Category Archives: Travel by Taste

Happy World Chocolate Day!

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Friday 7 July is World Chocolate Day!

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Originally from Mesoamerica, the cacao bean has been a favorite culinary passion for thousands of years. People’s intimate relationship with chocolate is thought to date back all the way three or four millennia, when ancient pre-Columbian cultures like the Olmec were drinking fermented beverages made from the cacao bean.

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The world chocolate comes from the Aztec “xocoatl,” and the scientific name for the tree, Theobroma cacao, means “food of the gods.”

Why July 7? Friday marks 467 years since chocolate was introduced to Europe.

After all, who doesn’t love another excuse to sip down hot chocolate, or bite into a Belgian truffle?

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Celebrate the sweet day of chocolate by:

  • booking a honeymoon vacation to the Mexican coast to see the land that inspired a worldwide culinary passion
  • asking our travel agents about deals for families on Big Island to visit the candy factory and sample macadamia nut chocolates
  • attending a chocolate-making class in Brussels, Belgium in a fine chocolaterie
  • tasting Mexican cocoa in its mouthwatering perfection at Oaxaca, home to small cacao farms
  • booking a train trip in our office on Switzerland’s chocolate train to discover legendary Swiss chocolate in the medieval town of Gruyères
  • book a chocolate workshop in lovely Paris with our friends Chocolatine (their name is oh so apropos)
  • visiting Turin, home to legendary cioccolato caldo (hot chocolate) and the annual CioccolaTò festival, with chocolate factory and treasure hunt

See more destinations for chocolate lovers here

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Recipe: Mexican Hot Chocolate

(from Olivia’s Cuisine)

  • 2 (3.5oz) bars good quality bittersweet chocolate (Lindt or authentic Mexican chocolate)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ tsp chili powder (optional)
  • ½ Tbsp light brown sugar (optional)
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • Whipped cream to serve

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Instructions

  1. Over medium-high heat, melt the chocolate with the water and cinnamon sticks.
  2. Once everything is melted, add the milk, heavy cream, chili powder and sugar, and the nutmeg. Stir until well-combined.
  3. Once it boils, lower the heat to medium and let it cook until it thickens a little (about 5 minutes). If you think it’s too thick or sweet for you, add an extra cup of milk to thin it out.
  4. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream on top!

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Filed under Europe, Italy, Mexico, Travel by Taste

NEW Chocolatine Workshops in France

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Bonjour! Chocolatine introduces some fabulous workshops available during your fabulous trip to France! Call your agent at Willamette Intl Travel for more info on these one-of-a-kind tours!

NEW – Chocolate Workshop

  • *Learn the secret of making delicious chocolate candies and confections with Laurent, a talented master chocolatier, in his private workshop in a non-touristy area of Paris.
  • *Taste a variety of chocolates as you learn about the process from cacao bean to chocolate bar.
  • *Participate in hands-on chocolate candy preparation with Laurent and write your name in chocolate on your creations!
  • Duration: 90-minutes
  • When: Monday through Friday
  • Number of Guests: 2-5 people

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NEW – Just Croissants Workshop

  • *Spend 4 glorious hours learning how to make croissants—perfect, beautiful, authentic croissants—from scratch with Johanna, a very talented pastry chef in her new atelier!
  • *Discover the secrets of the flaky pastry as you leaven the dough, fold in the butter, shape the croissants, and prepare cream fillings.
  • *Savor your freshly-baked goodness with a beverage, and take away the rest!
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • When: Monday & Tuesdays
  • Number of Guests: 3-6 people (no children under age 10)

Our NEW Chauffeur for you!

  • We have just connected with a fantastic chauffeur, ready to drive you around Paris! Although Paul is not a tour guide, he can showcase the highlights of the city and offer excellent information about the neighborhoods, monuments, and historic sites. If his guests want to enjoy a short coffee break… take photos… make a quick stop for a patisserie… Paul is happy to make it all happen!
  • Paul drives a brand new Nissan Qashqai
  • Number of guests: 3 people maximum – 1 in front, 2 in the back.  

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Giverny with Paul!

  • If you enjoyed the city drive with Paul, he’s just as delighted to escort you to Giverny!
  • Includes: Hotel pick-up and drop-off
  • About 3 hours in Giverny, a visit to Monet’s garden, and time to stroll through the charming village.

