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Trip Doctor Series: Cooking Schools (England)

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If your apron is the first thing you pack in your suitcase, you’ll want to tune into this month’s weekly series on immersive cooking programs, where we’ll highlight a standout program from our April food issue’s Global Guide to Cooking Schools.

The School: School of Artisan Food, the Cotswolds, England

You’re in good hands at this respected program in the heart of Sherwood Forest, which teaches half- and multi-day courses that focus on traditional English cookery, from wild game butchery to fruit preserves.

The Class: For all you Downton Abbey fanatics (you know who you are), we recommend celebrated food scholar Ivan Day’s hands-on class on historic baking techniques—lumber pie, anyone?—which takes its inspiration from historic cooking methods.

Jennifer FlowersJennifer Flowers is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.

Photo courtesy of The School of Artisan Food

How to Eat a Maryland Blue Crab

How to Eat Blue Crab

You’ve got lemon wedges, beer, and a table of freshly steamed, seasoned crustaceans. Now what? Bill Breaux, owner of waterside restaurant Schooners ($$$), a favorite in Oxford, Maryland, shares his tried-and-true method.

1. Place crab belly-side up. Twist legs off at base; set aside. With a paring knife, pull back tab-shaped “apron” at its narrow end.

2. Pick up crab with apron pointing up; using thumbs, pull off top shell and discard. Scrape away gills and other inedible contents.

3. Insert thumbs into center cavity and break body in half. Split each half in two again. Extract the meat and eat.

4. Split claws at joints. Place knife on top of claw and tap with mallet to crack claw. Break apart with fingers and pull out the meat.

5. Separate legs at joints and squeeze each section like a tube of toothpaste to withdraw more meat. Still hungry? Give up and order crab cakes.

Illustations be Michael Hoeweler

Toasting Mad Men with a Retro Cocktail Class

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Like millions of Americans, I’m chomping at the bit for Sunday’s season six premier of Mad Men. So ecstatic am I for the gang at Sterling Cooper Draper (Pryce?) to forge into the late-1960’s that I had to mollify my angst in the only appropriate way I knew how: Booze.

One of the hallmarks of the AMC series has been the period-piece cocktails Don Draper, Roger Sterling, Pete Campbell (above) imbibe at bars, dinner parties, soirées, power lunches, and, yes, work. All over country, retro-tipples are chic again, from Mai Tais to Manhattans, becoming part of the show’s defining characteristics. As a proud member of the New York City cocktail tribe and avid fan of the show, I decided to teach myself to joggle a proper drink and learn my jigger from my Boston shaker.

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Saffire Freycinet’s Oyster Tastings

Saffire Freycinet

There are some hotels that immerse guests in local culinary traditions. And others that actually immerse them. Overlooking a national park on Tasmania’s eastern coast, Saffire Freycinet (all-inclusive; $$$$$) offers visits to a nearby marine farm, where a guide suits you up in waders, leads you to a waiting table in a cool, pristine bay, and pulls a handful of Pacific oysters from the water. He swiftly pries the bivalves open and serves them right there with just a squeeze of lemon and a glass of sparkling Tasmanian wine. Silence, stillness, and a dozen creamy oysters from some of the purest water in the world. What better way to get a taste of Tassie?

Photo by Tourism Tasmania & Pure Tasmania

Trip Doctor: 4 Affordable Italian Agriturismos

agriturismo

Q: Can you recommend a hotel in the Italian countryside that is authentic (and affordable)?

A: Your best option for experiencing local food and culture in a hidden corner of Italy is an agriturismo, a family-run inn on a working farm. Below, where to find them.

Marche

The Draw: Medieval towns, hills covered in olive groves, and more than 100 miles of Adriatic coastline define this area of central Italy.

The Experience: Eight miles south of Urbino, the Savini family’s 185-acre Locanda della Valle Nuova ($) has six modern guest rooms and three apartments and arranges horseback riding, visits to artisanal producers, truffle hunting, and traditional dinners of porchetta and fried olives.

