Ham it up in France, picnic in Arizona

Email|Print| Text size + By Alison Arnett
March 26, 2006

Spring brings food and wine festivals, bursting like tulips in the warm sunshine. It might still be a little chilly in New England for frolicking outdoors, but not so in the West where the weather is more predictably sunny. And wining and dining comes in all shapes -- from celebrating a ham to showcasing an onion to sampling great chefs in Singapore.

Ham Festival
BAYONNE, France April 13-15

This town in the Pyrenees is known for its hams, a Basque specialty. Every year since 1942, the hams are feted in Holy Week and this year the festival leads up to Easter Sunday. It features tastes of the local charcuterie and special dishes at Bayonne restaurants. For information, go to

Taste of Vail
VAIL, Colo. April 5-9

Vail sparkles as a ski resort, but there are other attractions at these heights. The 16th annual Taste of Vail takes place at several venues and includes wine tastings, cooking seminars, port and sake seminars, and chocolate tastings. An après-ski tasting might be the special treat after a day on the slopes, as could a mountain-top picnic reached by gondola. A ticket for all events is $375; tickets available for some single events. For information, go to

Culinary festival
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. April 18-23

Arizona has fast-forwarded to high spring by April. The Scottsdale Culinary Festival encompasses demonstrations by chefs, a wine country brunch, and other dinners and tastings. The Great Arizona Picnic will take place April 22-23, with local restaurants offering tastes of their special dishes. A twist on an ''Iron Chef" competition will pit chefs, each with a mystery basket of ingredients, against each other to create an appetizer and entree in a limited time. Costs range from $5 for admission to the picnic to $200 for a James Beard dinner April 18. For information, call 480-945-7193 or go to

Vidalia Onion Festival
VIDALIA, Ga. April 26-30

A festival devoted to onions? Then again, Vidalia onions might be the most famous onions ever. The 29th annual Vidalia Onion Festival includes cooking classes, farm tours to see how onions are grown and picked, and chefs' competitions and tastings, some open to amateurs. With costs from $5 for the Little Miss Vidalia Onion Pageant to $10 for cooking classes, this is a bargain event. For information, contact the Vidalia Area Convention & Visitors Bureau at 912-538-8687, or go to

World Gourmet Summit
SINGAPORE April 10-28

If you yearn for a taste of the Far East, you might jet to Singapore for the World Gourmet Summit. The two weeks of events include culinary master classes, dinners featuring the signature dishes of StraitsKitchen at the Grand Hyatt Singapore, herbal high teas, a champagne brunch and celebrity chefs such as Philippe Legendre of Le Cinq in Paris and Santi Santamaría of Can Fabes in Sant Celoni, Spain. For information, go to

Contact Alison Arnett at

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