Author - Sarah Taillon

The best beach vacation you’ve never heard of…

As the days get longer and the sun slowly starts to appear, visions of summer start dancing in our heads. Beaches. Cookouts. Drinks!

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Many summer vacation daydreams conjure up images of Hawaii or some other tropical beach locale. And that’s great. But what about… Puglia?

This hidden Italian gem is actually the ideal place for a beach vacation and, when you travel with Edible Destinations, you find yourself on the culinary vacation of a lifetime, surrounded by the Southern Italian sun, sand and sea. Read on to see what we’re talking about.

The Beach

A beach is a strict requirement for a proper beach vacation and boy does Puglia deliver. Framed by the Adriatic Sea to the east and the Ionian Sea to the west, Puglia is located at the southern heel of the boot. The water here is known as some of the bluest and clearest in the world, a sight for the sorest eyes. To take full advantage of this beach bounty, enjoy unlimited access to an exclusive beach club as part of your Edible Destinations culinary trip.

Ancient Caves

Some people need a little more than just lying in the sun, and active exploration is an exciting way to enhance a beach vacation. In Puglia, you have unique opportunity to explore wondrous caves, many of which are thousands of years old, on both the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. Take guided boat tours to these natural marvels and elevate your experience with a cave swim!

Cuisine

Italian Cuisine. Glass Of Prosecco And Variety Of Seafood

Beach vacation or no, this is Italy. Here, food is an expression of love there is great flavor to be found all through the country. Cucina Pugliese, the Puglia region’s cuisine, is defined by simple enhancements to the fresh ingredients found in the fertile land and bountiful sea. You’ll learn all about Cucina Pugliese through hands-on cooking classes and authentic meals enjoyed with a glass of wine and new friends.

There is certainly much more to discover, appreciate and enjoy about a summertime Puglia culinary vacation by the beach. We could go on forever about the people, the gorgeously restored accommodations and the exciting cultural offerings like the traditional Pizzica dance or the beautiful Basilica di Santa Croce. But, rather than take our word for it, we suggest you make your summer daydreams a reality and book this trip of a lifetime…

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Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Puff Pastry Potato Pie!

March 17th is upon us again, and you know what that means. Green everything and a built-in excuse to drinks lots of beer…

Here at Edible Destinations, we like to keep things focused on culture and cuisine, and St. Patrick’s Day serves as a reminder of Ireland’s delightful epicurean offerings. Culinary travelers quickly learn to leave their notions of corned beef and cabbage behind, enjoying fresh seafood, rustic sausage and delectable baked treats.

An essential part of any trip to Ireland, culinary tours and cooking classes give visitors from around the globe the opportunity to explore the techniques and tastes that make Irish cuisine special. Many traditional Irish dishes date back to the Middle Ages and have changed little in the years since, while younger chefs have embraced the heritage of their food and often work with familiar recipes, creating them in new ways.

When it comes to food and drink, the Emerald Isle truly is a hidden gastronomic gem. To celebrate Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day, try the recipe below from one of our Irish Edible Destinations chefs. Sláinte!

PUFF PASTRY POTATO PIE

Recipe courtesy of Kevin Dundon, Dunbrody Country House Hotel

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 potatoes very thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup pouring (light) cream
  • flour, for dusting
  • 14 ounces ready-made puff pastry
  • egg wash, made with 1 egg yolk beaten
  • with 1 tablespoon milk

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375º
  2. Put the potatoes, garlic, parsley and some salt and pepper into a saucepan and pour in the cream. Cook over a moderate heat for about 10 minutes until the potato has softened slightly.
  3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry and cut out a circle about 8cm (3 inches) wider than the top of your pie dish using a sharp knife, lightly score the pastry in a lattice pattern, ensuring you don’t cut right through it.
  4. Pour the potato mixture into your pie dish. Brush the egg wash over the top and around the edges of the dish, then cover with the pastry. Press to secure it, then brush with more egg wash.
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes until the pastry is light and golden.

Want to learn more about Irish food and cooking? Take an Irish culinary vacation with Edible Destinations! 

