1) Sandy loves watching Top Chef, so last Christmas, I bought her a date night cooking class gift certificate to Tspoons. The cooking class is taught by Chef T and Chef Dominique. On this particular night, there were only 5 couples so it was an intimate affair. We got a lot of personal instruction and got to know the other couples as well.
2) We each got an apron and hand towel. I was hoping for a chef hat but I guess that would have been silly. The menu for tonight was:
- Bacon Jalapeno Cornbread
- Hearty Summer Vegetable Chili
- Spiced Grilled Salmon Kebob
-Wild Mushroom and Chicken Pot Pie
- Nectarine Pavlova with Almond Cream
3) I invited my brother Richard and his fiance Yen to join us. What better
way to spend an evening than preparing delicious food in the company of
4) The great thing about this cooking class was that all the food was already prepped and measured. All we had to do was cook it up. Here we are preparing the ingredients for the Mushroom and Chicken Pot Pie.
5) Each couple got an instruction sheet which was very simple and straight forward. Chef T and Chef Dominique would float around and give tips and pointers.
6) Pot pie fillings are done.
7) Then we cover the pots with pastry dough and brush the top with egg wash to help them brown up in the oven.
8) Yummmm bacon...
9) Richard and Yen saute up the bacon and jalapenos for the corn bread.
10) Are you drooling yet?
11) Chef T whips up the meringue for the Nectarine Pavlova with Almond Cream
12) Chef T demonstrates how to tell when your meringue is at the proper consistency.
13) Yen tries her hand at piping the meringue.
14) It is not as easy as it looks. I think my pavlova turned out looking like a turd.
15) Sandy points out how I am not doing it correctly. Yes Chef!!!
16) Simple Spiced Salmon Kebabs. Just skewer chunks of salmon with alternating lemon slices. Then sprinkle on the spices (oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and red pepper flakes). Lightly brush with oil.
17) Time to plate. Sprinkle on thinly sliced scallions and sesame seeds. So beautiful!
18) Did I mention that we also made Hearty Summer Vegetable Chili too.
19) After the food was cooked, all the couples sat down at the dinner table. Chef T and Chef Dominique then served us our food. It's chow time!
20) After we finished our dinners, we head back to the kitchen to complete our dessert.
21) We each took turns whipping up the heavy cream. For some reason, no matter how hard we worked at it, we could not get it to thicken up. Turns out that Chef Dominique mistakenly gave us milk instead of cream. No wonder! Hah!
22) I love the design aesthetics of this kitchen studio.
23) We even got to play with fire. Here we are using the torch to brown up the pavlova.
24) The final product. Tadah! Dessert is served!
25) Afterwards we had coffee and tea. Each coffee pot sat on it's own cup.
26) We had so much fun at this cooking class. It definitely inspired us to learn more about cooking, try new recipes and have more date nights!
1) For my brother's birthday, he wanted to go to the Renaissance Pleasure Faire. I've never been to one and was quite intrigued.
2) We packed up our lamas bread and left the Shire ( aka Irvine). Our fellowship endured many hardships on the road including missing the 57 split. However we finally all made it safely to the far off exotic land of Irwindale.
3) Little did we realize, the strange and fascinating world that we were about to step into. People from all over dressed up in their favorite medieval/renaissance/piratey/fantasy costume and acted the part. There was much merry making and frivolity all sauced up with their cheeky pseudo-british accents. Here's a buxom tavern wench flirting with her thirsty customers.
4) The ale and budweiser were flowing freely. It seemed like everyone had their own mug, chalice, drinking horn or goblet. Beer bongs had yet to be invented I guess.
5) Who needs cup holders? Not this lady. She had the amazing talent of drinking with no hands. She seemed quite proud of her skills and would demonstrate it to anyone who walked by. Ingenious!
6) Before portable hydration systems like Camelbaks were invented, people had to carry their drinking mugs on their heads like this fair damsel.
7) It was a warm day and many of the ladies were adorned with parasols to keep cool.
8) As we made our way through the busy bazaar, we would come across people acting out street plays and performances.
8) They also had beautiful fine crafts for sale.
9) I didn't get a chance to check out the glass blower in action, but his work was amazing.
10) It was cool watching these swordsmen sparring. I had to resist the urge not to pick up a sword and charge into the ring yelling, "Freedom!!!"
11) This guard kept on making lewd advances to every passing damsel. He was quite cheeky!
12) Fairies, sprites and pixies were also commonly seen back then. They seem to prefer a diet consisting of Bud Light interestingly.
13) Rough times. Even maidens need armor sometimes.
14) Even little babies got into the theme of things.
15) This is either a very short knight or an extremely hirsute kid.
16) As I took in the sights and sounds of the Faire, I am reminded of a quote from the Big Bang Theory.
"Howard: Renaissance fairs aren’t about
historical accuracy. They’re about taking chubby girls who work at
Kinko’s and lacing them up in corsets so tight their bosom jumps out and
Sheldon: Bosoms would not have said howdy in the fifteenth century. If anything they would have said “huzzah!”
Howard: I don’t care what the bosoms say, Sheldon, I just want to be part of the conversation."
18) Yeah...I don't think so. Sometimes less is better me thinks.
19) Hey it's Link from Legend of Zelda.
20) Throughout the day there were random parades which would make it's way through the crowds. "Bring out your dead! Bring out your dead!"
21) This mask reminds me of that Tom Cruise movie, "Eyes Wide Shut."
22) I came across many interesting signs. I was puzzled and amused by this one. I think the message was no hanky panky in the bushes or you will leave with more than just a rash on your privates.
23) Nothing hits the spot better on a hot and dusty afternoon than a piping hot meat pie.
24) They even had my favorite Mexican delicacy. I didn't realize the origin of the humble churro went back that far in history.
25) Here my brother demonstrates how to dual wield meat on a stick. Huzzah!
26) We got to see the last part of a Falconry demonstration. He had his peregrine falcon zipping over the heads of the spectators who oooohed and aaaahed.
27) Even the nobility came out to mingle with the commoners. They slowly marched through the street yelling, "Long live the Queen!"
28) I believe the Queen was playing a game of bocce ball.
29) They must have been very hot wearing all those layers.
30) Their costumes were masterpieces, definitely not something you can pick up at Party City.
31) My favorite part of the faire were the games. Instead of your traditional throw the ping pong ball into the goldfish bowl, they had archery, axe throwing and crossbow shooting.
32) For $5 you get 11 arrows. Shooting an arrow was harder than Legolas makes it look, but I had a lot of fun. All those years playing ranger characters on MMOs finally payed off.
33) I will end this post with a pic of my brother and his newly acquired great sword. He's hardcore into LARPing. (live action role playing). For those of you who are not familiar with LARPing please check out the demonstration video below and educate yourself on the dangers of LARPing.