateau visits.
• Bilbao: Indulge in Basque Country cheese, one of the world’s finest, in the land of Laxta sheep, or explore three types of pinchos, a typical bread-based appetizer of the region.
• Akureyri: Nibble Icelandic carpaccio, ice cream, and smoke hut lamb during a local farm crawl.
• Tallinn: Assist a master confectioner in creating Estonian chocolates and truffle fillings.
• Honningsvåg: Eat king crab you just pulled fresh from the North Cape waters.
• Stockholm: Follow a modern-day Viking guide through medieval Old Town for Smorgasbord treats.
• Hellesylt/Geiranger: Taste homemade goat caramel from a 300-year-old goat farm on a fjord.
• Bergen: Learn how to prepare local fish like Atlantic salmon and cod at the Norwegian Seafood Center.
Prices for the culinary excursion series start at $62 per person. All-inclusive cruise fares start at $1,895 per person, with additional savings if booked by April 30.
For more information, call (800) 446-6625 or visit crystalcruises.com.