Cooking Classes at Rancho La Puerta Spa in Mexico

I really, really love what I do - especially when it means being invited to a gorgeous spa for a week of indulgence to share my passion for food with others who appreciate an artful way of life.

A few weeks ago, I headed out West to teach classes at Rancho La Puerta . This beautiful spa is an idyllic oasis situated on the Baja Penisula just over the border of Mexico in the small town of Tecate {yep, home of the famous Mexican beer}.  The spa arranges to pick you up at the airport in San Diego and takes you directly to the spa, so it makes the process muy convenient.

It was my first visit to the famed spa, created 70 years ago by Edmond Szekely a professor who wrote papers on the benefits of alternative medicine, and his wife Deborah, who is still active in the spa today at 88 years old!  I think she is the best example that  {a lifestyle of good eating + well-being is the font of life.} The pioneering couple is also known for starting the ranch's more upscale luxury spa,  
The Golden Door.

You might miss the unassuming gates if you were passing by, but once you enter, you have crossed over into another world.  The week I was at the spa, all of the spring flowers were just coming into bloom.  It reminds me of both Italy and Northern California with its rolling hills and Mediterrean landscape and agriculture. I instantly felt right at home.

The property is dotted with unexpected artwork emerging from the landscape.  Sculptures, totems, even a labyrinth- elements that are as eye-catching as the land itself.

Every morning I was up at 6 am for the not-to-be missed morning hikes.  The air was still cool and as we traversed dirt paths, we saw the sun come up to start the day.

 A delicious breakfast always followed. The spa promotes healthy eating {it's a mostly vegetarian menu}, so whether you've come to shed a few pounds or simply eat well, it will serve you deliciously well.  Each week the spa has a theme and guest instructors and chef {me!} are invited to teach, in addition to the regular weekly fitness, healing + meditation, and educational classes offered and led by a loyal staff.  Twice a week the spa offers cooking classes at the cooking school, La Cocina que Canta  {the cook that sings}

Surrounded by a six-acre organic garden run by Salvadore, the chief garden enthusiast, the school is a chef's dream. I was like a kid in a candy shop walking through the garden.

My pre-determined menu quickly turned into an improvisational experiment as ingredients were picked and washed and readied for the class.

   {Each cooking class is hands-on. Everyone gets to roll-up their sleeves and get into the action.}

{We made Spring Minestrone from what was growing in the garden}

{ Roasted peppers in balsamic and wrapped them in fig leaves for an antipasti on the grill} 

                  {Olivada, preserved lemon + caper relish was made in a traditional molcajete .}

{Eggplant Involtini in an stoneware cazuela .}

{ shrimp spiedini with salsa verde}

{and poached pears in apple juice + cinnamon with raspberry puree and pistachios}

 It was a festive affair and I was amazed at how well the guests worked together to create some really fabulous food. Once the feast was prepared, we all sat down to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

It was an amazing week I won't soon forget. And the good news is, I'll be back in July to enjoy it all again. Come join me in the kitchen and at the table !
Here's a sample of some of the recipes we cooked, some were from my book, La Bella Vita , and others have been posted previously on the website. A few changes to the recipes may have been made to highlight the produce growing in the garden, ingredient availability and keeping in mind the spa environment.  Recipes not currently available will be posted soon!

Menu:   Antipasti Appetizers - little plates with big flavor 
Sicilian Caponata Crostini 

Oven Roasted Heirloom Tomato + Fregola Sardinian Pasta 

Roasted Beet and Blood Orange Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts + Goat Cheese

Fresh Berry Buttermilk panna cotta 

Menu:  Alfresco Italian Feast 
Grilled Garden Vegetable Bruschetta
Spring Green Garden Soup  

Steamed Halibut in Romaine Leaves with Olivada Gremolata

Poached Pears with Pistachios + Raspberry Puree

Buon appetito! copyright 2010 Alisa Barry


Cooking said...

A delicious breakfast and healthy eat. your blog images is also looking so beautiful. if any body want to know more then please visit. Italy cooking tours and Italian Cooking Tours

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