By Elinor Garely
It was not hard to find “Foodies” from California and Texas, New York and New Jersey on Saturday, they were all attending the European Travel Commission, AMEX, Food and Wine Magazine, and Travel+ Leisure Magazine sponsored event pairing travel and tourism with food and wine at the Metropolitan Pavilion. A very clever way to introduce international travel to over two hundred people who put gourmet food and vintage wines at the top of their “to do” list, the idea is to motivate people to travel by stimulating their palates.
Gourmets could indulge their competitive side by cheering on their favorite chefs at the Culinary World Cup, where Marcus Samuelsson of Aquavit and Todd English of Olives put epicure meals together in minutes. Then rewarded their sensitive side by participating in wine seminars and tastings presented by Anthony Giglio, Steven Olson and Joshua Wesson.
Selecting Destinations on Food
In a few hours Foodies were able to travel throughout Europe, sampling the regions best food, wines, beers, coffees, waters and desserts. My trip started in Greece where I indulged in freshly made yogurt paired with a fine Muscat wine. This was followed by chestnut soup from Austria; Irish, Black and White pudding sausages from Ireland; Dalmatian dried fig spread with truffles from Croatia, and Barbajuans (ravioli fried in olive oil and stuffed with spinach, Swiss chard and truffles) from Monaco. When I stopped by the Norway table, I was offered Christinia vodka and Jarlsberg Cheese, while Holland impressed with DeJong Cheese and Damrak Gin, along with an incredibly potent drink of gin, lime and cranberry juice. Swedish tourism encouraged travelers to sip Mandarin, Vanilla and Raspberry Absolut, paired with shrimp and salmon kebabs marinated in salt, pepper, lime and lemon juice, and dill. Belgium was a very popular destination for their outrageously sublime Leonidas chocolates.
Travel Opportunities: Finding the Truffle
Dreamed of participating in a truffle hunt? Head for Pula, located in the Republic of Croatia, and the largest peninsula on the Adriatic. Truffles cannot be spotted – they grow underground; however, they have a peculiar and strong scent that can be recognized by trained dogs. Tourists join the truffle hunter and his dogs, traipse through the cold forests, and when enough truffles have been gathered for dinner, the group retires to a nearby farm house for a truffle inspired dinner and drinks. Truffle hunts are seasonal: From January to September hunters find black truffles and from October to December the white truffles are unearthed.
Cyprus: Focus on Food
They don’t focus on geography, they concentrate on food, and gourmet travelers make their reservations for Cyprus. Food-aholics travel throughout Cyprus with a culinary expert, spend quality time in local markets selecting the best vegetables, poultry and seafood that will, during cooking classes, be turned into gourmet luncheons and dinner experiences. Cyprus, noted for its wines, includes visits to the Troodus Mountain and its local wineries, as well as learning how local Cypriots smoke meats, and make rosewater from the abundant Damascus rose. Eating your way through Cyprus also includes an education about the plants and herbs of the region that are used for cooking and medicines, while the endless availability of the local schnapps, “zivania” is an inducement to visit this destination frequently.
Atkins Heaven in Ireland
Perhaps the home of the Atkins diet, picture being in the middle of this gloriously green country savoring a traditional Irish breakfast, complete with pork sausages, back rashers, black and white pudding, fresh eggs and tomatoes, and Irish brown bread. Festivals for Foodies include the Bantry Mussel Fair in May, the Portnoo/Rosbeg Seafood Festival in June, the World Oyster Eating Championship in Hillsborough and the Galway Oyster Festival. For single Foodies, Ireland has scheduled the Lisdoonvama Matchmaking Festival for September.
Follow Your Stomach to Europe
It is often said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and an Army travels on its stomach, clearly demonstrating that the stomach may be among the best reasons to explore the world. Europe in NYC: A Culinary Tour of Europe was a debut performance. Based on conversations with the people who attended this event, the gourmets who laughed, drank, dined and hooked up with other Foodies, this event will become a yearly event in NY, a city known by a fruit, “The Big Apple.”