Gifts for foodies: ice cream treats to trips of a lifetime

Savory Spoon photo.

People who travel will eat, and that makes every meal away from home an opportunity to create a beautiful memory.

“Sharing the food and drink of another culture is one of the best ways to get to know that culture,” says Erik Wolf, president of the International Culinary Tourism Association. “Another culture” can mean another country, state or city.

A survey by the culinary tourism group concludes that gourmet enthusiasts account for a mere 8.1 percent of all foodies, who also favor farm visits, farmers markets, wineries and breweries, cooking schools, specialty food businesses and more.

If you are shopping this month for someone who loves food and travel, consider these ideas.

A culinary tour: Take a far-away trip with a close-to-home hostess. This is small-group travel at its best, emphasizing cuisine but also including tourist sites. Before making a commitment, sure to notice what trip prices don’t cover.

Janice Thomas of Savory Spoon Cooking School, Ellison Bay, leads a group to China from March 13-25. Highlights include time at the Culinary Institute of Yunnan, a food/herb discussion with a Chinese medicine professor, lessons on the versatility of tofu, and cooking with chef Yang Dong of The Linden Centre (owners Brian and Jeanee Linden also operate Linden Gallery in Ellison Bay). Trip cost is $4,995., 920-854-6600

Cathy Fleming of Viaggi di Gusto (“Tours with Taste”), McFarland, specializes in travel to Italy, and 2013 options include the Amalfi Coast and Puglia on Sept. 10-21; details and prices are under study. Other tours are to Umbria and Calendimaggio, April 30 to May 10; Tuscany, Rome and the Ligurian coast, May 11-23 (plus Umbria, Sept. 26 to Oct. 10); and Sardegna, Nov. 1-11. Prices begin at $3,595., 608-217-7455

Joan Peterson of Madison, author-publisher of Eat Smart Culinary Travel Guides, heads to Norway on July 17-27. Cruise fjords and ride railways up mountains while getting acquainted with regional cuisine, local cheeses, beer and more. Chef talks and cooking demos are built into the itinerary. The cost is roughly $4,500 to $5,600, depending upon the number of travelers. Joan also leads culinary tours to other countries., 608-233-5488

An overnight splurge: High-end lodging rates tend to plummet at this time of year. Subscribe to for last-minute deals with deep discounts, which recently included rates as low as $79 at the trendy Aloft hotels in Green Bay and Milwaukee.

Rates of $129 at the Omni Chicago Hotel and Fairmont Chicago, through Travel Zoo, extend into March. For Chicago’s Westin Michigan Avenue, a stay starts at as little as $99, through Feb. 10. Add a truly adventurous meal: a 10-course tasting dinner (on a Tuesday through Thursday) is $99 at the Michelin-rated iNG Restaurant, 951 W. Fulton Market., 855-834-6464

Too intense? Head to for big savings on more conventional dining options in any major city. Just type in a Zip Code to find the choices.

A class: Use a day of cooking as the springboard for an overnight getaway. One option is a “Chef for a Day” class at The Dining Room at 209 Main, Monticello. The setting: fine dining in a small town in Green County. Pay $225 to be one of four students to prepare a six-course meal with chef Wave Kasprzak; the day ends with a dinner party to which each participant invites one guest. Matching wines are included.

Too expensive? Shorter classes are offered, too, January to March. Add a visit to Swiss-made New Glarus, just six miles north., 608-938-2200

A book: The new “Food Lover’s Guide to the World: Experience the Great Global Cuisines” (Lonely Planet, $40) includes contributions from some of the nation’s best-known food writers. Appetizing photography, exotic destinations and 50 recipes make this hardcover a good fit for both avid and armchair travelers. We’re talking barbecue in Kansas City to pelmeni (dumplings) in Russia and bibimbap (a zippy rice-veggie mix) in Korea. What makes the cut from Wisconsin? One paragraph about artisan cheeses.

Closer to home is the “2013 Wisconsin Local Foods Journal” (Ginkgo Press, $18), which I mentioned a few months ago. The combination calendar-cookbook-travel guide features recipes from Wisconsin chefs who favor the use of locally produced ingredients. Proceeds go to REAP Food Group, a nonprofit in Madison that promotes food grown locally and sustainably., 608-310-7836

A treat: Karen Kelley at Kelley Country Creamery, near Fond du Lac, introduces holiday ice cream flavors this season. They include Heidi’s Holiday Mint, Peppermint Bark, Christmas Pudding (think fruitcake), Egg Nog, Caramel Pretzel Cluster, Hot Chocolate and Sugar Gem (with mini cookies and sprinkles).

This farmstead ice cream queen also makes a mini ice cream pie decorated like Rudolph. Check on her stock before making the trip. Closed in January and February., 920-923-1715

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