These 5 Culinary Hot Spots are an Easy Drive From Delaware

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An offering from the menu at the CIA-operated Ristorante Caterina de’Medici./Phil Mansfield

Leave the hibernation to the bears and celebrate the flavors of the season. Five destinations within an easy drive offer delicious experiences ranging from tours and tastings to exotic cuisine and cooking classes for every level. Bon appétit!

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Craig Claiborne Bookstore on the Culinary Institute of American (CIA) campus
The Craig Claiborne Bookstore on the Culinary Institute of American (CIA) campus includes a wide selection of more than 1,300 cookbooks./Courtesy of CIA

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Get an inside peek at where tomorrow’s superchefs are being trained with a student-guided tour of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) Monday through Friday when school is in session. $6. 1946 Campus Drive, 845-451-1588.

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You don’t have to be a pro, but you can cook and bake like one if you enroll in a multiday Culinary Boot Camp at the CIA. From Feb. 11 to 13, the three-day Best of Boot Camp sticks to the basics, including knife cuts, classic cooking techniques, and regional American and European cuisine. $1,350. Learn to cut the fat content from your recipes during the four-day (Feb. 18–21) Techniques of Healthy Cooking Boot Camp. $1,795. Or, go all in and choose the five-day (Feb. 24–28) Culinary Boot Camp-Basic Training to learn the fundamentals from mise en place to sauce-making. $2,250.

Bluecashew Kitchen Homestead offers three-hour cooking (homemade pasta anyone?) and baking workshops for a maximum of nine students on Thursday and Saturday evenings and Saturday and Sunday afternoons. $85–$115. 37B N. Front St., Kingston; 845-514-2300.

If there’s an elusive cookbook you’ve been hunting for, chances are you’ll find it (they have more than 1,300 to choose from) in the recently expanded Craig Claiborne Bookstore on the CIA campus. There’s also culinary equipment and an interesting selection of specialty foods.

Every great chef has their personal set of professional-grade knives for different prep and serving jobs. Warren Kitchen & Cutlery offers 1,500 different styles and sizes for every purpose. 6934 Rt. 9, Rhinebeck; 845-876-6208.

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At the Journey Inn, décor in the seven guestrooms and suites reflects world destinations beloved by owners Valerie Valente and Eric Miller or takes inspiration from the elegant neighboring Roosevelt and Vanderbilt estates. Breakfast is hot and bountiful. $160–$260. If you’re planning to participate in a CIA Boot Camp, ask about special discounted room rates. 1 Sherwood Place, 845-229-8972.

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The Bocuse Restaurant, one of five student-staffed restaurants on the CIA’s Hyde Park campus, brings together classic French cuisine with contemporary flavor combinations and cooking techniques. A recent menu featured such innovative dishes as black truffle soup and duck leg confit with pheasant sausage. For dessert, enjoy the show as ice cream is made right at your table. $15–$35. Tuesday through Thursday, a three-course prix fixe dinner is available for $35. 1946 Campus Drive, 845-451-1012.

Only open on Friday and Saturday nights, CIA-operated Ristorante Caterina de’Medici, situated in a Tuscan villa setting on the Hudson River, offers a great deal for pasta lovers. For a fixed price of $39, enjoy all you care to eat from five different entrées, such as gnocchi gratin with braised short rib or orecchiette with leek sofrito and smoked pork belly. The dinner also includes Caesar salad and antipasto served family-style, plus dessert. CIA, Colavita Center for Italian Food and Wine, 1946 Campus Drive, 845-451-1013.

In the nearby town of Rhinebeck, independently owned Terrapin treats local ingredients with care, coming up with such inspired dishes as asiago cheese–crusted chicken breast with whole-grain mustard sauce or cumin-and-chile–marinated pork tenderloin medallions with pumpkin-seed mole. $19–$37. 6426 Montgomery St., 845-876-3330.

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The Ivy Hotel Baltimore
The Ivy’s lodgings offer luxury for its human and pet guests./Courtesy of the Ivy Hotel

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Each of Baltimore’s neighborhoods has its own history and distinctive character, and a lot to offer in terms of local flavor.

