The Ultimate Foodie Tour: South Italy With Old Vine Cafe's Mark McDonald

Old Vine Cafe

Start saving up those vacation days now. Mark McDonald, chef and co-owner of Costa Mesa's Old Vine Cafe (a SaFII favorite!), doesn't just want to teach his customers about the food of South Italy--he wants them to experience it firsthand. In South Italy. 

He's teaming up with the Italian Culinary Institute to host a 10-day tour that'll take food devotees through the glorious old country--Magna Grecia, Calabria (the birthplace of wine) and Sicily, places that existed a thousand years before Rome.  

Some highlights of the trip. 

- A pasta-making class where participants will work alongside Italian chefs to prepare more than 50 types of pasta. 
- A visit to Ciro, home to the oldest wines in Europe.
- A ride on a traghetto across the Straights of Messina. A tradition on the ferry is to eat an arancino, an Italian delicacy.  
- Canoli, aperitifs and gelato in Castelmola.
- An olive oil and balsamic vinegar class and tasting conducted by Chef John Nocita.
- A visit to an "agriturismo," an organic farm with a menu of extra virgin olive oil, cheese, cured meats, breads and wines all made on the premises. 

And those are just some of the food excursions. See the full itinerary here (PDF). 

"This is an amazing itinerary full of experiences that would be hard to find traveling in this region without direction," McDonald tells us. 

The all-inclusive "Splendors of South Italy" trip costs $3,600 per person for double occupancy. Those that book by Aug. 31 save $100.00 per person. For details, contact McDonald at (714) 655-6142 or 

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Location Info

Old Vine Cafe

2937 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, CA

Category: Restaurant

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My Voice Nation Help

What a bargain, only $400 a day. Only $800 a day for a couple. May I suggest a Lonely Planet and a sense of adventure. You will have a better time and save a lot of money.


I've traveled extensively throughout Europe, Mexico, Central America, Brazil, NZ and Australia, and the US amongst others. Europe may be expensive, but it is not $800 a day expensive. A double room at the first hotel is $150 including breakfast. That leaves you $650 to pay for the day's activities. I'm not knocking the chef for wanting to do this tour. I just feel that the average OC Weekly reader probably couldn't afford this trip but could afford Italy not on a tour.


I ask; you answer. Gracias! Now, if only our loyal neo-Nazi audience could learn from our interaction...


My bad the room is only $75 a night per couple. The $150 was for two nights. So that leaves you $725 a day for activities.

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