It’s a vacation that takes a lot of guts, so Mike goes for a taster of what Intrepid Travel has to offer.
Intrepid Travel invites you to’Eat Your Way Around the World’, but with that world now more attuned to’Eat the World Around Your Way’ i.e. locally sourced produce, you might feel that a gastronomic adventure to nine countries is a less than sustainable way to gobble globally than sitting at home scrolling through Just Eat – but you’d be missing the point.
Intrepid is a responsible outfit, not only treading the world lightly, but getting stuck in with local communities and initiatives, conservation and human rights issues. All that whilst providing a’travelling dinner party’ of monied’Johnny foreigners’ like you with’real life’ experiences like feasting with locals in family-run restaurants, rural homes or temples.
You’ll be troughing over 150 meals across India, Vietnam and Cambodia, South Korea, Japan, Mexico, Israel and Palestine and Morocco – as if you’d want a tagine after all that, I’d be full after about Korea.
Fortunately, it’s not a long weekend of bingeing but global gastronomy over 101 days which, despite sounding like an 18th century gentleman’s bet or the next Michael Palin series, should help prevent the build up of personal gas. Or you can split it into bite sized chunks more akin to a normal holiday.
To get a tiny glimpse of the above, I’m having the real life experience of cooking and dining in the Cookery School at Little Portland St, with a bunch of other food or travel types, which basically means we’re cooking our own dinner. I have no problem with this and look forward to all the chopping with their lovely looking super sharp knives – I like chopping.
We’re split into red, green and blue teams to prepare starter, main and dessert. I’m designated blue which involves flat breads for the dips and being team Tiramisu, which doesn’t sound very choppy; I never have been picked for the right team for anything.
Red team get to chop a ton of fresh stuff into Tabbouleh and machine chop Aubergine Puree, Hummus, and Muhammara which sounds like the noise you make if the shower’s too hot, but is in fact a sensational roast red pepper, bread crumbs and toasted walnut dip.
Team Green get to chop up Taiwanese Sesame Chicken with ginger and soy for the main event with sticky rice and finally us lot, team blue, shuffle about in the corner waiting for our turn to dip pre-prepped sponge fingers into Marsala, coffee and rum and layer them up with cream before dusting a bit of cocoa on top.
Our flat bread masterclass involves pre prepped dough rolled once one way and twice the other, as demonstrated by our tutor chef Ghilad, who does some deft pin action leaving his bread that perfect slightly pointy oval shape like so many middle Eastern things, while mine looks like the Isle of Wight. It’s like team blue aren’t allowed sharp things.
We sit to eat and the dips are amazingly fresh and zingy with punchy spices, then the main course is simple but tasty. Finally our Tiramisu takes the stage.
Obviously it should’ve been in the fridge overnight to let all the flavours, to use Slater’s classic catch phrase:’get to know each other’, but it’s only been able to sit in a blast chiller for about half an hour, so it has more chewy fingers than a first time public speaker and a layer of dusty dry cocoa like a mini Martian landscape.
But who cares, you can’t compare a quick press taster to Intrepid’s epic 101 day itinerary and I’m sure the Druze villagers in Golan Heights or the Palestinian slow-food experts in Nablus will make sure you pull your weight.
I sift through the promotional material on the way home to discover that the cost of the trip, including flights, transfers and accommodation, plus the 150 meals and over 120 activities and excursions, is a cool £22,000; marginally more than my annual Just Eat spend.
Intrepid Travel is the world’s largest small group adventure travel company. The company offers more than 1,500 itineraries in over 120 countries.