Archive for the ‘culinary travel’ Category

Gift of Travel: Food & Wine Trails Offers ’12 Trips of Christmas’

December 18, 2013

Looking for the ultimate holiday gift for the food & wine lover who has everything? Food & Wine Trails, a 29 year-old culinary travel company based in Sonoma County, is offering 12 food and wine focused vacations as gift-giving ideas. Each of the “Twelve Trips of Christmas” include culinary activities or extra amenities, such as a free wine tour, cash to spend on culinary shore tours, a private car and driver shore excursion, or even a free hotel night.

“Culinary travel is more than just eating and drinking on vacation. It’s about immersing yourself in the culture, cuisine, and traditions of a particular region,” says Food & Wine Trails President Larry Martin, “Each experience is unique: you could take a private cooking class with a local chef, dine on food prepared by Michelin-starred chefs, have a guided tour and tasting at the region’s best wine estates…the possibilities are endless.”

Food & Wine Trails “Twelve Trips of Christmas” list features both cruise and land tours all over the world. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a novice or a sophisticated home chef or wine collector, we have a vacation that any food and wine lover would love.” promises Martin.

#1 Trip 12-Night New Zealand wine cruise hosted by three top Oregon wineries with airfare, complementary gratuities and a $100 shipboard credit.
#2 Trip 7-Night cruise on Portugal’s Douro River with a $400 shipboard credit.
#3 Trip 9-Night “Flavors of Italy” land tour with first class hotel accommodations.
#4 Trip 14-Night Trans-Atlantic “Golf, Wine & Food” theme cruise from London to Boston with $500 shore excursion credit .
#5 Trip 10-Night F&WT’s President’s cruise with winery host Rochioli Vineyards with up to $440 in free benefits.
#6 Trip 5-Night biking tour through Northern California wine country on custom titanium bikes.
#7 Trip 8-Night Southern Spain cruise with daily wine tastings and two free wine tours.
#8 Trip 6-Night land tour discovering the delicacies of the Spanish region of Andalusia that includes wine with meals and a hands-on cooking class.
#9 Trip 7-Night Bordeaux wine cruise hosted by a Napa Valley’s Conn Valley Vineyards with up to $308 in free benefits.
#10 Trip Travel package to 2014 Hawaii Food & Wine Festival with free hotel nights.
#11 Trip 11-Night South African Winelands tour with special visits to former homes of Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela.
#12 Trip 10-Night “Pearls of China” wine themed cruise with free private car and driver shore tour.

For more information about F&WT’s “Twelve Trips of Christmas,” call 800-367-5348 or visit http://www.foodandwinetrails.com. Please note some offers are time sensitive.

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Handpicked Adventures Tour Company Offers Artisan Cuisine and Culture Trip to Piedmont, Italy

July 19, 2013

Handpicked Adventures, a San Francisco, California-based, artisan food-focused travel company, is offering a one-of-a-kind trip to Piedmont, Italy, September 18 – 25, 2013. Anchored by the popular Bra Slow Food Cheese Festival, the Piemonte and the Bra Slow Food Cheese Festival trip promises an intimate immersion into the region’s unique culture via the food, drink and artisans that define it.

The agricultural tour offers travelers the rare opportunity to sample and taste the area’s wealth of foods while interacting with the farmers and artisans who lovingly produced them. Trip highlights include:

  • Visiting with chocolatiers in their Torino-based salons – yes, there will be ample tastings;
  • Tasting vast arrays of handcrafted cheeses at the festival, which brings together hundreds of Italian and foreign cheese producers;
  • Lodging and dining on a working farm and vineyard in Sinio;
  • Participating in a hands-on cooking class with a classically trained chef – in his own restaurant; and
  • Sipping and savoring at exclusive meetings with winemakers.

Handpicked Adventures’ trip also includes a farm dinner at a local truffle ground, a visit to a snail farm in Cherasco, an Italian brewpub tasting – yes, there’s beer in those hills, too – and a daytrip to the base of the Italian Alps to visit a working dairy farm where the famous Castelmagno cheese is made (FYI: Castelmagno dates back to the 12th century).

