Category - Destinations

These are posts about a specific destination.

Yucatán Essentials

One of the greatest pleasures of travel is discovering new and delicious things to eat. Epitourean loves Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula for this simple reason, and we’ve drummed up a list of some of the essential dishes and drinks to try while here.

Pollo Pibil is a Yucatán staple of marinated chicken wrapped in a banana leaves and baked. The tangy marinade called achiote isn’t spicy, and is typically prepared with sour orange juice, cumin, garlic, peppercorns and salt. There is a pork version of this recipe too called conchinita pibil, which is equally delicious.

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Panuchos and Salbutes

Panuchos and Salbutes are essentially cooked tortillas topped with shredded chicken, onions and lettuce. The only difference between the two are that Panuchos are made with tortillas filled with refried beans. These are the best bar snacks and appetizers.

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Lime Soup

Aside from being inherently delicious, Lime Soup is said by locals to be the ultimate cure for hangovers and colds. This simple dish is prepared with very few ingredients: shredded chicken, broth, strips of fried tortillas, and lots and lots of lime juice.

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Papadzules

Papadzules are simply tortillas stuffed with chopped hard boiled eggs and then smothered in a pumpkin seed sauce. It’s not the lightest dish you can order in the Yucatán, but it is possibly one of the most comforting.

Frijol con Puerco is a typical Monday lunch of big chunks of pork cooked slowly with black beans and served with rice. Sometimes you see this dish garnished with thin radish slices, cilantro, or avocado, but this varies depending on the restaurant.

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Michelada

A michelada is a classic Yucatán drink, and widely consumed across most of Mexico. It’s really just a dressed up beer, seasoned with lime, salt, pepper, Maggi seasoning, Tabasco sauce, and Worchestershire sauce. It’s a great drink for those who like salt, and another fail proof cure for hangovers in Mexico.

To celebrate Mexico’s rich and beautiful Yucatán, Epitourean is offering a week long promotion on some of the amazing culinary experiences the we offer throughout the region.

Epitourean’s Friday Five: New York City

Introducing Epitourean’s Friday Five where we pick our favorite spots in any city on our radar. Today we wrap up our week of celebrating the great American metropolis of New York City. Here are some of the places we love to visit.

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New York’s new High Line Park on the disused tracks of the city’s old West Side Line is one of Manhattan’s most important urban regeneration projects in the last 20 years. We love it for several reasons: it’s free! and offers visitors a heightened perspective of the city between downtown Gansevoort Street and 34th street by the Javits Convention Center. The nearly 1.5 mile elevated promenade is covered in beautiful gardens and trees, and wide spaces where people can lounge in the sun, listen to live music and grab a bite to eat.

Open on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, Union Square Farmer’s Market is a joy to visit. Farmers from all over New York state bring their seasonal, organic produce and stack them in big beautiful heaps. It’s here where many New York chefs come to do their restaurant shopping, and the market also hosts producers of products like baked goods, ciders and cheeses.

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The Strand is a totem to New York’s few surviving old school book stores. Its claim to fame is that it holds over 18-miles of books packed into the three floors. Epitourean travellers will find everything from rare and collectable reads to a fabulous range of cookbooks and food writing.

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We suggest The Kimberly Hotel because we love the rooms, the location and it’s part of our Big Apple Package. We love that it is conveniently nearby trains that quickly bring travellers uptown to museums or downtown to restaurants. The hotel’s rooftop lounge is one of our favorite spots to chill out after a long day and relax with a view.

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The Whitney Museum of American Art recently opened near Chelsea Markets, the High Line Park and all of the downtown bars, restaurants and shopping that we encourage travellers to explore. Designed by Italian Architect Renzo Piano, the museum holds one of the largest US collections of American Art, and offers great views of the Hudson River and Manhattan.

Our Big Apple Package is an excellent introduction to this and more of the NYC’s endless delights.

Discovering Historic Chelsea Market

Travellers to New York City typically carve out time to check out one of the world’s greatest food halls, Chelsea Market. Over six million visitors throng the market each year to shop for fresh produce and seafood, or nosh on everything from soups and BBQ to Thai noodles and sushi. The place is always teaming with people fuelling up on coffee and bagels in the mornings, and hoards of local office workers stream in throughout the day to pick up lunches and dinners. Chelsea Market is also home to broadcasting companies like the Food Network and Oxygen Network, who film from their studios here.

