Posts Tagged ‘Culinary DC’
I’ve been to many cooking classes and in fact many Pasta Making classes so it was really fun to attend a creative take on a cooking class organized as part of the Barracks Row Culinary Education Crawl on Sunday, February 17th, 2013 held at various restaurants on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. as well as the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital – a truly cool space!
I took 2 classes, but this article will only cover the class Pasta Making With Chef Wendi – a 60 minute class where 12 total participants got to make our own pasta and share in the meal afterwards – all for a whopping 20 Bucks! I’ll take you through a quick run-through of the class:
Instructor: Wendi James who teaches quite a few culinary classes at other schools in the region including at Culinaerie, Sur La Table – Pentagon City, VA (or she said she once did – another story!) and at her own cooking school Rutabaga Sweets. I spoke with her before class and she has quite a pedigree having worked at many top-rated restaurants in the U.S. (she worked at Restaurant Daniel NYC, The Inn at Little Washington and Charlie Trotters Chicago) and hailing from serious Foodie City Chicago. Her attitude was refreshingly honest and she spoke her mind about the local restaurant scene and her plans to open up a breakfast place in Asheville, NC. As an instructor, she was direct and “get to work” – but of course we only had 1 hour to make both hand-roll fettucine and ravioli with the hand-cranking pasta machines – no time to dilly-dally..
Pasta Ingredients – simple..all you really need is All-Purpose flour, some eggs, and a little olive oil (you could actually skip the olive oil). I was working with 2 other cooks who had never made pasta homemade before. Maybe you can get a little fancy and learn to crack an egg with one hand, but one secret to getting the egg in the flour with No Shell is to crack the egg against a flat surface NOT the bowl. If you mix it in a bowl, it’s very forgiving, but it’s nice to make a small “well” in the middle of the flour to hold the eggs and then swirl a fork (or your hand – watch out, it can get sticky/messy!) until the ingredients all become a dough..if it’s too sticky, add some flour, if it’s too dry, add a little water, it’s very forgiving.
The Facility and Setup: Class is held in Hill Center’s state-of-the Art teaching kitchen. It was relatively small – only fitting 1 instructor and 12 participants, but it was truly an easy kitchen to learn from and to do hands-on cooking. There was the main table where everyone gathered round in a circle with the burners, and then there were 2 work tables in the back for up to 6 participants each. Things were kept very simple – we were given a bowl of flour and eggs, some olive oil and a tablespoon, and the ravioli filler which we had to cut up the basil and add to the ricotta and parmesan cheese to put into the ravioli’s – just like Italian food, there were simple ingredients and simple instructions. If you’ve ever been to Italy and have seen how pasta is made – it’s very simple and traditionally was done by Grandma at home. BTW – you can also make pasta without the eggs and just using water – that’s how it’s often done in the south of Italy. And then, we had to roll..
Once you make the dough, you can wait an hour or immediately begin rolling it out into sheets. The way it works is that you begin with the widest opening, do that a few times until the dough kind of “comes together” (the gluten begins to stretch and take shape) and then you keep feeding the sheet into smaller/narrower settings until you get to the lowest setting – and boy, does the dough spread out – I mean it can go for yards! The same sheet of dough can be used for noodles or for ravioli and fillings – I once took a class where different kinds of flour were used for both (All Purpose Flour for Ravioli because it’s relatively soft/tender, semolina flour for a chewier pasta) but frankly it’s a matter of personal taste.
Cooking Pasta: The sauce in this class was made for us (another post on Sauce..soon..) but in a nutshell there was a white sauce with cheese and cream and a red sauce with tomatoes of course. So Chef Wendi boiled the pasta in unsalted water – a discussion ensued – in Italy, they always salt their water for pasta (“as salty as the sea” is the famous quote on how much salt for pasta water – this always starts an argument with Italian cooks!) – her philosophy is you don’t salt the pan when you sear a steak, you salt the steak – so my interpretation is that the pasta/ingredients and the salt should be properly salted. In my own defense of the Italian way of salting the water – it depends – for example, if you cook your greens in the salted water before you cook your pasta (like for Broccoli Rabe and Orecchiette), you have a very flavorful pasta water..well, just like 2 Italians, Chef Wendi and I may never agree!
Upcoming Pasta Classes on the TasteDC Site:
–Handmade Pasta Workshop at the Kitchen Studio (Frederick, MD) (February 21st, 2013)
–Pasta Fatta in Casa (Pasta Made at Home) II at Culinaria (Saturday, February 23rd, 2013)
–Pierogi Cooking Class at Hills Kitchen (February 23rd, 2013)
–Fresh Pasta Workshop at Sur La Table (March 13th, 2013)
-Handmade Pasta and Sauce at Cookology (Ashburn, VA) (Saturday, March 23rd, 2013)
I love dumplings..actually, I love any starch covered meat/seafood/vegetable whether it’s fried, boiled, steamed or sauteed! I attended a really unique and fun cooking class organized by AIWF’s DC Chapter with Executive Chef Scott Drewno at The Source in downtown DC on Saturday, February 9th, 2013. Here are the highlights and some photos – you WILL salivate when you see the dishes..and honestly, I just can’t forget the mouth-watering aromas of ginger, garlic and soy in so many wonderful combinations..in some ways you really need your sense of smell to appreciate this post!
