It wouldn’t be a WOR tour without plenty of good food and wine - regional produce, local artisans markets, the “terroir”, seasonal dishes, food traditions and wine regions are all a huge focus of any of our tours. I wanted to share a favourite foodie spot from some of our Tours - to give you an idea of some of our favourite places we visit on Tour, but also a few tips for those travelling independently to these regions. These places I think represent typical restaurants of the regions we pass through - where local cuisine is showcased usually in a family run establishment.
Nice to Alpe d’Huez: Au Plaisir Ambré in Briançon
Briançon is reputedly Europe’s highest “town” - a UNESCO world heritage site, the historical centre is strongly fortified, built by Vauban to defend the region from the Austrians, with a pleasant series of cobblestones streets and the spectacular backdrop of the Alps. A visit to Briançon wouldn’t be complete without dinner at Au Plaisir Ambre, run by the super friendly chef Michael and his partner Nancy. Awarded a Bib Gourmand in the Michelin guide, Michael’s cuisine is refined yet still relaxed and accessible (with portions that are cyclist friendly!), with a focus on quality, fresh seasonal and regional products - it’s always a highlight group meal night on Tour when we book the cosy restaurant out - usually the evening that we have conquered the famous Col d’Izoard - so cause for celebration! Think of a velouté of green asparagus to begin followed by lamb from Sisteron and then a dessert to die for! We’ve fallen in love with Michael’s cooking so much that we’ve organised him to cook for us in our private chalets for additional group meals on Tour. We can’t wait to get back to Briançon soon - for the cycling and the eating!
Barcelona to Nice via Sardinia & Corsica: U Funtanonu in l’Ospedale (Corsica)
Corsica is an island of contrasts - the spectacular coastline with roads and scenery to rival any coastal cycling destination on the planet (I challenge you to name better!) - where crisp vermentino complements the freshest of seafood, enjoyed at beach-side restaurants watching the sun-set over the Mediterranean. But Corsicans (who see themselves as Corsican, not French!) - would say that it is the interior of Corsica that represents the true identity of the Island. “Sauvage” in French - wild & rugged - where the food is all about charcuterie, heavier meats, pastas and stews and spectacular cheeses. On our first day’s cycling in Corsica, we ride from Bonifacito to Zonza, in the mountainous interior. It’s a 15km climb, averaging 6% with views to the Mediterranean as we enter a beautiful pine forest around Zonza. Nearing the top of the climb a popular lunch spot is U Funtanonu - a traditional Corsican restaurant where wild boar stew or cannelloni with brocciu (fresh ewe’s milk cheese) are perfect to replenish the belly after the climb - washed down with a Pietra - Corsican chestnut beer!
Milan to Venice: Locanda et trattoria Altavilla
Day 2 of our Classic Northern Italy Tour takes us through one of the lesser known foodie destinations of Italy - the Valtellina. It’s a flatter ride (before we hit the Gavia and Mortirolo the next day!) with some rolling hills as we pedal along the valley, flanked by alpine peaks and vineyards, well known for its red wine grown from the Nebbiolo grape - DOC Valtellina. Bresaola (air dried beef) buckwheat and bitto (cows milk cheese) are regional foods and all feature in our group meal at Altavilla - where we stay the night and are well looked after by Anna and her family. For dinner we eat the “Menu Valtellina” where the cheese and buckwheat are expertly made in to fritters called sciatt and plates of bresaola are just for starters! It’s an absolutely stunning setting with a degustation meal and matched wines that do the region justice (and of course, tiramisu for dessert!) La Dolce Vita!
Milan to Venice: OnnoLulu Gelateria
No day on Tour in Italy is complete without gelati! On Day 1, the bar is set pretty high, at Onnolulu gelateria, located on the shores of Lago di Como. Having conquered the famous climb to the Madonna del Ghisallo cycling chapel (and for those that are game - the fearsome Muro di Sormano), we descend to the lake shore where this cafe gelateria awaits in the tiny hamlet of Onno. Cioccolato, nocciola, pistacchio, fragola, limone,…. 1, 2, 3 or 4 scoops? Oh the tough decisions one has to make on Tour!!!
Bordeaux to Barcelona: Camping - Wine Degustation Dinner
“Who would’ve thought you’d get a meal like this in a caravan park?!?” - Yep, that was what one of the members of our Bordeaux to Barcelona Tour said during our wine degustation dinner at a regional campground. When we organised the first one of these dinners - I must say that I was a little apprehensive, too. But Chef Jordi has over 30 years experience and creating memorable gastronomic events in this out-of-the way campground in rural northern Catalan spain is his specialty. A true highlight on Tour, the menu is carefully curated to highlight regional cuisine - Think foie, Iberian ham, baccala (salted cod) canneloni, veal carpaccio…. It’s a private dinner just for our group with a winemaker who joins us to talk us through the local biodynamic wines which are matched to the meal. A perfect evening in the most unexpected of locations!