10 Craziest Food Festivals Around the World

Food festivals are a great way to get a flavor for local customs. But as these over-the-top food festivals suggest, some local customs are crazier than others.

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Los Dos Kitchen, Mexico
Los Dos, Merida, Mexico

Los Dos, Merida, Mexico

The most popular class in Chef David Sterling’s Merida, Mexico cooking school Los Dos is “Taste of Yucatán.” The class includes an overview of Maya techniques and ingredients, a market tour, culinary instruction, and a full afternoon meal. 960 1280

Eduardo Cervantes  

School of Artisan Food, North Nottinghamshire, England

School of Artisan Food, North Nottinghamshire, England

Located in Sherwood Forest (yes, Sherwood Forest of Robin Hood fame), the Schoolof Artisan Food in North Nottinghamshire teaches all levels of students, including one-day classes in cheese making, bread baking and sausage making. 960 1280

John Bradley  

Giuliano Hazan’s Northern Italy Cooking School, Verona, Italy

Giuliano Hazan’s Northern Italy Cooking School, Verona, Italy

In this one-week immersive food and wine course with Giuliano Hazan, chef, cookbook author and son of Marcella Hazan, the godmother of Italian cooking, guests learn to make homemade pasta, risotto, meatballs and more. The class takes place in a sixteenth century villa in the heart of northern Italy’s wine country, where guests stay in luxury accomodations. 960 1280

Pettene Flavio  

James St. Cooking School, Brisbane, Australia

James St. Cooking School, Brisbane, Australia

With a variety of hands-on classes ranging from Modern Australian Cooking to Dude Food (meat-heavy, single serving one pot wonders), Brisbane’s James St. Cooking School offers three-hour classes in which professional chefs demonstrate techniques followed by small group hands-on work, culminating in a shared meal as a class. 960 1280

Photo Courtesy of James St. Cooking School   

Tokyo Kitchen, Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Kitchen, Tokyo, Japan

Students in Tokyo Kitchen’s three-hour classes learn about Japanese seasonings and table manners before diving into hands-on lessons in Japanese home cooking techniques. The menu rotates daily between different varieties of sushi, tempura and other Japanese specialties such as okonomiyaki, ramen, katsu and more. 960 1280

Photo Courtesy of Tokyo Kitchen  

Cass Abrahams Capetown, Capetown, South Africa

Cass Abrahams Capetown, Capetown, South Africa

Considered the doyenne of Cape Malay cuisine, South Africa’s oldest cuisine, local celebrity chef Cass Abraham teaches private cooking lessons in her home. These courses, organized by Cape Fusion Tours, have been described as a history lesson and a cooking class rolled into one. 960 1280

Photo Courtesy of Cape Fusion Tours  

Langlois Culinary Crossroads, New Orleans, Louisiana

Langlois Culinary Crossroads, New Orleans, Louisiana

Chef Amy Cyrex-Sins describes Langlois Culinary Crossroads as part dinner party, part interactive entertainment. While Langlois hosts private cooking classes by appointment, regular diners at Langlois can tour the kitchen, interact with the chefs and learn about traditional Cajun and Creole cooking.

 

960 1280

Charles Ravaglia Photography  

Beijing Cooking School, Beijing, China

Beijing Cooking School, Beijing, China

Offering one-day and 10-day classes in traditional Hutong cuisine, Beijing Cooking School trains students in both wok techniques and pastry, which includes dumplings, dim sum and noodles. Classes involve market tours and interactive demos as well as hands-on practice. 960 1280

Photo Courtesy of Beijing Cooking School  

GalilEat, Galilee, Israel

GalilEat, Galilee, Israel

GalilEat Culinary Adventures bring students into the homes of Druze, Muslim and Christian hosts to learn traditional Arab cooking. A typical day includes two hours of hands-on instruction followed by a shared meal. 960 1280

Photo Courtesy of GalilEat  

Issaya Cooking Studio, Bangkok, Thailand

Issaya Cooking Studio, Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand’s original celebrity chef Ian Kittichai and his team teach fun friendly workshops in a modern studio space. A favorite class features four recipes from his Issaya Siamese Club restaurant. 960 1280

  

Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa, St. Helena, Calif.

Castello di Amorosa, St. Helena, Calif.

