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CulinAerie-The Pinnacle Of Food & Wine Instruction


hillvalley
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I hope they do it, but I walk by this place every day on my way to the gym and I will be impressed if they are all finished and ready to start classes by October 24. They're making progress, but they still have a good deal to go.

Can't wait to take a few courses, they sound very interesting.

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My +1 and I did a couple's brunch class a couple weeks ago and really enjoyed it. It is more expensive than I would typically choose to do, but I had given the class to him for his birthday. I would really like to do another class there (or somewhere else for that matter), but I figure it's probably only a once a year thing (maybe twice if something really good comes up).

The courses are 3 hours, so you do feel like you get your money's worth. Ours wasn't the most gourmet meal (cheese omelet with tomato confit, hash browns, apple beignets and crepes suzette), but we learned some good techniques, got some recipes to try at home and our glasses of wine were certainly topped off plenty (maybe too many!) times during the morning.

After hearing Susan Holt (one of the owners) talk about the knife skills class she teaches, that one was intriguing to me. A full 3 hour course and you learn everything from vegetables and supreming an orange to deboning a chicken. Could be quite helpful.

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I've taken two courses from CulinAerie, and am torn.

My first--the unfortunately named Cooking for One--was a three-session course taught by Vera, who was excellent at teaching us good technique, while encouraging improvisation and creativity. The other plus was that there were only four students, which, while unfortunate for the business, gave us a lot of opportunity to ask questions and discuss ideas. The price of admission also included a full meal of what we'd cooked with wine. I feel like I learned a lot from this course, and refer to the handouts constantly; I cook at least one of the recipes each week. The non-cream of vegetable soup I referred to in another thread and the lentil salad have become staples for me.

My second, on cooking from Spanish regions, was less successful. It was more advanced than the first, which I liked. But there were about 16 people in the class, and we were divided in groups of four, each of which was supposed to cook all six or so of the recipes in the three-hour period. I didn't know the people in my group, and they worked largely independently, not really consulting on how things were getting done, except at times to pour an insane amount of oil into my sautees and go back to whatever they were working on. The teaching itself was fairly scattered and didn't match up with the handouts--and there were so many students, it was hard to get questions answered. The food ended up being lovely, but I don't know how to make most of the dishes because I only got to work on two--and not even the two I was most interested in working on.

So it's hard to say. I'd sign up again in a second if I thought I could either be a part of a very small class, or be allowed to cook on my own. But the chance of ending up in another big class where I don't have the opportunity to learn what is being taught makes me a little reticent. I would look specifically for classes that have few recipes in the syllabus and maybe call ahead to check how many are enrolled.

That said, I'm absolutely planning on signing up for the knife skills class once it's offered at a convenient time for me. Can't do that as a group, right?

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...That said, I'm absolutely planning on signing up for the knife skills class once it's offered at a convenient time for me. Can't do that as a group, right?

If that's the same Vera, I took a class with her a couple of years ago at her home in Arlington. It rocked. Small group size, practical-yet-tailored instruction. I'd sign up again in a heart beat.

So if we plan a knife skills class, I'd fill two seats.

To clarify, that would be me and a guest. :rolleyes:

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I took the knife skills class a few weeks ago, and I enjoyed it. I should note that I'm a novice / home cook so people who are more skilled might have found it a bit too basic, in terms of going into details of what each knife is, how to hold the knife, etc. But for me it was helpful and just the right amount of information.

We started with fruits and vegetables and moved on to breaking down a chicken - demonstration first and then we practiced on the food given to us - one chicken per two people. (I'm a vegetarian and had no real need to learn that, but I gave it a try anyway, without much success. :rolleyes: ) The meal we prepared was chicken in mustard /thyme sauce.

There was a handout with the recipe, although personally I felt like it was a simple enough dish that didn't require a recipe. I would have preferred handouts illustrating the knife techniques a la Cook's Illustrated, because by the end of the morning I was tired and had already forgotten some of the tips.

