New Solar program delivers true flavor of Peru

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WASHINGTON -- While we've come to expect special-interest tours focusing on archaeology or the rain forests of Peru, it is rare to find a program whose centerpiece is that country's cuisine.

Solar Tours here introduced just that: a six-night Peruvian Culinary Tour, including cooking classes with local chefs and dining experiences at many of Peru's finest and most typical restaurants as well as a full program of sightseeing in Lima, Cuzco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu.

Solar's Peruvian Culinary Tour spends three nights each in Cuzco, above, and Lima. Departures are scheduled for Aug. 7, Oct. 9 and Nov. 27; the land cost is $1,737 per person, sharing, with a supplement of $196 for single occupancy.

"People are surprised and delighted with the gastronomic riches of Peru," said Laura DeArment, Solar's director of product development and a professional chef herself, "and our escorted departures are designed not only to introduce tour participants to distinctive dishes but to teach the preparation of local specialties themselves."

While DeArment expects these tours to be a delicious introduction to South America's most accomplished cuisine, she pointed out that "agents who have sent cooking and gourmet clubs or groups of food-loving friends to Europe will be able to offer a new horizon of culinary experiences in Peru."

The tour starts in Lima, where group members will learn the basics of Peruvian cooking with chefs at Le Cordon Bleu Peru school and restaurant; they will also spend a day with Luis Armando La Rosa, the first chef to introduce Nova Andina (nouvelle Andean cuisine) cooking.

Other dining and wining highlights will include preparing a traditional pisco sour cocktail at one of Lima's hottest tapas bars and a 10-course tasting dinner at the renowned Astrid and Gaston restaurant.

The Lima program also features a tour of the historical city center and the Museum of the Nation, presenting an overview of Peruvian archaeology.

Three nights are spent in Cuzco, whose tour host is Jorge Luis Ossio, owner of the Inka Grill and the best-known chef in the city. He will present an introduction to highland regional cuisine, host a classic Cusquenian lunch and a dinner at the Peruvian Art Museum.

Tour members will also have a guided city tour; travel by rail to Machu Picchu for a visit to the "Lost City of the Incas"; spend a day in the Sacred Valley with visits to Inca fortresses and country markets; and enjoy a vegetarian lunch at the Hacienda Huayocari and a tour of the owner's art collection.

On the final night in Cuzco, the chef at Le Boheme restaurant will present the Peruvian potato in its hundreds of different varieties, and on the return to Lima, guests will head to the Pueblo Hotel for a pachamanca, an Andean feast prepared on heated stones in an underground pit.

On the final day in Lima, tour members will have time for shopping, mixed with a ceviche lunch seaside at the Segundo Muelle restaurant and a dinner of Asian-Latin specialties at Costanera.

The land cost for the Peruvian Culinary Tour includes accommodations (Suites Las Americas in Lima and the Don Carlos in Cuzco), most meals (two dinners not included), cooking classes and demonstrations, escorted sightseeing and roundtrip flights between Lima and Cuzco.

For additional information, call Solar Tours at (800) 388-7652 or (202) 861-5864 or visit www.solartours.com.

To contact reporter Carla Hunt, send e-mail to [email protected].

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