Burgundy and Provence

We have just returned from a delightful eight-day river cruise aboard Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection‘s stunning S.S. Catherine sailing from Lyon to Avignon. From the moment we boarded, we were impressed with the magnificent Murano chandelier, the glass elevator with a glimmering waterfall cascading down its side, a Murano horse and long stretches of mirrors and marble.

Murano Horse
Murano Horse in s.s. Catherine’s Lobby
Murano Chandelier
Murano Chandelier in s.s. Catherine’s Lobby















Each stateroom is uniquely decorated with rich textiles, lovely French furnishing and handcrafted Savoir of England beds with fine linens. Shimmering marble bathrooms have a glass-enclosed shower, a towel-warmer, and L’Occitane toiletries.

On Monday, in Macon, France, we elected to take a bespoke experience: Southern Burgundy Delights at Chateau de Rully. The Chateau de Rully belongs to the same family from the beginning. The changes of the name over the centuries show that ownership was sometimes transferred through the female line; the main family names have been: Rully, Saint-Leger, Montessus and today de Ternay. Monsieur Le Comte de Ternay welcomed us and guided us through the Chateau. During the tour, we learned about the family history, anecdotes and secrets.

Chateau de Rully

Chateau de Rully Courtyard
Chateau de Rully

Monsieur Le Comte de Ternay
Monsieur Le Comte de Ternay

Our Tuesday port-of-call was Lyon, the culinary capital of France. Our included tour, “Do as the Locals do,” was a Lyon city tour. We discovered why Lyon has been named France capital of gastronomy while we visited Les Halles Paul Boucuse and strolled through Lyon’s historic old quarter, with many spectacular examples of medieval and Renaissance architecture and les traboules, the city’s old passageways.

LyonMarketplace Cheese ShopPuppets








Tain L’Hermitage, France was our Wednesday destination. Our included Twin Cities walking tour with wine tasting. Nestled on opposite side of the river in the heard of the Cotes du Rhone, the twin cities of Tournon and Tain L’Hermitage make an ideal destination for wine connoisseurs.

Tain L'HermitageL'Hermitage Landscape

Back on board, we were treated to a Crepe Suzette cooking demonstration and tasting with Pastry Chefs Raluca and Nuno in the Van Gogh Lounge.
Crepes Suzettes

On Thursday, we explored the charming village of Viviers with an organ concert performed in the Cathedral just for Uniworld guests. Viviers climbs a hill above the river, crowned by 12th century St. Vincent’s Cathedral. It happens to be the smallest cathedral in France, but it contains a marvelous organ. Sitting under the soaring vaults, we listened while a local organist demonstrated just how fine an instrument it is. From there we wandered down through the town and were treated to a special visit to our guide’s home!

St. Vincent's CathedralViviersSt. Vincent's Organ











We elected to visit a Truffle Farm and Chateauneuf-du-Pape wine tasting on Thursday afternoon.
Truffle HunterGrape Varieties










Our excursion choice on Friday in Avignon was a walking tour and the Palace of the Popes. It’s hard to believe, looking at the charming cafes and entertaining street performers in the Clock Tower Square, that this lively scene owes its existence to a 15th-century siege. This area was the heart of medieval Avignon~and the site of the original Roman town~crowded with cottages and narrow treets, until a pope had it all demolished in order to give his troops a cleared field of fire!

Avignon cafePalace of the Popes










Arles rounded out the week on Saturday. Van Gogh paid tribute to Arle’s atmospheric beauty in some 200 paintings, including Starry Night Over the Rhone. It’s an ancient city boasting a remarkable collection of Roman ruins. We strolled through the district where medieval houses crowd in among the ancient structures and the city gates date to the 13th century.
Van Gogh CafeArles Roman Ruins










The final verdict? Uniworld’s attentive service, unique decor, wonderful beds and bathrooms, and superb cuisine make the s.s. Catherine a brilliant choice for vacationing in one of France’s most alluring regions.

Appealing? Want to plan a river cruise for 2018? I would love to make this happen for you.

Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

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  • or by phone – 800-372-1963
  • How’s The Food?

    That’s one of the first questions our clients ask when we discuss a new-to-them river cruise line. Some clients are worried that there will only be “foreign” foods with too many sauces. Others are concerned that the selections will not be authentic regional dishes. Happily, the menus satisfy most guests. There will be a variety of choices but if they won’t suit, passengers can opt for one of the “always available” entrees which may include a fish, poultry or beef dinner.

