Img_3244Date: Saturday March 22, 2008.
Class: Date Night in Paris, 3 Hr. Hands On Workshop
Location: Viking Cooking School, Walnut Creek, CA
Fee: $89/person

Loni’s Rating: 9
Clint’s Rating: 8

Clint and I have wanted to take a cooking course in Napa for ages…ok, maybe I want to enroll in a cooking class and he is just an innocent bystander to my adventure.

However, with both our work in full gear, we have unfortunately not made it to Napa all year. At least wine still comes to us through regular shipments from our wine clubs. So instead of venturing out all the way to Napa, I decided a month ago to sign us up for a class with the Viking Cooking School out in Walnut Creek, California. The course was entitled “Date Night in Paris” and in 3 hours, you learn how to make:

  • Savory Tomato Tart Tatin (Tarte Tomate)
  • Chicken Braised in Wine (Coq au Vin)
  • Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette and Warm Chèvre (Salade avec Vinaigrette Noisette et Chèvre Chaud)
  • Flambéed Orange Crêpes (Crêpes Suzette)
  • The school is located in downtown Walnut Creek. The first floor is a cookware shop that reminds me of a quaint Williams Sonoma. The second floor is the actual classroom equipped with a large 100% Viking equipped kitchen and 6 class tables. On the particular day we went, there was supposed to be 10 students but only one other couple showed up. This provided us with the unique opportunity to have a 2:1 student teacher ratio which was great. We were also fortunate to get along really well with the other couple who had the brilliant idea of bringing a bottle of wine, something I need to do next time.

    Both instructors were really helpful and we got a lot of hands on time. It is really hard to extrapolate if some of this would have been lost in a larger class size. The three hours were filled with prepping ingredients, mixing, cooking on the gas range and cheering each other on while we tried to flip crepes. Clint’s crepes looked more like good ol’ Canadian lumberjack pancakes.

    One thing I must say is the French definitely know how to use butter and creme. The three hour Saturday gym routine I did that morning definitely came in handy that day to at least coax some of the butter and creme from settling on my hips.

    I think of all the four dishes, my favorite was surprisingly the Savory Tomato Tart Tatin and the Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette and Warm Chèvre. The two dishes I had anticipated I would like the least. In both cases, the dish was relatively healthy and absolutely delicious. The tomato tarte was fun to make. The technique to make it is similar to a pineapple upside down cake. With the salad, I learned a new technique of making a goat cheese log and then covering it with finely chopped walnuts. Just before you serve the salad, you pop the log into the oven to bake, then slice the log and let the medallions of heaven just melt over your salad – to die for.

    The other dishes were for me, just ok. The Chicken Braised in Wine required a lot of butter, chicken skin fat and a whole bottle of red wine, however, the results were disappointing. If I am going to feast on that much butter and fat, it better be worth it and this dish was not. The crepes as a dessert was also just ok for me, but I should disclose that I am not a huge fan of crepes to begin with. The sauce and flambe technique was interesting. However, I am convinced both the crepe and the chicken dish could have achieved the same flavor results with 10% of the fat content.

    If you are in the vicinity of a Viking Cooking School, definitely something to try out if you have a love for cooking.Img_3207











    Loni Stark
    Loni Stark is an artist at Atelier Stark, self-professed foodie, and adventure travel seeker who has a lifelong passion for technology’s impact on business and creativity. She collaborates with Clinton Stark on video projects for Atelier Stark Films. It’s been said her laugh can be heard from San Jose all the way up to the Golden Gate Bridge. She makes no claims to super powers, although sushi is definitely her Kryptonite.