Celebrations International Travel Blog

Posts Tagged ‘gourmet travel

We found some excellent mussels at the store on Saturday, and used them in a great seafood pasta:

1 Kielbasa Sausage

1 Can Chopped Clams

2 Pounds Mussels

2 Tablespoons Crushed Garlic

1/3 to 1/2 Cup Water

White Wine to taste

Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

1 Handful Coarsely Chopped Basil Leaves

Parsley to garnish

3 Teaspoons Sugar

Boil your favorite pasta (We used spaghetti) and set aside.  Add the crushed garlic and cut Keilbasa to a heated skillet coated with cooking spray.  Sautee until the keilbasa is lightly browned, just enough to impart flavor, and set aside.

In a Dutch oven or similar vessel, place the mussels and water.  Cover to steam partially, then add the chopped clams, kielbasa, garlic, white wine, basil, sugar, and pepper.  Cover to continue steaming mussels over medium heat.  When the mussels are fully open, remove the cover and continue cooking on medium heat for a few minutes to allow the flavor of the wine to infuse.

Serve hot over pasta and garnish with parsley if desired.  Mangia!

Are you a culinary enthusiast?  Please post to our blog and visit with us! You may enjoy taking a look at our culinary tour sample itineraries, all of which can be customized for your family or group.

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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!

This past summer, Celebrity Cruises launched its new Celebrity Life program, aimed at enhancing guests’ onboard experience.  In light of Celebrity’s re-branding that was just announced, I thought it befitting to tell you more about their onboard program.

“Celebrity Life” is a new series of palate-pleasing, intellectually-enriching and life-enhancing programs designed to deliver the most unique and sophisticated onboard experience in premium cruising.

Built on long-established pillars of the Celebrity brand – dining, enrichment, and wellness – Celebrity Life encompasses three distinct program categories: Savor, Discover, and Renew.

Savor takes an already stellar culinary experience to new heights, with eight new wine enrichment events, six spirits and mixology tastings, and more than seven different interactive programs for guests, hosted by the ship’s Executive Chef and team.

Discover presents an opportunity for guests to do or learn what they have always wanted to try, but never had time to accomplish. Whether it’s ordering a bottle of Chianti in Italian, or exploring the universe in 40 minutes, guests can delve into a wide variety of interests.

Renew offers an improved, more goal-oriented approach to classes, seminars, and treatments designed to help guests on their journey to looking younger, feeling better and living longer.

Additional information on the Celebrity Life program will be posted on the Celebrations International Travel Web site soon.  Please contact us or post any questions you may have.

I don’t know how many people in Japan celebrate Christmas, but check out this Frosty the Snowman bento box lunch and Gingerbread Man bento posted on Refrigerator Soup’s site….both excellent ideas and cute as can be!  Refrigerator Soup features a number of other Japanese-inspired creations.

As with many Asian cultures, the Japanese celebrate countless holidays, festivals, and other observances throughout the year.  Foods of special significance and symbolism are served at each meal, and the food choices are just as varied as the styles and types of Japanese meals.   Japanese cuisine prides itself on a large variety of foods served in small quantities that look exquisite.

You can experience the culinary wonders of Japan first-hand on a culinary tour customized especially for your family or group.  See our Japan Sample Itinerary, and contact us for more information.

Domo Arigato & Happy Holidays!

Following our string of Italian-themed tweets this morning, I thought this would be a good day to write about Christmas food traditions in Italy, one of our culinary tour destinations.  On Thanksgiving, my family and friends enjoyed a Marsala-infused gravy with our turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes.  Our friends are still talking about it!  That was our “Italian-inspired” twist for that meal.

My fellow tweep and travel writer Barry Frangipane has great ideas on Christmas in Italy and Italian food and wine.  One of his tweets from this morning reads:

How do they celebrate Christmas in Venice? I found out: http://bit.ly/NOELvc

Also, I really like this video clip from Food Network’s “The Best Of” celebrating Christmas Eve at Aldo’s in Baltimore’s Little Italy.

Another fellow tweep and foodie, @foodiephotos, who runs the Web site Refrigerator Soup has some great photos and recipes on her site.  Check out this beautiful panettone, a traditional Italian holiday cake.  Refrigerator Soup posts photos of food submitted by food bloggers.  A great “foodie” and culinary resource!

Here’s to a joyous (and tasty!) holiday season.  Contact Celebrations International Travel to start planning your custom culinary tour today!


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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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