It’s wine Wednesday, and today we’re touching on something…a bit different. Because sake isn’t exactly wine. Or is it? Read on for some sake facts in celebration of our all-you-can-prepare-and-savor Sushi and Sake class this Friday:
- Is sake wine? Kind of. Called “rice wine” in English, sake is made from an entirely different process than the one we associate with grapes. To create sake, brewers take rice to sugar and rice sugar to an alcoholic brew that can be up to 20% alcohol.
- How old is sake? Old. We’re talking first references were in the third century old. By the 1400s, sake was brewed in temples.
- Is all sake the same? No way. There are two designations of sake – futsū-shu (table sake, in the same vein as table wine), and tokutei meishō-shu (premium sake). Like beer, filtering, aging, and dilution are just as important as the kind of rice used and the distillation process itself.
- What are some sake traditions? Sake can be served cold or hot depending on the season, the brew, and the preferences of the drinker. It’s often served as a marker of generosity and welcome, and can be used ceremonially for the new year, for purification, or for good fortune.
Enjoy some premier sake and sushi you prep yourself at our popular Sushi and Sake course this Friday! Click here for details.
We’ll admit it: we think that all of our recreational classes are fabulous. But this week we’ve reached a milestone…the approach of the last grilling class of the season. Won’t you join us to send summer off in style?
Tomorrow night is Southwest Grilling, and the menu is incredible. Fajitas, shrimp skewers, slow-roasted corn, beans, ice cream, AND a selection of incredible Denver microbrews to top it off. It’s a great date night if you’re looking for a change of pace (or a solo evening if you want to get away and into the easiest kitchen you’ve ever encountered). You focus on classic techniques that make food taste good…we do all the cleanup. Don’t miss your chance…call us at 303-308-9300 to register. Happy grilling!
How can it be Friday again? Luckily, there’s no dearth of culinary events to tempt you this weekend. And remember, it’s always a good time to check out Cook Street’s chock-full calendar of cooking and wine classes so you’ll have great plans for weekends to come. Here’s a taste of what’s going on in Denver and around Colorado:
- GrowLocal potluck/party: Get serious about your locavorism in a dining event that takes place in an urban garden and benefits Growing Our Urban AgriCULTURE at 2828 Larimer Street. Bring a potluck dish to share (preferably one that incorporates local ingredients). Call 303.389.0085 or visit GrowLocal for more information.
- Great American Beer Festival: Yes, this beer festival is still raging on, and if you can snag tickets, you’re in for a craft-brewy treat. Can’t make the cut? Try the Denver Beer Fest instead. Tons of local restaurants are working to make this an unforgettable September.
- Telluride Blues and Brews Fest: Like your beer in a high-altitude setting? Join B.B. King and other blues legends for a festival that’s as much about the juke-joint atmosphere as plenty of delicious beer…53 microbreweries of beer, that is. The festival takes place in Telluride Town Park from 11 to around 9 Friday through Sunday. Click here for more details.
- Colorado Mountain Wine Fest: Beer not your thing? Go for the vino at this wine festival in Palisade. Tastings, classes, food, music, even grape-stomping should sate your curiosity about the nectar of the gods. Visit coloradowinefest.com for more information and a complete schedule.Dish: Brush elbows with Denver’s most devoted foodies as you sample the city’s bounty Wednesday the 22nd at Dish, Denver Westword’s celebration of all things Denver food. Click here to learn about tickets to the event and win some yourself!
Here at Cook Street, we’re a wee bit wine-obsessed. And not just because the stuff tastes good…because it is so rich in history, variety, and application that it’s the perfect counterpart to everything from the French and Italian classics we teach to the international flavors we feature in other courses. But wine has a problem. Even more so than food, it’s beset with mystery and myth…myths that can keep even the most adventurous foodies from dipping into its rich world. Here are three dastardly wine myths we’d love to dispel:
I can’t afford to be an oenophile. Bzzzzzzzzzzzt! Wrong. Inexpensive wines are more abundant (and more popular) than ever…and quality is not impacted, as this article demonstrates. You don’t need gobs of money to be a wine connoisseur…only patience, palate, and a willingness to try new things. Next time you’re feeling cash-strapped, go to your local wine shop and ask for a bottle that’s priced to your budget. Chances are good you’ll find that your glass is just as impressive as a more expensive one.