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Five amazing things you’ll experience on a Costa Rican culinary vacation

When planning a culinary vacation, Costa Rica may not be the first place that comes to mind. However, this lush, tropical gem is a feast for all the senses, offering culinary travelers a wide variety of tastes and adventures. Read on to learn about some of the exciting, tasty and beautiful things you’ll experience on a vacation with Edible Destinations.

5. A whimsical–and active–volcano

One stop on your Costa Rican culinary adventure vacation is Volcán Irazú, an active volcano near San Jose. Its slopes are home to potato, onion, cabbage and dairy farms and its camera-ready summit will delight your eyes with dazzling, rain-fed mineral pools.

4. A coffee farm that is so much more

 

Visit Finca Cristina, a small, organic coffee farm dedicated not only to delicious, shade grown coffee, but also conservation and sustainability. Unlike traditional coffee farms, Finca Cristina plants and grows coffee in harmony with the natural ecosystem, providing a home for myriad species of birds, butterflies, amphibians, orchids and other flora and fauna. The result is great coffee with a clean conscience; taste with abandon!

3. A Caribbean cooking class

One of the best ways to understand a culture is through its food and, really, a culinary vacation wouldn’t be complete without a regional cooking class. Expand your epicurean horizons with a hands-on Caribbean cooking class, led by a local expert. Pay attention in class, though, as this meal serves as your dinner!

2. Chocolate, glorious chocolate

Cacao powder with cacao beans

Get an in-depth look at chocolate through the lens of the Bribri, an indigenous people of Costa Rica. This immersive experience will show you how Cacao is planted, harvested and turned into the tempting treat we all know and love. Purchase a bar of chocolate or another handmade craft to bring home and share your experience.

1. Adventure!

Along with all the culinary fare, enjoy a Costa Rican adrenaline rush in the form of zip lining, river rafting, waterfall hiking and more! The country’s landscape is rife with opportunities for you to get out and get moving, and we were sure to include these in your culinary vacation, ensuring a well-rounded, complete Costa Rican experience.

What are you waiting for? Get out there!

Customer Reviews

Yucatán was great!PicMonkey Collage

The whole experience at Hacienda Petac was totally satisfying. I recommend it highly. It’s an absolutely gorgeous place. The villa itself has been restored impeccably, the rooms are elegant and luxurious, and the grounds are spectacular. Filled with lush tropical foliage. The cooking classes were fun, the food was good, the service impeccable.

I was there for a week long “culinary adventure” put together by Epitourean.com. These adventures are perfect for a woman traveling alone. Everyone is very friendly and helpful, you make lots of new friends and never feel left out or awkward because you’re not traveling with a partner.

All in all, a great experience, and I intend to do more of these. – Mickey

Abruzzo Amore 

My daugabruzzo2hter and I took the Abruzzo area tour a few weeks ago and I must say, this was one of the best vacations I have ever been on!

We met some wonderful people, the tours were fantastic, the chef was great. From the Bell factory to the wine tasting at the winery, to the wonderful cheese factory…..I cannot say how much this all was enjoyed.

Never lacked for fantastic food, wine or friendships, I am ready to take another Epitourean trip!!!! – Barb

 

Santa Fe Raves

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Just wanted to let you know that Stephanie and I has a FANTASTIC time in Santa Fe! We were given a huge condo at Ft. Marcy with our own bedrooms and baths. Such a nice surprise and bonus!

The Foodie Tour was awesome and much more than we expected! Delicious foods and a fun friendly guide!!!

Our dinner was FABULOUS!!!! Wow! We enjoyed the beautiful ambience, excellent service and of course, the gourmet food!

We can’t rave enough about our Epitourean experience. Thank you! – Diann & Stephanie

Greek Gemista

Gemista, meaning “stuffed with” in Greek, is a traditional recipe in the style of Ladera, or “prepared with olive oil.” A dish like this requires the cook to break out the good stuff—quality extra virgin olive oil will intensify the flavor. Though the traditional preparation doesn’t call for butter, a helpful secret is to add just a bit inside the Gemista before stuffing. In-season tomatoes are the choicest ingredient, but Gemista can be delicious when it features eggplants and peppers or even courgettes. This melt-in-the mouth Greek delicacy is best served with a block of salty feta cheese and lots of bread. Opa!

