Category: Philadelphia

Just in Time for Thanksgiving: Reveal Your Inner Chef with Gourmet Gifts!

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By , November 17, 2015 1:04 pm

This is the time of year that everyone (not just foodies) starts thinking a little more about delicious food, favorite recipes, and unique twists on tradition.  Turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce might be the first foods that come to mind for Thanksgiving, but this is also a fun time to experiment in the kitchen with festive flavors and exotic spices.

Whether you’ve been looking to beef up your culinary skills for a while now or have an aspiring chef in your life, we can set you up with some exciting gourmet experiences that will change the way you look at food. Here are a few of our favorite cooking experiences…just in time for Thanksgiving!

Introduction to Baking

Holiday season is the prime time to get into baking, with so many parties and events just around the corner. Our Introduction to Baking Class is in the DC area and teaches students the basics of creaming butter and sugar, knowing when a cake is ready, and design techniques. The class lasts about two hours and is great for beginners!

Photo credit: Sugar Daze Cupcakes via Flickr

Photo credit: Sugar Daze Cupcakes via Flickr

Sushi Making Lessons

Do you love sushi but have always been too intimidated to try making it yourself? Our Chicago-based Sushi Making Lessons will teach you how to handle seafood, wrap sushi rice in nori, slice fish, and shape nigiri and maki by hand. This is a fun hands-on learning experience that lasts about three hours and will demystify one of your favorite foods.

Indian Cooking Class

Another delicious type of ethnic food that stumps many first-time chefs is Indian cuisine. Traditional Indian food involves pretty of spices and prep time, but expert Ayesha D’Mello will walk you through the basics in this Miami-based Indian Cooking Class. The recipes you’ll learn are easy and healthy, and classes run on Saturdays and Sundays for about three hours.

Photo credit: nAok0 via Flickr

Photo credit: nAok0 via Flickr

World Cuisine Cooking Class

If you can’t decide which type of cuisine to cook, why not sign up for a World Cuisine Cooking Class and try a bit of everything? This DC-area class features traditional foods from places like Mexico, Morocco, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Vietnam. These 2.5-hour classes are split into demonstration and participation sections and end with enjoying a wonderful meal with wine.

Chocolate Making Class

Chocolate is pretty much impossible to resist any time of year, but especially when holiday season kicks in and sweet treats are all around us. Our New York Chocolate Making Class is designed for everyone who loves chocolate and wants to learn more about it. Students will learn how to make truffles, a ganache, and other treats with milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Techniques like molding, dripping, drizzling, and coating, as well as skills practiced by top chocolatiers, are also covered. This particular class is held in the Midtown West neighborhood and lasts about four hours on Saturdays.

Take a moment to browse our list of gourmet experiences in your city to find a fun and informative cooking class near you this holiday season!

Plan an Awesome Vacation with These Pro Tips

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By , November 3, 2015 11:04 am

Are you a “Type A” travel planner that organizes every last detail of your vacations and leaves nothing up to chance? Or are you more of a “Type B” traveler who prefers to “wing it” and leave plenty of downtime for spontaneity?

Aside from living with your friends and family members, traveling together is one of the quickest ways to get to know the people around you…for better or for worse. Within just a short amount of time, it’s easy to tell how “travel compatible” you and your companions are, from sleeping habits to sightseeing styles and food preferences.

But regardless of your travel personality and goals, there are a few things you can do to set your trip up for success. Keep these pro tips in mind to plan a better vacation for your next trip.

Strategically Use Technology

Vacation is a wonderful time to temporarily disconnect from technology and un-glue your eyes from the screens that you look at every day. However, smartphones are incredibly useful to look up directions, read reviews to decide on a restaurant, and make reservations on-the-go. Try to focus your device usage on essential travel planning only so you can live in the moment and be observant of your new surroundings. Forbes and Huffington Post have published helpful lists of websites and apps recommended for travel planning.

Photo credit: Mr.TinDC via Flickr

Photo credit: Mr.TinDC via Flickr

Agree on Key Points of Interest

Chances are that there are a few key sightseeing points that everyone in your travel group can agree on. Over breakfast each morning, identify a travel goal or two for the day and plan your day around those sites. Depending on your group size and how safe your destination is, you may be able to split up between or after must-do attractions. The important thing is to be realistic about how much you can see and do in one day and not stress out about it…it’s vacation after all!

