Feed Your Soul: Gastronomic Hidden Gems of Europe


As featured in the Spring 2019 issue by Suncierge CEO, Christie Soper…

Does Europe have a big checkmark next to it on your bucket list with a “been there, done that” sense of accomplishment?

Not so fast, my friends. Here are a few of our favorite culinary and cultural hidden gems (outside France and Italy) that may prompt you to get out your eraser.


With Italy just across the way, you might wonder if Croatia could hold its own as a foodie destination. From a white truffle hunt in the village of Livade to wine tastings in the Istria region to the freshest of seafood with a Mediterranean flair to world-class olive oil, we would wager this little-explored corner of Europe, also known as the Pearl of the Adriatic, is a hidden epicurean delight. If you’re craving immersive, authentic moments, how about a visit to a vibrant little food market and a cooking class in a private home among the locals for an evening?

If you prefer a broad exploration of Croatia, perhaps you might enjoy a uniquely “moving” experience along the Dalmatian Coast exploring Croatia, Montenegro and a bit of Italy on a yacht featuring a James Beard Foundation culinary-themed cruise? Your own JBF chef and beverage expert are at your service for the duration of the cruise to host cooking demonstrations, market shopping excursions and of course, tastings.

Salzburg, Austria
Sure, Salzburg (which literally means “Salt Fortress”) has its share of fame thanks to Mozart and its historic city center’s status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Did you know Salzburg is also considered the culinary capital of the region? From salt to strudel to (Michelin) stars, even the recently departed fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld enjoyed dining at the St Peter Stiftskulinarium, the reputedly oldest restaurant in central Europe dating back to 803 A.D. For your sweet-tooth, the Mozartkugel is a must with its truffle-lookalike pistachio, marzipan and nougat rolled in dark chocolate.

Flanders, Belgium
With 93 Michelin-starred restaurants located in Flanders, Belgium, you might overlook their compelling street food scene. If you appreciate perfectly prepared Belgian fries, then imagine the robust range of concentrated gastronomy goodness available in this northern region of Belgium that suits all budgets.


For all of you wine aficionados, the Priorat wine region located southwest of Barcelona makes for an easy day trip into stunning mountainous scenery. The legend says the wine is mystical, and the history says it must be perseverant. To us, the reds from this area seem to reflect both in their dark and luscious hardiness. From cava to tapas, Spain also had us craving the incomparable buttery, rich and succulent Iberian ham. And in the Catalan area, you can find our favorite Gastro Botanist, who has made a career of providing plant specialties to top chefs. Lastly, no culinary writer can omit San Sabastian in the Basque country, which is the heart of Spain’s gastronomy capital. Try their brand of tapas called pintxos while enjoying quality time and socializing the Spanish way.

Ready for your next customized gastronomy adventure? Contact us at hello@suncierge.com.

May 30 – June 12, 2019

Join UNC Greensboro as we blend immersive adventure and enlightening education into our first amazing travel experience for College of Arts and Sciences alumni & friends in Greece!

Register Now!

Step back to ancient times on excursions led by UNCG’s own associate professor of Classic Studies, Dr. Joanne Murphy, and Dr. Shannon LaFayette Hogue, assistant professor of Classics at University of Massachusetts Amherst and UNCG alumnus. Engage with students in their learning element, explore regional culture, cuisine and wine, and enjoy breathtaking views from your upscale accommodations.

Traverse by land, air, and sea the ancient and current city of Athens, western Greece and its coast, and two unique and off-the-beaten-path islands. Immerse yourself in this personalized, unforgettable two-week experience artfully designed to connect you with students, teachers, and other alumni in the grandeur of Greece.


Package rate: Land-based package is USD $4,950 per person estimated based on double occupancy. Supplement for single occupancy is an additional USD $1,390 per person estimated. Roundtrip flights to Athens and travel insurance coverage are not included and are available separately. A deposit of $1,500 per person will be due to complete your reservation. Once we’ve reached the minimum number of registered participants necessary to operate the tour, a Suncierge representative will contact you to collect your deposit. Tour maximum is 15 participants.


