The food served to passengers on transport has altered hugely over the past forty years. In the seventies it was not uncommon to be presented with a carvery at 30,000 feet!
More recently plane food has come under examination, as airlines attempt the difficult task of balancing travellers’ increasingly discerning tastes with the challenges of cooking in the skies. Top-end airlines have therefore roped in the expertise of acclaimed chefs: Luke Mangan on Virgin Atlantic, Carlo Cracco on Singapore Airlines, Zubir Zain on Malaysia Airlines, Joel Robuchon on Air France, and of course Heston Blumenthal on British Airways, who (alongside Gordon Ramsey) has also opened a restaurant at Heathrow Airport.
No longer do luxury hotels and resorts try to recreate British cuisine for their guests; now conscious that what travellers are looking for is to experience the culture of the place they’re visiting, including its food. Aware of this, resorts such as Ladera in St Lucia have made a commitment to offering the best in local cuisine. Ladera’s General Manager, Olivier Bottois, said: “Our guests enjoy our authentic St Lucian experience when they come to Ladera. Throughout their stay food plays a very important part. Visitors to St Lucia want to experience local cuisine and this helps our economy; using local ingredients means our local chefs take pride and pleasure showcasing their local cuisine”.
As our tastes have developed so too have our expectations of culinary experiences. Diners looking for such can sit and watch the fish at Dubai’s Burj Al Arab, where signature restaurant Al Mahara has a floor-to-ceiling aquarium. Or how about dining in the Uffizi Gallery surrounded by works by masters such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo? This can be arranged when staying at Florence’s Hotel Savoy, part of the Rocco Forte Collection.
Or at Cobblers Cove in Barbados you can join the resident fisherman to bring in the day’s catch before lunch, alongside insightful cooking demonstrations from award-winning Executive Chef Michael Harrison.
As well as taking to the skies, celebrity chefs now also take to the seas in a bid to enthuse foodies on board cruise ships. Todd English works on board Cunard, Charlie Palmer has created menus for Seabourn, and Nobuyuki ‘Nobu’ Matsuhisa is a regular on Crystal Cruises. Silversea has specialist voyages where epicureans can enjoy ‘Food and Wine Cruises’: such as the Culinary Art Voyage, Wine Series Voyages and L’Ecole des Chefs by Relais & Châteaux – the luxury hotel chain considered to be one of the foremost authorities for food and dining worldwide. These voyages include tastings, demonstrations and even shopping trips to traditional markets at port.
Of course our palates for drink have changed over the years too, and combining our travels with local tipples is now part and parcel of a fantastic holiday; from regionally grown coffee to freshly picked fruit juices, or sampling a cocktail or two made famous in that location! If you’re staying at Raffles in Singapore then heading to the Long Bar for a Singapore Sling is a must. The Bloody Mary is said to have been created in the King Cole Bar at The St. Regis New York, and the Daiquiri was invented on the fascinating island of Cuba, along with the refreshing Mojito. Harold from Harold’s Bar at The Sandpiper in Barbados welcomes new guests with a Planters Punch - made with two shots of local dark rum, lime, pineapple and orange juice.
In 2014 we’re much more aware of where our food is sourced than we were in 1974. This has seen many professional chefs set up their own organic vegetable garden to ensure they know exactly how the food they’re feeding their customers is produced.
For those who want to see the ‘ground to plate’ experience first hand, visit the Hotel Boucan in St Lucia, home to the island’s oldest plantation, the Rabot Estate. Inspired by the rare cocoa growing there, the restaurant’s exclusive menu uses the ingredient in a natural and healthy way. As it’s also the producer for Hotel Chocolat you can see the origins of this luxury brand before it makes its way to the UK.
Since 1974 the huge increase in travel has made the world a much more diverse place. In 2014 you can dine in an Italian restaurant, owned by a British celebrity chef, in a region which, for all intents and purposes, didn’t exist in the seventies; in the form of Jamie’s Italian at Jumeirah Beach Hotel! A partnership between Jamie Oliver and Gennaro Contaldo this family-friendly restaurant has pasta on the menu, made fresh on site every day, in Dubai!
The most recent addition to Jumeirah Beach Hotel’s restaurants adds another international offering to the already diverse selection of cuisine, which includes Japanese, Polynesian, an Argentinean grill, a British gastropub and Latin American.
A whole new world
One element of dining while travelling is certain not to have changed over the past 40 years and that’s enjoying a drop of wine. However, since 1974 the regions where vineyards are producing top quality tipples has expanded - ‘new world’ wines are now common from places like New Zealand and South Africa. Some of the finest vineyards in the world are now found in these locales, making for a fantastic travel experience combined with vineyard tours and wine tasting. Take for example La Residence in South Africa’s notable Winelands region, which has the vineyards and mountains of the Franschhoek Valley as its stunning backdrop.
The role of food-related television shows have had a huge impact on British love of cuisine, with an increasing number looking to enhance their holidays with cooking classes. If you’ve been inspired by Rick Stein’s adventures in Sri Lanka take a look at the Amangalla, one of the island’s best resorts, sitting proudly within the ramparts of 17th-century Galle Fort. Here you can visit the countryside, with its coconut palms and rice paddies, to learn how to cook curries, Sri Lankan-style. Following a morning of shopping with an expert from the hotel, guests head to the village of Yatagala to be instructed in dishes such as beetroot dry curry.
Healthy eating is no longer reserved for the kitchen at home, but now on the menu at some of the world’s most prestigious restaurants too. At The Residence Tunis in Tunisia you can experience the Dukan Diet plan, or take part in the hotel’s programme of weight management. The Constance Le Prince Maurice in Mauritius has a programme using the very popular Fast Diet, or 5:2 diet; having worked with creator Mimi Spencer to put together calorie controlled meals prepared by chefs, sessions with the resort’s personal trainers and detoxifying treatments in the spa. Or for a travelling celiac, the Kempinski Hotel Soma Bay in Egypt has an extensive menu to cater specifically for a gluten free diet.
For details on prices please call one of our Travel Specialists on 01244 355 490.