Last weekend, I was able to try my hand at a brand new experience: a cooking class!
The Rolling Pin Kitchen Emporium in Brandon, Florida is not only a kitchen supply store, but it also hosts a plethora of cooking classes! There are so many to sign up for, but one class in particular stood out to me when I perused the calendar….the French macaron class! My mom and I promptly signed up for a spot.
Upon stepping in to The Rolling Pin, I was definitely impressed by the setup! The demonstration/kitchen area was spacious, and the seating was plentiful for our group. If you weren’t able to snag a seat directly in front of the instructor, you didn’t miss any of the action – see the TV screens mounted in the ceiling? They were attached to cameras that focused on the cooking area as the instructor worked; you could see every detail! To start, we watched our instructor whip up a batch of the pretty French petit fours…
As a huge fan of olive oil, I was thrilled to be invited to a special dinner event held at Flamestone Grill last week. The Chile Olive Oil Council, along with the lovely Isabel of Family Foodie, was putting on an impressive meal to feature their olive oils. Sign me up!
When I laid my eyes on the menu, I knew we were all in for a treat. We were presented with various starters, entrees, and desserts throughout the evening, along with Chilean wines to pair with them. Let’s get started, shall we?
Our first starter was the black pepper tomato pretzel bread, served with a white anchovy aioli. The bread itself was doughy, warm, and wonderful! Plus, you can’t go wrong with a sprinkle of salt on top. Many of the other diners were gushing over the anchovy aioli; as I am not a fan of “fishy” flavors, I wasn’t in love, but I know that it was a crowd pleaser in general!
Our next starter was served as a trio. Take a moment and drink in the beauty of this plate. Seriously – it was gorgeous!
On the plate was an heirloom yellow tomato caprese salad: you can’t go wrong with this classic combination in my opinion! The Chile olive oil and balsamic drizzle took it over the top for me though! Yum yum…
In the center of the trio was a fresh tomato tart. How beautiful was this item, I ask you? The sprig of rosemary was a nice touch…
Finally, we were treated to a spectacular olive tapenade. Chef Eric created the tapenade with a traditional molcajete and presented it on Chilean extra virgin olive oil rubbed crostinis. Oh boy – I could have had many more of these treats: Chef Eric informed us that he uses sundried tomatoes in his tapenade, and you could really tell. The olives were still a star, but the balance of salty olives and sweet sundried tomatoes was absolutely perfect. Dear Flamestone Grill: put this tapenade on the regular menu! Wink wink, nudge nudge…
On to the entrees! Our first entree featured some beautiful color: purple! We were served an agave soaked chicken with red wine bermuda onions. On the side were pan seared Chilean extra virgin olive oil purple potatoes with a burnt sugar olive oil dust. It was a combination of sweet and savory, and I was definitely in love with the purple potatoes (fun, right?).
The chicken dish was followed by a cast iron seared polenta crusted Chilean sea bass with a toasted pepita, a Chilean extra virgin olive oil drizzle, and a bed of arugula. The dish was very light and fresh!
The final two entrees were served together on a plate, and both of them featured one of my favorite ingredients of all time: goat cheese.
Excuse me for a moment as I think fondly back on these two dishes. Why is it that goat cheese automatically makes a great dish that much better? It’s heavenly, I tell you. One of the final dishes was a goat cheese and arugula stuffed piadina: it was pretty straightforward…but can you go wrong with that?
However, the star of this plate (and arguably my favorite dish up to this point in the meal) was the portabella and goat cheese cappallacci with porcini and white truffles. If you are not familiar with cappallacci, they are essentially ravioli that are lightly fried. These cappallacci were crispy, savory, and oh so decadent. The goat cheese dollop on top took me over the edge; it was the perfect complement to the pasta. There were only 3 on my plate, but I definitely could have consumed many more if given the opportunity. Oh, to dream…
At this point, I was pretty stuffed. However, can you really say no to dessert? I managed to make some room for sweets after seeing the amazing offerings coming our way.
Be still, my heart. First up was the Chilean extra virgin olive oil cake with candied tangerines and pecans. A cake made with olive oil? It sounds unlikely, but in reality this cake was incredibly light and fluffy, almost like an angel food cake (but not quite as sweet). No guilt in that, right?
In the center was a Chilean extra virgin olive oil and sea salt brownie with a peanut butter dust infused olive oil and a caramelized marshmallow. Holy cow. Using the olive oil in the brownie instead of other oil truly made this brownie rich and fudgy…my favorite. And can we talk about the peanut butter dust?!?! Although it looked dry on the plate, apparently when you place the “dust” in your mouth, your saliva rehydrates it – it becomes smooth and creamy again just like regular peanut butter! How cool is that?!?!
Finally, the plate contained an olive oil almond sugar cookie with fresh raspberries and whipped cream. I’m a sucker for almond flavored cakes and cookies, and this one was just right. It was chewy and flavorful; the perfect ending to a wonderful dinner experience!
Overall, the dinner was absolutely amazing, and I cannot thank Isabel from Family Foodie, the Chile Olive Oil Council, and Flamestone Grill enough for having me at this lovey event!
Are you a fan of olive oil in your kitchen? What’s your favorite way to enjoy it?
Remember the blogger lunch I recently went to at Pelagia Trattoria? Well, we did it again! Another group of blogging ladies got together, this time at a little Italian joint called Trattoria Pasquale in Tampa. It was a lovely afternoon of chatting and eating (a good combo, in my opinion)!
We started with bread and caprese salad. Can you go wrong with caprese salad?
Pasta course was up next:
And some ravioli with mushrooms and prosciutto:
Some chicken parmesan with eggplant on top:
And we finished off with a cannoli, of course!
Are you a fan of Italian food?
I love it when I’m able to try out a restaurant that is new to me in the area. And I love it even more when I’m able to break bread alongside some blog friends from Tampa Bay. Recently, a few of us made plans to get together at Pelagia Trattoria to indulge in some awesome food and talk shop about blogging. Pelagia Trattoria is found in Tampa connected to the Renaissance hotel next to International Plaza and Bay Street. They offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus. The kitchen is open, and the menu changes with the seasons to reflect what is fresh and available at the time.
I was really excited to try out some items off of Pelagia’s menu: I’d been hearing great things about the restaurant but had yet to visit for a meal. Thankfully, there was quite a spread available for our lunch!
We began our meal with stuzzichini – aka small plates!
We tasted the shrimp a pil pil with tarragon vinaigrette, oven-dried tomato on garlic baguette with goat cheese & pesto (can you go wrong with that combination? I think not), the Garroxta aged goat cheese with fig marmalade (YUM), and the crunchy stuffed olives with three meats (I’d never had fried olives before, but they were delightful: salty, crunchy little bites of goodness). There was also a selection of salamino, toasted almonds, and cured olives included in the mix.
Next up: the main courses! There was oh so much to try…like the four cheese rigatoni with sautéed chicken: creamy (but not overly sauced), rich, and delicious! It was a nice indulgence…