Before I start my post on another wonderful Millennium cooking class, I want to honor this very special day. Thank you, President Barak Obama. What a speech that was! I'm so glad I lived to see this day.
OK, back to the food!
I have really been looking forward to attending Executive Chef Eric Tucker
's Mushroom class for a number of reasons. First, Eric is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about mushrooms (he's a member of the Bay Area Mycological Society and has a chanterelle tatooed on his arm) and I was excited about being educated beyond my portobello standard. Second, I got to attend the Saturday morning Farmers Market with the group (part of the class I rarely get to attend due to Saturday family obligations). Third, I missed last year's class because I didn't sign up in the first 24 hours of this super popular class (thanks to a friend's tip, I was first this year!) Fourth, on New Year's Day I made a snap decision to transition from vegetarian to a 90%+ vegan diet (a more planned approach might have been wiser, more on this later).
This was my 9th cooking class at Millennium
(see the end of this post for links to previous classes), a gourmet dining experience that just happens to be vegan. I learned this class that the majority of the restaurants repeat business comes from non-vegetarians. I think that really says something about amazing food they serve!
Above, Chef Eric at the SF Ferry Building Farmers Market at the Far West Funghi store choosing and educating class participants about the mushroom selections on offer.
Below, chanterelles and abalone mushrooms (yes, I know, you can read!)
I loved the pure white abalone mushrooms! So here's a gratuitous close-up:
And, who could resist these stunning fractal romanesco:
The class brought together another wonderful group of students - vegans, vegetarians, and non-vegetarians all teamed together to get busy in the Millennium kitchen and make some really great food. The almost instant comradery that develops from being part of a class team that tackles half of the recipes or variants of recipes is a really cool thing. Sure, we get a package of typed recipes at the beginning of class, but they are really just guidelines. We adapt and improvise as we go along, which is why the classes are such a great learning experience.
Below, a killer tatsoi salad with mandoline thin carrots, lobak (green daikon), and marinated mushrooms with a lime dressing:
A totally unique-tasting Huitilacoche Soup with a roux base and rice milk:
(Huitilacoche is a black fungus that grows on corn, also known, less attractively, as "corn smut".)
Candy cap empanadas (dried candy cap mushrooms which are maple-like are ground to a fine powder and included in the dough), filled with mushrooms, nuts, olives and either sun-dried tomatoes or currants with sides of marinated red onions, pumpkin seed-grapefruit salsa and cilantro sauce:
So that was lunch! We then went on to make...
Abalone mushroom dengaku over silken tofu with a delicious porcini broth, topped with scallions and black and white sesame seeds:
From one o'clock: rich mushroom bolognese, bread with Oregon white truffle "butter", sweet potato risotto, romanesco and mushroom salad with tofu skin, nettle polenta and just darned good sauted mushrooms in the center:
This incredible salad, topped with a peanut sambal, was definitely worthy of a close-up!
And, although we always make dessert first, lastly candy cap blondies with truffle sorbet! I was dubious, but wow!
After we're out of the kitchen for round two, participants enjoy a leisurely dining experience of the second half of the class food in Millennium's wine room, with wine, beer, soda and water. It's a great opportunity to relax with your fellow classmates. Thanks to Eric, assistants Thomas, Jenn and Veronika, and owner Ann for another wonderful cooking experience.
I bounced off a few of my concerns two weeks in to my sudden adaption to a vegan diet. Although I was elated to loose 6 pounds in the first two weeks, I'm now experiencing split nails, hair loss and dry skin. I was thinking lack of protein, but the vegans told me, it's not a lack of protein, it's a lack of fat. I looked up the symptoms of inadequate fat in the diet and they were right! Alas, today I woke up with itchy dry skin and little red bumps on my face :-(. I plan to indulge in some high quality guacamole tomorrow and I know some may say that the redness is a sign of detoxing, but I'm vain and I want it to go away! I welcome any comments on similar experiences and solutions.
Here's links to previous 8 posts on Millennium cooking classes. Enjoy!:Holiday Cooking Class Fall Harvest 2008 Indian Summer Southern Comfort Cooking Class Spring Cooking Class Fall Harvest Cooking Class Chiles ClassTomatoes Class