Learn Sustainable Cooking at These 6 U.S. Hotels, Inns & Lodges

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Want to learn how to harvest oysters in the Virginia Bay or turn your freshly picked fruit into Hawaiian cocktails, these lodges and inns won’t let you leave without letting you gain some hands on knowledge about where your food comes from. Here are some fabulous choices for American lodges, inns and hotels where you can explore the world of sustainable culinary arts.

food travel

Harvesting Eggs at the Hen House. Photo courtesy of Carmel Valley Ranch.

1) Chat With Chickens & Learn About The Secret Life Of Bees (Carmel, California)

Looking for a playful resort experience with an evolving farmstead on California’s Central Coast? Thanks to a recent renovation, Carmel Valley Ranch offers dozens of activities to allow foodies to learn about the source of their food and help out on the farm. You can check out the Hen House near the organic garden with weekly Chicken Charts. You can suit up and enter the apiary with an interactive Beekeeping Experience to learn about the secret life of bees then taste fresh honey afterward or visit Bob “the Salt Guy” at the Salt House to learn about how he harvests nutrient-rich sea salt from the nearby Monterey Bay.

You can attend wine classes at the resort’s pinot noir vineyard and learn how to Sip Like a Sommelier.
Whatever your area of interest, Carmel Valley Ranch will allow you to explore an assortment of agricultural activities that helps you understand where your food comes from.

Rates start at $275 per night.

food travel

Rustic adventures at Buttermilk Falls. Photo courtesy of Buttermilk Falls Inn.

2) Family Style Forest To Feast (Charlottesville, Virginia)

Fancy a Forage & Feast adventure for the entire family? Clifton Hotel in Charlottesville, Virginia invites you to fish, forge, cook and dine with their resident chef in a stunning natural setting. Guests will find their own wild and cultivated ingredients, get a quick culinary lesson then enjoy the “fruits” of their labor. Your ingredients might come from fishing at the private fully stocked lake or from foraging for wild grown herbs, mushrooms and berries or from the plentiful produce at the seasonal vegetable and herb gardens.

This package requires a 2-night and 6-guest minimum so prices start at $4,000 and includes Chef & Garden property tours and foraging sessions, hands-on cooking classes, culinary tips including sharpening knives and fresh fish preparation and a welcome gift of locally sourced goodies.

 

food travel

Capt & Chef dockside. Photo courtesy of Joni Carter and Virginia Oyster Country.

3) Help Out With A Bay-to-Table Oyster Harvest (Irvington, Virginia)

Join Virginia Oyster Academy for a memorable bay-to-table experience as you learn about the oyster’s fight for survival and the aquacultural advancements protecting its delicate ecosystem. You will board a boat with an authentic working Virginia waterman to learn about the reef and see how the fisherman tonge and dredge the areas. Then you will jump into the Tides Inn kitchen to learn how to buy, prepare and shuck oysters before creating delicious seafood meals. He will teach you culinary tricks to enhance your oyster eating experience, including how to prepare sauces and dishes and how to pair oysters with wine.

This Oyster Experience is offered at Tides Inn on Fridays and Saturdays in October and November for $155 per person. Accommodation can be arranged for an additional fee.

food travel

Rustic adventures at Buttermilk Falls. Photo courtesy of Buttermilk Falls Inn.

4) Indulge in a Soil to Spa Massage Treatment (Hudson Valley, New York)

Less than two hours from Manhattan, find a complete Hudson Valley retreat on 75 acres (30 hectares) of verdant farmland and lush gardens alongside the Hudson River. The property’s restaurant, Henry’s at the Farm, which draws right from the property’s own 40-acre (16-hectare) Millstone Farm with a menu that features fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and fresh eggs courtesy of heritage chickens. The eco-focused spa really distinguishes this property. In addition to being powered by solar and geothermal sources, is it now utilizing many of the ingredients grown on property for a soil-to-spa movement. Herbs are harvested from the property’s Millstone Farm to be dried for use in treatments. Tip: try a lavender and honey (produced on the farm’s hives) massage or a lavender and turbinado (natural, unrefined) sugar scrub. A series of homemade oils from such herbs as rosemary and thyme are used in aromatherapy.

When not at the spa, interact with a stable of alpacas, llamas, goats, peacocks and other furry friends running around the property, or tour the farm with the head gardener, Dawn, and go into the chicken coup to collect eggs and pick berries when nobody’s looking. Henry’s also offers cooking classes seasonally on various themes.

Rates start at $300 per night.

food travel

Fruit Picking at Hotel Wailea. Photo courtesy of Zak Noyle.

5) Pick Your Own Fruits For A Mixology Class (Maui, Hawaii)

Do you think your relationship could benefit from sunshine, a tropical escape and farm fresh meals featuring Maui-grown ingredients? Head to Hotel Wailea, Maui’s only luxury hotel designed exclusively for couples. You and your honey can tour the property’s organic farm and orchard of mango and avocado trees, picking fruit along the way and learning how to turn them into cocktails — shaken and stirred the Maui way. If you want to work up an appetite for a meal sourced from on-property organic ingredients, the resort offers a variety of opportunities for island adventure including a private safari to Maui’s hidden beaches in a reproduction 1957 Porsche 356 Speedster convertible, exploring the ocean in an outrigger canoe, or taking on the North Shore with a lesson from the resort’s own kite-boarding school.

Winter rates start at $499.

food travel

Learning to Milk Goats. Photo courtesy of Mountain Goat Lodge.

6) Goat Milking & Cheese Making (Salida, Colorado)

Have a craving for Swiss cheese but don’t want to book an international flight? Mountain Goat Lodge in Salida, Colorado has you covered. Their herd of Oberhasli Alpine goats from Switzerland provide a creamy sweet milk that creates incredible cheese and yogurt and they will happily teach you how. Start with a milking demonstration in the barn before sampling fresh cheese yourself. From there it’s your turn to whip up a batch, maybe making mozzarella, feta, chevre, ricotta, paneer and yogurt.

Rates are $65 per class and accommodation starts at $117 per night (which includes a farm-to-table breakfast for two).

By Katie Foote

Jessica Festa
Jessica Festa is the editor of the travel sites Jessie on a Journey (http://jessieonajourney.com) and Epicure & Culture (http://epicureandculture.com). Along with blogging at We Blog The World, her byline has appeared in publications like Huffington Post, Gadling, Fodor's, Travel + Escape, Matador, Viator, The Culture-Ist and many others. After getting her BA/MA in Communication from the State University of New York at Albany, she realized she wasn't really to stop backpacking and made travel her full time job. Some of her most memorable experiences include studying abroad in Sydney, teaching English in Thailand, doing orphanage work in Ghana, hiking her way through South America and traveling solo through Europe. She has a passion for backpacking, adventure, hiking, wine and getting off the beaten path.
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