    To give you an idea of the food served, here are recipes from popular river cruise lines.

    From Uniworld Boutique River Cruises:

    Manhattan Transfer
    From summer through fall, Bucharest’s markets present a parade of seasonal fruits. None is more Romanian than the sour cherry. The tasty berry garnishes this classic Manhattan made with rye whiskey and vermouth. You might try it in an Old Fashioned, too. Find this cocktail onboard the River Duchess on the Highlights of Eastern Europe itinerary or make it at home!

    Manhattan

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 6cl (2.03 fl oz) straight rye whiskey
    • 3cl (1.01 fl oz) sweet vermouth
    • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
    • 1 sour cherry
    PREPARATION:
    Build over ice in a mixing glass. Stir and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a sour cherry.

    From AmaWaterways:

    One of the most delicious aspects of traveling is to indulge in the incredible cuisine of the places you visit. Inspired by French velouté soups, this rich and flavorful cream of Chardonnay soup is made and paired with Chardonnay, of course. Leeks at the peak of their freshness and the bright sweetness of white grapes combine with butter and cream to create the perfect springtime comfort food. You can serve it as an appetizer or make it the star of the meal, served along with rustic French bread. Chardonnay Soup

    CREAM OF CHARDONNAY SOUP

    Try this recipe for Cream of Chardonnay Soup that’s often served onboard AmaWaterways ships. Chardonnay contributes the most richness of any dry white wine commonly used for cooking. For rich, creamy soups, wine can provide a welcome note of freshness and contrast – almost like a squeeze of lemon or an extra layer of flavor. The creamier a soup is, the more full-bodied a wine it can take.
    INGREDIENTS:
    3½ tablespoons of unsalted butter
    ½ cup onions, chopped
    ½ cup white leeks, chopped
    1 cup white flour (or wheat flour)
    2 cups Chardonnay
    10 ½ cups vegetable stock
    1 ½ cups of heavy cream
    1 ½ cups of white grapes
    ½ cup of fresh parsley, chopped
    Salt to taste
    Pepper to taste

    PREPARATION METHOD
    • Wash produce thoroughly
    • Chop onions and leeks into small cubes and set aside
    • Peel white grapes, remove seeds and slice
    • Wash parsley, chop and pat dry

    Use a large pot on medium heat to sautéed onions and leeks with butter until golden, then gradually add in the flour to thicken. Pour 1 cup of Chardonnay and all of the vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper and let the soup simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain soup through a mesh cloth and add in the rest of the Chardonnay. Add heavy cream to soup. Garnish with warm grapes and parsley before serving.

    Makes 10 servings.

    From Viking River Cruises:

    French Gougères Cheese Appetizers

    Gougères are among the most popular hors d’oeuvres in France. A traditional specialty of the Burgundy region, gougères are often made with Gruyère cheese. You can also use other cheeses (such as parmesan) to add an extra depth. Enjoy these with a glass (or two) of good French wine.
    Ingredients
    • 1½ C water
    • ½ C unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
    • 1 tsp (5 g) salt, divided
    • 1½ C flour
    • 6 lg eggs
    • 1 C (130 g) grated Gruyère cheese, packed
    • ½ C (90 g) good quality parmesan cheese, packed
    • ½ tsp (2 g) fresh ground pepper
    • ½ tsp (2.5 g) salt
    Directions
    Place one oven rack in top third and a second rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 400°F (204°C). Line two rimmed baking sheets with lightly greased parchment paper. In a 3- or 4-qt saucepan over medium heat, bring water, butter, and half the salt to a simmer, stirring until butter melts. Add flour all at once, stirring rapidly with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a smooth, thick paste with no lumps. Remove pan from heat; allow mixture to cool until it feels just warm. Using a hand-held mixer, beat in one egg at a time until all are incorporated. Stir in cheese, pepper and remaining salt. Drop spoonfuls of dough 3 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets. Bake until dough is puffed and golden brown, about 30 minutes, swapping the position of baking pans halfway through.
    • Prep time: 16 minutes.
    • Cook time: 30 minutes.
    • Makes 10 servings.

