Celebrations International Travel Blog

Posts Tagged ‘China

Up on the steep slopes of Cotton Mountain, Shanxi Province, China, stands a Taoist Monastery. It secludes itself by hiding way high in Cotton Mountain reached either by climbing hundreds of hanging steps or by creeping up a narrow, steep, and winding road.  The Monastery is a huge structure consisting of grand welcome gates, temples, residences for monks and guests, dining halls, study chambers,connecting hanging bridges, pagodas, and scenic lakes and waterfalls.  All its magnificent architecture, stretching over layers of mountain ranges, was designed and constructed by taking advantage of the natural slopes and cliffs.  Buildings protrude to the blue sky and hang over deep green valleys.  The Monastery is one of the most frequented spots for visitors to Shanxi Province, China.  Read more

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Celebrations International Travel : Princess Cruise Line Certified Experts

“The Most Wondrous Wall of All” is a very unique and personal account of Emilio Mazzi’s visit to the Great Wall of China.  We’ve helped clients arrange many trips to Asia over the years, and Emilio’s experience stands out because it’s much different than a typical tourist’s memories of an exhaustive climb “en masse” up the Great Wall.  I think this just goes to show how unique and different a tour on a Princess® cruise can be.

FYI, note that Emilio tells us this experience took place many years ago.  You can experience the Great Wall and other magnificent sites for yourself on Princess Cruises® shore excursions or take a Princess cruisetour.  Contact us for more information and plan your own travel experience in exotic Asia!

View of the Great Wall of China

View of the Great Wall of China

Check out this mouthwatering post on GotSaga.com that I was graciously invited to contribute to:  http://t.co/KcHBDfB Scroll down a bit until you see our picture!

Here’s the full text of my submission.  Enjoy!

China:  Peking Duck – A traditional three-course meal in which the duck is enjoyed in three different ways:  the crispy skin, the meat, and a soup course.

Thailand:  Phad Thai – This favorite is made up of flat, skinny rice noodles, bean sprouts, scallions, and other vegetables, tossed in a flavorful spicy and tangy sauce, topped with chopped peanuts.  The meat of your choice is most often added to this dish.

Vietnam:  Pho is a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup that is made in countless variations.  Vietnamese-style rice noodles are added to a spicy broth, along with beef, chicken, pork, or seafood and a variety of vegetables.  Diners are offered fresh lime, basil leaves, and bean sprouts to garnish to taste.

Australia:  Billy Tea & Damper:  A traditional Australian brewed tea with milk and sugar, enjoyed with a rustic-style biscuit.  The best thing about this is that it can be prepared virtually anywhere, including the middle of the Outback!

France:  Duck a l’Orange or Pate de Fois Gras – Duck with Orange Sauce or a terrine of Duck Liver Pate

Austria:  Weinerschnitzel – The traditional, richly-prepared Austrian veal cutlets

Switzerland:  Fondue or Raclette – The fondue is most often a mixture of different varieties of Swiss cheeses mixed with white wine or kirsch and fresh herbs, eaten with bite-sized pieces of a crusty baguette.  A raclette is a meal so unique I have never seen it elsewhere, even in Europe.  It requires a special grill with multiple compartments and surfaces, places in the middle of the table.  Diners choose from a variety of fresh vegetables, meats, eggs, or anything else the host fancies, puts the food in the raclette, and tops it off with cheeses, onion, garlic, herbs, and other condiments.  The heat from the raclette melds the ingredients together, resulting in a tasty and unique creation.

Spain:  Paella – This is a rice dish traditionally made with a variety of fresh seafood (clams, mussels, oysters, shrimp, scallops, etc.) and meats like chorizo and chicken.  Flavored with a rich broth and plenty of bright yellow saffron, paella can be prepared over an open fire and enjoyed on the beach, or savored in a five-star establishment.

Morocco:  Traditional Couscous –  This traditional meal is presented in huge, deep bowls.  First, a generous portion of couscous fills the bottom of the bowl, and is typically topped with cubed or sliced lamb, beef, and chicken or another meat of choice.  Fresh, colorful vegetables are added (root vegetables, etc.), then a slightly spicy, flavorful broth is ladled over everything….a great king-sized meal!

We would like to thank our friends and colleagues at www.GotSaga.com for featuring my article on Guilin and the Lijiang River.  What a befitting destination to feature in light of the Chinese New Year celebration currently going on!

Celebrations International Travel’s agents can help you plan a tour to China that best suits your travel style.  Whether you prefer to participate in a tour where the itinerary is pre-set and you get to join a group of traveliing companions, or if you’d prefer a tour itinerary customized with travel dates of your choice and including only those cities and towns that interest you, we can help you explore the wonders of China and the world!

