I made my second trip to the Culinary Institute with my sister in upstate New York..and we were hungry for knowledge on how to make Spanish cuisine. My sister is a Spanish teacher and I love international cuisine, so this was a perfect way to spend our weekend together. I had a thought that I would probably learn about combining ingredients that I wouldn’t normally combine. I wanted to know what differentiated Spanish cuisine from other cuisines…what made is special?
The chef gathered us together and gave us some very helpful tips as far as knife cuts…organization skills in the kitchen in order to get everything ready in time…and he was patient and cool (and adorably handsome, but married..oh well). I felt like I was part of something extraordinary. We got the thrill of being in a large, industrial, restaurant style kitchen with the pressure of time to have the food ready…yet people weren’t sending things back…customers weren’t complaining or leaving… this feast was all going to be for us.
We combined ingredients like Serrano ham (the prosciutto of Spain) with scallops…olives with raisins…chorizo with lentils…colored our sauces with ancho chilies with a touch of hazelnut….dipped our cheesy potato croquettes in a sweet, quince sauce (a fruit resembling between and apple and pear…cannot be eaten raw…only cooked)….and I really developed an understanding of successfully pairing sweet with savory…briny with sweet…rich cut with a flavorful acid and heat with the warmth of a less intense spice. Spanish flavors stand by themselves in a unique way and I am really inspired to start some of my own recipes to share with you.
I looked at my total of steps of the day on my health app…while working in the kitchen and walking around the campus to get to our car…and it was 4,943 steps. When you are in a kitchen for four hours…someone else’s kitchen…and you don’t know where anything is… apparently, that is how many steps you take. It was well worth it, and it probably burned 1/4 of the calories we ate.
At the very end, we came together and created a buffet at the head of the kitchen on the metal tables. I couldn’t help but think how lucky all of us were. So many people are starving, or end up having their meals from a can…and then there we were… We cooked every single ingredient from scratch..right down to the lentils…and made colorful, vivid, tasty and memorable dishes. We created a line and took a little from each plate of gorgeous temptations. I walked into the dining room and we were seated at a long table with the chef at the head of the table. I felt like I was part of a family…and we all worked so hard to create this beautifully large meal together. It felt warm, loving, satisfying and it was exactly why I started this blog. Takeout absolutely has a place in our lives, but to create a meal from scratch with someone you love creates beautiful memories and a sense of accomplishment!