Celebrations International Travel Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Italy culinary travel

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.

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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!

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!

Check out these beautiful pictures of a small town in Tuscany (tweeted by Susan Pohlman this morning): http://bit.ly/EOEMb

Enjoy pristine vistas like these, along with superb food and wine on a Culinary Tour of Tuscany! Celebrations International Travel will customize an itinerary for you:  The sample itinerary is just there to inspire your travels.  You let us know when and where you want to travel.  We will custom design a tour to suit your particular interests, tastes, and budget.

tuscany

In a nutshell, our custom culinary tours allow you the flexibility to see, do, (and of course eat and drink) what you want, when you want.

Celebrations International Travel’s custom culinary tours are all about Celebrating Life Through Travel!

I thought I’d expand on our earlier post entitled “Introduction to Culinary Travel” by sharing a bit about my perspectives on culinary travel.  We ventured into the culinary travel arena because of our profound love of great food, wine, and travel.

When I say  “great food,” I’m referring to any type of food that’s well prepared and tastes good.  I love idyllic ambience and service in 5-star settings, but I’m just as enthralled with the unforgettable foods so often found in favorite local restaurants and “hole-in-the-wall” places.   My agency’s culinary tours reflect this idea in that we try to incorporate a variety of dining experiences in every itinerary, from dinner at the Eiffel Tower to meals hosted by local families.   In all cases, guests are treated to great food and memorable experiences.

Great food is, of course, my pre-requisite for culinary travel of any type.  However, my idea of a culinary tour is not for our guests to literally eat their way through their destination country (although you might be tempted to!).  I view culinary travel as a way to experience your destination, instead of “just visiting.”

Customization: Celebrations’ culinary tours are always custom-designed, never the “cookie cutter” version:  You’d want your food prepared to your liking; why shouldn’t your travel be tailored to your liking as well?

Memorable Experiences & Activities: Our tours are meant to provide you with travel experiences that you’ll remember and cherish–not a whirlwind bus tour.  Our goal is to give you the opportunity to experience your chosen vacation destination, with a focus on culinary elements.  Experiencing a destination means different things to different people.   For example, one group of travelers to Italy may have a passion for homemade pastas and want a lesson from a local chef, while others may prefer to spend the afternoon in the shade of the olive trees sipping wines with a knowledgeable sommelier.

That’s why our ability to customize your tour is so important and unique.   I believe in putting together a variety of dining experiences, sightseeing, and culinary and cultural activities that suit your own tastes, preferences, and needs to complete a tour that’s uniquely customized for you and your family, group, or organization.

The possibilities are endless, and we welcome the opportunity to work with enthuastic culinary travelers!

I just saw the following tweet:

msnbc_travel: Steves: Tuning in to tasty Italy http://bit.ly/T8gh3

“Tuning in to a tasty Italy”.  I couldn’t agree more with that heading.  In my opinion, tuning in to the food, wine, culinary traditions and heritage of a destination is one of the best ways to get to know a place, its people, and their culture.   When a native tells you about his or her country, you’re more apt to hear “My grandma used to make this dish.” or “My family went there every summer and every holiday,” as opposed to something that sounds like they’re reading out of a textbook.

These are the types of experiences that we as travelers collect, remember, and cherish.   To inspire more thoughts on food and travel to Italy, see our Tuscany Culinary Tour sample itinerary.

Let us know what you think, what your idea of an ideal trip to Italy is, and what your favorite Italian dishes are!

Please visit our newly-updated Culinary Travel Homepage.

Our current destinations with sample itineraries posted include:

China

Germany

India

Japan

Peru

Thailand

Tuscany

Vietnam

We will be adding more destinations soon.  Please note that the links above will take you to our sample itineraries, however, they are only meant as an example and to inspire ideas in culinary travel.  Everything we do is customized to your needs and preferences, so let us create your ideal culinary vacation!  We work with your budget and time constraints in mind and design tours around what you want to see and do.

Not familiar with a destination?  No problem.  That’s where our destination experts come in.  We will suggest sightseeing, cultural activities, shopping, whatever you’d like us to include in your tour.

If you have a destination in mind that isn’t listed, email info@celebrationsinternationaltravel.com or call (480) 272-6020 and let us know.  We can have a tour designed just for 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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