A decadent Saturday...
I'm not going to lie, I've had many a cooking disaster - mainly a foccacia that I tried to make recently that could only resemble a stone age rock, or that scabby bit of black charred bread that you just can't get out of the bottom of your toaster. On the other hand, I do have my staple dishes that I can excel in, however I've made them that many times I'm increasingly bored of the same old, same old.
I was very lucky to be asked to try out Outcook recently. Based in Alnwick, it's a little cookery haven crying out for the likes of me to broaden their back catalogue of old favourites.
The course I opted to try was Decadent Dinners. Again, I'm not going to lie - I've never held a Decadent Dinner in my life. That's not to say I don't want to, however I'm not that posh and I don't have a suite of pointless cutlery waiting for an airing. Dinner 'round at ours' tends to be pulled pork a la Newcastle Eats.
Setting off with my partner in crime for the day - Sandra Tang, we had a lovely drive catching up on the exciting developments of NE1's Newcastle Fashion Week (FYI - it's very exciting). We arrived just in time for morning coffee with the group and the ladies from Outcook. After a briefing, we were taken to our kitchen stations and given a show round of what we would need for the day. Even though the kitchen space you have is tiny - it holds literally everything in the most compact space. You honestly feel as though you can take on the world with your little kitchen. You're provided with a fetching apron for the day, along with as much tea and coffee as you need to keep you going.
The Chef for the day was Emma Whittingham - an exceptionally experienced mentor, who guided us through each menu item. Throughout the day, you benefit from sitting together to enjoy the fruits of your labour. My eyes immediately lit up at the mention of Smoked Salmon Blinis with Creme Fraiche and a glass of Champagne for elevenses. During the day we also ate the Asparagus and Hollandaise, and sat down to a lunch of Champagne Chilli Mussels and Fresh Baguette. There were two birthday celebrations in our group, and Outcook provided a birthday cake for us all to enjoy - how lovely! Wine is also served with lunch, which was such a treat to sit back and relax after a full on morning of cooking.
The Decadent Dinners menu was:
Smoked Salmon Blinis with Creme Fraiche
Champagne Chilli Mussels
Full Baked Salmon with Asparagus and Hollandaise
Brandy Chocolate Pots
We also made a Potato Dauphinoise to take home - which I have to say was delicious. Here you got to practice knife skills on the onion and potato - no mandolines here!! The whole Salmon was also divided out between us all, perfectly cooked, and packed in small food parcels ready for us to dress up at home to enjoy.
Having already been to Betty's cookery school, I can honestly say this is far more informal and welcoming. Not that I didn't have a great time at Betty's, I just felt I was under the eyes of experts and an overwhelming sense of pressure to get everything right. At Outcook, there's no pressure or pretense - just a 'go with the flow' atmosphere, which instantly put me at ease.
I can't wait to get back, if only to enjoy a leisurely Saturday with not a care in the world making some delicious food. If you are interested in the same, you can find all of the details on the Outcook website here. If I can offer any outfit advice, wear something comfortable and loose - you'll do a lot of eating. Also, wear flat covered-toe shoes - if not for safety, definitely for comfort.