For Handpicked Adventures co-founder Heather England, a food-centric tour is the perfect way to learn about a new place. “So often people head to a new destination with an itinerary packed with landmarks and historic sites,” she says. “We approach travel a bit differently at Handpicked Adventures. We believe that the best way to experience a culture is to slow down, savor local foods and engage in worthy conversations.”

Her business partner, Terry Cosola-August agrees. “The history of a place really comes alive when you start talking with the people who have worked on or drawn from the land for generations. Getting up close and personal with regional foods and local cuisine is truly the best way to experience another culture.”

Cost is $2,500 U.S., double occupancy (excluding airfare), if deposit is received by July 31, 2013. After July 31, the cost is $2,750 U.S. (excluding airfare). Package includes all lodging, private motor coach transport, activities translated in English by a multilingual guide, seven breakfasts, festival entry, all group events listed above, plus one additional group dinner. All group dinners include wine and gratuity. The trip is limited to 12 participants. For more information, visit www.handpickedadventures.com.

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Sample Caribbean Cuisine, Win Prizes at ‘Taste of the Islands’ Festival, June 29 at Hyatt Regency, Miami

June 25, 2013

Experience Caribbean cuisine and culture at the Taste of the Islands festival, presented by Ask Me, Inc., taking place Saturday, June 29 from 6 – 9 pm at the Hyatt Regency, Miami. Gather information about your favorite Caribbean destinations, sample gourmet appetizers, desserts and signature cocktails, and listen to authentic Caribbean music. Participants at the festival have the opportunity to win prizes including a three-night all-inclusive stay at the Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa in St. Lucia.

Presented by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), Taste of the Islands is part of the Taste of the Caribbean competition between chefs and bartenders from the region with teams from Anguilla, Bahamas, Barbados, Bonaire, Curacao, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Taste of the Islands highlights the street foods that are common throughout the region. Each competing team is given a “protein mystery basket” with a large selection of ingredients in a common pantry. From these ingredients the teams create two savory dishes, one dessert item and one rum-based cocktail. The event is scored by the judges and counts for 20 percent of the team score in determining the medals for the “Caribbean Team of the Year” recognition.

During Taste of the Islands, consumers can vote in the “People’s Choice” awards to select their favorite culinary creations from participating teams. Consumers who vote in the “People’s Choice” awards will be entered into a drawing for the chance to win a three-night all-inclusive stay at the Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa in St. Lucia, provided by Ask Me, Inc. as well as a double magnum of Henkell Dry, courtesy of Henkell & Co.

In addition to the 10 competing teams, tourist boards from Anguilla, Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago and the U.S. Virgin Islands will be exhibiting in the pavilion with vacation information about their respective countries. Event-goers will be treated to authentic Caribbean music that will be played throughout the festival. Rums of Puerto Rico will have a sampling bar for event-goers to try the different brands that comprise the Rums of Puerto Rico. Award-winning, nationally recognized Chef Allen Susser, who is also the author of The Great Mango Book, will serve as the Master of Ceremonies.

Additional hotel stays will be given away throughout the night courtesy of Media Blast.

Tickets for Taste of the Islands are US$30 per person and can be purchased via www.chtatasteofthecaribbean.com, email events@caribbeanhotelandtourism.com or call (305) 443-3040 ext. 110.

You can also participate in a series of seminars on June 29, 2 – 6 pm to hone your at-home culinary skills including:

Mango Session:Presented from 2 – 3 pm by Chef Susser who will provide insight on cooking with mango, one of the Caribbean’s top fruits, which he has used in developing a tropical cuisine that led to the created of new world cuisine more than 30 years ago.

Preparing Classical Cocktails At Home – A “Hands-On” Seminar: During this seminar, participants will learn the use of professional bartender tools and how to prepare the most famous classical cocktails from Mojitos and Brazilian Caipirinhas, to the Cosmopolitan and the WW I Sidecar. Presented by Trinidadian cocktail master and 2005 Caribbean Bartender of the Year, Raakesh Madoo, this seminar will be a “hands-on” so registrants should come ready to shake, stir and strain their own cocktail creations. The session is scheduled 3:15 – 4:15 pm on June 29.

