Each week, we spotlight a dream vacation recommended by some of the industry’s top travel writers. This week’s pick is Kerala, India.

(Courtesy image)

“I owe black pepper an apology,” said Kim Severson at National Geographic Traveler. At home, the ubiquitous table spice rarely wins my attention at most meals, but on a brief tour of the land that made it ubiquitous, I became a true enthusiast. In Kerala, India, spice gardens and tea plantations “cover the mountains like a tapestry,” and the taste of the dried pepper berries is so wonderfully complex that you understand why the spice was once more valuable than gold and why traders have sought out this southern coastal region for four millennia. I arrived from Atlanta with chef Asha Gomez expecting a low-key week of exploring her Indian culinary roots. It ended up being “a farm-to-table trip on steroids.”

Asha was born in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala’s capital, where we spend our first night loading up on dosas at a place called Pai Brothers. A photojournalist has agreed to be our guide to Kerala’s culinary landscape, and the next morning we leave the muggy city in a van and drive five hours to the cool air of the Cardamom Hills. As we near our destination, small spice gardens, each touting tours, “begin to pop up like roadside pick-your-own apple orchards.” The mountaintop Briar Tea Bungalow outside Munnar sits on 2,500 acres, and the tea plants that surround the inn are “so meticulously trimmed, they look like suburban shrubbery.” Tourists can pick tea in the morning, watch it get dried, then drink it in the afternoon. Instead, we drive to the edge of the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, where the eco-lodge Spice Village puts us up in bungalows that look like tribal huts, and serves us coffee made with cardamom …read more

Source:: The Week – World

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