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Looking for the Best, Authentic Mexican Food in Scottsdale and Phoenix

I’ve had this unquenchable hankering for mind-blowing, authentic Mexican cuisine of late.

I can’t really explain why; but I figure as long as I live in Arizona, I might as well take advantage of my geographic location and do a little culinary exploration.

I’m finding it a little frustrating to find the best of the best because an Internet search will bring up Yelp (or the like) where “touristy Mexican food” tends to top the list.

I’m looking for the real deal.  Mind-blowing, authentic Mexican cuisine.  Does that exist in Scottsdale and Phoenix?

I made the first stop on my quest to Carolina’s Mexican Food to try out their Oaxaca Special Burro.  That was good, but I didn’t take a photograph.  So, it gives me a reason to go back.  Right?

Image from MexGrocer.com

They had me at Huitlacoche

For the second stop on my journey, we ventured to Los Sombreros primarily because I wanted to try the Huitlacoche Crepes.

I was first introduced to huitlacoche by Chef Mel Mecinas when he was at the Four Seasons Scottsdale.

Huitlacoche (pronounced weet-la-COH-cheh and pictured right) is a fungus that grows on corn kernels and is highly priced in Central Mexican cuisine.

Huitlacoche has been called anything from Mexican truffles to Mexican mushrooms to the less appetizing corn smut.

Nonetheless, every time huitlacoche has crossed my palette,  I have been more than pleased.

So, that very top photograph is an iPhone photo I grabbed when our waiter Jesus brought out the Huitlacoche Crepes: crepes stuffed with goat and blue cheeses smothered with huitlacoche sauce, pomegranate sauce, and cranberries.

At first blush, with the confluence of savory and sweet, my taste buds didn’t really know what the heck just hit them.  Even so, as the tastes began to blend on my palette, I found a smile growing on my face with my fork speedily descending for a second bite.  Yum, I say, YUM!

That second photograph up there is another iPhone photograph I snagged of my Al Pastor Tacos.  More Yum!

You know, while I greatly enjoyed our Sunday brunch at Los Sombreros, I left a little frustrated.  Why?  Because there were so many other items on their menu I wanted to sample.  I guess that means we’ll be back.  And real soon, I hope.

Carol and I give Los Sombreros two thumbs up and highly recommend you visit to sample their Central Mexican cuisine.

Where is YOUR favorite Mexican cuisine found in Scottsdale or Phoenix?  

Leave us your answer in the comments section below.  Thanks!
 
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Roaming Boomers Travel Services is an Independent Affiliate of Cadence, a Virtuoso® member. CST#201120-40

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Travel Tip: Visit a Cheese Shop When in Paris, France

When I (David) was in college, I had the great privilege to spend a month of study abroad each year.

We were tasked with planning a detailed course of study and then given Eurail Passes to travel around Europe for 30-days.  It was eye-opening, educational, and great fun!

As a poor college student, one of the things I quickly learned is that I could pick up a loaf of bread, some fabulous cheese, and for hardly any money at all, nosh on this for breakfast and lunch.

Fast forward 40 years and the same is still true. When you’re in Paris, you simply must grab a French baguette, some cheese, and perhaps even some foie gras and have yourself a picnic.

Last week, I wrote this article to share with you where to find some fabulous meats and foie gras in Paris.

And in this article, I’m going to focus on the cheese.

As I mentioned in the article linked above, we were enjoying a private Foodie Tour with our friends from Context Travel Tours.  And after getting the meats for our little picnic, we were then off to the cheese shop.

Here is our guide Laurie Nourrigat helping us understand French cheeses and picking a few samples for our picnic.  As you can see, she already has our meats in the bag from Maison Guyard.

The cheese shop that Laurie took us to was Androuet, a French cheesemaker since 1909.  Below is the shopkeeper slicing one of four different kinds of cheese we were to sample. My favorite cheese turned out to be an ash-covered goat cheese.

Evidently, the cheesemakers of yesteryear would use ash to preserve their cheeses. But today, the tradition continues as the ash (many times vegetable ash or burned grapevine prunings) is found to neutralize the acidic surface of fresh goat cheeses.  I know it sounds yucky, but it’s actually very, very good.

