Category Archives: Trip

Enliven Students’ Taste Buds on Educational Trips to Florence

Florence is an ideal destination for educational trips, but for those with a culinary focus it is perhaps even more so. The region takes students into the heart of Tuscany, where the food demonstrates what is truly unique about Italian cuisine. Students will have their senses bombarded by the wonderful ingredients and cuisine to experience.

Bread and Oil

The fundamentals of Florentine food are bread and olive oil. Basic as these ingredients may seem, when they are injected with the passion that exists in this region the resultant dishes are amongst the best in the world.

Bread comes in all shapes and sizes and is used in all aspects of Tuscan cuisine. Traditionally, bread in Tuscany comes unsalted and this tradition stems from 1540 when Pope Paolo III levied a tax on salt. This made it prohibitively expensive to continue to eat salt and the Tuscans have continued this practice to the present day.

Students on educational trips will learn, while here, that no bread is wasted in Tuscany. It is, of course, served as an accompaniment, but it is also used extensively in the dishes themselves. Tuscans use bread to make dishes such as Panzanilla, which is a cold soup made from stale bread and tomatoes, and Ribolitta, another soup that uses bread and beans. (If you struggle with unsalted bread there are many bakeries throughout Florence that also offer the salted variety.)

The Main Event

Tuscan cuisine stems from the region’s rustic roots and many Tuscans are meat lovers. Traditional dishes for meat eaters include those made from Cinghiale (wild boar) and Faraona (guinea fowl). The special Florentine T-bone steak will please even the most exacting meat eater and Game Ragu is a speciality served in many trattorias. One food some adventurous students on educational trips may choose to try (but which is definitely not for the faint hearted) is the trippaio (tripe) sandwich – served from many roadside stands.

In Florentine cuisine, pasta is served with many game sauces, including duck and venison, and risotto is another favourite, using the abundance of fresh produce available in the region. Mushrooms are often utilised along with the archetypal Florentine addition, spinach. For those who prefer fish and seafood, Risotto Nero alla Fiorentina is a local speciality made from black rice and cuttlefish.

A Sweet Ending

For those with a sweet tooth, the Florentine version of Tiramisu is Zuccotto, but probably the most popular way to round off a meal is with some Cantuccini and Vin Santo. Vin Santo, which literally translates as ‘holy wine’, is a Tuscan dessert wine served with almond biscuits that are dipped into it. Another Tuscan favourite dessert is Panforte, which is a huge dome shaped cake made with candied fruit and nuts and flavoured with cinnamon or vanilla. Of course, as in all regions of Italy, there is always gelato in numerous flavours as well as the delicious semi-freddo, which is a cross between a mousse and an ice-cream.

Wherever students venture on the itinerary of food focused educational trips to Florence, there will be an opportunity to sample the wonderful food that this region is so rightly famous for.

High Adventure: The 10 Best Day Trips From Seattle and Tacoma

Home to multiple art museums, glorious views of the Cascade Mountains and a trendy downtown area, Tacoma is a picturesque city in the Pacific Northwest that’s full of fun things to see and do. But if you find yourself longing for a break from Tacoma, consider taking a day trip to one of Tacoma’s surrounding cities or attractions.

No matter what your preference, whether it’s hiking, shopping, skiing, eating, wine-drinking, nature-watching or sightseeing, you’re sure to find it within a 200-mile radius of Tacoma. Here are the 10 most worth a road trip:

  1. Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park (Vancouver, B.C., Canada): If you dare, cross the 450-feet long Capilano Suspension Bridge, which stretches 230 feet above the Capilano River. For more adventure, scale Treetops Adventure, a series of suspended footbridges with stunning views from up to 100 feet above the forest floor. If you’re not into heights, check out the rain forest nature trails, a collection of totem poles and a performance by the Pioneer Players.
  2. Butchart Gardens (Brentwood Bay, B.C., Canada): Formerly a limestone quarry, the Butchart Gardens is the brainchild of Jennie Butchart, who transformed the area into a 20th century Victorian sunken garden. Now the public area of the Butchart Gardens covers more than 55 acres, with heated show greenhouses, breathtaking seasonal flower displays, such as an outdoor rose “hallway,” ancient trees, the Blue Poppy restaurant, the Rose Carousel and a seed and gift store.
  3. Wine-Tasting Tours (Spokane, Wash.): Just because you’re north of California does not mean there are not any options for wine tasting. Home to 17 wineries and cellars, Spokane produces Chardonnay, Riesling, Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and proprietary blends of both reds and whites. At the Spokane Winery Association site, you’ll find a wineries map so you can plot your own tour.
  4. Experience Music Project (Seattle, Wash.): Walk past the Space Needle, and instead visit the Experience Music Project that’s located across the street. This museum is dedicated to both popular music and science fiction and features permanent exhibitions such as the Guitar Gallery, which traces the development of the guitar; and rotating exhibitions on robots, Jim Henson, album covers and artists such as Michael Jackson and Jimi Hendrix.
  5. Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest (Everett, Wash.): Located on the west side of the Cascades between the Canadian border and Mt. Rainier National Park, Mt. Baker is one of the most visited forests in the country. Year-round activities such as forest hiking, fishing, river rafting, bird watching, snowshoeing and skiing, as well as educational exhibits, are always in a gorgeous setting of glacier-covered peaks, mountain meadows and old-growth forest.
  6. Columbia River Gorge and Mt. Hood (Portland, Ore.): Turn your road trip into a day trip by driving along the Historic Columbia River Highway. This 80-mile stretch between Portland and the town of Biggs features awe-inspiring basalt bluffs and more than 77 gorgeous waterfalls cascading from the glaciers and snowfields of Mount Hood, including Multnomah Falls, America’s second-highest waterfall.
  7. Oregon Coast (Astoria and Tillamook, Ore.): On the northernmost tip of Oregon, Astoria is the oldest American settlement west of the Rockies. Here, shop at boutiques and seafood markets, visit the historic Hotel Elliott and Liberty Theater, take the kids to the Astoria Children’s Museum and enjoy the parades, performances and food at the Scandinavian Midsummer Festival. In Tillamook, enjoy the cheese the town is famous for, and tour the Three Capes Scenic Drive.
  8. Cape Flattery (Neah Bay, Wash.): Accessible by a half-mile cedar-plank boardwalk constructed by Makah tribal members, Cape Flattery is America’s northwestern most point. See the lighthouse of Tatoosh Island and the caves carved by the crashing and churning of the waves. Watch gray whales in April, and sea lions, harbor seals, harbor porpoises and sea otters year-round. Discover the natural history and tribal culture of the area at Makah Cultural and Research Center.
  9. Local Breweries (Missoula, Mont.): Though more of a weekend trip than a day trip, whether you crave a frosty pale ale on hot summer days or a spicy porter or stout in winter, Missoula breweries offer up everything from traditional English Ales to German Lagers to a local favorite, hemp-infused brews. Get your German fix at Bayern Brewery, extinguish your ale cravings at Big Sky Brewery and indulge your lust for craft brews at Kettle House Brewery. Don’t forget to bring along a designated driver.
  10. Salt Spring Island (near Victoria, B.C., Canada): Known as one of North America’s top art destinations, Salt Spring Island is home to thousands of artists and curators. Find inspiration in one of the island’s 10 galleries showcasing paintings, sculptures, prints, weavings, pottery, stained glass and jewelry, and enjoy free art exhibitions, concerts and theater performances at ArtSpring, a venue featuring local creative professionals.