I met Heidi Spurlock-Burnette, co-founder of Edible Authentic Travel (EAT) culinary tour, during an Italian supper club, viz. party, that my girlfriend and I threw at our home. Over a smorgasbord of traditional Pugliese antipasti and steaming bowls of homemade, sausage-stuffed tortelli with sage-butter sauce (did I mention wine? yeah, lots of wine), Heidi shared her philosophy on culinary tours: Take a small group of people who love Italian food and wine to the small towns that she and co-founder Marco Scaglione, a Piedmont native, absolutely love.
To be honest, I’m not a fan of most culinary tours. The idea of getting on a bus with 30 other random people and trying to share an intimate Italian experience seems like pursuit destined to fail. But that’s not what EAT is all about, and I think it’s time that the people putting together great culinary tours in Italy obliterate the bad name given to culinary tours. Heidi and Marco are two such people.
The things I love about Rome are spaghetti carbonara, amatriciana, carciofi alla giudia, Pecorino Romano, malvasia, trebbiano, and porchetta sandwiches. EAT’s culinary tour begins by visiting the Roman neighborhoods known for cooking and serving these killer dishes and wines. The Jewish Ghetto is full of hole-in-the-wall restaurants, some of which do not even hang signs outside their doors, and this is why it helps to travel with professional foodies. Heidi has worked as a tour guide in Rome for seven years.
Umbria is a quiet region. Its rolling hills are covered with Italian cypress trees and a patchwork of agricultural land. I love Umbrian food, and its wines really blow me away. The culinary tour travels through the Tiber Valley, visiting the famous town of Assissi—a darn cute town full of churches and expansive views—before hitting wine country. The Sangrantino di Montefalco DOCG, made with the sagrantino grape, is famous for its small but fervent following, viz. it’s a true cult wine. Heidi will take winos and winas (I apologize for this neologism) to these small wineries, plus there will be olive oil and cheese tastings. What could be more exciting than eating in the best Umbrian restaurants and drinking the best Umbiran wines? Oh: A chocolate festival! The Rome and the Villages of Umbria Tour will also visit the EuroChocolate Festival, sampling the world-famous chocolate of Perugia.
For more information on the Rome and Umbria culinary tour, check out Edible Authentic Tour’s website or, if you live in Portland, Oregon, come to the wine tasting that Heidi and Marco will be leading at Magnolia Wine Bar this Saturday, January 21st.
EAT’s Rome & The Villages of Umbria culinary tour is scheduled for October 14-21, 2012.