My wishes for all the best in 2012, success, happiness and health from the entire team at The International Kitchen! We are all very excited about our wonderful programs, and eager to share all of them with you.
We love our cooking vacations, and we are always looking to add wonderful new options, always something a little different! In fact, we recently added a new section on our Website; if you’re looking to explore more than one region in Italy, please see our Multiple Regions section. Look for a French Multiple Regions section in the coming week as well.
We already have many new programs posted on our Website, and some in the works that will soon be posted on the site. Please call us at 800-945-8606 or write to email@example.com; we are here anytime to give you additional information or to help you choose the best trip for you, friends, and family.
Our Web and Travel Coordinator is gearing up for her first trip to Italy, where she’ll be doing site inspections and discovering new programs, so I’ve asked Liz to highlight what she’ll be doing and seeing.
“I’m thrilled to be heading to Italy and getting to know some of our partners and programs better!
My travels first take me to Milan, where I’ll be attending BIT 2012 (Borsa Internazionale del Turismo). At The International Kitchen, we regularly attend trade shows to make new contacts and discover new partners to work with from all over Europe! At BIT, while I’ll be keeping my eye out for new Italian culinary vacations for you, I’ll also be meeting with our partners behind the program A Culinary Adventure in Umbria and Cooking and Hiking in the Umbrian Hills, among others. They have a new program they’ve been putting together in Sicily; expect details about that program when I return.
Then I’ll be traveling south to one of our newest Umbria programs, Discover the Umbrian Countryside, in the small comune of Montegabbione. Here, I’ll be visiting and exploring the agriturismo, and of course trying the food from their local farms, which is all organic and freshly grown!
For my last few days, it’s off to Florence, where I’ll meet with our Italian office and check in on some of our best-selling programs, like A Classic Tuscan Table With Chef Claudio.
It promises to be a whirlwind but exciting trip to Italy, and I look forward to reporting back about everything I discover!”
I wish Liz a great trip!
In February, our Web and Tour Coordinator Liz visited Italy to check in with some of The International Kitchen’s Italian culinary vacations. Here’s what she has to say about what she saw!
“After leaving the BIT 2012 tradeshow in Milan, I headed south to visit one of our newest Umbrian programs, Discover the Umbrian Countryside. The agriturismo, led by a husband and wife team, was amazingly close to Tuscany — in fact, I got off the train in Chiusi, which is on the border of the two regions. And the beauty of the surrounding Umbrian hills rivals that of Tuscany, even with some of the snow that still graced the hills in February!
Marina and Chef Gianluca treated me to a wonderful meal that night, full of traditional local produce, in their restaurant that is only open to guests of their B&B. Home-made foccacia and salami from the local butcher, who lives on the next hill over, started the meal. Then came some divine homemade pumpkin ravioli topped with a dash of pecorino and fresh bits of bacon, an amazing combination. The entree offered something new, too: steak from the famous white cow of the region, known as Chianina, paired with chick-pea curry puree and breaded cauliflower. Such a wonderful, filling meal, but it wasn’t complete until a chocolate dessert!
Like Marina and Gianluca, the accommodations were also warm and inviting. They bought the farmhouse back in 2005 and extensively remodeled it, dividing it into two buildings, and outfitting it with environmentally-friendly, modern amenities. All eight rooms and ensuite bathrooms are bright and spacious with furnishings — like the farmhouse’s old doors as headboards — that respect the farmhouse’s history. The property too is stunning; it’s spread across 14 acres of land, where Marina and Gianluca grow much of the produce they cook with for guests and classes, and the olives they use in the olive oil they produce on-site.
While visiting, I also got to visit some of the charming hillside towns that guests of The International Kitchen will see as well, including a castle, and classic Italian villages with narrow roads and hidden pathways. All in all, it was a fabulous visit, and I look forward to visiting again in warmer weather!
