A very Happy New Year to all and best wishes for a healthy and prosperous year. Now that the holidays are behind us, we are in full swing for 2011, putting the finishing touches on some of our new programs, such as the fantastic vacation in the region of Lazio near Rome, Discover Lazio, and our newest journey to the southern “heel” of Italy’s boot, Discovering Puglia.
Perhaps this is the year to plan a culinary vacation, for example, A Culinary Adventure in Umbria! We are most happy
to assist you in finding the best trip for you, so please call or write us
for any details.
2011 is gearing up to be a great year for travel, and here at The International Kitchen we have recently put together a bunch of brand new programs around the world to help you explore new horizons and experience new culinary traditions. Here is a list of our newest cooking vacations that we can’t wait for you to enjoy:
Explore the colors and Flavors Of Costa Rica in Central America. Journey to the edge of Costa Rica’s green Central Valley, where you will find Turrialba, the gateway to the beautiful Caribbean lowlands. Like most boundary regions, this intermediary area between the valley and the Caribbean boasts the benefits of both local traditions in the region’s culture and eating habits, with a blend of Tico Highland, Afro Caribbean and European cuisine. The goal of this cooking vacation is to experience the “Tipico Tico” lifestyle, with its very own colorful traditions and fresh local products.
Let The International Kitchen take you to paradise, with Paraiso Cabo. There’s nothing like it; miles of beach so private it’s unlikely you’ll see another person as you stroll through the surf, across dunes and around majestic rock formations. There are no giant hotels, beach vendors, jet ski’s or loud bars…just miles and miles of peaceful serenity literally steps from your hammock. During whale season you’ll spot dozens of migrating whales so close you can hear them breach and tail-slap the Pacific—every day. Overhead, the night skies are so clear you could read a book by starlight. You’ll learn from the most talented chefs of Cabo as they prepare dinner each night. Whether you want to learn ‘hands-on’, or kick back with a glass of wine and cheer others on, these are recipes you can easily reproduce in your own home!
Cook and live in a Chianti wine estate, learning the secrets of typical Tuscan dishes from Laura, a fine home cook who has been passing on her recipes and cooking techniques for years. The “locality called Querceto”—which dates back to before the XVI century—and the complex main farmhouse has reached our era preserving every trace of its own history and evolution during the centuries. This not only makes it extremely original but also of considerable architectural interest.
Learn the secrets of the ancient Tuscan cooking traditions at the prestigious Toscana Saporita cooking school in Versilia. The school occupies the ground floor of a 15th century villa and welcomes students from all over the world. For hundreds of years this large and majestic room was used to house the estate’s fine wines, stored in huge wooden barrels. Classes involving instruction in bread, focaccia and pizza making are held next door, using a wood fired oven that baked the estate’ s bread for centuries.
Students encompass every level from culinary beginners to accomplished chefs who come to study the unique nature of Tuscan Cuisine. Taught by three experienced professional chef instructors, all classes are completely hands on, small in size and completely conducted in English. Classes make use of all-natural, seasonally-fresh ingredients. Essential Tuscan techniques you will master include; fresh homemade pasta, raviolis, gnocchi, pizza, focaccia, risotto, bruschette and crostini, roasted meats, fish and meat preparation, pastry dough and desserts, biscotti, ice creams and sorbets, vegetable and grain soups…and much more!
“Norcia—what an unbelievably magical place! Nestled in a valley of the Sibillini Mountains, Norcia was the birthplace of Saint Benedict, and is one of only three cities in all of Italy to still be completely surrounded by its its medieval city walls. While I was familiar with the rumors of the divinely delicious, world-famous seasoned meats, sausages, truffles and lentils of the region, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the mountainous terrain surrounding the romantic medieval town. Throughout the time I spent exploring the region, I continuously encountered stunning vistas from high on the rolling hills. From these perches I could marvel at the combination of mountains, valleys, and the rich colors and winding streets of the medieval town. The natural surroundings were truly breathtaking!
And of course there was the food…how do you translate into words the rich, earthy smell and texture of fresh truffle, the salty and complex flavors of Norcian salumi? Norcia was the birthplace of these quintessential Italian meats, evidenced by the name in Italian for a cured meat shop “norcineria.” These recipes go back thousands of years, and have had plenty of time to be perfected.