Rums of Puerto Rico Seminar: During this seminar participants will become true rum connoisseurs as they learn about the different types of rum that comprise the Rums of Puerto Rico brand. Representatives from the Rums of Puerto Rico will provide an insider look into rum’s history, rum making process, varieties of rum including light, dark, flavored and gold, and cocktails that are made with rum. The session will be held from 4:30 – 5:30 pm on June 29.

Other programs include the Junior Chef of the Year (from 8 am – 12 pm), Pastry Chef of the Year (8 am – 12 pm), Bartender of the Year – Rum (10:30 am – 1 pm) and the Ice Carving competitions (4:30 – 5:30 pm) on June 29.

Tickets for Saturday’s combined morning and daytime program, including the seminars, are US$35 per person. Purchase tickets for all of Saturday’s events, including Taste of the Islands, for $65 per person.

Follow Facebook.com/CHTATasteoftheCaribbean and Twitter.com/CHTATasteCarib.

For more information, visit www.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com. Follow CHTA on Facebook Facebook.com/CaribbeanHotelandTourismAssociation and Twitter Twitter.com/CHTAFeeds.

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‘Taste of Caribbean’ Culinary Competition & Festival Set for Miami, June 26-30; Air, Hotel Deals Available

June 7, 2013

Caribbean culture will be on display at the annual Taste of the Caribbean where chefs and bartenders from the region take center stage to compete for the Caribbean’s top culinary honors. Presented by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) from June 26-30, the event will host a gathering of culinary enthusiasts and experts at the Hyatt Regency, Miami.

“The Caribbean is united in the promotion of the region’s indigenous flavours and products. From the world’s best spices to the best coffee, rums, beers and tropical fruits, our national cuisines are an important part of our destination marketing,” said Josef Forstmayr, chairman of CHTA and chairman of Taste of the Caribbean. “Our distinct cuisines are part of our national identities and Taste of the Caribbean showcases our region in a very powerful way,” Forstmayr added.

There are currently nine Caribbean culinary teams registered for the event including Anguilla, Bahamas, Barbados, Bonaire, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Each participating team represents a Caribbean country that has held individual competitions to select their national team, comprised of two senior chefs, one junior chef, one bartender, one pastry chef and one manager. The participating team members represent hotels, restaurants or educational institutions in the Caribbean which are members of CHTA.

The teams are vying for top honors including Caribbean Culinary Team of the Year, Caribbean Chef of the Year, Caribbean Pastry Chef of the Year, Caribbean Bartender of the Year and Caribbean Junior Chef of the Year.

This annual Caribbean food and beverage event is designed for culinary professionals to network, polish professional skills and cheer on colleagues in competition. Taste of the Caribbean also provides education through seminars, workshops, tastings and demonstrations, created to enhance performance, style and profitability in food and beverage operations.

This year’s program includes an enhanced “Taste of the Islands” festival for consumers on Saturday, June 29 from 6 – 9 pm featuring a pavilion of tourist boards where consumers can experience Caribbean culture through a variety of gourmet appetizers and desserts, sample signature cocktails, listen to authentic Caribbean music and gather information about exhibiting Caribbean countries. The Taste of the Islands highlights the street foods that are common throughout the region.

“Consumers participating in Taste of the Caribbean will be treated to a world-class experience as they sample the unique cuisines and beverages of our region,” said Richard J. Doumeng, president of CHTA. “The participating teams have worked hard to hone their skills and are culinary ambassadors for their countries as well as the Caribbean region,” Doumeng added.

Taste of the Caribbean also includes an International Caribbean Culinary Team Competition Lunch and Dinner which features a three-course meal prepared by the competing teams. Each team in the competition meals are given a “mystery basket” of ingredients (the provisions for the competition consisting of a meat, fish, poultry or game) which they must use to develop a three-course menu. The chefs have one hour to create and submit the menu and three hours to prepare and serve an appetizer, entrée and dessert for attendees at the luncheon or dinner.

