Indulgences for your favorite culinary connoisseur

When a first-class dinner at Honolulu’s finest Italian or Chinese restaurants no longer satisfies the discerning palate on your holiday list, treat him or her to the ultimate food gift: a cooking tour abroad.

Calabria Lost Cuisine, a new venture started by Carla Magziar, the former proprietor of C & C Pasta in Kaimuki, offers a one-of-a-kind getaway for the Italian food lover. Magziar serves as tour guide, culinary instructor and chauffeur on a seven-day gastronomic adventure, as she shares the secret edible treasures of tiny villages in Southern Italy.

“When I visited Calabria, I was mesmerized,” Magziar says. “The cuisine of the south (of Italy) is incredible. There are so many influences – Greek, African, Turk. The village holds you so tight, it never lets you go.”

Magziar begins the tour on a Saturday, with a sampling of traditional antipasti and wine as guests are taken to their villa – a beautiful historic monastary in Badolato overlooking the Ionian sea. Activities during the rest of the week include shopping at local mercatinos for fresh seafood, seasonal vegetables and handmade cheeses. Guests will get hands-on lessons from locals on the generations-old techniques to making Calabrian pasta and pizza dishes.

“If you’re going to learn (Italian cooking), learn from the masters,” Magziar says. “The villagers are excited to teach. You can’t get any more authentic.”

For more information, visit www.calabrialostcuisine.com

Imperial Tours, a company based out of San Francisco, Calif., takes connoisseurs of Chinese cuisine and history on a trek through the Pearl of the Orient. While the company offers several different tours catering to different lengths of stay, size of groups and interests (including a photography and family tour), guests of Imperial Tours are assured luxury accommodations at five-star hotels and guides knowledgeable about the country. Among the epicurean delights of Imperial Tours are a white linen banquet atop the Great Wall of China and lessons in dump-ling making, noodle pulling and dim sum creation.

Imperial Tours’ Culinary Tour won’t be available in 2008, but according to Margot Kong, the company’s director of sales and marketing, private tours can be tailored to focus on cooking activities, and will still feature dining at world-class restaurants in China.

For more information, visit www.imperialtours.net

Sumptuous Stocking Stuffers

Nalani Holliday, owner of Red Pineapple in Ward Centre, shares her personal favorite high-quality food
items available at the store for the holidays.