Astrid has been in love with in Italy since she spent a year in a cultural exchange program near Venice. She later returned to Florence to study art, design, architecture, and food. During that time she began translating Italian at a culinary school where she was able to combine her love for Italy with her love for food. Astrid has collaborated with food artisans throughout the region-from Tuscany, Sicily, Elba, to Liguria, and Morocco. The brief stay turned into five years immersed in Italian cuisine and culture. Astrid continued her culinary adventures in Southeast Asia, Mexico, before landing in Portland. With 23 years of experience in culinary travel, mainly in Italy, she decided to establish her own small group travel company-Taste of Italy-to share the Italian culture with others. In addition to this passion, her driving motivation is to be able to take her two bilingual little boys there to experience the culture firsthand.

Taste of Italy provides a carefully chosen palette of unique experiences to enchant the senses. This cultural tasting tour is walking and tasting journey through Tuscany: a distinct blend of visual, cultural, and culinary arts found off the beaten path.  Traveling in small groups, guests are taken to visit local artisans for an authentic “taste” of the culture by experiencing century old traditions. Spending time with the local artisans provides insight into the rich simplicity of Italian tradition. Astrid’s mission is to provide genuine experiences with local artisans to create a meaningful cultural connection.

“The Italians’ innate passion for life is beautiful, infectious, and inspiring”. As soon as Astrid arrived in Italy she was influenced by the way they live and their approach to community and food and the relation to how and who makes it. By providing cultural tasting tours and spending time cooking together in the homes of local chefs, one begins to understand the beauty of their daily life. Along this tasting adventure clients will meet the artisans and their edible craft; the vintner, olive oil craftsman, chef, truffle hunter, cheese maker, and butcher. Each artisan has been sought out for their specialized techniques and for their knowledge and dynamic personalities. Guests will be taken you into the homes, cantinas, and kitchens of skilled experts whose multiple generations of practice and technique are demonstrated and tasted.

Taste of Italy offers seven day tasting and walking tours in Tuscany in fall and spring. The first portion of the trip is based in the heart of the Renaissance with daily excursions outside Florence. The latter half of the trip is venturing into the Tuscan countryside to visit other medieval villages.

There is still time to join Astrid on one of her next experience tours in Tuscany for September 6-12 and September 13-19, 2015.  Custom tours can be arranged for groups of five or more. 

For more information visit, Taste of Italy on Facebook, or email Astrid at  Debbi Custer at World Travel is the expert resource for airfare or any travel planning assistance.


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If you are curious about Tuscan dishes, culture, and tradition-come experience the flavors here in Portland on May 22 for a Tuscan feast, the beginning of a series of Sapori Regionali, regional flavors. We invite you to be part of the first of our 3 cultural tasting series which offers a multi sensory experience that will transport you to old world Italy while displaying the global aspects of shared food at the table.

Join Chef Jason French of Ned Ludd / Elder Hall and Astrid as they immerse you in the wine and food culture of Regional Italy, highlighting Tuscany (May 22), Veneto (June 14), and Sicily (August 2). Each dinner in the series will group Italian wines from the specific region and food inspired by the region but sourced and produced in the Pacific Northwest. Through this series we hope to connect you with Slow Food, the amazing growers and producers in our area and create meaningful cultural connections via culinary experiences.

6 course dinner with Tuscan wine, $75/person, 32 seats available. Click for Tickets and Menu. Located at Elder Hall 3929 NE MLK Blvd. Portland, OR 97212