Food, wine, gastronomy and wine-making — the sophisticated union for the palate that stimulates our most valuable memories with their aromas, flavors and colors — are key in the quest for culinary travel excellence. Getting there is just half of the adventure; the other half of the fun awaits the moment you arrive.
Text by Sandy Lindsey Photos courtesy of Brickell Travel Book it: Brickell Travel; 175 SW 7th St., Ste. 1400; 305.856.8889; | June 19, 2018 | Lifestyle

Historical ruins are fascinating, master paintings are mesmerizing, but one of the best ways to truly experience a country, its culture and its people, is via its culinary offerings. The only thing that can make such gastronomic adventures even better is when they are paired with top wines of local and international significance. The perfect gourmet trip, however, takes much more planning than just jetting off to a location known for its delicious dining. That’s where culinary and wine travel specialists come in to make the most of your precious, hard-earned vacation time and guarantee a superlative journey.
“The best way to give a client a memorable experience is to anticipate their desires before they do,” says Travel Agent Sylvie Tannhauser of Brickell Travel Management. “I listen very closely to folks about the type of trip they are interested in as well as what they like to do in their spare time when not traveling. This allows me to identify characteristics in the client that illicit a desired response so I can plan activities accordingly.”
Brickell Travel Management’s Wine & Culinary Department is complemented by the American Express Travel Insider Program, which allows them access to resources and connections not available to others. A good example is their “Gastronomic Experience In Basque Country” tour. Many travel to Basque Country without the help of a culinary travel specialist, and while they may manage to eat and drink very well, many miss out on more than half of what is offered on this tour. While the area is known for it’s award-winning restaurants Arzak, Akelare and Berasetegui, there are also “Gastronomic Societies” and renowned tapas bars, called pintxos by locals and those in-the-know. The tour also includes two exceptional cooking classes and a visit to the bountiful interior to dine on classic, hearty cuisine and watch locals who still practice age-old traditions at several quaint fishing villages on the scenic Basque coast.
“Our trips are unique and authentic experiences in every visited region,” says Juanita Carvajal, Brickell Travel’s Director of Sales & Marketing. “They’ve been created for the traveler ready to go beyond traditional and average tourism. Small groups, gastronomic private tastings, corporate events, visits to small wine cellars and hotels with intimate charm and warmth, make our tours memorable experiences that will create everlasting ties with those places.”
This is especially true of the chateaux. Some of the chateaux visited are amongst the most exclusive, illustrious and historic properties in the world, but Brickell Travel’s Wine & Culinary travel department also invites oenophiles and gastronomes into parts of Bordeaux most tourists never get to experience. We’re talking about the small, truly private chateaus that are often family-owned and known mainly to genuine connoisseurs.
The intimate, exclusive tastings at these places go beyond the impersonal sipping of large group tours to offer not only top wines but also the opportunity to learn about the winemaking process and various philosophies of vinters as to what makes a truly fine wine. This behind-the-scenes look adds further depth to each region on the agenda, making them distinctive and allowing them to stand out relative to some of the greatest wine regions in the world.
Since Brickell Travel believes that the local gastronomy is an important part of a wine tour, guests enjoy cuisine in the form of regional specialties and learn about the new trends in gastronomy and about the fascinating art of wine and food pairing. Seasonal differences can add yet another layer to the complex weave of the tapestry of a comprehensive wine and culinary vacation.
In the autumn, one morning may find vacationers in the fields harvesting grapes before going off to a harvesters’ lunch, which, but of course, includes some really great vintages. In the spring, there’s the opportunity to wander the young, just sprouting vines and revel in the sense of rebirth and serene oneness with nature. Or enjoy a blending seminar and let your repressed winemaker out to craft a truly unique blend built on a “base wine” from select grape varietals. Not so different from how the revered vintners do it. “We firmly believe that every destination is a source of almost infinite experiences,” says Carvajal. “Everything depends on the manner and the people you get to explore those places with.”
Few travel options are more unique than the Cruise Train. Following in the footsteps of the grand luxury of the legendary Orient Express, the train and its hospitable and extremely helpful crew runs from Leon and Santiago de Compostela for a lavish week-long excursion through some of the finest dining in Spain. The carefully chosen restaurants at the stops along the way and their highly skilled chefs offer some of the most superior local fish, seafood, cheeses, meat, sausages and fresh vegetables available. The menus range from the height of sophistication to traditional gastronomy. The route is equally impressive covering everything from Roman Villas and Pre-Romanesque monuments to the world’s largest collection of Rolls-Royce cars, architect Frank Gehry’s tour de force the Guggenheim Bilbao and a swamp off the Ebro River.
“Being an American Express Travel Insider was and still is a great commitment with an invaluable return,” concludes Tannhauser. “We represent the cream of the crop when it comes to travel planning and we must live, breathe and taste each destination we offer. However, the rewards can’t be compared when I see that I have provided a unique experience that cannot be achieved anywhere else.”
From the Basque Country in Europe to Chile and Argentina in South America to California, South Africa and more…there’s a world of tastes and experiences ready to be sampled by you, your fellow travelers and anyone seeking out a tasty adventure in style. To book your trip or to learn more, contact Brickell Travel at 305.856.8889 or