Celebrations International Travel Blog

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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!

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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!

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

I am amazed at the response that my post from yesterday entitled McDonald’s in the Louvre!  I had no idea that it would generate such a buzz.  Thank you to everyone who has visited the blog, left comments, and referred others to view it.  And a big thank you to WordPress for listing Celebrations International Travel’s blog on their homepage.

In the spirit of fairness, I must tell you that I enjoy a McDonald’s hamburger, Chicken McNuggets, and french fries just as much as the next guy, just not all the time, and certainly not on vacation at the Louvre.  The reason why I included the words “all the time” is because many Europeans (especially the French) have long held tight to the notion that all Americans eat McDonald’s (or whatever fast-food) and chug down soda incessantly.  I am speaking, of course, of the most stereotypical of viewpoints.  I must confess:  I love my Coke, but I did go six weeks without it once in France because it was so expensive at the time.

But just because Coke’s my favorite and I eat McDonald’s sometimes doesn’t make me a stereotypical American, whatever anybody’s idea of that is.  Nor does it mean that I agree with or understand the decision to let McDonald’s take up residence inside the Louvre!  No, I don’t think the golden arches, or any other fast-food restaurant for that matter, are a good fit for the ancient grounds of the Louvre.  Frankly, I think the whole connotation is disrespectful to the institution of the Louvre.  I can only hope that the controversy over this topic is directed at a clash of cultural ideals and not intended as purely anti-American sentiment.

After all this talk of “no fast food,” I thought I’d show you my idea of what classic French cuisine entails.  As culinary travel specialists, we endeavor to share with our travelers the best that each destination has to offer, whether it be five-star cuisine or home cooking.  What’s important to us is quality and good taste.  All tours are customized for your family or group, so the sample itineraries are provided to inspire you!

We invite you to browse our sample itineraries for all culinary travel destinations currently featured and let us know your thoughts.

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!

Celebrations International Travel’s Australia Culinary Tour has just been posted to our Web site!  This sample itinerary is the latest addition to our exclusive line-up of customized culinary tours.

How are they customized?  The itineraries you see posted on our Culinary Travel Homepage are only intended as examples of what our agency’s culinary tours would typically be like.  They are meant to inspire your travels, then we add in some of your own ideas to create a customized tour just for your family, friends, group, or organization.  There are no set departure dates unless your tour is centered on a time-specific event, so we will work with your time constraints and any reasonable budget that you prefer.

Here’s to Celebrating Life Through Travel in Australia!


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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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