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INGREDIENTS

  • 8 tomatoes
  • 4 green bell peppers
  • 1-2 eggplants
  • 5-6 potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 18 ounces rice (for risotto)
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • a small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • a small bunch of fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon of butter
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • olive oil
  • 8 ounces beef mince (optional)

**Start by thoroughly washing your vegetables.

  1. Slice off the top of the tomatoes, using a spoon remove the flesh and keep it in a bowl. Slice off the top of the eggplants and remove the flesh, using a spoon. Cut the flesh of the eggplants in small cubes and set aside. Slice off the top of the peppers and remove the seeds and white parts from the inside. Place the empty vegetables on a large baking tray. Try to leave the vegetables as thin as possible, leaving just a little flesh, but be careful not to poke through their skin.
  2. Season the empty vegetables with a pinch of salt and sugar and add a little butter on the bottom of each one.
  3. Prepare the sauce for the Gemista. In a blender, add the flesh of the tomatoes, 5-6 tablespoons of olive oil, the tomato puree, sugar, salt and pepper and mix to combine. Set aside.
  4. Prepare the filling for the Gemista. In a saucepan, add some olive oil and sauté the onions until translucent. Chop the zucchini in small cubes, add to the saucepan and sauté for one more minute. Add the flesh of the eggplants (chopped) and the chopped garlic and sauté until softened. Add the rice and continue sautéing unit it becomes translucent. Pour in 1 tin chopped tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. As soon as the liquid has been absorbed, the stuffing is ready.
  5. Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the fresh herbs.
  6. Meat Variation: If you prefer your Gemista spiced up with some meat, try sizzling ground beef with the onions in the step above.
  7. Assemble the Gemista. Spoon the filling inside the empty vegetables and place the potatoes, cut into pieces, in between the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and pour the tomato sauce over the vegetables and in the baking tray. Cover the vegetables with their lids and add 2-3 glasses of water.
  8. Cover the Gemista with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven at 180 degrees for 60-75 minutes. Halfway through cooking time remove the aluminum foil and bake until nicely colored.
  9. Serve either warm or straight out of the fridge, paired with salty feta cheese.

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Mastered this recipe? Show off your skills and learn some more on our Athens & Aegina Culinary Aventure! 

TRUE BLUE MARYLAND CRAB CAKES

Recipe courtesy of Chef Craig Sewell, of A Cook’s Cafe in Annapolis, Maryland.

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The Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States, has provided a livelihood for watermen since colonial days, as well as a delicious platform on which to build the local cuisine. It’s been said that no one in colonial Annapolis could go hungry, blessed with the bounty of the Chesapeake and rich, fertile land.

Modern day visitors to the city can experience local fare at the very inns and taverns some of the founding fathers did. In addition to fresh blue crab, Chesapeake oysters and other seafood, must-eats include popovers and Smith Island cake, washed down with a refreshing craft beer.

Create your own Chesapeake Bay culinary experience at home with this quick and easy Crab Cake recipe.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds fresh jumbo lump crab (Maryland Blue)
  • 1 pound fresh claw meat (Maryland Blue)
  • 3/4 cup rice flour (white or brown)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon old bay
  • 1 cup mayo (fresh, if possible)
  1. Blend wet ingredients with whisk.
  2. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture and whip until smooth.
  3. Fold crab into the other ingredients.
  4. Portion with a scoop, ensuring cakes are packed tightly.
  5. Sauté in butter until lightly golden on one side (about 4-5 minutes).
  6. Flip over and avoid patting down for a few moments, allowing egg and rice flour to set.
  7. Gently pat to even out, cooking another 4-5 minutes until golden.
  8. Serve warm with sauce of your choice.

b56b575795c545e1be7d1220176743a2Mastered this recipe and ready to learn more? Check out our Historic Annapolis Culinary Escape or one of our other quick and easy Edible Getaways.

