Well, it’s not everyday that your “date night” includes anything other than dinner and a movie. If it’s winter, and you’re not pregnant, you could probably throw in ice skating, but otherwise, unless you’re willing to get really creative, buttered popcorn is about where it stops. (I am absolutely not complaining – I freaking love buttered popcorn).
And that to say, I can guarantee whoever is in charge of date night planning – heck, even girl’s night out planning – isn’t headed to the grocery store for inspiration. Well, you should. In fact, head to Publix, in Alpharetta. Specifically, to the one on States Bridge Road. There, is the state’s only Aprons Cooking School and a slew of calendar options for the savvy chef or the novice kitchen goer. Plus, they serve booze.
Last week, I tricked Mike into agreeing to do a holiday cookie class (Mr. “I don’t like sweets”). Conveniently, it was Gluten-Free Holiday Cookies, which meant, no matter how terrible my sugar high was, I wouldn’t feel as sick as I would otherwise. Aside from the benefits of special events dedicated to the non wheat eaters out there, their structure and facility is charming. Their chefs are classically trained. The prices vary to accommodate and the subject matter covers a wide berth – meaning the gluten free fellowship isn’t the only group of oppressed eaters.
Our class was 98% women. Most of you know, now, that Mike had a great time.
There was one other couple, two male chefs and then several groups of single ladies, moms and daughters or BFFs ready to don the white apron and get their hands nice and buttery.
And we did. …Especially Vera. She was a good folder.
The menu included attempts at Almond Butter Cookies, Perfect Sugar Cookies, Peppermint Meringues and Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies (insert faint). Two kitchens separate the class into small, hands-on groups circled around a hand-mixer, piles of wax-papered cookie trays and rows of pre-measured ingredients. Our chef – Sous Chef Yvonne – mixed personal stories, experiences, preferences and comical group call outs to help us make our way through four recipes in less than two hours. We took turns cracking eggs, separating whites, pouring in sugar, asking questions about Xantham Gum, scooping dough onto the trays and sprinkling to our heart’s desire. We’d pop a finished tray in the oven, let Sous Chef Jill do the cleaning and move straight into the next recipe – all the while, inhaling intoxicating scents of baking cookies.
The class goes by quick, but the hands-on time (and the finished product sampling) probably makes it that way. It’s fun, it’s lively, it’s a way to casually make new friends and laugh at each other’s baker shortcomings. As half of a couple on a pre-baby date night, it wasn’t the scene for romance, but if you saw Mike owning the double boiler, you’d know it was certainly a place to flirt your heart out.
I’ll be the first to admit that two of our recipes pretty much failed. But don’t let that deter you – it was the first time they’d led the class and in the fun we were having, no one told poor Meg that she was only supposed to put the whites in the recipe. And, hey, our quick-on-her-feet Chef Yvonne whipped out a spring form pan, so we enjoyed a surprise brownie at the end of class, instead of the pre-made cold cookies (which she admitted she made ahead of time with serious doubts about the recipe in the first place). What I’ll also admit is that these flour-free cookies were good. All of them were. Like, really good. And to hear the serious Celiac sufferers around me humbly rejoicing over how good things were made me confident we’d all have a happier holiday. We might also go into diabetic shock, but hey, pick your battles.
I appreciated the honesty of this class – the way we laughed at mistakes, asked silly questions and pretty much just drooled over the smells filling up the kitchen. I also appreciated the to-go boxes. And right now, I am appreciating the fact that I can get home and indulge in one of those pre-made chocolate chocolate chip cookies before Mike gets home to raise an eyebrow over just how many sweets I’ve consumed in the last
week month year ahem.
So, check out the schedules here (they’ve already got stuff lined up in 2015), sign up and let’s trade chef-kept secrets asap. Bon appetit!