Yes, it’s that time of the year already: UK schools have broken up for the summer holidays and anyone with a driving commute can breathe a small sigh of relief as the traffic gets a bit lighter. It’s also the time that many people’s thoughts start turning to a little time away, often in the sun.
For once we’ve actually had a very warm spell in the UK, which I think has surprised quite a few people. It has also sent many into air-conditioning hiding, realising that the longed-for heat isn’t quite as fun when you’re not sitting on a beach with a cocktail. However I’m definitely not complaining about the temperature. It’s been really nice to wear summer clothes in England as I don’t think I’ve had much use for them over the last few years.
If holidays are firmly on your mind, I’ve pulled together some food-related suggestions. But these are food holidays with a bit of a difference. They’re very much based around food, but with a nod to health, nutrition and wellbeing. Anyone who has been on one of my creATE events will know this is right up my street.
5 top food retreat recommendations
Eat Retreat, Ibiza
If you think Ibiza is just about partying, think again. It’s an incredibly beautiful island with top class yoga and detox-style retreats. Eat Retreat takes things one step further, describing its October retreat as ‘a cookery holiday with a little wellness and a sprinkling of frivolity’. There is an opportunity to start your day with some yoga or a walk on the beach, but the big focus is the food.
As well as a variety of cooking classes, during the week there will be cocktail making, wine tasting, foraging and a market tour in Ibiza Town. Anne Marie Duperouzel, the co-founder of Eat Retreat and founder of sushi catering business Sushiboy Ibiza, will run a sushi making class. Other cookery sessions will be lead by Natasha Corrett of Honestly Healthy fame and Jordan Bourke, an Irish chef and food stylist, who was also the winner of the K-Food Festival for his Korean cooking.
If you can’t make Ibiza in October, Eat Retreat is also planning a series of cooking retreats in other beautiful locations around the world in 2017.
Eat Retreat: starts at €1,140 per person for a week on a room share basis
Local Milk Retreats, various locations
Beth Evelyn, the brains and camera behind the Local Milk blog, has a huge Instagram following – and rightly so. Her stylish photos of food and life draw you in with their rustic beauty. An off-shoot of Beth’s blog is her successful series of Local Milk Retreats which celebrate the art of slow living. These are creative getaways with the opportunity to relax, nourish your creativity and enjoy a considered culinary experience.
While there is a lot of the focus on photography and visual storytelling, getting hands on with food is very much part of Local Milk escapes. For many food lovers, food is an important part of any holiday. Local Milk retreats tap into this, helping you experience food culture in different parts of the world. Beth runs her breaks in lush locations around the globe, from the Cotswolds to Japan.
The retreats tend to sell out so it’s best to get on the mailing list for notifications of new retreat dates. The next set retreats are happening in 2017.
Local Milk Retreats: prices normally range from €2,100 – €2,650 for a 5 night retreat
Puri Ganesha, Bali
Many people rave about Bali and it’s one of my favourite places in the world. This little island packs a punch: there are jungles, temples, cities, beaches and deliciously spice-filled food. It’s also a fantastic option if you’re planning a yoga retreat-type holiday.
Bali offers lots of cookery classes and you’ll find people handing out flyers in most of the major towns (check out my own Bali cooking experience). If you want to go a bit deeper with Balinese flavours, a great option is Puri Ganesha. Up on the north west tip of Bali, it’s a long way from the crowds and drinking of the main city Kuta. This is definitely a place to slow down. The resort, which boasts a lack of superfast internet connection, consists of 4 villas next to the beach and has an official Slow Food seal of approval.
Diana and Gusti, who run Puri Ganesha, use pesticide-free, local ingredients wherever possible and their menus are light and seasonal. They have a selection of different cookery classes which include lunch or dinner. You can also discover authentic local cuisine on one of their special ‘Food Excursions’. And it’s not just about the cooking: during your stay you can opt for one of the ‘rawfully good’ retreat packages. Of course, as this is Bali, don’t forget to book yourself a massage and make the most of beach twilight time with a refreshing drink as the sun sets.
Puri Ganesha: breaks in a one room villa start at £340 per night plus service / tax (minimum of 3 or 5 night stay)
Raw Horizons, North Yorkshire
You don’t need to leave the UK for a nourishing break. Raw Horizons is based in Split Farthing Hall in a secluded area of North Yorkshire. Raw Horizons offers a range of yoga and relaxation retreats. Oh, and one very important feature: this is a women’s only retreat venue.
The Nourish Your Body retreat is a 5 night package that gives you an opportunity to build a more positive relationship with food and how you think about your body. There is a focus on eating more mindfully and for ‘energy and vitality’. The package includes life coaching, healthy food demonstrations, yoga and meditation. This is a perfect me-time break.
Raw Horizons can cater for most special dietary requirements as its food philosophy is based on living / raw food. Wherever possible, food is organic and locally sourced.
Nourish Your Body, £995 per person for a twin shared room / £1,285 per person for a single room
Trill Farm, United Kingdom
Another great getaway option in the UK is Trill Farm in East Devon. This 300 acre organic farm runs a number of interesting workshops. It’s also home to various independent enterprises, from soap making to herb growing. The aim of Trill Farm is to help people slow down, relax and reconnect with nature. The farm offers B&B, self-catering and camping options.
Along with a wide range of short courses, there are 2 great weekend food options. The first is the seasonal Living Nutrition Cooking Course run by Daphne Lambert. Daphne is an award-winning chef and nutritionist, known for her love of wild, foraged foods and how they can help harmonise the body.
If you’d like to get to know your wild herbs and their uses, then the Herbal Medicine weekend with Anne McIntyre is for you. You’ll forage for herbs and learn about their medicinal qualities. You’ll also prepare a range of herbal creams, lotions and tinctures. Each day includes a herb-inspired organic lunch.
Are you planning a food retreat holiday? I’d love to hear where you’re heading…