When I’ve got the travel bug and a trip isn’t on the calendar for a bit, taking a cooking class is the next best thing.

I finally used the gift card I received for my birthday and decided that Spain is where I wanted to visit for the afternoon.

We made chicken and chorizo paella, Gambas Al Ajillo (shrimp with sherry and garlic), dates stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped with Serrano ham that were baked in the oven until crispy perfection, and for dessert, olive oil ice cream with Marcona almonds.

In a word: yum. We didn’t have enough time to develop the Socarrat—that traditional crispy layer of rice at the bottom of the paella—but it was tasty all the same. And now that I’m in possession of the Bomba rice they use for this dish, I can’t wait to put my own spin on it.

How about you, dear readers? Have you ever taken a cooking class for a little escape? If so, what was your favorite?

I’m such a fan of cooking classes that I decided to write about an ongoing culinary adventure in my novel The Honorary Italians. In the story a motley crew of Minnesotans “travel” all the way through the 20 regions of Italy without ever leaving home. And let’s just say there is plenty of excitement in—and outside—of the kitchen. Stay tuned for details as they become available. I can’t wait to share this story with you!