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COOKING CLASSES in France WINE SHOPS in the US and online SPECIALTY FOODS online

For an exquisite experience in the heart of Avignon, aim for one of La Mirande’s hands-on classes at their cooking school,  le Marmiton,  where the area’s best chefs teach in the hotel’s 19th century kitchen. Christian Etienne, Jean-Claude Aubertin, Robert Brunel...talent!

What a great way to combine good food and exercise...not a spa, but a cooking school coupled with hiking adventures to walk off the  calories. Down home, intimate, lots of fun with Madeleine and Erick Vedel in the heart of Arles at la Cuisine Provencale.

At the Mas de Cornud just outside of Saint-Remy, Nito and David offer weeklong cooking and market/wine sessions with lovely accommodations right on the estate. Jacques Pepin has been known to join in the fun.

Vineyards and Kitchens offers a choice of exclusive food and wine tours, including cooking with Lydie Marshall in Nyons and wine tasting in Suze-la-Rousse.

In a dramatic setting at the foot of the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Louviers, just an hour northwest of Paris, Susan Loomis of Epicurious conducts her cooking school in Normandy,  On Rue Tatin.

Choose Paris or Provence to cook with Patricia Wells, but know that her classes are generally sold out a year in advance.

And for a more tour-based cooking experience, take a look at Elderhostel’s programs which offer experiential adventures in food and wine (and other activities) in various regions of France.

Shaw Guides  are a great resource for ideas for  cooking schools. A search of their site brought up more than 400 different cooking classes. In fact there are thousands of different types of learning vacations, from photography to art to hiking to language study. 

 

Table & Vine in Northampton MA, formerly Big Y, has one of the most complete collections of fine wines we've seen, including many from the Rhone valley, Languedoc-Roussillon and the Corbieres region of France. Their prices are quite competitive, especially on case purchases. Sign up for their newsletter and you'll stay up to date on the latest in wine finds by their knowledgeable staff.

While staying in Virginia for serveral months, we were lucky enough to find Total Wine, a semi-chain of super wine stores. With more than two dozen stores in 5 mid-Atlantic states, Total Wine has tremendous buying power, thus great price and selection.

Stop by Odd Lots in Albany CA if you live  in or are visiting the Bay area. Morgan Miller, who once worked for Kermit Lynch, has a great wine shop there, a gem that  features  many great south-of-France wines. His newsletter, besides being informative,  puts together suggestions for "six-bottle buys" that are well thought out and affordable.  So far no website, but worth a visit for a great wine shopping excursion. (510)526-0522

If you're in upstate NY, check in with Josh Hiebel and check out the fine selection of Rhone wines at the Saratoga Wine Exchange. They often have  tasting events to educate as well as  to whet your tastebuds.

K & L Wine Merchants, also in the Bay area, has an informative and useful  website worth visiting for just for browsing.  They ship to 18 states -- not all states allow shipping of wine, although that is changing over time.

We’ve also found a good website, Wine Access, that functions as an online center for smaller wine stores. You can search for a wine by name and they'll direct you to a retailer in your area that might have it. No charge but you do have to register to participate.

  Amazon.com now has a  Gourmet Food Shop  that includes charcuterie, cheeses, Provence olives and olive oils, and all sorts of odd products like La Guerande sea salt, Banyul vinegar, and foie gras French kisses by D’Artagnan. Given their success with mail-order books, they should be an efficient source for those must-have specialty foods.

Zingerman’s of Ann Arbor MI has an incredible selection of French foods and gourmet goodies…including olive oils, vinegars, breads, cheeses, candies and more. From time to time, we’ve spotted our favorite Mausanne olive oil on their site.

Formaggio Kitchen, well installed in Cambridge MA for twenty years, has opened another store in south Boston. They’re primarily cheese people, but their selections includes a few worthy olive oils from Provence, Hédiard jams and preserves, and calissons from the Aix region.

Le Village calls itself an epicurean oasis for gourmet foods, cheese, meats and wines, all available by mail order (well, wine can be shipped to six states). The selection of French specialties includes foie gras, several French olive oils (including the inexpensive but decent Puget brand found in  hypermarchés across France ), and Valhrona chocolates.

Table and Vine got lots of goodies -- olive oil from Chateau d’Estoublon near Fontvieille, patés, terrines and mousses, sausages, tapenades, a nice array of cheeses…and of course an incredible selection of wines.

Cheese-online/Fromages.com is the best, freshest source of authentic French cheeses, delivered to your door  within 24 hours and including  informative instructions. Their website is chock full of petits astuces on cheese groupings, wine selections and much more.

 

 

 

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