    Wiener Zwiebelrostbraten Wiener Zwiebelrostbraten

    Wiener Zwiebelrostbraten might not exactly roll off your tongue, but it will melt in your mouth. The name, pronounced VEE-ner TZVEE-bell-roast-brotten, literally means “Viennese roast beef with onions.” Very popular in Austria and Bavaria, this recipe enhances the beef flavor of the sirloin steaks through slow oven braising with that staple of Viennese cuisine, beef stock.

    Ingredients
    • 4 T butter
    • 2 med onions, peeled & thinly sliced
    • 1 tsp (2⅖ g) sweet Hungarian paprika
    • 6 8-oz boneless beef sirloin steaks, pounded ¼-inch thick
    • Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • 3 T(44 ml) vegetable oil
    • 4 C (946 ml) beef stock or consommé, fresh or canned, boiled down to 2 C (473 g)
    • ½ C (60 g) sour cream
    Directions
    Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). In a large cast-iron skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Sauté onions until light brown, stirring often; add paprika; cook another minute. Remove onions from pan; set aside. Season steaks with salt and pepper. Add vegetable oil to same skillet and add steaks; brown on both sides. Turn off heat, add beef stock to skillet, arrange onions on top and cover. Bake until tender, about 2-2½ hours. To serve, place steaks on a pre-warmed serving platter with onions arranged on top. Cover loosely to keep warm. Return skillet with remaining liquid to high heat and bring to a boil. Stir in sour cream; immediately remove from heat and pour over steaks. Serve immediately.
    Serving Suggestion
    This dish is traditionally served with roast potatoes or buttered parsley potatoes; you can garnish with crispy fried onions if you like.
    • Cook time: 2-2 1/2 hours
    • Makes 6 servings.

    From Uniworld Boutique River Cruises: Uniworld Desserts

    Mrs. Tollman’s Signature Honeycomb Ice Cream

    1 cup corn syrup
    8 oz granulated sugar
    1 tablespoon white vinegar
    1 tablespoon baking soda
    1-quart premium vanilla ice cream

    Dissolve the syrup, sugar, and vinegar over a medium heat. Turn the heat up high and boil until the syrup turns to a light caramel.
    Take the pan off the heat and quickly stir in the baking soda, then pour the mix into a high-sided baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper and greased with butter. Leave to cool and harden: do not refrigerate!
    Once hardened, this brittle, crunchy slab becomes your honeycomb base.
    Slightly soften the vanilla ice cream in a chilled ceramic bowl. Carefully break the honeycomb slab into various sizes, none more than 2cm square, and quickly fold half into the ice cream.
    Pour the ice cream into a desired ice cream mold or back into the original ice cream container and freeze again.
    Keep the remaining honeycomb in an air tight container for topping when serving.

    Sound appealing? Want to plan a river cruise for 2017 or 2018? I would love to make this happen for you.

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

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  • or by phone – 800-372-1963
  • Convertible Caravans of Europe ~ An Authentic Vacation Experience

    We’ve just become aware of a new variation on vacation packages: Convertible Caravans of Europe! No, it’s not tent camping. It’s not even touring in convertibles~although that is an option. It’s a collection of independent travelers brought together to tour some of the most scenic parts of Europe driving in a private car at their own pace. Created for those who want to explore in safety, comfort, and in the company of like-minded explorers. Special interest itineraries~for Golfers (and non-golfing companions,) Mancations (fast paced men-only itineraries,) Classic, MYWay (custom tailored itineraries,) Soft Caravans for those with special needs, and my favorite ~ itineraries for foodies! These are small group trips with a minimum and maximum number of participants based on the program. Check out the possibilities and picture yourself touring Europe in a whole new way.

    Convertible Caravans of Europe

    If you are considering an Convertible Caravans of Europe holiday, please feel free to send me an email or call me so we can discuss your vacation plans in detail.

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

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  • or by phone – 800-372-1963

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  • WORLD OF VIKING: A CULINARY JOURNEY


    Viking River Cruises Special Offers

    While river cruising is still relatively new to the U.S. market, it has become one of the fastest growing segments of the travel industry. Viking River Cruises has grown its market share to a whopping 45% of the river cruise lines promoted to North Americans.
    Their advertising in print media, through direct mail and most notably through PBS Masterpiece® sponsorship during Downton Abbey has stimulated awareness of river cruising and its opportunities for unique cultural experiences that reveal the history, culinary traditions and character of each destination.

