FIVE QUESTIONS WITH CANADIAN WINEMAKER NORMAN HARDIE

For the first time ever Norman Hardie, of Prince Edward County's Norman Hardie Winery, will host an exclusive food and wine journey through his South African homeland. Epicurean South Africa with Norman Hardie is a brand new, gourmet experience curated by Quench Trip Design. For twelve days, you will explore South Africa’s dramatic scenery from Cape Town, the rugged Western Cape and Cape Winelands rolling farmlands, Chapman’s Peak and the Cape of Good Hope.

Norm will be lead you away from the tourist trail to experience his favourite South African wineries and eateries, from a winemaker’s perspective. His welcoming friends and pioneering colleagues – who happen to be the country’s best winemakers – will open their cellars to you, allowing you to explore the many layers of the wine industry, like no other.

Get to know Norm, learn about his connection to South Africa and discover what surprises are in store for travellers on this Excursively Quench trip:

1.     What are you looking forward to the most about returning to South Africa?

NH: The stunning natural beauty and vibrancy of South African culture. After the cold and dark Canadian winter, everyone on this trip will be dazzled by the incredible environment of South Africa, as well as the enthusiasm that its people exude.

2.     Can you give our travellers a sneak peek at what they can expect from the trip? Do you have any surprises up your sleeve?

NH: The quality of experiences that we've included in this trip are second to none. I was able to draw on my own time in the country and the contacts I've made to help create excursions to some of the most innovative and exciting wine and food destinations in South Africa. Guests should expect to see some of the best of the country, with a level of engagement and knowledge that would not be possible without our connections to the place. With this itinerary, we've built a great foundation within which people still have the time and opportunity to explore on their own. I look forward to helping guests plan their own adventures and discover the fantastic off the beaten track places.

3.     How does the wine in South Africa compare to the wine produced in Prince Edward County?

NH: The wines of South Africa are generally of a richer style than those of Prince Edward County.  On this trip we will be visiting the best producers in many of the wine regions; guests will have a chance to discover the great variety in style of South African wines as we explore numerous geographic areas and micro climates. Additionally, there will be much opportunity for guests to uncover exciting new wine regions and producers who are gaining attention on the world stage.

4.     This is your first time hosting a trip, can you tell our community of travellers why you decided to partner with Quench?

NH: Quench is a leader in epicurean trips and has a fantastic reputation for organizing specialized experiences for discerning travellers. I was excited with the prospect of collaborating on a magical tour of South Africa with an organization which has such a high level of commitment to quality. The itinerary that has been planned is very well balanced, giving a great insider's view of South Africa, while also allowing guests to tailor the experience to their own interests.

5.     Why is South Africa a must-visit for travelling gourmands and wine connoisseurs?

NH: South Africa should be at the top of every traveller's destinations list. As a wine region it is producing some of the most exciting new world wines. The quality continues to increase exponentially every year and garner attention from top international critics. The food culture is second to none and the proximity to year-round fresh ingredients, local meats and endless artisanal producers makes it truly a food-lover's paradise. Additionally many international chefs have made their way to South Africa, elevating the level of cuisine. It doesn't matter if you're sitting in a Michelin-starred restaurant in the Cape Winelands or a safari camp in the bush, the quality of food is exceptional. The amazing food scene is further heightened by the incredible traditional meals of South Africans. It's a cultural experience that will wow any food lover.

Contact Quench today to book this incredible 12-day gourmet getaway.
Norman Hardie Winery

QUENCH EATS: ITALY

Italy for Foodies

Without a doubt, Italy is one of Europe’s most revered culinary destinations, and a place where discerning palettes can explore with sheer pleasure.  Since her first trip to Italy more than 30 years ago, Quench founder Jen Deacon has indulged in the discovery of its varied regional flavours and has sought out local, seasonal cuisine from the top of the boot to the bottom of the heel.

Last month, Jen spent three weeks in Italy: The first two were spent guiding a multigenerational family from Venice to Rome, and then she headed straight to Puglia for some R&R with friends. Tough as it was to pick favourites among a long list of exceptional meals, here are Jen’s top 5 five eats that no Quench traveller should miss:

Buon appetito!

1.     Fiori di Zucca

Savour this gorgeous vegetable in the summertime when it is at its finest. On this trip Jen ate them in a delicately divine sauce for pici pasta, but the winning dish was a decadent antipasto of lightly fried flowers stuffed with melted mozzarella, pepperoncino, basil and sage. 

2.     Fried Sage leaves

Fresh from the garden, battered with flour and Prosecco and fried in the region’s best olive oil, this crispy and salty snack is the perfect pairing for your apertivo. Simply divine.

Foodie blog Sage leaves in process 20150703_124533.jpg

3.     Trapizzino

Trapizzino is a Roman street food that is similar to a mini calzone, except that the dough is baked separately and then stuffed with delicious savoury fillings. Its name is a play on words, a combo of tramezzino (a traditional triangular sandwich served in cafes) and pizza. The pocket-sized snack is great on-the-go, and in between museum hopping.

4.     Hand-made Orechiette in Puglia

During a private cooking course in Puglia, Jen prepared the typical ear-shaped pasta of the region called “Orecchiette” with a sauce of five varieties of local tomatoes and finished with fresh sage and a sprig of basil. The dish is simple, but ultra rich in seasonal flavour.

orechiette cooking course

5.     Melanzane Parmigiana with a twist

This classic Italian dish can be served with a unique Puglian twist…no tomato! The lightly battered eggplant is layered with fresh burrata and smoked provolone cheeses before baking. Just before serving, the chef drizzles it with olive oil from an ancient grove nearby.  Perfection.

What was your most memorable Italian dish? Share in the comments!