Thursday, November 14, 2013

Two Gun Quiche House (Saskatoon, SK)

Two Gun Quiche House first started out serving quiches from their food booth at Saskatoon Farmers' Market.  They were so successful they decided to open up their own restaurant in Riversdale, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Saskatoon.

Location & Decor
Two Gun Quiche House opened in 2012 and can be located at 135 20th St, Saskatoon Sk.  It is a cozy establishment with approx. 15 tables and street front parking.  The lower half of the walls are painted purple with the top a bright cheery yellow color.  Wanted signs/vintage signs hang on the walls which I am guessing compliment the name, Two Guns Cohen that the restaurant was named after.  My only critique was the floor near the front of the restaurant needed sweeping as there were crumbs and used coffee creamers lying around and the place hadn't been open too long that day.

Finding information about Two Guns Quiche House is a bit tough as they don't have a conventional website.  They do utilize Facebook extensively but nothing else.  Chef Bill Mathews seems to use Facebook as his only means of communication as he did post that he is postponing being open during supper due to a lack of clientele.  Maybe a website or more social marketing is in order?

My husband and I had gone to Two Guns Quiche House for breakfast one morning and it had a steady stream of clients.  It wasn't busy by any means so the one waitress on staff was able to keep up with demand and was attentive to our needs.  She was pleasant to interact with and I thought she did a good job.

The menu is quite small though that is not a bad thing.  They have a wide variety of quiches and Italian
Breakfast Quiche with coleslaw and half a Porchetta sandwich
sandwiches along with a few salads and soups.  Each meal is paired with soup or coleslaw.  Everything is made in-house using local fresh ingredients.  This seems to be the norm with new restaurants popping up all over the place in Saskatoon.  As they are known for their quiches, I had to try one.  I had their Breakfast Quiche consisting of fluffy egg mixes with bacon, potato and cheddar cheese.  I can't recall having a quiche before so I can't compare it to anything else but it was delicious.  My husband tried the Porchetta Sandwich, a boneless pork shoulder that is rolled in fresh herbs and slow roasted for 10 hours before being piled high on a focaccia bread.  I had a taste of it and it was tasty.  My only complaint would be to serve this on a softer bun as it was a bit hard to chew and distracted me away from the flavor of the meat.

Pricing here is quite reasonable.  Quiche and soup combo is around $11 while the sandwiches range from $12-13.  They provide you with decent sized portions so I find the prices fair.

My experience here was positive.  I can't say I am a quiche person but am willing to go back and try their other sandwiches.  I think they have a good thing going but just needs to market themselves a bit better instead of trying to rely on word of mouth.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Chocolate Mousse Cake

For my husband's birthday I wanted to make something special for him, something I normally wouldn't make any other day.  I did some searching and ran across this recipe for Chocolate Mousse Cake which was perfect as I had just acquired a food ring mold and wanted to try it out.  Looking at the directions, it can be a bit daunting as there are many pieces to completing the final product but it is worth it!  The parts consist of: chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, creme anglais, raspberry sauce, and chocolate ganache.  I skipped the chocolate ganache as I felt there was a lot of chocolate involved in this dessert (crazy I know!) but I definitely recommend making the creme anglais and raspberry sauce as it  takes this cake over the edge.  It also sounds a lot more difficult than it really is.

A few notes about making this dessert from my experience:

  1. When making the cake, be sure to shake the pan after pouring the batter in or use a spatula to spread it out to ensure your cake pieces are even/level.
  2. You can make the cake ahead of time as the recipe states saving you time.
  3. I recommend making the mousse the day of as it is easier to manipulate.
  4. An easy way to melt the chocolate is to first break up the chocolate into smaller pieces and place it in a metal bowl.  Place the bowl over a saucepan with a small amount of water (ensuring the water level doesn't touch the metal bowl).  Heat the water and slowly stir the chocolate with a rubber spatula.  This is a slow process as you don't want to burn the chocolate.  Once it is almost melted, remove the bowl and continue to stir the chocolate until it is smooth and shiny.
  5. When making the mousse and the chocolate has melted, allow it to cool to room temperature by letting it sit out.  Placing it in the fridge or exposing it to cooler temperatures too quickly will cause the chocolate to harden wrecking all your hard work.  
  6. Don't be scared to make the creme anglais as it is just a fancy term for heating up whipping cream and adding in an egg yolk, sugar, and vanilla.  This is a delicious compliment to the cake.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pint Sizes & Prices (Saskatoon, Sk)

