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Armenia Food and Wine

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 7 - 10 day(s)
Group Size: 2 - 6 people
Destination(s): Armenia  
Specialty Categories: Food & Wine   Cultural Journey  
Season: January - December
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: Yes
Minimum Per Person Price: 780 Euro (EUR)
Maximum Per Person Price: 780 Euro (EUR)

Tour Dates for 2011:
- January, 23 - 30
- February, 13 - 20
- March 27 - April 3
- April, 23 - 30
- May, 21 - 28
- June, 18 - 25
- July, 9 - 16
- August, 13 - 20
- September 24 - October 1
- October, 22 - 29
- November, 19 - 26
- December, 23 - 30.

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1: Yerevan New and Old. The tour starts with a meeting with your tour escort and group participants before heading to introductory tour of Yerevan, new and old. We start our exploration with the Republic Square with it magnificent buildings enhanced by singing fountains, continue to Erebouni Fortress, the birthplace of Yerevan. Take a guided tour of the fortress and explore the impressive ruins and museum. Drive back to city center, stopping at the Railway Station to see the beautiful monument of David of Sasun, national hero.

Time to kick off your culinary adventures with a visit to famous Closed Market on Mashtots Avenue. Wonder among the stalls with a variety of fresh, dried and marinated fruits and vegetables, say hello to the spices and plants you will use during the days to come, learn about the evolution of Armenian cuisine. End the day with a visit to Yerevan Brandy Factory to learn age-old secrets of brandy-making and sample the finished product. Overnight: Hotel in Yerevan. Includes: (B).

Day 2: Food Basics & Nature Walks. Breakfast at hotel. Leave the frantic pace of Yerevan and drive east to the magnificent Temple of the Sun in Garni and the legendary Monastery of Spear in Geghard. Explore the mosaic ancient baths and ruins of the royal palace, immerse yourself in the atmosphere of this mythical place and examine remarkable cross stones carved into sheer rock. On to Khosrove Nature Park, a true wilderness with a rich variety of plant and animal life, one of Armenia's best kept secrets. This is a prime hiking area where we enjoy a relaxing afternoon on foot actively experiencing nature and feasting our eyes on abundant birdlife in beautiful undisturbed forests.

At the Park Lodge we are greeted by our host, Sergei and have our first cooking class starting with the basics - lavash, Armenian flat bread and tonri khorovats, Armenian traditional barbeque in wood burning oven in the ground. Learn about the techniques used in making the bread, roll up your sleeves and proceed to your first task of making your own bread; then marinate meat for the barbeque. Time for leisurely nature walks (guided by park team) or short trip to beehives for honey tasting. Return around 17.00 to start barbeque-making. Meat, fresh tomatoes, shiny eggplants and peppers take turns to become crusty, mouth-watering components of the finest barbeque you will ever have. Enjoy the dinner in the balmy and relaxed evening atmosphere of the reserve. Overnight: Khosrov Lodge. Includes: (B), (D).

Day 3: Wine Route & Southern Armenia Cuisine. Breakfast with fresh honey, butter, cheese and matsun yogurt - secrets behind Armenian longevity. Visit the royal prison of Khor Virap at the border with Turkey, proceed to explore Noravank Monastery in majestic Gorge of Bamboos. Explore Areni and Aghavnadzor villages famous for their wine, tour in traditional marans (cellars), taste award-winning wines from local grape varieties. Continue to meet Shirak, the owner of your hotel in the agricultural heart of Armenia. He will first take you shopping for fresh produce in Arpi traditional market.

Then it's off to the hotel to start the hand-on cooking session focusing on traditional Southern Armenia cuisine characterized by extensive use of fruits and nuts in savory dishes. Begin preparing the evening meal, karsham, veal shanks in fruit juice with roasted vegetables along with some freshly prepared salads where the prominent ingredient is goat cheese. Dinner in the garden of the hotel will consist of the dishes you have prepared accompanied by excellent local wine. Overnight: Hotel in Vayk. Includes: (B), (D).

Day 4: Lake Sevan. After breakfast set off for Lake Sevan through rugged Selim Pass. Climbing steep paths, enjoying the wild Caucasian landscapes and ever-changing views of Lake Sevan below, reach the amazingly intact Selim Caravanserai, an important trading post on historic Silk Road. Check-in at your chalet-style hotel at the beach perfect for rest and relaxation. With water-skiing, swimming and boat trips on offer, you may find it hard to just lie on these paradise beaches. Historical and architectural gems are never far away - the ancient monastery on the peninsula, the Stone Garden with unique carved cross-stones and much more. A well-deserved dinner with Sevan Sig will round off this pleasurable day. Overnight: Hotel at Lake Sevan. Includes: (B).

Day 5: String Cheese & Rural Cooking. In the morning you will be expected at the farm of a cheese maker in the midst of beautiful rolling hills of Tavush. You will tour the farm and see the making of string cheese typical to the region, thereafter tasting of cheeses at various stages of maturation will be offered. A short drive to Aker village well away from regular tourist trails. Welcome drinks on the terrace of the farmhouse and half day dedicated to home style cooking. Today we prepare tolma, stuffed vegetable dish, the most famous of traditional Armenian dishes.

In addition to grape leaves (winter tolma), we also stuff cabbage leaves, eggplants, tomatoes and peppers (summer tolma). Armine, the village headman's wife, demonstrates techniques passed down through generations. Later traditional feast keff at the open terrace of the farm with the view of dramatic Debed gorge, the head of the family will be your tamada (toastmaster) governing the event with age-old rules of Caucasian hospitality. Overnight: Farmhouse at Akner. Includes: (B), (D).

Day 6: Mountain Aragats & Yezidi Nomads. Start today with a trip to the highest peak of Transcaucasia, Mount Aragats (4,090 m), an extinct volcano. Acclimatizing gradually as we ascend the beautiful countryside of Aragats, we reach Amberd Fortress on the southern slope of the mountain. Breathtaking views of the fortress and citadel, snow covered peaks of Aragats, sun scorched grasslands dressed in wildflowers and abundant birdlife combine to provide an unforgettable experience. If we come here during summer months we can visit high-mountain camps of friendly Yezidi tribes who tend their sheep under the towering peaks of Aragats. We will discover the traditional way of life of these people of the mountains, visiting their homes, try fresh cheese and yogurt. Overnight: Hotel in Yerevan. Includes: (B), (D).

Days 7: Contemporary Armenian Cuisine. Day at leisure to relax and enjoy Yerevan at your own pace. A visit to Sunday Vernisage market, the largest souvenir market in the Caucasus is a recommended option. Back to hotel to unwind. Your gala cooking class with a focus on contemporary Armenian cuisine begins at 5.00 pm following by a farewell dinner at trendy Ararat Hall Restaurant. Your guide will be Sedrak Mamulyan, a well-known chéf, leader of Armenian Cuisine Revival Association. He has won a number of awards, wrote cookery book and featured on television programs, all of which has added to his fame and that of the restaurant. Dinner with matching wines will follow. Overnight: Hotel in Yerevan. Includes: (B), (D).

Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Price Includes:
- Accommodation for 7 nights
- Meals as specified in the itinerary
- Tour leader/driver, local guides
- Cooking classes with chefs as per program
- All recipes and flow charts for cooking processes
- All transfers in comfortable, air-conditioned vehicles
- Food & Wine Armenia information kit.

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