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Pasta Around the World

October 17, 2018
If one listens to the internet, every day is a holiday. There’s International Cat Day, National Siblings Day, National Mutt Day, and even National Video Game Day.

While we have nothing against any of those celebrations, we prefer the ones that we can taste. And that’s why today, we want to talk about October 17th, or National Pasta Day.

Some of our favorite non-profit fundraising auction travel packages take your donors to destinations well-known for their pasta prowess. Whether your supporters love red or white sauce, a fantastic wine paring or a beer, they can get their fill of noodles in one of these places.

Italy is well-represented in our Destinations of Excellence catalog with more than a dozen trips to the country on offer; when talking pasta, there’s no other place to start. The type of noodle in the homeland can differ wildly by region; the ruffled edges of gigli in Tuscany may not be available in Sicily, where ziti is a favorite. But whatever shape the dish takes, your winning donors will be thrilled to be eating it in its birthplace (and extra credit to those who find their way to Roma Sparita, the home of a pepper-and-cheese pasta that Anthony Bourdain swore by). Depending on the trip your supporters win, they might even learn how to best make it, right in their accommodations!

Of course, one of the largest concentrations of Italians outside of Italy resides in New York City, and there are plenty of great pasta joints in the metropolis. Restaurants like Carbone, Rao’s and Del Posto are all big names, but if your donors stop at one of many Little Italy eateries, they’ll find great Italian cuisine. If your supporters are real fiends for the dish, they can set their sights on the Festival of San Gennaro, the large street fair that happens every September, to get samples of pasta from dozens of different vendors.

Not all great pasta come with that traditional red sauce. A trip to Northern California will give your donors license to explore the quality of a good white clam sauce, as well. With the quantity of clams available from a fishing town like San Francisco, there are variations on clam spaghetti and linguine with clams on menus throughout the region (including several of our favorite restaurants in Napa Valley). Some of the area’s versions of the dish have even become famous; Wall Street Journal highlighted the linguine and clams of Charter Oak in neighboring St. Helena, where it’s a seasonal dish, earlier in 2018.

What to Drink Après-Ski

October 10, 2018
Your donors have the skis, the helmets, and, with your help, the tickets and accommodations, via one of our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages.

But do they have the drinks?

In our ongoing quest to make your donors as happy with their auction win as possible, we’ve put together a guide to the après-ski drink. It’s a tradition worth engaging in; an underrated part of the resort experience is hanging out around the fireplace or pit at the end of the day, talking with other skiers and having a drink or two.

Here’s are guide to a few of the options – and a few of the optimal places in which to drink them.

Hot chocolate is a go-to after school drink for kids coming home from winter classes. But just because it connected so closely to the everyday doesn’t mean it can’t be whipped up for this occasion, too! Just put a better spin on it: Try infusing the drink with some peppermint, for instance (maybe those ever-present candy canes?) or Mandarin orange. Perhaps you can even steal some of Starbucks’ thunder and add a little pumpkin spice to make a drink worthy of capping off a wonderful day on the slopes. This may be the “coziest” of our options, so it’s the perfect cup to have in a colder location – like Banff, in the Canadian Rockies, for instance.

Of course, some people prefer something with a little … kick after racing down the mountain. The Hot Toddy mixes hot water (or tea), spices, sugar and whisky, creating a warming feeling needed after spending all day in the snow. Along the same lines, there’s the classic Irish Coffee, with the titular joe mixed with a splash of whiskey and topped with some whipped cream. they would be perfect drinks to order while skiing in Colorado; the state has had its share of whiskey distilleries open recently, and that mountain water is as clean as can be.

Not ready for a shot of whiskey when coming off the slopes? Take it easier with an Italian favorite, the Aperol Spritz. The low ABV (alcohol by volume) cocktail is a favorite around Italian fireplaces after skiers spend the day speeding downhill. A mix of prosecco (an Italian sparkling wine), soda water and the titular aperitif, the Spritz is refreshing, flavorful and, thanks to the bubbles, fun. It’s maybe best consumed under the sunny skies of British Columbia, a destination that combines winter fun with more than 300 days of sunshine per year.

The Last Escape

October 03, 2018
We love the holiday season at Mitch-Stuart: families gathering, dinners cooking, laughter ringing out. It’s why we always love it when one of our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages is used for travel during the season, like to villas in Italy or Bali.

But we also acknowledge a big truth about the holidays: They can be stressful. Hustling to finish gift lists, prettying up the home for visitors, and dealing with family dynamics adds to that rushed, out-of-breath feel that so often sets in on January 2nd.

The good news is that we’ve got more than a month now before Thanksgiving. That’s plenty of time to fit in a pre-holiday trip, one that is stress-free and will help “set the table,” so to speak, for the stressful gauntlet of November and December holidays to come. If your donors could you some relaxation before figuring out how to cook that turkey, here are some traits for which to look in a great pre-celebration voyage.

No Worries

Vacations can be stressful, too, so it’s important to find a trip that won’t pile on to the upcoming holiday pressure. The type of coordination that it takes to bring a family to Europe, for instance, might add as much anxiety as it relieves. Think instead of offering your donors the opportunity to go to an all-inclusive resort, where all the details are taken care of in advance. If the most difficult choice of the day is at which of the property’s delicious on-site restaurants to dine, that’s a day that has certainly released, rather than created, stress.

“Adult” Fun

For families of two, or friends looking to hit the road, two great cities for pre-holiday holidays are Las Vegas and New Orleans. Each have their own version of “adult playgrounds” (the Strip for the former, the French Quarter for the latter), but they also have world class dining, top-notch entertainment and a tourist-welcoming vibe that makes sure your donors will feel as at home as one can among, say, replicas of the Eiffel Tower, Manhattan and the great pyramids.


Thanksgiving and the December holidays take place during some rather chilly months – there’s a reason that Christmas, for instance, is all about sleigh bells and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” That makes finding a beach a good priority for your supporters – and both Southern California and Florida have all the sand a donor could desire. One last gasp of beach attire before going back to that parka might be all the stress relief needed before entering the holiday season.