I showed up at Kitchen on Fire on Sunday night at six thirty for knife skills class. During my Tuesday classes I've discovered I don't know jack with the knife and Mike commented once that I was "pointing at my food" , placing my index finger along the top of my knife. From his dry tone I could tell it wasn't good.
I knocked on the door and no one answered. I looked at the schedule, yep, 6:30, Knife Skills. Knocked again, no one there. Hmm. It was 6:30. Then 6:35. I was about to get back on my bike and go home, but I didn't want to. I'd been with the kids all day and needed a break. I was standing like an idiot in front of Taste, looking this way and that, as people sipped wine and laughed looking cool in the sunglasses. Finally I just sat down at one of the nice curbside bar seats next to all of them and figured I'd eat there. Since it is owned by the Kitchen on Fire guys, at least I'd sort of be taking class there, in a way. I ordered the Cuban sandwich.
The greatest Cuban sandwich in the world is made at Houston's in Martha's Vineyard. But this was tasty. Toasty baguette, ham, pork, mustard, pickle. It wasn't pressed all together and bound with the cheese and soft bread, like at Houston's, but it was very comforting. It was open and could breath, it wasn't trying to blow you away... This is what is cool about Taste. It's not Chez Panisse and doesn't want to be. Mike does not try to be Alice waters. He's Mike C for gods sake. He's into Transformers remember?
Then I got Zabaiglone, which is the world's coolest dessert. This was a test of Mike C's restaurant, to see whether it would be actually Zabaiglone, warm and made to order and served in a martini glass, or some fake pre-made custard.
It was real. Someone has just whisked the shit out of some eggs over hot water. It was ambrosial. Yellow, foamy, sweetened lightly with Moscat. The strawberries only distracted.
Then I went upstairs for the hell of it and Mike was up there all alone, prepping for a team building event the next day. I just said hi, told him I'd missed knife skills. But then asked if he needed any help.
"Sure, you can cut the corn off those cobs over there."
So I put on my apron and started cutting. Lucky for me, he critiqued my knife work. "Pinch it like this, wrap your fingers around it..." he showed me how to line the handle up with the fatty muscle at the base of my thumb, and line the whole knife up so it points staight back at the elbow.
We cut stuff up in the quiet kitchen. He made mango salsa, I washed several bunches of fresh herbs, shook out the water, then rolled them into a cone in two paper towels, so they looked like a big white ice cream cone. ("you can keep your fresh herbs like this for days, when the paper towels totally dry up, just do it again") It was cool to see a little behind the scenes, what goes into getting our kitchen ready for the Tuesday classes where we tear into all the nicely prepped ingredients and cook.
We made Green Goddess dressing together in the big blue food processor.
Side by side we minced a few bunches of flat leaf Parsely, lots of green onion. A small can of anchovy. Then in the machine we put all that, lemon juice, sour cream and mayo. ("If you want it lighter, more sour cream, heavier, more mayo")
It whirred until it was a beautiful mint green color with a light speckling throughout. He brought over the glass filled with plastic spoons and we tasted.
"Perfect." I said. Damn. This dressing is so incredible I am going to put down the exact recipe here. But you'll have to wait because Grilling class is tonight, and the dressing goes with grilled Romaine. But I have to say this dressing will change your life and you will spoon it in to your mouth like soup.
But the real treat was to cook with the chef, to get a few tips from someone who knows a lot, to experience the silent, patient cooking, no flames shooting up from pans. It was like Zen with the occasional crude sexual comment thrown in to break the Zen. But with a dressing like that at the end, I'll take that over transcendental meditation any day.