A Gastronomical Journey Through the “Garden of France” with Insight Vacations

Do you love French food and have time to go on a foodie journey in the Loire Valley this fall?  If so, you may want to consider signing up for this guided trip.  I came across it and it looks fabulous.  I’ve toured the Loire Valley on my own before, and loved the food and wine.  I’d love to take this trip myself.

~~~

TORONTO – May 28, 2015 – Insight Vacations (www.insightvacations.com), the leader in premium and luxury escorted journeys, has introduced The Loire Valley (www.insightvacations.com/ca/special-offers/expert-hosted-collection/the-loire-valley) – a limited one-time departure that leads guests on a 13-day magical journey of food, wine and history through the villages and vineyards of the famed region. Designed to satisfy even the most discerning of food connoisseurs, The Loire Valley has been curated by Barbara Barde, an Insight Vacations Tour Director, and private certified sommelier Tom LeRoy.

Loire Valley tour

Loire Valley tour

“We are excited to launch our newest special interest trip in our Expert Hosted Collection, catered specifically to foodies and wine aficionados,” said Cris David, president, Insight Vacations Canada. “Insight Vacations is renowned for creating lasting experiences and memories with our guests, and with the help of Barbara Barde and Tom LeRoy, The Loire Valley culinary odyssey will offer our travellers an experience their palates will not soon forget.”

Departing September 26, 2015, this exclusive gastronomical adventure begins in Paris, one of the great culinary capitals of the world. Synonymous with wine production dating back to the 1st century, the region offers guests an incomparable cultural landscape of great beauty comprised of ancient towns and family owned vineyards. Guests will eat and drink their way through the “Garden of France”, all the while experiencing the Loire Valley through the eyes of a true gastronome with the help of local experts.

Each Insight Vacations escorted journey offers unique Signature Experiences where guests discover more than just the highlights other travel experiences provide. Travellers are introduced to local guides who immerse them in regional culture and unlock doors for them they simply cannot arrange on their own. Signature Experiences found on The Loire Valley include the following:

– Visit to the Maison Louis de Grenelle, the last remaining family-owned property of the major Saumur sparkling producers, where guests will learn the art of sustainable viticulture while 12 metres beneath the cobblestone streets of this historic town.

– Discover the fascinating secret world of mushrooms at the Musée du Champignon in the village of St. Hilaure, touring the underground cave exhibiting the many cultivation methods of the species indigenous to the region.

– Dine at the Cathédrales de la Saulaie, a 19th century subterranean restaurant located in a cathedral-sized Troglodyte cave specializing in local Pays de la Loire dishes.way to Chinon, learn the art of perfecting the balance of tradition and modernity in wine-making at the family-owned Frederic Mobileau Vigneron winery, known for offering multi-faceted wines from the Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil, Bourgueil, Saumur and Anjou appellations, whilst visiting the 2,000 hectares of the Couly-Duthier winery.

– At Sancerre, guests will sample the stunning varietals of this region long revered for specializing in 100 per cent Sauvignon Blanc wines while sampling sumptuous goat cheese at Chèveries de Chamons.

“Food and wine have long been passions of mine and I am proud to be personally hosting The Loire Valley. I have handpicked each experience to reflect my love of French gastronomy and look forward to welcoming guests to the ‘Garden of France’,” says Barbara Barde, Insight Vacations Tour Director.

Click on the following link to watch Barbara Barde explaining the Loire Valley itinerary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0O2E54xk0g

“It is an honour to be hosting with Barbara on this trip,” adds Tom LeRoy, wine sommelier. “I can think of no better way to share my passion for wine than to be the personal sommelier to guests on this special curated experience.”

To book this escorted journey or for more information, please visit www.insightvacations.com, contact Insight’s Sale Centre at 1-800-387-8490 or speak with your local travel agent.

About Barbara Barde

Barbara is an award winning television producer, with over 600 titles to her credit. She began appreciating and collecting wine almost 20 years ago and is known for her impressive cellar. She is also a “foodie”, always on the lookout for an amazing recipe, new ingredients, or a restaurant that no one has heard of. Barbara is also a passionate traveler and has spent the last several summers leading tours with Insight Vacations and other companies. She will be the Tour Director.

About Tom LeRoy

Wine Sommelier Tom LeRoy is a criminal lawyer in Toronto who began collecting and appreciating wine fifteen years ago. A true aficionado of wine, he has recently obtained a wine specialist certificate from George Brown College and was also certified as a Wine Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers. Tom is also a member of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers.

About Insight Vacations

For more than 35 years, Insight Vacations (www.insightvacations.com) has been designing the world’s finest escorted travel itineraries. Insight offers 113 journeys to more countries across Europe than any other operator and provides the same legendary service across North America, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Morocco, Egypt and Israel.

Insight guests enjoy The Art of Touring in Style with business-class legroom aboard customized luxury coaches, intimate groups of just 40 travellers and the services of an experienced Tour Director who acts as ‘travelling concierge.’ Each expertly planned itinerary includes a range of Signature Events for a unique and authentic look into the history and culture of each destination. Throughout their trip, guests will stay in handpicked hotels that are centrally or scenically located and have the perfect balance of guided and independent exploration.

For more information, visit us at http://www.insightvacations.com, on social media at http://www.facebook.com/InsightVacations, http://twitter.com/InsightVacation, and join the conversation using the hashtag #InsightMoments.

About TreadRight

Created as a joint initiative between The Travel Corporation’s family of brands, the TreadRight Foundation is a not-for-profit working to ensure the environment and communities we visit remain vibrant for generations to come. To date, TreadRight has supported more than 35 sustainable tourism projects worldwide. The Foundation’s guiding principle is to encourage sustainable tourism development through conservation, leadership and support for communities. Foundation priorities are set by the Steering Committee, which includes sustainability leaders like Céline Cousteau and Costas Christ.

TreadRight’s past project partners include WWF, Conservation International and The National Trust in the UK. Current initiatives include sponsoring the National Geographic Society’s inaugural “World Legacy Awards,” and inspiring wildlife advocates like Terri Irwin.

To learn more about our past and current work at TreadRight, please visit us at treadright.org.

 

Advertisements

Explore British Columbia’s Central Coast with Pacific Yellowfin Charters and Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort

Pacific Yellowfin Private ChartersI came across this posting online about a very interesting tour up BC’s remote central coast.  The tour starts on Sept 21 for 6 days and sounds amazing.  If you have an upcoming vacation and the budget, give it a try, and tell me how you enjoyed it.  Here are the trip details.

