A reader recently wrote this e-mail: "I know Lucia Watson [chef/owner of Lucia’s Restaurant in Minneapolis] has a place in France that she rents out. There’s a link from the restaurant’s homepage. Do you know of any other Minnesota chefs who offer vacation rentals? I think it would be really interesting to stay at one of their places."
It was cause for a delicious exploration. This is what I found: My Taste section colleagues and I don’t know of any other local chefs that offer vacation rentals, though there are a couple of foodie tours you might want to consider.
Before we get to that, a bit about Watson’s French getaway, Mason de Granit: The three-bedroom, stone rowhouse is in Brittany, on France’s northwest coast. As you might imagine, the kitchen is a cook’s dream, with stone walls, a center island and a comfortable round table (though there are other places to eat, with a grand dining room and a terrace with a large wooden table). Rates are $1,600 for five nights, beginning on Monday or Tuesday, and $2,300 for nine nights, beginning on Friday or Saturday. The rental’s website provides more details on the house and the area, plus a peak at what Watson did during her last trip there (sea kayaking) and a few Breton-inspired recipes.
On two tours that feature local cooks, you trade the pleasure of cooking in a chef’s kitchen for perhaps a bigger one: cooking with a chef.
Michael Rostance, top toque at Broders’ Pasta Bar in Minneapolisleads small-group tours in Umbria, Italy. Participants stay in a 14th century palazzo in Spoleto and take daytrips around the region. “We take cooking lessons, hunt truffles, taste wine and new olive oil, make cheese and just enjoy the hospitality and serenity of the ‘green heart of Italy,’” Rostance wrote in an e-mail. The next trip is scheduled for November 3-13 by The Umbrian Table.
For a trip closer to home, consider taking a tour of the Apostle Islands with local food writer Beth Dooley. During the morning, you’ll kayak, hike or hang on a beach. In the afternoon, you’ll visit small local farms and fisheries, stocking up for the campfire cooking to come. The August 4-7 trip is hosted by Minneapolis-based tour operator Wilderness Inquiry.