Taste of Nice (an exclusive Chocolatine tour!)

Chocolatine’s wonderful Niçoise guide Monique (Nice-born and -raised!) takes visitors on a fantastic walking tour of Nice. Many summer guests enjoyed it immensely! For September and October travelers visiting the Riviera, this half-day (4-hour) tour provides a chance to discover the real heart and soul of Nice.

Highlights:

  • *Discover the unique architecture of the city.
  • *Meet the locals and discover the traditions of the Niçoises.
  • *Enjoy an introduction to AOC Olive Oil in the Alziari boutique—owned by the same family for five generations.
  • *Discover how a perfumer masters the creation of fragrances, while learning about the history of perfume. Create your own special perfume!
  • *Visit the oldest cellar in Nice (1860) where the owner, Franck, personally welcomes you. Add your name to a guest list that has included Elton John and Brad Pitt, and enjoy a conversation with Franck about his wine passion and his hometown of Nice.

Chocolatine in France. Hailing from France and based in the Pacific Northwest, Chocolatine offers private services in France that are 100% tailored to your needs. We work closely with them to arrange private excursions in Paris and elsewhere in France.

Call us to book at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Filed under France, News, Travel by Taste

All Things Foodie & Travel

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It’s Foodie Day here on the Wittravel Blog — and do we have a lot to share! Traveling for the Cuisine is one of the best ways to explore the local culture! Why not join a cooking class or winery tour while you’re abroad? Whether cooking up pad thai in Thailand, or sipping wines in Bordeaux–our Agents can hook you up!

Check out yummy stories on dining and wining from our Archives:

Bread & Macaroons

World Tapas Day

Holiday Recipes from the Middle East

Airplane Snacks

When in Iceland: Sheep Heads and Puffin Roasts

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And browse recent stories on Food from around the web:

The Italian Wine Regions You Should Visit Next

World’s 23 Best Cities for Street Food

New Flavors on classic Cape Cod

10 of the Best Foodie Retreats in Rural France

25 Japanese Foods we can’t live without

A Food Lover’s Guide to Montreal

Chef Jacques Pepin to host cruise for foodies

Did you know there are multiday food and wine tours? Or simple day trips to a Tuscan olive press? Call Willamette Intl Travel to start your Culinary Adventure today! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com for more info!

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Filed under Travel by Taste

Tomorrow is World Tapas Day!

Love Tapas? So do we!!

¡Bienvenido! Did you know Thursday, June 16 is World Tapas Day? Yes, it’s a thing!

Tapas are a type of “mini-dish” typical of Spain, created to make the most of the delicious flavors of the country. They can be served cold, hot, on toast, in clay pots–and best enjoyed with a group of your closest friends! Spaniards often go on “tapa-tastings,” that is, bar-hopping for a whirlwind tour of mouth-watering dishes in one neighborhood. Tapas are popular all over the country, from Barcelona to Granada; we’re talking premium ingredients like Iberian ham, extra virgin olive oil, succulently baked seafood, patatas braves, spicy chorizo—all paired elegantly with Rioja wine.

The word tapa is said to have derived from the Spanish word tapar, meaning “to cover,” and may have originated from a time when inns used to serve small portions under hot pot covers. Whatever the origin–it’s enough to get us thinking about a trip to Spain to sample at the source!

This video has got us positively salivating: Tapa!

Also check out: 

A Fun Infographic on Tapas

Our 20 Recommended Tapas

In Portland, Oregon and you just can’t wait for your trip to Spain? Treat yourself this weekend with a tapas meal at Andina, Toro Bravo or Ataula!

Or if you’d rather have the real deal–make an appointment with one of our agents at Willamette Intl Travel to discuss summer and fall flights into Spain! Call 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com today!

Brought to you with the help of the Tourist Office of Spain

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Filed under Europe, Spain, Travel by Taste

Holiday Recipes from the Middle East: Mhalabia

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Happy Holidays from Caravan-Serai Tours and Willamette Intl Travel!

Each holiday season our friends over at Caravan-Serai offer an assortment of our favorite recipes from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Caucasus. Be sure to subscribe to our blog for updates!

Today’s recipe is a Syrian pudding recipe from Aleppo. It’s made with milk, rose water, crushed pistachios, some cardamom, corn starch as sugar. If you have traveled to Syria or Jordan you have probably tasted this light and exotic tasting pudding. Treat your family to it this holiday season!

