1. Slow Food 2008 Salone del Gusto, Turin, Piedmont
2. Recommended Wine: Pago Casanova, Ribeiro, Galicia
3. Wine Tasting Tours: Catalan Wine Connoisseurs Tour
4. City Profile: Cascais, Portugal
5. Hotel Highlight: Ferragamo’s Portrait Suites, Rome
6. Restaurant Review: Ballymaloe House, Cork, Ireland
7. Culinary Tours: Cooking & Touring Weekend Lake Garda
8. Gourmet Topic: True Italian Carbonara
9. What’s in Season: Pomegranate
10. Cocktail Recipe: Negroni, Italy
Emilia Romagna Countryside

What's New At Cellar Tours:

In early July we explored some of Galicia’s major wine regions including Rias Baixas, Ribeiro and Ribera Sacra long with some beautiful newly opened hotels like the Parador of Santo Estevo de Rivas de Sil. Based on our visits, we are designing some new itineraries with a focus on medieval Santiago de Compostela, wine tasting and the stunning scenery of the northern coast of Galicia. This week we have just returned from a fantastic six-week research trip in Ireland, our base for new gourmet tours. We were impressed by artisan cheese producers like Gubbeen, the organic Ummera Smokehouse and spectacular venues for cooking classes such as with the effervescently charming Rory O´Connell. Check out some of our observations on the places visited on our blog.

New private limo chauffeured tours we are offering for couples and small groups include- Opera and Truffles in Tuscany (Lucca and San Miniato with seasonal Puccini operas in Torre del Lago); Gourmet Weekends in Bologna (with Culatello ham and Modena Balsamic vinegar tastings); Culinary vacations in Capri; Champagne and Paris long weekends; Honeymoons for wine lovers in Sicily; Gourmet Tours of Green Spain; a food and wine tasting tour of the Italian Lakes (including Lake Maggiore and Piedmont, Lake Como and Valtellina; Lake Garda and Valpolicella; and Lake Iseo with Franciacorta); and new combo tours of Lisbon, the evocative Alentejo wine region, Spain’s Extremadura (with the darling towns of Cáceres and Trujillo) and in Madrid, a private Iberian Wine masterclass paired with cheeses from Spain and Portugal.

Upcoming Events

This autumn offers many exciting events in Europe, especially Italy, for food and wine lovers. Check our blog for new posts on festivals and events related to food and wine, and ones that we think you shouldn’t miss if you will be in these locations include the Slow Food bi-annual Salone del Gusto in Turin in October (see more info below); the Wine Championship in Florence in mid September (organized by Slow Food Florence ); the 2 week long Pizzafest in Napoli in mid September ( ); the Rice Fair in Isola della Scala, Veneto (small name for a big foodie fair that runs from Sept 12-Oct 5th and attracts half a million visitors ) and finally for chocolate lovers everywhere Eurochocolate in Perugia, Umbria in late October attracts tourists from all over the globe ( ). In Iberia fun events include the seafood festival in O grove, Galicia from 3 - 12 Oct ( ); the beautiful Saffron Festival in Consuegra (; Cava week (bubbly and fun celebrations) in Sant Sadurni d’Anoia in the Penedès Sept 23-Oct 6 ( ); and all over Spain and Portugal’s wine regions (and Italy for that matter) you will find an array of harvest festivals and events

1. Slow Food 2008 Salone del Gusto, Piedmont- Special Seasonal Truffles Tour

Salone del Gusto, Bra, Italy

Salone del Gusto, Bra, Italy

Truffle Queen

Truffle Queen

The Slow Food Movement originated in Piedmont (Piemonte) and this fabulous Italian region is also home to white truffles, Barolo and Barbaresco, charming wine villages and castles, and some of the best restaurants in the world. Every two years the Slow Food hold a food and wine fair in Turin and this year the lineup of events at the “Salone del Gusto” is incredible. So we decided to offer a seasonal tour for our food and wine loving clients to include a visit to the fair and a top wine tasting event, along with a visit to the annual white truffle fair, and private winery tours in Langhe.

Sample Program for Private Tours including the Salone del Vino and White Truffle Fair of Alba:

Day 1 Oct 25

  • Arrive to Turin (we can arrange transfers from Turin airport and Milan)
  • Your private driver will transfer you by luxury Mercedes to the superb Salone del Gusto international food & wine fair. Free time to explore this gourmet extravaganza!
  • This afternoon you will enjoy an extra special tasting of Italy’s “best of the best” wines, i Tre Bicchieri 2009
  • Welcome Dinner tonight at one of Piedmont’s most spectacular restaurants like Combal.Zero. Tasting Menu and VIP chef’s welcome.