When you dine out, do you know how much beer you are paying for when ordering a pint?  I usually don't as it's never been an issue until recently.  However with the number of new restaurants popping up in Saskatoon, it's become obvious restaurants don't follow a standard size when serving pints even though they still expect you to pay pint prices.  According to the Canadian Federal law, a legal pint size in Canada is 568 ml (20 Imperial oz).  Unfortunately this is not strictly enforced nor are there any penalties for false advertising which I feel is the root cause for the discrepancy of pint sizes being served in Saskatoon.  In BC, it wasn't until 2010 that pints were legal to serve.  Prior to 2010 the largest serving of beer you could order was 500 ml.

I decided to do some research and find out which restaurants were serving actual pints.  Out of the 19 restaurants I frequented at, only 9 restaurants served a true pint size.  The winners are: Copper Mug Pub & Eatery, Double Deuce Bar & Grill, Hose & Hydrant, Las Palapas Resort Grill, Louis, O'Shea's Irish Pub, Red Lobster, Somewhere Else Pub & Grill, and the Yard & Flagon.  It is interesting to note that it seems like the restaurants that have been around the longest serve true pints.  Of the remaining 10 restaurants/pubs, many try to pass off a US pint size consisting of 16.65 Imperial oz.  The worst offender was Brown's Socialhouse serving what they call a sleeve which I believe contained 14 oz for $6.  This scam is what led me to write this post as they don't even correct you when you order a pint nor did the waitress know how many ounces were in their sleeves.

Thinking about this, serving different pint sizes wouldn't be such a big deal if restaurants were up front as to what they were serving and priced their pints accordingly instead of short-changing their customers.  The best solution would be if restaurants were held accountable and penalized for false advertising.  I'm not sure what their logic is behind serving pints that aren't true pints as it is a well known fact that the more alcohol served, the more customers spend - isn't that what all restaurants want, for customers to spend more?  Are the restaurants that short-change customers lacking in business to the point where they have to stretch their keg out as long as possible?  If so, those are definitely not the restaurants I want to eat at.  Customers aren't blind to the fact that they are getting robbed on how much beer they are being served and it now plays a factor as to where my husband and I go out to eat.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Honey Bun Cafe (Saskatoon, Sk)

I first heard of Honey Bun Cafe from my husband as he works downtown and goes out for lunch often.  My husband had a day off from work so we decided to have lunch here so I could see what it was all about.  I was not disappointed.

Location & Decor
Located downtown Saskatoon on 2nd Ave S it has approx. 20 tables (from what I recall), a decent size for a cafe. The only downside of their location is that it is downtown and anyone who has ever tried finding a parking space will know what I am talking about as they are only open until 4 each day with the exceptions of Sunday and Monday.  Having opened in April 2013, the cafe is small and cozy using a grey and yellow color scheme.  The decor is very simple and effective for the space given, with small wall shelves on one wall featuring tea accessories and another wall featuring wood pallets strategically placed.  Each table is adorned with a fresh flower giving the place a clean and uncluttered look.

Honey Bun Cafe covers their bases when it comes to marketing.  They have accounts via Twitter, Facebook, and even have their own website.  With respect to their website, my only criticism would be to describe their food a bit more in detail.  They are the only place (that I know of), outside of Chinese bakeries, that makes stuffed buns which I find very unique and quite delicious.  Overall their usage of social marketing is quite well done, ensuring they post once a day, not overloading your news feed.

Since the cafe is fairly small, ordering involves going up to their counter and ordering off of their chalkboard menu.  After ordering the staff will bring you your order once it's ready.  I found the staff friendly and competent.

The menu is quite small making it quick and efficient to serve a large crowd as I assume it caters mainly to
Pulled pork and caramelized onion stuffed bun and mushroom soup
the downtown business crowd as they are open from Tues-Sat.  They do have a wide selection of caffeine options and a few decaffeinated offerings.  In terms of food, their signature item is their stuffed buns which I can attest are delicious.  They make 5 different versions - breakfast stuffed bun, pulled pork and caramelized onion, bacon and blue cheese hamburger, veggie and goat cheese and pizza stuffed buns.  I had their pulled pork and caramelized onion stuffed bun with soup and it was delicious.  The site mentions they use fresh, local ingredients and you can definitely taste the quality.  The portions they provide are generous in nature as the buns are quite large and the soups filling.  On the lighter side, they offer snacks such as cinnamon buns, yogurt and fruit cups.

