A couple years ago we were introduced to Urban Graze by a close friend and his wife. Urban Graze (www.urbangraze.com.au) is based in Sydney and, amongst other things, conducts a wide variety of cooking classes. We love them because they are very hands-on and the owners, Tarrah and Joel, really get involved and ensure that you are doing things correctly and learning.
Back in February, after three classes, we were feeling that we wanted to be challenged as the courses were interesting and tasty but we felt like we weren't learning much technique-wise. So we contacted Tarrah and discussed the potential for an advanced class. To our delight, they agreed that it was worth a try and we quickly booked a place for the inaugural Cooking Challenge class in August. Originally it was going to me and the Gourmet Female, along with a good mate and his partner. But when we realised she had a birthday party to attend my friend called a ring-in, his brother, who had never been to a class at the school before. Imagine our laughter when Joel opened the class with, "Now, we created this class for those who have been here a few times before and want to be challenged"!
So while we think we have been a few times we were floored to understand that a couple of the other students (there were 10 of us in all) had been to over 100 classes! That's nuts. I'm just jealous...
The menu for the evening consisted of:
- Mushroom and Goat Ricotta Tart
- Egg Yolk Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter Sauce
- Boned Stuffed Rolled Chicken with 5 Spice Sauce
- Orange Roasted Pears with Brown Butter Ice Cream
I was lucky enough to get the dish I wanted to create, the "Egg Yolk Ravioli with Sage Butter Sauce". Technically, I think it was the toughest dish on the menu but we were up to the challenge - or so we thought! I've made pasta before so that wasn't so difficult. What was very hard was including just the right amount of filling and then resting a single egg yolk in the middle, then closing the ravioli without any air inside and without breaking the yolk! In the end, it took longer than planned but we delivered a dozen beautiful raviolis and a gorgeous sage brown butter sauce. It was very satisfying.
Now, in the heat of the moment my photo came out horrible. So, pardon the poor shot - I'll hopefully replace it once Urban Graze puts up their shots from the night. UPDATE: Tarrah and Joel have put up their shots from the night so thankfully this is a much better shot of our dish. Thanks, guys!
And it was oozy, as intended...
The mushroom tart was fantastic but unfortunately I didn't get a shot in as I was frantically trying to finish our raviolis. After our dish was the chicken, which had a depth of flavour that I didn't expect.
Now while I took a great deal of personal satisfaction from our ravioli dish, I was equally as happy that the guys were really enjoying themselves while creating their dessert. And the cooking class rookie was really smashing the pears out of the park. Everyone was impressed!
To be honest, it's through things like this that I really expand my skills and cooking toolkit. You may not be ready for the advanced courses yet but I'd suggest every guy should get to a cooking class once a year. You owe it to yourself and your family to at least have some basic skills and know some tasty dishes to impress your friends. And they serve wine!
For what you would spend on a nice dinner out you can not only eat food that's probably better tasting, but also learn some things that you can take home with you.
Next up, I've got some cayenne peppers mashing to make hot sauce and some sourdough starter beginning to bubble away...