    With the increased popularity of river cruising, Viking has responded to the culinary demand for fine-dining experiences, local specialties, culinary demonstrations and wine tastings and cuisine focused shore experiences.

    Viking River Cruises premieres “Episode 5 – A Culinary Journey” on Downton Abbey on Masterpiece® with this introduction:

    “It’s been said that the best way to know a culture is through food. Food and wine are the windows into the traditions that form the essence of a country. It’s a way to experience the heart of faraway lands. And, it’s Viking’s privilege to share the world’s food stories with you. Viking Cruises proud sponsor of Masterpiece®.”

    Continue reading WORLD OF VIKING: A CULINARY JOURNEY

    Chocolate Connoisseurs Cruise

    Someone once said, “Chocolate doesn’t make the world go around … but it certainly makes the ride worthwhile!” Well stated, don’t you agree? For all chocoholics,
    AmaWaterways® presents the first-ever 2014 Chocolate Cruise with guest host Norman Love!

    AmaWaterways Chocolate Cruise
    Norman Love, the Chef, President and Founder of Norman Love Confections & Artisan Gelato

    Some of the most extraordinary chocolate confections made today are created with bygone European methods. So what better place to celebrate the fine art of chocolate-making than on an indulgent Danube River cruises through the heart of Europe? AmaWaterways® first-ever Chocolate Cruise will set sail on April 25, 2014, aboard the AmaCerto with award-winning guest host Norman Love, the Chef, President and Founder of Norman Love Confections & Artisan Gelato. Chocolate lovers booked on this truly extravagant seven-night cruise from Vilshofen to Budapest will enjoy private chocolate-making demonstrations and tastings, chocolate-themed shore excursions, educational seminars on chocolate, and a chocolate mini-buffet extravaganza.

    EXCLUSIVE CHOCOLATE CRUISE FEATURES:

  • Norman Love will share his knowledge & love of chocolate
  • Special Norman Love Confections Desserts
  • Chocolate Mini-buffet Extravaganza
  • Culinary Delights – Bites & Sights
  • “Sachertorte & Schlumberger Cellar Tour”
  • Educational Seminars on Chocolate
  • 3 Private Chocolate-making Demonstrations
  • Decadent Chocolate Tastings
  • The Romantic Danube itinerary, priced from $3,099 per person, double occupancy, cruise only, is a 7-night cruise beginning in Vilshofen, Germany and sailing to Budapest, Hungary. The U.S. departure date is Apr. 25, 2014. Ports-of-call include Passau, Linz, Melk, Krems, Vienna, and Bratislava. Optional 3-night land program in Prague for $750 per person. Shore excursion options are included in every port.

    If you are considering the Chocolate Connoisseurs Cruise river cruise, please feel free to send me an email or call me so we can discuss your vacation plans in detail.

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

  • Click Here To Email Us

  • or by phone – 800-372-1963

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  • Going To Europe This Summer? Enjoy A Unique And Fulfilling Tour!

    Looking to add some sparkle to your vacation? Customize your trip with a European Culinary Experience sightseeing tour – from just $25 per person!

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

    • Click Here To Email Us
    • or by phone – 800-372-1963

      Here’s a taste of the possibilities:
      Austria: Salzburg Candlelight Dinner & Concert at Fortress $71
      Vienna Vienna Heurigen Show $96

      Belgium: Brussels Gourmet Evening Tour $111

      France: Paris Behind the Scenes Bakery Tour $31
      Gastronomy Tour in Montmartre District $125

      Greece: Athens Greek Cooking Lesson $95

      Ireland: Dublin Merry Ploughboy Dinner Show $77

      Italy: Rome Pizza Making & Meal $111

      Florence Handmade Pasta-Cooking Course & Lunch $70
      Venice Falling in Love in Venice – Gondola Tour & dinner for couples $160

      Portugal: Lisbon Lisbon by Night with Fado Dinner show $109

      Russia: Moscow Vodka Tasting Tour $128

      Spain: Barcelona Gourmet Walking Tour $28

      Turkey: Istanbul Cooking Lesson $83

      United Kingdom:
      London Afternoon Tea at the Sherlock Holmes $25

      From Prices are per person; can be changed or modified at any time, and subject to currency fluctuation. Valid through December 31, 2013. Tours and activities are subject to availability at time of booking; may be discontinued without notice. From prices shown are in US Dollars.

      Vienna Sacher Torte

    Rocky Mountaineer Introduces its First Cookbook!

    Discover the majestic Canadian Rockies by luxury rail. Western Canada’s award winning Rocky Mountaineer train travels by daylight only, allowing guests to enjoy the breathtaking scenery while experiencing impeccable service, dining on delicious cuisine and making new friends from around the world.

    Executive Chefs Jean Pierre Guerin and Frédéric Couton have created a cookbook that exemplifies the Rocky Mountaineer culinary experience. Eat Play Love: Regionally Inspired Cuisine by Rocky Mountaineer is a collection of recipes that celebrate the unique character of Western Canada.
    The inspiration for this book is easily found outside the windows of the train, as guests travel through nature’s wonderland of breathtaking scenery. Many of the 37 regionally inspired dishes are served in the GoldLeaf Service dining room onboard. Each recipe is easy to prepare and all the ingredients can be substituted with locally sourced products.

    Continue reading Rocky Mountaineer Introduces its First Cookbook!

    AmaWaterways Serves Up a New Gourmet Cruise

    Sunset on the Douro River

    The highly acclaimed river cruise line, AmaWaterways has just announced that Celebrity Chef Bob Blumer will be the host of its Gourmet Cruise Oct. 22-Oct. 29, 2013 onboard the brand new AmaVida. This seven night itinerary sails through Portugal and Spain along the Douro River, one of Europe’s most undiscovered and unspoiled rivers. Passengers will experience a journey filled with medieval monasteries, charming fishing villages, centuries-old wineries and lively cultural centers. The Gourmet Cruise will feature onboard cooking demonstrations, excursions to historic towns, private wine tastings and regionally inspired cuisine.

    One of today’s most innovative food personalities, cookbook author and host of the Food Network’s The Surreal Gourmet and Glutton for Punishment, Chef Blumer will share his infectiously passionate approach to cooking through complimentary cooking demonstrations for interested guests.

    As the only river cruise line inducted into La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, one of the world’s most prestigious culinary organizations, AmaWaterways continues to lead the industry in innovative food and wine experiences both on-board and on-shore. The Gourmet Cruise promises to be an attractive travel option for culinary adventurers and oenophiles alike.
    Continue reading AmaWaterways Serves Up a New Gourmet Cruise

    The Gathering. . . Ireland 2013

    Make a date with Ireland in 2013. The Irish have contributed so much to the world with their culture, myths and literature, music, dance, and more. To pay tribute to the country and her people, past and present, Ireland has put together “The Gathering,” a year-long celebration with hundreds of festivals and events across the island. Whether you are Irish born, Irish bred, or Irish in spirit, there is no better time to visit the Emerald Isle. DISCOVER Ireland’s culture and heritage. RECONNECT with its people. CELEBRATE Ireland’s impact on the world.

    You never need an invitation to visit Ireland, but for those seeking the perfect moment, The Gathering offers a year’s work of golden opportu­nities for foodies and culture-vultures alike.

    Here’s a package to savor:

    Galway Oyster Festival

    7 Days/6 Nights from $995 USD Per Person

    For arrivals on September 26-27 in Dublin only

    Oyster Festival

    Galway comes alive with seafood & oysters as it celebrates the Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival, the most internationally recognized food festival in Ireland and the world’s longest running International Oyster Festival. Start off in Dublin with a bit of whiskey. You can add other options while in Dublin, before heading by car to Galway. Continue reading The Gathering. . . Ireland 2013

    Hungry for Room Service?

    Like South Beach. . . .Only more delicious!

    Couples Tower Isle takes the South Beach dining culture to a new level with a gourmet in-room menu and personalized mini-bar.

    Five star dining in the privacy of your room features organic produce, the freshest seafood and a tantalizing blend of island spices and herbs.
    Personalize your mini-bar with a top shelf selection of fine wines and spirits.

    Enjoy the view from a balcony room

    It’s a little taste of heaven here on earth. Why not reserve your gourmet south of South Beach getaway today?

    COUPLES RESORTS

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

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  • or by phone – 800-372-1963

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