This post is sponsored by Vine & Vintage where I was invited to attend a complimentary cooking class. As always, the opinions in the post are my own. Picture above is courtesy of Vine and Vintage of our fun group during our class.
On Jan. 24th, 2018, I had a chance to attend a 2-hour Italian themed class called “Viva L’Italia Cooking Class and Wine Experience” hosted by Vine & Vintage, and I am excited to share my experience.
The class was led by Samantha Krumholz, the owner of Vine & Vintage; and Shauna Mann, a certified nutritionist, and cooking instructor.
The class was located at a cooking studio at 510 Eglinton Ave W. in Toronto (near Eglinton Ave. W and Avenue Rd.) where guests cooked a 5-course meal, followed by a sit-down dinner to enjoy the meal with wine pairings. The Italian themed class had a health-inspired menu that included bruschetta, Caesar salad, eggplant parmesan, roasted red pepper fettuccine, and Italian cookie topped with berries and coconut cream.
About Vine & Vintage:
Samantha Krumholz, the owner of Vine & Vintage (V&V) discovered her love for wine when she was living in B.C. When she moved to Toronto, she organized and sold out wine social events within the wine club she formed in Liberty Village, before starting Vine & Vintage.
Vine & Vintage focuses on wine tasting experiences with a subtle approach to sharing wine knowledge designed to bring you and your group closer together. V&V provides customized events for any occasion including bachelorettes, birthdays, and anniversaries with experiences including corporate team building, food and wine pairings, and dinner parties. Most of V&V’s experiences are private but they also hosts many public events such as the class I had attended.
Read more about Vine & Vintage events at http://vineandvintage.ca. Make sure to head to the blog section to read more about events and experiences that V&V had created.
The “Viva L’Italia Cooking Class and Wine Experience” was hosted under “Airbnb” experiences where there are hands-on-tours and unique workshops led by local experts. This class is $75 CAD to attend per person.
The “Viva L’Italia Cooking Class and Wine” Experience:
The studio felt like I stepped into a modern condo with a large kitchen on one side of the room, and a cozy dining area on the other side. The studio felt modern yet cozy with high ceilings, light cupboards and countertops.
There were 5 cooking stations; 1 for each recipe equipped with cutting boards, ingredients, and tools to make each dish. Guests were paired up in groups of 2 to 3 and got to choose the recipe they wanted to work on.
I was paired up with a lovely Toronto couple to make the Caesar salad with homemade dressing, as well as the dessert. We were provided with a snack and the first wine pairing, Voga Pinot Grigio, while we cooked. As our Caesar salad was relatively quick to make compared to other dishes such as eggplant parmesan and the pasta dish, I had a chance to help at another station, and chat with guests.
Although the recipes were posted with instructions, Shauna was helpful in ensuring each of us was comfortable tackling our recipes, while providing tips.
Afterwards, we all dined together to enjoy our hard work where Samantha provided us with details of each wine pairing. She provided information such as the history of the wines, the wine profile, and why each wine paired well with each course.
As an active home cook and a busy momma, attending cooking classes is a fun evening for some “me time”, while learning new recipes I can make at home. Although I came alone, I had a blast meeting a friendly group.
When I first looked at the menu, my first thought was “I have made most of this before”, and was sceptical that I would not learn something new. I was wrong. As the approach to the menu was “health-inspired”, I enjoyed learning about new ingredients swaps to traditional dishes. For example, the eggplant parmesan was coated with spelt flour rather than panko or breadcrumbs. Spelt flour is a grain that is high in fibre and protein, and has a crumbly and crunchy texture when cooked. As the dish was baked and not fried, I enjoyed the less oily version. It was delicious and my favourite out of the 5 courses we made. For the roasted red pepper pasta sauce, avocado oil was used to saute the aromatics, and coconut milk was used instead of cream. Avocado oil has a high smoke point and has many good fats.
I was impressed with the wines that Samantha had chosen with each dish including the 2015 Piccini Chianti that was paired with the eggplant parmesan, and the Santa Margherita Prosecco that was paired with the dessert. The Chianti is from Tuscany and had black cherry and acidic notes, which accentuates the flavours in the tomato sauce. Aside from the wines being great matches, they were affordable (most are less than $15 at the LCBO). I agree with Samantha that “cheap doesn’t mean it is low quality”. I will definitely pick up some of the recommended Italian wines on my next visit.
To summarize my experience, the top 5 things I enjoyed most were:
- The instructors (Shauna and Samantha) were passionate, friendly and knowledgeable.
- The group was really fun, and they helped make my evening extra enjoyable!
- The class was organized and wrapped up in about 2 hours. They had many helpers to keep the class move along smoothly and to help clean up. Timeliness and organization is a big thing for me! I have been to cooking classes where it ran way over time.
- The class was hands-on, which is the best way to learn.
- Wine selection was spot on and complemented each dish.
My tips to make the experience more enjoyable:
- As the class started at 7 pm, we were given a snack to eat while we prepped our meal and did not officially have dinner until an hour into the class. If you are used to eating dinner early, do have a snack or something small to eat before attending. Guests should be happy and not “hangry”. I thank Samantha for passing on the tip.
- The health-inspired recipes may not be how your “nonna” made some of the Italian recipes (i.e spelt flour vs. breadcrumbs). Keep an open mind.
- I thought the roasted red pepper sauce needed more seasoning. Extra spoonful’s of grated Parmesan cheese before eating transformed the dish for me as I like a saltier sauce.
- Ask questions! Everyone comes from different cooking and wine knowledge levels. If there is something that wasn’t covered in the class but you are dying to know…just ask!
For more information, follow Vine & Vintage, Shauna, and Airbnb Experiences:
Thank you again Vine and Vintage for the invitation!
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