California Vacation Day 2

Our second day at the Culinary Arts Institute was on Sunday. We had a brief tasting session where we tried different tastes mixed together like bitter, sour, salty, and sweet, to see how they worked with or worked against each other.

The morning session was devoted to a Food Network's Chopped-like competition where we were given three ingredients: Mushrooms, salmon, and strawberries, and asked to create a dish that featured those three key ingredients. It was a bit overwhelming, but in the end we put our heads together and came up with Asian coleslaw stuffed mushroom caps!

Chef Patrick liked the slaw that we made, but our mushrooms weren't cooked enough for him. :( Oh well, it was definitely a learning experience. The winning team definitely deserved to win. Their salad was delicious and one of my favorites of the day!
Listening to the Chef's results

After we enjoyed our delicious salad creations, we went outside to do some group shots. This was the whole gang for the weekend. It was a really nice group of people who all really enjoy food and cooking:

We had some free time before our wine class so we went to the CIA gift shop and also went to their "Chocolate Bar" where you can get a "flight" of chocolates to sample for a few bucks. My favorite? The Peanut Butter and Jelly Chocolates!

There was an artist in the shop creating beautiful artwork out of melons. It was incredible to watch, and he was very funny and entertaining to listen to.

We still had some time, so we went across the street with our new friends, Michelle and Betty, to see two of the wineries: Charles Krug and Markham Vineyards.

At the end of the day, we had a salad and wine pairing seminar. I liked this wine seminar much better than the day before. It was taught by a Master Sommolier (did you know there are only 200 Master Sommeliers in the WORLD?) and he was incredibly interesting, engaging, and informative.

Sunday afternoon and evening we had free-time for ourselves, which I will tell you about on Monday. That night we started The Walking Dead on Netflix!

Our last day in Napa was a half day at the CIA and then we had the rest of the day to ourselves. Our flight wasn't until 9:30 that night (which ended up turning into 1am!) We started off the day with an olive oil tasting session. We tasted two olive oils from Italy and one from Napa Valley. Each one tasted so different, and the things we were asked to look and taste for were very similar to that of the wine tasting we had the day before.

This was followed by another salad making demonstration by Chef Patrick, who prepared 5 different salads for us. It was always fascinating to watch him cut, dice, chop, cook, and place everything. It's amazing the techniques he used and how quickly he could do things! He then sent us off to our kitchens to each prepare one of the salads he just made, but adding our own spin to it.

We were assigned one of the easier salads: The Waldorf Salad! We used smoked chicken, apples, grapes, toasted walnuts, and for the dressing instead of mayonaisse as he used, we mixed together greek yogurt, orange juice, and honey. It came out really well!

Once everyone was done, we all sat down to eat for one more lunch of deliciously prepared (and very diverse) salads, and that was the end of our culinary experience with Dole Salads at the Culinary Arts Institute!

Stay tuned Monday for our date night dinner and a drive through Napa in a Mercedes Convertible!


  1. OK this whole experience looks incredible... all of the fun tastings, cooking workshops, etc. I'm glad y'all had a great time!

  2. That sounds like so much fun!

  3. I want that Waldorf Salad recipe! It sounds amazing.

  4. I am green with envy at this trip - it sounds so fun!!! And btw, I LOVE your whole ensemble w/ the turquoise pants! SO CUTE!

  5. Sounds like a really fun trip! All the fun things you got to try were so neat! Ah... The Walking Dead... it sucks you in, doesn't it... haha.

    ~Kassi @ Truly Lovely

  6. More awesomeness! Your stuffed mushroom caps look delicious.

  7. A foodie's dream, glad I get to experience this vicariously though you :)

  8. This whole trip sounds downright awesome! I love that you got to learn so much from chefs and then do hand-on stuff too!


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