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What most people love about Chelsea Market is that it is now part of New York’s architectural heritage. Once the headquarters of NABISCO, the building is said to be the birth place of Oreo cookies, among other iconic American baked goods. The old brick industrial building that Chelsea Market occupies is part of the Gansevoort Market Historic District, once an important district for heavy industry and manufacturing in the city. Many of the industrial buildings in the neighborhood are gone or repurposed into high end shopping boutiques , bars and restaurants. Chelsea Market enjoys prime Manhattan real estate, sharing the neighbourhood with the High Line Park and cultural attractions like the new Whitney Museum of American Art. 

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Epitourean.com loves to celebrate New York City’s food culture and checkered history. As part of our latest promotion, A Big Bite of the Big Apple, we are thrilled to offer a Chelsea Market and Meatpacking District Foodie Tour showcasing some of New York’s best sights, shopping and tastes.

 

Postcard from Istria

Notes from Istria from an Epitourean traveller and what he and his travel companion found along their journey. We had so many extraordinary experiences during our trip to Istria.  Our favourite was biking on the Parenzana Trail. The former train tracks are now a great hiking and biking trail that snake through Istria’s interior woodlands. We had a birds eye view of the region’s hill towns and countryside. We chose a downhill path that led us to local honey producer’s, Medea. The owners treated us to a 45-minute honey tasting before we crossed the street to have one of the best truffle-themed meals of our lives at Zigante.

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For us the point of this trip was to learn about and taste as many local specialities as we could. Out of these, our wine tasting at Kzlovic Wine Estate was phenomenal, and in such a beautiful location. We also learned a lot about local olive oils when we visited Vodnjan Chiavalon Olive Oil Estate. Epitourean brought us to see about a dozen other outstanding Istrian food, wine and beer producers. I think we caught the best of what Istria has to offer.

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Of course we wanted to see some of the region’s stunning villages, coastal towns and port cities. We stopped into Porec for the day, where the urban landscape is a wonderful mash up of Roman, Baroque, modern and and contemporary architecture. Rovinj was nothing less than dreamy and walkable, and a gorgeous seafront town. The hill top enclave of Groznjan, with its art galleries and incredible vistas of surrounding green hills, was one of the most charming places we’ve every visited. We will be back for certain.

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Has this postcard piqued your Istrian interest? Click here to book your journey to the Truffle Epicenter.

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On the Truffle Hunt in Istria

Discovering Istria’s Bounty of Truffles

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Istria’s Motovun Mountains are one of the world’s largest sources of coveted black and white truffles. Only here, where Epitourean offers a range of fabulous culinary and outdoor excursions, are these delicious and pricey tubers available to harvest nearly twelve months a year. Compare that with countries like France and Italy, places that many truffle lovers associate with the pungent fungus, but that have shorter and more defined harvest seasons. This is one tasty reason that Istria clocks on our culinary radar. Here, chefs grate black truffles on pasta in the middle of June and shave white truffles over eggs and risotto in late December and January. Even during the earliest spring days of March, Périgord truffles are found here, and some cooks prefer to slice them paper thin and slide them beneath the skins of chickens before they hit the roaster.

While there are many established, family run companies and independent hunters of this regional Istrian delicacy, one in particular has caught our attention. Epitourean built a strong partnership with Zigante, a family of expert truffle hunters that procure every variety of truffle known in the area and produce over 50 different truffle products, from truffle oils and spreads to truffle salami and cheeses. Their shop and restaurant are together the epicenter of truffle culture here in Istria. It is a lovely stopover where Epitourean brings clients to shop for and taste local truffle specialties once they’ve finished a gentle downhill bike ride on the bosky Parenzana Trail.

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Looking to get in on the hunt? Take advantage of our limited-time offer to visit Istria during white truffle season at a special, discounted rate.

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Discovering Istria’s Parenzana Trail

Bucket List: Biking Istria’s Parenzana Trail

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Istria has a clutch of amazing destinations that we continue to discover and refer to Epitourean travellers. Of these are its bosky trails, which are perfect for year round hiking and biking. Most travellers tend to ignore the region’s stunning interior woodlands in favor of Croatia’s seaside resorts, beaches and boating activities. But that’s a bit of a shame, especially because there are so many stunning trails to explore. One of these is Istria’s Parenzana Trail, a moderately challenging path, that is best explored on bike, and ideal for those who are seeking gorgeous panoramas, a little activity, and small Istrain villages along the way.

The Parenzana Trail was once a narrow gauge railway that connected Trieste, Italy with Istria’s sea facing town, Porec. It operated until 1935, carrying people and goods between quaint villages and port cities. The journey was slow, around six or seven hours, because the heavy trains had to snake up and down hills, and through tunnels and towns. With the advent of more efficient modes of transportation, the Parenzana became obsolete. The Italian fascist dictator, Mussolini had the steel train tracks dismantled after 1935. They were loaded onto a boat and shipped down the Adriatic to be smelted and used toward WWII axis power war efforts. Weighed down by too much tonnage of steel, the ship sank to the bottom of the sea.

