New York City, NY

Remote Down, Whisk Up: 3 Culinary Getaways Near NYC
Culinary Getaways.Alex Haney

You can only learn so much watching The Food Network. Put down the remote control and pick up a whisk at one of these culinary destinations near New York City—from the Culinary Institute of America in the Hudson Valley to a beautiful market in Philadelphia. You may just find your inner Julia Child. Even if your soufflés fall and your cookies crumble, a good time (and a new take-home chef’s hat) is all but guaranteed at one of the following three gastronomical getaways–all accessible without a car, of course.

1. The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY

Why: This is the goliath of American cooking schools, and many of the most respected chefs in the country have graduated from the CIA’s rigorous and highly respected programs. If you don’t have several years to spare, have no fear, the CIA offers several options for non-professionals.

Culinary Packages: Attending the CIA, the dream of many passionate home cooks, can be a reality. The Weekends at the CIA programs focus on a specific technique or cuisine. You will be preparing dishes in a beautiful CIA kitchen, learning from talented chef-instructors. Novices and seasoned kitchen-mavens alike will acquire new skills and gain confidence. If you have even the slightest interest in food or cooking, this is a must-do experience to add to your bucket list. Your classmates will be fellow foodies, who provide an encouraging atmosphere and a sense of camaraderie. Classes cost $250 and run five hours. You are given an apron, chef’s hat, and a cookbook as take home souvenirs. Classes include The Italian Table, The Flavors of Asia and Spain and the World Table, but the list of offerings is extensive, so there is something for all tastes. Baking enthusiasts are not left out, and offerings include Cake Decorating and Artisan Breads. (Gift certificates are available, if you are looking for a special something for your top-chef.)

If you want to take it up a notch, try Boot Camp, which gives you an intensive immersion into the world of food. Culinary Boot Camp Vacations last from two to five days. The Boot Camp immersions start at $995.

How to get there: Metro-North Hudson line to Poughkeepsie, 10 minute taxi to the CIA in Hyde Park. If you choose to stay overnight, Le petit Chateau Inn would be a convenient resting place. The Holiday Inn Express in Poughkeepsie has a shuttle that will drive and pick you up from the CIA. (1946 Campus Drive, Hyde Park, NY, 845.452.9600)

2. The Emerson Resort and Spa, Mount Tremper, NY

Why: Nestled in the lush Catskill Mountains, the Emerson Resort boasts a great spa, and an Inn with 26 premium suites, and five duplex loft suites, all with a 24-bottle in-room wine selection. 27 family-friendly suites are located in the rustic yet elegant lodge. The location provides a range of outdoor activities, from on-premise ice-skating in winter, to mountain biking and hiking during the warmer months.

Culinary Packages: The Emerson Signature Cooking Class is a two-hour private class for you and that lucky someone. A chef will take you thru the paces as you prepare a soup or salad and a pasta entrée. Sip complimentary wine as you learn to create delicious dishes to add to your repertoire. The cost is $250 per couple, and includes a culinary-inspired gift to take home. The class needs to be booked with two weeks advance notice, and can be customized to accommodate your interests.

How to get there: Adirondack Trailways from Port Authority to Kingston. Not all Kingston bound buses continue on to Mount Tremper, so check when you purchase your ticket. The driver will drop you off at the Emerson upon request. (5340 Route 28, Mount Tremper, NY, 877.688.2828)

3. Cucina at the Market, Reading Terminal, Philadelphia, PA

Why: Food lovers from around the east coast flock to Philadelphia’s historic farmer’s market. Well known for its Amish specialties, many ethnicities are represented here. In the middle of it all sits La Cucina at the Market, housed in a sleek demonstration kitchen, full of the most modern appliances. Philly native Anna Florio runs the show. Her love and knowledge of Italian cuisine are genuine, having spent childhood summers in her parent’s native land. Luckily, Anna aims to share her expertise, teaching us the secrets of La Cucina Italiana. A respected line-up of local chefs headlines a variety of classes.

If you are not stuffed after all this cooking and eating, head over to 17 and Sansom Street and try chef Guillermo Tellez’s take on American cuisine, liberally infused with the flavors of his native Michoacan, Mexico. Square 1682 is getting a lot of well-deserved buzz, and if you sit in the lower level of this duplex space, you will get to see the chef at work in the open kitchen.

Culinary package: Hands-on classes include Fish Without Fear on Saturday, June 23, and Gnocchi, Gnocchi, Gnocchi on Thursday, June 28, 5:45-7:45pm. La Cucina’s schedule is loaded with interesting offerings, so check the site for more classes, which usually run for two hours and start at $45.

How to get there: MegaBus stops at Independence Hall, on 6th and Market. The Reading Terminal Market is on 12 and Arch, a 10-minute walk. (51 North 12th St., Philadelphia, PA, 215.922.1170)

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offMetro is a travel resource for city dwellers who want to get out of town–car-optional. oM reports on the best day trips and weekend getaways that are easily accessible via alternative modes of transportation, be it by bike, bus, subway, or boat. If you can’t make the weekends longer, strive to make them better.

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