Emilia-Romagna

The Draw: Tuscany’s northern neighbor, Emilia-Romagna is the home of prosciutto and Parmesan.

The Experience: The late-1300’s Antica Corte Pallavicina ($) is a favorite retreat of noted Italian chefs, including Massimo Bottura. Set along the Po River, the property has six rustic-chic rooms, each named after an aristocrat who once stayed there. Breakfasts include hand-squeezed blood-orange juice and farm-fresh eggs; don’t miss dinner at the property’s Michelin-starred restaurant, where chef Massimo Spigaroli serves his house-cured culatello.

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Picnic Essentials

Picnic Essentials

A dozen ways to turn your garden-variety picnic into a Tuileries-worthy déjeuner sur l’herbe.

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Photo by Levi Brown

4 New Wine Country Hotels

Wine Country Hotels: Delaire Graff Estate

The latest wine country hotels come in several varietals—some bold, others more subtle. Below, four of our favorites.

Delaire Graff Estate, South Africa (pictured): British jewelry baron Laurence Graff brings a new level of sophistication (doting butlers; world-class art) to rural Stellenbosch with his 10-villa estate, an hour from Cape Town. After a walk through the Keith Kirsten–designed gardens, take a dip in your private plunge pool. $$$$

Entre Cielos, Argentina: This airy, 16-room property in Luján de Cuyo offers more than just easy access to some of Mendoza’s top producers. Linger over perfectly grilled sirloin paired with a glass of the hotel’s own Malbec at the on-site restaurant, or lose yourself in the hammam, where Bacchus-themed treatments include a grape-seed body scrub. $$$

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Trip Doctor: How to Get a Last-Minute Restaurant Reservation in New York City

last-minute restaurant recommendation

See if your hotel concierge can get you in. If not, you’ll have to use your wiles. At pint-size hot spots such as Atera or Blanca, your chances are slim. But established favorites, such as Daniel or Maialino, have more tables—and more cancellations. Call at or after 3 p.m., when the hosts finish reconfirming the evening’s reservations. There just might be a spot. OpenTable is also a great resource. It may not get you in to your first choice, but it will show you nearby restaurants that do have availability. If all else fails, walk in. Casual arrivals may find seats at the bar—and if you dress the part, some maître d’s will reward a bold, spontaneous request with a table.

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.


Photo by Tetra Images / Alamy

Rome's Latest Foodie Neighborhood

Testaccio: Il Birrivendolo

Follow discriminating Romans to the city’s emerging foodie district—Testaccio—which grows fresher by the day.

At the airy, solar-paneled Nuovo Mercato di Testaccio—which recently replaced a 97-year-old market nearby—you’ll see nonnas searching for fresh pasta and artichokes, and stalls selling everything you came to Italy for: organic olive oil, handmade gnocchi, and tozzetti cookies. Between Via Galvani and Via Alessandro Volta.

Tucked inside the market is 20MQ Design & Derivati, a treasure trove of housewares. Among the quirky finds? A serving tray made from vinyl records and a lamp crafted out of teacups. 66 Via Aldo Manuzio.

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Chef Pop-Ups Around the U.S.

Graffiato

Thanks to collaborative chef dinners—in which chefs invite fellow toques to take over their kitchens for a night—diners have the chance to sample dishes that would normally require a plane ticket to taste. Here, a few of our favorite upcoming events:

Graffiato, Washington, D.C.
On the first Monday of each month, head to this Italian-inspired spot in D.C.’s Chinatown, where chef/owner Mike Isabella recently launched Industry Takeover Nights. From 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., the kitchen is turned over to chefs and mixologists for late-night snacks and cocktails. Coming up: Kyle Bailey and Tiffany MacIsaac, the husband-and-wife team behind Dupont Circle’s forthcoming fried chicken-and-donut concept GBD (May 6), and Jamie Bissionnette of Boston’s always-packed tapas restaurant Toro, coming soon to New York (June 3).

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