Celebrations International Travel Blog

Posts Tagged ‘France

As a follow-up to my last post, I’d like to expand upon the adventurous nature that culinary tours can take on.

I don’t mean that every culinary traveler would necessarily want to embark on a strenuous hike or go bungee jumping (although we can certainly work that into a culinary tour if that’s what they want).

Culinary travel in the truest sense of cultural immersion tends to evoke the adventuresome spirit in many travelers.  For example, how often do travelers on your average sightseeing tour to Japan get to witness traditional cormorant fishing by the Ukai fishermen, done by firelight?  In India, travelers have the opportunity to stay overnight in an ancient palace and fort that has been converted into a hotel.  In Vietnam, you can take a cycle or walking tour through bamboo thickets to a rural village to see the threshing and harvesting of rice and get a glimpse of what modern-day village life is like.

In northern France, culinary travelers may want to visit the Cointreau Museum in Angers and tour the salt fields of Guerande.  In Germany, you can visit a farm to explore the origins of authentic Black Forest ham, spend the night at a hotel with rooms constructed of hollowed-out wine barrels, and marvel at the beauty of medieval castles and rolling vineyards while you enjoy some of the best German beers and wines.  In Italy, culinary travelers can enjoy a visit to a working Agriturismo, where five restored farmhouses sit amongst a grove of olive trees and a vineyard.  The Agriturismo produces amazing wines, olive oils, and cheeses.

In many culinary destinations, travelers have the opportunity to visit with local families to share a meal and learn their cooking techniques.  Especially for travelers looking for something that’s unique and not touristy, I can’t think of a better way to experience a destination, its people, and its culinary traditions.

These are just a handful of examples of the adventuresome nature of culinary travel.   Contact us to learn more and start planning a culinary adventure of your own!

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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!

I’ve chosen to combine these two countries in this entry because I’d like to share with you a bit about my own experience celebrating the holidays in the French/German border region.

I was hosted by a number of families while in France, and have traveled in Germany as well, so my memories are numerous and varied.  Spending Christmas with in a family’s 132-year-old ancestral home was quite an experience, complete with a live Christmas tree lit with real candles set in a room with wooden floors, no less!  On Christmas Eve, we were treated to a perfect, homemade Yule Log, or “Bouche de Noel and mulled wine with holiday spices (similar to apple cider enjoyed by many families in America), amongst other festive foods.  The authentic German glockenspeil was the only one I’d ever seen.

I also found holiday shopping to be quite a different experience, with the Christmas markets in both France and Germany.  These seasonal markets are an age-old tradition that remind me more of a street festival than simply stalls full of goods.  Most of the time, I enjoyed simply munching or sipping holiday goodies while browsing through the market in the crisp winter air.

I think anyone with a passion for the holidays and tradition would enjoy this unique experience.  Some avid travelers even make their way to Europe each year just to shop at the Christmas markets!  Whether you’d like to do that, or just love travel and good food, contact us to explore the possibilities.   Our custom culinary tours may interest you, or other types of travel that Celebrations International Travel services may inspire your own travels.

Best Wishes and Happy New Year!

Meilleux Voeux pour la Nouvelle An!

I saw this tweet from CondeNastTraveler (@CNTraveler) this morning:

Nostalgic for her trip to Switzerland, Word of Mouth gal Eimear Lynch picked up this travel-size raclette set: http://bit.ly/741Xn7

It interested me because I never thought about raclette sets being used during travel and didn’t know they were available.

For those who may be unfamiliar with raclette, it is a meal consisting of cheeses, meats, vegetables, and/or anything else you wish, all cooked in small portions in the raclette grill at the table.  The cheeses are generally seen as the “star” of the meal, and it’s great to share with friends or large groups.  Each person just makes whatever suits them, and the variety is endless!

I’ve had a raclette meal twice, both enjoyed in the Alsace region of France, near the Swiss border.  I think this little gadget is a neat idea, although it’s not exactly meant for a “meal on on the go”.

Our France Culinary Tour may be of interest to you.  The link takes you to a sample itinerary that we created to inspire your adventuresome spirit, but all tours are customized to include only the places you want to see, and the activities and sightseeing you want to do.  The travel dates are up to you, and we will work with your budget for the trip.  Please contact us with any questions.

Bon Appetit!

I found this travel tweet’s blog entry quite insightful: http://www.501places.com/2009/10/travel-broadens-the-mind-i-beg-to-differ/

I think the notion that travel broadens the mind is definitely true in that as we travel, we discover new places, different cultures, people and languages. But the other writer has a very valid point in that travel does not broaden your mind unless you have an open mind to begin with. Of course our own individual view and experience of new places, cultures and people are influenced by our previous travels, life experiences, background and beliefs, but if we don’t travel with open minds, whatever we see, hear, and do is filtered through the lens of whatever pre-conceived notions or ideas we might have. To that effect, I think this could be all-encompassing, from long-standing notion ingrained by the environments and/or cultures we were raised in to ideas garnered from pop culture (TV shows or commercials, the Internet, celebrity news, etc.).

Some of my own experiences might be good examples: Being an American-born Chinese, I was used to being one of the only (if not the only) Asian child in school in the southern United States. It wasn’t always easy, and I knew I was culturally different, but I never realized the extent until I went to Europe as a teen. One of my French host mothers said to me “You’re not American, you’re Chinese.” Having grown up in a family that always considered me as American as apple pie, and never having had anyone say that to me, (and especially not someone from outside American culture) I didn’t know how to react. Part of me wanted to lecture her on what it means to be a part of America’s “Melting Pot,” but I also wondered if anything I said would make a difference. The fact that I didn’t fit the mold of whatever her idea of a “typical American” is kept her from experiencing what it was like to get to know a multicultural American, in my opinion.

A good example of how pop culture influences people’s thinking is my experience with the teenagers at school in France. Back then, coffee wasn’t “en vogue” with most American teens, and I used to down soda just like everyone else. While in Europe, I learned to drink coffee, but not the strong black stuff without cream. Seeing me with a soda in hand, the teens there often remarked “How do you people live on Coke and hamburgers?” They had learned from watching syndicated American TV shows that American kids are always eating burgers and drinking soda. They wouldn’t dare attack french fries, as they are a favorite with the French as well! Talk about how modern pop culture influences our thinking.

Speaking of broadening the mind, until my husband and I traveled together to his native India for the first time, I had always considered myself well-traveled. Suffice it to say that that trip broadened my mind not only with new and different experiences, but it forced me to see first-hand what a wonderful thing it is to call our prosperous, modern nation home. You’ll hear more about our travels to India in future posts.

Here’s to open minds, travel that enriches the soul, and the endless memories and experiences our travels leave us with. That’s why we believe in Celebrating Life Through Travel SM.


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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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