~~~

Pacific Yellowfin Charters and Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort have teamed up to offer an exclusive exploration of gorgeous Seymour Inlet on British Columbia’s wild central coast, cutting travel time in half and allowing guests to experience one of the last great untamed inlets in the world from the sea and air.
Nimmo Bay Wilderness ResortThis is the ultimate coastal excursion, enabled by two companies that eschew cookie cutter itineraries and have built their reputation by providing guests with unforgettable, boutique experiences that people will talk about and remember for years to come.
With pricing starting at $7,850 Cdn per person (based on double occupancy), this adventure begins on Sept. 21, 2013, when guests rendezvous with the classic Pacific Yellowfin in Campbell River or Port McNeill. They will then set course for Seymour Inlet, home to some of the fastest tidal rapids in the world. Seymour River estuary, to where it spills into Queen Charlotte Sound, is 75 Km in length and one of the lesser travelled of the principal coastal fjords.
Pacific Yellowfin is a leader in boutique coastal cruises around the Gulf Islands, Desolation Sound and the Great Bear Rainforest. It’s floating lodge is a  small, beautifully restored 1943 vessel, with staterooms accommodating  no more than 12 guests and an attentive crew of five that includes an on board naturalist and 5-star chef. Aboard the Pacific Yellowfin, guests can choose from a range of activity options from sea kayaking, to bird watching and fishing, as captain Colin Griffinson explores the winding, serpentine waters of Seymour Inlet. It is a maze of narrow channels and lagoons teeming with wildlife.
After six days of exploration on the water it is time for exploration from the air. When the Pacific Yellowfin calls in at Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort, guests will have the opportunity to experience Seymour Inlet and the surrounding wild coast from a different perspective – via helicopter.  Nimmo Bay is world renowned for its luxurious helicopter fly-in fishing, wildlife viewing, outdoor adventure and sustainable tourism leadership, all from a  family founded and managed luxury lodge tucked in a secluded bay at the southern end of the Great Bear Rainforest.
For those wishing to remain on at Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort, cabins can be booked by calling 1-800-837-4354; space is limited and must be reserved in advance.
Seymour Inlet and the Great Bear Rainforest are magical places; visitors who see the area for the first time are forever changed. Ancient village sites and petroglyphs reveal secrets of First Nations habitation that dates back more than 5,000 years. Marine and terrestrial wildlife is abundant, and forests of trees that were alive when Sir Francis Drake sailed the Pacific Northwest Coast are the towering giants of an unsullied wilderness that appears forgotten by time. Grizzlies and black bears fish in rivers where salmon have spawned for thousands of years. Coastal wolves peruse the tidal flats for clams in the stillness of an early coastal morning. Pacific white sided dolphins and Dall’s porpoises cavort in the boat’s wake, while pods of killer whales ply the inlets and channels for prey.

About Pacific Yellowfin Charters

Pacific Yellowfin, a beautifully restored and refitted 1940’s era, Second World War ammunition supply vessel, cruises the sheltered Gulf Islands, glacier-fed waters of Desolation Sound, and magnificent wild and cultural wonders of the Great Bear Rainforest, giving nature lovers, fishermen, photographers and outdoor enthusiasts an exclusive and intimate experience aboard a boat that minimizes its environmental footprint by reducing daily engine running times and cruising speeds, and sourcing sustainable products and supplies. http://www.pacificyellowfin.com

About Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort

Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort is an exclusive fly-fishing and wilderness adventure destination, set at the foothills of Mount Stephens along the Great Bear Rainforest coastline of British Columbia. Family-owned and operated for more than 30 years, the resort is a mecca for anglers, mariners and adventurers alike, thanks in part to the on-site A-Star helicopters and customized experiences. Accolades include, Forbes Magazine naming Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort as one of the top 10 eco-resorts in the world. For more information, visit http://www.nimmobay.com.

