Take your pick from our favourite food experiences, from gin tasting to Scandi baking or sharpening up your knife skills. The perfect gift for a foodie.
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Whether you want to make kombucha, gain a cheese qualification or learn to taste gin, hone your craft or your palate at one of these venues we’ve tried – or treat someone else as a gift.
Get more fabulous foodie trip inspiration with our travel hub and stock up on essential kitchen equipment, tried and tested by BBC Good Food experts, with our reviews hub. Looking for the ultimate foodie gift list? We've got everything from exciting edible treats, to gadgets and homeware.
1. Academy of cheese, London
Good for: cheese nerds
After covering the history of cheesemaking, this hands-on class at Paxton & Whitfield offers a guide to tasting and selecting various cheeses. You’ll learn about 25 different types and receive an Academy of Cheese delegate pack, plus access to an online exam.
The teachers are informative, entertaining cheese aficionados, meaning the day offers the perfect balance of fun and focused learning. Whether you simply want to up your cheeseboard game at your next dinner party or are seriously considering a career in the industry, this course is for you.
2. Applied knife techniques, London
Good for: going back to basics
Even the most confident home cooks can lack basic knife skills which, once mastered, will transform your time in the kitchen. This three-hour class at Borough Kitchen takes you through everything from the correct way to hold a knife to how to finely dice an onion, perfectly julienne vegetables, chop herbs (yes, it sounds simple but chances are you’re doing it wrong), and truss and carve poultry. At the end of the class, you’ll all sit down to a freshly cooked meal and a well-deserved glass of wine.
3. Spanish tapas class, London
Good for: a boozy evening out
Learn how to rustle up a tapas feast (with bottomless wine) at this relaxed class at The Avenue Cookery School. Following quick demos from a lively tutor, you’ll prepare and cook a selection of dishes, including Spanish tortilla, creamy romesco sauce and prawns pil pil in a bright, modern kitchen.
Most of the prep is done for you and you won’t spend more than 30 minutes on any one dish, so it’s best suited to people who want to learn the basics in an easy-going session. Once you’ve finished cooking, you’ll serve and share your tapas dishes with the rest of the group. It’s a great way to meet new people and have a few drinks in a fun setting.
4. Indian vegetarian cooking, London
Good for: curry fans
Run by chef Ruth Quinlan at E5 Bakehouse, this class teaches you how to perfect the art of layering flavours in vegetarian curries. Recipes change seasonally depending on what organic veg is available, but will include dishes like Kashmiri potato curry, Bengal gram dhal, saag paneer and carrot koshimbir. The class is fast-paced and before you know it, you'll be grating ginger and cooking spices. At the end, you’ll sit down to eat everything and, over dinner, Ruth gives menu ideas and shares tips from the best kind of lentil to use for a dhal to getting the right level of heat from chillies. Have we made your mouth water? Discover more about this fun veggie cooking class.
5. Beginners breadmaking, Bath
Good for: A simple intro to baking
A standout feature of this cookery school, run by chef Ben Taylor, is its idyllic setting in the grounds of Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa. This informal one-day baking course covers a breadth of topics, including kneading techniques, types of bread starters and flavour combinations. You’ll come out of the class with a renewed confidence in working with dough – and some delicious new recipes to try at home. It’s perfect for beginners or occasional home-bakers wanting to perfect their skills. You truly get your money’s worth at this class, and you’ll leave with an armful of delicious bakes to take home.
6. The essential vegan, London
Good for: anyone interested in plant-based cooking
This class at Leiths School of Food and Wine kicks off with a demo of some simple vegan recipes – think egg-free mayo, cashew cheese and a grass-green coriander chutney – and the opportunity to fire questions at the teachers. You’ll move quickly between recipes, prepping a vegan meringue (using aquafaba, a sweet-toothed vegan’s best friend) for a chocolate fondant, then trying your hand at a chickpea curry or beet bourguignon, learning how to use spices and seasoning to their full potential. The class ends with plenty of chatter over your freshly cooked meal and generous glasses of wine. Find out more about the essential vegan cooking class.
7. World of gin tasting, Birmingham
Good for: those who enjoy a terrific tipple
Let Loki’s resident juniper expert Carl Hawkins, aka ‘The Gintleman’, guide you through gin’s colourful history as you create cocktails, sampling a black tomato gin from Italy or a citrussy blend from Japan. You’ll try a range of gins, from dry and floral to sweet and aged, and Carl’s own brand of boozy comedy makes this two-hour tasting session an utterly enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.
8. Kombucha fermenting, London
Good for: fans of fermentation
The Fermentarium runs a variety of hands-on courses, ranging from dairy ferments (kefir) and lactic fermentation (sauerkraut, kimchi) to fermented soft drinks. This three-hour class gives an excellent introduction to brewing your own fermented tea, and you’re likely to leave with an air of pride at nurturing a living ferment – and a strong determination to keep it alive.
9. Seasonal foraging course, East Sussex
Good for: those who love the outdoors
Nick Weston and his team run their treehouse cookery school deep in the Sussex wilderness, covering everything wild and edible. A day here can include foraging, wild butchery, botanical cocktail-making, brewing and fire-building, culminating in a self-foraged feast around the camp fire. You’ll get a real feel for creating a wild, sustainable, outdoor larder and kitchen.
