Russ and Elke's European Travel

It's not only what you see, it's how you see it

Russ and Elke's European Travel is a small company run by husband and wife team Russ and Elke Beck, a professional travel agent.

Over the years we have experienced some fantastic places, people, food and wine.  Out of our love for travel developed the idea to create very exclusive, intimate and interesting itineraries and let our clients experience, taste, smell, touch and hear what has given us so much joy in our travels. 

What to Expect When You're Expecting...Dinner

     Let me give you a little history on my dear husband, your potential host, Russ.

     He loves great food but was not a cook by any stretch of the imagination. Frankly, if left to his own devices in the kitchen, he was able to burn water, and once, he turned a simple cauliflower rue into wallpaper paste.

    When Russ visited Italy for the first time many years ago, he fell in love with the amazing food over there. Upon our return the American- Italian cuisine offered in many restaurants in his home country, just couldn't compare. Even the finer establishments didn't take his tastebuds on the amazing journey they'd been on in Bella Italia.

     So Russ had a new mission. He went in search of the freshest ingredients, farm raised, grass fed, hormone free meats and wholesome breads. Not a small task to accomplish in a country where prepackaged, fast and easy foods are heavily promoted. Luckily the "Hudson Valley" has numerous farmers markets, and with some research, he found nearby farmers and purveyors who sold the meats he craved.

     But he still couldn't cook. To remedy that, I often came home to my husband watching food channels on the television, searching for new and exciting recipes online, or studying the newest cooking science in a magazine.

     But he didn't stop there. The so called "fresh" produce in the stores left room for improvement. Fresh could mean less then two weeks on the shelves, while in Italy fresh is from farm to table in less then twenty four hours. So Russ convinced me to put in a vegetable and herb garden behind our home and grow our own veggies.

     Then he began cooking; Bistecca Fiorentina, Saffron- Zucchini Blossom Risotto, Chicken Cacciatore, Pizza Carbonara, Butternut Squash Ravioli in Sage and Browned Butter... to name only a few of our favorites. I personally am a huge fan of Porcini mushrooms and Russ loves any dish with truffles so these ingredients appear on our table whenever we can get them. At first he needed my help, but soon he matched, and in some cases, surpassed my abilities in the kitchen.

     We have a true love for good, truly fresh food and often opt to eat at home rather than out. We make our own pasta and can often be found in the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon cooking and baking for hours.

     Russ, in the true Italian style of living, loves to invite people for dinner at our home and we often entertain and cook for an army.

     If you decide to join us on our Bella Toscana Tour we will share some of our traditional Italian meals with you at the gorgeous villa in the hills of Chianti. We'll let you be the judge if Russ is making the cut.

     As Lidia Bastianich puts it so aptly: Tuti a tavola a mangiare!!!

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