Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Italy in Chicago

Back in October, Tyler gave me a very special (and perfect) birthday gift - a Groupon for a cooking class in Chicago at Affresco.

This Italian restaurant out near O'Hare has been hosting cooking classes for 6 years now. They've fine-tuned it to perfection. It was one of those experiences I won't forget.

The class was not a hands-on experience, but it was just as helpful and so fun. They seated us in a separate room in their restaurant where tables lined one wall in an "L" shape. The chef stood at the front at a table with all of his ingredients, a gas stove and pans ready. Only about 12 of us were there on this evening, so it was very personal and we could ask whatever questions throughout the night.

One of the things I loved about this particular class was that it was an all-senses experience. Not only did we watch the chef cook, but he let us smell the dishes, taste them and Tyler got to try some knife-skills as well (he volunteered!). As the chef demonstrated, courses of an Italian meal were served to us - salad, pasta (Tyler enjoyed this part, not me...gluten-free), chicken and dessert. From 6-9pm we got to slowly eat each course, while learning tips and tricks about cooking well and buying the right ingredients.

The featured cooking item on this particular Monday was chicken. How helpful to learn about this staple! Sergio, the owner of the restaurant and the one teaching us, had lots of handy tips about other things too that I would have never thought of before (like putting a little bit of white wine in your basic red pasta sauce!).

The best end to the evening? A surprise! Affresco hires one of the best up-close illusionists in Chicago on Monday nights. And even better? His name was Leopold. I mean, really, Leopold did magic tricks at our table. I pretty much gaped the whole time; it was mind-boggling and hilarious! All of us were fully entertained. Tyler and I left with full tummies and smiles on our faces thanks to Leopold and Sergio.

Thank you Tyler for this memory! There's no one else I'd rather go with to a cooking class than you!


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