This 13th century medieval Tuscan-style castle took 15 years to build. But the result is an awe-inspiring 121,000 square-foot castle winery with five defensive towers, 1,000 pound hand-hewn doors from Italy, eight levels, and 107 rooms (95 of which are devoted to winemaking), creating more than 15 types of wine. Castello di Amorosa, designed by Dario Sattui, also boasts a church, drawbridge, courtyard, watch tower, torture chamber, and secret passage ways. Visitors can choose from daily general admission visits, reserved tours and tastings, or splurge on one of the castle’s VIP tour experiences—the $20,000-per couple tour includes a private chef, photographer, a barrel of Cabernet Sauvignon, limo transport, and a key to the castle.  960 1280

Castillo DiAmorosa  

Palmaz Vineyards, Napa, Calif.

Palmaz Vineyards, Napa, Calif.

Palmaz’s subterranean winery, the Cave, extends 18 stories into the rocky flank of Napa Valley’s Mount George, and showcases their unique take on gravity-flow winemaking, which takes place in a well-engineered maze of tunnels and domes carved into rock. Gravity-flow design minimizes the turbulence that damages the molecular structure, and these wines also benefit from the natural temperature control of a cave. Twenty-four fermentation tanks inside the fermentation dome can accommodate a variety of grapes from vineyards across the estate, including their signature Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as Chardonnay, Riesling, and Muscat—all named after members of the winery family.  960 1280

Palmaz  

Chamonix, Franschhoek, South Africa

Chamonix, Franschhoek, South Africa

Situated high above the Franschhoek valley in the heart of the Western Cape, this is no ordinary wine farm. Chamonix is a vast domain encompassing a vineyard, farmland, and a sprawling game reserve with guest lodges surrounded by wildebeest, zebra, and springboks. An underground passage leads from the cellar up into the Blacksmith’s Cottage, built in the late 1700s and which now houses the tasting room. But despite the scale and grandeur, winemaking here is done by a small, hands-on team—all fruit is selected by hand and the process follows traditional methods. Visitors can stay in the private farm lodges and suites—with animals right outside the window, it’s an African experience unlike any other.  960 1280

Chamonix Winery  

Moet & Chandon, Epernay, France

Moet & Chandon, Epernay, France

A must-see for lovers of bubbly, this name has been associated with sparkle and glamour ever since the house was founded in 1743 by Claude Moët. Toward the end of the 18th century, Jean-Remy Moët, grandson of the founder, became famous as the man who introduced Champagne to the world. For more than a quarter of a millennium, the renowned French winemaker has been sharing the magic of Champagne across the globe. Across 2,840 acres of rich chalk soil, Moet & Chandon Champagne is made from grapes grown on the most extensive estate in the region, 50 percent of which are grands crus and 25 percent are premiers crus. Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay are harvested from vineyards in all of the five main areas of Champagne—Montagne de Reims, Côte des Blancs, Vallée de la Marne, Sézanne and Aube—providing the house access to approximately 200 of the 323 crus in the region. Famous for the first sabering of bottles and christening of ships, the exuberant spray of Champagne is also accredited to the estate dating back to the celebrations of the winners of the 24-hour Le Mans race in 1967, linking the brand to explosions of joy and celebration. 960 1280

FRANCOIS NASCIMBENI  

Frescobaldi, Tuscany, Italy

Frescobaldi, Tuscany, Italy

This is Tuscany like you’ve never seen it before. Tenuta Ammiraglia Estate represents a ship pointing toward the sea in search of new horizons. It was created by the renowned Frescobaldi family, who owns six estates in Tuscany—their heritage closely knit with the region. (At the high point of medieval Florence, the Frescobaldis spread their influence as bankers, and later became patrons of major works there during the flowering of the Renaissance.) Not only is the architecture a dramatic departure from other vineyards in the region, but the wines also represent a modern and more Mediterranean Tuscany, both following suit with its captivating and unique design. The cellar is a combination of innovation, technology and respect for the environment, existing in perfect harmony with the natural beauty that surrounds it.  960 1280

Frescobald Wines  

The Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Geyserville, Calif.

The Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Geyserville, Calif.

