2006 Newsletter Archive
A very Happy New Year to one and all, with wishes for happiness, prosperity and peace.
The new year brings to The International Kitchen the final changes on our new Website, the inauguration of The International Vineyard (our sister company offering programs devoted to wine), and the addition of enticing new programs. Our good friends at the Rhode School of Cuisine (Villa Lucia in Tuscany and Le Mas des Oliviers in Provence) have a fabulous program in Marrakech, which we will soon be posting as well. If you are looking for something a little more exotic, this would be a great choice; the program is situated in a gorgeous, fully renovated villa and meets the same high standards as the programs in Italy and France.
Many of you have asked for Italian language classes and we are pleased to offer a wonderful combination of Italian instruction and cooking classes at a very well respected, family run language school in the heart of Tuscany, Lingua & Cucina. Look for this exciting new program, which will be posted on our website in early 2006.If you are in the planning stages for your trip in 2006, please contact us anytime for assistance in selecting the right trip for you!
The International Kitchen will be participating in the annual trade show with the region of Provence, with seminars for travel professionals in Washington, DC, Chicago and Los Angeles. If you would like an invitiation, please contact us.
Best, Karen Herbst
Oops! We are a little late this month, as we have been traveling the first half of February. We began with the onset of the Provence Road Show, starting in Washington, D. C. We met with travel agents from both the capital and New York, along with some of our valued partners who came directly from Provence. The highlight of the event was an invitation to the National Gallery of Art to see the opening of the Cezanne exhibit, celebrating the 100th anniversary of his death. It is a spectacular show and the National Gallery will be the only US appearance before it returns to Provence for the remainder of the year. The Provence Road Show completed its tour in Chicago and Los Angeles.
Then it was on to Italy for our annual Symposium of the Italian Travel Promotion Council. Each year we host around 150 travel agents to familiarize them with a region of Italy. This year, our Sixth Symposium, was held in Emilia-Romagna, where we were based in Bologna. We visited all the major cities of the region and were hosted to wonderful meals and splendid music. In addition to being the seat of gastronomic delights such a Parma ham, Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese, balsamic vinegar and truffles, this region is also know for its abundance of opera and music. A splendid time was had by all!
We also took some time to visit some of our new programs. We stopped in San Giovanni Valdarno to meet with our friends at Lingua & Cucina. What a fabulous experience this is! You step off the train and in two short blocks you are in the center of this prosperous, charming town. I liken it to Florence without the crowds, noise and Vespa fumes! The apartment is right on the pedestrian-only main street and the classroom and kitchen are around the corner just off the main square. You will really live like a local for the week, soaking in the genuine atmosphere of this unspoiled town. And, you are only a 30- minute train ride from Florence!
We visited another wonderful property in southern Tuscany, an elegantly renovated farmhouse in Montepulciano, with a charming couple, Silvia and Maurizio (who will also lead you in your cooking classes) as your hosts. We will be posting this program shortly, so please look back for it in the coming weeks.
Our last visit before returning home was a stop in Piedmont to spend some time at our Pilates and Cooking Discovery at the “Poppy” farmhouse. Not only is this an unusual offering, it is wonderful! John and Robyn have spared no expense to make this a beautiful, albeit still simple, property, with a professional kitchen that is a chef’s dream— in this case, Chef Pietro’s dream. He and Robyn collaborated to create a state of the art kitchen with wonderful workspace for the cooking students. Chef Pietro is a wonderful combination of modesty, humor, and great talent as a teacher and chef. Our meals were outstanding, and, of course, the wine in Piedmont is great. This is a very underrated area of Italy, virtually unknown to American tourism—at least before the Olympics in Piedmont’s capital city of Torino!—but full of natural beauty, often rivaling Chianti for its spectacular vistas of rolling hills latticed with vines of the region.
Maybe this is the year for you to discover the world of culinary travel; or if you have already done so, join us for another unforgettable experience. All of us at The International Kitchen have had first-hand experiences with our programs and we are eager to share this with you and engage you in our enthusiasm and love of what we do.
