June 1995

Cooking courses ... Austria drive ... South Pacific a deux ...

I'd like to attend an amateur cooking course in the United States. Do any of the established schools have courses for novices?
Peter Kump's School of Culinary Arts in Manhattan (212/410-4601) offers French technique courses and weekend workshops. Techniques I-VIII teach fundamental skills from basic to advanced; there are also special courses in spa cuisine, Italian cooking, and bread baking ($450 for one week). Cook's of Crocus Hill in St. Paul, Minnesota (612/228-1333), has a Professional Approach to Basics course; students spend five days learning to finesse soups, meats, sauces, and desserts ($185). Tante Marie's Cooking School in San Francisco (415/788-6699) allows you to drop in on the Professional Culinary Course on a one-week basis ($550).

My wife and I will be driving from Vienna to Salzburg this summer. Could you recommend a route with some interesting sights?
From Vienna, head west on Route 3 to Krems and take a round-trip cruise down the Wachau in the Danube Valley to Melk Abbey, one of Europe's finest examples of Baroque architecture. The next morning, drive five miles to Durnstein, a preserved medieval town where Richard the Lion-Hearted was held for ransom during the Third Crusade. Continue on to the Abbey of St. Florian near Linz to see its Albrecht Altdorfer paintings and its imperial apartments, filled with early-18th-century furnishings. From there, Salzburg is a lovely 1 1/2-hour drive through the countryside.

Do you recommend the South Pacific as a summer honeymoon destination, and if so, where should we stay?
Summer is the best time to visit the South Pacific: heat and humidity are at their lowest and trade winds sweep in off the ocean.

My fiancé and I want to be married by a waterfall (not Niagara). Do you have any suggestions?-- J.B., Roanoke, Va.
Anse Chastanet in St. Lucia (800/223-1108 or 758/459-7000, fax 758/459-7700; doubles from $276) has a wedding package ($550, or $650 to be married at the waterfall) that includes legal and registry fees, champagne, a wedding cake, a bouquet, and decorations. The waterfall (to get a better look at it, rent Superman II) is close to the hotel, and there's a new platform for special events. The 48-room resort has 12 honeymoon-perfect rooms on the beach and several locations suitable for a reception -- assuming there will be guests. Before marrying abroad, it's wise to hire a wedding planner: he or she can iron out the bureaucratic details and remember to ask the relevant questions: In your case, Will you get sprayed with mist?Will you be able to hear over the sound of the water?Can the waterfall area handle more than you, your groom, and the officiator?

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