Welcome to 2010! We hope that the New Year will bring good health and prosperity to all!
As always, we are busy working on some exciting new options to our already outstanding selection of programs. Our selection in Italy on the Amalfi coast has been enriched with two new programs, both in deluxe properties:
And soon we will have a fantastic cooking tour of Turkey, for which we have had increased demand, and an exciting new culinary adventure in the Loire.
We are always available to offer you any recommendations or provide more detail, so please contact us, we love to talk about our great trips!
To our readers and friends, a Happy Valentine’s Day!
Maybe for this year you can celebrate in a new way. Flowers and candy are certainly nice to give, but how about a gift that will last forever? A cooking vacation with great food and wine is an experience that will forever reside in memory as an incredible treasure.
We are always looking for wonderful new itineraries to add to our offerings, and we now have a very unique experience in northern Italy, Cook in the Valtellina Valley. It is unlike any of our other trips, exploring a region and cuisine of Italy that is unknown to most tourists. Enjoy the pristine mountain air, the stunning views of the Alps, and world-renowned wines while learning to cook regional dishes, all while staying at a lovely 4* hotel in Sondrio. We think this is truly an exceptional experience!
Don’t have time for a full cooking vacation? Maybe try our new one-day class near Bordeaux, our Gensac Lesson with Chef Jonthan. With half-day and full-day options, it provides the perfect opportunity to experience Bordeaux food and wine with the locals.
Wherever you plan to travel, we can help you find the perfect travel experience!
If you haven’t made any plans yet for this year, perhaps think about coordinating your trip with one of the many wonderful cultural, gastronomic or religious festivals held throughout the year in Europe. It is a great experience to be present at one of these celebrations, usually quite elaborate, many with religious significance and many just a joyful time.
If you are considering any of our enticing destinations, we would be happy to see if your timing coincides with a local festival. Another wonderful option is to try to plan your trip to coincide with an agricultural event: perhaps a grape or olive harvest!
We are making some technical changes to our site, which we hope will make it even easier to navigate, and in the coming weeks, we will be adding trips to Chile and Argentina, Turkey and more.
As always, please call or write for any details, recommendations or additional information.
Every year the French Government Tourist Office organizes a major trade show, held in a different region. They also always offer “educational” tours during which we can explore and get to know a region. This year, the show was held in Nice and I chose to go to the Pays de la Loire region for five days. I started by taking a train from Charles de Gaulles airport to Angers, where Jean-Francois, our partner for Luxurious Loire, met me and whisked me off to Chef Frederic’s new restaurant, where we had a wonderful lunch. I toured the cooking school facility, a floor above the restaurant, which is a great space for the classes. Then it was on to a visit at Chateau Epinay, a lovely pastoral property. It is an imposing chateau, but once you enter, the warmth of your hosts immediately make you feel as if you are entering the home of a friend. If you have ever thought you might like to stay in a chateau but that it might be too “stuffy,” this place will change your minds! The beautiful pool is a natural spring, surrounded by a rock garden, landscaped to be an integral part of the environment, very unique!
Then it was on to Nice for two days of the trade show. I reserved a night to visit again our wonderful program in Provence, Chateau de Berne. Entering the grounds is really like coming into a small country village. They have built a gorgeous new restaurant and the “potager” or garden is extravagantly rich in fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers. Another night was spent at our Cooking in Cannes program, which, once you get past the erroneous notion that this is only a glitzy film festival city, you will discover is a town full of life: shops, bars and restaurants all abuzz. And, this is a great shopping mecca! I did the cooking class at the deightful facility right in the center of town, and we cooked a delicious lunch of sea bass and fennel, followed by a great chocolate dessert.
Next it was back to the Loire, but this time the area between Blois and Tours. Pascal, our partner for Biking and Cooking and Grand Tour of the Loire joined me for lunch at the Les Medicis, the one-star Michelin restaurant of Chef Damien, where cooking classes are held. The evening was spent at a lovely manor house with an incredibly hospitable host at your service.
And last, but by no means least, it was on to Le Calabash. Sydney and Allison are a great couple who want most to provide a great cooking experience. They have built a wonderful teaching kitchen in their home where the classes are held. Accommodations are in a chateau that is one one of the most beautiful and special places I have ever been! It is owned by a charming couple from Belgium, and they have taken care of every detail to create a truly magical spot.