La Varenne is one of the most famous and prestigious cooking schools in the world. Anne Willen, a world class chef and author with awards too numerous to list, still loves the challenge of being in the kitchen with students and continues to offer her cooking school at her exquisite chateau in Burgundy, Château du Feÿ. We are so pleased to add this exceptional experience to our collection of trips.
The Poppy farmhouse, Pilates and Cooking Discovery has delayed their opening until May 28, hampered by an unexpectedly heavy snowstorm. I am sure they could open earlier, but John and Robyn are so meticulous, they wouldn’t consider doing so until they are certain everything is perfect! And, for the first month they are offering an incredible 25% off the price for the 7-night program for the month of June. A great opportunity!
We are always finding new opportunities for wonderful experiences, so we invite you to bookmark our site and visit on a regular basis. Call or write us anytime for any additional information or recommendations. We love to talk about our trips!
April in Paris…a city that is always beautiful and alluring. We were there for the annual "RendezVous" of the French Government Tourist Office, the major trade show of the year, but first, a detour. The TGV (the high speed train) from the Paris airport whisks me down to Avignon where Jean picks me up for a visit of
A Provençal Dream. And, indeed, a dream it is. A small hotel, it is a retreat of warmth, charm and comfort. This is Jean and Brigitte’s home as well, and they attend to it with loving care. The bedrooms are nice sized, outfitted with wonderful Soleiado Provençal fabrics, and there is plenty of welcoming indoor and outdoor space to sit and relax with a glass of local Rose wine. (A note: the bathrooms are generally small and have a tub and hand-held shower.) The huge pool is open from mid-April to November and is in an inviting spot amid the lovely English style gardens. Meals are served on the terrace whenever weather permits, or inside the elegant dining room.
Brigitte, your chef and teacher, is on hand with a warm and welcoming smile. Although this is a country hotel with no pretension, the food is fabulous! Creative and delicious, you are in for a gastronomic treat.
After too short a time, I am back to Paris to meet up with Anne Marie. We make time to stop and say hello to our favorite chef in Paris, Samira. Then it is off to the trade show to meet some old friends and make new contacts before Anne Marie is off to the Dordogne for a few days.
Meanwhile, Peg has returned from A Mediterranean Cooking Experience at Relais Oasi Olimpia, where she escorted our WOW! group. Twelve women spending a fabulous week on the Amalfi Coast, where Carmen and her amazing staff made sure that it was an unforgettable experience for everyone.
Some of the highlights? Lunch at Signora Rosa’s with her son Antonio, her daughter-in-law (who made an amazing cake), and her grandchildren; walking though the amazing and eery ruins of Pompeii on a sunny spring day; meandering through the streets of Capri (and taking a wild bus ride back to the port!); and of course, the best part of all—the cooking classes with the incomparable Chef Carmen, the outstanding and abundant meals we prepared, the conversation, the toasts, the laughter and friendship!
We are offering another WOW! Week at Oasi in October, and one in Tuscany as well, with our own Chef Claudio.
We wish you all a Happy Easter and Passover.
In our never ending search for wonderful, unique and appealing programs, we are delighted to i ntroduce a new option in Sicily—Love Sicily—and one in the Dordogne region in France—French Country Cooking in the Dordogne. These are both relaxed and informal programs, with lots of time spent in the kitchen. While a bit ‘"off the beaten track," I think they will offer a terrific, authentic and bit unusual experience, and are very well priced.
This month I will be joining the crew from "GMTV," the UK equivalent of Good Morning America. They will be filming at A Mediterranean Cooking Experience at Relais Oasi Olimpia, focusing on the healthy Mediterranean diet. The Venice to Lake Como tour (which sold out) commences on May 13, escorted by our own Courtney, an Italian Ph.D candidate from the University of Chicago, studying in Venice on a Fulbright scholarship. The group is in for a great time! And another Painting and Cooking Tour takes place this month at Oasi Olimpia.
