THE GRILLING ARTS: People have put meat to fire for thousands of years, but it took the dawning of the foodie revolution for the grilling arts to gain prominence. We're talking about classes in proper rubs and sauces and the correct brushes to use and lessons in how high to keep your heat and what charcoal or woods to use. These are worthwhile considerations, especially given the fact that we Californians build a whole four- to five-month lifestyle of living the outdoor lifestyle. One of the swankest and certainly most picturesque schools in all of the Golden State is not in a school setting but at the bucolic Alisal Guest Ranch in Santa Ynez Valley. School's in session only every so often, and classes do sell out. And by "classes" we mean a long and savory weekend devoted to making your barbecue better, as taught by masters.
BOOTCAMP DEETS: The next BBQ-flavored getaway sizzles from Thursday, March 21 through Sunday, March 24. Alisal's executive head chef and the owner of Hitching Post II -- Pascal Gode and Frank Ostini, respectively -- will lend the hot-coals expertise. Starting a fire and spice rubs will be two of the topics covered, but it won't be all savory schoolwork all the time. A breakfast ride by wagon or horseback is planned for one morning, and there are more guest ranch-style activities to choose from. Plus, your welcome basket? Western-themed. If only all classes on every topic could be set at a gorgeous rustic guest ranch. Costs start at $2,650 for three nights stay and four days of tasty stuff (meals and accomos are in the mix, as you might imagine, plus any of the activities.)