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PEOPLE Magazine Article

Coach Holiday Delivers California Foodie Experience and More…

Look Ma, I can cook…

It's a fact that I have only basic cooking skills so our visit to Ramekins Culinary School in Sonoma was a big plus for me. Trafalgar arranged a private cooking class where the chefs passed along some of their secrets and helped us to cook our own four-course meal. What a delightful time we had, working side by side, chatting, laughing and learning. Now I'm able to prepare interesting dishes like Crispy Wonton Cups with Apple and Brie, Shrimp Cakes with Salsa Cruda, Breast of Chicken stuffed with Pecorino and Pinenuts and very, very rich, New York Cheesecake with Cherry Merlot Sauce.

Be My Guest …

Finally, everybody loves to come home with stories about the locals they've met and the meals they've been invited to. Trafalgar has always understood this concept and presents it successfully under their 'Be My Guest' banner.

In Sonoma, our group of journalists was invited to the Nicholson's Ranch to dine with owner and winemaker, Deepak Gulrajani, his friends and neighbours. We were feted with appetizers, a buffet dinner and the California wine flowed freely. I was lucky enough to be seated beside a gentleman who was our host's close pal (also a wine aficianado). I must confess I forgot completely about my dinner as we got deeper and deeper into a conversation about what it's like to be a winemaker in the Valley. He explained the qualities of the wine I was drinking. He taught me about when to water the vines and when to make them dig their roots deeper to look for water.

He showed me photos of his family. I told him about mine and I remember thinking to myself, 'this is exactly why I love to travel!' I can read all about winemaking in any book at any time. Yet, to be on the land where the grapes are grown, drinking the wine, dining with someone who lives and breathes the subject every single day is an incredibly potent experience. It is travel magic, pure and simple.

Cook like a Californian …

I learned how to make these Crispy Wontons filled with Apple-Brie at Ramekin Culinary School.


1/2 pkg. square wonton wrappers
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. honey
Salt and pepper
1 Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored and finely diced
2 tbsp. finely chopped red bell pepper
2 tbsp. finely chopped red onion
2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
1/2 lb. ripe Brie, finely diced.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the wonton cups, cut 1/2 inch off two sides of the wontons , to make them fit the mini muffin tins.
Place one wonton in each muffin tin, pressing it down into the tin. Brush lightly with olive oil.
Bake until golden, about 6 minutes. Let cool.

In a medium bowl, stir together the vinegar, oil, honey, a pinch of salt and pepper.
Add the apple, pepper, onion and cilantro. Toss well and adjust seasonings.

Place a scant teaspoon of apple salsa in each wonton cup. Top with a disc of brie.
Place in the oven for 3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve warm. Makes: 24

How were the desserts?

For those foodies with a sweet tooth, I vouch that all the desserts throughout our Trafalgar trip were well-worth the extra calories. I tasted everything from molten chocolate cake to Lemon Pudding Cake with fresh berries to home-made sorbets and ice creams. Take a peek at the selection for yourself.



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