Come vacation time the obvious choices are no longer limited to relaxing days spent sipping frozen drinks seaside at a private beach cabana, or hitting the slopes followed by après-ski spiked cocoa.

Instead, a new breed of gastronomic trips and tours offer the gourmet traveler a chance to expand on the culinary adventures had regularly at home.

Not content to just "go" to France anymore, we might voyage to the French Alps with the specific goal of experiencing first-hand how to make sweetly caramelized French onion soup laden with a blanket of cheese. All with personalized tips courtesy of a master chef.

Cultural tourism doesn't simply mean viewing priceless classics at the museum, but also includes taste-testing 12-year aged balsamic at a hillside vineyard and hand-rolling pasta at the hip of a white-haired Italian nonna. Back home, Sunday night spaghetti takes on new depth. These authentic experiences are born of a love of adventure and of the unknown: the willingness to strike out and try an obscure wine, or to go off the beaten path to try a restaurant on the recommendation of a local.

Because at the end of the day, new culinary knowledge is a souvenir unlike any other for the true food adventurer--one you can't put a price on and that truly lasts a lifetime.