Hotel cooking classes let you savor travel memories at home

You know what they say…”take only pictures, leave only memories.” But what if you want to take it home with you? That searing pad ka prow that leaves a film of sweat on your brow, a fragrant bouillabaisse, schnitzel so thin and crisp it practically floats?

What you need is a cooking class, from one of the many resorts, hotels, or cruises offering full or half-day demonstration and hands-on programs that let you recreate regional specialties. Depending upon the class, you might find yourself shopping at the local market for ingredients, visiting wineries, or truffle hunting.

In the Southwest, Inn on the Alameda joins up with the Santa Fe School of Cooking for “Muy Sabrosa,” a package demo class/lunch, and two nights stay, including breakfast, daily wine and cheese reception, and $40 gift certificate to Mucho Gusto cafe. Rates start $376 for two and dates are available throughout the year.

In Jamaica, Jake’s Island Outpost offers private lunch classes utilizing local ingredients, and featuring traditional dishes like “run down,” for just $20 a pop. Farmers often visit Jake’s to sell their produce, while fisherman pull up onto the beach each day, so guests can cook with with freshly-caught seafood. Crystal Cruises has hands-on classes on all Wine & Food sailings, which feature guest celebrity and award-winning chefs, winemakers, and mixologists. Each trip has a theme, such as sushi or Latin American food.

In Europe, Park Hyatt Hamburg has classes focused on seasonal ingredients such as spring asparagus, or cooking a Christmas goose. An October 16 class features quinces, apples, and pears from the “Old Land,” Europe’s largest fruit orchard, just outside of the city. Students will use the fruit to make braised venison with porcini. At Hotel Crillon le Brave, a charming boutique property in the Provence countryside, class participants this fall can immerse themselves in five, half-day intensives, including excursions to local markets, and the aforementioned truffle hunting. In Switzerland, La Réserve Genève’s chef lets guests in on his professional secrets during his Chef Workshops, each based on a different dish or theme, such as fresh pasta, or chocolate.

Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, in Northern Thailand, are famed for their cooking schools and classes. Anantara Golden Triangle Resort & Spa lets students choose from one of four set menus in their half-day program, which includes a guided tour/shopping expedition of the Chiang Saen food market. Over in Abu Dhabi, Desert Islands Resort & Spa, on verdant Sir Bani Yas Island, offers the unusual experience of Arabic cooking classes, where students learn to prepare dishes like moutabel, and prawns haram.

Contest: Abercrombie & Kent will welcome winners to Provence

Luxury hospitality company Abercrombie & Kent wants to put you up in a beautiful villa in Provence for a week. In a new online contest, a week at a villa in Luberon is at stake: all you have to do is read minds.

Surrounded by 20 hectares of countryside, Le Mas du Luberon boasts seven bedrooms, a heated saltwater pool (enclosed) and other recreational activities. On the bikes available at the villa, you can pedal over to the nearby villages Bonnieux, Lacoste, Gordes and Roussillon. The villa comes with a separate cottage, ideal for extended families or large groups of friends that may require some extra privacy.

To enjoy your week in Provence, all Abercrombie & Kent wants to know is what the vacationer above is thinking. Come up with the best reflection or reverie, and you could find yourself in France … wrapped in the luxury that only A&K can provide.

Gadling + BootsnAll – Picks of the Week (4.24.09)

Welcome to Friday and another installment of our weekly content picks from travel partners BootsnAll. We reach into our “Gadling hat” and pick out 5 of the week’s best travel stories at BootsnAll, covering topics ranging from religious monuments to food to old travel standbys like Paris. Got it? Good. Let’s see what we pulled up this week:

  • Twitter x Travel – all you Twitterers out there probably already know about Gadling’s own account on the increasingly popular microblogging service. But not everyone is a fan – travel expert Rolf Potts had his followers “tweeting” mad recently when he expressed his dislike for those that used the service the way it was used while traveling. Jessica Spiegel takes a closer look at the potential pros and cons of using Twitter on the road.
  • Hostel Hiring – ever have one of those trips where you just didn’t want to return home but ran out of money? Kathleen Schmidt suggests you consider working at a hostel as a way to earn some extra cash. The prospect of long-term sleeping arrangements in a shared dorm might be a turn-off for some (read: ME) but it’s also a great way meet new friends from all over and also save some money without going home – have a look.
  • Food Freakout – if you’ve traveled enough, you’ve probably come across a “local specialty” food somewhere that made you squirm. Lucy Corne lists out Eight Traditional Foods you are obligated to try but probably won’t be asking for seconds. You know what though? I think Haggis gets a bad rap!
  • Markets in ProvenceProvence is known as one of France’s most beautiful and picturesque regions. But it’s not just the crazy beautiful scenery that’s making visitors jump on a plane – it’s also the amazing markets, chock full of fresh baguettes and straight from the farmer produce. One of Provence’s best markets is the one featured in this article on Isle sur la Sorgue. If you go, bring me back some olives, will you?
  • Angels & Demons – next month will see the release of Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons, the movie sequel to 2006’s The Da Vinci Code. Considering both films were filmed in Rome, there’s increased interest in the locations where the films were made. Find out how to take your own self-guided Angels & Demons tour of Rome with this article from BootsnAll Italy blog “WhyGo Italy.”

And with that, we conclude another installment of the Gadling + BootsnAll Picks of the Week. Stay tuned for more great travel links next Friday.

Provence Photo Gallery from National Geographic

eight years ago, when I was still single and childless, I took a vacation with two girlfriends to Europe.  Our
vacation took us from Paris to Barcelona, with a brief stop in Avignon, a town in Provence.

It was TOO

Provence is beautiful, with fabulous restaurants, quaint towns, rich history and lots of romance (I
think all three of us were quite disappointed we didn’t have any male companions while we were there!).  And now,
National Geographic is
featuring a photo gallery
of some of the best Provence has to offer.

Be sure to take a look.  If
you’re thinking of traveling to Europe anytime soon, I strongly recommend you make sure to explore this beautiful
region.  And take my advice:  spend more than 2 days there.  You’ll be glad you did.