Tag Archives: food

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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Why Laos should be on your bucket list this year

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laos-foodConsidering Laos this traveling season? Southeast Asia is really opening up these past few years, with countries like Bhutan, Burma and Laos in full bloom. Discover Laos on a connecting flight from Thailand or Vietnam!

If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you’ll know that WIT Agent Wailana took a trip to Laos a while back. This country often gets overlooked with more popular neighbors like Thailand and Vietnam. But there’s a lot that Laos can offer the curious traveler.

Here are our top reasons to visit Laos in the next few months:

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The best lunch in Asia!

FOOD

Yes. The food is phenomenal, with fresh, tasty dishes with an optional spice kick. Steamed purple sticky rice, larb (marinated meat with herbs), uniquely spicy papaya salad, steamed fish in banana leaf, river weed (think seaweed except from the Mekong), and breaded pork wrapped around sugarcane. Plus let’s not forget the awesome food markets.

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Kuang Si Waterfalls

NATURE

Laos’ dense jungles and river remain largely unexplored, meaning that the air smells crystal clear. There’s something to be said about climbing a holy mountain above Luang Prabang, lush with trees and the heavy scent of flowers, and gazing over at the fog-smothered streets below.

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Temple and Market

RELAX

Laos is often described as more relaxing and peaceful than its bustling neighbors. Everything is unhurried here–the buses, the store hours–it’s a rural countryside with a laid-back vibe. Perfect for a tranquil getaway.

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Boats leaving for School

THE MEKONG

The life and blood of Laos. No trip to Laos is complete without a river cruise or at the very least a riverbank stroll along the Mekong. This is where people have fished, drawn water, and made their homes. Schoolchildren often head out from their villages on boats in the early morning for school.

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Popular Paintings on the Street

A Magical Home away from Home

And imagine this: end of the day, twilight, after a long day exploring the market and visiting waterfalls. The day’s heat is dimming. You duck into a little open-air cafe in Luang Prabang, next to fading French colonial buildings. The fans are spinning, you’ve a cool beer lao in hand, and your gaze reaches out over the calm and murky waters. The only sounds are the crickets and the rustlings of a few passerby. Take a breath, settle back, and linger.

Spiked your Interest? You can read more about Laos on our previous posts: Here, Here and Here

Our Agents love to share our travel knowledge with you. Call us at 503-224-0180 for more SE Asia info or email info@wittravel.com.

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Monastery Morning Ritual

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When in Iceland: Sheep Heads and Puffin Roasts

By Wailana

When in Iceland, don’t miss your chance to gulp down some of the local treats. As I’m heading up to this northern land of fire and ice in less than two weeks, I’m stoked about trying some of these unique delicacies. And boy are they unique!

Fish & Shark Dish (c) funnypolynomial, Creative Commons

  • Skyr. A soft cheese, Skyr’s creamy and thick texture is often confused with yoghurt by visitors. It’s rare to find the Icelander that doesn’t eat skyr as part of their daily diet—as snack, drink, sauce or dessert topping.
  • Minke Whale. A controversial topic for some, minke is not an uncommon sight on menus—kebabs, steak, or seared. It’s important to remember that minke is not one of the endangered species of whale—but for some, any whale is a dealbreaker.
  • Pylsur. The Icelandic hot dog is famed world-wide, and the secret is in a unique ingredient, lamb! These beef, pork and lamb sausages are rich in flavor and addicting, as many tourists can attest. The most famous pylsur is Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, just across from the harbor. Icelanders typically garnish their dogs with an array of delicious condiments—or you can order it “Clinton” style with just mustard, a call-back to 2004 when the former US president ordered the plain-ole-jane style.

Bæjarins beztu pylsur (c) Andrea Schaffer, Creative Commons

  • Fermented Shark. When Anthony Bourdain visited the island, he infamously disdained the fermented shark, and perhaps with good reason. Hákarl is a cured Greenland or sleeper shark and hung to dry for four to five months. The flavor has been compared with ammonia. Many Icelanders like to give samples to tourists and watch as their faces pucker!
  • Sheep’s Head (Svið). Singed, de-brained and boiled, sheep’s head is a very traditional dish, served with potatoes and turnips. Don’t forget to gulp down the tongue, eyeballs and ears! Some Icelanders swear by their mother’s boiled sheep cheek.
  • Puffin. These adorable birds enjoy a popular status in Iceland, due to their cuteness and—yes—their flavor. Puffin meat is typically smoked, broiled or boiled in milky sauce. Yum, yum!

From pönnukökur (thin pancakes), black licorice, seal flippers, blood pudding, whey-pickled foods, and caraway-flavored Brennivin, Iceland has no end to its distinctive and varied cuisine. Stay tuned in mid-October for Wailana’s firsthand account on Icelandic dishes! For more information on trips to Iceland, call 1-800-821-0401 or email info@wittravel.com. Flights to and from Iceland and major USA gateways like Seattle run frequently. Call us today to book a trip for you and your family Summer 2014!

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Filed under Europe, Iceland, Our Travel Agents, Travel by Taste, Where in the World is the WIT Agent?

Guide to Argentina: Buenos Aires

The capital of Argentina is composed of a series of central barrios (neighborhoods). From the business district of the Centre to the wild tango clubs of Palermo, Buenos Aires has something for everyone.