Registration

Registration for Taste of the Caribbean is open and can be accessed via: http://www.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com/events-taste/event-taste-about.php. The full event fee for hoteliers, government entities and food and beverage professionals is US$175 per person (CHTA members) and US$225 for non-members. Students with proper ID are charged US$75 per person. Prices for the competition events are US$30 for Taste of the Islands and US$50 each for the Competition Lunch and Competition Dinner. CHTA is also offering two package options for the competition events: US$85 per person for the Competition Lunch and Competition Dinner or US$110 per person for the Competition Lunch, Competition Dinner and Taste of the Islands festival.

Trade Show

Taste of the Caribbean also features a unique trade show for event participants which provides a one-stop forum for gathering practical information, sampling, purchasing, strengthening supplier relationships and meeting new vendors.

Exhibitors will be able to promote their products and services to delegates by purchasing a tabletop display at Taste of the Caribbean. Tabletop display registration with one delegate is $750 plus $175 for each additional delegate.

Hotel and Airline Discounts

Registrants can take advantage of discounted hotel rates available at the Hyatt Regency, Miami starting at US$139 per night, plus tax and service charges, based on single or double occupancy. The group rate is available until June 3 and can be made via resweb.passkey.com

CHTA has partnered with American Airlines to provide event attendees with a 10% discount for travel to Miami between June 12 – July 3, 2013. Reservations can be made via aa.com or 1-800-433-1790 using promotional code 7263BX.

For more information about Taste of the Caribbean visit http://www.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com/events-taste/event-taste-about.php or contact CHTA at (305) 443-3040. Follow Facebook.com/CHTATasteoftheCaribbean and Twitter.com/CHTATasteCarib.

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Context Introduces ‘Modernista Menu’ Exploring Barcelona’s Avant Garde Culinary Trends

February 7, 2013

Context, organizer of expert-led tours in major cities worldwide, is introducing a new culinary experience in its Barcelona program. Modernista Menu explores Barcelona’s avant garde culinary trends, including molecular gastronomy. In the company of a local chef or food writer, participants will have a chance to tour the kitchen of a Michelin-starred restaurant before sitting down to a “curated” meal based on the theories of molecular cuisine.

Working with Victor Quintilla, protege of Ferran Adria and owner/chef of Lluerna, one of Barcelona’s most inventive restaurants, docents with Context have put together an annotated dinner at Lluerna that explores modernista ideas and emerging trends. One focus of the program will be to discover and understand the current interest in reviving Catalan traditions and how certain chefs—including Quintilla—are reinventing these tradition within an innovative, modern context.

Participants begin with a behind-the-scenes tour of the kitchen and learn about some of the specialized equipment that is used in molecular cuisine. Then, they’ll sit down to a dinner designed by Quintilla in consultation with Context that takes participants on a gastronomic journey through recent trends. Along the way they will get an insider’s view of how Barcelona and Catalunya generally have re-imagined cooking and influenced a generation of chefs worldwide.

“This is an insider’s look at cutting-edge Catalan cuisine,” explains Spain manager for Context, Sara McCarty. “Lluerna is a very unique place: untouched by tourism, but celebrated within the industry.”

Modernista Menu will be available for private bookings and also within Context’s small-group program, which limits shared group tours to 6 people max. Private tours will cost 425 Euros for the party + 80 per person for dinner; group tours will cost 180 euros per person.

Context Travel is a network of English-speaking scholars and professionals, including art historians, writers, architects and gastronomes, who organize and lead “walking seminars” in twenty-one world cities, including: Florence, Rome, Venice, Naples, Paris, London, Edinburgh, Madrid, Barcelona, Berlin, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, D.C., Istanbul, Athens, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Shanghai and Beijing. Travel + Leisure has called Context one of the top European tour companies for its innovative approach to travel and the depth of its programs. To learn more about Context, visit: www.contexttravel.com

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Access Trips Exclusive New Culinary Tour in Sonoma Highlights Best of Wine Country Culture

January 31, 2013

From exclusive cooking classes with Sonoma’s top chefs to private vineyard tours and tastings, Access Trips new five-day culinary tour is a foodie fantasy in the heart of California’s Wine Country. The new tour offers access to some of Sonoma’s most renowned local restaurants, chefs and vintners, as guests learn to cook with organic, locally sourced ingredients that change seasonally and showcase the best of California cuisine.

