For my thirtieth birthday, my parents paid for a culinary vacation to Napa Valley. I spent a year researching the options and chose Casa Lana because I felt it was the best way to get the experience I needed to improve my cooking. The course did not disappoint!
I signed up for the Boot Camp experience and boot-camp-like it was, California style, that is. We spent five glorious days preparing dishes to die for and learning the basic techniques of preparation and cooking. There was a lot of information exchanged, and Lana took great pains to create a take-home binder that recounted each step so we novices didn't feel lost once back in our own kitchens.
Lana is knowledgeable and experienced; there wasn't a question I had she couldn't answer (and I had a LOT of questions). She was quick to offer supplemental books to read, and shared loads of cooking secrets, those not-in-a-book-kind of tips that make cooking such a pleasure (and a pain).
For me, the best part was a planned excursion to Chalk Hill that was, well, life changing. Chalk Hill is incredible. The food, the conversation with the chef, the grounds -- the GARDEN!
We stayed with Lana at Casa Lana the final Friday and Saturday of our trip. The accommodations were perfect: convenient to town and the valley wineries, reasonably priced, and quiet. (The high thread-count sheets and double-fluff bed wasn't bad either.)
I continually commented to my significant other that it felt as though we were in Italy what with the gorgeous weather and parallel landscape. And, isn't that what a vacation is about: being transported someplace far from ordinary life?
I would recommend the cooking courses at Casa Lana and staying with Lana without hesitation.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Experience luxurious privacy and a Gourmet Retreat in the Wine Country. CasaLana B&B is located in a tranquil river setting, minutes from downtown Calistoga. Each spacious guest room has a private entrance, private bath, TV, VCR, in-room coffee and refrigerator stocked with complimentary beverages. Gourmet Retreats at CasaLana offers hands-on cooking classes in the B&B's professionally equipped kitchen. The culinary courses are geared to avid home cooks and food enthusiasts at all levels of experience. ... more less