Pricing at Honey Bun Cafe is quite reasonable.  Our lunch per person was under $10 that included a stuffed bun and soup of the day.

My first experience here was definitely positive.  The service was good and the food delicious so I can see myself making a repeat visit the next time I am downtown.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Taverna Italian Restaurant (Saskatoon, Sk)

My husband and I have been going to Taverna Italian Restaurant for a number of years now.  It should be obvious with my other posts that we love to eat out (in addition to cooking) and are loyal to restaurants that are consistent in serving quality food and service.  Taverna is one such restaurant we often eat at.

Location & Decor
Taverna Italian Restaurant is located in the heart of downtown Saskatoon on 21st St E.  If I had one criticism of this place it would be that it could use a new color scheme as the decor is very reminiscent of the time period they opened (est. 1969).  Mirrors line the walls and the color scheme is a mix of soft pink/peach walls with brown tones from the wood structures.  As dining is an entire experience, they could use a minor face lift to match the quality of food they provide.  Plates and cups are a bit dated as well but for some reason this suits the place as it does a good job in presenting the food.

I'm surprised this restaurant does not have a website since it's been around for so long and only joined Facebook back in June 2011.  While the trend these days is to be online and social, I would think it alienates the few that are not on Facebook (and yes I do know a few people that do not use Facebook at all).  Also when I first looked them up in Facebook I was confused by their cover photo as it wasn't a factual picture of how the restaurant looks like presently but upon further investigation it was understood their exterior is undergoing a face lift soon so that made sense.  With respect to their Facebook page, they do an excellent job of advertising the daily features as well as provide informative facts about authentic Italian cooking.

The service at Taverna has always been good.  Upon entering we are always greeted right away and service throughout the night has been attentive.  They are more than willing to explain any menu item to you should you have any questions as many Italian words are used throughout the menu.

The menu is divided into sections: antipasto, minestre e insalate, piatti di pasta, specialita italiane, pizza, panini, and gelati e dolci with the appropriate number of items within each category so you don't feel overwhelmed looking at it.  The menu uses a lot of Italian terms but the description is detailed enough to understand what you are ordering.  They also provide a feature menu outside of the regular menu that changes every so often.  At times they have feature pizzas which are a bit confusing as it is often a different size and pricing compared to their regular pizzas.

Taverna Italian Restaurant has stepped up their game in recent years using Caputo flour in their pizza dough.  Caputo flour is the best flour to make pizza dough out of as it is finely ground and has a lower gluten content making the dough less elasticity.  Their pastas are also packed full of flavor using fresh ingredients.

Insalata di Cesare
During our last visit there, we started off with their Ceasar salad containing a light oil based dressing with a hint of anchovies.  I am a big fan of Ceasar salads using an oil based dressing versus the heavier creamy dressing other restaurants use that tastes out of a bottle.  On other occasions we've had their baby arugula salad that we've become quite addicted to.  The flavor of this salad is mix of balsamic vinegar mixed with finely diced shallots and a hint of lemon topped with fresh Parmesan.  We were also served fresh bread with an oil and balsamic dipping sauce which we liked.

For our main course, I had one of their feature pasta, Fettuccine Al Tarufo Nero - fresh garlic, asiago cheese, parmiginao-reggiano cream and fresh black Norcia truffles.  It was by far the best pasta I've had in a while.  The pasta was cooked to perfection and the sauce was creamy goodness where the flavor of truffles was definitely present.  The amount of sauce used was the right amount as well and the pasta was topped with bits of truffles.  I would definitely have this again and just thinking about it makes my mouth water.  My husband had the spaghetti and meatballs which he claimed was quite delicious.  He said it was probably the best he's had.

Fettuccine Al Tarufo Nero

Spaghetti and meatballs

Complimentary after dinner shot
The amount of food we were served was definitely ample enough that we didn't have room for desert.  However we were served a complimentary alcoholic shot which I believe is new to their service and was a nice way to end our meal.

The price of the meals is quite reasonable considering the quality of ingredients they use.  It is not extravagant by any means with regular pastas ranging from $13-$17 and main courses at $25.  They have a wide selection of wines that range in what I would consider reasonable prices.

