The Austin Chronicle

http://www.austinchronicle.com/food/2013-02-08/cooking-is-for-lovers/

Cooking Is for Lovers

Love is on the menu at these Valentine's Day cooking classes

By Melanie Haupt, February 8, 2013, Food

When my husband and I first started dating, I was quite impressed that he cooked dinner for me on the occasion of our first Valentine's Day together. It wasn't anything particularly fancy or expensive, but it made me feel special. Cooking for and feeding people is a fundamental act of caring; done within the context of Valentine's Day, which has been associated with romantic love since the 14th century, cooking for or with your mate (or someone you'd like to make your mate) can function as a delicious expression of your love. To that end, why not save the dinner reservations for a special date night down the road and sign you and your sweetie up for a couples' cooking class this V-Day? Not only can you and your love get some hands-on instruction in the kitchen-classroom, but it might just lead to some other hands-on activities after class.

Foti Kallergis of Silver Whisk Cooking (www.silverwhiskcooking.com) school reports that he and his wife, Executive Chef Myrna Kallergis, have experienced much greater demand for Valentine's Day cooking classes than ever before in the Lakeway operation's two years in business. In fact, the demand was so high that the Feb. 14 "Be My Valentine" class has sold out; luckily for procrastinators, they've added a second date on Valentine's eve. For the price of a dinner out ($59 per person), couples will learn to make poblano and corn chowder, crab-stuffed mushrooms, chicken roulades with spinach and brie, and molten chocolate cake. Complimentary Champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries are also included in the price. Those who don't have a date this year should not despair, though; Silver Whisk frequently partners with Match.com for singles mixers, attendance at which may increase one's chances of needing a couples' cooking class next year.

Closer in to the center of the city at Central Market (www.centralmarket.com/Cooking-School.aspx), the French cooking class for two on Valentine's Day is full, but the calendar in the run-up to the big day is brimming with alternatives. On Friday, Feb. 8, singer Ruby Dee Philippa and her musical partner Jorge Harada host "Juke Joint Romance," featuring demonstrations and tastings of recipes from Philippa's cookbook, Ruby's Juke Joint Americana Cookbook, plus songs and stories ($50 per person). Lovers and haters of V-Day alike will find something to love in a chocolate-centered class on Wednesday, Feb. 13, called "Bittersweet, With Wine Pairings," a demonstration class featuring a wide variety of chocolate-intensive bites, from meat sauce with chocolate to double chocolate peanut brittle cake ($50 per person).

Finally, if you really want to splash out and impress your lover, consider a destination cooking class at the Onion Creek Kitchens at Juniper Hills Farm, in Dripping Springs (www.juniperhillsfarm.com/classes.htm). Ninety-five bucks gets you stuffed mushrooms, pork tenderloin, a variety of vegetable sides, Sacher torte, strawberry shortcake, and live entertainment from Austin singer-songwriter Michael Fracas­so. If you don't feel like driving back into town that night, book a weekend stay in the studio suite and make a retreat out of it. Reserve online.

Cooking together is a great way to practice teamwork and communication with your partner, as well as an opportunity to learn new things as a unit. But perhaps there's not a formal cooking class on the calendar that appeals for one reason or another. If that's the case, get creative. Go to Con' Olio (10000 Research and 215 Lavaca) and taste balsamic vinegars and olive oils until your palate is spent. Visit Antonelli's Cheese Shop (4220 Duval), take advantage of their generous sampling policy, and talk to the cheesemongers and to each other about the cheeses. Better yet, book a private cooking class with chef Andrew Brooks of Spirited Food Co. (www.spiritedfood.com), and cook together in the familiarity of your own home. Time spent together in the kitchen is time well spent.

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