Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A New York Meal

Rob and I just got home from cooking class. Our new friend Daniel invited us. He also brought his mom. Prior to class, we were emailed the following menu and told to bring a bottle of wine.

Fresh fig, Arugula, Chevre, Pine Nuts, and Fennel with Balsamic Shallot Vinaigrette

Chez Allard's Roast Chicken with Lentils and Bacon

Chocolate Rum Praline Fané

Class was at a fabulous apartment with a huge chef's kitchen, complete with enormous square slate cooking counter that easily sat the 12 people in the class. We piled the wine on the counter and ingredients started flying around. The teacher was hilarious: slightly absentminded and extremely casual, she dropped things, forgot what she was saying, ran around the kitchen multi-tasking, and repeatedly licked food off of her fingers while preparing it. She was perfect.

At one point, we had all become so distracted talking to each other that she had to ring her little kitchen bell and call out "Is ANYBODY interested in the lentils?!"

We were. The evening was basically run as a demonstration, though we were all given odd jobs to help the meal come together. Rob sliced figs for the salad, and it's a small miracle that any of them actually ended up on our plates, considering how many I saw him eating. "She said we had too many!" he claimed. I chopped onions for the lentil sauce. That was literally my entire contribution to the meal. It was almost more of a dinner party than an actual class. But we did learn. "Oh!" the teacher would say. "I didn't put this in the recipe, but you really should use a metal bowl for the fané. What? I did put it in the recipe? Oh. Then it's there." or "To make pralines, you should use about 1/2 cup of sugar to 2 tablespoons of doesn't really matter. You can use any amount."

She chatted, she taught, and she very calmly ran a pretty complicated meal, telling us "You have to accept mess."

And it got messy. But when the food was done, it was amazing. We all ate too much, while the teacher continued to bustle around the kitchen finishing up the decadent dessert. When it, too, was done, she sat down with us and everyone told stories as we mutually overdosed on sugar. This class happens every Wednesday, and is suddenly another thing I will miss about New York.

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