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You could spend your next vacation eating meals prepared by top chefs atfive-star restaurants. Or, you could put on an apron and learn to makethe same dishes yourself. Culinary vacations are more popular thanever. Here are a few worth checking out.


1 The Culinary Institute of America The world-renowned cooking school has introduced a new program at itsNapa campus called the Sophisticated Palate. Enroll in courses that include Live Fire Cooking and Foods and Flavors of the California Harvest, and you can spend your day (or the entire weekend) learning the latest cooking techniques from CIA chef-instructors. From $495. (800) 888-7850, www.ciachef.edu

2 Peggy Markel’s Culinary Adventures Immerse yourself in Moroccan culinary traditions. Make mint tea withfresh herbs from the Medina, bake bread in traditional clay ovens, andtry your hand at making couscous. The one-week program includes a tour of the spice market, cooking demonstrations by local chefs, andopportunities to try authentic Moroccan cuisine at nearby restaurants.From $4,595. (800) 988-2851, www.peggymarkel.com

3 Holland America Line In any of the top-notch Culinary Arts Centers aboard Holland America’s14 premium cruise ships, passengers can watch culinary demonstrations or take cooking classes relating to their ports of call — think margaritas and quesadillas in the Mexican riviera. The 2008 lineup includes Top Chef winner Harold Dieterle and master mixologists Christy Pope and Chad Solomon. Price varies. (877) 932-4259, www.hollandamerica.com

4 Culinary Vacations Get a new stamp in your passport and discover how to make dishes from around the world. Chef John Wilson has offered culinary programs inFrance, Italy, and Spain for the past 10 years. This year, he’s added Wine Week, a weeklong program in Italy that focuses on pairing regional dishes with local wines. From $2,400. (888) 636-2073, www.culinaryvacationsinc.com

5 Tuscan Women Cook Learn the basics of Italian cooking from women who grew up making traditional Tuscan dishes. You’ll gather around a farmhouse table in avilla in the thirteenth-century village of Montefollonico, an hour south of Florence, to make gnocchi, tagliatelle, and other dishesduring the program, which lasts one week. The classes also includetours and tastings at local farms and wineries. From $3,750. www.tuscanwomencook.com



Cooking the Books

Don’t have time right now to take a culinary dream vacation? No worries: Bring the trip to you with these handy cookbook tomes.

Around the World in 80 Dinners: The Ultimate Culinary Adventure
by Cheryl and Bill Jamison
Veteran cookbook authors detail their adventures on a culinary tour that winds through Europe, South America, and Asia. $25

Culinary Boot Camp: Five Days of Training at the Culinary Institute of America
by Martha Rose Shulman
A condensed version of the classes taught at the CIA, with step-by-step instructions for the most popular recipes. $30

Tales from a Tuscan Table
by John Wilson
Chronicles 10 years of culinary vacations in Italy and includes a selection of regional recipes. $18