If you're a dedicated foodie, you know you are fortunate to be living in the Bay Area, a culinary connoisseur's wonderland. These gastronomic getaways will tempt your taste buds—and are less than a tank of gas away.
690 Van Ness Ave.
(415) 346-2665Why Go? Try a daytime or evening hands-on cooking class or maybe a knife skills session, and you'll be whipping up dazzling dinners in no time.
Must Do: Sign up for the Valentine's Day appetizer party on Feb. 14 and impress your date as you learn the finer points of finger foods. Or come solo and find your valentine.Insider Tip: Come hungry, since most sessions end with the students consuming the class projects, with wine included. Class sizes are limited, so enroll in advance as possible.
The Fine Print: Food prep classes are offered most weekdays, with the four-hour sessions running from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 6 to 10 p.m. Many run in the $150 to $175 range, but your palate (and dinner party guests) will thank you.
Pier 17 (on the Embarcadero at Green St.)
Why Go? Chocoholics will enjoy the presentation and factory tour highlighting how TCHO makes its artisan product from scratch, but the guided tasting at the end of the hourlong session is what really draws the drools.
Must Do: Buy some of what you just tasted at the Factory Store. It's open 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekends. You'll receive a 10 percent off coupon on tour.
Insider Tip: Since this is a food production facility, there are some restrictions: no one under age 8 allowed, no open-toe shoes, no jewelry, cellphones, cameras, bags or backpacks, plus hairnets are required on the tour.
The Fine Print: Public tours are given at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. seven days a week. The tour is free and can accommodate up to 29 people. Advance reservations are required to secure a spot.
315 Sutter St.
(888) 498-2008Why Go? Knowledgeable founder and host Chris Milano offers tour-goers not just a look at the culinary culture of several San Francisco neighborhoods, but an interactive history lesson on lifestyles and food traditions.
Must Do: Try the North Beach-Chinatown combo tour, where you can sample everything from focaccia bread and pizza to dim sum and steamed pork buns. The other public tour covers The Mission (Latin food).
Insider Tip: Wear comfortable shoes (the tour takes 3 to 3½ hours and covers several miles) and you might consider pants that have an expandable waistband. You can book up to 30 days in advance.
The Fine Print: Public tours are given Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday at 11 a.m., though only the Mission tour is offered on Sundays. Cost is $79, though you can get a $10 discount by booking by email on the Foodie Adventures! site.
2124 Folsom St.
(415) 346-7530Why Go? The school specializes in intensive programs for food service professionals with a serious interest in deepening their understanding of cheese. But the two-hour evening classes are for cheeseheads who just want to learn more about types, pairings and some basic cheesemaking techniques.
Must Do: Though wine is part of the class package in most cases, such courses as “California Cheese & Wine” and “Luscious & Loverly: Valentine's Day Cheese & Wine” target the all-important pairing of vino and cheese.
Insider Tip: Gather some friends or co-workers and have The Cheese School folk come out to your place for a private class or a cheese party. They'll set up and tend a cheese bar stocked with artisan cheeses, breads and fruit.
The Fine Print: The two-hour classes are held at the school on Folsom and begin at $69. You can register and pay online. Gift certificates and gift packages may also be purchased.