Welcome to 2007! We are so pleased to begin this new year with such a wonderful roster of trips. In addition to our new trips in Tuscany, we will be adding: Barging and Cooking in Provence; a gastronome’s delight in Emilia Romagna; a gourmet treat in Catalonia— Taste of Catalonia; a foodie’s haven near Girona, Spain; and a delightfully exotic experience— A Feast for the Senses—in Fes, Morocco.
We are offering our "WOW" (Women Only Weeks) again at A Mediterranean Cooking Experience at Relais Oasi Olimpia on the Amalfi coast as well as at Convivium in Montaione in Tuscany. Coincidentally, both trips not only have female chefs, but the property management is female as well. Both four star, deluxe properties, we can offer this great value with a minimum of 6 people for either trip.
Please be sure to check out our one-time only trips in France with Chef Madelaine Bullwinkle. Madelaine has been teaching French cooking in the U.S. for nearly three decades, and has been leading cooking trips to France for many years. We are very pleased to offer the following fabulous departures with her: A Cook’s Castle in the Loire Valley (June 18-24), The Best of Bordeaux (May 11-16), and At Home in Provence (September 8-15).
If you are a painter, take a look at our fabulous 10-day trip to Tusany and Lake Maggiore May 5-15 with noted artist Nancy Couick. And, we are in the process of finalizing a program to combine cooking, and journaling and food/travel writing, which will be a very unique experience.
We ended the first month of the new year in culinary style! Our fabulous chef, Claudio Piantini (of A Classic Tuscan Table with Chef Claudio) and his assistant Nicola were able to fit in a few days in Chicago on a recent trip to the US for Chef Claudio’s wine business.One afternoon was spent meeting the press and preparing a great Tuscan lunch. Of course they were charmed! The following evening, we hosted approximately 50 people (as many as the fire laws would allow, we had to turn many awat) who came to see Claudio wield his culinary magic, preparing an incredible 6 course dinner, including this month’s Recipe of the Month, Zuppa di farro e zucca gialla.
It was a grand evening, and many alumni were delighted to see Claudio once again. If you are considering a trip to Tuscany, be sure to check out this great trip. If you would like the recipes from the event, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The travel season is beginning again for us as well, with Anne Marie off to Italy later this month. We will be sure to let you know what fabulous new chefs and destinations she finds!
I wish you all a very happy Valentine’s Day!
Hope any of you who have Sirius radio heard us on the Martha Stewart station on Monday, March 5. Maybe we will get Martha to visit one of our programs!
Our travel begins in earnest this month. Anne Marie has just returned from a week in Italy, her first stop being Bologna, food capital of Italy and home to A Gastronomic Adventure in Bologna. She was delighted to find an outstanding program in one of Italy’s most beautiful, if often lesser known, cities. Bologna offers famed cuisine, culture, and art without the usual tourist crowds. The hotel, Al Cappello Rosso, is one of the oldest sites of Bolognese hospitality, welcoming its first travelers passing through Bologna in 1375. Thought to be perhaps the oldest hotel in all of Italy, this elegant property has been beautifully renovated with all modern comforts and offers first class service.
Anne Marie was also able to meet with Alessandra, our Bolognese chef who shares her beloved tortellini, tortelloni and tagliatelle recipes to name a few. This program is an excellent choice for the traveler seeking a truly authentic Italian experience with cuisine to match! From Bologna, Anne Marie headed to Milan for the annual BIT trade show, the biggest of its kind in Italy, where she met with partners to explore new possibilities with other suppliers.
Robyn will be our representative at the annual Provence road show in Florida, followed by a trade show in Alsace and some site inspections in Paris. Then Peg is off to Rome and Sicily, checking on our programs there. (And, yes, this is all work!)
We have just posted a wonderful trip to Sicily, Gaetano’s Sicily, with Chef Gaetano di Benedetto, a fantastic chef with whom we have worked for many years. He will be your personal escort during a week in Sicily, ending with a class by his Mamma at their home just outside Palermo,a phenomenal trip!
When you have a moment, check out our new trips, and contact us anytime for more information.
Robyn enjoyed a 10 day visit to France where she visited Paris and the regions of Champagne, Lorraine and Alsace.
In Paris Robyn participated in a cooking class with Chef Myriam (this class will be available to clients on our website soon) and a new gastronomic walking tour of famous chocolateries and patisseries (if you enjoy chocolates and French pastries this is the tour for you!) The International Kitchen’s partner in Paris, Laurence, has developed many wonderful gastronomic walking tours which are a must for any food lover visiting Paris.
