We have all watched those movie scenes where the picture perfect couple is in the kitchen, making dinner together, drinking wine, slow dancing probably and plating up a beautiful dish that took no less than 15 pans to create, right? I always think “are they still this happy when they are sitting on the couch avoiding the obvious giant mess in the kitchen?”
Woman: “I am not getting up first because if I do then he is going to think he’s in the clear and won’t bother help with cleaning the kitchen up”
Man: “I shouldn’t have to clean up that mess…I zested the lemon”
But who doesn’t love spending time in the kitchen with your babe? Our solution for this week’s date night was to experience making a meal together and NOT having to worry about cleaning up the mess!
Sur La Table (pronounced “sir lah tahb” for all my non French friends) is a kitchen lovers dream. If you haven’t ever been you need to go just to find all the kitchen gadgets that you never knew you needed! My favorite part about this place though is they offer a wide range of cooking classes and when I say wide range, they have everything from Thai inspired classes to Chocolate 101 to a Knife Skills class which I think should now be required prior to even owning a knife!
This evening we got to experience a romantically French inspired dinner. The menu consisted of Roasted Chicken with Tarragon Cream Sauce, Frisee Salad with Bacon Lardons and Mustard Vinaigrette, French Onion Soup, and Profiteroles with Vanilla Pastry Cream and Chocolate Sauce – ugh just thinking about it all again my mouth is watering! Walking in we were greeted by Chef Danielle who instructed us to wash our hands and take our place. The room is set up with a couple of work stations so you are grouped together with typically 2-3 other people (classes usually run around 16 total) and we became fast friends with Caryn and Edward (our partners) Each class is also BYOB so we were able to open our bottle of wine and have a few sips before strapping our aprons on.
Once class started there was instruction given to begin prepping each dish – if you get lost along the way or get to chatting with your partners (which was obviously our problem) each student receives a paper copy of the recipes and directions to help follow along. We started with the French Onion soup which required us to chop onions and get them in our pot so that they could get nice and carmlalized, the whole place started to smell like sweet onions. Side note – who knew French Onion soup was such a labor of love also?! Every few minutes we were reminded to “stir your onions” by Chef Danielle and yes, this quickly became an inside joke amongst us…’you had one job…stir the onions!’
I will warn depending on the class that you choose there is quite a bit of multitasking that has to take place but this is where you and your partner can divide and conquer and still enjoy talking with one another and your class mates. We moved onto prepping our desert which involved making Profiterole dough which is actually easier than one might think – butter and water are added to a saucepan and heated until all of the butter is melted (pause here to stir your onions), from there flour is added while a constant stir is happening until a slight film forms on the bottom of the saucepan. Throw the dough in a mixer and beat until cool then add eggs to complete the dough. The dough is then piped onto a sheet pan, we had fun with this also – apparently you want to pipe and count to 4 to ensure the perfect profiterole cloud is piped on the pan. I was the lucky one who got to pipe while George and our new BFFs counted 1…2…3….4….stir the onions!
After we gave our beautiful carb clouds an egg wash into the oven they went and we refocused to our Frisee Salad (I learned that Frisee is a type of leafy green) with my new favorite protein Bacon Lardons – aka big junks of crispy bacon. We got the vinaigrette mixed together and put our bacon on medium to low heat so that it could really render the fat and get extra crispy. We then cut up a few pieces of bread, oiled and seasoned with salt and pepper and got those in the oven to get nice and crispy.
“OMG, when was the last time you stirred the onions?!”
Luckily our onion babysitting days were coming to an end. The soup was assembled by adding brandy and broth then spooning the heavenly caramelized soup into ramekins which we topped with our crispy bread pieces and gruyere cheese. Also, if you are curious…yes, we did eat about 2-3 pieces of golden brown bread while this assembly line took place.
At this point, we got a well deserved break so that Chef Danielle could “reset the kitchen” no dishes for us tonight, remember?! George and I wondered through the store itemizing all of the new gadgets that we now needed. We looked at fancy coffee machines all of which I guarantee you I could never learn to operate. We had a lengthy discussion with the nice lady who worked there who ensured me I could “figure it out”…mmmhm. The best part about this portion of our evening though is since we attended a class we received 10% off our purchase and 20% off a class of our choice if we signed up for another one that evening. I mean who doesn’t love a bargain?
Getting back to class we all were pretty hungry and it was finally time to try some of these wonderful creations we had made. First came the French Onion soup which I honestly was not sure what to expect with this – I candidly could not remember if I ever had had French Onion soup before. We gave this a solid 8 out of 10 – I mean top anything with bread and cheese and you are getting a pretty close to perfect score from me. The Frisee salad was next which required us to poach an egg…luckily our new friends lead us through this and like anything else the first egg was a “test” and by the last egg we were poaching pros. I know you all are jealous at this point of our salad also…crispy bacon chunks, mustard vinaigrette and a poached egg, geez…(btw, this would be a crazy easy salad to make at home and you best believe that will be happening at the George house asap)
We had one last course to tackle…the main course (best for last?) We did a simple salt and pepper seasoning on the skinned chicken thighs and placed them skin side down in a screaming hot cast iron skillet. After a few minutes we flipped the chicken and placed the cast iron skillets in the oven to finish cooking.
This next portion of our evening was a spiritual moment for George and I. Have you ever had a warm profiterole freshly filled with vanilla pastry cream and then covered with warm chocolate?! If not, I highly encourage you go on that pilgrimage and take a brother and sister with you! I will defer sharing with you exactly how many we each ate but it is was way more than a “suggested serving”.
After our holy moments with the fancy cream puffs we got the chicken out of the oven and boy there was some crispy skin on those babies, we finished assembling the sauce in the hot pan. First went the shallots and garlic then some sherry wine and tarragon which married together and filled the room with that wonderful anise and liquorish smell. Lastly we added our heavy cream which completed our sauce, we plated the chicken and opted for sauce on the side to ensure we got a bite of that crispy skin. At the first bite I was unsure of our Tarragon Cream Sauce, it was tangy and had warming notes at the same time but a few bites in we were obsessed.
Once our bellies were completely full (yes, okay, we probably had another profiterole, don’t judge!) we turned in our aprons, hugged our new friends, and left hand in hand smiling. This date night allowed us to try new things we would not have tried on our own and to meet new people. I suggest this as a date night if you are wanting to try new food and test some new recipes. Grab your partner and test your skills in the kitchen and I promise you will have a *chef’s kiss* night.
Check out upcoming Sur La Table classes here.
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