10. Raw feel good food, the New Forest
Good for: raw food enthusiasts
Inspired by the Lime Wood hotel’s food bar, this raw food class focuses on preparing meals from scratch, avoiding wheat flour, additives and refined sugar. Expect ideas for turning traditional favourites vegan, such as seed bars and raw pasta sauce.
11. Scandinavian baking, Cardiff
Good for: learning about speciality breads
The Scandinavian baking course offered by the One Mile Bakery in Cardiff is one of many informative and fun day-long classes. These are held in relaxed home kitchen setting, hosted by friendly tutor, Nick. Suitable for both beginners and more experienced bakers, you’ll learn about mixing ingredients, kneading techniques, shaping doughs and flavouring your bakes.
The Scandi course includes a Nordic cheese swirl, dark rye bread, fruity spelt focaccia and the pièce de résistance – aromatic cardamom buns. To recover from all that kneading, enjoy a delicious two-course lunch served with freshly baked bread and wine. Laden with bags full of your bakes, you certainly won’t go home hungry!
12. Cookie & biscuit making, London
Good for: cookie fanatics
Based in ‘Cookie Girl’ Xanthe’s home kitchen, this baking class allows you to learn new baking techniques in a fun, laidback environment. You will produce two types of biscuit, starting with gorgeously soft and chewy American-style chocolate chunk cookies, followed by melty Viennese-style biscuits with a buttercream filling.
The course touches on everything from selecting and weighing ingredients to perfecting piping skills. Being on the pricier end of the scale, the course would be the perfect treat for a birthday, hen do or other special occasion.
13. Kent food trails
Good for: foodie explorers
This year Produced in Kent has launched a new website – Kent Food Trails. The site is a one-stop-shop for information on much of Kent’s food and drink producers and businesses, making it easy to organise a foodie trip to the Garden of England. On the site, you can follow one of their trails guiding you from vineyard to vineyard, or café to farm to brewery, or you can create your own bespoke trail based on your own interests or specific area of the county.
Providing links to the places you’ll visit, how to get there by car, length of a typical visit and a printable version of the finished plan, this site has everything you need to organise a food and drink filled-trip. A Kent Food Trail is ideal for those wanting to make the most of their visit to the area, and by having the bespoke option, it makes it easy to fit in as much or as little as you want.
14. Sublime English cheddar, Somerset
Best for: dairy lovers
Is there a cheese lover in your life? If so, consider an experience with Cheese Journeys. This specialist tour company offers dream escapes for fans of artisan cheeses, with itineraries in Italy, France, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands and even the US, where the company is based. The cream of the crop is the ‘cheese odyssey’, a five-day extravaganza that starts at Neal’s Yard Dairy in London, then heads west to Somerset. Meet cheesemakers and go behind the scenes to learn the secrets of their craft, plus sample the finest of our country’s cheeses with fellow dairy lovers from round the world.
A highlight is a banquet and overnight stay at North Cadbury Court, the ancestral home of the Montgomery family. Entering this palatial Tudor mansion feels like stepping onto the set of Downton Abbey, so it’s no surprise the property is in high demand as a filming location. Reception rooms boast sweeping views of Cadbury Castle, which many believe to be the site of King Arthur’s Camelot.
The farm is where Montgomery Cheddar – regarded by many as the Holy Grail of cheddars – is produced. The process is minutely controlled, from the grass on which the cows graze to the maturation, which lasts for at least a year. Jamie Montgomery, the current cheesemaker, uses the same strains of starter culture as his grandfather did 100 years ago. Montgomery also produces Ogleshield, one of few cheeses made from Jersey cow’s milk, a breed that was once kept on the farm as pets. Orlando Murrin
15. A chef’s table dinner, London
Best for: expert foodies
While the chef’s table concept is nothing new, what sets the experience at Mimo London apart is the amount of time and attention the chefs and sommelier dedicate to you. There’s room for two to 12 around the counter in this venue overlooking Borough Market, and the laidback, welcoming atmosphere is like eating at a good friend’s house. Be as hands-on as you like – get involved in the cooking, ask about food sourcing and wine matching, or just sit back and watch the chefs.
In terms of the menu, seasonality is key and dishes change to suit. It’s all fresh and interesting, and paired with imaginative wine choices. This innovative company (Mimo means both ‘indulgence’ and ‘theatre’ in Spanish) runs pintxos tours in San Sebastian, and has expanded to Seville, Mallorca and the Algarve. Now firmly established in London, it offers market tours, cooking classes and wine tastings as well. Christine Hayes
15. Mobile fine dining in London or Paris
Best for: breathtaking views
Afternoon tea tours on red buses are a common sight in the capital, but nothing holds a candle to Bustronome. Board a glassroofed double-decker for a four-course lunch or six-course dinner with paired wines and sleek service. Genius design ensures there’s no rattling plates or smashed glasses, just wellpresented, quality food served while you tour the major sights.
Don’t expect trend-led dishes; this is traditional stuff, and better for it – a good gift for the in-laws. A weekend lunch might kick off with butternut squash veloute before a fish and meat course, plus a rose and lycée macaron to finish. Wines are French, and the route offers plenty of photo ops. You can also enjoy the tour in Paris. Christine Hayes
Photographs: Agne Zubyte, Amy Murrell, Getty Images, Guild of Fine Food, The Avenue, Michael Pheland Photography, Gary Handley/Reverb London, Matt Russell, Fiona Forman
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Our team attended these events as guests.