Taverna Italian Restaurant is by far my favorite place to go for Italian food.  The ingredients they use are fresh and well balanced.  We've never had a bad experience here and will definitely be back.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bottega Trattoria (Saskatoon, Sk)

I am a foodie at heart. I love cooking, learning new techniques and of course, eating.  When I read about the new high end Italian restaurant opening up, Bottega Trattoria, I knew I had to try it when it opened.  I've read other reviews of the restaurant that are all positive and the following is my unbiased opinion, the good and the bad.  It is important to note the restaurant only opened 5 days prior to our visit mainly serving lunch.

Location & Decor
The restaurant is located in the former Olympia restaurant downtown Saskatoon (#yxe) on 2nd Ave.  While this location was considered a problematic area, the neighboring McDonald's recently closed and the downtown core has been home to newer retailers and chains.  The renovations took less than 4 weeks and there is little reminiscent of its former occupant outside of the interior arches.  In terms of size, the restaurant is reduced by half it formerly was making it more intimate.  There is an addition adjacent to the restaurant where we were told they are still unsure what they are going to use it for.  The color scheme is a mix of white tiles that flank a side wall with black benches, chairs and ceiling with wooden tables and dark wood flooring.  The restaurant has few wall decorations and zero televisions.  The majority of the tables seats larger groups with fewer tables of two. I would have expected more tables of 4 allowing the restaurant more flexibility when catering to smaller groups as we were seated at a table for 6 and it was just the 2 of us. When we arrived for dinner they were having troubles with their air conditioner even after spending approx. $200,000 on renovations.  It was quite warm making our meal slightly uncomfortable and it was observed other tables were experiencing the same discomfort.

Currently the restaurant does not have a website (at the time of this review) but uses Facebook to market themselves.  Their Facebook page is well laid out, probably one of the best Saskatoon restaurant pages I have run across.  Their photos are professionally taken and the page is informative, relaying the daily features.

According to their Facebook page, the restaurant is owned by Master Chef Amedeo Vallati who was born in southern Italy and has traveled extensively throughout the world.  He earned his masters in Florence and certification in butcher and meats in Austria.  He owned a restaurant in Montreal and an Italian bistro in Halifax before settling in Saskatoon.

Upon entering the restaurant we were greeted by Jayce Tomyn who previously worked at Carvers for 15 years.  He was quick to seat us as it wasn't too busy and our waiter was knowledgeable about the menu and wines.  They were attentive during our meal and ensured we were well stocked on water and taken care of.

Rissoto Ball Stuffed With Ham
They didn't have a drink menu yet but was more than willing to accommodate us with whatever drink we wanted.  We both ordered a Negroni which was good.  Our waiter was very knowledgeable and listed off the wines they currently had stating they are still working on having Italian wines shipped that you can't get in the liquor stores.

The dinner menu is quite large and each night there are 3 features that varies daily so you know you’re not getting served leftovers.  The restaurant prides itself on using fresh ingredients and making its own pasta and breads.  It will be interesting to see if they are able to keep up with demand with such a large menu while still making things fresh and from scratch.  There are a few vegetarian options, mainly salads and they are able to create gluten free meals upon request.

Our meal started with the Chef's complimentary sample consisting of a risotto ball stuffed with ham atop of a tomato based sauce.  This was quite delicious and a good start to our meal.  We ordered a few appetizers, calamari and a Caesar salad.  As we stated we were splitting these appetizers they were gracious enough to split the salad into 2 portions which were fairly generous portions.  The salad dressing was nice and light with a hint of anchovies consistent with Italian cooking.  The calamari came with a marinara dipping sauce which was quite delicious.
Caesar Salad (1/2 portion)

For our main course,  I selected the rack of lamb prepared medium rare and my husband had the spaghetti and meatballs.  My lamb arrived while we were still working on our appetizers and I was a bit disappointed to find it rare inside and requested it to be cooked some more.  I’m not sure what the rush was in cooking our meal as it wasn't busy that night.  The chef felt badly and we were compensated with a free dessert.  John's pasta came with meatballs that you could tell were homemade and were fairly large in size.  When I finally had a chance to eat my lamb they recooked my critic would be that it was very salty.  The lamb was covered with sauce like it was a rack of ribs and overpowered the flavor of the meat.  I would recommend reducing the salt and smearing the sauce on the plate with the lamb sitting on top as the lamb should be the star of the meal.  John also reported that his pasta was over seasoned as well.

