Sicily's Menu - Celebrate Fall with Sicilian Fare

September 23, 2013

It's official: summer is over (at least it is here in our Seattle headquarters). But what better way to celebrate fall than to use up the last of your summer vegetables, as part of a Sicilian menu? Try out this recipe for Eggplant Caponata as a starter; we recommended enjoying it with a glass of fruity white wine and reflecting back on the long, warm days of summer.

Sicily's Menu

Eggplant Caponata
Make 6-8 appetizer servings
Adapted from epicurious.com
 
Ingredients
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2-pound eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, cubed
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons drained capers
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
Toasted pine nuts
         
Preparation
Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add eggplant, pepper, onion, and garlic cloves. Sauté until eggplant is soft and brown, about 15 minutes. Add diced tomatoes with juice, then red wine vinegar and drained capers. Cover and simmer until eggplant and onion are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Season caponata to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in fresh basil. Transfer caponata to serving bowl. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold. (Caponata can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.)
 
Serve with crusty white bread, cheese and a glass of fruity white wine.
 
To enjoy even more Sicilian delicacies, join us on our Circumnavigation of Sicily expedition, departing in August 2014, where you will attend cooking demonstrations on how to prepare traditional Sicilian dishes, plus enjoy several wine tastings from the Marsala and Licata regions.

If You Can Pronounce Zegrahm, You Have to Give These Sites a Try

September 19, 2013

At Zegrahm, we pride ourselves on taking our explorers to the ends of the earth, be it the continent of Antarctica, or an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean with seven syllables—we're looking at you, Thiruvananthapuram. Here is a list of our favorite, if hard to pronounce, off-the-beaten-path destinations you simply can’t miss in 2014:

Sea of Okhotsk - Wild Siberia: Kamchatka, Sea of Okhotsk & Sakhalin

The expansive region bordering the Sea of Okhotsk is one of the planet’s least-explored and most remarkable destinations for untouched forests, pristine tundra, and vast amounts of wildlife. You’ll find a number of whale species including beluga, orca, and bowhead; basking seals and sea lions by the thousands; and millions of seabirds, from northern fulmars, puffins, and guillemots to black-legged kittiwakes, auklets, and more.

Jan Mayen Island - Across the Arctic Circle: Iceland & Svalbard

Jan Mayen Island claims the northernmost active volcano on the planet. The Beerenberg volcano is entirely capped in ice and boasts numerous glaciers, many of which calve directly into the sea. We will be on the lookout for seabirds such as fulmars and puffins, and we may go ashore to view the old whaling and weather stations.

Sigiriya - Natural Wonders of Sri Lanka

In the heart of Sri Lanka lies Sigiriya, or Lion Rock, a huge granite monolith rising out of the jungle. This stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site features the ruins of a 5th-century fortress and palace, colorful murals, and the remains of an extensive network of gardens, reservoirs, and fountains.

Karasjok - Lapland: Home of the Sami People

Karasjok is the social and cultural center of the Norwegian Sami, a semi-nomadic culture based on reindeer herding. Both the Sami Parliament and a Sami language radio station were established here, and on our adventure, you will meet Sven Engolhm, an eleven-time winner of Europe’s longest dog sled race, plus visit his kennels and highly-trained sled dogs.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest - Uganda: A Primate Paradise

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is one of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet. It is home to half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas, and our overland adventure spends two full days tracking these great primates. A plethora of bird species and other chimpanzees also live here.

Classic Botswana from A to Z

September 5, 2013

It's back to school season! To help make the transition a little easier, we've provided you with the ABCs of Botswana. From aardvarks to zebras, expedition leader Lex Hes has seen it all. "Aardvark, buffalo, cheetah, duiker, elephant, fruit bat, giraffe, hare, impala, jackal, kudu, lion, mongoose, nightjar, oxpecker, porcupine, quelea, reedbuck, steenbuck, tsessebe, vulture, wild dog, and zebra. Plus, I think I can safely add YOU to the list!"

Check out some images of this incredible wildlife below, and for more details on our Classic Botswana expedition, visit our trip page.

 

BuffaloBuffalo

ElephantElephant

ImpalaImpala

KuduKudu

LionLion

Wild dogWild dog

ZebraZebra

Top Birds of Rain Forests & Reefs

August 30, 2013

Our Rain Forests & Reefs expedition explores Belize, Honduras, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Panama. Costa Rica alone has over 750 bird species, and all countries have an incredible array of wildlife.

In Belize, you may see an anhinga which in the Brazilian Tupi language, means snake bird. Anhingas often swim with only their neck above the water, often appearing as a snake, ready to strike.

You may come across the beautiful, colorful scarlet macaw in Costa Rica, though it's also the national bird of Honduras. Their plumage is mostly scarlet, but blues, yellows, and greens are often mixed in.

In Panama, look for the red-legged honeycreeper; this songbird was likely introduced in Cuba, but has since been found in southern Mexico, Peru, and Bolivia.

For more information on Rain Forests & Reefs, visit our trip page.

 

AnhingaAnhinga

Great EgretGreat Egret

Red-footed BoobyRed-footed Booby

FrigatebirdFrigatebird

White-crowned PigeonWhite-crowned Pigeon

Scarlet MacawScarlet Macaw

Chestnut-mandibled ToucanChestnut-mandibled Toucan

Reindeer Herding in Kamchatcka

August 20, 2013

Written by Rich Pagen

Beautiful low angle sunlight was reflecting off the green hillsides of Anastasiya Bay as Zodiacs left the ship bound for a shallow river mouth. This spontaneous after-dinner trip ashore was the result of scanning back down the end of the bay, where we noticed a dark line appearing on the horizon. This region of the Russian Far East is known for its seasonal reindeer herders, who bring their herds to the coast each summer. It’s impossible to know when and where to find them, but this evening we were in the right place at the right time.

We disembarked the Zodiacs at the river’s edge below a small camp with several tents, a campfire burning, and a few dogs roaming the outskirts. Our goal was to scale a low ridge, where we would sit and wait for the massive herd of over 2,000 reindeer to approach and eventually gather beneath us on the coastal plain.

Soon we were in position, with spectacular mountains looming across the bay across from us. Within minutes, the herders had the reindeer swirling in circles around them in the most magnificent display. Then, using rope to lasso the antlers, they captured a large male and with incredible skill and precision, killed the animal and began dressing it. It was a once in a lifetime happening, and something very special very few people have witnessed.