For the truly gift-challenged, we have a suggestion that will help kill two birds with one stone. We know thatís not the most appealing way to put it, but this gift is not only clever--it's even romantic. The Essex, Vermontís Culinary Resort & Spa, has a packed schedule of classes nearly every day in its Cook Academy.
They really dial up the romance in February, so why not purchase a gift card now for a Valentine feast? ''Cupids Culinary Creations'' features a three-course menu of warm Vermont blue cheese souffle, steak au poivre with truffled potatoes, and hazelnut lava cake. Couples who prefer to head straight to dessert, can create chocolate black pepper cookies, pumpkin chocolate bread pudding with warm rum sauce, and dark chocolate souffle with hazelnut crŤme anglaise in the ''Addicted to Chocolate'' class. Both are offered throughout the month of February, along with ''Saucy Sauces,'' ''Warm Winter Wonderland'' and a variety of other options. The Essex, Vermontís Culinary Resort & Spa, 70 Essex Way, Essex, Vt.; 800-727-4295; 802-878-1100; www.vtculinaryresort.com.
Patricia Harris is co-author of the food and travel blog Hungry Travelers.
Photos courtesy of The Essex