Rack of Lamb
Spaghetti and Meatballs

The restaurant considers it to be a high end eatery and the prices reflects this.  Wines by the bottle ranges from $50-$100 and it's hard to say if this markup is reasonable or not as they are serving wines you can't get in liquor stores (though I can't recall if he said their current supply is from the liquor store while they work out the logistics of shipping in unique wines).  My lamb was priced at $30 in the menu but upon paying for it discovered it was a misprint as we were charged $40.  I pointed this out and the waiter was more than willing to refund the difference as he forgot to mention the misprint.  For the amount of lamb you received, I would say this is reasonable as it's a full rack of lamb and cooking it at home, I understand lamb is expensive to buy.  I was expecting with the high prices they charged that the food would be a tad better.  Another surprise was the price of their pizzas.  They offer 2 sizes, 10"/15" and the prices ranges from $18/$38, with one seafood pizza at $100.  I didn't try their pizza so I can't say if it's worth it or not and I'm not sure if Saskatoon is ready to pay for pizzas at these prices.

With all the new restaurants popping up, especially downtown, it will be interesting to see how this one makes out in the long run.  As we were there during their soft opening I would be willing to eat there again but am apprehensive as to how they are going to keep up with such a large menu.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Oriental Aroma Restaurant (Saskatoon, Sk)

My husband and I decided to try out Oriental Aroma Restaurant located here in Saskatoon on the corner of Clarence and 8th St.  We've driven by there constantly when they were renovating and were curious to see what this restaurant was all about.  So far it's gotten good reviews on UrbanSpoon, my trusty source for restaurant reviews, so we went there for lunch on Easter Sunday.

We were a bit late getting our butts in gear as it was around 1:30 when we arrived but there were still a few customers present. While waiting to be seated we noticed the roof was leaking in a few spots in the center of the room which I felt bad for the new owners but it didn't affect the service nor the food.  Upon reviewing the menu, it was obvious they served traditional Chinese dishes like fish head, pork belly, tripe, pork intestine and many more that I haven't seen in other Chinese restaurants in Saskatoon.  Near the back of the menu was additional appetizers and main meals that catered to more Western style Chinese food.  We ended up ordering: Hot and Sour soup ($6.50), Crab Rangoon ($6.50), Shanghai Noodle ($9.95), and Kong Pao Chicken ($12.95). The Crab Rangoon came out first and they were big in size, probably the biggest I've had and definitely tasty - my new favorite location to get them in Saskatoon.  Next came the Hot and Sour soup which definitely could have served 4-5 people instead of just my husband and I.  Temperature wise it was hot but it could have been a bit better in flavor as I'm used to this type of soup having strong hot (spicy) and sour flavors to it.  Still not bad.  Then came the 2 dishes, Kong Pao Chicken and Shanghai Noodles.  I loved the flavors of the Kong Pao Chicken as it had a bit of kick to it and incorporated peanuts and black beans in it.  It went well with the rice we were served.  The Shanghai Noodles were also good but by now I was getting full. We definitely had a lot of leftovers to take home.

Overall I was pleased with my first visit to this restaurant.  While parking can be a bit of a pain, as they are located in a small strip mall type setup with limited parking (I assume if they were busy, people would have to park around the block on the residential streets), the atmosphere was pleasant and clean - which is what you would expect from a new restaurant.  It was obvious they take pride in their dishes as the shrimp was deveined, which you don't see too often in Chinese restaurants, and even though we had 2 dishes that had chicken in it, they were prepped differently instead of using the same chicken twice and wasn't dry.  Next time we'll probably be more adventurous and try a more traditional Chinese dish as our meal today is a testament of their quality of food.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Weczeria Food & Wine (Saskatoon, Sk)

A couple days ago my husband took me out for supper at Weczeria Food & Wine located on Broadway Ave here in Saskatoon.  My husband had eaten there previously in the week for business and enjoyed the menu so much he wanted me to experience it for myself. It definitely did not disappoint.

We didn't have reservations that night and sat at the bar which we didn't mind doing so. Talking to the bartender, we learned the restaurant recently (a couple months ago?) hired a new chef, Chef Todd Clark, who was raised in Regina but studied overseas in Paris for approx. 6 years. As we had eaten at Weczeria before, we could definitely taste the difference in terms of portion control, flavors and textures.

I started off with a sangria that was presented in a mason jar and John ordered a bottle of wine to share. For an appetizer, we started off with gnocchi in a rich parmesan cream sauce served on top of braised bison - it was so flavorful . We couldn't pass up the opportunity to sop up the leftover sauce with the bread provided for us as it was that good. For the main course, I ordered the beef that was cooked medium rare with potato croquettes and a vegetable puree. It was cooked to perfection, pan fried and finished in the oven. John ordered the curry tortellini stuffed with eggplant and cream cheese tossed with radicchio. Hands down this was the best meal we've had in a long time in a restaurant. I would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone who appreciates quality food.

