by Adrian Northrup & Julia Spiro

You love to eat. And drink. You obsess over food magazines, watch cooking shows on TV and even dabble a little in the culinary arts yourself. You sample a spirit and imagine the perfect meal to complement its aroma and taste. You’ve spent the equivalent of a pair of Gucci heels on a single meal (or at least longed to). And when you plan a trip, you plan your meals (or at least where you will be dining).

Your destinations are to the food capitals of the world. You sample the authentic cultural cuisine wherever you vacation, venturing down tiny alleys to find that authentic French café or family pizzeria. You stay at hotels and resorts that have, or are located near, the best restaurants in the city (or country). Here are some of Tango Diva’s recommendations for food and wine vacations.

Venice, Italy: Luna Hotel Baglioni

This luxury hotel boats the title of Venice’s oldest hotel. Guests can start their day in the hotel’s opulent and historic Marco Polo room, which features an 18th-century frescoed ceiling, for a decadent breakfast of buttery croissants and piping hot espresso, then hop into a gondola right outside the hotel’s doors. The hotel’s prime location makes it easy to access all of Venice’s culinary gems, such as the Trattoria Altanella, known for its homemade gnocchi, Da Fiore, where the crispy fried mixed vegetables are a must and Al Covo, which features simple grilled fish. For a true Venetian experience, every visitor must go to the Campo Santa Margherita and pick up a hot slice or two of thin crust pizza at the famous Pizza Al Volo. For something sweet, the Gelateria Squaro, a family-run join, serves delectable gelato that is made on-site. Visitors should also duck into the many wine bars throughout Venice for a unique drinking experience and delicious tapas-style snacks. It’s worth waking up early to see the fish market’s selection of daily catches and then check out the Rialto farmer’s market for an incredible selection of produce. At the end of a long day of sightseeing and eating, guests at the Luna have a paradise to return to, featuring their own gourmet dining and 24-hour room service. The staff is helpful and willing to point guests in the direction of an expansive list of recommended dining destinations in and around the area.

For more information and to make a reservation, visit the Luna Hotel Baglioni Web site.

Seattle, Washington: The 11th Avenue Inn

Seattle has become one of the top culinary destinations in the US, because of its fresh seafood, organic produce, wineries, and of course, coffee. A stay at the 11th Avenue Inn, which is walking distance from the city center and main attractions, is perfect for those looking for a classic bed and breakfast experience. The Inn’s dining room is an opulent yet cozy room where hot, full breakfasts, including crepes and French toast, are served. For lunch and dinner dining, the list of the city’s best restaurants is extensive, including the contemporary and inventive Crush, the classic French hotspot Campagne, the traditional steak house The Metropolitan Grill, and the Seattle-institution Ray’s Boathouse, to name a few. It’s worth taking a day trip out of the city to the Woodinville area’s 30 wineries, including two of the state’s biggest wineries, the Columbia Winery and the Chateau Ste Michelle. And besides the obvious choices of Starbucks and Seattle’s Best Coffee, this city offers an abundance of locally owned corner coffee shops that are worth a sip or two.

For more information and to make a reservation, visit the The 11th Avenue Inn Web site.

Bordeaux, France: La Maison Bord’eaux

Bordeaux has always been known for its wine, but until recently, it was disregarded as any kind of metropolitan destination. In the past several years, however, the city has undergone massive changes, including waterfront clean-up, a new tram system, and an influx of restaurants and bars. La Maison Bord’eaux, an original 18th century town house turned hotel, is an example of this modern transformation, as each of its sleek and elegant rooms feature full amenities and internet. Nearby restaurants include the often star-studded L’Estaquade, the decadent Chez Gilles, and the opulent Dubern. Only 30 miles outside of the city is the famous Chateau Mouton Rothschild winery, known for its wine of the same name. This winery not only showcases their famously delicious wines but also a history of their wine labels. A trip to Bordeaux will leave guests with a full and satisfied belly as well as a new knowledge of the history of fine wines.

For more information and to make a reservation, visit the La Maison Bord’eaux Web site.

More Food and Wine Vacations

BC, Canada: Gourmet Kayaking Weekend

Seville, Spain: Going Tapas

Punjab, India: For The Love of Food

Dining Diva Janice’s Journal

Tango Diva Travel Agent sponsored “A Taste of Peru Trip” in October 2008

target=”_blank”>Tango Diva Travel Agent sponsored “Bourdeaux Wine Tour” October 2008

For a foodie travel guide, check out Tango’s Diva’s Guide to Travel Guides.

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