Day 2 Oct 26

  • Visit some of Torino’s famed chocolate shops before heading to Alba in the picturesque Langhe wine region (home of Barolo) to visit the Mercato Mondiale del Tartufo Bianco d’Alba e AlbaQualità. This is the famous white truffle market and there will be medieval entertainment and truffles galore on offer!
  • Enjoy a truffles themed lunch at the sensational Piazza Duomo, Alba’s finest gourmet restaurant run by Executive Chef Enrico Crippa.
  • Overnight in a beautiful small hotel in wine country

Day 3 Oct 27

  • Enjoy private VIP wine tasting tours in Barbaresco and Barolo.
  • Lunch will be at one of the Langhe’s best Michelin starred eateries.
  • Evening drop off at your next port of call (Milan, Turin, etc).

Pricing is based on number of guests in your private group. Suppliers subject to availability at time of booking. If you are interested in this private luxury tour, contact us at [email protected]

Tickets for the events are selling out fast!

2. Recommended Wine: Pago Casanova, Ribeiro, Galicia

Pago Casanova, Ribeiro, Galicia

Pago Casanova

While the Rias Baixas region has rightfully earned its place on the global wine platform for its fragrant Albariños, other lesser-known Galician regions like Ribeiro (as well as Valdeorras and Ribera Sacra) are gaining more and more international attention. Ribeiro had traditionally been characterized by large cooperatives and so-so wine, but recent years have seen massive investment and a breath of new life. Now, there are many boutique producers, called Colleteiros, making great wines from their own vineyards. Pago Casanova is one such boutique estate.

We had the pleasure to visit this wonderful small winery in Galicia’s Ribeiro region earlier this summer and were charmed equally by the two beautiful estates (one with a 17th century “Pazo” manor, the other with beautiful vineyards and an ancient house they are converting into a wine inn), by the passionate owner Carlos de la Peña and by the winery’s two excellent whites- Casanova and Casanova Máxima. The Casanova wine is comprised of 85% Treixadura and then a coupage of Godello, Albariño and Loureira. On the nose you get white flowers, wild herbs and white peaches. On the palate, an explosion of citrus accented flavors and a perfect refreshing acidity.

Wine Style: Dry white
Appellation: Ribeiro
Region: Galicia, Spain
Grape Varietals:
Food and Wine Pairing: Galician Octopus, Crab Salad, Pasta and Scampi

More info on this estate

3. Wine Tasting Tours: Catalan Wine Connoisseurs Tour


Barcelona and Catalunya Gourmet Wine Tours

Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia (called “Catalunya” in the Catalan language) is a treasure trove of diverse wine regions, scenic fishing villages, dramatic coastlines reminiscent of Carmel and Big Sur, world-class art museums, cosmopolitan cities like Barcelona and stunning restaurants. Think Priorat, think Ferran Adrià of El Bulli, think Salvador Dalî- this is Catalunya. We have designed this Catalan Connoisseurs tour for food, wine and art lovers looking for the best of the region. You´ll see how Cava (Spain’s bubbly) is made, you´ll visit a winery with its own castle, you´ll dine in some of the best Michelin starred restaurants in the country, and you will sleep in gorgeous hotels- a wine spa resort with views of the Montserrat mountains, a converted Masia which is now a luxury Relais & Chateaux and a “modernista” (similar to Art deco) mansion in Barcelona. As on all our tours, this tour is private and just for you (minimum 2 people) with your own Mercedes and driver and all private VIP visits and touring...

More on Catalan Wine Connoisseurs Tour...

4. City Profile: Cascais, Portugal

Cascais, Portugal

Cascais, Portugal

Cascais is a historic town located about half an hour from Lisbon and close to beautiful Sintra. Portugal’s Royal Family brought the court here in the late 1800’s and erected many beautiful palaces and mansions and today there is a very bohemian and international flavor here. Before the court came Cascais was a fishing village and the city remembers its past in the very interesting little maritime museum. We include Cascais as a day or overnight stop in our tours and there is plenty to see and do, particularly in summer when you can enjoy the gorgeous beaches (and being the Atlantic, the water is cold in other seasons!). You can enjoy some fabulous restaurants here, coastal hikes, casinos and jet set discotheques in nearby Estoril, an annual summer jazz festival. Definitely one of Portugal’s most darling little coastal towns, it also host to our gourmet cooking classes (ask for info).

More on Cascais...

