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All We Can Eat
Posted at 12:43 AM ET, 05/04/2011

Chat Leftovers: The gift of cooking

Good morning, all. Today in Food, the spotlight is on moms: restaurant moms, to be exact. Our four subjects, all new mothers, inhabit in a world of long hours and odd shifts, but they’ve managed to make it work for them, each in her own way. Bonus feature with this story: really cute baby pictures.

Also in the section, staff writer Tim Carman goes to New York to watch Alexandria chef and Ireland native Cathal Armstrong create a modern take on an ancient Celtic banquet, and Gastronomer columnist Andreas Viestad introduces us to Spain’s unique Arzak restaurant, a temple of high technology with a low-tech goal: to turn out good food.

When you’re done reading those, it’ll be just about time for today’s Free Range chat, our weekly get-together to discuss all things food. Come hungry, and bring your questions. We’ll get to as many as we can in the hour — really, it just flies by — and then I’ll pick a leftover and answer it next week. Like this one, from a previous chat:

I’d like to give my very good friend a cooking class experience for her birthday. I’ve done some digging around, but aside from CulinAerie, which currently doesn’t have any summer classes for the masses, and Sur la Table, I’m coming up a little blank. Ideally I would like to give her a gift certificate to one place and let her pick the class of her choice. Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

Did you know that we publish a fabulously complete list of cooking classes every fall? Here’s a link to the last one. And although many of the classes listed were held last fall and winter, the list is still a great resource because it puts names and Web sites of cooking instructors right at your fingertips, along with a brief description of what they teach. A good place to start. On their Web sites, many of the instructors keep an up-to-date calendar of their class offerings.

Another resource we offer is our weekly calendar of food events. We frequently list cooking classes, workshops and demonstrations that might be of interest.

You didn’t tell me where your friend lives, which might make a difference. If in the District, keep an eye on CulinAerie. (Looking at their site, I see a couple open classes; maybe they’ve been added since you checked it out?) Cooking stores, as you already know because you mentioned Sur la Table, are a resource. Hill’s Kitchen on Capitol Hill has a wide range of classes: One week it’s knife skills, the next it’s making baby food..

In Virginia, the La Cuisine store in Old Town Alexandria offers classes year-round, but they tend to fill up fast. Does your friend like chocolate? A fun class in Arlington is at Artisan Confections. You don’t learn a lot about the process of making chocolate, but you concentrate on decorating it, and you go home with a bag of goodies.

If your friend lives in Maryland, L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg is an absolute must to check out. There’s a huge selection of “recreational” classes, as opposed to their lineup of courses for culinary professionals.

Most jurisdictions in our area have a municipal department — frequently community education or adult education or some other name — that offers cooking classes. So that’s another possibility.

I could go on, but that seems like enough to start with. With the rich resources our area has to offer, you should be able to find the ideal class for your friend.

By Jane Touzalin  |  12:43 AM ET, 05/04/2011

 
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