Flickr Creative Commons (c) Andrea Nguyen

Flickr Creative Commons (c) Andrea Nguyen

3 cups milk

1 cup heavy whipping cream

3/4 cup sugar

1 tbs rose water

1 cup cold water

2 cardamom pods, crushed

6 tbs corn starch

Crushed pistachios

  • Mix milk and sugar together in a sauce pan, then heat to a boil – stirring frequently.
  • Whisk water and cornstarch together in a bowl until smooth; stir into boiling milk. Cook milk mixture over medium heat until thickened to the consistency of cake batter, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and stir cream, rose water, and cardamom into milk mixture.
  • Divide into 6 serving dishes or keep in a bowl, what ever you prefer, and put into the refrigerator to cool – about 2-4 hours
  • Just before serving sprinkle crushed pistachios on top.

Caravan Serai is a Seattle-based company that specializes in small-group escorted tours to destinations in the Middle East and North Africa such as Jordan, Turkey and Morocco. Expert guides escort guests through fun-filled and tasty itineraries, valuing comfort and safety all the while trekking across ancient paths and historical ruins.

Call Willamette Intl Travel to Discuss More Options for Travel in the Middle East!

To read what a Sample 5-Day Tour through Jordan might look like, click here:

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Filed under Caravan Serai, Travel by Taste

Holiday Recipes from the Middle East: Cucumber Salad & Galayat Bandura

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Happy Holidays from Caravan-Serai Tours and Willamette Intl Travel!

Each holiday season our friends over at Caravan-Serai offer an assortment of our favorite recipes from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Caucasus. Be sure to subscribe to our blog for updates!

Cucumber & Yogurt Salad ~ Salat Khyar

  • 1lb cucumber
  • 2lb yogurt
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • 1 Tbs chopped fresh mint

Peel and dice the cucumbers, crush garlic with salt and mint and stir into yogurt. Add the cucumbers and mix. Serve with mint garnish.

Galayat Bandura

This dish is a popular dish which can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner, as hot mezza or main course. You can add scrambled eggs, tuna, or chicken – whatever you like! “Gulayat” is the Arabic word for skillet, so the name literally translated means skillet of tomatoes.

  • 1lb tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 green chili peppers
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Saute the pine nuts in oil until light brown, remove from oil and save as the garnish (save the oil in the skillet).
  2. Finely chop tomatoes and chilies
  3. Slice garlic and saute in the same oil until light brown, then add the tomatoes, chilies (I recommend starting with half the amount of chilies and taste the mixture after a few minutes to see if you want to add more), and salt
  4. Bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes
  5. Pour into shallow serving dish and garnish with pine nuts

Call Willamette Intl Travel at 503-224-0180 to discuss options for travel in and around the Middle East.

To read what a Sample Tour through Morcco & Tunisia would look like, click here.

Caravan Serai is a Seattle-based company that specializes in small-group escorted tours to destinations in the Middle East and North Africa such as Jordan, Turkey and Morocco. Expert guides escort guests through fun-filled and tasty itineraries, valuing comfort and safety all the while trekking across ancient paths and historical ruins.

To read more about Caravan-Serai, click here.

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Filed under Caravan Serai, Middle East, Travel by Taste, Vendors

Holiday Recipes from the Middle East: Tahina Salad

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Happy Holidays from Caravan-Serai Tours and Willamette Intl Travel!

Each holiday season our friends over at Caravan-Serai offer an assortment of our favorite recipes from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Caucasus. Be sure to subscribe to our blog for updates!

Today’s recipe is another quick and easy salad from the Petra Kitchen:

Tahina Salad ~ Salat Khodra bil Tahina

3 large tomatoes
3 medium cucumbers
1 hot green pepper
1 small onion
1 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup tahina
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup vinegar
2 garlic cloves

  • Peel and dice the cucumbers and onions
  • Chop tomatoes very finely
  • Mince hot pepper and add to vegetables
  • Crush garlic with salt, stir into dressing of tahina, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt
  • Dressing mixture should be the consistency of cream, if too thick add a little water to thin
  • Pour tahina mixture over vegetables and stir well. Serve with a garnish of parsley sprig

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Filed under Africa, Middle East, Morocco, Travel by Taste