If you have not yet made your summer plans, you might want to consider one of our fabulous trips. We still have limited availabity for the summer months and would be delighted to assist in finding the best trip for you. Please don’t hesitate to call or write.
Have a great Memorial Day holiday.
May turned out to be a very busy month! It began with a visit to New York to take part in the trade show organized by the Italian Government Tourist Office, where they arranged to bring in several tour operators, hoteliers, etc., from Italy to meet with American suppliers.
Then from New York it was on to Italy. After much searching, I am thrilled to present a new, deluxe program in Tuscany, Heart of Chianti at Villa Bordoni. As the name implies, this program is located in the center of Chianti, just above the quintessential town of Greve in Chianti. An exquisite 10 room villa in a spectacular setting, with two wonderful chefs to lead you through your Tuscan cooking experience, this promises to be one of our most popular deluxe options. And, needless to say, you will experience some of the great wines of Chianti! It is available year-round, and we will offer special events during the olive harvest period in November.
Then it was off to A Mediterranean Cooking Experience at Relais Oasi Olimpia to meet with a television crew from GMTV, the UK equivalent of Good Morning America. They are running a series featuring the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, and what better place to have as a backdrop than Oasi Olimpia!
My last night in Italy was spent in Rome at a newly renovated hotel 3 blocks from the train station. The rooms are all new and very nice, and this is a good option for those of you needing a reasonably priced hotel near the train on arrival or prior to departure.
In the first week of June, Peg was off to Provence to visit some of our wonderful options there. Her first stop was at A Provencal Adventure, our wonderful self-driving option in Tavel. This is a fabulously priced program for more independent travelers. After that she was off to visit A Provencal Dream, a stunning property in the countryside outside of Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. She met with the owners, Jean and Brigitte, as well as Cathie, who leads the participants on excursions. Unfortunately she did not have time to stop and enjoy the magnificent swimming pool, as she was off to the Cote d’Azur and Elegant Cooking on the French Riviera, near St-Tropez. She arrived just in time for a celebration honoring the changing of the hotel’s name from Villa Sainte-Elme to the Hotel Hodeo. The next day she met with our friends from GMTV, who filmed two segments of their summer cooking series (with Australia’s Chef Bill Granger) by the pool, right in front of the sea—everyone agreed they could not have imagined a more spectacular location! If you’d like to speak with Peg about any of our Provence programs, please give us a call.
And on a practical note: in addition to Travelex Insurance, we are now offering MedjetAssist medical evacuation program. Please check our links for details on both.It’s not too late to add a culinary vacation or one-day class to you summer plans. Or, if you’d like to plan a wonderful cooking vacation for the fall or for next year, please contact us. We would be happy to answer any questions or make recommendations.
Well, our big news: finally, the launch of our sister company, The International Vineyard, offering intimate, authentic and personal wine tasting experiences. We are very excited and pleased, and think we have a wonderful product to complement our cooking offerings, or to stand on its own! We will be adding new tours on a regular basis, but please let us know if there is any information we can give you or if you are looking for something specific. Ronald Holden, our Director of Wine Tours, is in France at this moment, checking out many new possibilities. And Italy will be soon to follow.
Our inaugural e-mail newsletter went out last week, and we have had a wonderful response. If you did not receive it and would like to be on our newsletter e-mail list, please drop us a line at email@example.com requesting to be added to the newsletter list.
Jeanette is currently in Venice, checking out possible new programs in the Veneto region, and Anne Marie will shortly be on her way to Piedmont to do the same. Please keep these extraordinary regions in mind when considering your next culinary trip.
On a non-culinary note, the excitement of World Cup soccer has invaded The International Kitchen, as our two main destinations—Italy and France—face each other in the final. Unfortunately, half of our European partners are destined to be disappointed by the outcome!
Regards, Karen Herbst
As we are round the bend toward the end of summer, we are thinking about and planning for 2007, as well you may be. Many of our programs already have posted dates for 2007, but if you are interested in a program that does not, please contact us.
