Table Tour Oct 2011 42 180x130 A Tour of the Tables ... <em>with a few accordion players, sexy Italians and tangoing travelers to boot </em>

The culmination of a year of collaboration with my Calabrian Table Tour partner-in-crime, Tania Pascuzzi (In Italy Tours), paid off last week as we welcomed seven bright-eyed adventurers into our favorite little corner of Italy.

I met the group at the airport, along with our handsome guide/interpreter Andrea (who all the ladies tried to squeeze into their luggage for the trip back home) and our sweet but far-from-bilingual driver, Francesco. Somewhat quiet and timid on the ride to the Pollino, the group quickly meshed and by the end of the first night were already holding hands as they hiked to a hidden monastery and were singing, hopping and most-of-all laughing with each other as we danced the Tarantella.

Table Tour Oct 2011 4 e1319709687877 A Tour of the Tables ... <em>with a few accordion players, sexy Italians and tangoing travelers to boot </em>

The next few days were filled with a combination of long lunches, free-flowing wine, ruined castles, deep gorges, high peaks, pasta-rolling, cheese and wine-tasting and everywhere we turned, musicians, singers and would-be guides emerged to tell us more about “their” Calabria.

Table Tour Oct 2011 10 e1319710015560 A Tour of the Tables ... <em>with a few accordion players, sexy Italians and tangoing travelers to boot </em>

Table Tour Oct 2011 48 e1319711800738 A Tour of the Tables ... <em>with a few accordion players, sexy Italians and tangoing travelers to boot </em>

Table Tour Oct 2011 51 e1319710194498 A Tour of the Tables ... <em>with a few accordion players, sexy Italians and tangoing travelers to boot </em>

After four nights, we bid a sad farewell to our hosts-with the promise of a quick return-and headed south to Tropea. We stopped enroute so the group could have an upscale lunch of Calabrian seafood and chocolate tartufo and a secret behind-the-scenes visit to a local factory.

From Tropea, we ventured out to a nearby farm and learned the art of baking Calabrian bread and homemade pasta before feasting with the family on homemade *everything* – including, but not limited to, sopressata, ‘nduja, ragù, eggplant, peppers and pies.

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We wrapped up our week at the luxurious private villa of one of southern Calabria’s most renowned chefs where we made crespelle (a specialty from my part of the boot) and enjoyed what was likely the most exquisite seafood meal I’ve ever had.

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So many times throughout the week I forgot I was working … the group was tremendous and after a few days it didn’t just “feel” like I was with friends-I truly was. I left the tour Sunday with the renewed energy I believe vacations were intended to instill. Tour members kept thanking me, but their comments-such as, “after four trips, this is the first time I’ve seen the ‘real’ Italy, “this is the best vacation I’ve ever had” and the heartfelt “you pulled it off, kid!” are words of thanks I’ll never forget.

Tania and I are incredibly proud of the tour and are thankful to our guests for coming along on the first annual Calabrian Table Tour. We have already had dozens of requests for 2012 and will have our new dates published in the coming weeks. But until then, I’m going to have to find me a treadmill and a new pair of sneakers. Table tourin’ isn’t without its drawbacks. Or should I say, drawstrings. Which are the kind of pants I’ll be wearing if we keep this up.

Until next time … cin cin!

Are you heading to Calabria? Click here to see how I can help you plan your trip.

Small cars make big splash in Detroit; Trucks and SUVs are no longer the stars of the auto show go to website fitzgerald auto mall

The Washington Post January 9, 2010 | Peter Whoriskey The North American International Auto Show, the annual automotive gala in Detroit, may be best known as a stage for manufacturers to display their latest rolling leviathans.

But to judge from this year’s show, the next big thing may be small.

Driven in part by the recession, and in part by shifting consumer tastes and global marketing strategies, the U.S. manufacturers who once obsessed over trucks and muscle cars are casting a spotlight on their diminutives.

Chevrolet plans to display its new Cruze and Aveo as well as the tiny Spark. Ford will highlight its Focus and new-to-the-United States Fiesta. Chrysler will put up a Fiat 500. And the Japanese automakers, who entered the small-car fray earlier and more forcefully, will show off the new Mazda 2 and Honda CR-Z and the most recent hybrids.