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Whet your appetite for the city’s attractions with a Bite of Baltimore tasting tour of the waterfront Fells Point or cultural hub Mount Vernon neighborhoods. The tours run 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours and visit five community dining and drinking establishments, with each serving up a small plate (including one of the city’s famed crab cakes) or a craft cocktail. $70–$90.

Afternoon tea at Baltimore’s Ivy Hotel./Courtesy of the Ivy Hotel

Take a cooking class with Baltimore food personality Erik “Chef Egg” Berlin on Feb. 13, when he leads a ladies-only “Galentine’s Day” class, or Feb. 14 and 15 for a Valentine’s Day–themed couples class. $65 per person.

Shake things up with a mixology course at Sagamore Spirit rye whiskey distillery any Friday evening. The $15 entry fee includes a tour of the facility. 301 E. Cromwell St., 410-624-7488

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The Ivy Hotel is more than just a place to rest your head: It’s a pampering experience. From shuttle service within a 3-mile radius to historic rooms complete with a cozy fireplace, luxury abounds. Complimentary amenities include breakfast (be sure to try the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes), afternoon high tea and self-serve cocktail bar. There is also a full-service spa. The Ivy even treats pets like royalty. Rates start at $595. 205 E. Biddle St., 410-514-65008

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At The Ivy’s Magdalena restaurant, thoughtful ingredients are accented with creative accompaniments such as seared venison tenderloin with Yorkshire pudding and huckleberry jus, or grilled kampachi and blue shrimp with Thai chili jam, tandoori carrots and mango. $29–$55.

The Ivy’s Magdalena restaurant prepares inspired culinary and cocktail creations./Courtesy of The Ivy

If you’re a burger buff, you can try exotic varieties like antelope, camel, spicy Korean duck and even kangaroo at Abbey Burger Bistro. $11.50–$16.50. In Fells Point, 811 S. Broadway, 410-522-1428; in Federal Hill, 1041 Marshall St., 443-453-9698

At the newly renovated Broadway Marketplace in the Fells Point neighborhood, Sophia’s Place European Deli serves authentic Polish specialties like pierogies, galabki (stuffed cabbage rolls), nalesniki (blintzes) and fresh sausage with sauerkraut. Prices start at $3.75 for a single galabki to $10.50 for a sampler feast. 410-342-6105. At Thai Street, the spice meter goes from 0 (none) to 5 (“don’t do it”). Be sure to order the fire-quenching Thai iced tea. $13–$20. 667-212-5906. Broadway Market, 1640-41 Aliceanna St.

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The Hershey Hotel offers guests old-world opulence; even the spa treatments have chocolate as a focus, as do the hotel’s dining events like wine tastings./Courtesy of the Hershey Hotel

Everyone knows that the charming little town of Hershey is all about chocolate 365 days a year (or 366 days, thanks to the leap year). But during Hershey’s Chocolate-Covered February, a host of special events, tastings, pairings, and hands-on classes and labs delight all the senses in a multitude of ways, some of which may surprise you.

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Your taste buds aren’t the only part of you that crave chocolate. Your skin loves it, too, from head to toe. At The Spa at The Hotel Hershey, you can immerse yourself in this indulgent ingredient starting with a Cocoa Facial Experience ($185–$195) followed by a Chocolate Fondue Wrap ($145–$155), and a Sweet Hands and Feet Manicure ($60–$65) and Pedicure ($80–$85). 100 Hotel Road, 844-330-1797.

Every Saturday during Chocolate-Covered February at The Hotel Hershey, you can kick off your morning with a Chef Demonstration of a sweet or savory chocolate recipe. Free. In the afternoon, nibble on finger sandwiches and fancy desserts at a Chocolate Tea ($31.50) or experiment with flavor combinations at a Wine and Chocolate Pairing ($48). In the evening, choose your favorites from an array of sweets at a Chocolate Dessert Buffet ($36.50).

Make your own confections at any of the hands-on Chocolate Lab Classes offered at The Hershey Story Museum. $13.50 each. Make your own chocolate bars and truffles at a special Valentine’s Truffle for Couples offered Feb. 7 and 8 and 13 through 15. $25 per person. 63 W. Chocolate Ave., 717-534-8939.

