Written by Bill Zavestoski
If you're a foodie, you know you are fortunate to be living in the Bay Area, a culinary connoisseur's wonderland. These gastronomic getaways will tempt your taste buds and palate—and are less than a tank of gas away.
2124 Folsom St.
(415) 346-7530Why Go? The school specializes in intensive programs for food service professionals with a serious interest in deepening their understanding of cheese. But the two-hour evening classes are for cheeseheads who just want to learn more about types, pairings and some basic cheesemaking techniques.
Must Do: Though wine is part of the class package in most cases, courses such as “California Cheese & Wine” and “Luscious & Loverly: Valentine's Day Cheese & Wine” target the all-important pairing of vino and cheese.
Insider Tip: Gather some friends or co-workers and have The Cheese School folk come out to your place for a private class or a cheese party. They'll set up and tend a cheese bar stocked with artisan cheeses, breads and fruit.
The Fine Print: The two-hour classes are held at the school on Folsom and begin at $69. You can register and pay online. Gift certificates and gift packages also can be purchased.
1275 McKinstry St.
(800) 427-4124Why Go? Enjoy lunch or dinner in a restored Pullman dining car or Vista Dome car on a three-hour, 36-mile round-trip journey from Napa to St. Helena and back. The train passes through Yountville, Oakville and Rutherford, home to some of our area's finest wineries.
Must Do: The “Sip and Supper” package includes a 90-minute wine education and tasting experience before dinner. Private tours and tastings at selected wineries along the route are also available.
Insider Tip: You'll get more out of the dinner trips in the late spring and summer, when you won't be making the trip in darkness since the train departs at 6:30 p.m. and returns at 9:30 p.m. The lunch train departs at 11:30 a.m. and returns at 2:30 p.m.
The Fine Print: Packages start at $99. The winter schedule (Jan.-Feb.) is limited, with lunch trains on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and dinner trains on Saturday. Daily service begins in March. Check the calendar for exact dates and times.
Plaza Farmers Market
On the grounds outside One Ferry Building
(415) 291-3276Why Go? What better place for a foodie than a farmers market? This one showcases the fruits, veggies, meats, eggs, breads, cheeses and jams of more than 100 local farmers, food artisans, prepared food vendors and even restaurants.
Must Do: The market greatly expands on Saturdays, both in terms of vendors and operating hours, so come for a hot breakfast or lunch from featured local restaurants. Like artisan street food? It's featured every Thursday.
Insider Tip: Though the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture only operates the outdoor market, foodies will want to check out the private retail spaces inside the Ferry Building, most of which are food-themed.
The Fine Print: Open rain or shine from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
690 Van Ness Ave.
(415) 346-2665Why Go? Try a daytime or evening hands-on cooking class or maybe a knife skills session and you'll be whipping up dazzling dinners in no time.
Must Do: Sign up for the Valentine's Day appetizer party (it's on Feb. 14) and impress your date as you learn the finer points of finger foods. Or fly solo and find your Valentine.Insider Tip: Come hungry, since most sessions end with the students consuming the class projects, with wine included. Class sizes are limited, so enroll in advance.
The Fine Print: Food prep classes are offered most weekdays, with the four-hour sessions running from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 6 to 10 p.m. They may seem a bit pricey since many run in the $150 to $175 range, but your palate (and dinner party guests) will thank you.