Nestled in a lush valley with trellised vineyards climbing the surrounding hills, and bound by a central plaza and a historic Spanish mission, Sonoma is arguably one of the most beautiful towns in California. Offering a quaint, intimate alternative to the usual tourist trails in Napa, Sonoma is a mecca of cultural and culinary treasures awaiting discovery.

For an “ultimate” California experience, Access Trips has partnered with the Sonoma International Film Festival to offer a discounted three-day, three-night Film Festival VIP extension package for guests on Access Trips’ first Sonoma Culinary tour departing April 7, 2013. The tour’s July departure was also timed to dovetail on Destination Race’s Napa to Sonoma half marathon on July 21, 2013.

California Wine Country Culinary Tour
Five-days from $2,590 pp

From once-in-a-lifetime cooking classes with Sonoma’s finest chefs to wine, cheese and chocolate truffle tastings and a tour of one of California’s oldest family owned vineyards, Access Trips’ California Wine Country Culinary Tour is a gourmand’s dream. Indulge your palate during sumptuous meals at top Sonoma restaurants, Café La Haye and Harvest Moon Café, before enjoying exclusive cooking classes led by such big names as Harvest Moon Chef Nick Demarest. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, olive groves and rolling vineyards, visit Stone Edge Farm for a multi-course cooking class with acclaimed chef, John McReynolds, and learn tricks to add variety to recipes at home. Discover the local farmers market, take in the sites during a hike along the Glen Ellen Reservoir and relax poolside at the luxurious, boutique, Macarthur Place – one Sonoma’s finest Inns and Spas.
http://www.accesstrips.com/sports/culinary-tour/

Sonoma International Film Festival VIP Package
Three-days from $2,000 pp

Get in touch with your inner movie star during Access Trips’ three-day, three-night Sonoma International Film Festival extension. Enjoy VIP-access passes to all films, filmmakers, and discussion panels, and of course, exclusive parties with the best in California wine and cuisine! Savor your red carpet moment at the red carpet gala, where you’ll find out which celebrity will be honored by the association. The main festivities are in the Sonoma Plaza, just four blocks walking distance from Macarthur Place, your luxurious inn and spa. Book the Film Festival package along with the California Wine Country Culinary Tour and receive 10% off both the tour AND the extension, for a total savings of $459 per person. Space is limited to just 12 guests.

Access Trips is a leading adventure travel operator specializing in exotic learning vacations to 14 countries worldwide. This company offers a wide range of small-group outdoor sports and culinary-focused trips that are expertly designed to allow guests to experience a new culture, learn new skills or fine-tune existing ones, and revel in the splendor of their destination. Based in San Francisco, California and launched in 2001, Access Trips’ portfolio includes cooking, surfing, mountain biking, snowboarding, skiing, and multisport itineraries. Regardless of the focus of the activity, Access Trips caters to a variety of skill levels, serving the novice as well as the expert in a relaxed, non-intimidating setting with the help of world-class instructors and multilingual guides.

For more information about Access Trips and the adventure tours available, visit www.accesstrips.com.

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Enter Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Sweepstakes for Chance to Win Trip to Miami

January 12, 2013

Time Warner Cable is currently running a sweepstakes where five lucky Grand Prize winners will win a trip for two to Miami on February 21-24 to enjoy the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE.

Each of the five Grand Prize winners will get a three-day/two-night trip for two to Miami to attend the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival including tickets to select events at the Festival, select talent meet and greets, $500 in spending money and one year of the best available Digital TV and Broadband Internet service.

To enter the Sweepstakes, entrants must be a fan of the Time Warner Cable Facebook or Mi Cultura Facebook pages in order to fill out and submit the online registration form by January 21. The Official Rules are available at www.facebook.com/TWC or www.facebook.com/MiCultura. The Grand Prize winner will be selected on or around January 22.