Francis Ford Coppola’s “wine wonderland” is truly a playground for everyone—wine lovers, couples, friends and families. Food, wine, music, dancing, games, live performances and swimming come together in an estate that boasts way more than just vino. Fun is clearly the theme at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery—the first in Northern California to feature a swimming pool and a bocce court—with two swimming pools totaling 3,600 square feet that sit at the center of the park area, and live performances at the performing arts pavilion. Every day is a party here, but don’t miss "Salsa Dancing Under the Stars" or the "Annual Harvest and Halloween Carnival" for even more festive fanfare.  960 1280

Coppola Winery  

Château Pape Clément, Bordeaux, France

Château Pape Clément, Bordeaux, France

Château Pape Clément in Pessac, near Bordeaux, is named after its most famous owner: Pope Clement V.  One of the oldest Grand Crus of the area (the first harvest took place in 1252), it is also one of the most innovative. Beginning with the 2014 vintage, the current owner, Bernard Magrez, has enlisted the help of drones to measure the vigor of the vines to determine when and where to harvest the grapes. (The drone takes photos of the vineyards, then software translates the photos into color-coded maps.) But the 148 acres of vines surrounding the château are also cared for by traditional methods—horses till the soil and work the vines, being used for mowing, seeding, and working the grounds. The estate is host to a vast selection of unforgettable and unique experiences—from visits to the vault and tastings with the cellar masters to a luxury private tour that include a Sturia caviar and wine pairing. Not enough? Stay overnight in one of the two classic rooms or three suites complete with 19th century pieces and Baccarat chandeliers.  960 1280

JEAN PIERRE MULLER  

Quintessa, Rutherford, Calif.

Quintessa, Rutherford, Calif.

Wine nerds, rejoice. This place is for you. Quintessa is a winemaker’s paradise. It's equipped with modern winemaking technology and state-of-the-art facilities all wrapped into a structure that blends seamlessly into the contours of the 280-acre property. The natural, crescent-shaped design also facilitates a gentle, gravity-flow winemaking system—the roof doubles as the crush pad, where a sorting table-destemmer receives the grapes and then funnels them by gravity into fermentation tanks in the production hall directly below. After the wine is put in barrels, it ages in 1,000 linear feet of caves. At the heart of the winery, overlooking the tanks and presses below, is the glass-enclosed blending room and adjoining modern winemaking “lab.”  960 1280

Quintessa Winery  

Chateau Margaux, Bordeaux, France

Chateau Margaux, Bordeaux, France

Château Margaux’s story is quite literally from the pages of a history book. In 1152, Aquitaine fell to the advance of England until 1453, and Bordeaux wines benefited from this new market (Bordeaux “claret” was adopted as a table wine by Richard the Lion Heart, King of England, in the 12th century). Successive owners of the 647-acre estate were important lords but it was Pierre de Lestonnac, from 1572 to 1582, who completely restructured the property and the vineyard, anticipating the evolution of the Médoc region that had started to abandon cereal growing in favor of vines. Two hundred years ago, architect Louis Combes designed the chateau in a style inspired by ancient Greece and paying homage to the Parthenon. One hundred and sixty years after that, André Mentzelopoulos gave it back the luster it lost during the long Bordeaux wine crisis. Today, wine lovers and Francophiles can schedule a visit (by appointment, Monday through Friday) to soak in the rich culture and beauty of the vines and the wine.  960 1280

M-ANGLADA / Chateau Margaux  

Livernano and Casalvento, Tuscany, Italy

Livernano and Casalvento, Tuscany, Italy

First inhabited by Etruscans around 500 BC, Livernano is truly an ancient place. Later occupied by the Romans (who gave it its name), it also served as a fortified border post during the wars of the two great medieval city states in Tuscany, Siena, and Florence long after the cessation of Roman rule. After the territorial wars were over, it became a working farm, which it still is today—producing wine, olive oil, honey, vegetables, and fruits thanks to a complete restoration in the 1990s after it was purchased by serial entrepreneur/Broadway producer, Bob Cuillo. In addition to tours of the state-of-the-art Casalvento wine cellar, visitors can also take cooking classes from the estate’s private chef, using produce from its organic vegetable garden. The whole hamlet can be rented out for weddings, parties, or other events, and guests stay overnight in rooms named after grapes.  960 1280

Livermano Winery  

Asheville, NC
Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville, North Carolina

