Thursday, May 8, 2014

{Weekend Recap} Viking Cooking School

This past weekend Michael and I cashed in on a Christmas present from his parents and attended a couple's cooking class at the Viking Cooking School in Mississippi. I guess you can technically term the weekend a "Babymoon Getaway," because we left Maylin in the care of my in-laws and traversed into a different state for an overnight stay all by ourselves. In a hotel. It was glorious.

We left bright and early Saturday morning and landed at our destination {after a Starbuck and Target stop... I mean, what vacay is complete without those?} mid-afternoon. Since we were both famished, having consumed nothing but grande cups of caffeine, we immediately checked into the hotel and went in search of food. 

We stumbled upon this darling, eclectic little bistro in walking distance from our hotel with the most intriguing menu. I wish we stayed longer than overnight because I could have eaten at this place for every meal and been perfectly happy. I wanted to try everything!

I eventually settled on a fried green tomato BLT and a side salad with the lemony house dressing. Michael decided on the Bourbon and Coke fried chicken sliders with homemade French fries.

Not wanting to ruin our appetite for the meal at Viking later that evening, we both cleaned our plates. 

We couldn't help it.

After lunch, we walked around the downtown area, taking in the sights and sounds of the local festival that happened to be taking place that weekend. We visited a quaint bookshop with an art gallery on the second floor and a little Southern gift shop. It was the perfect way to pass the time before our 5:00 PM class.

We were met at the school by a spunky chef who introduced herself as our instructor for the evening. There were eight people taking the class, including Michael and me, so we spent the first few minutes gathered around the long table introducing ourselves and splitting into "teams" of four to cook the meal.

Michael and I chose the Date Night class because we thought it would be fun to cook a meal we'd probably order if we were to go out for an anniversary. It was really neat to learn the proper way to prepare dishes like filet mignon and raspberry tart. You can see the full menu below.

One of the best parts about the class is that you get to keep the recipes and instructions for each dish you make that night.  I vowed to recreate this for our anniversary one year... maybe not this year since our Hartlie baby will be less than a month old and I'm just not setting my expectations that high... but eventually. Maybe next year. Or for Michael's birthday.

I'm an avid Food Network fan and I cook pretty often. While I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, I feel I am pretty familiar with some kitchen tips and tricks just because I've watched Giada, Ina, and Bobby model them on t.v. It was especially neat to see a chef in real life use and teach the same skills I've seen on many Food Network shows.  It made me feel more confident about putting those skills into practice.

After cooking the meal, we sat at the long table and ate what we prepared. It was the most satisfying and rewarding part of the evening. And everything actually tasted good! Better than good, even. Really, really, scrumptiously delicious. Michael single-handedly grilled the filet mignon for our team, and they were perfect. I was so proud of him! I'm envisioning many a steak this summer on the Big Green Egg.

Aside from the steak, my favorite component of the main course was the Spring Pea Pesto that was served atop the salmon. Salmon isn't necessarily my favorite, but oh my goodness, I could've eaten the entire piece as long as I had that pesto. Unfortunately, the pesto on my plate ran out before the salmon did, probably because the salmon-pesto ratio on my fork heavily favored the pesto, so I only ate half of my fish. 

BUT. As much as I loved everything else, the absolute crowning dish of the night was the rustic raspberry tart with almond filling and sweetened whipped cream. I'm not even usually a dessert person since my tastebuds lean more towards the savory, but my mouth is watering right now just remembering it's goodness! The flaky crust, warm soft raspberries, creamy filling, and slightly sweetened fluff from the cream. I truly don't think I've ever had a better dessert. I bought a tart pan from the Viking shop just so I can recreate it whenever I want. Which will probably be frequently. At least, I dearly hope so. There can be no such thing as too much of this tart in my life.

The next morning our internal alarm clocks beeped at 6:30 AM, so we helped ourselves to cups of coffee from the in-room Keurig and snuggled in bed.

It was pretty nice to lounge without waiting for the baby to get up.

At about 7:30 we trekked upstairs to the fourth floor breakfast room and ate outside on the terrace overlooking downtown. It was so peaceful and pretty, since we were the only people eating outside {why??} until right before we finished our meal.

I of course had to snap a picture of the breakfast view. Nothing but concrete and buildings, but they can be pretty in their own right with a little help from early morning sunlight.

And the Episcopalian church right next door would've been gorgeous at any time of the day. 

After breakfast we showered and then went back to bed until getting ready for lunch around 10:30. This never, never happens in our home, but it was so enjoyable! If any shops would've been open that Sunday morning we probably would've explored instead, but I'm not complaining a bit with how the morning turned out!

We snapped our first hotel selfie right before stepping out for lunch. Hello there, 36 week baby bump.

It was a wonderful trip overall, and the perfect amount of time to be away from our Maylin. We were both ready for hugs and kisses when we got back. We really enjoyed ourselves, enough that we'd like to go back and take another class. Perhaps next time we'll stay a Friday, Saturday, Sunday so we can eat at that downtown bistro an extra time. And maybe to see a bit more of the town, too.

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