One of my favorite traditions in our expat community is the PTO’s Cooking Club. About once a month, someone invites a group of ladies over to their house and shows them how to cook a meal from their home country. In my time here, I’ve attended Japanese, Russian, Korean, Hungarian, Polish, French, Indian, and German cooking classes and have co-hosted three consecutive Thanksgiving cooking clubs.
This month, the cooking club did something a little different. This time, our cooking club was hosted by one of Helsinki’s hot new restaurants Gastrobar Emo. Owned by the same folks as Michelin-starred Olo, Emo adds a dash of European flavor to its reasonably-priced menu, earning it a Michelin Bib Gourmand.
I love eating gorgeous food. But I love learning to cook it myself even more. Especially when Matt, my favorite sous-chef (ha ha!), is by my side and there’s a glass of sparkling wine in my hand. Oh yeah, did I mention that a sommelier came with the class? How can I order one of those for home use?
On the menu for the three course lunch and cooking class were two things that I still struggle with in the kitchen: scallops and venison. Both notoriously easy to overcook, I looked forward to expert advice and I wasn’t disappointed. We seared half the scallops and marinated the others in a bit of lemon juice ceviche-style. Served with hand-whisked dill mayo and pickled cucumbers and radishes, it was divine.
Like the scallops, we seared the venison in a hot pan and then added a couple of cloves of garlic and a bunch of thyme to the pan to season the meat. The final touch? Butter. It sealed the juices into the meat and added a little fat to the otherwise lean cut. Thin sliced and served over emmer, a Finnish grain similar to barley, with a side of roasted root vegetables and a dose of madeira demi-glace, this was the best venison I’ve ever tasted. Tender, juicy, delicious. And we made it ourselves!
Dessert included madeleine with caramel sauce, browned apples, and a dollop of chocolate whipped-cream. As I slipped into food coma, I thought to myself when do I get to do this again?