North Carolina is home to more than 100 wineries with more than 20 in the mountains. Varietals near Asheville include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling. The largest winery in the area is the world famous Biltmore Estate, in operation since May of 1985, when the Biltmore Estate Wine Company opened its $6.5 million state-of-the-art winery to the public. But newcomers cannot be overlooked. Burntshirt Vineyards features a 10,440-square foot winery with a crush pad, special equipment to de-stem the grapes, a laboratory to test grapes, and a 1,700-square foot barrel room which mimics wine caves found in European chateaus. Overmountain Vineyards, a boutique winery on a 70-acre family-owned farm, grows 17 acres of French vinifera. While they focus primarily on Petit Manseng (an aromatic white grape originally from southwest France) and classic red varietals, two acres of organically grown blueberries are also under cultivation for future winemaking. 960 1280

Ashley Bowen / Burnt Shirt Vineyards  

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

In 1990, this region had 17 wineries. Today there are around 200, growing everything from Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and Chardonnay to Pinot Noir, Pinot Franc and, most recently, Syrah. The 132-mile Okanagan Valley is British Columbia's largest wine region, but wine lovers can also explore Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island for a taste of the old-vine plantings plus new-breed blends. For an over-the-top experience in Fraser Valley, take a tour with SKY helicopters, which offers private tastings, spectacular views, and your very own sommelier guide. For a unique way to enjoy Vancouver Island, take a floatplane across the Strait of Georgia to Victoria. Staying in the city of Vancouver? Try more than 51 British Columbian wines on tap at one of the three locations of Tap & Barrel or explore the 16 BC wine taps at their smaller sister restaurant, TAPshack. 960 1280

Tap & Barrel Room  

Paso Robles, Calif.

Paso Robles, Calif.

Paso Robles, one of the cowboy-meets-winemaker towns in the Central Coast, has more than 200 wineries and 26,000 acres of vineyards, but often takes a backseat to its better-known and older sibling up north (Napa). Situated slightly inland, its warmer climate is ideal for Zinfandel, Bordeaux, and Rhone-style vintages—and it’s often referred to as “American Rhone.” Not to mention, it’s completely stunning. The proprietors of Law Estate Wines believe that a tasting room should be just like your living room, and their modern architecture in an idyllic setting will incite any wine lover to want to stay awhile. Turley’s renowned Zinfandels and Petit Syrah are part of their collection of 28 separate wines from 35 different vineyards (some with vines that date back to the late 1800s), which comes as no surprise since proprietor Larry Turley is a former emergency room physician and he can now focus his skills on the old vineyards. Others in the area not to miss include Booker, Jack Creek Cellars, and Denner Vineyards. 960 1280

Law Estates Winery  

Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, Calif.

Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, Calif.

The Santa Maria Valley is hot right now. Why? For starters, the cost of living and of properties in this Central Valley region are much less expensive than up north in Napa. And that is attracting many young, up-and-coming winemakers to the area. Fruit is so spectacular here that many northern winemakers are traveling south to purchase pinot grapes. Mild days and cool evenings help Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes reach their maximum potential—the climate is ideal for these varietals, with its perfect flow of air from the coast without being blocked by mountains. Scar of the Sea is receiving very high marks from top wine publications, and the Presqu’ile Winery, led by a South African winemaker, just built a stunning tasting room. And veteran Rancho Sisquoc is situated on a 37,000-acre cattle ranch nestled in the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail and produces more than 20,000 cases per year.  960 1280

Rancho Sisquoc  

Woodinville, Washington

Woodinville, Washington

Woodinville, in the heart of the Sammamish River Valley, is a great day trip from Seattle. Spend a relaxing day at the more than 100 wineries and tasting rooms in this urban-esque area—a new wine lover’s addition to nearby (and better known) Walla Walla. Nestled between the vast vineyards east of the Cascades and the Puget Sound, the area is home to authentic beverage makers (wine, beer, and spirits), great food, a diverse downtown, and a myriad of scenic outdoor activities. Take the Savor at Sunset Wine Walk on the first Thursday of every month, or visit a nearby winery. During the summer months, relax on the patio of the Bookwalter Wines tasting studio. Chateau St. Michele hosts outdoor summer concerts and there's always live music at the DeLille Cellars Carriage House Tasting Room or the Maison DeLille Wine Lounge. 960 1280

