Dude Ranch on Luxury Steroids. Yes please.
Whenever I get the chance to go to a cooking class, shop class, or demonstration, I take it. As much as cooking is a science, that changes with new technology or has tried and true rules, I firmly believe that its just as much an art, where 50 chefs can make the same dish 50 ways and each likes their unique way best. Going to all the classes I can allows to me to keep up on the latest trends as well as learn about why each chef creates and favors the techniques they do.
If you follow my Instagram account, you definitely got a glimpse of just how amazing the BBQ boot camp at the Alisal Ranch was. We were taught by some truly incredible chefs in one of the MOST beautiful, serene, and relaxing settings I've ever been in.
From mountains to lakes to prairie to 5 star spa treatments, and fine dining, this place has everything you could want in a vacation.
I was able to bring my husband along on this one and I'm SO glad I did.
We went on hikes, horseback riding (of course I had to buy some cute frilly new cowgirl boots for this:) , swimming at the pool, to a tiny sweetish town down the road called Solvang, and ate some of the most amazing food either of us had ever had.
The Chef instructors were incredible and so kind about letting us ask as many questions as we could think of along with letting me take an obnoxious amount of photos. Our entire group of about 20 became fast friends and laughed and ate and truly just had a great time together.
After instructive mornings, relaxing afternoons and 5 start meals we would meet up at the bar, located in a HUGE room that looks like a formal ranch lodge with a roaring fire and on the spot service, and just take in our surroundings while listening to live music. Some nights we would just meander back to our suite and lay by the crackling fire in our room, relaxing and fully embracing our food comas. Really nothing beats the atmosphere at Alisal.
While I do 99% of the grilling at our house my husband has quite a refined BBQ palate; Ill go ahead and take credit for that too, but he appreciates food, how its prepared, and the work that goes into a dish to make it great, so for those reasons hes great to have around for events likes this, but the amenities at the Alisal made this little three day trip into a perfect getaway for the two of us. We loved the time to just be together without our kids, but agree that we'll probably have to bring them both back with us in the future because they would LOVE it. Seeing all the animals, gathering eggs, swimming, a kids center, and just having room to run would be a dream for them. haha I digress, I'll post about the next time we go and give you all the details on a trip to Alisal with littles.
The boot camp was an "intensive" ( I use this word lightly because it was so much great information, but nothing about it was stressful in the least) 3 day smorgasbord that included classes such as Meat Curing, Spice Combinations where we
were able to create our own rubs, Grilled Flat breads, Desserts on the grill, sourcing of seafood and beef, fabulous wine and beer tastings/selections and a TON of hands on BBQ.
As a professional Chef with a penchant for creating food outdoors, I thought I had a pretty great handle on cooking all different kinds of food on my grill, but I can honestly say that this boot-camp blew my mind. The executive Chefs of both The Hitching Post (best steak in California) and The Alisal Ranch gave great instruction and examples while still having unique recipes and opinions on what made them the best. I loved every second of instruction and have been going back and reading through all my notes while trying out new techniques. From vegetables, st steaks to seafood and desserts, I learned something new about them all. The chefs wee even kind enough to include all of their recipes.
We finished our 3 day BBQ Boot camp with an early morning Horseback ride up the canyon to an outdoor kitchen and full breakfast buffet. The menu was created by the head chefs and we were even lucky enough to have one last cooking class on jam making by Chef Valerie (shes like, food network famous). My horse was named priest and he was super gentle, super tall, and GORGEOUS. I have the riding experience of a 6 year old, so I was really happy to have such an experienced Wrangler lead us on our ride. The one and only complaint that we had of our stay at the Alisal guest ranch is that it wasn't long enough. The rooms are picturesque and have the feel of a luxury dude ranch. The staff was exceptional and very helpful. The food was truly fine dining and some of the best I have EVER had. The Ranch itself is simply gorgeous, almost hidden while nestled in the heart of southern California wine country. I will 100% be back (hopefully to next years BBQ boot camp too!) and would recommend it to nature lovers, food lovers, as a couples retreat, and families alike. Huge thank you to all the Chefs and organizers of the event for sharing your time and talents with us and helping us to create some unforgettable memories.
If you want to book your trip here's all the info! (Trust me, you want to book a trip)
The Alisal Guest Ranch
1054 Alisal Rd, Solvang, CA 93463
Phone: (800) 425-4725