This weekend we escaped the remodel and went north.
We were off for a weekend in Sonoma. At our sausage making class we had heard about a nice cooking school in Sonoma and decided to try out a couple of classes. First up was a hands on pizza making class, and both of us were more than ready to do some real cooking and get our hands on some dough.
We were at the sourdough table with two other men and had a great time. Everyone in class made enough dough for three pizzas. We were quickly swimming in dough. While it rested and rose we were set to making sauces and prepping topping ingredients.
Next up we got to play with some dough. First we got to try it out with some dough made earlier by our instructor, Michael Kalanty. This was baked off plain and nibbled on as delicious toasty crackers while we got ready to play with the dough we had made ourselves.
We learned to pat it out and stretch it with our hands and the brave even tried a few tosses. It was fun. I think it was more fun because we could stretch and toss to our hearts content knowing someone else was going to deal with all the flour that flew everywhere. The joy of cooking without any of the cleaning.
Then we got to top our dough. There were ovens in the class room as well as a wood burning oven outside on the patio. I headed outside to try baking in a wood oven.
It was delicious! As the pizzas came out of the oven we sliced them up and everyone tried all the different combinations we had made. As the outside oven got crowded we headed back inside and started baking off pizza there. We made pizza for the staff and shared some slices with the man brave enough to clean up our mess. The more we ate, the more pizza seemed to appear. People who lived nearby packed up pizza to take and dough balls to bake at home. Yet, it seemed there was more left in the kitchen than when we’d started. Never ending pizza.
We had a great time in class. It’s always fun to take a class from someone who genuinely loves their subject. You can see our teacher in action throwing pizza dough here on youtube.
We were careful to not eat too much. There was dinner to think about.
That night we had reservations at Ad Hoc. We’d been looking forward to that for quite a while. We got there a little early and wandered their garden in the back. The radish bed looked just harvested and sure enough there were radishes with dinner.
Dinner was amazing and HUGE. Seriously, we could have had a friend along and still had plenty. The menu is set daily so other than deciding if you have room for the supplement – our night it was house made pasta with rabbit ragu – and what you’d like to drink there are no decisions to worry about. We skipped the rabbit because we were sure it would be too much food, and as the plates came out we were very happy we did. Dishes are served family style and you serve yourself just like at home.
The meal started off with wedges of baby iceberg lettuce topped with shaved carrots and celery, chopped black olives, crispy brioche croutons and buttermilk dressing. We didn’t quite lick the plate; having seen the size of platters heading to other tables were trying to restrain ourselves.
The main dish was a brined and grilled pork porterhouse. That one steak must have weighed two pounds. We could not finish it. It didn’t matter how juicy and delicious it was. We just could not do it. It was served atop spinach that we were told was cooked sous vide. Who knew they were cooking vegetables that way? Along side was caramelized fennel and braised radishes. See? There were radishes with dinner. Also we were served a dish of really rich and creamy mashed potatoes. Again, just too much to finish but really good.
The cheese course was Rogue Creamery Crater Lake Blue and it was a nice tangy blue cheese. It was served with chopped dates, pine nuts, some frisee and a black pepper gastrique. I’m not a huge date fan, but they really went well with the cheese.
The dessert picture is missing, not because we didn’t eat it, but rather because by then the room was just too dark to get anything resembling a decent picture. Happily for us dessert was pecan bars. Think pecan pie in bar cookie form. It was topped with whipped creme fraiche and somehow we managed to eat every crumb.
The next morning started bright and early with a drive to Calistoga for the annual plant sale at Forni Brown Welsh gardens. We’ve driven up for this sale for many years and this was the first time it wasn’t raining. We had perfect weather again.
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This year I’m going for a smaller garden on the deck so I really restrained myself. Just three tomato plants and some herbs. Oh, and about 8 seed packets for various types of radish, chard and beets.
The hard part now is deciding where they will live until it’s time to be potted up. The rack I usually use has been taken over for our makeshift kitchen. The sunny windows I usually use are in the construction zone and I don’t think seedlings would fare to well with all that. For now, they are on the kitchen counter. Tomorrow they need somewhere else as the workers will be back.
In the afternoon we attended a lecture on curing olives. Last years natural eating challenge involved fermenting vegetables and the idea of making my own olives sounded really appealing. I found out that my sister has an olive tree they ignore. So now that we know what to do, I think some homemade olives are in our future.
Off to paint in the living room and dream about making pizza, curing olives and cooking some more things out of the Ad Hoc book.
- – marcella