Courtesy of the Hershey Hotel

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Situated high on a hill overlooking the town, The Hotel Hershey, built in the 1930s, is a gem of old-world European style and service. Among its amenities are a full-service spa, three signature restaurants, a cocktail lounge, and a spot for coffee and a sweet treat. $229–$289 weekdays, $259–$319 weekends. 100 Hotel Road, 717-533-2171.

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Hershey Resorts’ flagship restaurant, The Circular in The Hotel Hershey, serves a stellar Sunday brunch that includes action stations for cold seafood, omelets, prime rib and other delights, plus numerous hot offerings and a dessert display worthy of “the Sweetest Place on Earth.” $43.50. If you just want a weekday breakfast, The Circular offers a first-class morning meal with selections including dried cherry brioche French toast, chocolate-dipped Belgian waffles, and Italian eggs Benedict with shaved prosciutto on a polenta cake topped with tomato Hollandaise. $8–$16. 717-534-8800.

The Forebay in the Hershey Lodge smokes its own meats for its signature baby back ribs, coffee- and cocoa-rubbed short rib, and applewood-smoked pork chop. It’s also the place to go if you just want to tuck into a thick, juicy steak—get it topped with chocolate stout steak sauce for the ultimate Hersheyized entrée. $15–$42. 325 University Drive, 717-534-8601.

It’s not a Hershey Resorts restaurant, but you can still get scallops with a white chocolate beurre blanc at the independently owned Chocolate Avenue Grill. Or try a house-made pasta dish such as Mrs. D’s lasagna or spaghetti Alfredo. $14–$30. 114 W. Chocolate Ave., 717-835-0888.

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The D.C. Cocktail Festival returns Feb. 29./Adobe Stock

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With its plethora of museums, memorials and other attractions, Washington, D.C., is a dynamic destination fueled by an eclectic collection of cuisines representing numerous nations and cultures.

D.C. Metro Food Tours offers three- to 3 1/2-hour guided samplings of the globally diverse neighborhoods of D.C. Your adventure will take you on a taste tour of faraway places such as Asia, Turkey, Malaysia, Africa, the Mediterranean and Mexico. $65. 202-851-2268.

Choose from daytime or evening classes (perfect for a date night) at CulinAerie recreational cooking school in downtown D.C. The 2 1/2- to 3-hour hands-on classes reflect D.C.’s international culture, with selections ranging from Thai Street Food to Cuisine for the Maharajas of India. One class just honors chilies. For Valentine’s Day, couples classes offer selections for romantic dinners. $90 per class for individuals; $190–$200 for couples. 1131 14th St. NW,

Savor and sip your way through unlimited tastings at the D.C. Chocolate, Wine & Whiskey Festival Feb. 8. You’ll enjoy chocolate in its most decadent forms, including cupcakes, cookies, cakes, bean-to-bar artisan candies and a fondue fountain. Tickets are $45. Dock 5 at Union Market, 1309 Fifth St. NE.

Sample the stylings of 15 of the city’s premier bar and restaurant mixologists at the D.C. Cocktail Festival Feb. 29. Intriguing cocktail names include “When Pirate’s Eyes Are Smiling” and “Rye Springs Eternal.” $30–$35. National Union Building, 918 F St. NW.

Modern sophistication and comfort are the hallmarks of Embassy Row Hotel in Washington, D.C. Conveniently located in the Dupont Circle section of the city./Courtesy of Embassy Row Hotel

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Mixing traditional and contemporary décor with pops of color from original artwork, the sophisticated yet comfortable Embassy Row Hotel fits right in with the diverse and handsome architecture of Embassy Row in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of downtown D.C. Included with your stay is a light continental breakfast. Feel free to bring Fido. $125–$176. 2015 Massachusetts Ave. NW, 202-265-1600.

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The walk-in lines for a table at Rose’s Luxury are usually long, so score a same-day reservation to bypass the wait. Small plates on the innovative menu have included grilled chicken thighs with piña colada sauce or lychee salad with pork sausage, habanero and peanuts. In the regular entree section, look for dishes such as “nduja strozzapreti” (house-made twisted tube pasta) with honey and pecorino. $18–$36. 717 Eighth St. SE, 202-580-8889.

