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Friday, February 24, 2017

The Cookery Dallas - Interactive Dining Experience!

This past weekend I was a part of something awesome. I finally got to check out The Cookery Dallas! I met Kelly, the owner (and instructor), at The Cookery, back in December. She was talking about her upcoming business concept and I was immediately interested. So when I found out this month's location for @BlogAndBrunchDFW was at The Cookery, I all but invited myself. :P

The Cookery Dallas
1130 Dragon St. #180
Dallas, TX 75207
(469) 400-8514
Price: $95~ per person/class

Along with my fellow food bloggers, we arrived at The Cookery this past Sunday around noon. We had brought our own champagne and orange juice to make mimosas, but usually these classes include a few cocktails. This place is super cute, y'all! Big open space, and there was a nicely set long table at the front. That's where we'll be feasting! And I love all the wall decor. Kitchen goals for sure!

Kelly greeted us as we arrived. We also met Fiona, who is another instructor there. We're all frantically snapping away with our phones and cameras. Everything was very casual. They got the mimosa bar set up and Kelly had prepped some Veggie Crudites (with Green Goddess Dressing). You can also make coffee, tea, or have some orange infused water. That Green Goddess Dressing is no joke... so delicious. I think I overheard Kelly saying it's her secret recipe though.

Once everyone arrived, we got started. We all washed our hands in their very cute sink station and got our aprons on. Then we stood around the main counter and introduced ourselves. Even though we already knew most everyone in the group, it's a good way to get things started. This was their first ever "Best of Brunch" class. There were 3 courses we were making. And this isn't like the type of cooking class where everyone gets a station and does the same thing. It's an open kitchen. Everything is very casual and absolutely no pressure. You can participate as much or as little as you want. Kelly and Fiona would start something for us and pass it off to someone. Then they would move on to another component and pass it off there. So there's constant interaction with the food prep and the people. We had a blast! I'm sure at some point everyone got to get their hands in something. I got to use the blow torch btw. Since I don't drink and the others have all had a few mimosas, they left the fire wielding to me. Muahahahaha. It was awesome. And of course there was just nonstop picture and video taking. It's quite interesting when you get a group of food bloggers together. We make quite a scene. hehe.

First Course:
Grapefruit Brûlée & Cardamom Ricotta (with toasted pistachios). We made everything from scratch, so we got to make ricotta from scratch. It's surprisingly easy. It's basically boiled milk, lemon juice, and then strained. I'm gonna be making ricotta like a mofo once I get some cheesecloth!! :P 
We seasoned the ricotta with cardamom... it's so fragrant! And we also sweetened part of it with powdered sugar. For the grapefruit part, we took these juicy segments, tossed them with turbinado sugar, spread them out on a sheet pan and took the blow torch to them. You can immediately see the grapefruit start to blister and char... essentially bruleeing and caramelize the sugars. 
Then we crushed up some toasted pistachios. Now, I would've never imagined putting these 3 ingredients together. For one, I've never been a fan of grapefruit. But these were super juicy and the sugar sweetened them. But the sweet/tart grapefruit, layered with the creamy ricotta, then topped with the crunch and nuttiness of the pistachio was just the perfect combination of flavors and texture. It was light and refreshing, and just wonderful. I got to try something new and loved it. I ended up eating two cups of it. There was an extra! I wasn't about to let it go to waste! :P Plus I was starving. haha.

While we prepped the first course, we were also prepping for the other courses... scooping out the cantaloupe for the 3rd course, picking the herbs for the compound butter, etc.

Second Course:
Irish Soda Bread (with herb compound butter). I've had Irish Soda Bread before, but this was on a whole other level. It turned out amazing and it was also very easy. The outside was crusty and buttery, while the inside was pillowy and more buttery! 
The compound butter is basically herbs, we used parsley, tarragon, and I think one more herb? and you just put it in a food processor with some butter. Blend it up. Roll it in some plastic wrap and put in the fridge to harden. The two paired beautifully together. This was my favorite. IF I had to choose.

Oven Poached Ham & Sweet Potato Hash Egg Nests. This was the easiest thing ever. You get thin slices of ham and put on the bottom of the muffin pan, to create the "nest". Then you put a scoop of the sweet potato hash, which is basically sauteed onions, bell peppers, and parboiled sweet potatoes. Then top with a raw egg. You bake it in the oven for ~13 minutes until the whites of the egg is firm and, voila, it's done. Topped with chopped chives for some color.