Take an Empanada-Making class. Professional, local chefs will teach you all you need to know about the classic Argentine empanada. Afterward, pair the fruits of your labor with succulent Malbec wine, juicy steak, sweet biscuits and mate. Whether you’re an expert hobbyist or a novice, local chefs and guides with delight you with their local knowledge of cuisine and customs.

photo by Jameson Fink

Go on a food-themed walking tour or a pub crawl. Meet the friendly locals in popular, hip neighborhoods of San Telmo, Recoleta or Palermo. Led by an expert guide, you’ll be introduced to the best the culinary world has to offer. For a daring traveler, we recommend black pudding, liver, and sweetbreads.

photo by Pablo Dodda

Sample the drinks. Meet a local sommelier at a wine bar, and learn all there is to know about Argentina’s famous wines from Mendoza. Sample wine that has been carefully paired with tapas—crackers, cold cuts, cheese, and nuts. For a drink, sample the ingenious cocktails and browse through the 3,000 list of Argentinean reds and whites.

photo by Sergio Aguirre

Head to the Temaiken Zoo. Spend a day trip to the zoo just outside Buenos Aires. See animals from all over—sharks, white tigers, hippos, tapirs, alligators, penguins and more. Go on a Tuesday, when tickets are 50% off. Check out the Interpretive Centers, where audiovisual presentations educate the visitor on biology, the ecosystem, and the importance of nurturing the environment.

Lose yourself among the Dead. Take a sobering trip to the labyrinth of tombs and mausoleums of Cementario de la Recoleta. This is a necropolis of the good, bad and beautiful—from presidents, Nobel Prize winners, the granddaughter of Napoleon, and others. Pay homage to Eva Peron’s grave, then head to her collection of costumes, jewelry, and paintings on exhibit at the Museum Evita.

photo by Chimpanz APe

Learn to Tango. You know you want to, and where else but the birthplace of the dance? Spend an evening at a Milongas, or tango club, and admire the masters from afar or join in with the novices. Combine a tango show with delicious cuisine at the beautiful Palazzo Rossini. To see the cream of the crop, try the Centro Cultural Torquato Tasso. To delve more into the history, visit the Museo Casa Carlos Gardel, which celebrates tango’s first superstar.

photo by Gustavo Brazzalle

Sip at a Café. Café in Buenos Aires is nothing like watery American coffee—it’s thick, rich espresso. Nibble on a succulent medialuna (Argentinian croissant) while you dive into the liquidated warmth of freshly roasted beans. Delve into the countless pastries served here, from biscuits, cakes, ice cream, crepes, bonbons, flan—and the king of them all, the dulce de leche.

photo by Phillip Capper

Have a Picnic. Buenos Aires is a city of parks and picnics. Head over to the Reserve Ecological Constanera Sur and chow down on your lunch while enjoying the skittering iguanas, 200 species of birds and that oddest of fauna, the jogger. Moonlight tours can be booked ahead of time.

Marvel at Masters—Old and New. Head over to the art exhibits and galleries of Recoleta and Malba. Take a tour through the Coleccion Constantini, which boasts impressive pieces from Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Tarsila do Amaral. Fashionistas might discover funky boutiques in Palermo Viego. For the antiques collector, your best bet is hunting for relics in the bric-a-bracs of San Telmo and its main street, the Calle Defensa.

Willamette International Travel can arrange some of these experiences beforehand, and connect you with locals who live and breathe the city of Buenos Aires. Ask us about Marisa, our dedicated, personable tour guide whose vast knowledge and love of her city have charmed many of our clients.

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Filed under Argentina, Itinerary, South America

Taking a Cooking Class Abroad

There are many reasons people travel—and one of the main draws to any far-flung destination are its unique flavors and recipes. Dishes that can that challenge our senses and introduce us to new tastes. For travelers who are interested in not just seeing a place, but also tasting its culinary creations, Willamette encourages trying a cooking class or going on a gastronomic adventure. Have a chat with us and we can figure out the class or culinary treat that might be right for you during your trip.

photo by Linda Fisher

 Why take a cooking class abroad?

A cooking class introduces travelers to a unique way of travel—through the tastebuds. A culinary environment, whether in a professional Bangkok kitchen or at a summer home in Ephesus, is a great venue to immerse yourself into a culture. Travelers can learn about local ingredients and time-honored cooking techniques in an informal, mellow atmosphere. You have the opportunity to ask questions only a trained local could answer, and participate in not only enjoying but creating authentic and delicious dishes. And you can bring home a souvenir that your friends will be sure to enjoy—a recipe!

photo by Linda Fisher

 Here are some of the experiences we can offer:

 –         Taste the best of dry and floral Argentinian wines in the vineyards of Mendoza

–         Visit the top chocolatiers on the East Side of Manhattan

–         Enjoy the melting pot of Santa Fe cuisine—influenced by Native America, Spanish, Mexican and European traditions

–         Attend a master Greek chef’s class to learn the secrets behind succulent souvlaki, refreshing tzatziki, spit-roasted meats, and fish cooked with cheese

–         Stroll the Jean Talon Market in Montreal, the largest outdoor public farmer’s market in Canada—before taking afternoon tea at the Queen Elizabeth

–         Prepare authentic Jamaican specialties such as jerk, sorrel drink, oxtail soup, saltfish, gingerbeer, and potato pudding—and follow up with a visit to a Rum distillery and a local coffee farm for samples

Email Willamette for more details at info@wittravel.com, or call 503.224.0180 to book your culinary adventure!

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