How Sweet It Is

Choc-o-holics! Heads up. For those of us with an intense sweet tooth, the good news is that you do not have to kill for great chocolate, merely trek to it… in Ecuador.

An offbeat and delicious cacao-centric trip, offered by Equatortrekking, is designed to explore gourmet chocolate production there. It offers insider samplings of high quality chocolate, cacao cooking lessons, and a study of its harvest. The itinerary stirs Ecuador’s rich chocolate history in with native life, landscape and culture. Visit the Guayaquil chocolate factory, and Vinces, known as “Little Paris,” and the capital of cacao world export for more than 100 years. Visit 16th century Quito where the chocolate story spreads through a cultural fusion of Spanish, Italian, Moorish, Flemish and indigenous Incan arts. At Baños de Agua Santa close to the rainforest and surrounded by mountains, join a culinary workshop in the Casa del Abuelo Art Hotel.

The rate per person for “Gourmet Adventure in the Cacao Route” is $2,430 (plus air) for 9-days and 8-nights. Remaining 2011 departures are: Aug. 15 and 30, and Sept. 15.

Equatortrekking, based in Cumbaya Ecuador, is a very personal company, well-qualified, and totally involved. Tailor-made tours are easily handled. For this particular trip click: and search “cacao.” See also their vast, amazing menu of other treks and trips.


Whisk around the World

Small classes, great chefs, and almost everywhere around the world — Europe, the Caribbean, Asia, South America, India, and the U.S. – cooking schools make for delicious cultural immersions.  Sign up for a cooking school and make friends, explore local markets, discover delicious and unique local produce: wines, cheeses, and antiques (of course). Explore tiny towns and neighborhoods… and even learn a culinary trick or two. The Shaw Guide to Cooking Schools is a dizzyingly encyclopedic treasure trove of precise and valuable information on who, what, where, and when, plus career ideas.

The excellent, extraordinary website is easy to navigate.  To research and select the right recreational cooking school as a vacation-destination, please click