Spicy Lemon Hollandaise. This is hard work, y'all. HollanDAZED for sure! :P haha. Jk. Don't be scared. It just needs a bit of muscle to whisk it all together. But if you don't want to do that, I think you can put into a food processor too. Fiona was a beast! She whisked it all by hand. Added some cayenne and tabasco for that spicy kick!

Apple Fennel Slaw (with citrus gastrique). The citrus gastrique was made using the juice from the grapefruit, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar. You cook it till it's all bubbly and then you test the consistency. They shaved fennel and diced apples into thin slices, and tossed it with the gastrique and some fennel fronds. It's kind of licorish-y if you've never had fennel. It was very refreshing and crunchy.

Just look at this spread!!!!

Third Course:
Cantaloupe Granita (mint). We had to start prepping this course from the beginning. We scooped out the flesh of the cantaloupe, sweetened it with a splash of simple syrup and pureed it in a food processor. 
Simple syrup is basically 1 part water mixed with 1 part sugar. Then you pour it onto a flat sheet pan and put it in the freezer. Every 20 minutes or so, you take it out and "fluff" it with a fork to make it light and airy. By the time we were ready to plate it, it looks like this: You can do this with most fruits I think, as long as there's enough liquid. It was super refreshing and light. I was so full after our feasting that I was glad that we didn't have some heavy dessert as the third course. This was perfect. And it's so pretty!

We brought our own booze and juice. But here is what The Cookery's website has listed in the Best of Brunch class. These drinks are included with the class: Champagne Cocktail, and Cucumber Infused Vodka Bloody Marys. Oooooo!

The next "Best of Brunch" classes are on the schedule:

Saturday, March 4, 2017 @ 12PM
Sunday, March 26, 2017 @ 1PM

Book your class today! Or check out some of their other classes. I'm really interested in the "Pasta Perfecto!" class where you get to learn to make your own pastas!!!! One might think the price is a little expensive... but think of it this way. If you go to any fairly nice restaurants in Dallas and get a 3 course meals with cocktails, it'll run you at least $70-100 a person. This means the fun part of the class and cooking is essentially free! :) Plus it's something different, great for your next girls' night out, or date night, or even work team outing!

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Pok the Raw Bar

**FYI. Their Grand Opening is tomorrow (2/18/17). From 11:30AM-10PM. Complimentary Matcha. Specialty Sake Shots. Raw Bar Teaser.** 

I have a new obsession you guys... My favorite new place of 2017. Pok the Raw Bar in West Village. Since discovering it at the end of January, I've been there 4 times in the last 3 weeks. And living in Rockwall and working close to Richardson... this is not a neighborhood that's remotely close to me. However! On the weekends I sometimes go workout in the Highland Park area. I've been taking advantage of that whenever I can! And since I'm working out, I deserve a treat, right? 

Pok The Raw Bar 
3699 McKinney Ave #306 
Dallas, TX 75204 
(214) 484-1139 
Price: $$ 

This place just makes me happy. From the bright and modern decor to the quality of the food and drinks. They are super busy all the time though, so you gotta be patient. But trust me, it's worth it. 

They have a very specific focus: poké bowls and matcha, so they can get the best ingredients and deliver the best quality. Their ingredients are sources from local farmers and the fish is flown in daily. I can taste the freshness in every bowl I've had so far. Their sushi chef is Chef Jimmy Park, originally from Nobu. 

They have a small menu... which is good for people like me who can't have too many choices. I would want to try everything! But they also have a BYOB (build your own bowl) option, so you can pick exactly what you want. I've always built my own bowl. I'm slowly working through all the different sauces. Oh btw,everything here is gluten free. :) 

First Visit: I got my order to go because I told my husband I would bring some back for him. 

While waiting for the food, I started chatting with the bartender, Emilio, and he was giving me info on the restaurant and the matcha. It's sourced directly from Uji, a city in the outskirts of Kyoto, Japan. They actually know the people in the village so they get the matcha powder directly. How much more authentic can you get?!? I also met one of the owners, Francois, who was just super nice! I've seen both of them on every visit so far and it's awesome that they recognize me and I'm able to chat with them. It makes the waiting so much more enjoyable. :) 

I got 2 drinks because I wanted to try different things. I had every intention to give one to my husband but I started drinking both while waiting for my food. :P I liked both of them. 

The Ceremony (pure whisked matcha) - iced $4~ I don't think I know anywhere else that does pure ceremonial matcha. It's literally water and whisked matcha. I get it unsweetened because I absolutely love the natural flavor of matcha. But if you want some sweetness they add raw honey so it's still super healthy. 