Either as a part of your tour to China or as a trip by itself, a river cruise down the Yangtze and Lijiang Rivers is a unique and unforgettable experience.  See our Cruises page to learn more.  Victoria Cruises is an American-owned and managed cruise line specializing in Yangtze River cruises.  There is no better, more luxurious way to experience the waterways of China.

A tweet from @travelstour caught my attention just now, publicizing this article on foods named after places.

This article intrigued me for a number of reasons.  First, it was a fun challenge to see what I could add to their list.  I posted a comment with the following:

Carolina BBQ, Texas BBQ, Georgia peaches, Maryland blue crabs.

If I took more time, I think I think of quite a few more.

Second, this article got me thinking:  Identifying signature foods with certain places has everything to do with the very existence of culinary travel as a specialty travel niche.  If places were not culturally and historically identified with certain foods, culinary travel specialists like myself would not have much to talk about, would we?

Just off the top of my head, here are just a few examples featured in our own custom culinary tours:

French Champagne and Calvados, German Chocolate, Peking Duck, Edo-Style Sushi, Phad Thai, Chianti, and Rajasthani Thali

Indeed, we live in a very diverse, interesting, and tasty world!

Here is the text of an article I wrote that was published on WhereIveBeen’s “Your Daily Escape” yesterday.  Please note that the picture I’ve included here is different than that pictured on WhereIveBeen.com, and the links herein our for Celebrations International Travel’s site.

This tweet was WhereIveBeen’s announcement of my article:

whereivebeen International Flavor: An Introduction To Culinary #Travel http://su.pr/33u9Mi Thanks, Adrienne! (@celebrationsint) #foodies

Enjoy!

International Flavor:  An Introduction to Culinary Travel

By Adrienne Mitra
Celebrations International Travel

Culinary travel is an emerging trend amongst ardent travelers and food and wine lovers alike. What exactly does the term “culinary travel” bring to mind? As with any type of specialty travel, the variety of trips that could fall into the culinary travel category are as countless and unique as the travelers themselves: a weekend getaway visit to a special event like the Lobster Festival in Maine; a wine connoisseurs’ cruise; a tour of the Napa Valley vineyards; or hands-on cooking classes. What all of these culinary travel options have in common is this: The focus is not on simply having travelers eat their way through their destinations.

In my mind, the idea most intrinsic to culinary travel is that it provides travelers with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the culinary heritage and traditions of their destination. Excellent food and drink can be found anywhere in the world without necessarily having to travel. However, because food and its associated traditions are an intrinsic part of life, culinary travel is about experiencing a destination’s cuisine, culture, history, people, and way of life.

With this outlook, at my agency, Celebrations International Travel, we endeavor to create culinary travel that is unique and includes a variety of activities and experiences. We do this by combining elements of traditional sightseeing and cultural highlights with culinary-focused components to create customized tours. The culinary-focused components can be anything, depending on what the destination is best known for. For example, many culinary tours involve components that highlight the region’s renowned wines and classic cooking.

As a premier wine destination, your options in Tuscany are endless. For example, travelers can stay at a villa in the countryside with its own renowned chef. From this “home base,” travelers may choose to visit several wineries and sightsee in different parts of Tuscany. The winery experiences include not only wine tasting, but also olive oil, grappa, and cheese samplings. Guests have the opportunity to witness the wine-making, olive oil pressing, and cheese-crafting processes, take leisurely guided walks through the vineyards and olive groves, and enjoy visits with the local vintners and farmers. Germany is another great destination for wine connoisseurs, where travelers can choose to spend the night in a hotel room built in a hollowed-out wine barrel after a day of exploring the vineyards (pictured below)!  Guests may also enjoy a meal in the peaceful surroundings of a vineyard, grove, or farmhouse, with the venue’s signature wines as the centerpiece.

Wine Barrel Hotel Room in Germany

Stay in a hotel room built out of a wine barrel on our Germany culinary tour!

Speaking of meals, culinary travelers can enjoy hands-on cooking classes highlighting local specialties and ingredients. Sometimes the classes are held in culinary schools; other times they are hosted by well-known restaurants, villas, or bed-and-breakfasts. Whatever the venue, travelers will find themselves learning first-hand from culinary experts. In many instances, the “students” will assist the chef-instructor in gathering the ingredients to be used, either in an on-site garden or during a visit to a local market. The chefs introduce their guest students to the ingredients and guide them in the preparation of a gourmet meal that the entire group will enjoy at the conclusion of the lesson. These cooking classes give culinary travelers an excellent opportunity to try their hand at making pasta and other Italian favorites, learn the many uses of fresh Italian herbs, and enjoy a scrumptious meal that they helped create! Similarly, in Germany, guests may get to make an authentic Wienerschnitzel, learn various ways of incorporating fine German beers into traditional dishes, or try making Spaztle noodles. Best of all, cooking classes always end with a chance to sample the specialties made in the class!

