We had a really great weekend with my mom and dad in town. When we weren’t moving my brother into his new place or my sister out of the apartment, the weekend had a definite food theme to it — we were buying it or preparing it or eating it nonstop. The low point was a vile turkey burger I had a Red Robin (my very first Red Robin experience, actually — I can’t say I’m anxious to go back). The high points were going to a little farmer’s market in Highlands, and going to a farmer’s market-themed cooking class at mise en place. The idea was that you’d go to a farmer’s market and buy fresh ingredients on Saturday, and then bring them with you to class Saturday night, where the chef, Andrew Lubatty of Avenue Grill, would incorporate our ingredients into his menu of other farmer’s market ingredients. We brought little eggplants, acorn squash, African blue basil, and lavender. He already had steak, shrimp, green beans, corn, peppers, peaches, tomatoes, carrots, beets, and onions.
To put into words how good it was would be to butcher the experience.
But I will anyway. Just know that it was this good x 1,000.
Well, actually it didn’t start out so well. I will admit I was annoyed during the cooking part of it — I’m a reluctant, self-conscious, not-very-good cook. I also don’t like being told what to do, nor do I like not knowing what to do, so I was in a position to be annoyed either way (as is often the case with cooking). My sister and I gravitated towards the peaches — sure, I could cube peaches for cobbler. That was easy enough, but then we got to the part where there was baking involved and you had to weigh out ingredients and do things like “fold” them into each other. I drank most of my wine during this part.
But once the cobbler part of the peach cobbler was made and Paula, the mise en place owner, whisked it away to an oven, I mostly hung out and watched everyone else (I felt a little bad for not participating, but not very). We ended up making a corn salsa to put on top of our amazing steaks (the top cut of a top sirloin, apparently). We roasted eggplant and yellow squash, baked the acorn squash, did something I didn’t see with artichoke. The beets were boiled and skins removed (with a rag it happens quite easily — that was a good new trick to learn), carrots cut diagonally with stems attached. The green beans were blanched, cherry tomatoes quartered, and those combined with onion and a chipotle vinaigrette, then topped with shrimp (probably not from a farmer’s market) for the salad. We ate the meal and appreciated it about as much as you possibly can when you’ve cooked it and someone else has scurried behind you cleaning up.
And then there was the dessert — you wouldn’t have known that Jenny and I weren’t experienced bakers (okay, maybe you would have, but we were proud of the result!). Paula took our lavender and infused it in heavy cream, strained it, and then whipped it and put dollops of it on top of the cobbler. I disregarded my dietary restrictions for the evening and ate The Whole Thing. I am pretty sure I could live off of lavender-infused whipped cream.
I’ll go back as often as my mom wants to go with me.