Another busy summer at The International Kitchen! In July, Jeanette was at the Buy Veneto, and we are now offering a wonderful new daily class option in Venice. We were very sad to say "goodbye" to Susan Schiavon who retired earlier this year, but delighted to welcome Chef Patrizia into our fold.
Anne Marie spent a whirlwind week as a guest of the elegant Piedmont region checking out possible opportunities. Her first stop was to gorgeous Lake Maggiore, Itay’s second largest lake and home to our program Elegant Retreat on Lake Maggiore. She visited and met with the owner of Villa dal Pozzo, the deluxe property where clients enjoy views of the lake atop a hill covered in lush gardens. It’s no wonder Lake Maggiore is nicknamed the “Eden of Italy”!
Her next stop was to the capital of Piedmont and home of the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, Torino. The city built fabulous new boutique hotels, one more gorgeous than the next. What a vibrant city with so much to offer! The city boasts the largest open air market in Europe, world class restaurants, and the famous cinema and Egyptian museums. She wishes she had more time to explore Torino’s treasures!
Anne Marie then made her way down to the vineyards of southern Piedmont where the famous Barbaresco and Barolo wines are produced, home to our Piedmont tour. She visited several beautiful villas and small hotels nestled in the rolling hills of the countryside. This magnificent area is virtually untouched by American tourism and is truly an undiscovered gem.
And the fall also looks to be as busy. The first week of September will find Peg (who is rapidly becoming our Provence specialist!) again on her way to France. She will be exploring Provence’s private vegetable and flower gardens, local food markets, villas, and vineyards, and will also be meeting with area chefs who specialize in cooking classes.
In September I will be on my way to Helsingborg, Sweden, as a featured guest speaker at the annual Symposium of the International Culinary Tourism Association. I will let you know about Scandinavion cuisine when I return!
If any of you are still thinking about traveling this fall, we will be offering some wonderful "Italian Thanksgiving" weeks and have added another "Women Only Week" in November at the Relais Oasi Olimpia.
Hope it is a good summer for you all. Keep cooking, but keep cool!
Our Fall e-mail newsletter has just gone out; if you have not received it and would like to be on our mailing list, please send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a shopper at Whole Foods Market anywhere in the US, look for our promotion and maybe win a trip to our fabulous program,
A Mediterranean Cooking Experience at Relais Oasi Olimpia. Details are in the store.
Peg has just returned from yet another fact-finding mission to Provence! She visited lovely properties and gardens and of course ate some wonderful Provencal cuisine. She began in Aix-en-Provence, traveled to Saint Maximin, Saint Remy, and Bonnieux, to name just a few of her stops. If you already have a trip to Provence planned, or if you are planning your next trip to France, please give us a call, as we’d love to discuss your options with you. In addition to the numerous trips we already offer in Provence, we will be adding new options in the coming weeks and can create custom itineraries to suit your needs. We also work with some fabulous hotels in the area, and can arrange pre- and post- hotel stays to round out your trip.
For all of you last minute planners, we are still able to offer some space for this fall. And, we are guarantee that you will cook a turkey dish should you book over the Thanksgiving week. That is really a great time, as almost all of the regions harvest their olives in that period, and you would taste the first production of the oil, a rare experience.
I am off to New York to visit with suppliers from the Piedmont region and then off to Scandinavia, to speak at the International Culinary Tourism Association Annual Symposium in Helsingborg, Sweden.
Wishing you a wonderful September, Karen Herbst
Well, as promised I am back to report on Scandinavia! I was invited to speak at the International Culinary Tourism Association Symposium held in Helsingborg, Sweden, September 21st. Never having been to that part of the world, I took some extra time to visit Stockholm and then on to Copenhagen. It was a wonderful trip. Everyone speaks fluent English and are as nice as could be, and the food was a big surprise; particularly in Sweden, the food was just great. There are many wonderful gastronomic restaurants, with wonderful presentation of typical Swedish cuisine. It is very possible that we will offer a program combining Sweden and Copenhagen, a charming and dynamic city. Please inquire if you are interested.
