FOOD TRIP WITH TODD ENGLISH
WINS 2010 JAMES BEARD AWARD
FOR ITS ALL-PERU EPISODE
Celebrity chef Todd English won the award for "Best Television Special" at last night's 2010 James Beard House Foundation Awards, for the Peru episode of PBS's Food Trip with Todd English, which featured chef English aboard Aqua Expeditions' luxury Amazon cruise and cooking at Inkaterra's Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel.
The winning hour-long episode of Food Trip, filmed on-location in the Peruvian Amazon, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, highlights the best of Peruvian cuisine. In the Amazon, chef English was guided by Peruvian star chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino and visited local markets, where he sampled various exotic ingredients. Amazonian snails and catfish from a local market served as inspiration for a ceviche-cooking segment aboard the luxury vessel MV Aqua, which was topped off with Chef Schiaffino's special Camu Camu Pisco Sour.
In the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, chef English ventured off-road to traditional eateries, sampled corn beer and climbed to the top of the ruins at Machu Picchu. Chef English also made his way to the lush grounds of Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel where he cooked lomo saltado, a Peruvian signature dish. Built to blend into 12 acres of Cloud Forest, the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel served as the perfect location and backdrop for the episode since the hotel's organic gardens, tea plantation, and bee colony supply fresh ingredients for the various on-site restaurants.
For more information on the locations visited on the winning Peru episode, visit www.aquaexpeditions.com and www.inkaterra.com.
ASPARAGUS FESTIVALS IN GERMANY
Asparagus is Germany's "King of Vegetables" and its harvest from late April to the end of June is an eagerly anticipated sign of spring. The season is traditionally a time of celebration and festivals for Germany, especially along the country’s two asparagus routes: One in the southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg from Schwetzingen to Scherzheim for 75 miles, and the second in Lower Saxony, connecting towns in a circle for 650 miles. Schwetzingen, Europe’s self proclaimed "asparagus capital" situated near Stuttgart, is known for its asparagus celebration, traditionally held every first Saturday in May. It is a huge celebration with food-stalls, a peeling competition and the crowning of the asparagus king. Europe's largest asparagus festival is held in Bruchsal, also near Stuttgart, which lies on the Upper Rhine plain. Visitors to Bruchsal can also admire the Baroque palace with its magnificent Balthasar Neumann staircase. www.germany.travel
Baden Asparagus Route
A first-rate culinary treat
The history of asparagus goes right back to 2000 BC. It was cultivated by the Ancient Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans. During the Middle Ages asparagus was a highly prized herbal remedy for gout. It was then rediscovered for the modern world by the French Sun King, Louis XIV. In the 17th century the "royal vegetable" was grown for Elector Palatine Karl Theodor in the palace garden of his summer residence in Schwetzingen, and during the 18th century its popularity gradually spread to the royal kitchens of neighbouring princedoms. For much of its history asparagus was the preserve of the privileged few within the church and society. More recently it has come to be recognised as a very healthy vegetable which has purifying benefits for the body. An asparagus cure is one of the most pleasurable ways to care for your health. And who can resist the taste of this "royal vegetable"? The asparagus season is as eagerly awaited by gourmets as the new crop of sweet, juicy strawberries.
The Baden Asparagus Route and parallel cycle trail cover around 136 kilometres from Schwetzingen, the famous asparagus-producing town, to Scherzheim via Reilingen, Karlsruhe and Rastatt. The white asparagus spears are harvested between the middle of April and 24 June. Visitors can watch the harvesters at work and even join in and help. During these weeks there are asparagus festivals all along the Asparagus Route and plenty of opportunity to taste delicious fresh asparagus specialities served by hospitable landlords. Once the harvest is over, the green plants and red berries mean the asparagus fields are still easily recognisable well into the autumn. Besides asparagus fields, there are other attractions along this gourmet route, including flower-filled meadows, beautifully laid-out parks and gardens, places of cultural interest, lakes suitable for bathing, museums and historical sites.