Are you salivating yet?  I am.  In fact, I just did a Google search to see where I might find some authentic craft cheeses here in Scottsdale. 

Well, that’s it for the cheese shop.  Our next stop on tour was a local bread shop where we would have our little picnic.  Stay tuned.

If you enjoyed this article, sign up for our travel newsletter to keep abreast of our best travel tips, on-location reviews, exclusive travel offers, group travel events, and much more.

Roaming Boomers Travel Services is an Independent Affiliate of Cadence, a Virtuoso® member. CST#201120-40

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Father’s Day Sale: Additional Cruise Savings of up to $800, $400 Shipboard Credit plus up to FREE Air*

PLUS, in addition to Viking’s exciting offer, we have another $200 in shipboard credits for you from Roaming Boomers Travel.

That makes $600 in shipboard credits!

Let’s take a peek at the cruises currently offered under Viking’s Father’s Day Sale.

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Viking Eastern Seaboard Explorer.  This is a great one to explore the fall colors of Canada and New England.  For more details, click the image below:

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Who wants to go to Cuba?  Check out the Father’s Day Special on Viking’s Cultural Cuba: click the image below. 

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How about the Caribbean Islands when it’s cold and nasty in most parts of the U.S.?  Click the image below!

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And, last but not least, how about the Caribbean and South America.  Click the image below. 

For more information or to book one of these fun Viking Ocean Cruises + our additional $200 in shipboard credits (total $600), please call Roaming Boomers Travel Services at (480) 550-1235 or use our convenient online information request (click here) and we’ll reach out to you.

If you enjoyed this article, sign up for our travel newsletter to keep abreast of our best travel tips, on-location reviews, exclusive travel offers, group travel events, and much more.

Roaming Boomers Travel Services is an Independent Affiliate of Cadence, a Virtuoso® member. CST#201120-40

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Travel Tip: Headed to Europe?  Consider building your trip around one of the fabulous European Summer Classical Music Concerts

As I write this article, I am listening to the 2018 Sommernachtskonzert that was just held in Vienna, Austria at the Schönbrunn Palace in the Palace Gardens on May 31st, 2018.

If you are subscribed to Apple Music, go check out the recently released album (click here).  It’s full of classical music fan favorites.

We are often asked about the best time to visit various places and we’ll have a conversation about weather, crowds and such.  But perhaps another exciting consideration to put into the timing puzzle are some of the amazing other experiences you might be able to build into your journey.

Carol and I enjoying a German beer in Heidelberg.

The Europeans love to hold fabulous outdoor concerts, there exist fabulous summer festivals, and of course, there is always Octoberfest if you want to drink some good beer with the Germans.

So, how does one learn about these possibilities?

Answer: go to Google and type your destination’s name plus the word tourism.  I did that for Austria, for example, and found all of these upcoming music festivals in Austria (click here).

A word of caution: make certain that you find the “official” tourism website for your desired destination.  Otherwise, it’s buyer beware as sneaky web dudes do all kinds of things to make themselves look official.

So, want to enjoy next year’s Sommernachtskonzert in Vienna along with a river cruise on the Danube? Well, next year the date is June 20th, click here for the details.

When you’re on an ocean or river cruise anywhere in the world, and you’re spending a night in port, do a little Google search to see if there might be something fun to do off of the ship.

And, if you’re one of those last-minute type people, just ask the ship’s concierge or cruise director for the options in port while you’re on the ship.

For more information about our travel agency services, please call Roaming Boomers Travel Services at (480) 550-1235 or use our convenient online information request (click here) and we’ll reach out to you.

If you enjoyed this article, sign up for our travel newsletter to keep abreast of our best travel tips, on-location reviews, exclusive travel offers, group travel events, and much more.

Roaming Boomers Travel Services is an Independent Affiliate of Cadence, a Virtuoso® member. CST#201120-40

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Sailing the River Rhine in our AmaWaterways BA stateroom.