Robyn is off the start of the month to Milan to visit some of the properties with which we currently work in Northern Italy and to look for new and exciting options for our clients. And although I have barely made a start through the mountain of papers on my desk, I too will soon be traveling again, this time accompanying a group of writers visiting our properties in Provence—I will let you know when there will be a story in print! It seems like this is our “Year in Provence,” we may even be meeting Peter Mayle!
If any of you are shoppers at Whole Foods Markets anywhere in the US, check out the promotion they are offering. The grand prize is a trip for two to our wonderful program, A Mediterranean Cooking Experience at Relais Oasi Olimpia. You can enroll in the store, or find additional information at www.wholefoodsmarket.com/flavors. Good luck!
Also, we are partnering with MasterCard International to offer all Premium cardholders special upgrades or discounts at some of our luxury properties:
Now is the time to start thinking about holiday gift giving, and a cooking vacation is a wonderful choice. We are delighted to assist you and we prepare beautiful gift packages.
We look forward to the prospect of booking a cooking vacation for you!Regards,
Food, glorious food…and wine. I am back from a week in Provence, where I accompanied five journalists visiting six of our cooking programs. What a glorious time—the weather was unbeatable for this time of year, sunny and mild, with hardly a drop of rain.
We arrived in Marseille, spending the first night at the Mercure Beauvau, a lovely 4-star hotel in a great location. Dinner at the restaurant Les Trois Forts in the Sofitel Vieux Port started with champagne on the terrace of the restaurant, with one of the most spectacular views ever. Marseille at night is quite dramatic, all the old forts lit up and, of course, the grand harbor. A lovely meal completed our first night.
Then the “work” began in earnest. Off to Cadiere d’Azur for a class with Chef Jean-François Berard at Passport to Provence. We visited the extensive gardens at the Bastide, picking the vegetables for our class, and began to cook with Chef Jean-François. We sat down for an elegant lunch on the terrace overlooking the vineyards and beautiful pool…a quintessential Provencal moment. Dinner that night was at Hotel de la Tour, a lovely local restaurant on the harbor in the quaint fishing town of Sanary sur Mer.
Up in the morning, with a stop at Nans Les Pins for a delightful and unique lunch (the owner/chef does theme-based meals based on a single ingredient: ours was based on quince), served in lovely little boutique of housewares and gifts. Next it was time to travel to our best-selling Provence program, the Chateau de Berne Ecole de Cuisine, for checkin and our class with Chef Philippe. A glass of their famous sparkling “Wild Pig” Rose started the delicious dinner based on our cooking efforts.
Heading a bit south, we stopped for a visit of the Chateau Sainte Roseline with wine tasting and then for lunch in St. Tropez at the La Bastide de Saint Tropez for an amazing truffle lunch (can you imagine truffle crème brulee?) before checking in to the Hotel Hodeo, site of Elegant Cooking on the French Riviera. We had a great cooking class with Chef Cyril Berteau, who then joined us for dinner. It was a bit of a stormy night, but we were cozily ensconsed in the dining room with the sounds of the waves lapping on the rocks.j
Up at dawn (or so it seeemd), we were energized when we heard we would be meeting with Peter Mayle, the noted author of many best sellers about Provence, and now in the midst of the movie premiere of his book A Good Year, starring Russell Crowe. We met for a coffee in his favorite bar in Lourmarin, and had a great time talking about the creative process.
We had not eaten for about two hours (we don’t count the cappuccino!), so it was time to move on for lunch to Bastide de Capelongue and the world class restaurant of Edouard Loubet. The property that he and his wife have developed is nothing short of breathtaking and the meal was fascinating, very contemporary in presentation.
