From viticulture to organica, there are several seasonal classes budding in the area that will help you grow your cooking techniques and expertise. Here's a selection of some great and diverse courses that will definitely raise your gourmet IQ.
Across the way at Linden Hills Co-op, each week brings something new and diverse to learn. On April 7, David S. Cargo, a founding member of the St. Paul Bread Club, will lead a class called, "Muffins in Minutes," for $15/$13 (Members save $2 on all courses). He'll show folks how to make this coffeeshop/bakery favorite at home, and in doing so save money and use more healthful ingredients.
Other spring offerings include "Why Choose Organic" with farmer Linda Halley from Gardens of Eagan ($10/$8) and a primer on how to brew your own kombucha ($35/$33) that will have you singing the praises of your SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) with Bryan Deane Berstch. Supposedly similar in consistency to a a thick calamari, it's the starter that makes the nutritious fermented tea. Go online to the co-op's website to find out all the details about how to pre-register and pay for all their informative lectures and tutorials.
THINK WHILE YOU DRINK
France 44 has some fun wine classes that don't require you to be a grape expert. For $30 a person, the Minneapolis location hosts themed evenings. On April 6, the class, "Wine Pairings" explored how to match food and varietals like a pro (with a suggested $15 additional snack pack of meats and cheeses). Subsequent nights (They'll release their summer schedule in the next week or so) explore French, Mediterranean and Southern Hemisphere wines. All courses run from 6:30-7:45 p.m., and students can register throught the Cheese Shop and online. Check their website for details and dates.
COOK WITH CORNER TABLE (WITH MUCH PORK)
Scott Pampuch and Corner Table have just announced their fresh round of spring and summer classes, as well as their CSK (Community Supported Kitchen). The two are linked, as the chef will help those who purchase the Farm & Table boxes in a monthly Open Kitchen class (May 3 is the next), where customer cooks can ask specific questions and techniques pertinent to their box of locally-raised and prepared items.
Prices for a single week's Farm & Table CSK box are $75 for a small (feeds two) and $95 (feeds four), but are less per box if you pre-order for multiple weeks. The April 8th box is set to contain marinated chicken, hickory smoked bacon, grass-fed ground beef, garlic sausages, eggs, pickled greens and onion, apple and parsnip moustarda, fennel and garlic pork terrine and some Sun Street Bread. The items will change each week, following the CSA (community supported agriculture) model of providing what is most in season. The difference is that while CSA's simply give shoppers the ingredients, the Farm & Table CSK box will have local foods that are prepared for you by Corner Table's able staff.
Other sessions include "Family Cooking" ($95/adults, $50/kids) for children of different ages and "Pig Love" ($125/person), wherein participants learn to make sausage, pancetta, bacon and more. The classes include an early snack and house-made sodas and finish up with a three-course meal, on Tuesdays from 5:30-9:30 p.m. Take a peek at the CT blog for more information.
THE VEGGIE OPTION
If you're more of a herbivore, than Marianna Padilla's classes at Casa Marianna may be your cup of tea. On May 10, her vegetarian cooking series kicks off with a Condiments course that shows participants how to make their own mayo, ketchup, mustard and more — which cuts down on the intake of fillers and stabilizers (often found in store-bought versions) and the plastic containers that generally end up in a landfill somewhere.
Later in May, she'll have two homemade pasta lessons using both machine and hand rolled techniques and a range of flour types, and in June she'll teach two Primavera classes that incorporate seasonal vegetables, fresh local herbs and gathered, wild foods, and give recommendations on how to eat a little lighter during the warmer months. All classes are $60 per person and go from 6-10 p.m., though she does give a discount if you sign up for more than one evening. Contact Padilla via email or phone for details (see below).
So whether you want to brush up on your wine smarts, embark on a muffin mission, indulge your love of pork (or veggies) or figure out how to best consume your brand new CSK, the options in the Southwest are endless.
**And true carnivores and wannabe butchers should take note — two alert folks will get to attend a seminar on how to break down a whole hog in May. Pampuch will announce the date and enrollment details via Twitter and Facebook only.