For most of my life, I’ve been a collector of objects. There have been several phases: French enameled cookware, midcentury American pottery, handwoven fabrics. I still own many of these pieces but haven’t yet found the perfect use for them. I wonder: Will I ever? Perhaps that’s one reason why I’ve now become a collector of experiences, like one-of-a-kind meals and fantastic family trips. This issue is devoted to travelers like me: the experientialists.
I’m sure everyone has a different definition of an extraordinary travel experience, but for me, staying at a villa or an agriturismo in Italy qualifies. We found five incredibly beautiful new places to try, everywhere from the Veneto to Puglia, and also collected their best recipes, like piadine (flatbread sandwiches) stuffed with mozzarella and prosciutto. For my husband, a single malt Scotch hound, the Canlis brothers’ tour of Scotland’s best distilleries is a dream travel experience. For F&W’s indefatigable restaurant editor, Kate Krader, the spectacular tasting menus she identifies in Where to Go Next—all $50 or less—are the ideal. Kate would also be thrilled to visit F&W Best New Chef 2012 Blaine Wetzel on Washington state’s Lummi Island, where she could join him as he forages for ingredients on foot and by kayak.
Sometimes a cook can take me on a journey of the senses. Chef Yotam Ottolenghi, the author of Plenty (one of my favorite cookbooks of last year), and his business partner, Sami Tamimi, zip me all the way to Jerusalem with their cinnamony eggplant stuffed with lamb. And just looking at photos of the San Francisco pop-up café called Rice Paper Scissors, with its little red stools and clay-pot ginger chicken, allows me to imagine I’m at a street-food stall in Vietnam.