Amawaterways Ships Take Top Six Spots in Third Edition of Berlitz: River Cruising in Europe and the USA.  AmaKristina Takes Top Spot Out of 320 River Ships

Carol and I sailed the River Rhine with AmaWaterways in April of 2017 on the maiden voyage of the AmaKristina.  We had a blast and you can read a couple of our reviews here:

Evidently, the folks at Berlitz Travel Guides enjoyed sailing with AmaWaterways as well.

Castles on the Rhine aboard the AmaKristina

Here’s a recent press release from AmaWaterways announcing their dominance in the Berlitz ratings:

Calabasas, CA – (Jun. 1, 2018) – AmaWaterways today announced that its ships have earned six of the top ten positions in the much-anticipated third edition of the Berlitz: River Cruising in Europe & the USA travel guide. Securing this year’s coveted number one spot, due in part to outstanding cuisine and service, is AmaKristina, the namesake of AmaWaterways’ Co-Owner and Executive Vice President Kristin Karst.

For the 2018-2019 edition of Berlitz: River Cruising in Europe & the USA, author Douglas Ward, widely regarded as the world’s foremost independent authority on cruising and cruise ships, evaluated 320 river ships. AmaWaterways’ ships outranked the competition in total points covering the categories of hardware, accommodations, cuisine, service and miscellaneous, underscoring the company’s commitment to delivering the highest quality product and guest service to the market.

“On behalf of our entire AmaWaterways family, we are so incredibly thrilled to be recognized once again as a leader in the river cruise industry by Douglas Ward,” said Karst. “It is especially humbling for me as AmaKristina receives the top ranking this year. I am so proud of everything we have accomplished at AmaWaterways over the years, and I look forward to a bright future ahead, as we continue evolving our product and delivering unforgettable vacation memories to travelers from around the world.”

In the guide, which will be released in the U.S. in July, Ward applauded AmaWaterways for its top-rated cuisine and friendly guest service, stating “AmaWaterways spends considerably more on high-quality food ingredients and wine and on hotel crew service training than any other river cruise company. The company is also known to offer the highest levels of customer care and friendliness in the river cruise industry.”

Receiving the top four-star plus rating in the book were eleven ships — AmaBella, AmaCerto, AmaKristina, AmaPrima, AmaReina, AmaSerena, AmaSonata, AmaStella, AmaVenita, AmaVerde and AmaViola. AmaLea, AmaWaterways’ 20th ship, joined the fleet in March of this year and will be evaluated in the next edition of the guide. The company’s innovative and highly-anticipated new ship AmaMagna – set to debut in 2019 – is highlighted in this year’s guide as a ‘stunning, double-width rivership’ having ‘oodles of space, comfort, and pizzazz.’

For more information or to book an AmaWaterways river cruise, please call Roaming Boomers Travel Services at (480) 550-1235 or use our convenient online information request (click here) and we’ll reach out to you.

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Click for larger view.

Roaming Boomers Travel Nominated for 2018 Virtuoso Most Innovative Advisor – Cruise Sales

You know, ever since we started our travel blog in 2010, our lives have been a whirlwind of fun, exploration, and even a little recognition of our efforts along the way.

From the getgo, our travel blog zoomed to 100s of thousands of readers and when we started our travel agency in 2014, we’ve enjoyed a measure of success beyond our wildest expectations.

As near as I can tell, in just four years, Carol and I seem to be in the top 5% of all travel advisors for our annual sales volume, our travel agency won a national Trendsetter Award in 2016, last year we were awarded the #1 Viking Cruises sellers out of the 16,000 advisors in Virtuoso and we also learned that we’re #5 in the world, and this year we find ourselves nominated for the Most Innovative Advisor – Cruise Sales Award.

This latest award is voted on by the various ocean and river cruise lines.  While we’re honored to be on the list of five folks, we’re facing some stiff competition from other well-known folks that have been in the industry for decades.  Fingers crossed. 

