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Monday, August 30, 2010

Looking to indulge your inner Julia Child? Maybe you just want to eat Julia Child-caliber food and not actually make it? Whether it’s sweet, creamy, or really fresh off the farm, here’s a package for every palate.

Time to Make the Chocolate. If you’re looking to roll up your sleeves and dig in, you have to sign up for Chocolatier for a Day, a special chocolate-making experience offered at the Stone Hill Inn in Stowe, Vermont, through Laughing Moon Chocolates. In 2.5-hours you’ll emerge a virtual sous-chef, skilled in tempering chocolate, hand-dipping sweets and creating yummy truffle centers using semi-sweet chocolate, heavy cream and butter. You’ll also hit the chocolate loot. “People walk out with shopping bags full of their creations” says innkeeper, Amy Jordan. “And, of course, a new skill.”

Who Moved My Sheep? Food enthusiasts seeking an even more rustic, hands-on, experience should consider becoming an Artisan Cheesemaker for a Day. Also at Stone Hill through the Bonnieview Sheep Dairy. The full day, down-home, experience gives guests the chance to meet the animals and make a batch of sheep’s cheese while learning about the aging process from a native Vermonter (whose land has been in the family since 1890). The best part? The wheel of cheese you helped to make will be shipped to you after its ripened so you can brag about all your hard work. But beware, there’s a lot of effort and patience involved. “It’s not a retail store,” laughs Amy. “You’ll be experiencing the real Vermont!”

If you’d rather your foods have a “Made in Vermont” label than actually make them in Vermont, then check out the water and wine canoe trip and other vacations for foodies the inn offers. Make sure they give you “Everyday Bites,” a list of local restaurants, farmer’s markets, breweries, mills, and stores with excellent cuisine and unusual culinary finds.

Taste Test. The Carriage House Bed and Breakfast in Jefferson, Texas, has whipped up a creative way to give guests a special dining experience on Sunday nights when not too many local restaurants are open—they turn their kitchen into one giant experiment. For a small fee, if the guests can’t go to a restaurant, the restaurant comes to them, well, sort of. “Sunday nights we prepare food and test it out with the guests. These are brand new recipes or recipes we’ve been preparing but we’ve changed something,” explains innkeeper, Stephanie Lester. At the Sunday Night Test Kitchens guests are then supposed to give raw feedback on whether they like their two-or-three-course meals; they’re encouraged to be as specific as possible with suggestions. It’s the guest input that helps set the menus for the inn. At many gatherings a townsperson will be invited to come and mingle and add some local flavor; recently a steamboat captain came to dinner. Among the favorite recipes to make it past the group is a hand-me-down from Stephanie’s husband’s grandmother. Tom Lester remembers his grandmother’s cooking with a dash of nostalgia. Mama Ronchi, as she was called, came to the U.S. in the 1920s via Ellis Island from Italy and was rumored to be a seamstress for the mob who used to make a killer scrambled egg breakfast. One day the Lester’s found her recipe on an index card and tested it on a Sunday crowd. Today Mama Ronchi’s Mafia Scramble is a hit.

Something’s Fishy. Oh, the pros make it look so easy. Chop, chop, and done. There’s a lot more to making sushi than you might think but don’t worry, the culinary school at the Lavender Inn in Ojai, California has you covered.  Mid-September Chef David Cagnacci will show you how to select the right fish, use the right prepping and sanitation techniques and create your very own sushi meal, complete with rice preparation and knife skills. When you’re done, you’ll not only have a sushi feast but new skills and several ideas on how to give it a restaurant-style look. “They learn, they eat, and they have fun while they’re doing it,” says innkeeper, Beth Keenen. Other classes at the inn Made in Ohio, where the olives, lemons, avocados, and other ingredients used are made in Ohio; salsas and marinades, and many others.

Visit BnBFinder’s bed & breakfast specials pages to find something different by interest, state, or country and then go and wake up someplace special.

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