Published Feb 14, 2005

If you knew me, you’d know the way to my heart is through my stomach; and, if you knew me, you’d know I’d never date a woman about whom you couldn’t say the same thing. And what’s better than a shared love? So, no prix fixe menu at a packed 21-Food-score-on-Zagat restaurant for me and my Wonderful Girlfriend; instead, our big Valentine’s Day event was a cooking class for couples at Sur La Table.

OK, a little more background. Since both me and the little woman are in school, we don’t eat out as much as before, and we don’t get to spend as much quality time together as before. Cooking together has been a natural outgrowth of these limitations, so this class seemed natural.

The menu was pretty snazzy — an appetizer of tomato jelly on toast with goat cheese, followed by a roast pork loin, green beans, root vegetable puree, and, for dessert, an individual chocolate souffle. The program promised that we’d cook all of this in 3 hours, which we did, with time left over for a little shopping!

We worked at a table with three other couples, and we all shared wines and cooked together on a meal for the table. I was amused to see that each of the three tables of couples was determined to finish each task first and “win”. I was also impressed that, food or not, this was a thin, good-looking group. Wine tastes were also pretty good, with one couple bringing a bottle of Pinotage they’d smuggled back from a vacation to South Africa.

OK, back to the food. The first course was, as I said earlier, toast with goat cheese and tomato jelly. This was an incredible dish, both in taste and in ease of making. The trick: rub a clove of garlic across the toast before putting the cheese and jelly on it!

The pork loins were wonderful just to look at, and, because they were so small, cooked up in no time. The first step was to trim off the silver skin:

Next step was to sear the meat and make a sauce of the fond:

The final result was impressive:

The side dishes were incredible, especially the green beans, which we cooked with lardons. It’s amazing how much flavor these little bacon-like strips add.

OK, we’re a little short on the pics here, but, hey, I was busy cooking, drinking wine, eating, and actually interacting with others! Give a brother a break, man!

We were both sold on the class, and we’ll be signing up for others. The chef also did a good job of selling us on a couple of tools that we used to cook (a zester and a chocolate breaker). Too bad that they didn’t do the same with knives; we used some beautiful-looking asian hammered-steel knives that, sadly, were as blunt as my first-grade scissors. Another great merchandising opportunity lost!

But we couldn’t have had a more fun, more romantic night. Book now for next year! We’ll see you there!


did you make the tomato jelly or open a jar?
I can’t believe you didn’t already have a zester!
… and WTF is a chocolate breaker?
Sounds like you guys had fun, though! Yay!

Made the tomato jelly. It was easy as anything!

I guess I don’t always zest as much as I might, but I will think about it now, especially with all the muffins I’m making.

A chocolate breaker — I bet I’m getting the name wrong — is like four triangular pointy things on a flat piece of metal at the end of a long handle. It looks like an evil potato masher. It breaks chocolate up into tiny chunks.