The trail’s fascinating history is obviously enlarged by the regions stunning beauty. In the summer the forests are green and lush, and in the autumn they turn gold and red like New England’s deciduous landscapes. Charming hilltop towns stand against soft blue skies, and along the way there are restaurants and shops that offer regional delicacies like truffles, honey, wines and olive oils. It is the perfect adventure, for groups, couples and solo travellers alike. Epitourean is pleased to discover and offer a range of fun, easy bike and hiking tours along this beautiful Istrain trail.

Postcard from Positano

Wanderlust: One Traveller’s Highlights of Beautiful Positano

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One of Epitourean’s intrepid travellers, Robert Everson, shared with us some of his favourite things about his recent culinary tour of Positano, Italy:  Positano is truly a dream and a completely different type of vacation than Florence. It is so laid back and easy going, and was a perfect end to our trip. Well done Edible Destinations team! One piece of advice: make sure to buy some local ceramics and ship them home. We stayed at the Hotel Poseidon, which is funky and quirky. It reminded me of the hotel from the film, Mamma Mia! The hotel’s staff were all outstanding, especially Annalisa in the bar and Marco at the front desk. The best part of the hotel was the view. Definitely reserve one of the rooms with a balcony overlooking the sea. We spent an entire day on the patio with a bottle of wine and didn’t move. It’s just so breathtaking. One of my favourite moments was a cooking class with Donna Rosa! Not the Donna Rosa in town where the hotel is, but the restaurant at the top of the town. It’s about a 15 – 20 minute drive from the hotel. We spent hours with Mamma, Papa, and Erika their daughter, learning to make several dishes and different types of pasta. This was everything we could have ever imagined an Italian cooking class to be, and a highlight of our entire honeymoon! We can’t wait to share our new cooking skills with friends and family! We also spent a day in Pompei. Definitely use a guide for your visit. It was absolutely amazing. I recommend to fit Pompeii into your itinerary when you travel from Naples to Positano since you drive right by it. Our favorite restaurant while we were there was Mediterraneo. It is only a five minute walk from the hotel. We ate there twice! Great fresh pasta and seafood. We also enjoyed Max Enoteca down in the city. It was a bit pricey, but worth it. We were so sad to leave, but have such amazing memories. A huge thank you to Edible Destinations for making our dreams come true and creating a magical experience for us. Well done! 

24 Hours in Pula

Walking through the historic center of Istria’s capital, Pula, is like leafing through a  ledger of the region’s layered and complicated history. This beautiful Adriatic city on the southern most tip of Istria is well know for its large port, its mild climate and its long standing traditions of fishing, shipbuilding, and winemaking, just to name a few. But perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Pula is that, over the centuries, this bustling port city has been coveted my one tribe or another, and mostly empires of extreme power and might. And nowhere is this more evident than in the architectural footprints that each civilization left on their way out.

Even though Pula’s history dates back over 3000 years, the Romans left an indelible mark on the city. Their domination of Pula changed the city forever; its urban planning, from roads to sanitary and public services, were left vastly improved. And though the Roman empire eventually fell, you can still see what it left behind:  ancient forums, Roman columns, a temple to the Emperor Augusts, and a breathtaking colosseum near the edge of the city’s port. These are just a few of the colossal architectonic reminders that great powers have passed through here. Later empires left equally amazing urban relics.

Anyone travelling by foot through Pula’s center will immediately notice that the Venetians, the Austro-Hungarians; and fascist and communist regimes were also here. Instances of these are found in brick and stone throughout Pula’s main square, Piazza Foro. Here you find examples of ancient Roman temples and stonework; heavy Austro- Hungarian buildings; rationalist architecture, and blocky Venetian brick work buildings. These are all clumped together in a pastiche of public building that tells the story of how Pula was and continues to be amazingly cosmopolitan. Literary luminaries like Dante Alighieri and James Joyce passed time in Pula, and during a casual stroll though town you will see placards and statues that mark where they and other artists once lived.

Beyond architectural wonders and a fascinating history, Pula has a trove of rollicking bars and innovative chefs. Their menus are inspired by their back yard larder: fresh fish and shellfish, Istrian wines, truffles and local cheeses and herbal breads. Epitourean has spent years exploring Istria, and more closely Pula, to create historical, adventure and gastronomic tours and unforgettable experiences for their clients.