Monday, December 23, 2013

Only One Room Left!!! Chef Jasper in Sicily

There is only one room left on Chef Jasper's journey to Sicily "On The Cannoli Trail"
If you would like to be the lucky travelers, please contact me as soon as possible.  The "sign up" deadline is January 19, 2014, but I would advise you not wait!  For details see the post of November 10, 2013.

Travels With Taste
5921 West 88 Terrace
Overland Park, KS 66207
Phone: 913-648-0858
Fax: 913-649-2288


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Chef Jasper Mirabile "On The Cannoli Trail "

March 17-24, 2014


Travel with Chef Jasper Mirabile to his family’s ancestral home of Sicily on this specially designed, all-inclusive program to celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph            and the delicious and unique tastes of Sicily. 

The program begins on March 17, 2014 at the airport in Palermo

Five nights at  “La Foresteria” on the Planeta Wine Estate near Menfi.  This intimate 5 star property is surrounded by gardens and vineyards.  The cuisine is created by award-winning Chef Angelo Pumilia and reflects the local and historic tastes of Sicily.


The Feast of St. Joseph’s on March 19 is one of the most important events in the life of all Sicilians.  To give thanks for  the end of famine in many years ago, the tradition of decorating the church altars with bread has become a true work of art by local residents in the village of Salemi.


Maria Grammatico is probably the most famous marzipan artist in the world.  The story of her young life in Erice, “Bitter Almonds” was beautifully written by Mary Taylor Simeti.  She continues to teach and produce the finest sweets at her shop in Erice.

The sea is so much a part of western Sicily, not only the freshest of fish, but one of the oldest and most needed substances in the world…salt. 
Trapani has produced and traded salt for several hundred years.


Many cultures are a part of Siciliy’s history…Greeks , Romans, Normans, Spanish and Arabs.  Cous Cous is a favorite along the western coast and the port city of Trapani serves the best

Two nights at the 5 star Grand Hotel Wagner in the heart of Palermo.  A guided tour of the historic city with a “gritty” beauty and spirit unlike any other.  Time for shopping of course.



5 Nights “La Foresteria”

2 nights Grand Hotel Wagner

Breakfast daily

All lunches and dinners (with wine) personally selected by Chef Jasper and the “Diva” of Sicilian (and Tuscan) cuisine, Judy Witts Francini

All airport transfers and private transportation through out

Cooking class with Chef Angelo Pumilia at “La Foresteria”

Visits to the ancient Greek ruins of Selinunte

Wine tastings, olive oil tastings, local shopping opportunities, and special festivities

And of course CANNOLI


This program is designed to be “up close and personal” and for that reason will be limited to 12 participants.


Price is $4,247 per person, based on two people sharing a room.  For a single room add $500

Air Transportation is additional

Deposit is $500 per person


For additional information, contact Mariann Vandenberg, Travels With Taste,


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Monday, February 23, 2009

Big Island Blogging...Avocados, Beyond Guacamole

Avocados are a most prolific fruit in the islands. the re are many varieties, but sharwell and "butter" are the most popular in the local farmer's markets. On Friday we hit the Kona Village Farmer's market in the late afternoon. I asked one of the farmers if he had an avo ready to hard ones please. He offered, at a discount, a huge soft-ball sized "butter" avocado for $1.

Cut open , it revealed a huge seed, but when removed, left a very large receptacle just right for what we had in mind for dinner,

About 2 years ago, I read a recipe in Sunset magazine for GRILLED avocados. I really consider it more a technique than a recipe, because it can have so many variations, depending on your individual taste, or what other things are available. Here is how we did it...

Cut avocado in half and remove the seed. Squeeze on some lemon or lime juice.

Brush with oil...olive, macadamia nut, vegetable, whatever.

Season with salt , pepper and/or seasoning you like.

Put on hot grill, cut side up, to let the bottom heat through a bit.

Flip to cut side down, and grill 2-4 minutes until it has nice grill marks.