While awards are a very nice things and bring honor to our company, nothing brings us more honor than the weekly thank yous and thumbs up from our clients.  Helping our clients with their journeys all over the world involves a lot of moving pieces.  And while this honor perhaps points to our upfront marketing efforts, you must know that none of this would be happening if my bride of 32 years wasn’t able to consistently, week after week, produce happy clients who come back and refer their friends and family.  This is truly a team effort.

So, thank you to those who nominated us, thank you to the 100s of thousands of you who read our travel articles, and thank you to the hundreds of you who have become our clients.

We’re honored!

If you enjoyed this article, sign up for our travel newsletter to keep abreast of our best travel tips, on-location reviews, exclusive travel offers, group travel events, and much more.

Roaming Boomers Travel Services is an Independent Affiliate of Cadence, a Virtuoso® member. CST#201120-40

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Carol  in London

Top 10 Summer 2018 Luxury Travel Destinations

Last week, we shared with you in this article the top 2018 European travel destinations for travelers who bought travel insurance from Allianz to cover their trips.

This week, Virtuoso has released their annual top ten list sharing where luxury travelers are headed for the summer of 2018 from its $40.7 billion in actual travel bookings.

Not surprisingly, European countries have grabbed 8 of the top 10 spots.

Here’s the list with links to our travel dreams planning site where you can explore the many travel options in each of the countries.

Click each of the links below:

  1. United Kingdom
  2. Italy
  3. Canada
  4. France
  5. South Africa
  6. Greece
  7. Germany
  8. Netherlands
  9. Ireland
  10. Spain

Carol and I help upwards of 500 people plan their trips each year and a great many of them are headed to these destinations.

Whether you’re looking for a European river cruise, a Mediterranean or Baltic ocean cruise, a safari in South Africa, or perhaps a fun land journey in Italy, Ireland, the UK, or Spain, we are very qualified to step alongside and help you with the planning.  We’ll save you a lot of time and hassle, but we’ll bring along our renowned Virtuoso VIP perks.

To learn more about our services, or to book one of these exciting destinations, please call Roaming Boomers Travel Services at (480) 550-1235 or use our convenient online information request (click here) and we’ll reach out to you.

If you enjoyed this article, sign up for our travel newsletter to keep abreast of our best travel tips, on-location reviews, exclusive travel offers, group travel events, and much more.

Roaming Boomers Travel Services is an Independent Affiliate of Cadence, a Virtuoso® member. CST#201120-40

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Click image for Google Maps directions.

Maison Guyard, Paris: Charcuterie, Traiteur, Foie Gras

OK. You’ve got a full day of museum gawking at the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, or perhaps the Musée de l’Orangerie and the idea of a picnic lunch along the River Seine sounds like fun.

Well, you’re in luck.

A mere 10-minute walk from the Louvre (for example), across the Seine on the Left Bank is a fabulous third-generation charcuterie (meats) and traiteur (prepared foods, caterer) where you can purchase the most delightful meats and prepared foods for the romantic picnic of your dreams.

And heck, if a picnic bench on the Seine doesn’t do it for you, you’re just a stone’s throw from the world-renowned Tuileries Garden. And if that doesn’t do it for you, then I must give up.

Laurie Nourrigat

We were introduced to Maison Guyard by our lovely private-guide Laurie Nourrigat who was taking us on a very fun Baguette to Bistro: Paris Food Tour with our friends from Context Travel Tours.

Traveling through the chic Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood, our walk visited a select group of specialty food shops that the Context folks have evaluated for their exceptional, artisanal wares. Once the home of the intellectual café culture of the 1950s, this upscale quartier is now known for its high-end shopping, beautiful boulevards, and most importantly, the gourmet food shops—some of which have been in the area for generations.

This is Collette with Maison Guyard (left) with Carol and Laurie in front of the shop.

Once inside the shop, Collette hauled out a local food-guide to make certain that we knew that Maison Guyard was a very well respected shop.

Collette then went on to explain the wide variety of house-made meats they prepared and behind Carol you can see one of the displays of “take-out” French delicacies. YUM!

If I’m not mistaken, I believe Collette said that the paté below was voted best in Paris.  Wow, was it good!

