Proof's Moroccan Cooking Class (01/24/2009)

Last night, after saying my farewells to Shannon, I headed down to Proof to go to their first cooking class. I left a bit early, so I ended up driving around the block before parking. I didn't want to show up too early.

I don't know what it was, but my anti-social anxiety had popped up pretty bad in the hours building up to the class. I don't often go to places on my own. There is something about going to a new place with someone, that makes it more comforting, then being alone. This is where the idea of something over takes why I'm normally used to doing.

I went in was greeted and quickly given a Sparkling Rosé (Cava Rosé, Gran Sarao Brut, Cava NV). Carly Groben (owner) was there and I was put a bit at ease...I've met her on a few occasions and Proctor is her I think It helped to settle me down a bit. The Rosé couldn't have hurt either. More of the group came in the door, and the chef came out and we were fed el Majoun. This was a combination of dried fruits, nuts and a whole lot of spices covered in sesame seeds. It was like a delicious spice bomb in the mouth. Chewy, spicy and a little bit of crunch. I so want to make these things.

After the last of the group arrived, we headed back into the kitchen. While the dining room of the restaurant is warm and inviting, The kitchen is far more practical and utilitarian. We sat in seats to watch the chef make a few things.

Chef Chris Place went through how to make flatbread, ras-el-hanout (spice blend, kind of like curry, in that there are thousands of variations), harissa (a spicy paste), cous cous, a tangent on preserved lemons (which are much easier to make then I would've thought), lamb roulade, spiced eggplant (the vegetarian main course option), and two types of tagine (veggie and seafood). I took many notes in my packet on things I didn't know about, how to do some other things... But here was the point of a few drawbacks. First, while the ingredients are listed, processes, amounts and etc were not. And while he didn't look like the Chef was measuring things, exactly, I wouldn't be comfortable doing that right off the bat. Second, the kitchen was loud. Even without the exhaust fan above the stove on (it was on and off and points during the demonstration), it was still tough to hear. And Third, it was often tough to see what was being done. Not that cooking lends well to see what I'm doing in this bowl well. Even with all that, it was still quite a bit of fun. Just kind of to demystify the whole area. It's not that complicated...its just a bunch of ingredients that you may not use every day.

Afterward, we headed back into the dining room to do a wine tasting. The wines were pretty god, though nothing really stood out as a huge favorite in my mine. I think it was huge the example of how wine changes with food, and without. I think my favorite of the batch was the Monastrel/Cabernet Sauvignon, Castano "Solanera" Yecla 2005. Which was really good with the seafood tagine.

The dinner was great. It consisted of the things the Chef demonstrated plus some almond pastry and a fortune cookie. Mine said, "I'm not a glutton, I'm an explorer of food". Which is pretty good. I still like the "I don't have a big waistline, I have a large happiness curve." better.

I spent a while chatting with Carly about food, desire to cook, and showed her some pictures of things I've made. I think it came to a point of what the kitchen reminded you of. I have many fond memories of smells and sights of both my mothers and grandmothers (dad's side) kitchen, and it kind of makes me want to share that with others. Food has always been a way for me to show my love for other people.

When I got home, I settled down a bit and was told that Shannon got some rear claws to the face...Apparently George scared Gracie, and Gracie kind of used Shannon's face as a launching point to get away. She didn't bleed, so it sounds like it should heal up well.