Scope Out Discounts

Looking for discounts while traveling can be time consuming, but it makes a huge difference if you’re on a limited budget. You can often find student discounts and military discounts online before your trip, and you can use mobile apps to find deals between activities along the way. Consider checking out deals sites, like Groupon, while out and about to find discounts on things to do at your destination. You can also ask your hotel concierge for coupons or deal recommendations nearby.

Photo credit: Ben Seese via Flickr

Photo credit: Ben Seese via Flickr

Leave Time for Randomness

Even if you’re a hardcore “Type A” traveler, it’s important to schedule in some downtime and set some time aside for randomness along the way. Some of the most memorable experiences that come out of travel are the ones that aren’t planned. These are the times to open yourself up to casual conversations with locals, other travelers, and friendly staff that can help you discover new things.

Look for Local Experiences

Sure, you can float from one organized tour group to the next and check every item off the sightseeing list in a popular travel guide, but where’s the uniqueness and authenticity in that? Some of the best travel experiences are the ones that locals who actually live in the area would do themselves on any given day. Check out our list of experiences by city for activity inspiration, and pick up local newspapers to learn about events going on nearby.

What’s your best vacation planning secret? Happy travels!

History and Beyond: Our Favorite Ways to Experience Philadelphia

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By , August 13, 2015 8:07 am

Philadelphia is known as a place for history buffs, and there are lots of relics and museums to remind us about how democracy was born in America. However, there is much more to this Pennsylvania city and many ways to get to know what it’s all about. These are some of our favorite Philadelphia experiences to try for yourself!

Flavors of Philly Food Tour

Other than history and art, Philadelphia is well-known for its delicious food. Taste what all the hype is about on a Flavors of Philly Food Tour that will show you how to eat like a local.  Over the course of about two-and-a-half hours, the tour will make six stops to sample cheese-steaks, hoagies, soft pretzels, tomato pie, cheese fries, and locally-made cookies. Your guide will fill you in with entertaining stories about these foods and the restaurants that made them so popular in the city. This tour runs between March and November from 1:30 pm to 4 pm.

Photo credit: Wally Gobetz via Flickr

Photo credit: Wally Gobetz via Flickr

9th Street Italian Market

This is one neighborhood that’s definitely worth checking out when you’re in Philly. Here you’ll find eclectic shops, local coffee shops, parks, murals, traditional delis and bakeries, and of course the 9th Street Market. This is the oldest and largest open-air market in America, with lots of Italian food stalls and produce stalls for really reasonable prices. This is a multi-ethnic neighborhood too, so you’ll be able to explore local Mexican and Asian shops in the area too. Tours of the market depart daily and last about two hours.

Basic Keelboat Sailing

Philadelphia is also a great place for sailing, so consider taking a basic keelboat sailing course while you’re in town. This class is designed for true beginners and is mostly taught on the water to help you learn the basics of boat handling. On a small boat in protected waters, you’ll learn points of sail, reading the wind, safety, heavy weather sailing, tacking, jibing, person overboard, and federal requirements. This two-day course operates all throughout the year during good weather conditions. 

Amish Country Tour

Pennsylvania is also known for its Amish community, so if you have a few days in the area, why not experience it for yourself? Amish country tours depart from Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania with Dutchland Tours, Inc., the only certified guide company that has been providing Lancaster Country tours for over 50 years. This operator aims to help tourists see the Amish as friendly neighbors and real people, not an attraction or a curiosity. Local businesses you can visit include Amish quit shops, bake shops, and roadside stands, where you can interact with community members. These tours last about two hours and run between March and October.

Photo credit: Bob Jagendorf via Flickr

Photo credit: Bob Jagendorf via Flickr

Hot Air Balloon Ride

Another great way to experience the Pennsylvania countryside is by taking a hot air balloon ride from Quakertown. An ideal city break for couples, groups of friends, and families, you’ll see the natural beauty of the state and even get to help the crew if you like. Rides are offered year-around in good weather and last about two or three hours.

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