Dining out is one of the great pleasures of a vacation, but if you find yourself missing the feel of a knife hitting a cutting board, or the smell of butter sizzling in a skillet, it's easy to work in some kitchen time on your next foray away.From selecting the right ingredients from the garden or a local market, to creative ways to fill a glass, options abound for globetrotting foodie travelers who want to bring home local culinary skills along with their memories. Ritz Carlton Amelia Island, Florida Great meals start with great cocktails, and the Ritz Carlton Amelia Island offers a mixology class to help you move beyond the ordinary beverage. The class takes place in the hotel's bar, Salt Lounge, where you'll learn to make drinks like a Blueberry Mojito or a Blackberry Crush Martini. The mixology class is offered every Wednesday. The hotel also offers two-day cooking schools taught by Richard Gras, chef de cuisine; upcoming classes include "Barbecue Around the World" (June 11-12) and "Smoking, Grilling, Basting: For the Love of Barbecue" (Aug. 13-14). Myres Castle, Auchtermuchty, Scotland At this nine-bedroom castle about 45 miles from Edinburgh, chef Richard Turner specializes in creating meals with local Scottish ingredients --especially those that are grown right on the castle's 44-acre estate. Turner, who has cooked at noted Scottish kitchens including Inverlochy Castle, Kinnaird and the Peat Inn, will create menus to your specifications, and will teach you how to cook good food with a Scottish flair, starting with a trip out to the garden to gather your ingredients.
You may only book the entire castle, so bring hungry friends and family on this vacation. Nimmy Paul's House, Cochin, India Noted Indian chef Nimmy Paul teaches cooking right in her home in Cochin, India. You'll learn to prepare South India's finest Keralan delicacies, like pallappam (an impossibly light and lacy rice pancake), meen molee (fish in coconut milk) and inji kari (sweet and sour vegetables). The best part is sitting at the Paul family table and eating a meal you've helped to prepare. Book through Greaves India, which can also help you to arrange nearby accommodations. Villa San Michele School of Cookery, Florence, Italy As if a stay in a 15th-century former monastery in Florence wasn't romantic enough, learn to cook with the most romantic of ingredients, flowers. Attilio Di Fabrizio, the property's executive chef, and assistant chef Luca Orini -- along with an assist from herb and flower expert Fernanda Russo -- will guide you through a personal shopping experience for flowers and herbs. Over the course of two days, they will guide you through the preparation of your own lunch. "Cooking with Flowers" is scheduled for Sept. 10-Sept. 13; reserve one of the villa's 46 rooms to secure your spot. InterContinental Hong Kong, Kowloon, China The Yan Toh Heen restaurant inside this hotel is renowned for its refined Cantonese cuisine, and especially for its dim sum lunch. Although the hotel doesn't advertise it extensively, you can go behind the scenes and learn how to prepare dim sum with one of the restaurant's chefs, and then sit down and dive in to what you've prepared for lunch.
Ask for the class while you're making your reservation. Sazón at Casa de Sierra Nevada, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico Learn how to cook real Mexican food at Sazón, which offers a wide variety of classes, including explorations of the country's many distinctive regional cuisines (Baja, Pueblo, Mexico City, for example), expeditions to local markets for the freshest ingredients and home cooking in clay vessels. The cooking school is a part of luxury hotel Casada Sierra Nevada, which has 31 rooms and a new spa. Hotel & Spa Rosa Alpina, San Cassiano, Italy Dive into Northern Italian cooking with Michelin-starred chef Norbert Niederkofler. The class, called "Flavors of the Dolomites," will include an overview of special techniques used in this cuisine, including smoking, vacuum and low-temperature cooking, as well as a visit from a local cheese producer who creates the regional specialty cheese, graukase, which fills the chef's signature ravioli dish. The class runs over three nights, June 20-June 23rd; reserve through the hotel.