Weekend Gourmet Getaways
For something a bit more relaxing, last summer Sonia Fiorenza of Westlake Village, California, and her mother selected the Santa Fe Weekend offered by Epiculinary, one of many culinary tour companies operating in the United States.
The long-weekend package in New Mexico includes three nights at the upscale Inn of the Anasazi, two cooking classes at the acclaimed Santa Fe School of Cooking, an afternoon of pampering at a spa, and time for leisurely dining and shopping.
We chose this particular package because it was about the right length and because of the combination of cooking and spa opportunities—two hobbies of ours,” says Fiorenza, 34, a corporate communications manager for a biotechnology company.
Her 55-year-old mom, Anita, a personal trainer in Dana Point, California, adds, “I enjoyed the chef because of his interaction with us and his knowledge of the food and history of the area.”
Epiculinary founder and owner Catherine Merrill says the company’s classes range from traditional and contemporary Southwest cuisine to Southwest tapas and light Mexican cooking. The Santa Fe tour is popular with mothers and daughters, girlfriends, and husbands and wives, she says: “What unites them is their passion for food and their curiosity about new places.”
If you don’t have the time or money for a lengthy culinary expedition, check out the courses at your local cooking school or community college.
At the South Bay School of Cooking in Manhattan Beach, California, for example, chef-owner Annette Gallardo, 46, offers recreational cooks hands-on experiences. Students enjoy field trips such as La Española Tour and Lunch, which includes a stop at a market that specializes in Spanish foods; lessons on how chorizos are made and cured; and a meal of tapas, paella, and Spanish wine.
Gallardo also invites guest chefs to share their expertise. Classes fill up quickly when Gilberto Cetina, 53, who is the chef-owner of the Los Angeles-based Chichén Itzá Restaurant, teaches students how to prepare the perfect Mayan tamal or a succulent cochinita pibil.
Student Margarita Miranda, 60, a community relations manager for an engineering and construction company, sums up the culinary experience: “Food is one of the best ways to learn about other cultures.”
So stop salivating over the glossy photographs in your cookbook or travel magazine. Hit the road and give your taste buds a thrill.
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