My husband and I participated in a cooking class at a local restaurant last week. Our good friends, Bob and Diane, came up with the idea as a Christmas gift and invited a bunch of us to participate at Tin Fish. We love new experiences and this one sounded like fun, so we signed up. Little did I know what a surprise was in store for me late in the evening.
I guess I expected a chef to entertain and instruct the six of us, plus whoever else might have signed up. Would there be two more participants? Four?
Whoa, was I wrong! When we arrived we discovered a good-sized room set up with rows and rows of chairs. The woman who ushered us in told us that 64 people had made reservations. Wow! I had no idea this was such a popular event!
Luckily, four of us had gotten there early enough to snag seats in the third row and we saved seats for our two other friends who were running a little late. We were right behind a bunch of women who were clearly "regulars" and who greeted the restaurant staff like old friends. Okay, we were the newbies. But that didn't stop us from having a blast.
These photos are from before the event began. To the far left, looking at the camera is my husband, Curt, then Diane and her husband, Bob.
Our chef was Colin, and he was great... funny, and willing to interact with the audience throughout. The night we chose was Mexican Coastal Seafood night and Colin prepared Battered Halibut Fish Tacos with red chili slaw and tequila cream, Black Bean and Crab Enchiladas with goat cheese and fire roasted tomato salsa, and Caldo de Pacific Dorado, a sun-dried chili broth with fresh tomato, cilantro, radish and avocado.
Here's the beauty of this class. Not only do you watch Colin as he prepares each of these dishes, you listen to his hints and suggestions and learn from his substitutions (for instance, shallots weren't looking good so he substituted regular white onions at one point), and --best of all -- you enjoy each course as it's completed. Just like on TV, while Colin is working in real time, the kitchen is preparing/warming/serving finished courses. And then, as the food is being served, the wine comes out and an expert tells you about the choices he's paired with each course. We had a Gewurztraminer with the tacos, a white Sangria with the enchiladas, and a red Sangria with the soup.
I'm not the biggest fan of fish tacos but let me tell you, these were great. Paired with the Gewurztraminer (a California vintage) they were perfect! I wasn't crazy about the white Sangria (too sweet) but the red was not bad.
As much as I would love to include recipes for all the food we enjoyed that night, I have to admit, I didn't take comprehensive enough notes. The restaurant provides an ingredient list and I probably could have recorded each step, but I was enjoying the experience too much to do so.
So instead of providing a recipe here today, let me use today's post to suggest that you take advantage of new opportunities around you. Tin Fish has been offering these cooking classes for some time, but it wasn't until our friends Bob and Diane decided to make it a Christmas gift to themselves that we jumped in to try it. In the spirit of the seafood we enjoyed, I'd have to say we're "hooked!"
Not only are we planning to head back to Tin Fish as soon as our schedules allow, we're looking into other local restaurant cooking classes as well. I was surprised to find out how many places offer these events. I'm excited!
The big surprise of the evening came at the very end. We all put our names in for a door prize and Colin pulled four names. I hardly ever win these kinds of things, but he pulled my name and I did. Guess what the prize is? I get to be "chef for the day" at Tin Fish on the evening of my choice. That means I come in early and stay through the evening, watching, learning, and -- I assume -- helping out a little. I can't wait. I'll be sure to report back after my "Big Night."
Almost every day we have the chance to try something new ... My vote: Go for it!
You may have noticed that I've been running a pre-order contest. Well, guess what? The books are starting to be available *already* - BN.com got them into readers' hands last week and friends have spotted them at Borders brick-and-mortar stores.
So the contest below is not only a pre-order, it's a current-order contest! Hope you take a moment to check it out: