Yesterday was one the best days of my entire life. For my birthday last year Elise gave me a gift certificate for a cooking class taught by Jeff Blank, Chef-Owner and Robert Rhodes, Executive Chef of Hudson’s on the Bend. I cashed in on said gift certificate yesterday. That class was so much fun that I don’t think I could find words to describe it.
There was a group of approximately 40 of us who arrived at Jeff’s house at 11 a.m. Talk about a gorgeous house – nestled atop a hill overlooking Lake Travis. We were served wine from the outside bar as we waited for the class to begin.
The class was held in what I would guess was Jeff’s “teaching kitchen“. We watched and learned to make the following four couse meal:
WILD GAME CHILI TOPPED WITH MEXICAN CREMA AND TOMITILLO WHITE CHOCOLATE SAUCE
APPLEWOOD SMOKED QUAIL IN GINGERED-HONEY GLAZE ATOP BABYSPINACH WILTED IN A HOT PIG DRESSING
AXIS VENISON BACKSTRAP IN AN ESPRESSO-CHILI RUB SERVED WITH LOBSTER IN A SHINER BEER-BLANC
SOUTH OF THE BORDER ANCHO PECAN PIE WITH A RUM-BRANDY-VANILLA SAUCE AND CINNAMON ICE CREAM
We were able to sample the quail and backstrap after they were cooked. I immediately decided that I was going to buy a stove top smoker. I called Elise before the class left for the restaurant for lunch and told her how wonderful the class was and that I was going to buy a smoker. She told me not to because she had already planned on getting one for my birthday. I don’t know if I can wait 9 more days!
The class was VERY informative. It was great to learn techniques from a master. I was truly awestruck and found it fascinating how chefs combine such a high level of art and science. I’m not quite to the point where I consider Omega 3 fatty acids and complex protein strands in my day-to-day culinary endeavors.
I choked up a couple times during the class (seriously) – I sat there and thought to myself “this is one of those life experiences that I will never forget.”
Anyhow – I guess it goes without saying that the food was excellent. What’s interesting is that the ingredients that were used aren’t uncommon in my own, or anybody’s kitchen. Well, aside from veal stock.
What’s also interesting (and pissing me off) is Executive Chef Robert Rhodes has to be the same age as me, if not younger. He graduated at the top of his class from the Culinary Institute of America and is leaving Hudson’s later this year to be a chef at the White House! I was going to offer my resume but thought these guys might catch on to my using Orville Redenbacher and Betty Crocker as references.
The late lunch was fantastic. Every course was cooked to perfection. If I had to pick a favorite course, it would be the venison (duh). I was full after the chili but ate every last morsel of every single course. I’m not big on desserts but cleared my ancho pecan pie and ice cream plate as well. I gained a lot of weight yesterday but it was soooooo worth it. I’m hoping to take one of Jeff’s classes at least once a year.
Jeff and Robert visited every table during lunch. I didn’t get a chance to talk to either of them but would have loved to have said thanks. So instead I went home and thanked Elise again for the gift certificate and told her how great the class was. I flopped down on the couch, fell asleep and haven’t eaten anything since yesterday’s lunch. I’m still full.
So, if you’re in the Austin area, you’d be missing out if you didn’t attend a Hudson’s on the Bend cooking class.
Click here for the photos.