1)Layout – very unique and maybe a bit daunting at the beginning, but there were 3 separate seating areas with 3 individual cooking demonstration stations. It was sort of like theater in the round, with the main Chef Scott Drewno in the middle station (he’s on the far left in the photo above) with his “Madonna” headseat on and 2 separate chefs demonstrating on opposite/perpendicular sides of the stage – I guess you could call it a 3-Chef C-Stage Cooking Demonstration. Unusual, but it worked mainly because of the entertainment value and also because you could watch your own chef – a very creative use of a space that actually is difficult to layout for classroom style events!
2)The Menu – I usually have a pretty low expectation of a cooking class that is simple food like dumplings, but then again, I know chef Drewno notoriously is an impressive foodie and he couldn’t (wouldn’t) let us down. Here’s the menu and dish photos are below:
Chinese New Dumpling Class Menu
-Chinese Spare Ribs, Black Bean Glaze
-Sea Scallop Sui Mai, Curried Lobster Emulsion
-Pork Belly Pot Stickers, Black Vinegar, Chili Oil
-Szechuan Style Green Beans, Candied Walnuts
-Crystal Chive Dumpling, Kurobuta Pork, King Crab
-Chilled Cucumber Salad, Toasted Sesame, Togarashi
-Szechuan “Dan Dan” Dumpling, Organic Chicken, Peanut Sauce
-Millet Congee, Red Braised Pork Belly, Pickled Butternut Squash Relish
3)The Process – we sat down at various dining room tables and actually got some hands-on hand-rolling of 2 kinds of pork dumplings, we each had 2 wrappers of each kind to roll. Now we got a complete explanation and demo of how to roll, and then we rolled up our sleeves, dipped our finger in the egg wash and wrapped up the mini-balls of meat into dumplings. Some people were good, some were ok, and some simply had falling apart dumplings, but hey, we weren’t going to eat these anyway – the meal was prepared for us. Primarily a demonstration cooking class, I found myself talking to my fellow Foodies more than actually listening to the class – I probably could have learned more, but honestly the vibe in the room and the amount of alcohol being served (sparkling wine and that tasty Dragon’s Fire Cocktail with Tequila!) kept the noise/buzz omni-present – if this had been my first cooking class, maybe a bad thing, but for experienced Foodies it was actually a really fun event.
4)The meal – served primarly family style (except for the Millet Congee and the dessert), it was fun to share with 3 other people at my table. My Foodie Buddie Bruce Miller (who has attended at least 200 TasteDC events or more in the past) was very experienced at these events. I actually prefer the family style method of serving – it helps create rapport and camaraderie. By sharing food, I learned more about my newfound fellow foodies than if everything had been individually plated. Some specific comments: the variety of dishes, proteins and vegetables was very thought out – from garlicky clams to
rich pork belly and braised pork belly, back to the Sea Scallops Sui Mai and then finally to the deliciously syrupy dessert (I forget the name!). Also the Chilled Cucumber Salad helped to cool my palate and acted sort of like an Amuse Bouche between dishes – actually the Cocktail did the same with it’s Tequila and grapefruit – a very smart way of using a drink to refresh the palate!
5)Service – I was really impressed by the Source’s staff and presentation and service – they cared..something that you don’t always get with service nowadays, but each server was focused and putting in effort. There were many parts too – the hot hand towels which came out twice, the initial layout of the wrappers on a small granite plate with a moist towel on top to protect the integrity of the dumpling wrappers, the pouring of sparkling wine, the making and serving of the cocktail, and the actual serving of the food which was primarily family style. There was one obliteration of glassware episode – and I mean ExPloDing glass – but luckily it was to the side, and the server quickly cleaned it up – no harm, no foul..in fact, maybe an extra plus for handling a delicate situation so well!
6)Overall Impression – very professional presentation and staff, but not stiff – I felt like things were being taken care of without pretense. This event was very much theater in the round and in fact, there were two un-affiliated groups of people present – the AIWF DC Chapter and a list of Chef Scott Drewno’s contacts/Foodies. I thought the cooking layout of 3 chef demonstration stations although unusual, it created some theater and a chance for more discussion – and it was the best use of the available space which is awkwardly broken up by an atrium/stairwell. The space is actually quite visually pleasing with the extensive windows and the wine wall next to the stairwell. Chef Drewno is also a very good presenter and entertaining and answered questions clearly from the audience – Scott knows his Asian ingredients – oh, and this WaPo article will give you some background on that. Really curious about ethnic food? Then Check Out Tyler Cowen’s Ethnic Dining Guide
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
Capital Food Fight on Monday, October 8th, 2012 was a culinary party for DC’s Foodie Elite! This impressive event had a Sold-Out Turnout of around 1,500 people tasting, imbibing and nibbling on 2 Levels of the Ronald Reagan Building. What makes this event so different from many multi-chef events in DC was the Star Power draw of some big name Chefs and Foodie Stars: Anthony Bourdain, Padma Lakshmi, Carla Hall (DC’s own!), Andrew Zimmern and of course DC’s own infamous Jose Andres put on a show for the crowd around the cooking competition between 4 Battling DC Chefs:
Chef Jeffrey Buben -Vidalia, Bistro Bis
Chef Enzo Fargione – Elisir
Chef Guillermo – Pernot – Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar
Chef Adam Sobel – Bourbon Steak
I have to admit – I was so focused on tasting many of the 60 Restaurant’s dishes at the event, that I barely paid attention to the cooking competition – I’m a professional taster, and that’s what I do at these events – Taste! the list of restaurants was quite impressive, here’s the list of about 60 – Capital Food Fight Restaurants .
