Tasting #1: Wine Tasting at the Davenport.
The first thing we did was go for a wine tasting at the Davenport house. Madeira wine has a history in Savannah so we were able to take a tour through this beautiful home while tasting two types of this wine. They were both very sweet, almost like a port. Pictures were not allowed inside the house, but it was pretty cool that we got to sit around the historic dining room table and sample the wine.
Tasting #2: Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar Tasting at Lowcountry Gourmet Foods
Yes, those silver vats are filled with delicious olive oils from all over the world, in different flavors: garlic, basil, rosemary, meyer lemon, and blood orange, just to name a few. We purchased a traditional olive oil from Italy, along with a bottle of white truffle oil.
Next up were the balsamic vinegars:
They had all sorts of flavors here, such as blackberry ginger, pomegranate balsamic, cherry balsamic, and blueberry balsamic. And of course, my all-time favorite: dark chocolate balsamic. (Click the link for a dessert recipe so simple and good you’ll look like a rock star when you make it for your guests.)
We had a great time at this local store sampling all the different flavors. Seeing that we were on a tasting kick, the owner Robb directed us to the Savannah Bee Company where they were doing all sorts of different honey tastings…
Tasting #3: Honey Tasting at the Savannah Bee Company
I never knew there were this many types of honey to choose from…
One great idea for a party is to take out a tray, as shown below, and slice up some apples, cheese, and fresh local honey. It looks pretty, and bonus points for the fact that it doesn’t require any cooking…
Once we left Savannah Bee Co. it was just about time to head to our fourth and final tasting…
Tasting #4: A Cooking Class and Food Tasting at the 700 Kitchen Cooking School
This last tasting actually turned out to be a full-blown cooking class at the Mansion Hotel, with the 700 Kitchen Cooking School. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but was psyched when we got there and saw aprons:
Things got even better when we were greeted at the kitchen door with a jalepeno rum drink:
And better still when I saw that we were cooking with lots of fresh ingredients…
But the kicker was when I found out that it was a class based around…(mom, close your ears….) aphrodisiac food. That’s right: the class was given by Martha Hopkins, co-author of Inter Courses: An Aphrodisiac Cookbook, and Chef Darin of the 700 Kitchen Cooking School.
I glanced around the room and saw that we were a small group of only about 12 people. Here was my thought pattern, in this order:
- What a cool concept!
- Uh…is this going to get awkward?
- Will the recipes be any good?
Luckily the answer to question #2 is most definitely not, and the answer to question #3 is, absolutely. Turns out it was a fun, light-hearted cooking course that explores the kitchen from a unique angle and teaches you a little bit about how you can create simple meals with minimal ingredients. No high-strung Rachel Ray here: Martha was awesome, down-to-earth, and 100% happy to be there teaching this class. She even invited us up to cook with her:
We made pizzas, stuffed fig leaves, pine nut muhammara with red peppers, and more, but my favorite part had to have been the chocolate fig bundles made from dried figs, almonds, brandy, and chocolate…
We had so much fun at the class that we bought a copy of the book, and made the Capellini with Rosemary recipe for dinner the other night. De.Li.Cious!!!
The recipe is as follows…
1 pound capellini
1 pound (about 3 medium) tomatoes, diced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced, divided
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp olive oil, divided*
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 shallots, minced
2 tbsp very finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
grated cheese, such as pecorino romano (we added this to the recipe)
*We used the olive oil and balsamic we got from our tasting in Savannah, and for that extra tablespoon of olive oil, we substituted white truffle oil. WOW.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta according to the package directions until al dente (basically one minute shorter than the time it says.) While the pasta water is boiling…
Combine the tomatoes with 1/4 of the garlic, 1 tbsp of olive oil, and the balsamic in a small bowl. Set a large skillet over medium heat and add the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add the shallots and cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Stir in the remaining garlic and continue cooking until the garlic becomes fragrant and mellows slightly. Stir in the rosemary, parsley, and chives, and remove pan from the heat. Toss with the hot, cooked pasta.
Place on a warmed serving dish and top with the tomato mixture, and pecorino cheese or grated cheese of your choice. Serve immediately.
Aside from the delicious recipes, one of the best and most intriguing parts of the book is the photography. It’s suggestive, but in a beautifully cool way that’ll make you never look at that avocado or those beans the same. At the end of the class Martha spent some time talking about the photography process and finding the right models, and one of my favorite parts of the class was learning all the behind-the-scenes details like these that went into making the book. It was definitely an afternoon well spent.
Forget the boring “Bride and Groom” cookbooks – this is what I’m giving out for wedding presents to my best girl friends. And even if you’re not a big cook, the photography alone will, ahem, put you in the mood to give it a try. To order a copy of this awesome book, click here.
Overall, this “tasteful” weekend in Savannah was a big hit. I felt like one of those little pac man heads, noshing my way through a maze from 29 all the way to 30, and it was delicious!