My super significant other and I had one of those so-called “date nights” the other night. Well, I guess you could call it a “date night.” We put on real clothes and left the house for a pre-planned activity.
This is one of those things you have to do when you’ve been together for seven years to remind yourselves that you have a life together outside of the confines of your own house and things to talk about besides what TV show to watch that night.
However, this date night was missing a particular ingredient that I am quite sure is necessary for a true “date night” – wine.
A few months ago, when XFE’s family was coming into town for Christmas, I was looking around for activities to keep people happy and occupied. That’s when I stumbled across Sur La Table’s cooking classes. While I didn’t find anything for that particular timeframe, I did see that they had an upcoming January class called “Date Night: Exquisite Spain.” Since we had just been to Spain, I thought it might be fun for us to learn how to make some Spanish foods.
(Not that we—supreme smugglers of chorizo and paprika—don’t know how to make any Spanish foods, by the way. But work with me here. I was trying to do something cute.)
We went a bit early to swing by DSW and buy some terrible ugly but knubby shoes for hiking in Peru. Of course, being fully dedicated to “date night,” we bought matching shoes. That should help solidify our “taken” status on Machu Picchu. Pretty sure these shoes guarantee no one’s going to try to steal either of us away from the other.
With time still to kill before our cooking class (ugly-practical shoe shopping took less time than we had allotted), we stopped at an Irish-themed bar for a drink and a small snack. While tucking into some mediocre calamari, we talked about the last time we’d taken a private cooking class at an Italian restaurant – which had included wine – and wondered whether tonight’s Spanish cooking class would include any of the wines we had had in the Rioja region.
“They might not serve any wine at all since they (a) aren’t a restaurant and (b) don’t sell wine,” XFE pondered.
“Pshaw. Of course there’d be wine at a cooking class. How absurd!” I scoffed.
“But what if they don’t,” XFE queried.
“Well then, we should just leave immediately,” I countered hotly.
Then we made our way over to Sur La Table.
This particular Sur La Table cooking school is apparently the most busy in the franchise. Our kitchen contained two steel prep tables, with space for approximately 8 people at each table. In front of us were name tags, an apron, some utensils, including a chopping knife and board, and our recipes for the evening.
Our instructor, Chef Anna, invited us to grab some water or make ourselves a coffee from their very fancy coffee machine. And those, dear reader, were of course the only two beverage options to part Chef Anna’s lips.
“Excuse me. Where’s the wine?,” I asked.
“Oh, we unfortunately don’t serve wine. We don’t have a liquor license,” Chef Anna said.
At which point, I wish I could say we made good on our earlier pledge to abort the whole fiasco. However, as XFE pointed out, we’d already paid our $79 per person, might as well suck it up and stick it out.
Things pretty much went downhill from there. Not because of the lack of wine, mind you. Well, not entirely. But primarily because of the complete skills gap between us (fairly proficient kitchen masters) and the other students, who apparently, did not know how to chop garlic, heat oil in a pan, and were puzzled by the term “brown the chicken.”
Each step of the very simple recipe confounded our cohorts. And, let me remind you, we had very simple recipes printed out for consultation right in front of us AND a kitchen staff who were on hand to answer any questions and clear away used utensils and even finished off cooking our desserts for us.
Since there was literally not enough work for all eight of us at the table (two garlic cloves and two onions to chop, two burners/skillets to oversee), XFE wandered over to a bookcase near the door and began perusing the ginormous, six-volume Modernist Cuisine set gleaming away in it’s acrylic cube.
I hesitate to call it a cookbook. It’s more like an amazingly photographed encyclopedia of contemporary cooking. We’d only heard about it (it was a prize on an episode of Top Chef several seasons ago), but we’d never seen a set in person (at least, I hadn’t. XFE probably had.)
He was absorbed the whole class, which was fine by me since I was feeling so apologetic about the whole enterprise at this point. We spoke to Chef Anna during our much-deserved (HA) break, and she told us they actually sold the set at Sur La Table. A quick conversation with the store manager confirmed they had just one set left, and that it was on sale, and we also had a 10% coupon, thanks to our cooking class.
The behemoth set came home with us and is now occupying a large amount of space on our kitchen counters. We celebrated the purchase with a well-earned bottle of wine, and a vow to avoid “date nights” for a while. I guess the evening wasn’t such a bust after all.