  • 6 days of private guided tours with highlights such as the Acropolis, western Greece and the coastal town of Nafplion, the wine region of Nemea, the UNESCO site of Argolida, and the hill fort of Tyrins dating back to 5000 BC.
  • 4 nights accommodation at the Royal Olympic hotel in Athens based on Executive rooms including breakfast daily and welcome dinner (beverages are separate)
  • 3 nights accommodation at the Lagos Mare hotel in Naxos based on double garden views rooms including breakfast
  • 2 nights accommodation at the Porto Kea Suites in Kea based on suites with sea or garden view including breakfast
  • 2 nights accommodation at the Amalia Nafplia hotel based on classic rooms including breakfast and one lunch (beverages are separate)
  • 1 night at the Sofitel Athens airport hotel in a superior room including breakfast
  • The Flavors of Athens Gastronomy Tour
  • Private picnic lunch during one of the tour days
  • Private Naxos daytime cruise including roundtrip transfer
  • Dean’s reception for alumni, students and professors
  • Roundtrip transfers, ferry and domestic air tickets between islands
  • Roundtrip airport transfers
  • Entrance fees to archaeological sites and museums


  • International roundtrip flights to Athens (to be determined for each traveler)
  • Travel insurance (to be determined for each traveler)
  • Lunches and dinners not mentioned above
  • Personal expenses
  • Gratuities for culinary tour and cruise (optional)
  • Beverages during meals (with the exception of the Amalia hotel pool cocktail)
  • Anything not mentioned above

A Celebration of African Women

5:30 PM on Wednesday, February 21, 2018
VCM Studio at 517 S Elm St. Greensboro, NC

Join three dynamic local leaders in cultural advocacy for a unique and inspirational perspective on the plight of African women through the lens of a small village in Mali. Let the artist and the expert introduce you to the challenging, yet uplifting stories of these and other women and the critical role they play in their families and communities. View the body of work from The Mali Project, “Art Medicine and Motherhood: A Mother and Daughter’s Exploration of Women and Healthcare in Africa,” as well as new art debuting in the studio. Then learn about opportunities to experience Africa firsthand.

Wine, beer and a signature cocktail with hors d’oeuvres available. Entry fee is your $10 minimum donation of which 100% will be donated to the village women of Bougarubaya, Mali for healthcare needs.

American workers forfeit 658 million days of pay to their employers

Over a span of 20 years in corporate America, Soper said she was inspired by many colleagues, especially women, who juggle so much in their daily lives. “They were overcommitted, overworked and overwhelmed and could hardly carve out time to plan dinner, let alone a much-needed dream vacation with their partner, family or friends.”

In 2015, American workers forfeited 658 million days of their paid time off to their employers, she said. “This statistic haunted me and prompted me to think about my passion for travel and travel planning for family and friends over the years as a hobbyist. If I could do what I love for a living and help others who crave the opportunity to unplug, refresh and re-bond, what a fulfilling calling.”

The reality is that planning travel, while time-consuming and complex sometimes, is not the hard part of an escape, Soper said. “It’s all that we must anticipate and prepare for beforehand and the avalanche waiting for us upon return.”

So Suncierge, with traveler advocacy as its core mission, provides everything from customized pack-and-wear lists, safe traveler preparation, and turn-key technology packages before travel. Suncierge will even find CPR certified pet sitters while you’re away and stock your groceries for when you return.

“Cancel out” your flight emissions!

All you eco-friendly travelers, do you want to do good for your local community while jetting off for fun? Now you can buy carbon offsets to “cancel out” your flight emissions through Suncierge in exclusive partnership with Urban Offsets.

Inspired by an article by The Washington Post’s Andrea Sachs, “Green means go: How to plan an eco-vacation from start to finish”: Greensboro-based startups Urban Offsets and Suncierge have partnered to offer locally sourced carbon offsets in North Carolina to help eco-minded flyers neutralize the environmental impact of their flights.

Give us a call!

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