No purchase is necessary. void where prohibited. The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Sweepstakes presented by Time Warner Cable is open to legal U.S. residents who reside in a serviceable area of Time Warner Cable or Insight Communications and those living in the same household in the following states/areas: AL, AZ, CA, CO (only in Gunnison), GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, ME, MA, MI, MO, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WA, WV, or WI, and 21 years of age or older. Starts 10:01 a.m. ET 12/26/12 & ends 11:59 p.m. ET 1/21/13.

For the official rules and complete details, visit facebook.com/twc or facebook.com/micultura. Sweepstakes sponsored by Time Warner Cable Inc.

All proceeds from the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE benefit the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Florida International University (FIU).  To date, the Festival has raised more than $16 million for FIU.  For more information on the Festival,  visit www.sobefest.com.

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Access Trips has new culinary tour highlighting best of California wine country culture; partners with Sonoma Film Festival

December 4, 2012

From exclusive cooking classes with Sonoma’s top chefs to private vineyard tours and tastings, Access Trips brand new five-day culinary tour is a foodie fantasy in the heart of California’s Wine Country. The new tour offers access to some of Sonoma’s most renowned local restaurants, chefs and vintners, as guests learn to cook with organic, locally sourced ingredients that change seasonally and showcase the best of California cuisine.

Nestled in a lush valley with trellised vineyards climbing the surrounding hills, and bound by a central plaza and a historic Spanish mission, Sonoma is arguably one of the most beautiful towns in California. Offering a quaint, intimate alternative to the usual tourist trails in Napa, Sonoma is a mecca of cultural and culinary treasures awaiting discovery.

For the ultimate California experience, Access Trips has partnered with the Sonoma International Film Festival to offer a discounted three-day, three-night Film Festival VIP extension package for guests on Access Trips’ first Sonoma Culinary tour departing April 7, 2013. The tour’s July departure was also timed to dovetail on Destination Race’s Napa to Sonoma half marathon on July 21, 2013.

California Wine Country Culinary Tour
Five-days from $2,590 pp

From once-in-a-lifetime cooking classes with Sonoma’s finest chefs to wine, cheese and chocolate truffle tastings and a tour of one of California’s oldest family owned vineyards, Access Trips’ California Wine Country Culinary Tour is a gourmand’s dream. Indulge your palate during sumptuous meals at top Sonoma restaurants, Café La Haye and Harvest Moon Café, before enjoying exclusive cooking classes led by such big names as Harvest Moon Chef Nick Demarest. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, olive groves and rolling vineyards, visit Stone Edge Farm for a multi-course cooking class with acclaimed chef, John McReynolds, and learn tricks to add variety to recipes at home. Discover the local farmers market, take in the sites during a hike along the Glen Ellen Reservoir and relax poolside at the luxurious, boutique, Macarthur Place – Sonoma’s finest Inn and Spa.
http://www.accesstrips.com/sports/culinary-tour/

Sonoma International Film Festival VIP Package
Three-days from $2,000 pp

Get in touch with your inner movie star during Access Trips’ three-day, three-night Sonoma International Film Festival extension. Enjoy VIP-access passes to all films, filmmakers, and discussion panels, and of course, exclusive parties with the best in California wine and cuisine! Savor your red carpet moment at the red carpet gala, where you’ll find out which celebrity will be honored by the association. The main festivities are in the Sonoma Plaza, just four blocks walking distance from Macarthur Place, your luxurious inn and spa. Book the Film Festival package along with the California Wine Country Culinary Tour and receive 10% off both the tour AND the extension, for a total savings of $459 per person. Space is limited to just 12 guests.

Access Trips is a leading adventure travel  operator specializing in exotic learning vacations to 13 countries worldwide. This company offers a wide range of small-group outdoor sports and culinary-focused trips that are expertly designed to allow guests to experience a new culture, learn new skills or fine-tune existing ones, and revel in the splendor of their destination. Based in San Francisco, California and launched in 2001, Access Trips’ impressive portfolio includes cooking, surfing, mountain biking, snowboarding, skiing, and multisport itineraries. Regardless of the focus of the activity, Access Trips caters to a variety of skill levels, serving the novice as well as the expert in a relaxed, non-intimidating setting with the help of world-class instructors and multilingual guides. For more information about Access Trips and the adventure tours available, visit www.accesstrips.com.