FOOD NETWORK STAR PAULA DEEN JOINS THE NEW ORLEANS WINE & FOOD EXPERIENCE IN A “GRAND” CELEBRATION OF LOUISIANA SEAFOOD
The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (NOWFE) is responding in earnest to the situation Louisiana fishermen are facing in the Gulf waters by dedicating the Saturday Grand Tasting to a “Celebration of Louisiana Seafood” and offering a special fundraising dinner at Restaurant August later that evening. Proceeds from these events will be dedicated to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation in partnership with the Louisiana Seafood Board. Food Network's reigning Southern Belle, Paula Deen, will highlight this year's revelry with a special appearance on Saturday, May 29. Louisiana's own "bayou boy," and TLC celebrity chef John Besh will join Deen in a cooking demonstration on the Main Stage at 3:15pm. "I am so excited to be a part of a celebration of Louisiana seafood," states Deen. "To me Louisiana seafood is just divine, and we need to pay tribute to that." The Friday and Saturday Grand Tastings are the culminating events of NOWFE's 4-day extravaganza and are truly "Grand" experiences for both foodies and wine connoisseurs, pairing extensive offerings from 75 of New Orleans' finest chefs and a selection of more than 1000 wines from around the world. (To purchase tickets visit www.nowfe.com)
Celebrity chef Aaron Sanchez will also join in the festivities by presenting a cooking demonstration of his own during the Saturday Grand Tasting at 2:00pm. In addition to the special cooking demonstrations, eleven Louisiana chefs will participate in the third annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off hosted by the Louisiana Seafood Board. The winning chef, crowned the "King or Queen of Louisiana Seafood," will represent Louisiana in the seventh annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off. "It is vitally important for us to remind consumers that Louisiana seafood is still readily available and safe for consumption," states Ewell Smith, Executive Director of the Louisiana Seafood Board. "Louisiana produces one-third of the seafood for the continental US, and 70% of the seafood from the Gulf of Mexico, creating a $2.4 billion industry that supports over 27,000 jobs."
“The response from these chefs is overwhelming,” states Octavio Mantilla, 2010 NOWFE Board President. "Their efforts will enable us make a substantial contribution that will support our local fishermen and help us to preserve these national treasures-- our Louisiana Coastline and Fisheries." To continue the celebration, Deen, her husband Captain Michael Groover, and her brother Earl 'Bubba Hiers of Bubba's Oyster House, will be joined by chefs Besh, and Sanchez in their support of Louisiana fishermen with a fundraising dinner at Besh’s flagship restaurant, August, on Saturday night at 7pm. Restaurant August will generously donate 100% of the proceeds from this dinner to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation. Reservations for the six-course dinner, paired with exceptional wines, showcasing Gulf Coast seafood specialties are $300 per person; event sponsorships that include a table of ten, V.I.P reception, and commemorative photograph are available for $5,000. To reserve a seat or sponsor the event, contact Christy Bradley at 504.565.5482 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sicilian Cookbook™
Touring & Tasting With Rising Star Chef ~ 8 Day
Come to Modica and meet Chef Accursio, who leads our southern Sicilian cooking in a unique opportunity to learn traditional recipes with modern touches from a Michelin Star Chef. Discover traditional flavors made with the simple, fresh ingredients grown and produced locally that celebrate the custom of families circled around the table to enjoy moments together.
Your week includes incredible trips around the area to visit a local cheese maker with lunch included to sample the fresh delights, a local vineyard with tasting, visits that will reveal the artisan treasures of the area and of course, visits that will uncover the history and architecture of these ancient cities. So, join Chef Accursio on this gastronomic journey through southern Sicily’s flavors, traditions and life.
Classes are held in the Palazzo’s professional kitchen under the guidance of Michelin Star Chef Accursio and his expert team. Learn how to make focacce and prepare regional vegetable toppings that locals use to flavor them. Or, spend the afternoon picking up the skills needed to turn out delicious handmade cavatelli, local homemade egg pasta, and discover some of Accursio’s favorite Sicilian sauces such as Spaghetti Con Spremuta di Sicilia, a fresh orange sauce with almond & chili pepper. Chef Accursio’s favorite recipes are those that bring back out the flavors of the land, such as sugo di maiale, pork with tomato sauce, pasta con i ceci, pasta with chickpeas, scacce, a traditional baked dish, and pastizza, traditional broccoli pie. You will also have the sweet pleasure of working with Chef Accursio to prepare delicious endings to your cooking class meals, dedicated to traditional recipes and desserts that, though part of their Sicilian heritage, are disappearing from modern menus. Whatever it is you’re cooking, Chef Accursio and his team bring a special touch to even the simplest of dishes and ensure it becomes a miniature ‘capolavoro’.