After a few days in Paris, Robyn traveled East for a tour of the Champagne region where she visited the charming town of Troyes and elegant Epernay – home of some of the world’s foremost Champagne houses. In the Lorraine region she visited Nancy, renowned for the Art Nouveau movement, and the resort town of Gerardamer in the Vosges mountains. In Strasbourg Robyn attended the annual Rendez Vous, the main trade show promoting travel to France. Robyn had many successful meetings in Strasbourg with current partners and future collaborators, and we hope to continue to bring you many exciting culinary travel options in France!
While Robyn was in Paris, Peg and Charles were off to the Globe trade show in Rome. They met with other travel professionals and current collaborators to explore adding new options to our wonderful array of cooking vacations in Italy. Look in the coming months for exciting new tours.
After Rome, they traveled to Sicily to explore this wonderful, mysterious Island. As Charles says, the motto for Sicily should be "Bring a second stomach," because the food was out-of-this-world! They started on the western coast with Palermo, Marsala, Trappani, and Erice and traveled east to Mount Etna, Taormina, Syracuse and Catania. One of the highlights was the time they spent in the interior, at the Madonie Park visiting the town of Polizzi Generosa and doing a cooking class with a local chef (see our fabulous Gourmet Sicily tour and our Recipe of the Month for details). Diversity is the norm in Sicily: in art, architecture, landscape, and cuisine, the mixture of Arab, Greek, Norman,
French, Spanish and Italian influences has created a truly unique culture and cuisine. And the wines! The wines of Sicily have really come into their own of late, winning many international awards. Peg and Charles missed the famous chocolate festival in Modica, but don’t forget to check out our fabulous Amore Siciliano program for an in-depth exploration of the cuisine of southeast Sicily.
If you’d like to discuss any of our Sicily options, including our Chef-led departure, Gaetano’s Sicily, just give us a call, and keep your eye out for another wonderful new Sicily program that we will be posting this month!
Anne Marie was also in Italy last month. She attended the BMT trade show in Naples where she met with travel professionals from the Campania region in efforts to further develop our culinary vacation offerings in southern Italy.From Naples she traveled down the Amalfi Coast to Sant’Agata Sui Due Golfi, home to one of our most popular cooking programs, A Mediterranean Cooking Experience at Relais Oasi Olimpia. The property has recently expanded to include three private cottages. These brand new, beautifully appointed cottages offer complete privacy and are perfect for the more independent traveler.
We still have some space available for last-minute spring travel. For those of you thinking about a culinary trip this autumn, weeks are filling up fast, so don’t wait too long to book!
I don’t know if you saw the article on Sunday, April 15 in The New York Times Travel section, entitled "Have Spatula Will Travel" by Taylor Holliday. We were fortunate enough to be mentioned, but I bring this up because one of the paragraphs in the article really struck me, as it captures the philosophy that I have had since I first came up with the idea of a cooking vacation company 14 years ago.
"...I have been convinced that there is no better way to get to the heart of any city than through its cuisine. And, that means not just eating it, but shopping for it, cooking it and beginning to understand it. Step off the expected tourist track for as little as one morning or afternoon in a cooking class and you can witness and be a part of living history, as kitchens are often the last great bastions of cultural tradition in the modern world." Our chef in Paris and good friend Samira Hradsky has titled her cookbook, "Food Unites the World," and we know that is true.
As of today, we have booked clients from 38 different countries: Austria, Australia, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Dominican Republic, England, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Latvia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Singapore, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, the United States and Wales.
We take great pride and pleasure in providing our wonderful trips, which we view as an opportunity for a rewarding cultural experience as well as a delightful cooking trip. We invite you to join us on one of these incredible journeys.
At last, it appears summer has arrived! Our co-workers in Florence have already experienced unseasonablyhot weather for the last month, but we are happy to welcome some warm weather here in the Midwest.
This May Lauren set off to Italy as a guest of the Italian Government Tourist Office to visit the region of Liguria – the region that is also known to many as the Italian Riviera, visiting over a dozen cities and villages.
She stopped off in Chiavari to meet the talent behind our new program Taste of the Italian Riviera and Cinque Terre, Chef Roberto Dal Seno. Overwhelmed with amazing food, enthusiasm and charming company, Lauren was truly welcomed the "Ligurian" way. She had a wonderful and memorable time exploring the property and learning more about the cooking operation at Monte Rosa.
Eager to follow the footsteps of our clients, Lauren headed to see the nearby, breathtakingly scenic, Cinque Terre (five lands), traveling by train, boat and foot! She enjoyed the panoramic views before she was quickly off to France for some more business.