What truly made the experience one-of-a-kind was the warm hospitality of the accommodations at Palazzo Seneca. A Relais & Château property, Palazzo Seneca presents the perfect combination of history and modern comforts. The recent restorations brought this 16th century building back to its original splendor, built to represent the ultimate luxury of the ruling class. Today, it offers its guests the finest modern facilities alongside its historical charm. The hotel’s Vespasia Restaurant is under the care of Chef Flavio Faedi, who gives classic Umbrian recipes a modern and delicious touch. The Bianconi Family has been in the hospitality business since 1850.
All in all, this was an truly extraordinary Italian experience, and I would highly recommend it!”
Ah, where to begin…
The first quarter of this year has been a whirlwind of travel! It began with an incredible eight night trip to Portugal (my first time.) We covered most of the country, staring in Lisbon, traveling to the Alentjo, the Douro Valley and ending up in the town of Porto. Portugal is a wonderful, colorful and historic country, with a fine culinary tradition and some very outstanding wines. I was delighted that we made a stop to do a cooking class at our program in Portel, Delectable Portugal, where we had a wonderful day. Sofia, the owner and your hostess, is a totally engaging and charming person and this is a great experience, and a great value.
Then it was time for the annual trade show of France, this year held in Bordeaux. It was another week of wine and gastronomy in this region of the finest wines of France and spectacular food before the chance to meet many suppliers from around the country. We will soon be offering a daily class in Bordeaux, as well as some chateaux wine and cooking programs.
Then, on to Italy, first Tuscany, where I spent some time at one of our new programs, A Tuscan Dream on a Chianti Wine Estate. This is a fabulous opportunity for those of you who would like to focus on wine and wine producers. The owners live on the vast and lovely property in the heart of the Chianti Classico, producing a top quality wine and olive oil. We then went on to Coastal Cooking in Viareggio. Viareggio is a bustling, lively town on the Tuscan coast, really a lot of fun. The beautiful 4 star Hotel Plaza 3 de Russie is a lovely Liberty style building (as is most of the town) with a stunning rooftop restaurant. I am very pleased with this new option, the chef comes with outstanding experience, but is very modest and charming and quite eager to teach our clients. And it is a bit off the beaten path.
My last days in Tuscany were spent at the glorious Villa Mangiacane, truly one of the most spectacular villa hotels in all of Italy. If you are looking for a wonderful cooking experience in the height of luxury, this is the program for you. The spa indoor pool (of course, there are two outdoor pools!), hamman and sauna are currently undergoing renovation, but there is still the availability of spa services, such as massages and beauty treatments. Until the renovation work is completed, we are happy to offer a $100 per person credit for any spa service.
My final days were spent on the Amalfi coast, visiting our friends at Tramonto d’Oro (Cooking Under a Golden Sunset) and checking out some new properties as well. We will soon be posting another option, an ultra deluxe property on the sea, about which we are very excited!
Please don’t hesitate to write or call anytime with any questions. We work with great pride and love to talk about our programs!
We are very pleased to announce that Fortune Magazine has chosen to feature one of our favorite cooking school vacations, A Luxury Lifestyle at Villa Mangiacane, in their June retirement issue. This is truly an elegant property, a bit eclectic, reflecting the South African influence of its owner. The setting, amidst the vineyards and olive groves, with gorgeous vistas, is literally breathtaking. With insightful hands on lessons and wonderful excursions, this is a great choice for your culinary holiday!
More information about our program at Villa Magiacane, as well as our other Tuscany culinary adventures, can be found here.
In addition to Fortune magazine, we also feel honored to be included in Tripbase.com’s “The Best 20 Breaks For Foodies,” which named The International Kitchen as the number one culinary vacation provider for varied locations!
One of those varied locations is our new program located in both the French and Italian Riviera. This one-time only opportunity is a splendid trip with the noted chef and author Patti Ravenscroft. Learn more about this culinary vacation here.
Welcome to Spring!