Richard Duval / Woodinville Media Group  

Traverse City, Michigan

Traverse City, Michigan

Traverse City is situated halfway between the North Pole and the Equator—the same locale as the wine regions of France and Italy. The area’s two wine trails are located on the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas—both of which stretch out into the waters of Lake Michigan. Bonobo Winery, founded by brothers and Traverse City natives, offers world-class wines in a rustic yet elegant atmosphere. Mario Batali (of Food Network fame), curates the menu to pair with their unique wine selections, including Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc. The facilities at Black Star Farms Winery include tasting rooms, a distillery, a luxury inn, a farm-to-table cafe, an equestrian facility, and a unique urban tasting room/wine bar in the historic Village at Grand Traverse Commons. And for a brush with celebrity, wine and pop-culture lovers can visit Ciccone Vineyard, which is owned by Madonna’s father, Silvio Ciccone, and offers a special Madonna series of wines. 960 1280

Bonobo Wines  

Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg, Texas

Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg, Texas

Wine Road 290 is an association of 15 wineries located on a 45-mile stretch of US Highway 290 from Johnson City to Fredericksburg. Only 90 minutes from Austin and San Antonio, the dynamic nature of the Texas Hill Country wine industry makes every visit to this rapidly growing region a journey of discovery. “In the past five years we have seen wineries grow from boutique curiosities to beloved estates. Tourists come to taste the wines along Wine Road 290, and many become wine club members for an experience that is uniquely Texas Hill Country,” explained Miguel Lecuona, part of the Fredericksburg Road 290 Association. Hye Meadow Winery, in the heart of Wine Road 290, is just one of dozens of wineries that dot the area. “Wine aficionados are rapidly discovering this area and we see a great mix of people who have been visiting us for years and folks who are just discovering the great wines now being made in Texas," said owner Mike Batek. Grape Creek Vineyards utilizes a state-of-the-art wine production complex with more than 35,000 square feet of crush, production, cellaring, and bottling space. The Pedernales Cellars winery and tasting room is located just south of the Hill Country town of Stonewall, and opened its doors to guests in 2008 to sell its inaugural wines produced from the 2006 vintage.  960 1280

Grape Creek Vineyards  

Snake River Valley, Idaho

Snake River Valley, Idaho

Snake River Valley creates a micro climate that has shown its suitability for grape growing, despite its higher elevation and arid landscape. New-wave vintners are planting Riesling, Malbec, Syrah, Viognier, and more—in the last decade, the number of in-state wineries has jumped from 11 to 50. Since 2009, Fujishin Family Cellars has focused solely on wines made from the Snake River Valley in their unique high-dessert climate—the combination of warm days and cool nights creates a balance of acidity, fruit, and regional character. The tasting room for Cinder Wines, named for the volcanic cinder of the area, is located inside their urban winery, just five minutes from downtown Boise in Garden City.  960 1280

Fujishin Winery  

Ashland, Rogue Valley, Oregon

Ashland, Rogue Valley, Oregon

Ashland consists of more than 100 wineries and 250 vineyards growing grapes on nearly 5,000 acres, which is not surprising since Southern Oregon has a seven-month European-like growing season, making it an ideal place to grow wine grapes. The 12 area wineries that market themselves as the Bear Creek Wine Trail won an unprecedented number of top awards at the statewide competition called the Oregon Wine Experience (OWE) this past summer. The Weisinger Family Winery won a Double Gold medal for both their 2013 Malbec and their 2015 Chardonnay. RoxyAnn Winery won a Double Gold medal for its 2012 Claret. Other must-visit vineyards include Ledger David, Edenvale Wines, and up-and-comer Bella Fiore 960 1280

Mark Mularz / Weisinger Family Winery  

Sonoma and Napa Valley, Calif.

Sonoma and Napa Valley, Calif.

The new proliferation of urban tasting rooms on and off the Sonoma Plaza are creating a totally different experience than visiting the vines. But traditional wineries are also changing things up, focusing more on the experience of tasting wine. Madrone Estate Winery in nearby Glen Ellen offers special events featuring yoga. One Hope Wine, led by innovative CEO and co-founder Jake Kloberdanz, integrates a social impact into every one of its wines: the Chardonnay funds clinical trials for breast cancer, the Sparkling Brut funds meals for children, and the Pinot Noir funds pet adoptions, just to name a few. Jordan Kivelstadt of Kivelstadt Winery and Free Flow Wines is putting wine in kegs, which reduces the cost of traditional packaging and transportation, and allows establishments to offer more wines by the glass. And newcomer Materra Wines has incorporated sustainability into all facets of the operation. Their self-pump tanks save a minimum of 8,100 gallons of water during harvest, about 25 percent to 60 percent of the normal amount of water needed for cleaning. 960 1280

Madrone Napa  

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