Overall, to me, the trip was terrific! I love the way you planned the days. We had time to arrive and unwind before heading out for adventures. We had plenty of down-time to relax, workout, etc. Smartly done! The hospitality at the Hacienda was terrific, and having the 2 of you there with us, just made us feel as if we had the full attention & investment of those whom we invested our money with. You! You were in it with us. That makes a difference. It was hands on for everyone. I feel you both have the best attitudes for the kind of trip we were on. Organized, but laid back. We all felt like old friends.
Emilia Romagna, Italy
It was an amazing trip. We had a sensational time. Absolutely everything worked like clockwork. Our hotel was a lovely little gem right smack in the old city. Happy hour in the bar was a relaxed, elegant affair and hotel staff responded cheerfully to all enquiries and requests. What a marvellous location in Bologna, close to everything. Everywhere we ate, the food was delicious without pretention. Giacomo was a very knowledgable, affable man with a lovely sense of humour who shared the secrets of the city’s monuments and the great food stops on our itinerary. One little gem he informed us that Bologna is known for its “towers, tits and tortellini”! Our train journey to and from Bologna was seamless with our drivers always on time, friendly and helpful. Our walking tour of Parma with Melanie was a collection of fascinating stories and background information of days gone by. How great it was to have her as our own special guide!
Thank you so much Melissa for your attention to detail, great suggestions and the pace of the itinerary you planned. Nothing was rushed, everyone knew we were coming, everything had been organised prior to our arrival which made for a very relaxing holiday. Your organisation was seamless and we absolutely loved the tour. I have raved to friends and family about Tour de Forks and will definitely contact you again to plan my next trip!
Karen and I both felt that it was a fabulous weekend in New York. Just enough “programmed” and “unprogrammed” time; super interesting, and sociable, and talented teachers and tour guides; great choice of tour stops and food tastings; and comfortable hotel. I never learned so much by having such an enjoyable and relaxing experience. Thanks so much for the opportunity. It was apparent how much time and planning and expertise went in to making this happen.
I loved everything. Hotels were great, food was great, guide was terrific. Loved the lunch at the beautiful estate and winery in Estramoz–Dona Maria. I also particularly enjoyed our stay at Sao Lourenco do Barrocal. Hated to leave! Lunch with Chef Lo at Sao Lourenco do Barrocal, and our final dinner in Lisbon, at Feitoria Restaurant, were absolutely extraordinary. There were so many things! The men’s singing group at our dinner at Adega Velha was very entertaining, too.
Newport Beach, California
I’d recommend Tour de Forks for all serious foodies and food professionals if I could, so they all would experience the fresh new ideas of ‘Mod Oz’ (modern Australian cuisine: a cutting edge, urban cuisine influenced by nearby Asia), and the exceptional cheeses, wines, meat and produce from that continent.
You could do it on your own, but chances are, even if you have several good guide books, you’re going to be disappointed with more than just a couple of meals, and you won’t get the personalized, VIP treatment you get from having a few famous, local food professionals showing you around as you do on Tour de Forks. I wish every country I’ve visited had a Meera Freeman, a George Biron, and a Melissa Joachim to take me out to dinner. These are people whom chefs want to impress and who routinely get the best tables and the best service-these are the people you want at your dinner table. Not only are they your insider’s ticket to the culinary cognoscenti circle, they are also passionate teachers who give illuminating demonstrations throughout the tour and take you to find the best jamon, the best lobster, and the best cheeses the country has to offer.
The tour, however, is not just about food. The accommodations are luxurious. You stay at only the most fabulous hotels. Some of the highlights didn’t even have anything to do with food. If you go on your own, try not to miss a private plane ride over the “12 Apostles”-12 stunning rock formations off the south-eastern coast on the way to King Island, home to award winning cheeses, fabulous seafood and fantastic beach views. Also don’t miss the wild kangaroos that hang out in the golf courses on the way to Sunnybrae, George Biron’s home, farm and former restaurant in some of the most beautiful, unspoiled countryside left in the world. And don’t forget to take a boat ride with local dolphins on your way back to Melbourne from wine tastings at local vineyards. Or, just sign up for the tour, relax, and let Melissa guide you through a trip to remember.
Chef Anita Lo
Annisa Restaurant, New York
I have to say the trip far exceeded my expectations, and they were extremely high! First of all the Hacienda was gorgeous- maybe one of the most beautiful properties I have ever stayed at. The service and attention to detail was outstanding. I always put together a Shutterfly album when I return from a trip and their tablescapes alone earned a two-page spread. Secondly, I was thrilled with Tom’s level of enthusiasm. I know you are not directly responsible for this, but I’m sure the itinerary and atmosphere contributed. I now tell him he is my kitchen Rock Star J. He was so pleased with the experience that he told me on the way home that we should definitely do something like this again. I don’t think he realized how rare and special this experience really was. Cooking with the Hacienda Ladies, Anita & Mary, Coleen, and all our fellow foodies was really exceptional. I continue to hear several of Anita’s cooking philosophies in my head.
Janice & Tom
Perfect! That is the first word that comes to mind when I reflect on our trip to Sicily with Tour de Forks. From the moment we began planning with Melissa, she was responsive and knowledgeable and she made us feel extremely comfortable with booking our trip, even though we never actually met her in person! Melissa was able to tailor the trip to our specific needs and explored all of the options with us to see which one worked best. Our excursions were personal and informative, and the food and restaurant recommendations were authentic and absolutely delicious! We had a great combination between feeling that we were traveling independently, but at the same time we had an itinerary to follow that we were confident about. The locations of the hotels, the proximity of the excursions, the travel details and locations were organized with such amazing timing and accuracy, that we were amazed. Melissa really knows her stuff and I would highly recommend her company and services to anyone who is looking to go on a vacation of a lifetime!
Bedford Hills, New York
Our Nashville experience was perfect. Just the right amount of cooking and free time in this exciting city, we loved it. I think our favorite was Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. Hands-on cooking with John Lasater was amazing. We were so impressed we came home and made it for our Buffalo Chicken Wing friends. We would definitely do it again!
Francine & Gary
My Tour de Forks culinary adventure was a foodie dream come true. Of course, the Tour de Forks team arranged every detail to please the most sophisticated, discriminating traveler-that was expected, although probably shouldn’t have been taken for granted-but what was unique about this trip was the access to experiences you could never have traveling on your own unless you’re a celebrity or restaurant royalty. My fellow travelers were a diverse lot, interesting, accomplished and extremely congenial, and our small group felt like a bunch of friends enjoying each other’s company and not like everyone’s stereotype of a tour group. I’m sure this was due largely to our tour organizers and guide who did an amazing job of taking individual needs and preferences into account and dealing with every situation with humor and the utmost flexibility. I will travel with Tour de Forks again, and I recommend it without reservation to anyone who loves food and wine and wants a luxurious, informative and uniquely pleasurable vacation experience.