Tag - Travel

Epitourean’s Friday Five: Santa Fe, New Mexico

It’s once again time for a look at the top five things we love about a city on our radar. This week we travel to Santa Fe, New Mexico, home to great eats, stunning natural beauty and world class art.

1. At the top of our list are the luxurious Fort Marcy Condo Suites. Spacious and well-appointed, with an authentic southwest vibe, our Santa Fe travelers will rest their heads here in comfort and style.

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2. San Miguel Chapel, which is the oldest church in the United States. Not only can you visit the chapel to take in the history and learn more about the Tlaxcalan Indians who constructed it, San Miguel Chapel also provides Mass in Latin and English.

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3.  The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, which is the only museum in the US dedicated solely to a female artist, houses over 3,000 pieces of mixed media art. Visitors can enjoy O’Keeffe’s cityscapes from New York along with gorgeous New Mexican landscapes, and other brilliant pieces of work focused on the natural world.

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4.  History buffs will enjoy the Santa Fe Palace of Governors, part of a the larger New Mexico History Museum, where one can learn all about Santa Fe, New Mexico and the greater southwest area.

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5.  Taking in all that culture will make you thirsty! Popular and centrally located in downtown Santa Fe, Coyote Cafe & Rooftop Cantina is the perfect place to cap off a day of exploration. Hit the rooftop bar for refreshing drinks and inventive takes on Southwest cuisine.

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Have we whetted your appetite for a trip to Santa Fe? Click here to learn more and book our Southwestern Foodie Fiesta culinary getaway, 50% off for a limited time!

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A Recipe for Scallop Success

We asked Chef Alan to give us a taste of what he teaches during our Chef for a Day experience. One thing his students learn is that it’s not always best to slave away. Delicious, exciting meals can be made using smart shortcuts so that you actually have the energy to enjoy your meal when it’s ready. Read on for Chef’s tasty and time-saving risotto recipe…

Quick & Easy Scallop Risotto

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Cooking time, including prep: 15 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cups mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • A dash of garlic powder
  • A pinch of oregano
  • 1 bag of ready risotto
  • 1 pound parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
  • 5 colossal scallops
  • Salt & pepper to taste

1. Place a heavy non-stick skillet on the burner at medium high heat.

2. In a separate skillet, fry one cup of finely chopped onions and two cups of chopped mushrooms until tender. Add two cups of heavy cream, or just enough to cover the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and some granulated garlic. Add one pinch of oregano.

3. Now here’s the shortcut. Add to the sauce a bag of ready risotto (Uncle Ben’s works well). Stir in well over a medium heat until the sauce thickens. Add a generous amount of Parmesan cheese. Cover with a lead and remove from the heat.

4. In the first heated skillet, 4 to 5 colossal scallops. Avoid turning them until they are brown around the sides. At that point, nudge them until they release from the skillet, flip them, and brown for another 30 seconds.

5. Serve the risotto onto plats or shallow bowls and assemble the scallops on top. Garnish with a little finely chopped parsley.

Ready to learn more of Chef Alan’s secrets? Come to Virginia wine country for our Chef for a Day Culinary Getaway. Your taste buds will thank you!

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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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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!

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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Postcard from Florence

The Good Life: Florence

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Epitourean’s intrepid traveler, Robert Everson, shares his experience in Italy’s renaissance capital, Florence. In Florence, we stayed at the SoprArno Suites. It’s a beautiful, upscale bed and breakfast in a charming neighborhood, and an easy walk to anywhere you want to go. The rooms are gorgeous and the staff is so friendly. Our tour guides Claire, Silvia, and Todd were all so knowledgeable, and they shared their amazing personal insights of beautiful Florence. We took Epitourean’s “Gourmet Walking Tour of Florence” where we had spectacular culinary experiences. It was a day of fun and learning, and the food, wine, cheese, and olive oil were all spectacular! What a perfect way to see the city! Our guide, Claire, brought us to the most amazing places where we had the best food and wine. We also toured the Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria dell’ Accademia where we saw breathtaking art, including Michelangelo’s David. We had four hours to tour the museums, which was the perfect amount of time. Our tour guide, Silvia, was a wealth of information. She pointed out the museums’ highlights, and was able to move us right up to the front of each line. We wouldn’t have done it any other way! We also went to Chianti for a day trip to tour the Vecchie Terre di Montefili vineyard. Our guide, Todd, was amazingly knowledgeable about the Tuscan region and was an expert in Italian wines. The winery is gorgeous, and we had the entire place to ourselves for a private tour and tasting.  We learned so much about Italian wines. Since our visit here, we’ve become huge fans, and now ship Italian wines to our home in the US! Leaving Florence, we took the train to Naples. It was a beautiful and relaxing train ride. Drivers from the Positano Car Service, whom are complete lifesavers, greeted us at Naples train station. They took us around Positano, which is absolutely dreamy, and having a driver was much easier than having to navigate the region’s windy and dangerous roads! 

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.

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