And before we left, I grabbed a tin of duck and a tin of goose foie gras.  It’s now sitting in our pantry awaiting a special occasion.  I picked up the bottle of port at another little shop during our tour.  I’ll tell you more about that later.

Here is a photograph of the fabulous meats, cheeses, and baguette that we enjoyed on our tour.  I’ll tell you about the cheese and bread shops in other posts.  For now, just know that it was beyond wonderful.  I want more.  NOW!

And now, you know where to go get the most delightful Parisian specialty foods for your perfect French picnic in Paris.

Stay tuned for future posts as I continue to share with you the French delights we enjoyed on our Baguette to Bistro: Paris Food Tour with Context Travel Tours.

Context has become our tour company of choice as they offer our clients and readers PH.D and MA-level scholar guides, small groups with a max of 6 people) or private tours, and thematic, in-depth experiences in some of the world’s most exciting cities.  This was our first experience with Context and we were very impressed.

Up next, the fabulous century-old cheese shop where we obtained these FABULOUS cheeses.  Stay tuned.

To explore other Context Travel Tours in cities all over the world, CLICK HERE.

Note: our fabulous Baguette to Bistro: Paris Food Tour was provided by our friends at Context Tours.  Thanks!  It was fabulous and we’ll be back. 
 
If you enjoyed this article, sign up for our travel newsletter to keep abreast of our best travel tips, on-location reviews, exclusive travel offers, group travel events, and much more.

Roaming Boomers Travel Services is an Independent Affiliate of Cadence, a Virtuoso® member. CST#201120-40

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Strolling by Café de Flore in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris


Note: click photo for a larger view. ©2018, David A. Porter

When you visit Paris, you simply must take no less than a half-day and stroll the streets of Saint-Germain-des-Prês in the 6th arrondissement.

The area has a bohemian vibe and is full of wonderful cafés where you can sit and watch Paris go by as you sip your café au lait.

One of the more popular cafés is the Café de Flore which I captured in my photograph above complete with a little post-processing tweaking to make my photograph more resemble a painting.

Here’s a little history lesson from Wikipedia:

“The café was opened in the 1880s, during the Third Republic. The name is taken from a sculpture of Flora, the goddess of flowers and the season of spring in Roman mythology, located on the opposite side of the boulevard. Authors Joris-Karl Huysmans and Remy de Gourmont were two of the first well-known regulars. In the late 19th century, Charles Maurras wrote his book Au signe de Flore on the café’s first floor, where in 1899 the Revue d’Action Française was also founded.[2]

The Café de Flore became a popular hub of famous writers and philosophers. Georges Bataille, Robert Desnos, Léon-Paul Fargue, Raymond Queneau were all regulars, and so was Pablo Picasso.[3] Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai was known to be a frequent patron of Café de Flore during his years in France in the 1920s.[4] The classic Art Deco interior of all red seating, mahogany and mirrors has changed little since World War II.

Like its main rival, Les Deux Magots, it has been frequented by numerous French intellectuals during the post-war years. In his essay “A Tale of Two Cafes” and his book Paris to the Moon, American writer Adam Gopnik mused over the possible explanations of why the Flore had become, by the late 1990s, much more fashionable and popular than Les Deux Magots, despite the fact that the latter café was associated with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, and other famous thinkers of the 1940s and 1950s.

The Prix de Flore, a literary prize inaugurated by Frédéric Beigbeder in 1994, is awarded annually at the Café de Flore.”

Carol and I didn’t have time to stop in the Café de Flore, but we did enjoy lunch in one of its main competitors, Les Deux Magots. I will tell you more about that experience in a separate post.

For now, I hope you enjoy my street scene, and I hope I’ve convinced you to visit Saint-Germain-des-Prês when you visit Paris.

Note: I snagged the coffee cup photograph from the Café de Flore’s Instagram account
 
If you enjoyed this article, sign up for our travel newsletter to keep abreast of our best travel tips, on-location reviews, exclusive travel offers, group travel events, and much more.

Roaming Boomers Travel Services is an Independent Affiliate of Cadence, a Virtuoso® member. CST#201120-40

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