Gastown Food and Culture Tour – Be a Tourist in Your Own City

Gassy Jack our tour guide

People I think tended to get a bit jaded about where they live.  One way around it I found is to pretend you are a tourist and do touristy things.  It is amazing how you find out about new restaurants, or visit sites that you may have gone to so many years ago.  This was my mindset when I was invited to attend the “Gastown food & culture tour” by Taste Vancouver Food Tours earlier this week.  The tour costs $39, but I attended for free.

It was a lovely sunny day.  Besides me there was our tour guide, “Gassy Jack”, as well as a couple and a family from Ontario for this experience. We started at the Starbucks in front of the Pan Pacific Hotel downtown, visiting 9 restaurants/cafes, and 1 clothing store.  Between these stops Gassy Jack would tell us information about a particular old building, and it’s significance to Gastown, or some historical fact about Gastown.  It kept the walk interesting.

Which Places Did We Visit?

Our stops in order were:

  1. Rogue Kitchen & Wetbar
  2. Steamworks
  3. Rogers Chocolates
  4. Canadian Maple Delights
  5. Brioche Urban Baking and Catering
  6. Trees Organic Coffee and Roasting House
  7. Water St. Cafe
  8. John Fluevog
  9. Peckinpah BBQ
  10. Gastown Tea Company

Lobster Mac n Cheese from Rogue

The tour kicked off with a fruit drink and slice of muffin at the Starbucks, followed by Gassy Jack introducing us to a brief history of Gastown.  First official stop was the Rogue Kitchen & Wetbar where we enjoyed a serving of Atlantic Lobster in a Four Cheese Mac n Cheese.  Very tasty.  There was actual pieces of lobster in the dish.

Onward we trekked to Steamworks, a place that I visited many times. Down the winding staircase we descended, and sat next to the large copper tanks where the beer micro-brewing takes place.  Our beer was a ginger beer, made with real ginger root.  It was a light pale ale in colour and the ginger was not overpowering.  There were 2 children in tow, and they had soft drinks, so don’t worry if you are bringing your children along.

Rogers Chocolates was next, were we tasted a chocolate covered caramel topped with sea salt.  A bit chewy.  It would have been nice to have something to wash it down with.

Canadian Maple Delights is another sweet stop along the way.  Maple syrup tea, two types of maple syrup, maple syrup covered popcorn, and some maple flavoured ice creams were all available to sample.  I did like the tea and the popcorn.  The children I think in particular liked the ice cream.

3 Cheese Tortellini in Sicilian Salsiccia Sauce from Brioche

Brioche Urban Baking and Catering was one of my favourite stops.  While I thought we would be enjoying some baked goods, I was surprised that besides some home baked bread, drizzled with olive oil, we were also served Sicilian pasta, in particular Three Cheese Tortellini in a Sicilian Salsiccia Sauce.  The sauce was light and bright.  I would go here again to try a full plate of this pasta.

My next surprise was Trees Organic Coffee and Roasting House.  With this name, I was expecting to have some sort of coffee drink.  Instead we were treated to a slice of lemon cheesecake.  Their cheesecakes have been voted as #1 in Vancouver.  It was quite dense and had a genuine lemon flavour.  Another place that I would visit again.

Water St. Cafe was our classiest spot on the tour.  I like this restaurant.  Try it out during Dine Out Vancouver.  We were led to the upstairs seating in the restaurant.  I had never been upstairs and did not know there was private seating.  We were treated to a crab cake with kernel corn.  I liked it, but it was very small.  It would have been nice to have a bit more.  While we waited for our crab cake we were told a few stories about the Cafe.  One was that the Cafe is haunted.  I won’t tell you the whole story.  You have to attend the tour.  The other tidbit was that the Twilight cast had a post movie production party there.  So maybe I was sitting in the same chair as Bella or Jacob!

John Fluevog was our clothing store stop.  J.F. is a designer shoe store, started here in Vancouver.  Wear the shoes that Lady Gaga and Madonna wear!

Pulled pork with Carolina vinegar sauce from Peckinpah

Peckinpah BBQ was my other favourite spot on this tour.  They serve Carolina style BBQ.  What’s the difference with other BBQ?  It’s it sauce.  Instead of a thick tomato based sauce, the Carolina style sauce is vinegar based with chilies added. This sauce was served with pulled pork.  I like to judge a BBQ spot on their pulled pork.  I enjoyed it.  The vinegar sauce was not too spicy.  But I need to come back to try a bigger serving of their pulled pork.

Our last stop was the Gastown Tea Company, where we were served tea! and a chocolate cookie.   The tea was called Green Mystique and was served on ice.  They have a wide range of teas that are in sample cans that you can open and sniff before deciding what type of tea you would like to enjoy.  There are white, green, and black teas.  There was one that I really liked the aroma called A Night in Paris.  I would have liked to try this tea.

There is a wrap up afterward at the Gassy Jack statue.  Overall the 2 hours passed by very fast, I learned a bit about Gastown, and a few new restaurants to try. Enjoy!