Last Sunday, I attended yet another one of Jose Luis Relinque’s Spanish cooking courses at his Menlo Park Iberia restaurant. The day was dedicated to the art and science of braising, the Spanish way, of course, called Guisos. The course description mentioned three dishes we were to learn and make for this session: A veal dish, a lamb dish, and a duck dish. My husband and I like all three and so I signed up. Louie sat this one out, although looking back, he would have enjoyed it.
I was pleasantly surprised to see more attendees this time than the Paella course last February. There were 12 of us, with three couples and a sprinkling of friends and relations. I came by myself but I could feel from the start I was with kindred spirits. These people understood good food and great cooking and were up for the challenge.
Jose Luis went over the recipes we were to make. Instead of the three on the list, there were nine! Wow! This was going to be intense! He explained the concept of braising, its origins, and lots of pearls again on how to arrive at a great braise, from the right pan or pot to use to the right ingredient mix. Then, he broke us into smaller groups.
This time we cooked in the kitchen where his staff prepared meals for their restaurant patrons (as opposed to the patio when we did the paella course). There were enough cooking and prep areas for everyone. Jose Luis walked around and gave out instructions, patiently answering our questions.
And so, we all set about to “shop” for our ingredients from the pantry and prepare the various ingredients to make the dish. We all seemed to fall into place with our tasks, working as teams, to get the beloved braise simmering. This was amazing considering that many of us were all total strangers to one another.
I was not joking when I said that we made nine dishes that day. There was a chicken dish with lots of onions with beer used to braise it. The lamb was braised with red wine vinegar aside from wonderfully smelling spices. lots of garlic and other goodies.* There was an exquisite squid dish with potatoes, onions, and peas that was quite flavorful and the squid pieces were tender too! I had expected it to become tough with the long cooking time of braising, but the result was the opposite. The veal braise was a winner, especially with the right glass of red wine to go with it. The fish, added last to the other ingredients was a pleasant addition, as were the potato and grilled vegetable ensalada. Did I mention the braised duck?
When it was time for us to enjoy the gifts of our creative endeavors, we set up our own small buffet at the restaurant and proceeded to enjoy the meal. Jose Luis joined us and tasted the dishes. He commented that some of the dishes came out very flavorful and showered us with his compliments.
Time sure flies when you’re having fun. By the time I looked at my watch, it was half past three in the afternoon. Was it the excitement of learning something new? Was it the free-flowing sangria that assistant Cristina kept pouring as everyone chopped, stirred, browned and braised? Was it the side conversations and revelations among us that made the time flit by like a busy moth?
Whatever it was, I can confidently say that we all had a good time while we learned new tricks in the kitchen and met like-minded people.
*The method of braising the lamb and even the veal was reminiscent of how we made the ever pervasive and ubiquitous adobo in Filipino cuisine, proof of our ties with Spain. After all, they colonized and ruled for more than 300 years!
- Cooking With Friends (likeitiz.wordpress.com)
- Paella On The Patio (likeitiz.wordpress.com)
- A Taste of Spain – Taste Cooks Club Challenge March 2012 (itsnotartitsdinner.wordpress.com)
- Of Braised Beef Tongues and Heirlooms (johannaelsemore.com)
- Top 5 Most Served Filipino Dishes (flauntingitcharlton.wordpress.com)
- A Spanish-influenced Three Pork Casserole with Chorizo and Puy Lentils (thebigfatnoodle.com)