For more travel features, visit:

www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

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Italiaoutdoors Food and Wine Adds Six-Night Culinary Ski Vacation in Dolomites for March

November 23, 2012

Italiaoutdoors Food and Wine has added a second six-night ski and snowboarding experience to its 2013 line-up of active culinary vacations in the Dolomites region of Northwestern Italy.

Offered March 10-16 and March 17-23, 2013 and priced $3995 per person, based on double occupancy, the programs invite winter sports enthusiasts to explore the snow-capped Alto Adige region of Italy, where they can ski and snowboard the majestic Dolomites and immerse themselves in the rich Austro-Hungarian history, cuisine and culture of Sudtirol. The small-group tours are led by ski and snowboard instructor and mountain guide Vernon McClure, and PSIA-certified ski instructor, cooking instructor and chef Kathy Bechtel. Together, they offer two decades of experience in the region. www.italiaoutdoorsfoodandwine.com/index.php/bike-tours-italy-ski-holidays-italy/ski-holidays-italy-ski-trips

Trips include accommodations, guided ski tours, meals, daily wine tastings and activities; equipment rental and air are additional. Daily routes include shorter trails and groomed terrain for novice and intermediate athletes as well as off-piste explorations for the advanced skier, allowing groups of mixed interests and abilities to enjoy the region’s offerings. At the end of each day, Chef Bechtel introduces participants to locally produced wines from the regions of Trentino and Alto Adige including Schiava, Lagrein, and Vino Santo. Dinners are enjoyed in charming osterias and more refined ristorantes.

Additionally, tours of five days or longer can be customized for groups of four or more. Set at a variety of price points, these private tours includes daily wine tastings and activities tailored to all ski levels, and offer bespoke alternatives for families, groups of friends and ski clubs.

For all programs, Italiaoutdoors Food and Wine crafts a custom itinerary providing a balance of activity, rest and relaxation. A maximum of 12 persons per group allows daily itinerary refinement, based on participants’ interests, pacing, and real-time “finds.” In any given tour, novice or intermediate skiers can enjoy daily lessons while expert skiers can enjoy steeper slopes and ungroomed terrain. Other outdoor activities can include snowboarding, cross-country skiing, winter hiking, or snowshoeing. For those interested in non-slope activities, day excursions to Verona, Innsbruck and other cities can be arranged for shopping, museum visits, guided walking tours and other cultural activities.

Italiaoutdoors Food and Wine is an owner-operated private guide service, creating and guiding active culinary tours in Northeastern Italy. Unique in their ability to combine active biking, skiing and hiking adventures with world-class culinary programs, Italiaoutdoors customizes vacations for groups of 4 to 12 people. Italiaoutdoors has more than 15 years of recreational programming experience in the region, plus formal culinary and wine training. Programs also include cooking classes, wine tastings, and restaurant dining which explore the best in local regional cuisine and undiscovered wines. Itineraries are rounded out with city visits, shopping, cultural excursions or just relaxing. The owners — experts in fitness, food, and the region — personally lead each tour.

For more information or to receive Italiaoutdoors Food and Wine newsletter, recipes and wine information, visit www.italiaoutdoorsfoodandwine.com or Chef Bechtel’s blog at www.chefbikeski.com. 1-978-270-5774. Twitter: @italiaoutdoors Facebook: www.facebook.com/foodandwineitaliaoutdoors. Discounts are available for ski clubs and other groups.

Discover the Flavors and Culture of Exotic Siam on New Culinary Adventure from Access Trips

September 11, 2012

A new, nine-day culinary adventure, Thailand – Flavors and Culture of Exotic Siam is the newest addition to Access Trips portfolio for this fall. Guests on this journey will experience the depth of Thai culture from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and beyond.

From a morning visit to Wat Po, where monks gather for an awe-inspiring morning chant, to an elephant ride through the Thai jungle, the captivating cultural highlights delight the senses. Master the art of preparing your favorite Thai specialties during intimate cooking courses featuring everything from phad thai and curries to spring rolls and hot and sour soup. No detail has been spared in crafting a tour that masterfully captures the diverse landscape, distinct customs and rich flavors of the “Land of the Free”.