Matcha X Coco (coconut milk) - iced $5~ Emilio was telling me that they make their coconut milk and almond milk in house. I got it just barely sweetened so it was still really pure. I loved the light hint of coconut with the matcha. Plus the layers of color were aesthetically pleasing. hehe. Did you know that dairy (cow's milk) negates all the benefits of matcha? I did some research and found out that other milks don't... (soy, almond, coconut, etc.) so I wonder if that's the reason why Pok doesn't offer dairy as an option. Most people think they're getting all sorts of nutritional benefits when they get a typical matcha latte... buuuut it's really just green milk and sugar... XP 

Small BYOB $8.95~ 
Base: Bamboo Rice 
Top: Salmon 
Sauce: Spicy Aioli 
Add Ons: chopped kale, seaweed salad, pickled ginger, micro greens 

Large BYOB $12.95~ 
Base: Bamboo Rice 
Top: Tuna 
Sauce: Classic Sauce 
Add Ons: edamame, seaweed salad, cucumber, pickled ginger 

These bowls are absolutely gorgeous! Packed with bright colors and really fresh ingredients. I totally love their bamboo rice which they explained is rice grown in bamboo so it is fortified with extra vitamins and minerals like chlorophyll. And it's green, which makes the bowl even prettier. I fell in love as soon as I dug in. You can taste all the individual ingredients and the quality of it all. I thought the small bowl was quite small but it was surprisingly filling. My husband loved it as well. 

Second Visit: I went on a weekday, after a noon workout. I realized it wasn't the best idea since it was super packed and I had to wait quite a while to order and then wait for my food. Oh well, that just means I'll get back to work a little later. haha. But if you are looking for a quick lunch, this isn't it. 

This time I got the Matcha X Macadamia (macadamia nut milk) - iced $5.50~ This is the only milk they don't make. But they use the Unsweetened macadamia nut milk from Milkadamia... which comes from free-range trees in Australia and is free of dairy, soy, GMO's and gluten. This was my favorite milk with the matcha so far. It's creamier than the other two and just feels a little more like an indulgence. It also has a light natural sweetness. So no additional sweetness needed for me. 

Small BYOB $8.95 
Base: Bamboo Rice 
Top: Salmon 
Sauce: Spicy Yuzu (a mix between Spicy Ponzu & Sweet Yuzu) 
Premium: Avocado +$1~ 
I added avocado this time. It's in the premium add on section which is $1 more. It also adds more substance so I was happily full after I finished eating. I also tried the Spicy Yuzu sauce... which for some reason is only in their Signature Poké Bowls section but not under BYOB. But I requested it. I found out it's basically their Spicy Ponzu plus the Sweet Yuzu sauce. I love yuzu, and you can definitely taste the citrus tang. It just gives it an extra zing to the flavors. Love! 

Third Visit: I actually dined in this time. It was a Sunday, I brought a book, and just took my time. I'm glad I wasn't in a rush because they were soooo busy. It took about 20 minutes before I got my food. 

I got The Ceremony (pure whisked matcha) - iced $4~ Emilio gave me a double shot of matcha. :D It was amazing. That extra matcha flavor was perfection.

Small BYOB $8.95 
Base: Bamboo Rice 
Top: Salmon 
Sauce: Spicy Ponzu 
Add Ons: chopped kale, seaweed salad, pickled ginger, lotus chips 
Premium: Avocado +$1~ 
I went with just the Spicy Ponzu this time and added lotus chips. The chips made for pretty toppings. I also like the additional crispy texture. I really should venture out and try some of the other bases: cauliflower rice, citrus kale, or kelp zucchini slaw, but I just love their bamboo rice so much! 

Fourth Visit: I didn't have time to wait for food this time as it was a weekday... but I was in the area so I just stopped by to get a drink. I also found out that for every matcha drink purchased on a Monday in Feb, you get a free class to SoulCycle which is just 2 stores down. Free workout? Heck yea! I went with the Matcha X Coco (housemade coconut milk) - iced $5~ The drinks are soooo pretty!!

I'm counting the days until I can go back. I can't remember the last time I was obsessed with one restaurant. Yes, it's a little pricey. But for the quality of food, I'll just shut up and throw all my monies at them. hahaha. Plus it's healthy! So that's something right? 

If raw fish is your thing... definitely go check them out. And if you love matcha... then you really have to go. This place is legit. And I hope they stick around for a really really long time! :D 

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