There are many notable culinary destinations around the world. Domestic highlights include Napa and Sonoma, New England, the Louisiana Bayou, and the Hawaiian Islands. Internationally, France, Spain, Peru, Chile, China, Japan, Thailand, India, and Australia are some culinary hotspots to consider. No matter what destination you choose to explore from a culinary perspective, you are sure to find that a variety of activities and experiences await you.

An Introduction to Culinary Travel

Culinary travel is an emerging trend amongst ardent travelers and food and wine lovers alike.  What exactly does the term “culinary travel” bring to mind?  As with any type of specialty travel, the variety of trips that could fall into the culinary travel category are endless:  a weekend getaway visit to the Lobster Festival in Maine; a wine connoisseurs’ cruise; a tour of the Napa Valley vineyards; or cooking classes in Italy.  What all of these culinary travel options have in common is this:  The focus is not on simply having travelers eat their way through their destinations.

In my mind, the idea most intrinsic to culinary travel is that it provides travelers with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the culinary heritage and traditions of their destination. Excellent food and drink can be found anywhere in the world without necessarily having to travel.  However, because food and its associated traditions are an intrinsic part of life, culinary travel is about experiencing a destination’s cuisine, culture, history, people, and way of life.

With this outlook, at my agency, Celebrations International Travel, we endeavor to create culinary travel that is unique and includes a variety of activities and experiences.  We do this by combining elements of traditional sightseeing and cultural highlights with culinary-focused components to create customized tours.  The culinary-focused components could be anything at all, depending on what the destination is best known for.

As an example, our Tuscany sample itinerary suggests that travelers stay at a villa in the countryside with its own renowned chef.  From this “home base,” travelers visit several wineries and sightsee in different parts of Tuscany.  They also enjoy hands-on cooking classes followed by a meal in which to enjoy their culinary creations.  In Japan, our sample itinerary suggests a visit to a sake factory, a stay in a traditional Japanese “ryokan,” similar to a bed-and-breakfast, where travelers will enjoy a variety of different styles of Japanese dining.  In France, the sample itinerary includes a visit to a salt mine and a stay in a chateaux, where guests gather fresh herbs from its herb garden, and assist the chef in preparing lunch.  In some destinations, travelers have the opportunity to visit with local families, where they will learn to prepare and sample traditional dishes.

We try to make the cultural activities on our tours just as varied.  For instance, in Vietnam, travelers have the opportunity to see a traditional water puppet show.  They can also enjoy cruising the Mekong and Perfume Rivers, on the way to visit a restaurant and cooking school.  Upon arrival at the cooking school, they accompany the chef-instructor on his daily visit to the local market, where he will introduce guests to the traditional ingredients used in Vietnamese cooking.  In Australia, we suggest a Sydney Harbor cruise and a visit to the Koala & Wildlife Park.  In Germany, we suggest a visit to a Wine Museum and an overnight stay in a hotel whose rooms are constructed of wine barrels!

We strive to make our tours unique, combining culinary-themed elements with sightseeing and cultural activities.  Every effort is made to avoid the stereotypical “bus tour” image often associated with escorted touring.  With our approach to culinary tours, travelers will always have something interesting to see and do.  Best of all, Celebrations International Travel customizes every tour to suit your family or group’s specific needs and preferences.  We work with your travel dates, interests, and budget to create a culinary tour that’s uniquely yours.  There’s no better way to experience the world and all its culinary treasures!

Almost all Chinese people I know (myself included) love to celebrate the holidays (make that any holiday) with an abundance of good food.  Considering my own background, I think the Chinese have some of the most discerning palates and tastes in the world.  By “discerning,” I don’t mean that all food has to be 5-star restaurant-looking, but it has to be good.  Good by the Chinese cook’s own discerning standards, that is!

While some foods are symbolic during various festivals and occasions, many dishes can be served and enjoyed throughout the year.  Here are a few traditional dishes:

Ming Tsai’s Red-Roast Duck with Baby Bok Choy

Braised Chinese Mushrooms

Sticky Rice with Chinese Sausage

Try your hand at making these and other Chinese specialties on a culinary tour to China!  The sample itinerary is posted on our Web site to give you an idea of the types of things you can see and do on one of our culinary tours.  However, we encourage you to take that inspiration (and your love of Chinese cooking) and run with it!  We will customize your culinary tour to suit your interests, preferences, dates, and budget.  Don’t just eat your way through China, this is your chance to truly experience the cuisine and culture!