With summer and traveling season upon us, it’s a busy time here at The International Kitchen as we enrich our already fabulous set of vacations with even more culinary adventures. One particular vacation that is sure to pique your interest is our fabulous Luxury Seaside Experience on the Amalfi Coast.
The pictures for this cooking vacation, while stunning, still do not do this experience justice. The five-star Capo La Gala is a seaside retreat perfectly perched in a bay surrounded by gorgeous inaccessible cliffs and hidden caves, and each and every one of the 22 rooms offer an amazing view of the Mediterranean sea. When not learning about the region’s food in the hotel’s Michelin restaurant—through four classes no less—soak in the sun, enjoy the spa amenities and services, and explore the Amalfi Coast. The culinary vacation also includes immersing yourself in foods of the region, including a trip to a Limoncello factory and the island of Capri. This trip is unlike any other and will surely not disappoint.
We are also again offering a special week getaway for only women, our WOW week at the Mediterranean Cooking Experience, which will be held October 23-29, 2011. This is our fourth year of running our WOW week, and these women-only culinary vacations have proven to be very popular and a great experience.
Welcome to summer everyone!
It’s taken a long time for many of us, but I think summer is finally here! And now that we approach the July 4th holiday, we realize that half the year is already over.
So, time flies; don’t wait any longer to take that long anticipated trip. We have so many wonderful, exciting, rewarding experiences to offer you!
We have two very special departures in October.
Our popular Women Only Week (WOW) is available once again at our gorgeous location on the Amalfi coast, Mediterranean Cooking Experience, and is scheduled for October 23-29, 2011. We have space available and it is a fabulous trip at a great price.
We also have a week hosted by our own Tuscan born Jeanette Benedetti Boylan (our Special Events Coordinator) for October 23-29, 2011 with Chef Claudio in Tuscany. We have just sold out that week and added another departure October 29-November 4.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us any time for details or more information for any of our incredible adventures!
Happy July 4th, and welcome to summer.
After returning from a rather intense two-week site inspection, it is always a challenge to marshall my thoughts and write a cogent and interesting report! I had so many wonderful experiences, it can be difficult to distill them down.
The trip began with a visit to our program in Norcia, A Culinary Adventure in Umbria and An Intensive Cooking ‘Stage in Norcia. The hotel is an exquisite Relais & Chateaux, and the classes are with the wonderful and creative chef of the hotel restaurant. This area is quite unusual with an undulating mountain region that is quite pastoral. If you are looking for a trip a bit “out of the box” but with no sacrifice in quality, this is it!
Then it was on to our office in Florence, with time to check out some new locations in Tuscany. We are working on two wonderful new options, both lovely 4 star properties in the most scenic areas of Tuscany, north and south. Look for these on our Website soon.
Next, we flew to Paris and took a train to Provence, where we spent two nights in St. Remy de Provence. Our wonderful property, Domaine de Valmouriane, sadly will be closing for good October 1. Fortunately we found another fabulous property, and we will be offering very much the same itinerary that includes cooking classes. This new option will be posted to our Website shortly.
We also spent some time visiting some of our cooking classes in the Provence area, including a wonderful afternoon visiting with Chef Madeleine at her charming home in Crillon le Brave. She prepared a lovely lunch, with recipes she uses for her classes, and everything was delicious. This is a must do class!
Then, it was on to Aix en Provence, where we visited with another one of our favorites, Chef Marc. After a quick market visit, it was off to his gorgeous chateau for another wonderful lunch. This is an unbelievable setting, one I have yet to find anywhere else for a one-day experience. If you can fit this in your itinerary, do so!
Lastly, we traveled to the Loire to visit A Culinary Adventure at Le Calabash Cooking School. I am so enthralled with both the setting and the program, I don’t even know where to begin. But, I will do so with the accommodations. We are using a new relais hotel, a manor home that has been fully and beautifully renovated up to 4-star standards; it is quite exquisite. I will end with telling you that the classes that Sidney and Alison do are among the best I have ever experienced. Sidney is a world class chef; along with his wife Alison, a noted pastry chef, they offer a top-notch experience for beginning and advanced cooks. Combined with the wonderful excursions, this is a great program in Loire, one I recommend very heartily.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us anytime for any additional information or more further details on these or any of our programs!