Access Trips is a leading travel company specializing in exotic and edgy learning vacations to 13 countries worldwide. Always offering unparalleled access to each destination, this new Thai culinary adventure features the perfect balance of “must sees” and magical secret spots.

Discover the Flavors and Culture of Exotic Siam

Providing a full Thai immersion, Access Trips’ will offer the brand new culinary expedition, Thailand – Flavors and Culture of Exotic Siam for the first time in November of 2012.

Highlights of the nine-day, eight-night journey include:

• Home-Style Cooking Courses – From tangy salads, to rich, hearty soups and delectable curries, enjoy three extended cooking classes featuring some of Thailand’s most exotically spicy and delicious meals. Savor a traditional long-tail boat ride up the Chao Phraya River to Chef Tam’s home for your first cooking course in Bangkok. After a tour of the herb gardens, head to an open air kitchen overlooking the breathtaking landscape where you will learn to prepare Phad Thai, coconut chicken soup, coconut pancakes and sumptuous wok fried ground chicken with basil.

With two additional cooking courses in Chiang Mai, you will master the art behind everything from Thai-style banana fritters to steamed fish with curry custard.

• Morning Visit to Wat Po – During an excursion to one of Bangkok’s oldest temples, witness the magnificent hum of the monks early morning chant. View the famous reclining Buddha before heading to the Grand Palace in an open air taxi.

• Private Dinner in Bangkok’s Chinatown – Venture through the bustling Bangkok marketplace to an unmarked door where culinary dreams come true. Pass through the door into an old Chinese shop house, where a private dining room with one circular banquet table awaits guests. Enjoy a multi-course banquet dinner prepared by Chef Jok using only the freshest ingredients of the day.

• Explore the Golden Triangle – Witness the infamous Golden Triangle, renowned for centuries as the center of the opium trade. From a hilltop view, marvel at the splendor of the mighty Mekong joining with the Ruak to form the actual “triangle” where Laos, Myanmar and Thailand meet.

• Elephant Ride through the Jungle – On the way to Chiang Mai stop by an elephant camp to witness the elephants take their morning bath in the river. Climb aboard an elephant for an hour-long trek along the Ping river through the lush jungle.

• Chiang Mai’s Most Mesmerizing Sites – Discover the principal religious center in northern Thailand during a trip to Wat Prathat, Chiang Mai’s most important and visible landmark. Built some 600 years ago, this iconic site is located near the summit of Doi Suthep, at 3,250 above sea level. Climb the magnificent 306-step Naga (dragon-headed serpent) staircase and reward yourself with a superb panoramic view of the city.

• Boutique Accommodations – Enjoy boutique luxury accommodations that blend the best of Thai style and hospitality to create a peaceful respite from your busy days. From a five-star riverfront hotel featuring views of the legendary “River of Kings” to a small hotel inspired by the traditional wooden architecture of Chiang Mai, all accommodations feature comfortable and stylish rooms.

Rates start at $3,490 per person and include accommodations, most meals, ground transportation in a deluxe van, airport transfers and domestic airfare. International airfare is not included. Groups are limited to 12 travelers, who are accompanied by a multilingual local guide. For more information please visit www.accesstrips.com or call (650) 492-4778.

About Access Trips

Access Trips is the leading adventure tour operator specializing in exotic learning vacations to 13 countries worldwide. This company offers a wide range of small-group outdoor sports and culinary-focused trips that are expertly designed to allow guests to experience a new culture, learn new skills or fine-tune existing ones, and revel in the splendor of their destination.

Based in San Francisco, California and launched in 2001, Access Trips’ portfolio includes cooking, surfing, mountain biking, snowboarding, skiing, and multisport itineraries. Regardless of the focus of the activity, Access Trips caters to a variety of skill levels, serving the novice as well as the expert in a relaxed, non-intimidating setting with the help of world-class instructors and multilingual guides.

For more information about Access Trips and the tours available, visit www.accesstrips.com.

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