The class was full or almost full (Saturday morning) but there were plenty of volunteers walking around to help and give advice. I guess the only odd part for a knife skills class was that some of my knives were not very sharp.

I would definitely take another class there at some point. I'm more into (and better at) baking, so I'd probably try a cakes or breads class. I haven't really compared the cost to other cooking classes, because the location and schedule at CulinAerie are by far the most convenient for me.

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Ok, so Hubby gave me a gift certificate that will cover two classes here and I am trying to decide what to take.  My problem is, I feel I am a little advanced past a lot of the beginner classes and they have so many couples classes.  I like my Hubby, but he doesn't want to take a cooking class with me and no offense to him, but I don't want to waste a class on him.  I think I probably have the knife skills taught in the basic class.  I am good at citrus supremes, cutting vegetables and cutting up a chicken.  I could use a class on de-boning as a whole though on multiple types of meat.  The sauce class really interested me, but it's a series on a weeknight and that just is asking for me to have an emergency trial pop up on my schedule, same goes for the pastry, which I would have to start this week anyway so that just doesn't seem to work and they don't seem to have make up session if you miss one of the series classes.  The bread making was one sold out and two again seems just a tad more basic than what I would want.  I can make basic yeast breads, I am more interested in say pretzels, yeast rolls, challah, etc.

So I am debating between pasta, dumplings or shellfish or biting the bullet and doing the sauce course?  Anyone take any of these or teach any of these?  Homemade pasta, dumplings and cooking with shellfish are all things I shy away from at home because I just haven't done them by myself.

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Ok, so Hubby gave me a gift certificate that will cover two classes here and I am trying to decide what to take.  My problem is, I feel I am a little advanced past a lot of the beginner classes and they have so many couples classes.  I like my Hubby, but he doesn't want to take a cooking class with me and no offense to him, but I don't want to waste a class on him.  I think I probably have the knife skills taught in the basic class.  I am good at citrus supremes, cutting vegetables and cutting up a chicken.  I could use a class on de-boning as a whole though on multiple types of meat.  The sauce class really interested me, but it's a series on a weeknight and that just is asking for me to have an emergency trial pop up on my schedule, same goes for the pastry, which I would have to start this week anyway so that just doesn't seem to work and they don't seem to have make up session if you miss one of the series classes.  The bread making was one sold out and two again seems just a tad more basic than what I would want.  I can make basic yeast breads, I am more interested in say pretzels, yeast rolls, challah, etc.

So I am debating between pasta, dumplings or shellfish or biting the bullet and doing the sauce course?  Anyone take any of these or teach any of these?  Homemade pasta, dumplings and cooking with shellfish are all things I shy away from at home because I just haven't done them by myself.

Sounds like the pasta class may be what you want to take if you shy away from that at home. Not sure who is teaching that one, but I assisted Susan W.'s pasta class many, many times in the past and it is very good. You make various kinds of pasta (regular and filled) and it will certainly give you the tools you need to start making it at home.

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I ended up taking a no-knead bread class.  I have had a really hard time using my gift certificate because the classes I want to take fill up really fast, and they don't post them really far in advance when they aren't the standard date night classes.  And so many of their classes are couples classes.  Which is strange because I don't know a single couple that would want to take cooking classes together, oh well.  I make bread fairly often, but learned some new techniques, but it has actually thrown me off on some of my shaping techniques I previously learned. (I just made a really odd shaped boulle, I think my slits weren't deep enough and I think the temperature in their recipes is too high because you form the upper crust even with steam in the over before the bread bakes through, I have adjusted.)  I wish they had an advanced bread class that wasn't part of a series making.  I also didn't like that you worked in pairs.  The person who sat next to me was really a basic cook and it was fine, but it took away from my experience.  And while it forced me to meet someone and I am sure a lot of people like that, I just wish I would have known that going in.  

I wanted to use my other to do the class on sous vide, they are supposed to have more this fall, so I will wait it out unless something undeniably good comes around.  But overall, I am not sure they are my favorite company just based on their schedule, location from me and set-up.  The teacher and space was great though.

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