“It was cool for a while to be in a monster vehicle. Now it’s uncool,” said John DeCicco, a University of Michigan lecturer and longtime auto industry observer. “The Big Three were in denial. But I think they get it now.” Shifting sales figures reflect the new emphasis. Over the past eight years, the market share of compacts and subcompacts has grown from 15 to 23 percent, according to figures from Edmunds.com. Dealers and others said they see a move across the spectrum to smaller vehicles of all types.

“We’ve definitely seen a shift from large SUVs to smaller SUVs, and those who looked at larger cars are now looking at mid-size cars,” said Alex Perdikis, executive vice president of Jim Koons Automotive. “With the shift in the economy, people are looking to be more economical in more facets of their life.” Industry analysts attributed the change to a number of disparate forces. The recession has forced many consumers to reconsider their spending habits. The taste for miniaturization is seeping from consumer electronics into the auto showroom. The quality of small cars, once maligned as “econoboxes,” has improved. With the memory of soaring gas prices so recent, consumers have developed a preference for fuel efficiency. And finally, manufacturers seeking to operate globally are eager to bring some of their models that have proved popular overseas to the U.S. market.

In the same way that an iPod Nano is considered more elegant than a boom box, “things that are large and clumsy are considered out of date and unsophisticated these days,” said Sheryl Connelly, Ford’s manager for global trends. this web site fitzgerald auto mall

Ford sales have shifted dramatically as a result. In 2004, Ford sales were 70 percent trucks and SUVs and 30 percent cars. In 2009, they were 60 percent cars, the company said.

“There is a shift, definitely a shift toward small cars — not a stampede,” said Jack Fitzgerald, who sells Buick, GMC and Subaru products at his Fitzgerald Auto Mall in North Bethesda. “It’s not like when gasoline was $5 a gallon and everyone was clamoring for small cars. [But] people have not forgotten the gas price increase. Consumers know sooner or later gas prices are going to go up again.” Easing the way for consumers is the evolution of small cars. Using turbocharging and direct fuel injection, techniques often used in high-performance cars, engineers have rendered small-car engines more peppy and efficient. Jessica Caldwell, a senior analyst at Edmunds.com, points to Ford’s new Fiesta, already a top seller in Europe as a car of much higher quality than its defunct predecessor.

“The original Fiesta was an econobox,” Caldwell said. “The new Fiesta is a different vehicle. It has more creature comforts and a much better engine. It’s not even related.” “We believe we can give the consumers fuel-efficient cars with some sex appeal and some personality, which has not always been the case,” GM spokesman Greg Martin said.

whoriskeyp@washpost.com Staff writer V. Dion Haynes contributed to this report.

Peter Whoriskey

pixel A Tour of the Tables ... <em>with a few accordion players, sexy Italians and tangoing travelers to boot </em>

Comments

  1. Congratulations Cherrye & Tania! When I read the itinerary with your cast of local characters and your lovely variety of places and experiences, I knew it would be a hit!

    It sounds like a fabulous taste of real, every day life in Calabria. We find sharing food & wine experiences really brings people together, helps them truly connect with each other.

    Bravissime!!
    Margaret Cowan
    Margaret Cowan´s last blog post ..How To Live In Italy For A Year & Keep Your Job

    [Reply]

  2. This was so much fun to read, since I just experienced my first-ever week-long guided culture/food/wine-tasting tour. It took place in Romania and Moldova (where I now live) and it was a freebee for me, tagging along with a small international group of tour operators. It was wonderful.

    I’ve lived in a fair number of countries with my development-economist husband, and traveled to more, but we’ve never done more than take a guided DAY tour anywhere. We get in a car and head for the hills, the smaller the road the happier my husband is ;) We do end up in some funky places, but don’t experience all the things that a guided tour can offer.

    The tour you describe really looks great. And Southern Italy being one of our favorite vacation places, we might just sign up one day!

    Wishing you lots of success with more tours!
    Miss Footloose | Life in the Expat Lane´s last blog post ..Expat Life: What’s a Nice Protestant Girl Doing in this Place?

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  3. Ben tornata, Cherrye!

    I’ve missed your posts but am glad your latest endeavor was a great success!

    Best wishes to you, Pepe, and baby Max. I will never forget the time I spent at Il Cedro and hope to return one day!

    Ciao ciao,
    Imani

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  4. You actually allow it to be look very easy along with your business presentation however discover this trouble to generally be seriously one important thing that we imagine I would under no circumstances comprehend. This type of believes way too challenging and intensely extensive in my situation. I will be shopping ahead of time inside your future upload, We’ll attempt to find the their hands on the idea!

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