It always seems that the fall season appears out of nowhere! This is a labor intensive time for us, where we start “gearing” up for next year, some new programs, some changes to existing programs, and some the same.
It has always been our policy to try to confirm any date for next year at this year’s rate until the new prices are posted, and we will continue to do so.
Many of our programs are dates on request and those that have scheduled departures will follow much the same pattern as this year. So if you are ready to confirm your travel plans for 2012, let us know!
We have some new offerings in Provence called Gastronomy in Provence, and in Tuscany, including Cooking and Vineyards of Southern Tuscany, just to name a few. Be sure to take some time to check them out on our Website.
Time to start planning for 2012, and Tuscany beckons! We have been working diligently to create some new programs that offer different flavors, wines and discoveries, and we are proud to present our four new deluxe options. Please contact us if you have questions about these, or any of our other programs, in Italy.
Pamper yourself with A Five Star Indulgence in the gorgeous Chianti countryside while staying at the stunning Castello del Nero, which offers historic charm with modern amenities. In addition to learning about Tuscan cuisine and wine, there is leisure time for you to enjoy a treatment in the ESPA-designed spa, play tennis or take the free shuttle into Florence. This superb culinary program is exclusive to The International Kitchen!
In another part of the Chianti region, you’ll find Cooking in the Heart of Chianti. Learn about seasonal Tuscan cuisine from a chef who has previously worked at a Michelin-star restaurant, as well as explore the region known for its production of wheat, grapes, and olives. This trip offers not only hands-on cooking classes but also amazing opportunities, like meeting the local butcher and exploring medieval villages.
Cooking and Vineyards of Southern Tuscany will take you into the beautiful region between Cortona and the Umbrian border, a land of olive groves and vineyards. Stay in a restored 18th-century historic dwelling, and discover modern approaches to traditional Italian recipes. This trip also includes various excursions throughout the region, including visits to Assisi and Cortona, as well as vineyards and wine cellars.
Want to get to Tuscany this year and take part in the olive harvest? Then consider Green Gold of Tuscany, an in-depth look at the wonders of olive oil, which is as important to Italian cuisine as wine. This trip begins in Florence and ends in Pergo, a small town just outside of Cortona. This trip is only available in November and December of this year, so book soon!
I have recently returned from ten days in Italy, starting with a few nights at Casa Gregorio, home to our program Roman Countryside Discovery. An easy ride from the Rome airport, it is located midway between Rome and Naples in a captivating small ancient town in Lazio.
The property itself is stunning. To call it a B&B does not do it justice; it is really more of a small, elegant, personal hotel. The lessons were great fun, the excursions wonderful; overall just a fantastic experience. This is a great value and is one of the few cooking programs that is available year round.
Then I spent a week in Venice, meeting with some wonderful people, including possible new partners for not only programs in Venice itself, but also in the region of the Veneto. The Veneto is one of the most prosperous, sophisticated and elegant regions in all of Italy, with gorgeous scenery, lush vineyards, charming small towns and beautiful accommodations. If you have already spent time in Venice, perhaps think about venturing out into the region to find new experiences. We also now offer a 3-night cooking program on the Lido, called Insider’s Venice, which is just a short vaporetto ride away from the center of Venice.
I am now on my way to France for our annual trade show in Provence. Always on the lookout for new partners in the area, I hope to come back with a great report. I will also be doing hotel inspections in Paris and Rome, looking for lovely, well-located and well-priced 3 and 4 star hotels — which can be a challenge — and I hope to come back with good news on that front as well.
As we approach the holiday season, perhaps think about a gift of one of our amazing cooking trips or classes. This would be a gift that will be remembered for a lifetime; you can either plan your culinary vacation now or purchase a gift certificate for later use. Our culinary trips are truly inspirational and a lot of fun, and we provide lovely gift packages for presentation during your holiday season. So this year, “think out of the box,” literally!
We wish all of you a wonderful, happy, and healthy holiday season and New Year, surrounded by loving family and friends, and, of course, great food and wine.
Best wishes from everyone at The International Kitchen!
Karen, Peg, Richard, Mona, Sharon, Liz
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