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Foodie thank you present-best foodie day ever

So I need some guidance as to how to splurge on a foodie pal, she referred me to a wonderful job and she went out on a limb for me and I really want to give her a great night or weekend on the town.

Food is her thing. She enjoys small plates and organic food. I am not as aware of options. I need your help.

Dinner would be nice, but I would love to pair it with something, like a cooking class, or some type of food event. I am pretty out of touch in this arena. But this should be fancy..maybe a tour of some kind....I just don't know.

I want to thank her soon, so at the latests, the end of this month or early December. WE are located in Oakland but would be eager to go outside of the area. I am open and willing to drive 3-4 hours. I would be happy to do an overnight thing if it means she gets the best food experience of her life.

-She has taken her friends to wine country many times and sampled some great food, but I don't just want to copy what she has done for others.

I was thinking to spend between $150-$350, but could go higher.

I was considering
having us take a class at -Cheese School of San Francisco - www.cheeseschoolsf.com
or simply dinner at Chez Panisse

but that just doesn't seem good enough. So if you could have a great "foodie day" what would it be?

I am a creative person, but this is her area so I don't want to bust out black angus on her. Thank you for reading and I really do appreciate your help.

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  1. There's nothing until January, but June Taylor does Marmalade classes in Berkeley:

    You could start the day with breakfast someplace nice (perhaps 900 Grayson, which opens at 8:00 on Saturdays) and then head over to the Still Room.

    If you want to do something totally over the top, you could try: http://www.philoapplefarm.com/cook.html A mere $1,500 for two, but it is an entire weekend of food, cooking, and wine. The wait sounds prohibitive, but you could try for a cancellation.

    1 Reply
    1. re: lexdevil

      I've taken her conserve class, and it's really wonderful (actually gave it as a gift to my best friend). The marmalade class is the one to do from what I've heard -- could be a terrific gift.

      Cheese school SF isn't special enough IMO.

      A food-loving friend really loves the classes at Tante Marie and I value her opinion.

    2. Ray Leong's Saturday cooking class (sponsored by the Wok Shop) always seemed like a good idea for a one-off food event. You could follow it with dinner at Jai Yun for an all-Chinese food day.


      3 Replies
      1. re: Xiao Yang

        Unless Jai Yun has gotten rid of its Christmas lights decor and gotten a real server instead of the chef's son, it is not really suitable as a high-end thank-you gift IMHO.

        1. re: Maple

          Depends on your priorities, I guess--whether it's on the food or on the trappings of "fine dining". Even Michael Bauer was, uncharacteristically, able to get over the lack of frills in the case of Jai Yun:


          1. re: Xiao Yang

            One of the difficulties with Jai Yun is that a party size of 4 to 8 is optimal, and that makes this a more expensive gift than the OP was planning to spend.

      2. Frankly, if I were the recipient, cooking school is too much work - just pamper me :-). Maybe one of the Chef's Tables mentioned on this board? I am not personally familiar, but I think it is pre-fix with opportunity to cook one dish with the chef?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Maple

          That sounds great. You are right she may want to be pampered more then cook the whole day. "Chef's Tables?" I will look it up. Or you could just give me the answer, her day is in all of your's hands.

        2. How about a class at Ramekins in Sonoma -- some of their weekend "brunch" classes look like a lot of fun (chocolate with Alice Medrich!). Maybe for the afternoon you could arrange a tour of a winery in the area that's not usually open to the public, and then have a nice dinner. I'd be thrilled with a day like that!


          3 Replies
          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            that looks wonderful. Has anyone taken classes or stayed at Ramekins?
            We could even stay the night?!

            1. re: dvcucsc

              Maybe someone will post some more recent reports, but if you do a search for "ramekin cooking class" you'll get some threads that discuss it.

              1. re: dvcucsc

                I have taken many classes at Ramekins and have liked them very much. They also offer special Chef's Table dinner/classes that sound really good -- they've been out of our budget range, but are within yours. The classes that we've liked have included sausage making (Bruce Aidells,) mozzarella pulling and forming (Cat Cora,) dim sum making (Joyce Jue,) danish pastries (Linda Sullivan,) breakfast breads (Craig Ponsford,) Mardi Gras foods (forgot teacher's name,) and turnovers, tarts and gallettes (Jennifer Millar.)

                The facility is really nice and the price usually includes a small meal (usually the food you prepared) and two glasses of wine after the class.

                The Chef's Tables are different -- they are smaller and include an elaborate dinner.


                You may also want to look at a new cooking school in Healdsburg that I've just read about (never took a class there) and which looks quite interesting.


            2. Grace Ann Walden does a food lovers tour of San Francisco for $150 a person. She also does tours of North Beach. She's a blast to listen to and is really up on the local food scene.

              Here's her site-

              1. What about a food/farm tour culminating in a meal?

                Suggested route:

                1) Hidden Villa Farm (Los Altos Hills) does a mushroom hike every month during the fall/early winter-- The next one is Dec. 1, and always sells out

                Mushroom Hike
                Saturday, December 1, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
                Learn how to identify common families of mushrooms. Wade Leschyn of the Mycological Society of San Francisco discusses edible and poisonous varieties. If desired, bring a small basket for collecting specimens and a small knife. Hike contingent on weather. Space limited -- register early! Ages 10 and up only.
                Location: Kiosk by the main parking lot
                $10.00 per Person

                2) Close by is Craig Murray's farm & stand with beautiful nightshades--you can walk through and pick your own produce as well as buying from the stand-- here's a link to the farm location: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&h...

                3) About an hour away in Pescadero you'll find Harley Farms (delicious goat cheese)--from Los Altos it's a beautiful drive up Page Mill Rd and Alpine Rd towards the coast http://www.harleyfarms.com/

                4) Drive up the coast and stop for fresh fish from the docks in Half Moon Bay. There are other good farms stands in the area for other veggies as well

                5) Stop and pick up some wine at a local winery--perhaps Thomas Fogerty in Woodside or La Nebbia (formerly Obester) in Half Moon Bay

                6) Prepare and enjoy your super fresh, local meal

                There's also some great hiking around this area if you enjoy that sort of thing

                1 Reply
                1. re: jcarlile

                  that sounds great. I like the idea of a full day event that leads into a great meal. These are all such wonderful ideas and really fit within the budget and driving restraints. I am not 100% yet, but heading toward Ramekins. I really appreciate the amount of time everyone who has posted, is taking with my question.

                2. Rogue Chefs?

                  I haven't been, but I've heard good things about the food. You get to sit and watch your meal cooked and learn about the ingredients used.

                  Has anyone been?

                  1. I recently took a friend on a 40th birthday foodie day in Berkeley. Not super fancy, but I did earn a "really fantastic birthday" note ;-)

                    here is what we did:
                    Farmers Market
                    Bakesale Betty to share a fried chicken Sandwich and scones (get there by 11:15)
                    Cheeseboard Collective to try cheeses for a cheese course the next evening
                    Slice of pizza at The Cheeseboard Pizza
                    Shopped on 4th street and had ice cream from Sketch
                    Drinks and snack at Caesar
                    Light, early dinner at Chez Panisse Cafe (get on the list before drinks)

                    I wanted to take a class at Kitchen on Fire, but they didn't have anything that weekend that worked (http://www.kitchenonfire.com


                    Bakesale Betty
                    5098 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                    Chez Panisse
                    1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                    The Cheese Board Collective
                    1504 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

                    Sketch Ice Cream
                    1809 4th St, Berkeley, CA 94710

                    Kitchen On Fire
                    1509 Shattuck ave, Berkeley, CA