The stories of our favorite travels often come down to the food.

Remember that gooey sun-warmed cheese in Normandy? Who ever imagined a regal Moroccan feast in a palace? The taste of a place can be as simple as a juicy just-picked peach or truffle-topped risotto paired with a friend’s homegrown red. The truth is, our taste buds seemed to be connected directly to our deepest memories. Here are just a few of the meals – from the extravagant to the spontaneous – that you will rave about too when you join us on a Classic Journey.

Just click any headline for more details. And if you’d like to dedicate your entire vacation to food, look into our Culinary ToursTaste of TuscanyAmalfi Al Buon Gusto, and Bon Appetit Provence.

1. Provence: Dining With The Stars

Our friend Chef Alain just happens to have earned two of those world-famous Michelin stars, so you know the meal will be memorable. What you don’t suspect is the warm way he welcomes you into his own kitchen in Monteux. You tie on an apron and help. Swimming in blossoming cloud of Provençal aromas – garlic, rosemary, tomatoes – you can’t believe it’s you elbow to elbow with him. And then you sit down to the meal. On any day it would taste like a miracle of cuisine, but having witnessed the alchemy that went into its creation, this dinner is like no other.

2. Chile: Gaucho Barbecue

If mountain air ignites your appetite, just imagine what the Andes will do for you. On a remote estancia, you spend a Patagonian afternoon with the working gauchos. Always just at the edge of your senses, there’s the hint of lamb roasting over an open barbecue. And then comes the culinary climax – succulent meat charred just-so, perfect vegetables grown in the rancho’s garden, and a dazzling backdrop as the sunset tints the snow-capped peaks of Torres del Paine.

3. Amalfi: Clifftop Pizza

You could argue that it’s a pizza like any other. Though you just kneaded the dough yourself. The local fior de latte cheese makes normal mozzarella pale by comparison. And that wood-fired oven? It just happens to be in a private home…that just happens to sit at the edge of cliff overlooking the stupendous Amalfi coast. Fair warning: this pizza may just make every pizza for the rest of your life pale by comparison.

Woman hugs chef in Amalfi making pizza

4. Peru: The Height of Haute Cuisine

Tagliolini tinted with squid ink and sautéed with prawns, with a salsa of coconut milk, ginger and lemongrass. A tartare of fresh red trout on sesame biscuits, with a touch of wasabi mayo and caviar. Get the picture? Peru is about much more than the soaring ruins of Machu Picchu. The food scene is insanely creative, thanks to great local ingredients from ancient grains to seafood that’s fin-flipping fresh. This may be the birthplace of potatoes and corn, but the cuisine is contemporary beyond all expectations.

5. San Juan Islands: Just Desserts, Please

Three words that are as good as any entire meal on earth: Homemade Blackberry Pie. In season up here in the islands a ferry ride from Seattle, we’d gladly skip the rest of the meal. The berries have triple the flavor of any from the plastic containers in your supermarket. Sweetened just enough, stuffed inside a flaky crust, and warm from the oven with some fresh-churned vanilla dripping into the crevices, this is the kind of eating that can make a grown up laugh, cry and lick her fingers…all at the same time.

6. Morocco: Maison Bleue in Fez

If you have a fantasy about Moroccan decadence this is it. You’re in the interior of a palace, where quiet fountains dance and silken pillows are strewn on tableside sofas. Then comes a parade of dishes based on centuries-old family recipes. Pastilla, an elaborate meat pie with almonds and cinnamon. A steaming tajine of veal or lamb. Delicate desserts flavored with orange flower and honey. It’s quite simply a repast that cannot be found anywhere else in Morocco…or the world.

7. Normandy: Farmyard Iocnic

A trestle table sits in the shade beside a centuries-old farmhouse, it’s old red-and-white checked cloth waving in the breeze. Out from the kitchen, the farmer carries a parade of marvelous local cheeses: buttery camembert, a brick of Pont l’Eveque made here since the 12th century, a pungent wheel of Livarot. The bread is fresh from the oven, the salad comes from the farm’s garden, the local cider is just alcoholic enough for a lazy midday buzz. Dessert is teurgoule, the local rice pudding traditionally baked in bread ovens. Mon dieu, what a meal.

Street in an old village in Normandy

8. Shanghai: A Banquet To End All Banquets

What will be on the menu when you sit down to a traditional Shanghai banquet? The season and chef will decide. Maybe lion head meatballs (named for their green manes of cabbage), drunken chicken, a dozen varieties of steamed and fried dumplings, hairy crab, squirrel-shaped Mandarin fish, green-onion pancakes, and on and on and on. As much as the food itself, the meal is spectacle with a near-endless parade of colorful, sculpted beautifully plated dishes. It’s an exotic, extended look inside local culture…all in a single sitting!

9. Alaska: Fresh Salmon and Wild Blueberries

At home, most of us eat “fresh” salmon that’s been frozen. In Alaska, not so much! Sit down to picnic on the shores of a lake at the foot of a glacier, and the salmon that’s grilling on the open fire is only a couple of miles from the water where it swam. Scoop up some local picnic salads and save room for something blueberry – a berry-studded cake or maybe just a handful of blue flavor bombshells, nature’s perfect follow-up to the finest fish you’ve ever eaten.

10. Croatia: Peljesac Vineyard Lunch

The Peljesac Peninsula is Croatia’s answer to the Napa Valley. But it’s so much more beautiful, jutting as it does into the sapphire Adriatic. A vineyard lunch in this setting is way more than a tasting with food. The father-and-son team who run the family vineyard uncork a few bottles, and out from the kitchen come local cheeses, meats, olive and fruits. Everything was raised, harvested, or crafted in the same microclimate so the match is perfect. It’s not a fancy meal, but the blend of family hospitality and pure good flavors transform it into a sensory event you won’t forget.

From breakfast through dinner (and all snacks in between), every Classic Journey will introduce you to local food specialties in settings from picnics to candlelit gourmet dinners. Browse all of our destinations now.