I’m not allowed to drink wine now. Think all wine gets better with age? Think again. As this article points out, unless you can afford to buy the perfect blend, store wine without drinking it, and ensure both the perfect storage conditions and the ideal time to pop the cork, you’re wasting your time on aged wine. Leave the wine aging for the experts (or drink aged wines when you’re out). So much great wine tasting is all about the now…and now is the time to enjoy that new bottle!
I’m not snobby enough to be into wine. Balderdash. Wine is for everyone…why do you think it’s found around the world, from the most modest tables to the halls of royalty and heads of state? Don’t let your fear of turning into a snob keep you from deliciously paired, perfectly balanced wines that complement and enhance your food and tickle your palate. Snobby is as snobby does, so as long as you’re able to rein in your superior tendencies about your superior knowledge, you should be good to go.
Want great wine education without the snobbery? You want Cook Street’s wine classes, which focus on the rich history and properties of wine in an approachable, fun, and relaxed setting. Click here to view a list of upcoming wine classes…click here to view all classes at Cook Street.
Now that the weekend’s over and it’s back to the down-and-dirty grind, don’t you wish you had something to look forward to? Problem solved: while all of our recreational classes are great, we think you’ll enjoy two of this week’s offerings in particular.
First, the wine. Wine 102 was designed for the new wine connoisseur looking to step their knowledge up a notch. From history to flavor, variety to vino dos and donts, this class has everything you need to avoid that don’t-know-what-to-choose feeling at your next fancy night out…or just find a great table wine for your at-home dinners.
Now, the world. That’s what we’re giving you in our newly relaunched World of Taste series. First up? Germany, land of fall-friendly flavors and fantastic cooking techniques. So get out your passport and get ready to enjoy potato soup, Jager Schnitzel, spatzle, strudel, and more. So open up and say ja! A World of Taste: Germany is offered this Wednesday. Click here for class details.
Sound good? We thought so. See you in the kitchen!
Summer may be officially nearing its end, but that doesn’t mean we’re getting tired of grilled pizzas, one of our very favorite dishes. Pizza isn’t just easy to make…it’s a great canvas for the explosion of summer flavor we’ve come to expect from the local producers we love. Here are some tips for your next pizza party:
- Go simple. A few vine-ripe tomatoes, a sprig or two of basil, some low-key mozzarella…you don’t need the fanciest ingredients to come up with the best flavors.
- Go seasonal. Why not plunder the bounty of your nearest farmer’s market or CSA share for your next pizza? Squash, potatoes, greens, and even peaches love pizzas (especially on the grill).
- Go sweet. It’s easy to overlook the power of sweet pizza, but why not try some figs, berries, or even nectarines on your next pie? Pears and brie make a great combo, too.
- Go for broke. What’s the fun in making your own pizza if you’re hampered by fears or convention? A blank pie means a blank canvas, ready and waiting for your creativity…and your mistakes. If you’re not making a few gaffes over time, you’re not doing it right!
- Don’t go it alone. Need to perfect your dough or come up with some fab flavor profiles? We’re here to help with Pizza, Pizza, Pizza, a class that’s all about everyone’s favorite pie. Prefer to have your pizza made for you? You can’t go wrong with Cook Street alum David Bravdica’s amazing Brava Pizzeria, a wood-burning pizza oven on wheels that’s usually located at 16th and Arapahoe in downtown Denver.
This morning we tweeted about a new-to-us concept that sounds succulent…a late-summer zucchini party. And it got us wondering…is it really possible to be sick of squash? Only, we think, if you don’t know how to use it. Here are a few quick tricks for thinking about squash that just might rekindle that late-summer love affair with this bounteous veggie.
Think…base. Mild squash makes a great base for dishes with sauces. Think: a savory torte (thin slices of squash layered with cheese and herbs and baked in the oven until tender), the base of a napoleon, the heft to a soup or a batch of muffins.
