STREET FOOD: URBAN ADVENTURES TASTES AND TRADITIONS OF PENANG, GEORGE TOWN, PENANG
Malaysians love their street food and local cafes and nowhere is this more on display than in the alleyways, markets and bustling corners of Penang's atmospheric George Town. Urban Adventures do a terrific half-day tour, hosted by a true local foodie, that takes you to the authentic cafes, carts and canteens: where families breakfast, Muslim workers lunch and busy young bright things stop for a quick pick-me-up on the go. Samples – and by samples, they mean whole dishes – are included along the trail of more than a dozen stops. So arrive hungry. It takes three hours and starts at 9.30am. See urbanadventures.com
COFFEE: COFFEEHOUSE TOUR, CITY OF LONDON, UK
It is hard to imagine a time before coffee was the daily kickstarter of choice, but we know exactly when and where the world changed: London, 1652. That is when the city's first coffee house opened, launching not just a global coffee craze, but also leading to the development of the stock exchange and the insurance industry. How are they all linked? Find out on the fascinating Coffeehouse Tour. Although tours run only intermittently (see the website), the phone app lets you take a self-guided tour that offers quirky insights to fans of social history, architecture and – of course – coffee.
Roxburgh Gorge Cycle and Walking Track, Central Otago, South Island, New Zealand.
WINE: PEDAL TO PINOT, QUEENSTOWN, NEW ZEALAND
Bikes and wine? Sounds like an ill-advised combination but this is Queenstown, where people spend their days swinging through canyons and leaping off bridges. When you're ready to take things down a notch, sign up for Around the Basin's self-guided winery cycle tour. Starting in the historic mining town of Arrowtown, the ride skirts the scenic Arrow and Kawarau Rivers before entering the picturesque Gibbston Valley. Here you'll find a collection of boutique wineries where you can sample some of Central Otago's finest pinot noirs and feast on a delicious range of local produce. See aroundthebasin.co.nz
PRODUCE: TASTE OF GROS MORNE, NEWFOUNDLAND, CANADA
Canada's most easterly, and most decidedly un-Canadian, island province of Newfoundland might not spring to mind when you think food. But it should, mostly thanks to its thriving fishing and wild game cultures. Taste of Gros Morne will take the uninitiated for a spin around the best eateries (many of them surprisingly upscale) surrounding western Newfoundland's national park. "Newfy" delicacies are sampled, including deep-fried freshly caught cod tongue and moose jerky, lobster dumplings and fresh oysters, cheesecake with handpicked local cloudberries and, perhaps most importantly, fantastic local craft brews and Newfoundland's infamous blow-your-head-off Screech rum. See tasteofgrosmorne.com
SPIRITS: LA DESTILERIA CANCUN, MEXICO
Most people associate tequila with shots and hangovers, but the spirit is much more nuanced than that. In addition to tequila blanco (un-aged white tequila), most tequila houses also produce aged tequilas by maturing them in oak barrels. At La Destileria restaurant in Cancun, they have an informative tour which explains how the spirit is made followed by a tasting of three varietals, including a silky smooth extra aged costing $US400 a bottle. A post-tour dinner on the terrace features authentic Mexican fare accompanied by a traditional mariachi band. See ladestileria.com.mx
NEIGHBOURHOOD: EAST END, LONDON, UK
When hip South Place Hotel had the sense to team up with boutique tour company Walk Eat, Talk Eat it created a delightful food experience that provides guests with the chance to immerse themselves in the colourful East End, a newly trendy part of the city with a rich immigrant history and multi-ethnic cuisines. Sample doughnuts and bagels, posh sausage rolls, local beer and Bangladeshi barfi sweets in the market-filled, graffiti-scribbled streets of Spitalfields and Shoreditch. South Place Hotel is quite the food destination too: its Angler Restaurant dishes up Michelin-starred seafood. See visitbritain.com, southplacehotel.com
Parmesan cheese storage cellar in the Parma region Italy. Photo: Regione Emilia-Romagna
PRODUCE: PARMESAN FACTORY, PARMA, ITALY
Parma gives its name to parmesan, with several factories around town highlighting the manufacture of the real deal, Parmigiano Reggiano, in which the milk must be produced no further than 25 kilometres from the cheesemaker. You'll see the milk being treated in giant copper cauldrons, then brine baths and plastic moulds, then stacked to age for a minimum 12 months in golden rounds in the cellars. A tasting shows how the cheese changes its colour, textile and taste as it ages: 36-month Parmigiano Reggiano dipped in balsamic vinegar is alone worth jetlag. See emiliaromagnaturismo.it, parmigianoreggiano.com
CONTRIBUTORS: Andrew Bain, Elspeth Callender, Ben Groundwater, Julietta Jameson, Brian Johnston, Ute Junker, Nina Karnikowski, Katrina Lobley, Rob McFarland, Craig Tansley, Larissa Dubecki, Belinda Jackson, Keith Austin.