Curry tortellini 

Beef with potato croquette and puree

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Audi Roadside Assistance & Dealership - Excellent Service

The other day we were on our way out to get groceries when my husband and I discovered our key fob wouldn't work in our 2011 A4 (our only car).  It would go in 3/4 of the way but no further.  We took turns trying just in case it was one of us as we hadn't used the car in a while and tried both fobs to rule out all possible issues we could think of.  No luck.  Concerned I called Audi dealership here in Saskatoon hoping their service department was still open as it was 4:00 on a Saturday and about -29 outside, not including the wind chill.  The receptionist answered and confirmed my fears that their service department was indeed closed.

I proceeded to call Audi's Roadside Emergency Assistance and spoke with a very helpful Amber who was sympathetic to our situation.  She put me on hold for a bit and came back on stating she spoke with the dealership here in town who were going to call me in five minutes as they were willing to help us out any way they can.  As promised, both Trevor and Scotty contacted me to find out what the situation was.  They were very helpful and great to work with and came up with a plan to get the car towed and looked at first thing on Monday.  I contacted Roadside Assistance again to get the car towed so it wouldn't cost us anything and this time spoke with Erin.  I thought I would have to repeat our situation again but Amber was very diligent about recording our conversation and Erin was quick to set us up with a tow truck.  Overall I have to say I was impressed with the service I received and the quickness Audi was able to respond to our needs.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Simon's Fine Food Cooking Class - Irresistable Italian

gnocchi: (in Italian cooking) Small dumplings made from potato, semolina, or flour, usually served with a sauce (Wikipedia)

 I love cooking. I am always looking for ways to improve my cooking and increase my repertoire. My dream would be to open up a small restaurant using quality ingredients prepared simply so when John bought me a cooking class with Simon Reynolds of Simon Fine Foods here in Saskatoon I couldn't wait.

Leftover gnocchi and chicken
Simon is a trained chef with over 20 years of experience, working in many parts of the world like the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. He once owned Simon's British Flavors here in town and now teaches cooking classes, as well as caters and provides private chef services. He offers a number of different classes ranging from $50-60 that can be viewed here. The class I signed up for was Irresistable Italian with a menu consisting of: potato and nutmeg Gnocchi, mushroom and shallot cream sauce, tomato salad with balsamic and pesto dressing, parmesan and herb tray focaccia, and orange and rasberry biscotti. Yum!

As this was my first cooking class I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  I've seen shows on television where wannabe chefs stand around a table taking notes while the instructor goes through the process. I packed the required items of a chopping board, knife and small containers for leftovers as well as a second knife, pen and notebook just incase I needed to take notes (which I ended up not needing). The class ran approx. 2 hours with time afterwards to enjoy our creations and take home leftovers.
Cranberry and orange biscotti

Simon's Fine Foods is easy to find - it's located in the Avalon strip mall and his signage is easy to spot. I arrived 10 minutes early as suggested on his site only to find out that I was the last to arrive (hopefully I wasn't late as the site mentioned classes starting at 6:30). The place was exactly how I pictured it would be. It was clean and organized, with cooking shelves against the front and left wall, 2 stainless steel counters in the center, sinks against the right wall and an oven and stove at the back. Our class was smaller in size - we initially sat around a table as Simon introduced himself (or everyone was just sitting there waiting for me to arrive :S). We proceeded to put on the provided cloth aprons and went to the counters to start our class.

Parmesan and herb tray focaccia
The class was very hands on, starting with each of us learning how to make gnocchi from scratch. Along the way, Simon would provide pointers and reasons why certain techniques were used. He was open to answering any questions we had, even questions that may not have related to the theme of the class. As the class progressed we were assigned different tasks such as slicing and peeling different items. At one point I was assigned to make the biscotti which I've never made before and enjoyed doing so. I don't want to go into the specifics of the class as I believe Simon's classes are worth signing up for and experiencing things first hand. We finished the class on time and was able to sit down and enjoy our creations. I wish I had a picture of our finished creations but you'll have to make due with pictures of the leftover focaccia, gnocchi and biscotti I took home. I would definitely recommend signing up for one of Simon's classes as he is knowledgeable and personable.