Celebrations International Travel…Celebrating Life Through Travel SM

Rasamalaysia.com is offering a chance to win a copy of this unique new cookbook.   Here’s the link to enter by leaving a comment:  http://tinyurl.com/yjhfog6

Subtitled “Home Cooking from Asian American Kitchens”, the cookbook offers a collection of recipes from various cuisines across Asia.

I must confess that I wasn’t always a fan of Asian foods while growing up.  I’m an American-born southern girl of Chinese heritage; many times I preferred to stick to good old macaroni and cheese!  But now that my husband and I have combined two distinct Asian cultures in our household, we are both ardent connoisseurs of all Asian cuisines.  (We’ll still join you any day for some scrumptious BBQ, NY Strip, or hearty American breakfast any day!)

I think this cookbook is a great way to not only celebrate our Asian origins, but to acknowledge and embrace our way of life in our American homeland as well.

Celebrations International Travel currently has sample itineraries for culinary tours in China, India, Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam.  We customize all itineraries to suit your family or group’s preferences, budget, and travel timeframe.

Interested in visiting another country in Asia or elsewhere in the world?  Let us know and we will create the tour just for you!  Contact us to start planning your culinary tour today!

A post on Twitter yesterday read: “101 Frightening Ice Cream Flavors From Around the World,” with this link: http://goplanit.com/l/1gu

Intrigued, I scrolled through the entire article. I found it quite interesting that although the title reads “….From Around the World,” all of the ice cream tubs have Japanese labels. So unfortunately, though I’m sure there are strange ice cream flavors from all over the world, this assortment doesn’t show it.

However, this article got me thinking about how foodies and travelers view other countries, their foods, and culinary traditions. As an American-born Chinese, and having lived in various parts of the U.S. and in Europe, and being married to an Indian man, I recognize the fact that my own perceptions of the world’s culinary scene is more than likely atypical.

I’m well aware that many strange-looking, unfamiliar delicacies in the world originate in Asia: 1000-year-old eggs, squid ink, and shark fin, just to name a few.  But I must say that reading this article made me realize that more often than not, Asia is the first place in the world many people would associate all that is unappealing, weird, maybe even downright yucky in regard to food.  Why that is, I’m not sure.   Unfortunately, I think this pop culture reputation sometimes causes Asia to be regarded as too different, exotic, and possibly less desirable to less adventuresome foodies and travelers.

I do know that my experiences in France as a teenager quickly turned some of my long-held notions about food and culture upside down. Up until then, I had never seen duck eaten any other way than roasted Chinese-style.

When a waiter presented me with my first Canard a l’Orange, I knew it was a traditional French preparation of duck, although I had never tasted it. My host, momentarily forgetting about my Chinese heritage, leaned over to explain, “C’est du canard.” (It’s duck.) For lack of a better response, I said “Oui, je sais.” (Yes, I know.) His eyebrows shot up, then realizing that I had, of course had duck before, he quickly says “J’ai rien dit.” (I have nothing to say.)

On a different occasion, I had lunch at Au Pied de Cochon, near the Centre Georges Pompidou Museum in Paris. Same experience, except this time it was pig’s feet. I didn’t even know people other than Asians even ate pig’s feet, let alone that there were different ways to prepare it. Too squeamish to try it, I watched in amazement as my host mother polished off the entire dish of baked pig’s feet.

What about foods largely uncommon in the U.S. that don’t have any “mainstream” connections to Asia? My host families served horse meat, rabbit, lamb, and mutton in stews and other dishes. Sometimes I wasn’t sure what I was eating until I was told; I just knew it was something different that sometimes tasted funny, although many times flavorful sauces helped to mask other less pleasant flavors.

I think it’s worth mentioning that although uncommon foods come from all around the world, it’s up to foodie travelers to discover each country’s authentic flavors.

Amongst some of the most common “unique” foods of the world, these come to mind: Roasted Guinea Pig (Ecuador & Peru), Haggis (Scotland), Dried Cuttlefish (Asia), Stinky Tofu (Taiwan), and Paneer (India).

Note that while I have listed these as foods that I view as “unique,” others who are more familiar with and who enjoy them would disagree with me.  In my mind, that’s the beauty of culinary diversity:  the fact that every traveler and every foodie can find culinary creations to enjoy no matter where your travels take you!



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This is blog based on the experiences and interests of travel agency owners Adrienne and Agni Mitra. Through our blog entries, we will share our travel experience and expertise. We will also have other entries of interest to inspire your travels.

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