A week later, Lauren and Robyn exchanged a quick "Ciao" in the office as Robyn departed for Italy’s region of Emilia Romagna for the 100 Città d’Arte d’Italia conference. Robyn braved the weather(an early summer brought an incredible head wave) to enjoy all the beauty and food the cities of Bologna, Ferrara and Ravenna had to offer. She was able to meet some of our current partners as well as some new contacts for future programs. The cuisine of the region can be appreciated in our programs Gastronomic Retreat in Bologna or Cooking in Parma.
June is a very popular month for us. Its is a great time to be in Europe, so for those of you traveling soon, have a wonderful trip!
The week of June 18-25, was the third annual Wine and Food Festival in the Woodlands in Houston, Texas. We were invited to a part of this incredible celebration of wine and food and were asked to "import" one of our chefs from Tuscany to be a featured chef for the Gala Celebration, held on Saturday, June 23. We asked Chef Valter Roman from A Week with the Tuscan Chef at the Villas of Vorno to participate and he gladly agreed! We spent three busy days together in Houston, where Chef Valter prepared typical Tuscan dishes to be consumed by the 2500+ people who came to the Gala Night and Grand Auction. The evening was filled with wine from around the globe and world class chefs (but only Valter from out of the US). I returned home a bit tired, but also accompanied by a big package of some cantucci Valter had prepared — the best I have ever eaten!
A Week with the Tuscan Chef at the Villas of Vorno, is one of our most popular programs; held in an exquisite villa in the beautiful area of Lucca, and of course featuring Chef Valter, who is not only very handsome and charming, but a truly gifted chef with a great passion for teaching. We will soon be posting our 2008 dates, and there are still a few openings for our fall departures.
Then it was time to prepare for a cooking demonstration and wine tasting that we held in our Chicago office bulding. Our featured chef was Madelaine Bullwinkle, a noted French cooking teacher from the Chicagoland area and Barbara Glunz, owner of the House of Glunz of Chicago, the oldest wine shop in the Midwest and perhaps in the US! We sampled herbed olives, ratatouille, grilled lamb, clafouti and learned about Provencal wines as we sipped some wonderful rose from Bandol and a lovely red from a small producer. We had a full turnout, and due to the great response and requests from the attendees, we will do this again in the fall. Madelaine is hosting a fabulous trip to Provence, At Home in Provence, in September; please let us know if you are interested. She has also taken an apartment in Paris and will be offering cooking classes and foodie tours, and we will let you know as soon as the details are finalized.
Richard has left for Venice to attend a trade show and visit some locations for possible programs. We will keep you advised!
Many of you are starting to inquire for 2008. We are working on all of our trips for next year, but if you already know your dates, please contact us. If you are still thinking about traveling this year, we do have some openings here and there, so let us know. Have a great summer!
Opera fans and "foodies" alert! We are thrilled to announce "Opera and Cuisine with Fred Plotkin: A Feast for the Senses."
We will be offering incredible trips combining fantastic opera performances featuring such artists as Natalie Dessay, Renee Fleming, Deborah Voigt (photo on right), Johan Botha, Giuseppe Filianoti and more, combined with fine dining experiences and cooking classes. Wow!!! Our renowned study leader is Fred Plotkin (photo on left), formerly with Smithsonian Journeys, who is recognized internationally as the premier opera expert and is the author of a number of bestseller books on opera. And, the added bonus is his knowledge of food; Fred lives part of the year in Europe and is the author of the authoritative book on eating in Italy. Our first two trips will be in March and May of 2008 in New York and our international trips will be in Munich and Verona in July and Parma and Lucca in October. We are working on finalizing everything; please check our website for all program details!
We are also happy to announce that we will soon be offering a new culinary program in the Veneto. Richard, our newest addition to The International Kitchen has recently returned from “Buy Veneto,” a major trade show held in Venice every year. The weather was beautiful, the city vibrant as always, but the highlight was the class with Patrizia. As Richard said, “it was awesome!” This vivacious woman does the classes in her top floor loft apartment very near to St. Marks. She is so knowledgeable about local ingredients, and so welcoming, she creates a feeling that you have been personally invited for lunch in a Venetian’s home. This was capped off by a helicopter ride of the city, which departs from the newly renovated Nicelli airport on the Lido. Quite an experience! We will very soon be offering a three night program in Venice with Patrizia, please be sure to check our site.
Well, it is that time of year again, when we are busily making our preparations for the following year. It is hard to believe we are approaching 2008! I hope you are aware of the wonderful opera and cuisine trips we are offering for 2008. We are currently working on a fantastic new program in Burgundy, where we have been looking for a quality program for a long time, and I believe we have found it! This should be posted shortly.