Next for me is a sojourn in Paris, where of course I will see our good friend Chef Samira, before I continue my many travels searching for the best accommodations, chefs and experiences for our clients! I hope the next step for you is deciding which of our many offerings will best suit your needs!
The last week of my monthly sojourn to Europe was spent in Italy. First, it was a stop to say hello to the family at Tramanto d’Oro, home of our best-selling Amalfi Coast cooking vacation, Cooking Under a Golden Sunset. Of course, they would not let us go without feeding us, so we had an absolutely divine lunch. The freshest seafood imaginable, ravioli that melt in your mouth, this is truly the best restaurant on the Amalfi coast! Next it was on to visit Relais Blu, home of Blue Sky and Sea of Amalfi, which is in such an extraordinary setting: even in the pouring rain, it was quite spectacular.
Then we headed north to Florence, and, of course, on to Figline Valdarno to have dinner at Claudio’s, perhaps the best restaurant in Tuscany. This man is indefatigable, he has more energy than the Energizer bunny! And, I should add, totally lovable. Any experience with Claudio is memorable, so do check out our various cooking vacations with him: the best-selling A Classic Tuscan Table with Chef Claudio, the Intensive Tuscany Cooking Stage, and the pared-down self-driving In Terre di Toscana. I spent a morning in Florence checking out the hotels we use for any pre and/or post travel, and they are quite exceptional. We have great rates and can often guarantee a room even if the hotel is showing as sold out. Let us know if we can assist with hotel reservations not only in Florence, but throughout Italy (as well as Provence and Paris, where we have many relationships with wonderful boutique hotels).
Welcome to Spring from all of us and Happy Mother’s Day!
Piedmont is a wonderful region: outstanding wines, delicious food and beautiful panoramic views of vineyards, with charming boutique accommodations throughout the region. The area long ago gave up the production of olive oil, as the soil is so fertile and valuable for wine production, and now every parcel of available land is used for the production of such renowned elixirs as Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo and more. You will not find hoards of tourists in this friendly, welcoming region, but you will find an authentic and unforgettable experience!
Later this month, our Board of Directors of the Italian Travel Promotion Council will have the privilege of dining with the Italian Ambassador to the United States and the Director of the Italian Government Tourist Office from Rome at the Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C. to plan collaborative strategies for increasing tourism to Italy. I think it will be a very interesting evening, and I look forward to participating.
The US Dollar-Euro exchange rate is once again in favor of our North American travelers. Now is the perfect time to take advantage of the situation—it’s not too late to plan a wonderful culinary vacation this summer! We’d love to discuss your options, just give us a call at 800-945-8606 or email us at email@example.com!
Our Italian Travel Promotion Council meeting in Washington, D. C. last month was a great success. We met with the Italian Ambassador to the US, had a lovely dinner with Matteo Marzotto, the President of The Italian Government Tourist Office of Italy, along with the North American Director, Ricardo Strano.
Between courses of a wonderful Italian dinner, we discussed stragies and planning for the coming years between the government and our organization, the Italian Travel Promotion Council. If you would like any further information about the Council, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month we are proud to launch, The Cuisine of Sultans, a terrific new program in Turkey. This fascinating country, blending ethnic and religious diversity, is a great choice if you are looking for a very unique experience.
July was my month to hang out with Poseidon, aka Neptune. I began my travels on the Aegean and traveled from sea to sea, ending my journey on the Adriatic. The first week of my trip was spent at our Greek Cooking Odyssey on the island of Poros. This is not one of the more popular islands, but a small island about one hour from Athens. The program was founded by Katerina Sakelliou, a native of Poros and a woman of incredible charm, dedication and love for her work. She bought the Odyssey Center and decided to create a cooking school, as she has been a chef in her family’s restaurants for many years.
While this is not a trip for someone looking for the well-known and touristic islands of Greece, it is an enchanting holiday with a family, living their idyllic life for a week. The rooms at center are quite simple, spotless and with air conditioning with most of the apartments “self catering,” or containing a small kitchen area. The charm is the informality, the liveliness, the 1/2 block proximity to the beach (every day at some point, Katerina would say “let’s go for a swim.”) In fact, most days I was never out of my bathing suit! The afternoon classes were always great fun, Katerina’s laugh and contagious enthusiasm lighting up the small kitchen. (Yes, it is small, but a new, larger kitchen is under construction.) At night, it was a big communal dinner, many times with Katerina’s local friends joining us for a grand feast accompanied by wonderful local wine.
