Most cyclists watch their diet, but when it comes to getting away on a cycling vacation, some travelers like to indulge in fine meals. I know when I travel, I tend to look for the most delicious and authentic specialties a region offers. The good news for my fellow cyclists? Taking what I like to call a “fit-cation” allows for guilt-free eating (and drinking)! That’s why I am sharing my favorite destinations for food lovers this spring. Bon appétit!
Remarkable riding, sweeping views, sparkling sunshine, and delectable meals: this is Mallorca. Mallorca is a newer favorite of mine; I love combining the challenging aspect of climbing high into the Tramuntana mountain range with the culinary highlights of many authentic specialties prepared by the region’s top chefs. When I visit I make sure to taste the typical Mallorquin faire, including paella, ensaimadas, tapas and more, and common ingredients found in the food here include delicious local almonds, olives, walnuts, and Ramallet, a local tomato. Seriously, my mouth is watering.
Looking for the very best in Italian sweets? Join me in Sicily for a fresh ricotta-filled cannoli or in Noto for some granita, a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various flavorings that is tasty and extremely refreshing after a ride. Or, if you’re looking for something a bit more savory, head into Ragusa, an impressive Italian city and home to some of Sicily’s best-renowned restaurants. For picnic lovers, this is a splendid destination for delicious local fare in gorgeous settings. Explore the stunning Sicilian countryside by bike, enjoy a glass of native Nero d’Avola wine, and satisfy yourself with a Sicilian meal.
French cooking at its finest! Not only does this region include numerous opportunities for wine tastings, but food that will blow your socks off. I suggest making a stop at the ninth-century Abbeye de Cîteaux for a taste of house-made cow’s milk cheese made by monks. A super authentic experience that is wholly unmatched anywhere else. Explore acre upon acre of lush, green vineyards as you trace the saga of wine, from Beaune to Aloxe-Corton and along le Route des Grand Crus. After spending much time in my younger years working in the vineyards of France, this destination is among the top of my recommendations.
Imagine cycling over rolling hills in the iconic Tuscan countryside before stopping at the cantina of a friendly local. Tuscnay abounds with Italian hospitality. It’s an amazing location. Ride leisurely through vineyards and orchards, or opt for additional rides for a serious challenge. The opportunities are endless to savor local treats like fresh pici pasta, pecorino cheese, and garden fresh bruschetta with local olive oil. Oh, and foodies? I probably shouldn’t leave out that there are plenty of opportunities to take a local cooking class, perhaps in Montalcino. Sitting down to a meal you helped prepare in an Italian kitchen sounds like the topping on the cake, does it not?
Why not try a destination that boasts its extraordinary gastronomy? Feast upon a selection of scrumptious tapas in the village of Archidona and taste caviar like you never imagined possible at Europe’s only truly organic freshwater sturgeon farm. And for another cooking opportunity, head to a traditional Montilla winery to learn how to make traditional Andalusian paella. But it’s not only about the food of course. Andalucia is an exciting location for top-of-the-line biking. Cycle through traffic-free olive orchards and sherry producing vineyards, tackle challenging climbs, and hop on the bike for a beautiful loop ride through rolling hills.
Springtime in Europe is magnificent. The weather is beautiful, the riding is unbeatable, and the food… well, everything you could ask for is in season and ready to be devoured by a wanderlusting cyclist who enjoys a good meal. Where am I missing? What’s your favorite dish when you travel? Let’s get the wheels spinning. My stomach is growling, and it’s time to seek out our next dish.
Andy Levine is the President/Founder of DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co.