 

 

Pipian Verde con Bistec en Relleno (Stuffed Beef Rolls) Recipe

Recipe courtesy of Señora Estela Salas Silva, of Casa Carmelita in Tlaxcala, Mexico.

In the last 25 years, Estela Salas Silva and her husband, Jon, have hosted and taught cooking classes to hundreds of culinary adventurers. To celebrate this exciting milestone, we’ve put together an anniversary package that includes favorite recipes–of guests and the hosts themselves–from the last 25 years. To give you a taste, here is a traditional Pueblan dish called Pipian Verde con Bistec en Relleno.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pounds thinly sliced beef
  • 6 pieces each raw bacon and ham, sliced into strips
  • 4 potatoes, cut french fry style
  • 2 dozen string beans, cut in half diagonally
  • 6 carrots, cut lengthwise french fry style
  • Pipian Verde Sauce (ingredients below)

PIPIAN VERDE SAUCE INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 bunch lettuce leaves
  • 2 sprigs parsley
  • 2 sprigs fresh (or 2 tablespoons dry) epazote
  • 2 small fresh serrano chilies  (stems removed)
  • 4 – 5 big tomatillos
  • 2-3 radish leaves
  • 5 sprigs of cilantro
  • 2 green onions
  • 1/4 onion
  • 1/4 cup green pumpkin seeds, roasted
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds, roasted
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1/2  teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup water

1. Lay beef flat and place strips of ham, bacon, potato and vegetables in the center.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Save any leftover stuffing ingredients and add to

sauce in step 9 below.

2. Roll tightly into cigar shapes and secure in the middle with a toothpick.

3. Fry sesame seeds in hot dry pan until lightly brown and begin to pop and remove.

4. Fry pumpkin seeds in hot dry pan until they begin to pop and remove.

5. Puree sesame and pumpkin seeds in blender with cumin, garlic and ½ cup water.

6. Heat olive oil, stirring, add blended ingredients from above, salt to taste and sauté for 5 minutes.

7. Puree the first nine ingredients with 1 cup water for 2 minutes. Stirring slowly in one direction

only, add to above seed puree (rapid stirring or back and forth will have a tendency to cause the

sauce to separate).

8. Add the chicken stock and stir again in one direction only for 5 minutes.

9. Place rolled meat into sauce with leftover stuffing from above (step 1) and simmer lively for

about ½ hour or until the vegetables inside are soft.

10. Enjoy!

**The sauce for this dish can be made ahead and frozen for up to 6 months.  To do this, prepare sauce as above adding a little more tomatillos but DO NOT add any chicken stock.  When you want to make dish, cook meat as above, defrost sauce, heat, add chicken stock, meat and cook for 20 minutes.

Ready to learn more of Chef Estela’s delicious culinary secrets? Click here to learn more about our Taste of Puebla 25th Anniversary Culinary Holiday. Availability is limited!

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Huevos de Camote Recipe

Recipe courtesy of Señora Estela Salas Silva, of Casa Carmelita in Tlaxcala, Mexico.

Huevos de Camote  (Sweet Potato Dessert) is a traditional Pueblan recipe used in the Day of the Dead ofrenda (offering table). During the Día de los Muertos holiday, an ofrenda is created in the home to welcome back family members who have died. Offerings typically include sweets and favorite meals, tequila or other liquor, images of the deceased and of various saints, candles, marigolds and more.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes or 1 large purple camote
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • Ground cinnamon
  • ½  to 1 shot rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon orange rind
  • 2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar

1. Boil the sweet potatoes until soft. Then peel and mash them.

2. In a saucepan, put 1/2 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar. Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until slightly thickened.

3. Add the sweet potatoes, rum, vanilla and orange rind to the sugar syrup and keep stirring until thick and pasty and bottom of pan comes clean. Turn off the heat and keep stirring.

4. Place the mixture in another bowl to cool.

5. When the mixture has cooled, use your hands to form small egg shapes.

6. Roll the egg shapes in a mixture of nuts and cinnamon to coat them then roll in powdered sugar.

7. Wrap each individual egg in colorful tissue paper and twist the ends.

Ready to make this and other traditional Día de los Muertos recipes? Click here to check out our Day of the Dead Pueblan Culinary Holiday, currently 50%!

