What Guests Have to Say...
Flavors of Quebec
The “Flavors of Quebec” trip during July 2017 was the second culinary vacation we experienced that was organized by Ms. Devaki Das. This trip was also meticulously planned, including two pre-meetings for the small group of travelers, and then was executed as planned to provide a most enjoyable experience.
This trip uniquely exposed us to the unique history and culture of the Province of Quebec that the French explorers brought to the New World, focusing on its food and architecture. During our exploration of old Montreal and Quebec City, we often felt we were in a French enclave within predominantly English Canada.
The first five days in Montreal and Quebec were jam packed with architectural and historical tours of the cities, historical buildings and museum visits, and visits to local markets and specialty food and beverage shops. Free time was available to either relax or to explore suggested places on our own. We dined at some of the finest restaurants in Canada that specialized in fresh farm to table cuisine and that included chef-led tours of kitchens and extraordinary wine cellars. And, we topped it off with a gourmet cooking lesson of Quebec cuisine.
We recovered from the hectic pace of the cities by exploring the UNESCO Bio Reserve at Charlevoix where we experienced unique tomato wines, goat/cow cheeses, lavender and foie gras production. In addition to enjoying the spa and fine dining at the hotel, we had the opportunity to dine at local establishments, all featuring local farm to table cuisine.
Though all these events were crammed into just 8 days, we had free time to take independent excursions. The one we enjoyed the most was the train trip along the St. Lawrence River from Baie-Saint Paul to La Malbaie where we visited the Fairmont Le Manior Richelieu and hiked along the river cliffs. These and other activities, such as the carriage ride through Old Quebec City, cocktails at Chateau Frontenac, and the picnic lunch amongst the sheep nearby the organic gardens made this vacation most enjoyable and unforgettable!
Jon K & Min W
It’s hard to express what a wonderful experience the Spain trip was. It was a great mixture of travelling to a large city, medium-sized cities and small villages to give one a real sense of Spain. It also was a celebration of great food, wine and architecture. What a treat to have a local architect spend several hours with us walking around Barcelona explaining the works of Gaudi. And, then we went on to enjoy a local market, traditional Catalan Restaurant and, of course, paella.
Contrast with Barcelona the next experiences – lunch at a local farm, a night’s stay in an 18th century village house and winery and monastery tours. San Sebastian and Bilbao were breathtaking cities to explore with stays at 4-star hotels. Interspersed with these activities were great cooking classes, museums visits, meals at Michelin star restaurants and pinxtos crawls!
I cannot do justice to the amount of detailed planning that Devaki did for this trip. From the hotel accommodations and travel arrangements to the restaurant reservations and winery visits, everything was first class. The group was small enough that it had a very intimate feel. I would highly recommend a “Weave a Thousand Journey” to anyone who loves good food and wine, interesting conversation, exploring different cities and architecture and has a sense of adventure!
Culinary Vacations to Quebec, Spain & Sicily!
When Devaki first mentioned that she led small group culinary tours in 2013, we talked about the tours & what they provide: staying in at least four star hotels, experiencing local history, culture and food; and learning local dishes through cooking classes.
Devaki has delivered beyond measure. I frequently travel on Smithsonian Journey tours and when it comes to culinary vacation, Devaki's tour are very much at par if not exceeds the quality and attention to detail.
The trips to Sicily and Spain were incredible. The local historian led tours provided insights into the UNESCO sites. We ate innovative food at Michelin star restaurants and delicious native at local hidden gems. The cooking classes were once in a lifetime experiences. The places we have stayed were unique, well situated and upscale.
I am very much looking forward to the next adventure in Montreal and Quebec in July 2017.
The “Gastronomic Spain” trip during September 2016 was the most interesting trip that we have ever taken. The trip was meticulously planned and organized, including three pre-meetings for the small group of 10 making the trip. It was executed flawlessly, except for an accident that closed the only road to a monastery we were going to visit. But that allowed us to see more of the fascinating Spanish countryside of Priorat.
Three aspects of the itinerary made this trip unique: gourmet dining and cooking classes, multiple winery and vineyard tours with wine tastings, and architecture tours and explorations. Regarding the gourmet dining/classes, we enjoyed meals at Michelin 1-star and other top quality restaurants, experiencing superbly prepared and presented food in venues of unparalleled ambiance. These meals were supplemented by nighttime pinchos crawls, a seafood feast at the beach and tasty freshly prepared dishes at a local food market. The cooking classes taught us authentic recipes, including delicious seafood paellas, which we helped prepare before enjoying the delicious products of our efforts, always accompanied by fine wines.
Our visits to multiple wineries in Priorat and La Rioja, including a smaller family producer of a few thousand bottles to a mega-producer of twelve million bottles, taught us how the different ways wine is produced affects the vintage. And, we did visit a cidery that was another experience—all the hard cider you could drink and home style food you could eat. Finally, the architectural aspect of the trip was extremely educational, with several tours led by professional architects. We were awed by the works of Antonia Gaudi and Frank O’Gehry.
Even though all these events were crammed into just 12 days, we had time on our own to rest explore the cities, towns and villages we visited while staying in five top quality hotels, including a unique chateaux-like facility where we were served sumptuous meals by the owner. All-in-all, this was trip we will never forget, especially because it was so well documented in a beautiful photo-book that was prepared our guide Devaki Das who sorted through thousands of photos that she and our party took during our travels.
Jon & Min K
Flavors of New Orleans
My husband and I have been to New Orleans several times but never experienced it in the same fashion as Devaki's Culinary trip. From the historical hotel, the amazing food, the cooking class by a New Orleans shining star, and bonus extras (like the biking tour and steam boat ride), everything was wonderful.
The restaurants we visited were all first class in yumminess. Most restaurants were high class but there were also wonderful café and a food truck surprises to ensure we experienced as much as possible of the best.
We will never forget this trip. Devaki's culinary knowledge, her organizational skills and attention to detail made this a landmark vacation.
Lynn & Ken F
Flavors of Sicily
What a great beginning to the trip to sample the street foods of Palermo with an incredible guide, Marco. Then off to the picturesque farm resort of Mandranova where our hosts were so welcoming. We learned about olive harvesting and had a cooking class in true Sicilian tradition from our talented host. Touring a UNESCO World Heritage site, participating in wine tastings, exploring the quaint Baroque town of Modica, eating at a Michelin star restaurant – this trip was a perfect combination of history, architecture, good food and wine!
We saw much of the beautiful countryside of Sicily. Devaki did an extraordinary job of arranging transportation, high quality accommodations, and reservations at exquisite restaurants. She was such a personable host and made everyone feel welcome on the trip, meeting everyone’s unique needs. I would highly recommend participating in a similar trip!