Tasty cooking vacations
(Photo: Barcelona Cooking)
For some, a vacation offers the perfect opportunity to get out of the kitchen and let someone else prepare meals. But for the foodies and apprentice chefs among us, a few days away provides a prime opportunity to pick up a few cooking skills and shake the feeling that you're an amateur in your own kitchen. After all, learning how to craft fresh pasta in Rome or dig for oysters in South Carolina outlasts any souvenir in your scrapbook, not to mention that it's a great way to experience a new culture.
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With that in mind, U.S. News Travel has rounded up a list of the best cooking vacations. From New Orleans to Paris, these epicurean hotspots feature all the key ingredients necessary to appease your taste buds, with cooking classes, tours and, of course, memorable gourmet meals. One whiff of these dishes and you're sure to feel inspired to book your next culinary escape.
After one lap around the lively Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, you'll likely wish you had access to a kitchen where your culinary dreams could run wild. Barcelona Cooking provides the perfect space for learning to cook like a local. Here, you'll learn how to prepare a four-course meal, including multiple tapas dishes, paella, other popular entrees like Pulpo a Feira (Galician-style octopus) and a dessert.
If you'd rather focus on appetizers, Barcelona Cooking also offers a tapas class that teaches enthusiasts how to make variations like baby peas with Catalan sausage and seared bay scallops with iberico ham. While you cook, you can sip on glasses of the school's very own Tempranillo and Albariño vino, crafted by winemakers from the Rioja region.
To see how locals shop their way through Boqueria Market, consider signing up for a morning class, which starts off with a tour through the shopping plaza.
(Photo: Gretchen Erickson/New Orleans School of Cooking)
The New Orleans School of Cooking
The distinct Creole and Cajun flavors of the Big Easy can be difficult to imitate at home without the know-how and proper spices. The New Orleans School of Cooking offers both with its demonstration classes and general store. Courses are taught by local chefs who specialize in the art of Bayou cuisine, with an emphasis on gumbo, jambalaya and pralines, among other NOLA staples.
In the hands-on cooking classes, you and at least seven other culinarians-in-training prepare (and eat) a dinner featuring dishes like chicken and andouille sausage gumbo, fish or chicken à la meunière and pralines. Menus vary by class and time, so check the school's website to see which tutorials tempt your palate.
After class, pop into the on-site general store and pick up some of the spices you cooked with or just admire the building's interesting structure, a converted 19th-century molasses warehouse. You'll find the New Orleans School of Cooking in the French Quarter, less than a mile northeast of the city center.