For Radmila Karlić, a day’s work means leading her dogs into the dense Motovun forest of Istria, Croatia, to hunt for truffles. She carries a small shovel, ready to dig up the edible treasures the dogs sniff at the roots of the towering oak trees. “Dogs can smell truffles when they’re 65 feet deep,” she explains.
Karlić brings the truffles back to her family’s home, where they’ll be cleaned and shipped off to one of the 450 restaurants that rely on her findings. But dining out on truffles can’t compare to joining her in the field—and then rewarding yourself with a post-hunt meal.
One of the best ways to get to know a place is through its food, and it’s increasingly easy for travelers to experience firsthand the foraging trend popularized by chefs like René Redzepi of Copenhagen’s Noma. We dug up an array of cooking schools, hotels and passionate locals offering tours that celebrate wild, fresh ingredients, whether over a two-hour sail or a weekend-long forest adventure.
“Foraging keeps you completely in the moment, connects you with the ecological web of life which we are all a part of but are mostly disconnected from, and fills a deep ancestral yearning,” says Caroline Davey, ecologist, forager and cook at the Fat Hen school in Cornwall, England. “The pleasure people get from then cooking a fantastic feast with these amazing ingredients all sourced within a few miles of Fat Hen is palpable.”
Similarly satisfying experiences await across the globe, from diving for conch in Turks and Caicos to picking herbs on the slopes of Devil’s Peak in Cape Town. After all, the appeal of wild food is universal and even innate.
As Alan Muskat, CEO of Asheville, North Carolina’s No Taste Like Home, puts it: “Ideal for people and the planet, wild food is healthier, fresher and more flavorful than its garden-variety descendants, and it’s all superfood because it’s what we evolved to eat."
With its medieval towns and bountiful rolling hills, Istria has been hailed as the next Tuscany. Foodies come for the truffles—some of the world’s finest—and can go hunting in the Motovun forest with a guide from Karlić, a family-run company whose dogs are trained to sniff out truffles hidden underground. Black truffles are available year-round, peaking in the summer, while the white variety turns up from September through December. The two-hour tours include an introduction to the history of truffle hunting and end with a light lunch, typically scrambled eggs and small bites that bring out the spotlight ingredient’s flavor. $42–$157 per person.