Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Culinary Vacations with Food Network Travel

FROSCH, as a member of Signature Travel Network, is now able to offer Food Network Travel guided vacations in Italy, France and Northern California. Launching in 2012 and open for booking this August, these tour packages complement the previously launched Caribbean and Mediterranean Food Network at Sea cruises.
Food Network Travel’s guided vacations will be operated by Trafalgar and have been developed in association with Signature Travel Network and Food Network to bring FROSCH’s foodie clients on highly customized culinary land vacations as seen through the lens of Food Network. Vacations include a Food Network tour director, first-class hotel accommodations and exclusive ‘By-Invitation-Only’ experiences that only Food Network can offer. Guests will sample favorite dishes and visit favorite spots of Food Network stars as seen on such shows as Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and Best Thing I Ever Ate. Guests will visit markets and wineries; meet chefs; and even try their hands in the kitchen in hands-on cooking classes, some using recipes developed by Food Network Kitchens. These unique itineraries will immerse guests in the best of local flavors with the brightest stars of the food world.

Flavors of Italy. In a nation known for its diverse and delectable food, Food Network Travel shows travelers the finest that Italy has to offer. Guests will learn first-hand the culinary magic that surrounds the picture-perfect monuments of Rome, the cypress-lined roads to hilltop towns in Tuscany, the serenading gondoliers in Venice. Guests will visit the Forum, the Coliseum, and St. Peter’s Basilica. Plus, they will have the opportunity to sample Rachael Ray’s favorite gelateria in Rome, taste wines and olive oils in Tuscany, and stroll through Giada De Laurentiis’s favorite fish market in Venice. A Florentine cooking class begins at the luscious market of Sant Ambrogio to gather the freshest ingredients, and continues in the hills of Chianti, where guests will learn the secrets of robust flavors and irresistible sauces. Highlights include a Tuscan dinner in a historic renaissance style villa, hands-on pasta-making class and market shopping with a local chef, a luncheon at legendary Villa San Michele in Tuscany, dinner at a private home in Chianti, and a farewell dinner off St. Mark’s Square in Venice. 8-night guided vacation. Select Friday departure dates from USA: May 11, May 18, June 1, June 15, September 7, September 14, September 21, September 28, October 5, October 12, 2012.

Flavors of France. Guests will enjoy the must-see sights of Paris – the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre – mixed with the favorite bakeries of Giada De Laurentiis and Ina Garten, the picturesque markets, the beautiful (and flavorful) vineyards of Burgundy and the “gastronomy capital of France,” Lyon. Guests will follow the Rhône River into Provence, stopping in charming villages where they’ll experience the best of local fare. In a landscape straight out of a Van Gogh painting, guests will meet a talented local chef at his restaurant for a hands-on cooking class. Guests will also visit Avignon and Aix-en-Provence, Nice and the legendary Monte Carlo, learning about the local specialties, sampling the day’s market fare and dining on delicacies fresh from the garden and the sea. Highlights include Chef’s lunch at a Chateau in Burgundy, dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant in St-Remy, a Royal luncheon hosted by a Baron and Baroness at their winery in Maubec, and a farewell dinner in Nice. 8-night guided vacation. Select Thursday departure dates from USA: May 10, May 30, June 14, September 6, September 20, 2012.

Flavors of Northern California (San Francisco/Napa/Sonoma). Guests will enjoy an unforgettable culinary vacation in San Francisco and California’s picturesque wine country. With Food Network as the guide, guests will experience the Saturday morning Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market and taste and dine at several locations featured on Diner, Drive-ins and Divers, Best Thing I Ever Ate and other Food Network shows as guest visit such iconic sights as Union Square, Twin Peaks, the Presidio, the Golden Gate Bridge and Chinatown. Next, guests will continue to the wine country, where they will visit Food Network’s partner winery, Wente Vineyards, for a private behind-the-scenes tour, garden-fresh lunch and a wine tasting. Highlights include a four-course hands-on cooking class with wine pairing lunch in Sonoma, a private dinner at Michael Chiarello’s Bottega and a farewell dinner at Tyler Florence’s Rotisere & Wine in Napa. 7-night guided vacation. Select Friday departure dates: June 29, July 13, August 3, October 5, October 19, 2012.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Celebrity Eclipse ship review

Of all the mega-ships that have launched in the last few years (and they are legion), Celebrity Cruises’ Solstice-class ships are my personal favorites. Sexy design, thoughtful staterooms, a fabulous spa, and appealing restaurants are all welcome ship amenities in my book. Celebrity Cruises is not a luxury line, but this 'Premium' cruise experience is a very good value. The Celebrity Eclipse debuted in April 2010 and like her Solstice-class sisters (Celebrity Solstice 2008, Celebrity Equinox 2009, Celebrity Silhouette 2011 and coming in 2012 is Celebrity Reflection) she has unique features like the Lawn Club (croquet anyone?).

Lawn Club

I had an opportunity to tour her in Florida this year, and fell madly in love with the decor. Stylish and contemporary, each public room had delightful details that invited me to join the fun.  Every chair beckoned me to 'sit here!' Whimsical lighting features almost winked at me. I was charmed.  

Order from an iPad menu at Qsine

Quasar nightclub has a retro space-age vibe

Make no mistake, these ships aren't for everyone. If the urban martini connoisseur crowd is not to your taste and you have no desire to try a sushi lollipop, then this is may not be the ship for you. Staterooms were designed by a coterie of travel industry insiders, mostly women, to create a luxurious experience with careful attention to detail. Clearly, I am their target market!

It's 5 o'clock somewhere...

I will be sailing on the Celebrity Silhouette's inaugural cruise from New York this November, and I can't wait!
Click here for my photos
Click here for the latest Celebrity Cruises specials.