Sicily has a fiery passion about it, a vivacity and spirit that extends from the top of Mount Etna, to the waters that surround the island and to the hearts of all of its people. Sicily is the melting pot of the world, a great marriage of civilizations and cultures. The island is Asia, Africa, and Europe melded into one spectacular place; it was once home to a Greek colony, a Roman province, an Arab emirate, and a Norman kingdom. Each group left behind remnants and traces of itself, adding to the island’s rich tapestry of eclectic history. Sicily is at once complex and simple, a land like no other; a world and entity unto itself. Orange and lemon orchards color lush hillsides, vineyards and ancient olive groves line the rugged lands, and almond orchards and wheat fields embellish the rolling hills.
Sicilian cuisine is often described as del sole e del mare, of sun and sea, and it's something of a magical symphony, combining elements of Arab, and Greek spices with Spanish and French influences, creating some of the world's tastiest seafood and most delicious vegetable dishes. The people of Sicily are genuine, passionate, and friendly. They are always willing to help or stop to have a conversation, and it is not uncommon for visitors and tourists to receive invitations to a local's house for dinner. All who encounter Sicily and all her charm, diversity, and beauty are reluctant to leave.
Set on a gorge just south of the Iblei Mountains, Modica is the city of 100 bells and 100 churches. It is split into two sections, Modica Alta and Modica Bassa, which are connected by an intriguing labyrinth of steps and narrow winding streets. Modica is the ideal way to experience authentic Sicily, far from the droves of tourists that often characterize other popular cities, yet able to offer the visitor all he needs for an unforgettable stay: elegant Baroque architecture, with its breathtaking Cathedral of San Giorgio, one of Sicily’s finest churches; history, as Modica was dominated in turn by the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantium empire, Arabs, Normans and Spaniards, all of whom helped shape the city and make it what it is today; tradition, with the Days of San Giorgio and San Pietro celebrated enthusiastically by the whole town; and lastly its gastronomic culture which reflects the city’s history and offers an enticing fusion of scents and tastes.
Immersed in the history and antique traditions of Sicily, your beautiful 4-star palazzo is the ideal base for visiting Modica, a town that has charmed travelers and poets for centuries, and that today is still one of Sicily’s most precious ‘pearls’. Situated in Upper Modica, all the town’s important monuments can be visited on foot. The inside of the palazzo retains its original atmosphere of Sicilian nobleman’s residence: from the use of materials like beautiful ceramic floor tiles and wrought iron to hand painted ceramics and period furniture, everything is designed to envelope guests in a warm and elegant atmosphere. Every detail has been chosen with the intention of offering guests an unforgettable stay in an atmosphere where traditional grandeur melds with modern comfort. Each room is unique, with its own color scheme, and is decorated with beautiful ceramic tiles, period furniture, some with liberty lamps, and walls and ceilings with hand painted frescos.
Personnel are friendly, attentive and focused on taking care of your every wish, from breakfast time with its homemade treats and award-winning coffees and cappuccinos to organizing excursions to Noto, Siracusa, or Agrigento with its Valley of the Temples. They can give you advice and tips on where to shop and what local specialties to look out for, or even book you a ticket for the theatre. Quite simply, they will make it very difficult to leave!
Itinerary: 8 days, 7 nights
Friday to Friday, or check in and start your program any day of the week.
Friday: Arrival & Welcome Dinner
- Arrival transfer from Catania Airport or Train Station to Hotel.
- Check in and Welcome cocktail.
- Welcome Dinner featuring a wonderful menu featuring local Sicilian products. (Drinks not included).
Saturday: Cooking Class 1 & Modica Tour
- Breakfast is served.
- Cooking Class 1 featuring Sicily’s treasured recipes and local farm-fresh produce. Get ready to prepare excellent Sicilian recipes with prized produce with Chef Accursio. Lunch follows with the foods that were prepared in class. (Drinks not included).
- In the afternoon, set our for your Modica Baroque Tour: Tour the wonderful land of Modica and see the sites & landmarks, experience the culture of colorful Sicily.
Sunday: Cheese Maker & Focaccia
- Breakfast is served.
- In the late morning, visit a local country farm. You will see the making of ricotta, a traditional fresh cheese and focacce, flat bread pizza. A traditional lunch is served at the farm.
- In the afternoon, visit of Ottavia Failla’s Atelier. You will be able to see the making of hand-made fashion accessories.
- Dinner on your own, suggestions provided upon request.
Monday: Tour UNESCO’s Val Di Noto
- Breakfast is served.
