Tag - Epitourean

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!

Postcard From: Yucatán, Mexico

Read all about Mary’s culinary journey through Yucatán, Mexico:

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“Today is sadly my last day at the amazing Hacienda Petac in Mexico’s breathtaking Yucatan. It has been such an extraordinary experience! We helped to prepare delicious meals. Of course all of the produce and ingredients were so fresh and amazing, and we teamed up with the hotel chefs and staff to cook up a storm. Everything is so colorful and pretty. We’ve also been visiting many of Mexico’s stunning sights. One of the highlights was Merida’s market, which was lively and bustling and we also saw some of of the area’s Mayan archeological ruins. Rope hammocks are strung everywhere at the Hacienda Petac, which we took advantage of when we went to simply chill out and nap. We are also making good use of the hotel’s open air spa, which looks out over lush green gardens and is such a beautiful experience to be a part of while you’re having a massage. Tonight we bid farewell with the music of the Trova Trio on the hotel’s terrace under the stars. We’ve gotten to know that, here in paradise, romance is everywhere and we will certainly return.” 

-Mary from Colombus, Ohio

Jealous of Mary? Check out this 2 for 1 deal on our Culinary Adventure through the Heart of the Yucatán!

Epitourean’s Friday Five: Andalucia, Spain

It is Epitourean’s great pleasure to continue our Friday Five, a selection of the places, recipes and delicious local delights that are on our radar at the moment. This week’s Friday Five is all about Andalucia, Spain, which we believe is one of the premier culinary destinations in Europe, and where we offer some fabulous culinary packages to travelers who wish to explore this amazing foodie destination.

No trip to Spain is complete without a stopover in the romantic and architecturally stunning Spanish city of Seville. Be prepared to bear the arid heat of the city, the passions of its locals, and the amazing range of fabulous and savory tapas.

Hotel Hacienda la Herriza is our kind of place. Not only is it a beautiful eden, it is a place where you can splash around in the hotel’s gorgeous pool, or sip sherry in the evening while the sunset washes everything in mango light. It is a refuge from the chaos of daily life, and ideally located near many of the top attractions in Andalucia.

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Jerez de la Frontera Sherry Bodega is a once in a lifetime experience. Even if you’re not partial to this Spanish fortified wine, a visit to one of the most important sherry producers in Spain will offer you the opportunity to understand sherry drinking culture, its importance in Spain, and more than likely turn you into a sherry sipping convert.

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Granada is an autonomous city in the Andalucian region, and one of the most beautiful cities in all of Spain. Its churches, its small alleyways, its tapas, beer, sherry and most generally, the people, make a visit here one that no traveler will ever soon forget.

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So much depends on (good) Spanish Tortillas. Their very simplicity: eggs, potatoes, olive oil and onions, have always awarded these snacks high honors as Spain’s most iconic tapas. Essentially fancy omelettes made with Spanish love and ingredients, they will pour a little joy into your day.

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Wanderlust: A Culinary Tour of Abruzzo

The second thing travellers realize about Italy’s stunning Abruzzo region are its clutch of fabulous pastas, wines and cheeses. The region is one of Epitourean.com‘s favourites, and where we offer fabulous culinary excursions. For beginners to Abruzzo, we’ve curated a few of our favourite local specialities to eat and drink.

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Maccheroni alla Chitarra

Abruzzo Recipe: Maccheroni alla Chitarra

Pasta ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups semolina flour, plus extra as needed
  • 2 large eggs

Sauce ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 24 basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 fresh chili pepper, minced, or 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1/2 pound fresh grape or cherry tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cooking and serving:

  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano (optional)

This recipe is straight forward and classic. Start by making your sauce. Bring your sauce ingredients to a simmer and turn down the heat when the vegetables and tomatoes are soft.

Prepare your pasta.

After cutting your pasta to your liking, add it to boiling and salted water. Boil until the pasta is al dente. Reserve some of the pasta water and add it to the sauce. Return the sauce to a mid-low heat and add the pasta. Stir for a further five minutes. Serve with freshly grated pecorino cheese.

 

Abruzzo Wines

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Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

This small region of Italy packs a big punch when it comes to making top notch wines. Here are some of our favorites:

Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo: We can’t go without mentioning the region’s important reds. This one is deliciously intense and dry, fruity and deep burgundy in color.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo: The region’s most popular and important red wine. The grapes carry notes of plum, the finish is dry and velvety, and the wine pairs so well with cheeses and meats.

Trebbiano d’Abruzzo: This is a more dry and delicate tipple, also well paired with cheeses, and made from Bombino Bianco grapes.

Abruzzo Cheeses

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Scamorza Cheeses

Scamorza is a similar to mozzarella, a type of cow’s milk curd cheese that is buttery in flavour and best eaten as soon as it’s made and very tasty when grilled.

One of the best sheep’s milk ricottas made in the region is called Cacioricotta Abruzzo.  It has wonderful flavour notes of coffee and lemon zest. You would usually eat this cheese on special holidays.

Another amazing local cheese is Caciotta d’Abruzzo, a cow’s or sheep’s milk cheese that on occasion is made with chile peppers.

Pecorino d’Abruzzo is a typical sheep’s milk cheese that can be quite overwhelmingly pungent if it’s aged beyond two or three years. It is best when served with a dry and fruity red wine.

 

 

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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.

Upstairs

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.

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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Epitourean’s Edible Destinations

Welcome to Epitourean’s new blog! As we grow and have more exciting offerings for our travellers, we wanted to create a space where we can share news about some of our latest culinary destinations. We also want our friends and clients to hear about updates on where we travel and whats in store. Epitourean receives such positive feedback from people we have sent to places like the Almalfi Coast or to the south of France, and we want to share the stories of their memorable experiences, as well as relate travel and food news that we are following.  In the simplest terms, we are creating a useful public platform that celebrates the art of food and travel.

Those who are new to Epitourean’s Edible Destinations; we are a niche travel company offering lovers of food and travel with outstanding cooking vacations, gourmet tours and culinary getaways. A lot of our return clients like the fact that we have flexible packages, such as mini 2-4 days getaways, longer excursions up to 10 days, and even tours that we tailor for solo travellers to amazing gastronomically rich sites all over the world. Thanks for tuning in and please follow us on twitter @Epitourean and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EdibleDestinations for our latest news and travel deals.  -www.epitourean.com