5. Hotel Highlight: Ferragamo’s Portrait Suites, Rome

Portrait Suites, Rome

Portrait Suites, Rome

Portrait Suites Rome
Via Bocca di Leone, 23- 0187
Rome, Italy

Tel: +39 06 6938 0742

Just off the Via Condotti, Rome’s most fashionable street, and near the Spanish Steps, you’ll find the Portrait Suites. Owned by the fashion house Ferragamo, the hotel is just as hip and elegant as its clothes, shoes and scarves! Ferragamo own quite a few hotels in Florence, from the stylish Continentale to the funky Gallery to the ultra elegant Lungarno, but Portrait Suites is their first venture in Rome. The manageress is American and very service orientated, and Portrait Suites Rome (whose suites are more like chic apartments) is all about the small details. If you are looking for a full service hotel, this is not for you. But if you like the idea of gorgeously decorated suites, a boutique hotel ambience, being a one minute walk to the Piazza di Spagna and having one of the best roof top views in the city almost to yourself, this is your hotel. There are 14 suites and facilities include Wifi, flat screen TVs, kitchenettes, and DVD/CD player.

6. Restaurant Review: Ballymaloe House, Cork, Ireland

Ballymaloe House

Ballymaloe House

Ballymaloe House
Shanagarry, Co. Cork,

Tel: +353 21 4652 531

This summer we toured all over Ireland, checking out castles, design hotels, Michelin starred restaurants, historic pubs and gourmet producers, and one of our favorite lunches was at the Ballymaloe House. Owned by the Allen family (Ireland’s “Kennedys” of cooking, a large family with many famous members including Darina Allen, Rachel Allen and Darina’s brother Rory O’Connell). This Irish country home and fine restaurant has been run by the Allen family for over 2 decades and is still one of the best places to stay and eat in the South East of Ireland. We loved seeing guests playing croquet on the lawn; the cozy drawing room where we waited to be seated with a glass of champagne; and the 400 acres of green area and gardens weren’t bad either! Lunch was in an elegant but understated dining room with high ceilings. The service was very friendly without being phony and the dishes were simple and executed perfectly (potato and leek soup, organic beef and homemade horseradish, homemade meringue – and the cheese cart here is mythical). The atmosphere was sophisticated without being stuffy, just how we like it. For wine lovers, they are doing wine weekends in 2009 with a famous wine journalist and author Mary Dowey in February and April. Will include wine appreciation classes, a gala dinner and champagne workshop.) Highly recommended!

7. Culinary Tours: Cooking & Touring Weekend Lake Garda

Gourmet Grand Tour of Italy

Lake Garda Gourmet Weekend

We are big fans of Italy’s northern lakes (Como, Garda, Orta, Maggiore, Iseo, etc) and Lake Garda is a favorite as there is such a variety of experiences you can enjoy (from wine tasting to fine dining to sailing to castles to historic and quaint lakeside villages) in such a short distance. Our clients have been asking us more and more for shorter breaks, especially long weekends, and we have designed this short but fascinating tour of Lake Garda to include as always “the best of”. With your own private driver and comfortable Mercedes you will enjoy wine tasting in Franciacorta and Valtenesi, a private cooking class with an exceptionally charming couple in their fantastic restaurant, a cultural visit of Bergamo, and a private motor launch of the lake. Olive oil tasting and some unforgettable meals are also included...

More on this Culinary Tour of Italy Luxury Lake Garda Culinary Tours Weekend...

8. Gourmet Corner: True Italian Carbonara

True Italian Carbonara

Italian Carbonara

Carbonara is one of those Italian sauces that tends to be brutally re-interpreted in many Italian restaurants outside of Italy and a fair few in touristy areas of Italian art cities as well. We’ve seen it served with mint, with peas, drowning in cream and even with sliced boiled ham bits! Some Italian chefs consider this to be sacrilege, and in January of this year for the first time ever dozens of Italian Chefs all over the world form Australia to Japan to the US, all belonging to cooked a Pasta alla Carbonara based on the authentic recipe as part of their “Global Wave of Authentic Carbonara”. As their web stated “Carbonara is one of the most counterfeited recipes in the world”. So where does the true carbonara come from and how is it made? Most culinary historians seem to agree that the dish originated in the colli (hills) of Rome. Its worldwide popularity was spread during and after WWII. A few different theories for this: allied soldiers brought their eggs and bacon and local mamas mixed them with pasta and voilà; American soldiers brought the receipt back with them to the US; etc. For the record- there are no peas or cream in a real carbonara! Here’s a recipe written by the itchefs for the authentic Spaghetti alla Carbonara-

Ingredients to serve one portion:

  • 60 to 80gm spaghetti freshly cooked al dente1
  • tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil
  • 30gm flat pancetta or guanciale
  • 1 or 2 eggs
  • 25 gm freshly grated Pecorino Romano and/or aged Italian Grana Cheese (Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano)
  • freshly grounded black pepper