- Tour of Noto & Vendicari Noto, in the province of Siracuse, the architectural capital of the Baroque cities of the Val di Noto, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is mostly famous for its grandiose Sicilian Baroque monuments and particular town planning. The Vendicari reserve comprises 3 Pantani and is a true oasis of peace and rest for many species of birds including, herons & pink flamingos. Along the paths of the reserve you can admire beautiful landscapes and many historic buildings such as the tower of Bufatu, an 18th-century fortified building.
- A traditional Sicilian lunch is served, including local delicate fish. (If you do not eat fish we can substitute).
- Return to the Hotel hotel after lunch and time on your own or for a relaxing treatment in the Hotel’s spa.
- Dinner is served featuring a wonderful menu of local Sicilian products. (Drinks not included).
Tuesday: Ragusa & Cooking Class 2
- Breakfast is served.
- Tour of Ragusa Ibla and the castle of Donnafugata Ragusa, famous for beautiful palaces and churches that still constitute the main architectural profile of the city. These are the treasures that make the Ragusa of today worthy of UNESCO recognition as a World Heritage Site. Ragusa Ibla is indeed an open museum of Baroque architecture. The magnificent Duomo di San Giorgio with its slightly asymmetric staircase, the rich Baroque facade, and a Neoclassic dome amazes each visitor.
- Traveling through the province of Ragusa, one place that deserves a visit is the Castle of Donnafugata, which is located in typical Sicilian countryside and treats visitors to a taste of the area’s history.
- Cooking Class 2 featuring Sicily’s treasured recipes and local farm-fresh produce. Get ready to prepare excellent Sicilian recipes with prized produce with Chef Accursio. Dinner follows with the foods that were prepared in class. (Drinks not included).
Wednesday: Winery & Market Visit
- Breakfast is served.
- Visit Cava d’Ispica & Winery. Cava d'Ispica is located between the towns of Forsyth and Modica. This visit takes us back in time to the era that saw the first human settlements in this area. It is full of troglodyte dwellings, small shrines and necropolis; the first human settlements in the area date back to Neolithic times. The caves that dot the walls of the quarry are naturally occurring, created by the karst phenomenon, and were further modified and adapted by ancient populations according to their needs.
- We visit one of the most important wineries in this area, with tasting including wine and typical products.
- Next stop at the local marketplace to see works by local artisans & and food shops.
Thursday: Scicli & Cooking Class 3
- Breakfast is served.
- Tour of Scicli & Kamarina Museum. Scicli, another Baroque city of the Val di Noto, is noted for its wonderful churches and palaces, which were built between 1700 and 1800. In this area are the Church of Santa Teresa, the Church of San Giovanni, the Church of San Bartolomeo and Palazzo Beneventano, all of which are part of UNESCO's World Heritage List.
- Visit of Kamarina Museum: the museum is home to all the archaeological finds from the city, the necropolis of Kamarina and other finds from the area.
- Return to the kitchen in the afternoon for your Cooking Class 3 featuring Sicily’s treasured recipes and local farm-fresh produce. Get ready to prepare excellent Sicilian recipes with prized produce with Chef Accursio. Dinner follows with the foods that were prepared in class. (Drinks not included).
Friday: Departure & Arrivederci!
- Breakfast is served.
- Check out & departure transfer from Hotel to Catania Airport
- 8 days, 7 nights, based on double occupancy with private bathroom.
- Daily breakfast.
- Welcome cocktail & introduction.
- Chef’s Welcome dinner (Drinks not included).
- 3 cooking classes, followed by lunch or dinner with the foods prepared in class. (Drinks not included).
- Excursion to Modica featuring the Baroque Tour.
- Excursion to Sicilian country farm-ricotta and focacce making, with lunch included.
- Visit to Ottavia Failla’s Atelier.
- Excursion to Noto & Vendicari, lunch included.
- 1 Sicilian dinner prepared by our Chef, at the hotel.
- Excursion to Ragusa and the Castle of Donnafugata.
- Excursion to the vineyard and cantina of d’Ispica, tastings included.
- Excursion to the Scicli and Kamarina Museum.
- Private transfer to and from airport.
$2,895 per person, based on double occupancy. All taxes and Italian VAT included.
$625 Single Supplement.
2010 Dates: This program is available throughout the year. This program offers a Friday check in, however you may check in and start your program on any day of the week. Rates are subject to change based on currency exchange. Call for updated rates. Airfare not included.