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Sazon Cooking School
Where: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
The food: Mexican food with a Spanish influence
Back home you'll be whipping up: Tangy huitlacoche crêpes
The dish: You need a pretty good reason to leave the picturesque cobbled streets of colonial San Miguel de Allende and spend the morning inside, but Chef Gonzalo Martinez is one of them. The San Miguel native, who looks ready for his Food Network close-up, has come home to head up the kitchens of Orient-Express's Casa de Sierra Nevada and its recently reopened Sazon cooking school. Both are housed in 18th-century haciendas a block from each other; copper pots, colorful tiles, and antique pottery brighten up the professional kitchen where Martinez shares teaching duties with Montserrat Castro and CIA-trained Fernando Padilla. Students work not only with staples like beans and corn but will also learn to utilize Mexican chiles and indigenous ingredients such as nopales (cactus) and huitlacoche (corn fungus). Dishes learned might include chilaquiles—fried tortillas topped with cheese and a smoky chipotle sauce—or pastel tres leches, the popular Latin cake soaked in fresh, condensed, and evaporated milk. The best part of the course, though, is the field trip to the mercado, where Castro points out the best places to pick up tomatillos, herbs, and chiles. Trader Joe's will never seem as special again.
Accommodations: Casa de Sierra Nevada's 33 elegant rooms have canopied beds and colorful Mexican antiques, plus Talavera-tiled bathrooms.
When: Year-round, except in May
Sazon Cooking School
Tel: 800 701 1561
Spice of Life package from $1,175 per person for four nights, including lodging, two classes, wine tasting, and excursion. Max class size: 20.