If you have been following my blog for a while, you probably know that I am in a book club that meets monthly. We call ourselves the Magnolia Readers. Every month we chose a topic or genre and then we each select a different book on which to report. We also take turns hosting the meeting at our homes; however, whoever hosts can choose to do something different if she wishes.
Well, my friend, Lynn hosted the club this month and treated all of us to something extra special. The topic was cooking, and rather than hosting at her house, she took us to the big city of Charlotte to a cooking class presented by Zink American Kitchen. It was held at the beautiful Mimosa Grill in the downtown area. I was so excited. I love watching cooking shows, but I had never been to a class before.
After driving for over and hour and relying on a GPS for navigational assistance, we arrived at our destination, The Mimosa Grill. It is such a lovely establishment. We were greeted with drinks and had a little time to sit and relax before the class started.
The class featured produce from local farmer's markets, and each dish was prepared by a chef from Mimosa. They each shared great tips for preparation and information on where to find the best local ingredients. After each dish was demonstrated it was served to us by the waiters. Each of the four courses was paired with a wine that was discussed by another chef.
Everything was scrumptious! The meal lasted for several hours. I wish that every meal was served that way, instead of in the terrible American habit of eating hurriedly then rushing off to do something else. It reminded me of my trip to Europe and the meals that I enjoyed there.
The first course was Yorkmont Tomato and Peasant Bread Salad paired with Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc, from Marlborough, New Zealand. This featured local tomatoes, organic cucumbers, red onion, basil and goat cheese. It was named for the Yorkmont Farmer's Market located near the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport.
This dish was my favorite of all of the dishes. It also happened to be the easiest one to prepare. (I will share the recipe later on in the week.)
The second dish was North Carolina Shrimp and Corn Etoufee paired with Silver Ridge Pinot Noir from California. This dish was made with fresh North Carolina shrimp and craw fish from Louisanna. It definitely reminded me of my trip to the gulf coast many years ago. I love it when a dish evokes a distant memory. Isn't that part of what enjoying a meal should be about?
The etoufee looks yummy, doesn't it? The local produce featured in this dish was okra, heirloom tomatoes, sweet corn, and hot summer peppers.
I had my doubts about the next dish because I am not fond of turkey, but the American Turkey Melt proved that with the proper ingredients and techniques almost anything can become a gourmet dish. The smokey blue cheese, tomato, and crispy squash made this open-faced turkey burger special. It was paired with a very nice Ruta 22 Malbec from Patagonia, Argentina. I had never had a wine from Argentina before and enjoyed this one very much.
Plum Upside Down Cake with spiced gelato and spearmint simple syrup was served for dessert. I was especially glad to learn the proper technique for making a mint simple syrup. The trick to great taste is to remove it from the burner as soon as it comes to a boil. I think I would like to make some of this to keep in the fridge to add to tea. This dessert was paired with a sweet Gekkeikan Plum wine from Japan. I do not care for sweet wines at all so this was not my favorite pairing. I would much rather have a good cup of coffee with a sweet treat.
Of course, after this wonderful cooking and dining experience we were all stuffed. We decided to take a stroll down some of Charlotte's beautiful streets. If you ever get a chance to see this city, you should take it. There are fountains and beautiful artwork all around. Most people who come here are amazed by the abundance of trees. Charlotte probably has more trees than any other city of its size. That can be a problem when a storm with lots of wind blows through, but I think they add so much beauty to the cityscape.
I just had to throw in a picture of Mimosa's outdoor dining area. I love dining AL fresco, don't you? It seems that food just tastes better when enjoyed in the fresh air. I just wish this summer had not been so hot so that we could enjoy dining outside more often. Maybe the fall will bring better temperatures for that.
After a cooking school featuring local farmer's market produce, we had to visit the one on the square before our trip home. This seemed to be the perfect way to end the day. I took many more pictures of the produce at the market. I think I'll save those for a rainy day!
I would highly recommend a cooking experience like this one. If you love to cook or just love to eat, it is a fun thing to do. Thank you, Lynn, for giving us such a treat! The only negative at all is that next month it's my turn to host...whatever will I do?