Just opened in early October 2019, La Cosecha translates to “harvest” in Spanish. That’s a fitting description of the 20,000-square-foot cross-cultural marketplace in the Union Market District showcasing food and goods from more than a dozen Latin countries. 1270 Fourth St. NE.

Authentic South American flavors in sandwiches, empanadas, platters and desserts are on the menu at Peruvian Brothers. Try the Pan con Chicharrón, a sandwich that combines salted pork loin with sweet potato. $9–$12. At La Casita, the menu stars pupusas, a favorite Salvadoran street food. These flatbreads stuffed with cheese, veggies and/or refried beans make a delicious and satisfying meal or snack. $4–$15.

Open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, Call Your Mother—described by its owners as a “Jew-ish” deli (one of them is only half Jewish)—takes a playful approach to ethnic comfort food with specialties such as tacos made with brisket and pastrami, latkes, and a sandwich with candied salmon cream cheese on a za’atar bagel. $7–$15. 3301 Georgia Ave. NW.

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A converted church makes a majestic setting for the authentic New Orleans Creole stylings of Marsha Brown Restaurant./Adobe Stock

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Separated only by a pedestrian-friendly bridge across the Delaware River, sister cities Lambertville, New Jersey, and New Hope, Pennsylvania, share a culture that fosters both visual and culinary artistry.

On the third Saturday of the month (Feb. 15), you can nosh your way through five restaurants and food-focused retailers on both sides of the river with Sister Cities Food & Shop Tours. $75 for a three-hour guided tour. 908-268-1720.

Peddler’s Village in Lahaska, Pennsylvania, has long been a favorite destination for professional chefs and home cooks looking for both basic and hard-to-find cooking tools (think Mongolian fire pot) as well as inspiring ingredients. Routes 202 and 263, 215-794-4000. For half a century, Cookery Ware Shop has been a go-to place for all kinds of cookware, barware and serving ware. 866-WHISKIT. Spike your favorite recipes with freshly ground herbs, spices and blends such as Black Dust Cowboy Coffee Rub and Brooklyn Everything Bagel Blend from Savory Spice Shop. 888-677-3322. Saturdays and Sundays in February, Chaddsford Winery Tasting Room hosts pairings of four to five different wines and locally made chocolates. $25. 20 Merchants Row, 215-794-9655.

Courtesy of Lambertville House

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The Lambertville House is the perfect place to cozy up after a brisk winter’s day of activities. All rooms feature jetted tubs. Luxury rooms and the courtyard and carriage house suites also have fireplaces. This centrally located downtown hotel was built in 1812. Rooms start at $195, suites from $210. 32 Bridge St., Lambertville; 609-397-0200.

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A converted church makes a majestic setting for the authentic New Orleans Creole stylings of Marsha Brown Restaurant. Start with gumbo ya ya or a crock of crawfish étouffée for two, then move on to the jambalaya with crabmeat, shrimp, duck and andouille sausage. $28–$55. 15 S. Main St., New Hope; 215-862-7044.

Situated in a converted 19th-century train station, Lambertville Station Restaurant & Inn blends historic appointments like rustic stone walls and exposed beam ceilings with contemporary furnishings to create a warm and inviting dining spot. Floor–to–ceiling windows showcase the Delaware River. The menu reflects the seasons and creativity of the chef with offerings such as spanakopita spinach-and-cheese–stuffed chicken with tzatziki sauce and red pepper coulis or pork loin mignon with apple-walnut chutney. $18–$40. 11 Bridge St., Lambertville; 609-397-8300.

Thirteen food operations representing a variety of cultures and cuisines call New Hope’s Ferry Market home. 32 S. Main St., 609-240-5983. Pick up a freshly prepared Indian snack or entrée such as tandoori chicken or biryani (a spiced rice dish with meat and/or vegetables) from the hot bar station or grab-and-go case at Cross Culture. $4.50–$12. If you’re in the mood for some spicy Latin fare, you’ll find a wide assortment, from Peruvian empanadas to Venezuelan arepas, at Lima Fusion. $3.50–$12. 267-571-8822.

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