But my trip wasn’t complete yet. I returned to Florence, and visiting Florence isn’t complete without seeing Claudio, from our best-selling program A Classic Tuscan Table with Chef Claudio. Even on a Tuesday night, his small restaurant was packed with locals. After asking us what sort of food we were in the mood for, Claudio started bringing out delicious dish after delicious dish — something he’s well known for!
It was a fabulous trip, and I highly recommend giving Umbria a try — or visiting Claudio just outside of Florence!”
I am delighted Liz had the opportunity to visit Umbria and Tuscany!
Our Group & Incentive Specialist, Richard, recently returned from France, where he participated in a trade show and checked in with one of our most popular French programs. Here’s what Richard has to say about his travels throughout Paris and the beautiful Loire Valley!
“I am just back from the French trade show “Rendez-vous en France” which was held this year in Paris. It was a great opportunity to see old friends and make new ones! I was first treated to an amazing 4 night “pre-tour” to the Champagne region, not at all far from Paris, in the towns of Reims & Troyes. We visited some of the most famous champagne caves and ate at some wonderful restaurants. It was truly a gastronomic delight and these two cities should definitely be on everyone’s bucket list!
The trade show itself was very informative. Keep your eyes peeled for a new chef in Paris whom we hope to have on our website under Paris one-day cooking classes very soon.
At the end of the show I took the TGV train into the Loire to visit Chef Sidney and Chef Alison at our amazing program A Culinary Adventure at Le Calabash Cooking School. Words cannot express! I am totally bowled over by this program. The relais accommodation is absolutely charming and has been lovingly restored by the owner, Isabelle. Most bedrooms are beamed, the dining room is lovely & comfortable, and the lounge has an impressive stone fireplace — a great place to relax on chilly spring days!
The cooking school, Le Calabash, is only a 3 minute drive away in a tiny hamlet. Sidney and Alison have developed a fully equipped teaching kitchen as the heart of the school. We also visited the chateau of Chenonceau and had lunch at its gastronomic restaurant, Orangerie – exactly as our clients do on Tuesday during their culinary experience.
But the real thrill was cooking a simple dinner with Sidney and Alison that evening at the school. Sidney seared a beautiful duck breast from one of his local producers and taught me how to make risotto — a simple recipe with chicken stock, mushrooms, white wine and cheese. The method was easy to learn and the end result creamy and delicious. Alison finished the meal with individual banana tart tatins with homemade ice cream & tuiles (which she taught me to make). It was a great evening of fun, good food & great companionship. I can’t wait to go back!”
I’m so glad Richard had a chance to experience one of our favorite programs. We know you will love it as much as he did!
It’s a beautiful time of year in the southwest of France, a region full of gastronomic specialities, fine wines, and numerous castles and medieval fortresses. Wherever you travel for your culinary vacation in Southwest France, the land is unspoiled and breathtaking.
As your host at A Taste of Bordeaux says of Bordeaux, “The region is lush and green; lakes, valleys and delightful villages scattered everywhere.” The beauty of the area is just one reason to consider this wonderful vacation. In this particular cooking program, you will experience a very personal teaching concept while staying in a lovely Girondine manor house, which, while renovated, retains some of its original features. The property is surrounded in trees, and you can even pick fruits, including grapes, for both cooking and tasting! Here, you will learn the traditional French style of cooking and enjoy the results of your efforts paired with local wines. It’s the perfect relaxing getaway.
In fact, relaxing, enjoying the beauty of the region, and cooking seasonal food is a theme throughout Southwest France. At Gascony Cookery School, when not cooking traditional French food, explore the area once occupied by Romans, the Vikings, and the Visigoths; the forts and castles here are beautifully preserved.
At Gastronomic Retreat in the Quercy, experience the Midi-Pyrenees for 3-nights and visit a Foie Gras museum, among other unique excursions. Here at The International Kitchen, we also offer a unique gourmet trip, Cook on a Luxury Barge; travel through the Languedoc region on the Canal du Midi and take French cooking classes on board!
