It’s the basic tenet for those who enjoy eating local: the fewer the food miles, the tastier the ingredient. So instead of importing that tomato from Tuscany, why not head to Italy to eat it? Better yet, book a seat at the very site where they are grown. This true type of farm-to-table dining is possible in all corners of the world. Here are some of the best places to sample an agricultural setting, with your eyes and your appetite.
By Kathleen Squires
A serial traveler who often lets a country's cuisine dictate her itineraries, New York City-based writer Kathleen Squires has visited all 7 continents and over 60 countries, with stints living in London, Tokyo, and Buenos Aires. Her work also appears in The Wall Street Journal, Saveur, Cooking Light and National Geographic Traveler.
Where: Walland, Tennessee
The Barn is the renowned restaurant at the center of the 4,200 sprawling acres in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, with a team of on-site artisans including a forager, a cheesemaker, a butcher, and the James Beard Award-winning chef Joseph Lenn. In addition to dishes such as wood oven roasted guinea hen with cornbread pudding, collard greens and confit, visitors to Blackberry Farm can enjoy tastings, take tours and participate in cooking classes from visiting chefs, too.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Tennessee Guide
Where: Singhampton, Ontario
Known as a pioneer in “ethical” cuisine in Canada, this vegetable and livestock farm just celebrated its 20th anniversary. Farmer Michael Stadtländer is also among one of the Great White North’s best known chefs for his French-inspired cuisine. Eight-course dinners are served right in his farmhouse, and for those who don’t have the time for an epic meal, his casual Haisai Restaurant Bakery nearby is also supplied by the farm.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Ontario Guide
Fattoria Poggio Alloro
Where: San Gimignano, Italy
It doesn't get closer to bucolic bliss than a farmstead in Tuscany, and Fattoria Poggio Alloro is every gourmand’s dream stop for long, lingering lunches and convivial dinners among an international crowd. The spread is everything one might expect, with an abundance of antipasti, homemade pasta, and locally-raised meat. The area’s famous Florentine steak is highlighted on Saturday evenings, and of course, the local wine flows at each meal, too.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Tuscany Guide
Where: Dunkeld, Australia
Up to 80% of the ingredients used in every meal, from the heirloom vegetables and olives to free-range hen eggs and homemade honey, comes right from the soil stretching out from this Down Under homestead. In addition to exquisite signatures such as rabbit loin and warm terrine with Chablis and tarragon, Royal Mail executive chef Robin Wickens also offers a vegetarian menu. Tours of the vast kitchen garden and wildlife-watching adventures are available, too.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Australia Guide
Big Tree Farms
Where: Bali, Indonesia
The Firefly Supper Series is held seasonally on the largest organic farm on the island, making the best of 80 different varieties of fruits and veggies and local livestock. At the atmospheric feasts, guests dine under thatched huts, surrounded by glowing torches and lanterns lit by the signature flickering insects. The flavors of dishes such as chicken rubbed with long pepper, are just as magical as the setting. Big Tree also provides transportation to and from the site along with the six-course meal.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Bali Guide
Where: Cape Town, South Africa
This restaurant group (there are 7 in total scattered around South Africa), is well-known for its distinctive settings: beachside in Durban; treehouses in Stellenbosch; and now, amid an urban farm right in Cape Town. At the newest Moyo Restaurant branch, architecture meets agriculture via aquaponics—a system that re-circulates water in order to farm fish and greenery, right off the city waterfront. There’s also an open-air food market on site.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s South Africa Guide
Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Where: Pocantico Hills, NY
Fancy a farming workshop before dinner? In the ultimate stop for agritourists, visitors to Blue Hill at Stone Farms can learn while touring pastures full of pigs, sheep, chickens and turkey; stop to gather eggs from a hen house; and browse the property farmer’s market to work up the appetite for the nightly farmer’s feasts, prepared by two-time James Beard Foundation Award winner Dan Barber. Don’t expect a menu: the food is so fresh, that the courses not only change daily, but can even change “hourly based on the harvest,” as the restaurant says.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Hudson Valley Guide
Where: Järpen, Sweden
Cited as one of the world’s 50 Best Restaurants by Pellegrino, just getting to the remote site, high in the Laplands of Sweden, is an experience alone. But it is Magnus Nilsson’s cooking at Faviken that is truly unforgettable. Everything on the plate is grown, preserved, or hunted on the 20,000 acre estate. And only 13 lucky diners per night can enjoy Nilsson’s modern presentation of traditional foods, combinations from raw cow’s heart with flower petals to pigs’ blood crisps topped with trout roe.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Sweden Guide
Where: East Cork, Ireland
Breakfast, lunch, dinner and even high tea can be taken at this multi-faceted farmstead in the Irish countryside. Ballymaloe's home-grown dishes include purslane and lobster salad; chicken liver terrine; and the legendary house Irish soda bread. The cooking school on-site is also renowned, and locals flock to the weekly 4-course “Supper Club” events on Tuesdays, which feature themes such as Downton Abbey and exotic Indian banquets.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Ireland Guide
Yilan Shangrila Farm
Where: Dongshan, Taiwan
“Leisure Farms” are all the rage in Taiwanese tourism these days, and Shangrila is one of the longest-standing and most popular. Visitors can stay, explore the farm, and dine on local delicacies amid soaring mountainscapes. Restaurant options include a glass tea house and a dim sum parlor, while a butterfly farm-within-the-farm makes guests feel especially close to nature.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Taiwan Guide