As I walked into the back room of the kitchen store, I felt my pulse quicken, that slight nervousness combined with unknown anticipation. I would be performing in an arena of strangers, an act I had never endeavored upon before. I was about to participate in a group cooking class in the kitchen of Sur La Table in Downtown Portland, Oregon. I was excited for the new journey, but in my sub conscience was the fact that others would be watching as I fumbled about the unknown kitchen, performing unknown deeds.
What began as an adventure into unknown territory, soon became an evening together with my knew friends, and an obviously excellent Chef and teacher. Chef Ben Witten. Head Chef for the Sur La Table Cooking School Ben has the ability to make everyone relax, and throughout the evening, showed us with easy and humor, how to prepare five fantastic dishes, ranging in my mind from fairly easy to technique oriented. From how to handle a chef’s knife properly to cooking with oils and making a brioche block we soon became enticed by the prospect of creating new tasty dishes.
We were paired into two’s, in my case with my lovely wife Marsha, and together in groups of fours. Each station had its own set of knives and utensils, cutting boards, as well as already prepped food items to be used in the class. As we proceeded on our adventure, each person had the experience of slicing onions, scooping liver moose into brioche blocks, or wrapping paper thin phyllo sheets with Spanish Chorizo, Fig and Chicken producing little pastries.
Was it fun ? You bet it was, as we were not only taught and entertained in the world of cooking, but also taken on a journey of fine wine. This class wasn’t just about cooking ! Heck no ! It was preparing dinner and pairing each course with wines from Erath Winery, one of the finest in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.
Lauren Morton-Farmer represented Erath, educating us on each varietal she poured us, as we prepared them. With our Chicken, Fig and Chorizo B’stilla we enjoyed Erath’s 2010 Oregon Pinot Noir. Our Moose Filled Crouton their 2010 Prince Hill Pinot Noir, the Seared Pork Belly their 2010 Bishop Creek Pinot Noir. Each of these Pinot Noir’s offered unique experiences on the palate when combined with these food choices, each an excellent mate.
I must admit that it was truly a heavenly experience for me personally, as experiencing this level of food preparation, by myself of all things, together with this level of fine wine was totally an education for me.
May I also say, that it was a supreme pleasure to me, being able to really enjoy the wines, without having to find a spit bucket !
Back to the action I just have to tell you about the delicate, elegant and delicious desert me all made, and more importantly what the class learned about serving a desert wine with desert. We prepared from scratch, Chevre-Dark Chocolate Truffles ! Your mouth is watering already, is it not ? Very important when making these, is to always use high quality Cherve Goat Cheese, because using cheep stuff will give you the experience of tasting a goat ! Ben also gave us some great advice in that he also uses this specialty cheese in his cheesecakes, for some awesome results.
Lastly Ben taught us that when you are serving wines with your desert choice, always choose a desert wine that is sweeter than your desert. In this case, we had the pleasure of sipping the Erath Sweet Harvest 2010 Pinot Noir, which may I say took me over the top !
As I am writing this blog, not only is my hunger growing, but I man getting excited thinking about how soon I will be again preparing all these dishes, together with my wife, and sharing with my friends. I also realized that my inventory of my wine cellar was seriously low on Erath Wines, something I will be fixing very soon.