Romancing Your Inner Gourmet at the Culinary Institute of America
The link between food as an aphrodisiac and romance is well-documented. For many, the path to their hearts is through their stomachs, which is why I choose to visit the Culinary Institute of America to discover culinary adventures that could spark romance. Located in the historic Christian Brothers winery in the heart of the Napa Valley, this is the ideal location for a food immersion experience.
Choosing the right culinary experience to engage in with a spouse can be the ultimate romantic getaway. Imagine an immersion lasting a few hours or a few days, while spending quality time together. What better place to take a cooking class than one training professional chefs, the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). Weekend gourmands will be happy to find a plethora of cooking classes ranging from two hours to a full day. Learn to make your favorite dishes from around the world. Most classes include a CIA apron and cookbook to take home with which to remember the experience.
For those who prefer to indulge in a chef-prepared meal, the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant is for you. Dine in this upscale restaurant in the heart of the wine country. Menus change weekly and feature in-season ingredients from their organic garden and local purveyors. Begin your meal with a premium olive oil tasting featuring oils from California, Spain, and Italy. Menu selections range from healthy to decadent, and everything in between.
First courses are small and include soup, salads and appetizers. We started with the Monterey Bay Sardines, perfectly seasoned, served with fingerling potatoes, frisee, and sauce verde. Entrees feature larger portions, perfect for sharing, and included vegetable risotto, several fresh fish choices, chicken, duck, steak and Bouillabaisse. You will want to leave room for the Sweet Finale, a selection of sweets prepared fresh – perfect small bites of desserts. The wine selection complements the ever-changing menu and features local and international wine.
Make time for a Flavor Bar Experience offering concise, informative tastings of olive oil, chocolate, wine and cheese for the opportunity to calibrate your palate. Since chocolate is considered to be an essential element in love, The Chocolate Experience was the only choice for me. The class was informative and interesting while providing an overview of how chocolate is grown, sourced, and produced, and the best part was sampling chocolate in its various forms.
Try one of the cooking demonstrations, offered on Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30 pm for one hour. A recipe and tasting are included in the $20 per-person price.
Classes for Food and Wine Enthusiasts are held on Saturdays. They range from two to five hours and include a variety of food and wine experiences. They offer hands-on cooking classes covering various types of cuisine, as well as baking.
Or if you are yearning for a more extensive culinary experience, participate in CIA Boot Camp featuring two- to five-day programs. Consider this a culinary vacation to deepen your appreciation of food and wine, and quite possibly your skills as a home chef. Who hasn’t wanted to learn more about wine and wine tasting? The Wine Lover’s Boot Camp is a two-day intensive where you learn to taste wine like a pro and appreciate characteristics of grape varietals, the wine-making process and terroir on the the finished wine.
And don’t forget to stop by Spice Islands Market Place where you can purchase CIA cookbooks and professional cooking tools to recreate the delicious recipes at home. That is sure to put some added spice in your relationship.
Details: The CIA is located in St. Helena, in the heart of Napa Valley at 2555 Main Street, St. Helena, California 94574; phone 707-967-2320.