Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Cooking Vacations

Cooking vacations are a hot topic in the travel world! Cooking vacations come in every shape and size, from inexpensive weekend getaways to pricey international week-long excursions. You need not be an accomplished cook. Only a desire to learn is required. Incidentally, with the holiday season upon us, a cooking vacation makes a terrific gift!
You'll meet new people as well. In fact, some people go on cooking vacations hoping to meet someone they'd like to date! Some men arrange cooking vacations for a date they're really hoping to impress. Much more impressive than a dinner date at a nice restaurant.
With all the possibilities out there, how do you choose the right package? Factors you'll want to consider include your budget, length of tour, your skill as a cook, formal or informal atmosphere, and the type of instruction you're seeking.
Some cooking vacations offer demonstration classes, where you simply observe the chef in action, while others have a hands-on orientation. Still another type is technique oriented. Decide which type you'd prefer.
If you're a beginning cook, you may want to explore more narrowly focused cooking vacations, such as bread baking or techniques of cake decorating or making tempura.
If you're already a good cook, you may choose to jump right in to a cooking vacation in Italy for a week-long stay in a romantic farmhouse in Tuscany. If your budget doesn't allow such extravagance, look locally for those offered by top chefs experienced in a specific cuisine.
The technique type of cooking vacation focuses more on the general art of cooking and specific techniques of a “how-to” nature that you can apply to any recipe. From artisan bread making and making gravy to sharpening knives or making authentic bouillabaisse, you'll find a cooking vacation that offers what you want.
One of the most enjoyable parts comes when the food has been prepared. Then you sit down to eat! Sometimes you'll dine in a communal dining room or perhaps in a garden setting. Usually the chef will choose wines that best complement the food. If you're a foodie, it doesn't get much better!
In the U.S., cooking schools and B&B's are getting on board with cooking vacations, offering weekend getaways as well as the full week versions. Whichever type you choose, you'll find lots of sightseeing possibilities to explore when you're not in class.
Mexican cooking vacations offer a panoply of regional cuisines, with tastes you've never experienced at home.
Popular European cooking vacations include France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Tours into the countryside between cooking classes provide not only beautiful scenery, but visits to artisan cheese makers, bakers and wine-tastings.
In Europe, more so than in the U.S., regional cooking is given more emphasis. For example, in Spain, you'll find Basque, Catalan, and Andalusian cuisines, each with distinct flavors, seasonings, techniques and ingredients.
For those who love food, a cooking vacation is a must!