Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Date Night at Cooking Class

Saturday, Chris and I enjoyed an evening at the cooking school at our local Publix grocery store, featuring Cigar City Brewing Company from Tampa. It was a demonstration class, with the staff chefs showing us how to prepare each course and the guys from the brewery telling us about the beers used in each of the recipes and the beers paired with each course.

A view of the classroom. It's on the second floor of the store; the stairs are right inside the entrance closest to the pharmacy. Note the televisions mounted up close to the ceiling - the camera zooms in on the action so you can see exactly what the chef is doing from your seat. 

The view from our table. We were seated with two lovely women who work together.

First course: Beer Battered Conch Salad with Guava Grove Vinaigrette
(made with the Guava Grove Farmhouse Ale)
paired with Florida Cracker Belgian White (which will be available soon in cans!)
The salad was delicious, the vinaigrette light and refreshing. It was fun to see how to prepare and cook conch too. (Conch is a shellfish from the Bahamas.)

Second course: Spicy Andouille Gumbo Pizza
(made with Jai Alai India Pale Ale in the sauce and in the crust)
paired with Jai Alai as well.
This pizza was unexpectedly delicious: the crust light and crisp, the sauce and sausage flavorful and the beer the perfect counterpoint to all the spiciness. See recipe at bottom. 

Third course: Braised Beef Short Ribs (made and paired with Ligero Black Lager) served over Parsnip Puree. 
Another great course though this one was a little rich for me as the ribs were rubbed with espresso powder and cocoa before cooking and the parsnip/potato was chock full of butter and heavy cream. Tasty nonetheless. 

Fourth course: Flourless Chocolate Cake with Caramel Maduro Sauce and Chocolate Ganache, made with and paired with Maduro Brown Ale.
Super rich and super delish. It was fun to see another way of making caramel too. 

One of the best parts of the evening (besides eating all this great food) was learning more about the brewery, what they have planned, and their commitment to sharing a bit of Florida and Tampa history by putting fun facts on their packaging (also see their website here for more on the history of brewing in Florida).

Class took just under three hours. Tickets were $45 apiece. Plans are underway to host a brewery once a month this fall; sounds good to us! Our new friends at our table have been to other classes and enjoyed them -  wine pairing classes in particular got high marks as did the hands on sessions. The schedule is here

As promised here are the recipes for Gumbo Pizza:



  1. Wow- This class seems made for the 2 of you! The food (and beer!) look delicious! We'll have to make sure we check out their brewery the next we visit!

  2. We'll have to go down to Tampa to visit the brewery but we can drink their beer here next time you come down!!


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