Think…substitute. As much as we love pasta, we’ve got to admit that julienned or thinly cut squash can make a great substitute. Try yellow squash and zucchini slices instead of lasagna noodles, or scoop out spaghetti squash and use it in lieu of the venerable noodle. While you’re at it, why not use squash as a substitute for bread (great base for a sandwich!) or wherever prosciutto likes to wrap itself?
Think…blank slate. Since most squash is so mild, it’s a great palate. That means it’s time to step up your sauces, smears, dribbles, drizzles, and side ingredients. Squash pushes you to summer’s edge, beckoning toward the strongest spices, the most succulent pairings, the simplest preparations.
So don’t just think about squash…eat some tonight! (And remember…Cook Street specializes in creating confident home chefs! Click here to explore our complete class calendar.)
Summer at Cook Street means many things.
Grilling classes with plenty of patio-pounder wine selections and local microbrews…
The hustle and bustle of Rockies games and throngs of people getting to know our LoDo digs by sight and eventually by smell…
Fresh vegetable drop-offs from the Grant Farms CSA that has designated Cook Street as a drop-off location this year…
And tender cooking demonstrations, like this one on pork tenderloin thanks to Executive Chef Instructor Chef Peter Ryan…
At Cook Street, we’re all about wine as the perfect complement to deliciously prepared food. And in honor of the season (and our upcoming wine classes like Wine 101 and our Wine and Food Pairing Seminar), we’d like to suggest a few delicious summer wines perfect for lazy afternoons and warm temperatures.
2009 Bieler Pere et Fils Rosé is Cook Street’s “house Rosé” …and for good reason! Hailing from the Coteaux D’Aix-en-Provence, it’s a blend of 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. We like to call it a “porch pounder,” i.e. a wine that is best enjoyed in quantity on a porch with friends. Expect a dry flavor profile that combines the best things about red wine with the refreshing quality of a white…and blackberry, strawberry, and citrus notes that make it a great pair for grilled chicken, light salads, and anything mild and summery. Priced at about $11 a bottle, you can afford to enjoy it all summer long!
Our second pick, Cave de Bonnieux Luberon Blanc “Les Safres”, is another blend (60 % Grenache, 40 % Clairette), and is sourced from ancient vineyards. This wine is so fragrant you almost don’t need to drink it…but you’ll want to! Think medium body, brilliant texture and mouthfeel, and gobs of minerals, white flowers, tropical fruits, melons, apricots, citrus. Yes, this is another one of the “patio pounder” family of summer wines, and it’s so easy to drink that non-white-wine drinkers will surprise themselves by coming back for more. Since this wine sees no oak, it’s a pure expression of fruit and mineral and truly embodies its birthplace near picturesque Provence, France. It’s delicious on its own, but loves to play with light meats, grilled summer veggies, pasta salad, and much more.
Thanks to Cook Street Recreation/Events Coordinator Kathryn Brinkmann and Wine Educator Debbie Gray for these lip-smacking summer recommendations!
As we look forward to next week’s Vegetarian Feast course (panzanella! portabello burgers! slots still available!), our thoughts are turning to some of our favorite resources for vegetarian recipes and cooking techniques online. Whether you’re a committed veghead or you’re trying to incorporate more seasonal fruits and veggies into your life, dig into these blogs and websites:
- Smitten Kitchen: Entirely vegetarian? No, but Deb’s fearless style and mouthwatering food photography is worth checking out anyway, especially her recipe sections that feature seasonal dishes and salads/veggie sides that are the stuff of fantasy.
- Vegan YumYum: Vegan. Yum, yum! This blog is all about healthy food that still tastes delectable.
- The Post-Punk Kitchen: Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Terry Romero, and the entire veggie/vegan crew behind Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World and The Veganomicon aren’t messing around…and their approach to everything from comfort foods to simple sides rates a second, third, and fourth glance.
- Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen: Who knew that healthy could taste (and look) so good?
- Karate Kitchen: These Portland, Oregon vegetarians are all about farm-to-table and crazy deliciousness.
What about you? What are your favorite vegetarian websites and blogs?