When done, fill the center with whatever you like...we used a fresh island-made salsa from Adriana's in Captain Cook.

On other occasions we have used blue cheese dressing. This is where you can let your creativity take over! You can eat it with a spoon, fork, or just dig in with crispy tortilla chips! So "ono" (good)!!

PS...the 2 ounce bottle of Tobasco was used to give perspective to the size of the avocado.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Big Island Blogging...Whales Tales, or Tails?

The humpback whales has the best deal in the travel world...spend your summers in Alaska, then travel to the warm waters of Hawaii for the winter. Although Maui is considered their prime resort residence, they are frequently seen off the Kona and Kohala coast of the Big Island.

All of the units at Kona Makai have at least a partial view of the ocean. Our unit is in one of the buildings closest to the water, on the third floor and with a good view of passiing boats, dolphins and whales. Yesterday morning, the call went out from a couple of balconies..."Whales"! residents grab binoculars and train their eyes on the water. Bill has his tripod set up to go camera, 500 mm lens and a "doubler"...that makes 1000 mm and a good view of passing humpbacks. Although you can't tell from these pics, there were 2 big ones...
The dark area on the right side of the photos is a palm tree!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Big Island Blogging...Sunset Social Hour

In Hawaii the setting sun is a time when most of the action stops and friends and strangers alike gather the celebrate the end of another lovely day. At Kona Makai it is definitely a social hour, discussing the day's activities, grilling fish or steaks, and greeting new folks who have just arrived from the cold weather of the mainland.

The Kona coast has many wonderful places to stay, but this has become our favorite over the many years we have been traveling to Hawaii. Many of the folks here are either permanent residents, or spend the winter months away from the cold. The grounds are beautifully landscaped with so many varieties of tropical plants it could almost qualify as a botanical garden.

The question of the day is always "will there be a green flash?" When the atmosphere is perfect, the light of the sun, as it slips below the horizon, shines through the water and there is a flash of green light.

There was no flash last night, but Bill will keep trying to capture one to share with all our friends.

Big Island Blogging...How We Work!

Working in paradise! Well, not all the time! We have our office set up down to a science since we started staying at Kona Makai several years ago. We used to share Bill's lap-top, but now that I have my own, we only share the printer. This is a real "cozy" arrangement, but it works.

I have been gathering ideas for future posts on this blog. Yesterday was a hike to our favorite beach, last night was the "sunset social hour" and coming soon will be a rescipe for "Fresca de Lulo". So I hope you will come back for more!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Big Island Blogging

Aloha from the "Big Island" of Hawaii! We arrived on Friday afternoon and began with our usual routine of hamburgers at Drysdales, followed by a quick visit to the KTA (grocery store) for a papaya and lime (the next day's breakfast). this is a pattern we have followed for many years and gets our Hawaiian holiday off to a good start.

The view from our condo...morning.

Saturday morning it was time to visit my favorite market...the Keauhou Farmers Market. Unlike some other markets in the area, this one sells only 100% Hawaiian products and it is such fun to talk to the farmers and bakers and listen to the music of a local trio palying ukuleles and singing favorite Hawaiian songs.

For $5.00 we bought a "Dancing Lady" orchid to brighten our already sunny lanai (balcony). then we filled our shopping bags with local fruits...tangerines with wrinkly skins, green apple banans that will need a couple of days to ripen, avocados (so ripe the grower gave them to me...perfect for guacamole), papayas, limes and lulos (more about them on a future post). And of course my favorite Kona coffee..."Kona Lisa". Please note (if you can see it on the label) that "Kona Lisa" wears a haku lei on her head and holds a cup of coffee in her hand. You can order this wonderful coffee shipped to the mainland from Ron and Mary Lake ...

In the next few days I hope to add more posts about our current adventures in paradise. We have been doing this for over 25 years and there is always something new to experience and share.

If you add your e-mail address to the Subscribe box, you will get an announcement when there is a new post. Coming up next...what is a lulo and what do you do with it?

Aloha and Mahalo!