While demonstrations can hold up to 48 people, and do get full around the holidays, the hands-on classes are for a max of 12 students. Here you stand up around the cooking area and actually make the food with the chefs, such as sushi or pasta or fish. Bernowitz, who left a New York restaurant a year ago to work for Aprons, said students can put “as much as they want” into learning how to cook, and that at times husbands who attend the hands-on classes with their wife may be more comfortable in a spectator and support role.
Info: Classes and demonstrations range from $35 to $75. Publix at Plantation is located at 1181 S. University Dr. It is the only Publix cooking school in Broward and Dade counties (there’s one in Boca Raton); publix.com/cookingschools.
• Picnic on Al Capone’s island
Leaves rustled as a lizard skittered through the underbrush, a small motorboat chugged by on the Intracoastal, a distant bell signaled a bridge was opening, but I heard no human voices.
I was on an almost-deserted island in the Intracoastal Waterway, a 53-acre triangle near the Broward-Palm Beach County line. Al Capone once planned to build a mansion here. But instead, it ended up one of Broward’s wildest and least-known parks.
Deerfield Island Park is just north of the Hillsboro Boulevard Bridge, accessible only by boat. The county provides a free shuttle from tiny Sullivan Park on weekends and a six-slip marina for small private boats.
The island has trails, although most of the boardwalk through mangrove swamps was closed after it was discovered that the support pilings had shifted. Picnic sites, each with a table and a grill, are scattered in clearings near the marina, and one pavilion for large parties is available for rent but barely used.
Last weekend, only two other visitors took the shuttle to the island with me, and we quickly headed in different directions. Soon, it was as if I were alone on the island. I followed a winding trail through tunnels of foliage, past live oak, sea grape and wild coffee plants, strangler figs climbing larger host trees, ferns growing from the trunks of palms.
Along the trail, patches of land were roped off as refuge for gopher tortoises. The ground was pocked with finger-size holes where blue land crabs retreated, holes the size of a child’s fist where armadillos hid their eggs from raccoons. But I saw no wildlife except small birds that cried from their perches in trees and a pair of swallowtail butterflies that followed each other in a silent dance through the foliage.
Info: 954-357-5100; www.broward.org/parks/DeerfieldIslandPark/. Hourly shuttle from Sullivan Park from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; free.
• Hav e a taste
By the time we got to Palermo’s Bakery in Boynton Beach, we were stuffed, so it was fitting that the food set before us was a platter of stuffed bread. Semolina bread, stuffed with broccolo or chunks of sausage or strips of roasted peppers. It was good, and we all managed to stuff ourselves a little more. And oh yes, with miniature cannolis too.
We were on a historical and culinary tour of Delray Beach and Boynton Beach, and by this point we had eaten shrimp in remoulade, a Jamaican sampler (curry goat, jerk chicken, BBQ ribs, cornbread), pizza, mini cupcakes, macarons (French cookies), and whatever we’d bought for ourselves at the Delray Beach green market.
Culinary tours offer a brief symbiotic relationship. Guests get to sample food from various eateries without committing to an entire meal, and the businesses introduce themselves to people they hope will come back later. A friend who joined me for the tour was so enamored of Sundy House — our first stop — with its gorgeous tropical gardens that as soon as she sampled the shrimp remoulade, she texted her daughter that she’d found the spot for this year’s Mother’s Day brunch.
The tour has about 30 partners, so the stops rotate and each tour is different. Guests ride a bus to most stops and walk between some.
The Palm Beach tours — another one goes to Lake Worth and Lantana — are a bit different from most culinary tours. Put on by the Museum of Lifestyle & Fashion History, they also include a hefty dose of history and culture. We learned about the history of Delray Beach’s historically black neighborhood, the churches, Henry Flagler and his railroad, and other key figures in the town’s history. We also stopped at the Art House of Delray, a nonprofit gallery.
Info: Taste History Culinary Tours of Historic Palm Beach County, 561-243-2662, www.mlfhmuseum.org. Tours of Lake Worth/Lantana are held on the second Saturday of each month. Delray Beach/Boynton Beach on the third and fourth Saturdays. Cost: $40.
A number of other food tours are held in South Florida. Check these out:
Food Tours of Miami, walking tours of South Beach on certain Saturdays and Sundays; www.foodtoursofmiami.com.
Miami Culinary Tours, daily architectural, historical and culinary walking tours of Miami Beach; www.miamiculinarytours.com.
Walking Cuban cuisine tours of Little Havana given by HistoryMiami about one a month; www.historymiami.org.
• Ride a wave
At Rapids Water Park in West Palm Beach, it’s seldom that anyone exits a water slide without sporting a dazed grin.
Like most water parks, Rapids features screaming children, cheesy pseudo-tropical décor, tattooed customers, and dizzying water rides. But recently, the nearly 35-year-old park has added new rides, other features and promotions that make it ideal for a day-long family staycation.
New features include the FlowRider wave simulator; poolside cabanas with personal servers and Wi-Fi; park pavilions for group events of up to 1,000 people; and a new Gold Card Season Pass option that offers savings for frequent visitors.
On a good day the 35-acre park can draw 5,000 to 7,000 visitors — about half of them from Miami-Dade and Broward counties, said spokeswoman Tina Hatcher,. “Here, you don’t need to drive so many hours to get to Orlando and then pay for gas and a hotel,” Hatcher said. “It’s an easy thing to drive here and then drive back to Broward or Dade.”
Jeff Taleff, 37, a West Palm Beach resident who visited the park with his wife and three daughters, said: “It’s like enjoying a vacation for a day.”
Many new visitors come to experience the FlowRider, a simulated wave system that shoots 30,000 gallons of water per minute at a body boarder or knee boarder, simulating a 35-mile per hour wave.
“All ages can do this,” Hatcher said. “You have kids riding the wave, as well as surfers.”
Yeinier Padrino, a 31-year-old visitor in panama hat and heavy beard stubble, said the FlowRider “is the best the park has to offer.”
Germaphobes who may be uneasy over the idea of hopping into the park’s water may be assuaged by Hatcher’s assurances. The park’s pump system and its employees, she explained, constantly monitor the water’s chemical levels to ensure cleanliness.
Once in the water, it is undeniably fun. A drenched Samuel Guzman, 15, climbed out of raft, post-ride. “It’s awesome!” he shouted, teeth chattering violently as he grinned. “The water is a little cold.”
Info: Rapids Water Park, 6566 N. Military Trail, West Palm Beach; 561-848-6272; www.rapidswaterpark.com/index.cfm. Admission: Monday-Friday (excluding holidays) $38.99; Saturday-Sunday $42.99.