BrooklynLady and I have a hard time getting time to go out together, now that we have a little daughter. I understand now that we used to take this for granted. We had the ability to go out on a whim, to have a simple date, like taking a walk through the leafy streets of our neighborhood and grabbing a drink somewhere. Or something a bit fancier, like going to dinner at a nice restaurant.
So now, when we actually get to go out on a date, we try to put some effort into it, to think of something really fun to do, because we don't get to go out that often. Pressure? Yup. But recently we thought we had a sure thing. We decided to take a cooking class together! Sounds like a nice way to spend a Friday evening, right?
We both love to cook, and we're already pretty competent, but it would be nice to add some new dishes to our repertoire. So when we saw a class called "Essentials of Provençal Cooking" in the Institute for Culinary Education Catalog, it just seemed obvious. Provence - isn't that the land of black olives and lavender and all sorts of other yummy things?
Here is the course description:
Provence is a gastronomic paradise where French techniques meet Mediterranean elements like garlic, basil, olives, lavender, and honey. Throughout this enchanting evening you will learn essential techniques, including selecting the proper herbs and other aromatics that pair with the freshest of ingredients to make simple dishes that burst with flavor. On your menu will be Pastis; Tapenade (olive spread on rustic bread); Brandade de Morue à l’Aïoli (dried cod with aioli); Soupe au Pistou (bean soup with cheese and basil-garlic dressing); Daube de Boeuf (beef simmered in red wine); Tian d’Aubergines et Courgettes (eggplant and zucchini crustless tart); Carré d’Agneau Rôti aux Herbes de Provence (roast lamb with herbes de provence); Fenouil à la Provençale (braised fennel with tomatoes and garlic); Dried Fruit and Honey Compote.You know as well as I do - that sounds amazing. Four or five dishes that I would love to learn how to make. But sadly, mis-advertised. Here is what the course description SHOULD have said:
Provence is a gastronomic paradise where French techniques meet Mediterranean elements like garlic, basil, olives, lavender, and honey. But we will not discuss that, we just wrote that to get you in the door. Instead you will watch the chef as he thinly slices onions and garlic, just like Emeril or one of the other food network chefs. You will prep zucchini, more onions, and slice several baguettes. Please remember, do not ask any questions about or in any way attempt to discuss Provençal cooking. And if you thought you'd enjoy a glass of wine on Friday night while prepping onions, forget it pal. We have knife safety to think about. Now get to work, and split into three groups so that you can actually make all of the food. That's right, we'll assign dishes to your group - you will not learn to make all of the dishes as advertised. Stop complaining and start slicing onions. Please do not make me repeat myself.Thankfully BrooklynLady looked up at me about 15 minutes into the 4 and half hour class and said "can we escape this together?" We faked a childcare emergency and fled, wandering downtown until we found ourselves at the much hyped, but quite good Momofuku Ssam Bar. But that's another story...
So have you ever been to a good cooking class? Was my experience typical? New York typical? I cannot believe how LAME LAME LAME this class was. Clearly we are not the target audience. Or is everyone else normal and we're crazy???