The Foodie Issue
Cooking Classes around the Globe
What comes to mind when you think of Alaskan cuisine? Perhaps reindeer hot dogs and eskimo ice cream (seal oil and reindeer fat churned with frozen wild berries straight from the tundra.) The wilderness looms large in Alaska’s food scene. But Tutka Bay Lodge really is a journey into the wild. Isolated at the head of a seven-mile fjord, it’s only accessible by boat or charter flight.
Right on the boardwalk, an old crabbing boat has been converted into a back-country cooking school by award-winning chef Kirsten Dixon. Inside the wood-panelled kitchen or out on deck, you’ll learn to rustle up simple seafood dishes, such as smoked salmon and cardamom spread or rockfish fritters with horseradish sauce. You might even learn to harvest the famous Kachemak Bay oysters or to look a lingcod in the eye.
At Borgo Santo Pietro in Tuscany, cookery sessions are fun and informal. Originally a retreat for pilgrims, Borgo Santo Pietro is now an impressive country estate with a ‘farm to plate' food philosophy. The organic farm, vineyards, olive groves and kitchen gardens supply the hotel, restaurants and cooking school with a bounty of organic vegetables, herbs, eggs and honey. There are sheep, chickens and rare-breed pigs.
Learn your Brunellos from your Barolos with the sommelier, create fresh tortellini, foccacia and crostini under the guidance of Michelin-starred chefs, learn the secrets of fresh pasta from a local nonna or toss wood-fired pizza with a master pizzaiolo. There are abundant foodie forays into the Tuscan countryside, too — pack a gourmet picnic, go on a truffle hunt, or watch an organic cheesemaker making pecorino.
Within Avignon’s 14th century city walls, lie some of the best artisan bakers, master chocolate makers, and Provencal restaurants in France. You are guaranteed to eat memorably at Hotel La Mirande, a palatial townhouse with intricate interiors. In the 18th century kitchen, Séverine Sagnet invites some of the region’s leading chefs to introduce gourmands to the art of Provencal cooking.
At Sagnet’s Le Marmiton cooking school, which means ‘kitchen boy’ in French, cooking and pastry-making themes change with the seasons. Classes begin with a stroll to the Marché les Halles d’Avignon to buy (and try) the freshest, finest ingredients, from aged Comté cheese to tender asparagus. Then it’s back to the wood-burning stove at Le Marmiton for a leisurely cooking session. While your food is in the oven, head down to the cellar for an aperitif.