For more information about our vacations in Southwest France, please visit our Website.
As always, if you have any questions about any of our many culinary vacations, please contact us!
I put together a wonderful custom trip in Provence for six friends, all of us celebrating a big birthday, and it was a very special treat. We visited many of the spectacular towns featured in our Discover Provence culinary vacation, such as the historical city of Avignon.
Although these were towns I have visited many times before, the charm never fades. We had incredible meals complete with the wines of Provence, which are now able to compete with the best wine growing regions in France, yet are still very modestly priced. This region is a great choice for a cooking holiday!
One of the newest features is the green "book now" buttons that are associated with all of our offerings. When you're ready to confirm your travel adventure, such as our best-selling program "A Classic Tuscan Table with Claudio," simply click the "book now" button and you'll be taken to our easier-to-navigate booking form. If you're thinking of planning a trip this year, many of our programs still have space available for the remainder of the Summer and Fall.
If you want to get an inside look into some of our program's accommodations, look no further than our hotel photo galleries. While this feature is still in the process of rolling out across all our vacations, many already include a hotel icon leading you to a wonderful set of photos that highlight the rooms, property, restaurants, and common areas of our programs. For example, take a look at the beautiful photos of our hotel in Norcia, "A Culinary Adventure in Umbria"; see the hotel garden, rooms, and wonderful views!
Last but not least, we now have a blog to share everything food and travel with you, such as tips on how to buy olive oil as well as why Emilia Romagna is known as the food basket of Italy. Feel free to leave feedback in the comments section of any of our posts. As always, if you have any questions about our Website or our programs, do not hesitate to contact us!
My first trip to Italy in 1985 was skiing in the Italian Alps. It was the worst ski season, almost no snow, but it made no difference; I was hooked. After dreaming about going to Italy since I was a teenager, I was finally there.
Now, after over 100 trips to Italy — covering the length and breadth of the country, taking every means of transportation, planes, trains, automobiles, ferries, hydrofoils, and even donkey — there was one important thing I had never done.
The Palio in Siena was on my bucket list, and this was the year for me to attend. Elisa and Leonardo, our partners in Tuscany, made all the arrangements for the August 16 Palio. Elisa is from Siena and takes the race very seriously to say the least! Her "contrada" did not win, but we had a fabulous time at an incredible Medieval event. You will find out more in our blog soon, when Elisa presents a personal view of the Palio.
So, we are nearing the end of summer, but there is still time to plan a trip for this fall, one of the best seasons in Europe, and check a cooking vacation off your bucket list! The crowds have left for the most part, the wine harvest is in September and the olive harvest in November. The colors are spectacular — green, orange and yellow — and the weather is mild and lovely.
If a trip is not "in the cards" this year, start thinking about 2013. We are booking for all months for next year and until we post new prices, we are confirming at this year's rates.
Wishing all a good wine and tasty meal!
Our cooking vacations are a wonderful way to celebrate special occasions, such as a honeymoon, and that's exactly what Liz SanFilippo Hall, our Tour & Web Coordinator, just did! She recently returned to the office, and I've asked her to share some of her memories from traveling around Italy.
"When my husband and I decided to plan our honeymoon, it was a no brainer. We love food and travel, and we wanted to experience some of the best of what Italy has to offer. So we decided to spend four nights doing one of The International Kitchen's favorite programs, "A Culinary Adventure of Umbria," and then head to Sorrento to explore all that the Amalfi Coast has to offer.
Norcia, in one word, is amazing. But that does not do this small medieval town justice! After our wonderful driver Tiziano picked us up from Rome airport, he regaled us with stories of living in Umbria and taught us a word or two of Italian. And then we pulled up to Norcia, and immediately knew we'd picked the perfect place to start our honeymoon.
