Aug. 20, 2012— -- When you're traveling, the only thing better than finding a nontouristy restaurant that serves amazing local delicacies is having a local chef teach you how to prepare those dishes yourself. These cooking classes get high ratings from TripAdvisor travelers. Warning: Just reading the reviews of these classes is enough to make you hungry.
Tour a local market and then learn how to cook traditional Balinese cuisine in this highly rated cooking class in Ubud. "It was 'roll up the sleeves,' aprons on and we were into it, learning how to make coconut oil, preparing rice by traditional methods, chopping, frying, tasting, asking and answering questions under the expert tutelage of an expert chef," wrote one TripAdvisor traveler. Expect a delicious lunch as well as an opportunity to learn about Balinese traditions and culture.
Sarnic Hotel Turkish Cooking Class
You'll cook several Turkish dishes (for one class, it was "spicy lentil soup, aubergines with onions and tomato, cheese pastries, stuffed grape leaves and stuffed figs") under the tutelage of chef Mehmet in this small-group class. "Best part ... we got the pleasure of eating our creations afterwards on the beautiful rooftop patio (excellent view of the Blue Mosque)," wrote one TripAdvisor traveler.
Salsa the condiment meets salsa the dance in this lively class in Mazatlan. "The salsas we made were delicious, especially the final dessert salsa," wrote one TripAdvisor contributor, while another described the dance lessons as "fun, energetic and relatively easy so as not to be too scary for those who don't fancy themselves to be light-footed on the dance floor." Just don't toss back too many of the all-you-can-drink margaritas if you want to remember what you've learned.
"Our favorite day of our two-week honeymoon was our day spent in the kitchen at Mamma Agata cooking school, where we learned a lot, ate a lot and drank delicious wine all while enjoying the best view of the coast possible," wrote one TripAdvisor user who attended this cooking school in beautiful Ravello, Italy. Come hungry -- you'll spend all day eating the "exquisite yet uncomplicated" food.
"We can't say enough about how interesting, informative, educational, delicious and fun this class was, and it's all because of chef Darin," wrote one TripAdvisor visitor to Savannah. The Low Country Cuisine class, in particular, draws rave reviews -- you'll learn everything from knife skills to Savannah history. As another traveler wrote, "Skeptical of eating green tomato cobbler? You won't be after just one taste."
A Lot of Thai Home Cooking Class
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Typical comments from TripAdvisor reviews for this class: "One of the coolest learning experiences of my life"; "the food alone is worth the cost of the class"; and "even a kitchen idiot like myself was making delicious-tasting Pad Thai and Red Curry in no time!" Just book early -- chef Yui limits class size to eight, and many students attend two or three days in a row.
Your trip to Rome doesn't have to be all "ruins and queues" (to quote one TripAdvisor traveler). Take a break from pounding the cobblestones and learn to make fresh pasta, stuffed squash blossoms, pesto, and other Italian dishes. Even if you're not an experienced cook, chef Andrea will have you "chopping vegetables, carving pig jowls and smashing garlic before you know it," reported another reviewer.
The market class here takes you to a cheese shop, butcher, fishmonger and bakery to shop for top-quality ingredients before assembling a full meal. What's more, the menu for that meal isn't set in advance. Together with the chef, participants "looked at the offerings and designed our menu," wrote a TripAdvisor visitor to the City of Light. If you have a sweet tooth, choose the French pastry course instead. You'll learn to make perfect souffles, macaroons, madeleines and creme brulee.
Learn about Kobe beef (as one traveler gushed, "We got to see the certificate with the nose print and lineage of the cow we were about to eat!") or, at the other extreme, "delicious, truly vegetarian food" at Haru Cooking Class in Kyoto. The class, held in the instructor's home, is also "a great chance to talk with a wonderful Japanese family, and Mr. Taro took all sorts of questions from us ... about Japanese education and culture," wrote another TripAdvisor traveler.
The six-hour course at L'Atelier Faim d'Epices is a great value, according to many TripAdvisor travelers. The day begins with a "mini-seminar on the spices used in Moroccan cuisine" (including a fun blind spice identification challenge, a la "Top Chef"). "Our menu covered everything from incredibly tasty salads [to] hands-on bread and tagine-making," wrote one happy TripAdvisor student. Unexpected bonus: "Our children were given a warm welcome"!