If sun, sea, cooking, great food and wine, laughter and fun are your cup of tea and you don’t require deluxe accommodations, then the Greek Cooking Odyssey is a fantastic choice! I cannot wait to go back. The season where you can swim begins in April and ends in October, so you do not have to consider just the summer months. Spring and fall are great times to go. And if you go, remember to bring your drivers license; a great way to see the island is to rent a four wheel ATV!
Following a week in Greece, it was off to Italy to join the Italian Immersion Week in Puglia. Although the heat wave during the month broke records, we had a wonderful time. It is a very interesting region, full of Baroque cities, delicious food and great wine. And, it is the olive oil capital of Italy, so, of course, we were treated to outstanding olive oil! Chef Anna was terrific, teaching us some wonderful recipes, including a “meat loaf,” (if you could even call it that), which was the best I have ever had! The Masseria Appide is a lovely old fortress and the staff is incredibly accommodating. This is a great area to explore if you have already visited other regions in Italy and have an interest in history, architecture, great food, wine and oil!
We hope you enjoyed our recipe of the month which is an ode to fresh fall flavors, and an inspiration to visit Wine and Dine at the Villa San Carlo program, as well as all of our unique cooking vacations in Piedmont.
This month we were proud to add new cooking vacations and special programs that cater to every type of traveler! If you have a passion for truffles and a love of being surrounded by nature, please see our Le Marche holiday, Culinary Traditions and Treasures of the Truffle.
Or maybe you are planning a getaway with your girlfriends in 2011? In May and September of 2011 we are delighted to offer our “Women Only Week”: Greek Island Indulgence- Pamper Yourself on Poros for groups of six to eight. This week of massage, Mediterranean cooking, and excursions will be sure to recharge your group.
For more serious cooks, we also have two incredible cooking “stage” vacations in Italy and France. These vacations are growing increasingly more popular as individuals are looking to truly immerse themselves in the cooking experience! In Figline Valdarno, Tuscany An Intensive Cooking ‘Stage’ with Chef Claudio you will learn to prepare over 70 traditional and seasonal Tuscan dishes. If French cuisine is more to your liking, try Passionate Provence: An Intensive Cooking “Stage”. Both vacations include daily cooking lessons, as well as the opportunity to assist and/or observe Chef Claudio and Chef Pascal in their restaurants!
Hola Spain! I have just returned from a two week trip to Spain, visiting Madrid, Toledo, Barcelona and Costa Brava. All I can say is Wow! What a great country. The food and wine was great and the cultural aspects outstanding. I loved it all! Madrid is a majestic city, Toledo an historic gem, Barcelona, cutting edge design and the Costa Brava, a bit of heaven on the sea. We are now in the process of finalizing some new tours and classes in Spain, which will be terrific additions to our wonderful roster of programs.
This country really has something to offer for everyone. I said to my guide one day that I felt if you put Italy and France in a blender you would come out in Spain, and he agreed!
Please contact us anytime for details or for recommendations.
Upon my return, I was delighted to find an invitation to join the CEO of Tormaresca, the wonderful wine produced in Puglia, to sample the latest vintages. We include a visit to Masseria Maime in our program, “Presenting Puglia,” so this was very fitting. The wines are all outstanding and very reasonably priced. They also produce an award winning olive oil.
We are updating for 2011 and many of our programs have dates and prices. However, please contact us anytime if a program in which you are interested does not yet have that information.
It is that time of year again, when we start updating our programs and preparing for the next year. If you are interested in booking a program that does not yet have 2011 pricing, we will try to honor our 2010 rates, so you may be able to get in under the wire!
It is also not too early to be thinking about one of our fabulous programs as a wonderful gift for the holidays. We prepare a lovely gift package for presentation, and, it would be the gift of a lifetime!
I wish you all a joyous Thanksgiving, filled with family and friends and great food and wine!
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, surrounded by family and friends
celebrating at a bountiful table. That is, after all, one of our goals.
In this high tech, fast-moving world, we believe in the importance of bringing family and loved ones together as often as possible, providing an opportunity to talk, connect, explore, while enjoying a meal that has been prepared using the best and freshest ingredients.
If you are looking for the most wonderful gift you could ever give a loved one, please consider one of our incredible new trips as a holiday present.
To all a Happy Hanukah and Merry Christmas!
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