After threatening to go on a cooking course about a year and a half ago, I only recently got my A into G and attended one. I selected Sense of Taste because I attended a promotional event there (as I did at the Giggling Gourmet cooking school previously). I was impressed with the congeniality of the chef and his assistants and I liked that they were happy to answer any questions even if they were off topic. So I signed up with a bunch of friends and I now have one cooking course under the belt (along with some tasty food).
The Sense of Taste kitchen where the classes were held is the same kitchen they use for catering so it is well stocked. We each had our own workstation for preparing ingredients and we shared the two gas stoves (several rings per stove, don’t worry). The first lesson introduced us to correct knife handling techniques and chopping styles. After learning how to cut up a chicken correctly, we made a chicken dish (breast stuffed with spinach and feta, then steamed in a spinach leaf and wrapped in latticed puff pastry) which we all ate afterwards. That first lesson we were introduced to the Windhoek beer tap. All drinks are included in the course, for those that could resist the ice cold Windhoek, there was wine, spirits or even cooldrinks. We also learnt the first stages of making a proper beef stock. That is quite a mission (8 hour cooking time), but unbeatable flavour.
The kitchen can support about 20 people, we had about 15 on our course. A good mix of people which made for fun evenings. Nobody was stabbed and nobody cried (a first for me), although we did have one drop out. Was it something we said, Mandy? The second lesson was seafood. We made seafood risotto, calamari (cleaning them is gross), prawns and oysters. We were also treated to a cheese presentation by an artisinal cheese maker which was very interesting (and tasty). By this stage my cooking partner, Carmen, was starting to be a partner instead of just looking after herself the whole time (chicks!).
Peter, the chef, kindly offered to send my knives off for sharpening because although they are good knives, a year without sharpening had left them dull. I’m still excited every time I use them. Cooking without sharp, good quality knives is almost not worth the effort (knives are provided on the course – you don’t have to take your own unless you would like to). The third lesson was all about pasta and sauces. I almost forgot, on the first night we also learnt to make bechamel sauce properly. On the pasta night we were taught how to make a Napoletana sauce, which can then be used as a base for arrabiata (add cream and chilli), bolognaise (add mince), etc. We also made a puttanesca, which was very tasty. We learnt to make gnocci and risotto and were given the details of a place where we could buy fresh pasta because it’s just not worth the effort to make it.
The last lesson started off with a representative from the wine industry presenting some wines which we also tasted and discussed what foods we would pair them with. In the last lesson we learned to make a beef fillet with mushroom mousse and blanched vegetables (went well with the bordeaux blend). We were taught all about blanching veggies earlier in the course, not sure which lesson. The steak was accompanied by a very tasty and well presented potato bake. After that we were shown how to make sushi. Maki and inside out rolls and I had a go at making a salmon rose. It turned out ok, just very big. Then that was that, there were no more Tuesday evenings to look forward to. We had to walk away from the Windhoek tap and not look back. Actually, we might see the tap again as there is an advanced course in January and judging by the feedback from my group, we’ll all be there.
The course was really good value for money (R1600 = 4x Tues evenings, 6:30pm to 10:30pm). If you look at the price compared to any other cooking course on offer in Cape Town it is very competitive and having the drinks included puts it way ahead of the rest. We also received a Sense of Taste apron and notes/recipes from all four lessons. But above all, we had 4 fun filled evenings in which we learnt a lot about food and about cooking. I’d recommend this course to anyone without any hesitation.
To see a list of the various cooking courses available in Cape Town, click here.