Oh yeah baby, I was more than a little intrigued with just the title of this demo class at our local cooking studio, Culinary Wonders. I had taken a wine-pairing class there before, but never a mixology class.
As a student of both wine and spirits, I’ve done my fair share of trying all kinds of spirits and cocktails, just as I try all kinds of wine varietals. However, I don’t have the slightest inclination to make wine. Cocktails? Yes. Pairing? Definitely yes. So…moving on…this is how it started:
Planning a cocktail party but not sure what to serve? Maybe we can help. Join us, and our very own bartender, for a night of sophisticated small plates to pair with some unique cocktails.
Menu: Cuban ceviche served with Cucumber Mojito, Thai beef salad paired with Lychee Champagne Cocktail, Lamb burger sliders with a classic Manhattan and Spicy chocolate tartlet accompanied by “Silk Stockings.”
According to co-owner Chef Judy Gilbert, local bartender Ian McQuown would be giving us a “good show.” If Ian’s name is familiar, Judy said that he went to Hart High school, was in show choir and drama, later graduating from UCLA’s theater arts program.
Ian did not fail to disappoint. In fact Judy commented that she had met with other bartenders that, though they knew their craft, wouldn’t have been as entertaining.
“You’re not a bartender,” Ian began, “if you’re not dripping.” And drip he did, even broke a glass, but none of the students could tell if it was all for show or for real. Anyway, Ian prepared all four drinks as listed above, while sharing tidbits of information, much like Chef Herve and Chef Judy did, while working.
(Note: At press time I’m waiting for Chef Judy to send me all of the recipes, for the dishes and the cocktails, digitally. When she does I will be running them in separate weekly posts on my website, http://evewine101.com. In the meantime, below are some of the things that we learned.)
Starting with the Cuban Ceviche and Cucumber Mojito we learned that lime juice would “cook” the raw shrimp in about 2-3 hours in a zip-lock bag and how to squeeze a cut lemon with a set of kitchen tongs. The Mojito benefitted from as much muddled lime and mint that you wanted and the use of coconut palm sugar.
The next course, Thai Beef Salad and a Lychee Champagne Cocktails was a pairing Chef Herve liked, as the sweetness of the Lychee would counterbalance the spiciness of the salad. The marinade for the salad could be made up to three days ahead, if an English (or hothouse) cucumber was used there would be no need to peel it and that Thai basil is more aromatic than regular basil. The cocktail, garnished with a Lychee nut, also employed the use of Soho lychee liquor (never heard of that before) and rum that had been infused for one night with a Kafir lime leaf.
Our third course, Lamb and Beef Sliders paired with a Manhattan, was my favorite. Chef Judy suggested a 20% fat ground beef, as it mixed well with the lamb in a 50/50 ratio. And the surprise of a small cube of Feta cheese buried inside added another layer of flavors. Ian used Templeton Rye Whisky (which I would loved to have had alone…) in his Manhattan recipe. The big surprise for students was the used of Luxardo cherries and their syrup. Costing about $20 a jar Judy said they were far better than the maraschino cherries most have tried. Everyone agreed.
The last course, a Spicy Chocolate Tartlet and Silk Stockings, was a favorite among the dessert lovers. Chef Herve had prepared this course first as it had to bake while we had the other pairings. Using unsalted butter (apparently Chef is a huge butter fan) along with simple crushed cookies or vanilla wafers he made the crust. The inside was a decadent mixture of heavy cream, spices and Mexican chocolate. Chef called the dish “A flavor profile of sweet, salty, spicy and smoky.” Then Ian whipped up tequila, crème de cacao, cream, Chambord raspberry liqueur and Chef Judy came around and topped it off with cinnamon.
About Culinary Wonders (2016: Private events are currently available, the storefront is closed.)
As the only recreational cooking class in the area, Culinary Wonders is taking Valencia by storm. Let our highly seasoned chefs take you on a culinary adventure through the world of unique cuisines that will boost the skills of any avid cook!
Discover the joy of cooking in a small, welcoming environment in our cooking studio. Our classes cover various topics such as pasta making, regional cooking, sushi making, as well as pastry classes and many more. Our Hands-On Classes offer personal instruction in a small group setting. Every class includes your own workstation, set of tools and supplies and of course all the recipes. We make learning fun and each class ends with a great meal along with occasional wine or cocktail pairing.
Our Demonstration Classes offer a wide range of menus prepared for you by our experienced chefs. Think of it as “dinner” and a show. You will get to sample the entire menu and also enjoy the occasional wine and cocktail pairing. Don’t forget you will take home all the recipes to prepare for your family.
Looking for a location to have a Special Event? Reserve our cooking studio for your next gourmet cooking club get together, corporate team building event, bridal shower, baby shower or birthday party.
We can also host a fun cooking class for your fundraiser.
We will work with you to create a menu just for you. You will have the choice of a hands-on or demonstration class.
Thank you for your interest in Culinary Wonders. We hope to see you soon in our kitchen where we’ll be cooking up some magic!
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (661)-254-1234.