Recently, long-time clients made an appointment to talk about their 2013 vacation plans. They narrowed their destination choice to another visit to Italy which has been one of their favorite trips in the past. This time, they have decided to focus on one area for an in-depth experience. While being active is important during the day, comfort with upscale amenities is a critical lodging criterion. As self-proclaimed foodies, the vacation must allocate time to explore the culinary delights of the region. Of course, the itinerary possibilities are endless, but they were thrilled when I presented the following two options:
Piedmont, Italy Guided Walking Tour
Beginning and ending in Turin, the Capital of the Alps, this tour features easy walking through gently sloping countryside past medieval castles and walled villages. Here, in the origin of the Slow Food movement, guests will take pleasure in epicurean meals made with local delicacies. Distinguished lodging in a 17th-century farmhouse, a tastefully restored villa, and a once royal estate provide rest and relaxation.
A recent press release from Sandals Resorts International proudly announced that its very own Culinary Ambassador, Chef Walter Staib, received a third Emmy Award for his television cooking series A Taste of History® during the prestigious 29th Annual Emmy® Awards held in Philadelphia. The second season of the show won Best Historic/Cultural Program or Special, while in its first season, Emmy® Awards went to Chef Staib and James Davey for “On-Camera Talent – Program Host/Moderator” and “Director” respectively.
Our clients have all kinds of leisure pursuit passions. For some, it’s art and archaeology. For others, it’s shopping for the perfect gift or an unusual treasure. Did I mention golf? Talk about passion!
But, it’s the interest in culinary travel that has reached the boiling point. River cruise lines in Europe have responded to this by adding epicurean and wine theme ingredients to their itineraries. Uniworld® Boutique River Cruise Collection has spiced up its 2011 cruises with the addition of an “Epicurean Adventurer Program.”
Mr. Ron Mesquita, Senior Business Development Manager-Midwest USA for the Jamaica Tourist Board stopped in to our travel agency on Thursday. He brought with him a variety of brochures that highlight the endless possibilities for indulging in your favorite leisure pursuit. From golf to birding, bicycling to horseback riding, swimming with dolphins, ziplining, bobsleding, river rafting, oh, the list is nonstop.
But two attractions leaped out at me for our foodie clients.
The first is the Appleton Estate Rum Tour. Here your can take a step back in time and learn how rum is distilled at the 18th century Appleton Estate. Visitors watch resident donkey “Pax” demonstrate how juice was extracted from sugarcane, then tour the Distillery & Aging House where the different methods of distillation are demonstrated. You will be able to juice your own cane, (here’s the good part) sample white rum and boil “wet sugar”.
If you have more time, follow the island’s newest attraction Jamaica’s Jerk Trail.
“Jamaica gave the world Jerk cuisine and since then it has become a culinary phenomenon which has found its way onto menus in restaurants worldwide. Visitors from around the globe have been drawn to Jamaica to sample this delicious style and flavor of cooking which was believe to have originated with the Maroons, former slaves.”
“Now with the launch of the Jerk Trail, visitors can follow the trail and eat their way through Jamaica sampling this cuisine and the secret recipes the cooks hold near and dear. The history of Jerk cuisine along with its evolution, from roadside stand staple to menu at top restaurants, makes this a very interesting story and one which we invite you to explore!”
If our ms AmaDagio cruise manager, Elke Vannieuwerburgh, hadn’t mentioned it, we would have missed it! The port stop on our Legendary Danube cruise was Regensburg, billed as one of Germany’s best preserved medieval cities. An invigorating walking tour featuring the city’s architectural highlights, including the Old Town Hall, the Porta Praetoria–gates to a Roman fort built in 179 AD, the stunning Regensburg Cathedral, the famous towers of the wealthy medieval families, and the Steinerne Brücke (Stone Bridge), spanning the Danube, a construction feat as impressive today as when it was built in the early 12th century. At the base of the bridge–on the Donau (Danube) is tiny “restaurant”—the Historische Wurstküche—which sells the famous Regensburg’s fingerling sausages that have been prepared right before your eyes on an open beechwood charcoal grill and served with sauerkraut and sweet grainy mustard in this spot since 1135, as rumor has it making it the world’s oldest sausage kitchen. Nine centuries ago, Roman bridge workers received their meals at this riverside kitchen. The latest owners of the restaurant purchased it in 1806 from the Regensburg State authority. They allege that there is documentary evidence linking the establishment back to the time when the bridge was built and that Mozart and, later, Goethe munched on the famous Regensburger sausages.
The Danube overflows its banks almost annually—to clean out the kitchen, Regenburgers joke—and signs nearly to the ceiling mark the dates and levels of especially cleansing floods that have doused the restaurant’s kitchen in the past 100 years.
On a sunny day, you can wait an hour or more to sit shoulder-to-shoulder on slat benches at outdoor trestle tables. It’s communal seating but with a magnificent view of the river, bridge and old city. When the weather doesn’t cooperate, the kitchen building itself offers several tables of indoor seating—but smoke permeates every fiber of clothing–and you’ll have to squeeze past the cooks to get there.
Diners should be prepared to like sausages – as that’s all there is on the menu! They’re accompanied by sauerkraut, home-made mustard and local beer, and come in portions of six, eight or ten. You order them in “sets” and the bread they put on the table is on the honor system. My best tip: if you like the mustard, go into the kitchen where they sell jars and tubs of it! I bought several to give for Christmas gifts and some family members declared it their favorite present. Now I wish I had bought a suitcase full!
The Historische Wurstküche is a must-visit on the Danube; it’s a lunch stage show at its best!
Imagine a holiday focusing on what you really like best, from world-wide cruises featuring celebrity guest chefs to tours that spotlight wine tastings at acclaimed vineyards. If you’re like me, you’re a foodie who likes to travel. Someone who wants to have your cake and eat it… Culinary and enrichment travel packages are our trademark. Savoring local cuisine while you explore the destination’s marvelous sights and attractions is the icing on the cake. A European river cruise will tempt the taste buds of epicures and wine lovers with port visits in medieval towns and inspiring historic cities. Savor a coffee and Sachertorte in one of Vienna’s coffee houses. Or enjoy a Saint Veran, Loch and Pouilly-Fuisse tasting in the Mâconnais region on a French wine country cruise.
Sound appetizing? Mix in the fact that on a river cruise, you only unpack once, you never stand in long lines, and sightseeing tours are included all along the way and you have a winning travel recipe!
Insider planning caveat about cruising Europe’s rivers:
While the cruise season is usually April to October and beyond to the Christmas market, you should know that insignificant rain and spring flooding can make the rivers balloon and the locks become impassable.
Also, if there’s a drought, low water can be a problem. If the vessel can’t move, you’ll typically be taken to the sights by motorcoach.