The Grub Street Gift Guide, Part 3: Classes and Tours

Send your friends to a cheese dinner at Boston's L'Espalier. Photo: Courtesy of L’Espalier

This Christmas, we've got a lot of things we want to give. So many, in fact, we can't fit them all into one post. Instead, were rolling them out over several days. Tuesday we gave you our picks for the best regional specialties out there, yesterday we asked the experts what they'd give, and today we're completing this trilogy of merriment by offering the gift of smarts. Below are some of our favorite new classes, tours, and events in the cities we cover. You can give a couple of gift certificates to somebody on your gift list, or be selfish, reserve a spot for yourself, and just invite a friend to tag along it's totally your call! But no matter what you'll do, you'll come away from all of the activities fuller and smarter than you were before.

Boston
Cheese Tuesdays at L'Espalier: Maitre d' and "Grand Fromager" Louis Risoli hosts these once-a-month dinners at Frank McClelland's tony Back Bay spot. Cheese heads taste various rare and exotic cheeses over the course of a three-course meal. It's all paired with wine by sommelier Erich Schliebe. $68 per person; 617-262-3023 to order

Cooking classes with Ana Sortun: The lauded chef behind Oleana and Sofra is going to be teaching cooking classes beginning next January alongside her pastry chef, Maura Kilpatrick. The duo has yet to announce the schedule or cost, but you can get more information by calling them. 617-661-0505 for info

Myers + Chang Cooking Classes: Chef-owner Joanne Chang, executive chef Matthew Barro, and their team offer hands-on Asian-cooking classes, which touch on a variety of topics and include dim-sum-style meals. $75 per person; 617-542-5200 for scheduling and details

Chicago
Julie & Julia Courses at Kendall College: You're no doubt aware of Julia Child's transformation from a cooking novice into one of America's most prominent food authorities. But now you can actually taste some of the dishes that first inspired her. At Kendall College's Julie & Julia class, which features savory recipes from Julie Powell's book. $85 per person; 312-752-2196 or kendall.edu for info

Couples Cooking: The Lincoln Square Chopping Block is gearing up for the cold Chicago weather by offering a class called "Couples Cooking: Baby It's Cold Outside." Learn to cook warming and comforting dishes, including spinach-artichoke dip, smothered pork chops, and gingerbread pear cobbler. December 30, $150 per couple; 773-472-6700

Los Angeles
Knife Skills Class at Chicks With Knives: Send an e-mail to this "sustainable supper club" and get a private knife lesson at your giftee's home. The class covers cuts like brunoise, julienne, and jardinière, as well as the basics of knife balance, selection, and sharpening. And even if your skills aren't up to snuff, the Chicks will prepare a light lunch. $95 per person for lessons, $155 for lessons at giftee's home; e-mail for gift certificate info

New York
Local distillery tours: Now that New York bourbon is a thing, you should send your giftee upstate to see New York's most prominent post-prohibition distillery, Tuthilltown. Their weekly tours include tastings, naturally, and a look at how the distillery makes products like its Baby Bourbon, Manhattan Rye, and Heart of the Hudson apple vodka. If the price seems cheap (just $15 per person), you can always spring for the ZipCar to get your giftee up to Gardiner, too. $15 per person (Saturdays and Sundays only); Tuthilltown.com for reservations and directions

A Taste of Hell: New York City has plenty of diverse, food-centric neighborhoods: the Lower East Side, Sunset Park ... Hell's Kitchen? Okay, it's not the first nabe that springs to mind when you think about sampling the city's eats, which is all the more reason to send a friend on a tour to try its out-of-the-way, under-the-radar foods tacos and empanadas, Greek pastries, with tour founder Moira Campbell. $49 per person (Saturdays only); RumandBlackbird.com for reservations

Philadelphia
Pasta classes at Osteria: In February, James Beard Awardwinner Jeff Michaud is offering his pasta and cooking classes at Osteria, the restaurant he owns with Marc Vetri and Jeff Benjamin. Specific dates have not been determined, but you can still reserve spots in the class, which are sure to include lots of eating, too. $175 per person; 215-763-0920 for info

San Francisco
Charcuterie classes at Fatted Calf: Let your giftee learn how to make their own cacciatorini, salame cotto, and guanciale, or even how to butcher a whole beast, with Fatted Calf's classes. Salumi classes are offered January 22 and March 19; Whole-Hog Butchery on January 15, February 12, and March 4. $135 per person; 707-256-3684 to reserve

Marmalade-Making With Happy Girl Kitchen: Join the girls from Happy Girl who recently became finalists in the Good Food awards to learn the tricks behind preserving stuff through the winter months. January 22 and 23 they'll demonstrate the ins and outs of turning winter citrus into marmalade at the Victorian House in Oakland. $125 per person; reserve at Happy Girl Kitchen


All Gift Guide Coverage:

The Grub Street Gift Guide, Part 1: Regional Specialties
The Grub Street Gift Guide, Part 2: Expert Picks