Mix the beaten egg with grated cheese and ground black pepper. Slice the pancetta 7 to 10 mm thick and cut in 2 cm rectangular bites. Slowly fry the pancetta in the extra virgin olive oil in a nonstick pan until crispy. If the pancetta has enough fat you will not need to add oil. Add the spaghetti with some of the cooking water, do not fry the spaghetti but rather just let it absorb the flavor of the pancetta. Simmer gently until the water is almost gone. Remove the pan from the stove. Add the egg, cheese and pepper mixture to the pasta and stir quickly making sure the egg does not overcook but remains creamy. It shouldn’t pass 70-72 C˚ (158-162 F˚) temperature, which is the point at which its coagulation starts. Place in a hot pasta bowl. Season with grounded black pepper. Serve immediately. Offer more black pepper and more grated cheese at the table.


  • You cannot make a Carbonara with pre-cooked pasta
  • Cream is not an option but a gimmick, avoid it
  • If you like, you can mix the two cheeses
  • Timing is important when you serve this dish
  • Make sure the plate or bowl is hot
  • Do not overcook the egg, otherwise you will make spaghetti with scrambled egg

  • 9. What’s in Season: Pomegranate

    What’s in Season: Pomegranate


    The pomegranate is one of autumn’s sexiest fruits (in the northern hemisphere, as in the southern hemisphere it’s a spring fruit). A rather weird looking little red fruit, it has been enjoyed since ancient times. Indigenous to ancient Persia (modern day Iran) and the Indian Himalayas, it is now cultivated all over the world (Asia, Africa, Latin America, Southern Europe and the western USA. The pomegranate has symbolism in many of the world’s religions including Judaism, Christianity and Islam as well as Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman mythology. Called “Granada” in Spanish, it is also the heraldic symbol of the beautiful Spanish town of Granada (home to the Alhambra Moorish palace). Called “Melagrana” in Italian, it has been eaten in Italy since at least Roman times as you can see from many-a-mosaic. Today the pomegranate is widely used in Italy in risottos, chicken dishes and gelatos. In Mexico, the luscious seeds are used in that all time favorite colonial dish “Chiles en Nogada” (all colors in the dish are present in the Mexican flag). And in Spain, “granadas” are used in all manor of dishes, but especially salads. It’s also one of the elite fruits to be considered by nutritionists as a “superfruit”. They are an excellent source of potassium and the juice contains antioxidants. Pomegranates are also thought to help prevent prostate cancer and to enhance the immune system. Delicious, low in calories and an exotic addition to your autumn dishes, enjoy!

    10. Cocktail Recipe: Negroni, Italy

    Cocktail Recipe: Negroni

    Campari, ingredient of the Negroni

    The Negroni cocktail is the epitome of cool! Made with Campari, gin and vermouth it is a bright orange color and has a delicious, bitter taste (all the better to stop you from drinking them too quickly). According to the cocktail bible, this fabulous drink was invented in Florence, Tuscany by a bartender in the early 1900´s at the Caffè Casoni (no longer in existence, now it’s a Roberto Cavalli designed cafe) at the request of a local count who wanted a variation on the "Americano" cocktail. There are many variations of the story though and the origins of many cocktails could be called "cocktail mythology"! The Negroni can be served in traditional stem cocktail glass although in Italy you usually see it served at “Aperitivo” time (before dinner) in short fat glasses on ice, garnishes with an orange slice.


    • 1 part Campari
    • 1 part Gin
    • 1 part Sweet Vermouth
    • Orange Slice to garnish
    • Ice cubes

    Pour the gin, Campari and vermouth into a cocktail shaker already filled with ice and shake until chilled then pour into a stem glass (martini glass), garnishing with an orange slice, preferably burned (releases the flavors). Italian style would be to serve on the rocks.

    More on Campari here - Campari

    11. Custom Designed Gourmet Tours in Spain, Italy, France and Portugal

    Tasca Winery, Sicily

    Tasca Winery, Sicily

    If you would like us to customize a luxury private tour for you (in Spain, Italy, Ireland, France or Portugal), contact us and we will prepare a tailored itinerary just for you. Let us show you our favorite gourmet corners in Europe!

    We organize chauffeured wine tours and luxurious cooking vacations. Private tours, just for you....

    Let us show you our favorite gourmet corners in Europe!

    Cellar Tastings S.L.
    Address: Infantas, n. 27, 3 Derecha,
    28004 Madrid, Spain
    Tel: +34 91 521 3939
    Fax: +34 91 521 4757

    Email: [email protected]

    Contact us today!

    CELLAR TASTINGS S.L. is a Fully Licensed and Bonded Tour Operator and Travel Agency, and a proud member of ASTA and the IACP.