We will also be offering two exceptional wine tours in the spring with Ronald Holden, our Wine Director at The International Vineyard. There will be at trip to Burgundy and one to follow in Bordeaux; you can book either trip or both together for an incredible journey through the two most important wine regions in France. Ronald Holden is the author of five books about wine touring. A native of Oregon, Ronald attended schools in Switzerland and graduated from Yale University; after working for many years as a broadcast journalist in Portland, Seattle, Baltimore and Paris, he founded his own wine and travel company, which he headed up for fifteen years. We were fortunate enough to have him join us in 2005, and occasionally, he will personally lead custom wine tours for us in France and Italy. This is a great opportunity to travel with a true specialist.
We were delighted to welcome our partner from our office in Florence, Leonardo Balli, who was visiting with his beautiful daughter Olimpia. We did our best to ensure a great experience for them in Chicago!
We hope to have all of our 2008 dates and prices posted by the end of this month. If you are interested in a particular program which does not have dates or prices, please contact us.
As autumn turns the corner, it finds us busy at work making preparations for 2008. In addition to "tweaking" our existing programs, we are also making the final changes for new ones that will soon appear. While obviously important, this can be tedious and demanding work.
It was just such a day when I was told that the production company for WE, the Women’s Entertainment Network was on the phone for me. They asked if I could be in Provence in two weeks; they wanted to film at our wonderful Domaine de Valmouriane and do an on-site interview. I could hardly say no to such an offer! I was shortly on my way from Chicago to Avignon, where I was picked up, along with a few of our guests for that week, to settle in to the hotel. I spent three glorious days (the weather was magnificent) in St. Remy de Provence, accompanying a small group of fabulous women to the local market, cooking lesson, wine, olive oil, goat cheese and candy tastings, along with incredible meals and wine. It was really great fun and the program is scheduled to air around Thanksgiving on a Luxury Lifestyles segment. We will post the date as soon as it is confirmed.
I took an extra day to stop in Paris to visit with our new chef, Eric Fradeau. He has a lovely atelier where the classes are held, and he is a charming and talented chef! For the present, Eric will confirm for even one person, so if you are a solo traveler in Paris, this is a great option for you.
Can you believe it is almost Thanksgiving?
As we approach Thanksgiving, we are finalizing all the information for our trips for 2008. We have added a wonderful, self drive option that takes you through glorious areas of Tuscany, A Weekend in Chianti , an elegant wine producing property in the utterly charming town of Bevagna in Umbria, The Essence of Umbria, and a long-awaited new program in splendid Burgundy at a beautiful property restored by the present owners,
And don’t forget our specialy trips, Opera and Cuisine with Fred Plotkin in New York and Europe, Italian Riviera and Piedmont with Nancy Smith Couick (painting) and Journey to Tuscany with Jeanette (our very own Jeanette Benedetti Boylan, leading a trip to the land where she was born).
As we are approaching the season of thanks and appreciation, I am very grateful for the bounty of wonderful trips we offer and the terrific people whom we are so fortunate to work with.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you are making your plans for next year and need some advice or recommendations. Also, think about getting some of your holiday shopping done early with a gift certificate for any of our programs or classes; it truly will be the gift of a lifetime.
Happy Thanksgiving and I hope you are able to enjoy the time with friends and family.
November was an incredible month for The International Kitchen. Our entire office spent the first week of November in Italy visiting some of our most popular programs. (Our friend Tracy manned the office in Chicago.) We started on the Amalfi coast with an incredible lunch at Tramonto d’Oro. Then it was on to Oasi Olimpia for a few days, cooking and making mozzarella cheese with Rosa. The train then took us to Tuscany, where we arrived in time for lunch at Villa Casagrande. Claudio held a cooking class for us, followed by a wonderful dinner at Torre Guelfa. The next days were spent visiting Villa Bordoni, Castello di Tornano,
Pietrasanta, Tuscan Chef, and some possible new locations. The final evening was spent having a great Tuscan dinner with our wonderful Florence staff. A very special addition to our group was the gifted videographer/photographer, Neil Burger, who was with us to document the trip with photos and video.
Lauren was then off to attend a trade show in Arezzo. During her time in Southern Tuscany, she visited two more of our programs, Authentic Southern Tuscany and Cooking at Il Podere. Richard was on to France where he met with our partners from the Provence Alps Tourism office, also attended a trade show, and was able to visit some of our Provencal properties. And last week, Peg was on her way to visit some of our Spain programs in Catalonia and Andalusia, as well as looking for new locations. Whew, a very busy month!
If you are still looking for ideas for the holidays, don’t forget to consider a gift certificate. We prepare lovely certificate packages which make for a beautiful and very meaningful gift. Maybe you would like to consider our new offering in Umbria at an exquisite luxury inn just outside Bevagna, Essence of Umbria.
All my very best wishes for a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a very Happy New Year! We hope you will join us on one of our wonderful journeys in 2008.
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