It's been almost a month since my last restaurant post. To be honest, my better half and I have steered clear of fine dining ever since we made our highly anticipated reservation at Per Se (coming up in May). We currently set a spending budget each month and since we know Per Se is going to usurp a large allocation of next month's budget, we've been spending on other things lately.
For one, we took our very first cooking class in March! And what a blast it was. We took the "Weeknight Dinners" class at Camaje in the West Village on a Sunday evening from 5:30-9pm, which cost $175 for 2 people. There were about 16 people in the class, and we were split into 4 teams of 4 people. Each team put together 4 recipes, and the intent was to combine all our dishes at the end of the class and have a dinner buffet spread of 16 different dishes that are tasty, healthy, and easy to throw together on a weeknight!
Hubby-to-be and I were in a group with another couple. They were very nice and Brooklyn hipster-esque, which was cool since we don't encounter many of those types in our everyday corporate Manhattan lives! The 4 dishes we put together as a team were: kung pao tofu (I was very excited about this dish!), pork chops, celery root apple soup, and chicken with apricot sauce. There was a lot of chopping involved - onions, garlic, apples, celery root, tofu, etc. Those onions sure made me cry! We also learned about and passed around various spices and sauces, like curry, sriracha sauce, fish sauce, and so on.
Now, Camaje is an actual restaurant/cafe, so fortunately no one was dining in the restaurant that Sunday because our entire class took up the entire place. We did all our preparation, chopping and mixing in the restaurant, and then took turns moving to the kitchen to cook our food. The kitchen was very small, hence the reason behind taking turns. It was a lot of fun though and definitely a great couples bonding activity! People in my family know that I once literally fainted (back when I was 19 or so) during one of my first experiences cooking. Fortunately I was at home, so I fainted in the middle of the kitchen floor and my grandfather had to lift my legs up to let the blood flow back into my brain! The reason for the fainting was lack of ventilation. I am a delicate flower. :P I didn't faint at Camaje though, so I think that is a sign I have truly grown up!
Anyway, at the end of the class, everyone combined their dishes and we had a buffet line of several different types of salads, chicken breasts, pork chops, beef, soup consommes, curries, and so on. We ended the night eating our meals at the very spot in which we prepared what we cooked. (The waiters cleaned up the tables and tablecloths, of course.) Although the class was stated to end at 9, we were there until almost 10! It was a great time and a fun way to get to know other New Yorkers. Not to be biased, but my favorite dishes were the kung pao tofu and the celery root apple soup! (It's too bad they didn't give us rice to accompany the tofu!) We added a small scoop of sour cream into the soup and it really added a nice tangy touch. :)
Unfortunately, we haven't pulled out any of the recipes ever since the class! The recipes were fairly easy to prepare, but a lot of the ingredients were bought at farmers markets and we hardly encounter those in our daily lives. Also, it's tough to feel motivated to cook when your kitchen is literally 6' x 6'... smaller than my cubicle at work!!
Besides our fabulous cooking class, I've been busy wedding planning. We are now under 90 days away from our wedding and there's still a bit to do! In fact, we are heading to buy our wedding bands after work today. Ah, I love wedding planning!