Ohh, and here are the dishes served:
1789 • House-made ricotta with fresh figs & Wildflower Honey
Adour • Lobster salad with cauliflower & céleri rémoulade, assorted macaroons & al tiramisu
American Tap Room • Bourbon barrel stout braised wild boar with pumpkin butter & pickled vegetables
Argia’s Italian • Duck confit, bean ragout with crostini
Art and Soul • Louisiana crawfish étouffée, preserved lemon, brown jasmine rice & scallions
Bandolero • Red snapper tostada – really woke up my tastebuds and refreshing with a good dose of salt to bring out the fish and other flavors!
Bar Pilar/Café St. Ex • Wagyu brisket chili with farmhouse cheddar cheese & scallions – Wagyu is so wonderfully soft fat on the palate and really made this comfort food dish work.
BLT Steak • Tuna tartar
Blue Duck Tavern • Mushroom tart
Boqueria • Roasted market carrots with yogurt, marcona almonds, citrus vinaigrette & cilantro
Boundary Road • House-made sausage & pretzel rolls
Carmine’s • Meatballs & eggplant parmigiana – funny how the most basic foods get oohs and aahs at this event.
Central Michel Richard • Salmon croquet monsieur
Cuba Libre • Scallop tiradito with compressed strawberry, roasted corn, salpicon/sweet potate & micro celery – interesting how a fruit like strawberry brings out other flavors so well – this worked.
Dolcezza Artisanal Gelato • Lemon ricotta cardamom & cementine sorbetto
Elisir • Gorgonzola panna cotta eggshells with candied celery – great presentation and creamy, delicious dish.
Equinox • Truffled fontina & slow cooked cabbage with roasted chanterelles
Evening Star • Pumpkin soup
Good Stuff Eatery • Toasted marshmallow shake
Graffiato • Cured sardines & broccolini with preserved lemon & aged balsamic – sardines definitely wake up the senses at a crowded event like this.
iCi Urban Bistro • Rosemary duck confit rillettes with pickles on toasted baguettes
Indique • Crab papad roll
Jackson 20 • South Texas antelope carpaccio, mole de Colorado, local radishes & pickled tomatoes
Kaz Sushi Bistro • Mini temaki (sushi hand rolls)
Lebanese Taverna • Sliced lamb loin with pastry & lebneh
Lincoln • Braised short rib with bone marrow jam, pickled shallots & black pepper truffle biscuits
Mie N Yu • House-made pho with duck breast
Oyamel • Salpicon de reshilled, shredded beef, pickled onions, tomatoes & chipotle chiles
PJ Clarke’s • P.J’s mini burgers
Policy • Brisket sliders with oven roasted tomatoes, sunny side up quail egg, caramelized onions & black truffle mayo
Rappahannock River Oysters • Rappahannock River oysters & Olde Salt oysters
Ripple • House-made Lamb mortadella, squash mustard & beet juice – yep, it looked like mortadella!
Santa Lucia Coffee • Coffee
Taberna del Alabardero • Tomato surprise stuffed with anchovies
Taco Bamba • Pork tenderloin burrito, grilled avocado, white beans & picked jalapeno pistachio vinaigrette
The Federalist Duck • Sausage with mustard pickled cabbage
The Majestic • Sashimi, rockfish with soy-yuzu vinaigrette, daikon, ginger, cilantro & sesame seeds
Westend Bistro • Fennel smoked trout with apple cranberry chutney, saffron aioli & angel hair potato crisps
Hank’s Oyster • Oysters on the half shell with saki ginger mignonette
Gristmill • Shrimp & grits
Jackie’s • Local lamb stuffed nora pepper with smoked tomato
Shake Shack • Frozen custard
Taylor Gourmet • Hoagies & salads
And of Course lot’s of Media Coverage:
Article by Washington Business Journal’s Miss Frederick
Jessica Sidman for City Paper – 4 Memorable Moments from Capital Food Fight (Note: she mentions the man who paid $1,000 to eat Iberico ham off Padma Lakshmi’s collar bone!)
“Where Did That Iguana Come From?” in the City Paper