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We tried Cocktails and Canapes Valentine’s date night cooking class.
I was lucky enough to preview Cocktails and Canapes Valentine’s zoom cooking class and had an amazing time. My partner and I prefer to share an experience as a date night, and this was one of the most fun (and delicious) ones we have had. The concept itself is straight forward, and maybe something you’ve done before (hello early pandemic), but it was a new experience for us. So, on a Thursday evening, we donned our aprons and made the best risotto I’ve ever had – let alone made myself.
Cocktails and Canapes put together their Valentine’s menu thoughtfully – local butternut squash risotto (with side stripe prawns, bacon, guanciale, mascarpone and parmesan), plus a charcuterie box to snack on, pots de crème, chocolate covered strawberries and a bottle of local red. We also tried out their feature cocktail, but more on that later. All the ingredients came in an adorable box with everything labeled for ease. If you’ve ever done a meal prep style box a la Hello Fresh, this was similar but with higher end (local!) ingredients. Plus (not included in the box) you get Chef Jason Harper to help guide the way.
The charcuterie box was exceptional. Not so large that we filled up pre-dinner but each bite was a delight. It included house-made nduja sausage (whipped with figs and vanilla), ash covered chevre (my fave!), aged lonzino, pickled veggies, grana padano, candied nuts, berry mostarda and crackers.
Let me preface the cooking part with– I went to culinary school – but my partner did not! So, I think we have a fair amount of perspective on whether something is difficult cooking-wise. Although you can definitely make this dinner alone, risotto is a dish that requires constant stirring and because we both wanted to indulge in charcuterie and wine, having someone there to tag-team the hands-on part made this dinner a breeze. But even if you are cooking solo (and therefore get to eat the entire pan of risotto!) the Chef is very attentive, he checked in regularly to make sure everyone was at the same stage and we didn’t end the night until the last person finished plating their meal. But it wasn’t just checking in and instruction. Part of the fun was chatting with someone who has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field. Hearing why we should do something a certain way makes it a skill you can carry with you to the future.
You don’t have to do much prep, since most of your ingredients are pre-portioned. We did slice some shallots and crush garlic but as the Chef reminded us – this is a rustic dish we’re eating at home. It doesn’t have to be perfectly brunoised to taste delicious. And trust me, it tasted very delicious. We were told that risotto is less of a dish and more of a cooking process – that process is the stirring I told you about earlier. Essentially, we stood together over the stove, taking turns stirring, chatting with the Chef and finishing a bottle of wine in record time. Before we knew it, the rice was cooked (we were instructed to taste often both for seasoning and doneness) and it was time to add shrimp, squash cubes, butter, mascarpone and the most velvety squash puree that’s ever existed. The end result was a risotto that pooled on the plate. Luxurious in flavour and texture with cured, salty bites from the guanciale and bacon that contrasted the dreamy richness from the cheese. The fried sage brought an herbaceous bite but never overwhelmed the delicate balance. Extra parm on top brought it home.
We stood in front of the computer screen gobbling up the risotto and after every second bite we gushed to each other about how this was definitely the best risotto we had ever had. That we had to make it again.
After the class ended we tried the pots de crème and chocolate covered strawberries. I have to admit, I’m not really a fruit and chocolate person. But, it’s kind of the quintessential V-day treat – so it’s inclusion makes sense. The pots de crème however are not a Valentine’s classic. Although they should be. Creamy, rich and boldly chocolate-y (made with Valrhona), these pots de crème taste like the center of my favourite chocolate truffle.
After dinner and dessert (plus the bottle of wine) we tried their rose gin sour. This is an add-on that you can order as well. Made with vegan foamer, a rose sour pre-mix and Arbutus gin, this tangy floral beverage was the perfect nightcap on our date night.
When: Saturday February 12th and Monday February 14th. Both classes take place at 6PM over a live zoom call. Ingredients will be delivered between 12PM-5PM on the day of your class.How to Book: Reserve your spot via their website.What’s Included: Charcuterie box, fresh ingredients to make risotto, chocolate pot de crème with strawberry ganache and Poplar Grove Merlot 2018.Cost: The live cooking class is (including everything mentioned above) $210. Rose Gin Sour is a fun but pricey add-on at an additional $45.