The junior suite at Palazzo Seneca was beautiful with a stunning view of the Sibillini Mountains. The food at both Ristorante Vespasia and Granaro del Monte was delicious, including the big Italian breakfast every morning. The excursions — particularly the truffle hunt and pig farm visit — were unique and so much fun, in part because we got to see Giuseppe, the pig farmer also known as Beppe, whistle, which called all of his pigs and piglets to come to the field. And of course, the cooking classes… Flavio is clearly a passionate chef who loves to teach. We learned about cured meats and made all sorts of delicious gnocchi, including one with truffles. We didn't ever want to leave!
Then came Sorrento and some day trips along the Amalfi Coast and Capri. It was just as beautiful as everyone always says it is, whether you're admiring the view of the Bay of Naples or traveling by SITA bus and private car on the winding coastal roads. We took one Italian cooking class while in Sorrento with Zia Angela; despite the rain, a rare occurrence in this gem of a town, it was a beautiful spot with a grove of lemon trees and a few grapes from which they make their own wine. The family was so welcoming and made our honeymoon even more special.
We also had one dinner at Tramonto D'Oro, home to our cooking program, "Cooking Under The Golden Sunset," and the program's title is perfect: the fresh seafood and mozzarella was delicious and the sunset absolutely stunning. Our time there was the perfect way to end our trip!
The trip was everything we wanted for our honeymoon, and now we just need another excuse to go back!"
We're delighted that Liz and her husband had a wonderful time in Italy! If you're looking to book your own honeymoon with The International Kitchen, consider starting a registry account with us. More details are located on our Website.
We’re fast approaching 2013, and we're keeping busy at The International Kitchen discovering new culinary vacations and one-day classes for your travels both this year and next! We've added a variety of new programs to the Website in the past month, which we're positive will interest you as you plan your next vacation.
Truffle day with "A Culinary Adventure at Le Calabash"
This exceptional trip takes place this year, December 2-9, at our best-selling program in the Loire. It's a 7-night program at the 6-night price, and it features a special full-day devoted to French truffles! You'll hunt for truffles in Marigny Marmande, visit a market in Tours, and of course make delicious dishes with these enticing tubers. All of this is, of course, in addition to the regular program, full of wonderful classes with the chefs, a husband and wife team, as well as visits to lovely French towns.
Beyond Deluxe: Five Star Dream in Tuscany
We're excited to offer this exclusive, luxury cooking program at the 5-star Grand Hotel Villa Cora, which is located in the hills just south of Florence. The property is absolutely beautiful and staff is helpful and welcoming -- and that includes the chef for the hands-on cooking classes! During this program, available any week on request for a minimum of two, you'll also experience Florence like you never have before, complete with a food/art walking tour.
Authentic Farm to Table Experience
The Valtellina Valley in the Lombardy region may be off the beaten path, but that's part of its charm in this unique three-night cooking program at a fully-operational agriturismo. The farm has cows, pigs, and goats, so they can make their own meats and cheeses. You'll get to experience truly local dishes in this picturesque setting.
Additionally, we're offering a great promotional rate for Mediterranean Cooking Experience on the Amalfi Coast; for any 2013 bookings confirmed before December 31, you'll be upgraded to a junior suite (based on availability).
We're also in the process of developing a cooking vacation in Venice as well as a one-day class in Barcelona, so continue to keep an eye on our Website!
Don't forget, in most cases we are able to confirm for 2013 at this year's price until next year's prices are posted.
If you have questions about these or any of our other programs, don't hesitate to contact us today.
With Thanksgiving only a few weeks away, it reminds us again to be grateful for whatever we have. We hope that you are able to spend the holiday with family and/or friends and we wish you a bountiful time.
If you're starting to think of gifts for this holiday season, consider our gift certificates for future cooking vacations with your family and friends.
We wish everyone a joyous holiday, filled with family, friends, and loved ones.
The staff at The International Kitchen
P.S. It's not too late to get a cooking vacation gift certificate for a holiday gift!!
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