The beautiful city of Avignon was next, with check in at the truly exquisite Hotel La Mirande. We visited the Palace of the Popes and had a tasting of Cote du Rhone wines in the cellar of the palace. Dinner was at the Michelin star restaurant Christian Etienne, with a focus on seasonal vegetables.
The next morning we visited the indoor market with La Mirande’s Chef Sebastien Aminot, selecting vegetables and fish for the morning cooking class. The school at La Mirande Hotel is called Le Marmiton, and is held in a charming 18th-century kitchen in the original cellars of the building. We will soon be posting this program on our Website.
With barely time to pack our bags, we were off to Velleron for A Provencal Dream. We visited the evening vegetable market, a veritable neighborhood meeting place! Back for a vegetarian cooking class with Chef Brigitte, followed by a lovely dinner where we were joined by Brigitte and Jean.
Our wake up call came and we moved on to our final stop, Salon de Provence and an evening at the Relais & Chateaux Abbaye de Sainte Croix. What a beautiful property! And our class with Chef Jeremy and Chef Tony was great fun. Lunch on the terrace with gorgeous views on the valley completed the experience.
Although we barely had room, our Farewell Dinner was another feast at the highly regarded Mas du Soleil Restaurant in Salon de Provence. It was a whirlwind week, but an incredible experience for the journalists to have some idea of the wonder of our cooking programs. I hope that stories will soon be in print for all of you to share as well.
Best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving,
As we round the end of this year, it seems we are busier than ever. In addition to moving to larger offices last month, we have had an exceptional amount of travel this fall; between all of us we have traveled to Italy and France (and one trip to Scandinavia) over 10 times since September!
Anne Marie and Robyn have just returned from an educational trip to Provence. They met with several of our local partners in Avignon, and traveled to Velleron to meet Jean of Hostellerie La Grangette, home of A Provencal Dream. They visited several charming boutique hotels as well as some famous local restaurants. Although the travel is hard work (and, yes it really is work!), we know how important the research, meetings, site inspections and first-hand experiences are in creating the wonderful programs we can offer you.
We also welcome Eleonora Bugetti, who is here for a few months from our office in Florence. Feel free to call anytime to speak directly with her about any of our trips in Tuscany!
We are very pleased about two recent partnerships. Chef Madelaine Bullwinkel has been teaching French cooking in the U.S. for nearly three decades. She has trained at the Académie de Cuisine in Bethesda, Maryland, and has been leading cooking trips to France for many years. We are delighted to offer the trips she will be leading this year to the Loire ( A Cook’s Castle in the Loire Valley), Provence (At Home in Provence) and Bordeaux (Best of Bordeaux).
We have also forged a partnership with one of the most prestigious hotels in the world, the Orient Express Hotel Villa San Michele in Tuscany, just outside of Florence. We will be offering itineraries for groups of eight or more featuring cooking classes with the head chef of the hotel’s restaurant, private wine tasting in their own vineyard in Tuscany, a personal shopper in Florence and much more. Please inquire for prices and availabilities; this can only be offered to groups of a minimum of eight.
Once again, we have almost an embarassment of riches; we have added new programs in Italy and France, and will soon be adding others in Spain and Morocco. We are all so excited by the breadth and depth of all of our wonderful cooking opportunities. The only problem is in selecting just one! Again, I encourage you to call and speak with one of us about any of the programs.
From all of us we wish you a very Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukah and a happy, healthy New Year.
Karen, Peg, AnneMarie, Robyn, Jeanette, Sharon, Ele, Charlene and Ronald
Here is what clients are saying about their experience with The International Kitchen...
"What an incredible cultural and culinary experience: the hosts were great: fun and friendly, accommodating, and customized the itinerary based on the group. Food was amazing, classes were engaging and informative..." Read more
"It’s taken me quite a while to write about our experience ... Not because it wasn’t everything I dreamed of and more, but because it so exceeded all of my expectations..." Read more
"A lovely remote setting with wonderful hosts and great food! A perfect blend of relaxation, cultural experiences, and hands-on cooking lesson. I would recommend highly..." Read more