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GREAT GUACAMOLE Recipe

Recipe courtesy of Chef John “Johnny Vee” Vollertsen of Las Cosas Cooking School

When you come to Santa Fe on our Southwestern Foodie Fiesta, Chef Johnny Vee will take you through all the tips and techniques you need to create a masterful southwestern meal. His hands-on Flavors of New Mexico cooking class is one of the most popular in the area, and will truly open your eyes to the magic of Santa Fe’s cuisine.

Take enchiladas to the next level with Johnny Vee's cooking class.

Take enchiladas to the next level with Johnny Vee’s cooking class.

 

In the meantime, though, get a little taste of the southwest with this simply delicious recipe for Great–not just good–Guacamole!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 ripe haas avocados
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 roma tomato, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large jalapeño, minced
  • 2 scallions, fine chopped white and green parts
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, stemmed and chopped

1. Halve and pit avocados. Scoop out flesh into medium bowl. Using two dinner knives cross cut avocados into small 1/2 inch pieces.

2. Add lime juice, salt, and garlic and mix slightly.

3. Fold in tomato, onion, scallions, jalapeño and cilantro.

4. Cover guacamole with plastic wrap that has been pressed right onto the surface of the avocado and refrigerate. This will keep it from browning for up to three days.

5. Enjoy with an ice cold margarita!

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Ready to learn more? Click here to check out our Southwestern Foodie Fiesta, 50% off for a limited time!

Insider Tips to an Amazing Edible Adventure

Planning an edible adventure? We asked some of our most seasoned travelers for insider tips about how to best live in the moment and then bring that moment home…

1. Pack lightly! You can always buy cheap flips flops and shampoo when you get there. Leave room to bring home culinary souvenirs.

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2. Alert your travel companions of your daily activity plans. If you want to go biking on the Parenzana Trail in Croatia, or plop down in the blue caves in the Rio Secreto in the Yucatán, let them know beforehand so they can join… or at least know where you are.

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3. Pack snacks–if you’re hiking or exploring a new village, load up on local treats for the trip. That way, you can maximize your time without having to stop every two hours and pay for overpriced coffees and nibbles.

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4. Keep a diary. No doubt, your friends will forever ask you what you did and where you ate. Write it down. If not for yourself, for the sake of paying it forward to future travelers.

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5. Take pictures! So obvious, we know, but your family and friends on Facebook want to know about your big life. Side note, your diary will come in handy a year from now when you finally get to the business of making a photo book of your trip and can’t make heads or tales of your photos…stockvault-gold-hill1153106. Write. A letter or postcard from a journey is an unexpected and precious gift in today’s society. Spice up your friends’ and family’s junk mail piles with a thoughtful, handwritten post from your adventure. Bonus: it also engages you deeper with your travel experience.

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7. Eat everything! Be adventurous. As we’ve discovered in all our years providing culinary travel, food is a truly special way to experience a culture. You’ve come all this way… open your mind and your mouth to all the tastes and treasures your destination holds.puglia-market8. Forget what you learned as a kid and talk to strangers. One of the dreamiest aspects of travel is meeting people with experience and perspective completely different from yours. This kind of social adventure strengthens character and makes for a very rich and new travel experience.

2013-02-20 15.19.109. Do your homework. No one expects you to take a foreign language class in preparation for your trip but brushing up on some common phrases and customs will go a long way. Engage locals by asking thoughtful questions or testing your pronunciation… we guarantee the gesture will be appreciated.2013-12-28 13.38.3910. Just go! Are you reading this blog because you’re dreaming of a trip but don’t feel the time is right? Like most things in life, there will never be a perfect time to travel and waiting for the right time to present itself can become a futile effort. Travel, especially an Edible Destinations adventure, is educational, energizing and, above all, fun, which is something we all deserve.

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Click here to explore all the culinary adventures we offer and begin planning your Edible Destination!