There may be no better pre-holiday gift than a spot at Bruce Naftaly's (sure-to-sell-out-in-a-hot-minute!) cooking classes at Le Gourmand. In fact, several years ago I sent my parents to one of Naftaly's classes, and though I have yet to see demi-glace grace the old Austin table during a holiday dinner, George and Nancy sure enjoyed sipping wine and watching chef Naftaly's expert cooking, and then tasting the delicious meal he cooked for them. They still talk about it nearly ten years later.
Naftaly, who closed Le Gourmand earlier this year, is doing five classes there this month (Dec. 2nd, 1-4 & 6:30-9:30; Dec. 16th, 1-4 & 6:30-9:30; Dec. 17th, 6:30-9:30) featuring cabernet pressings (chef makes a sauce that's mind-bogglingly good, especially on rare beef), chestnuts, pears and more seasonal goodness. You'll get to watch as he preps and cooks the dishes, and then you get to eat them. Wine included! People, these classes are a bargain for $75. Call to reserve: 206.784.3463. And call soon.
At Fremont's delightful cookbook shop, Book Larder, chef Rachel Coyle has begun teaching Monday "Lunch Break" cooking classes ideal for those of us who can't sneak away for long (Rachel's last just an hour, from noon to 1pm). Next Monday's class (Dec. 3rd) has the following menu: carrot, fennel & apple salad; meatballs with mushroom tetrazini from Canal House Cooks Every Day; and butterscotch pudding. The menu for Dec. 10th celebrates Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries II with thyme, potato & caramelized onion rolls, pumpkin lentil stew, and pear & hazelnut cake. Price for lunch break classes is $25 and includes lunch and a take-home treat. Or reserve a space at Rachel's Buche de Noel class on Dec. 9th at 10am ($40).
Another not-to-be-missed opportunity: learn to make real (as in made with, you know, eggs!) egg nog from the nog whisperer himself, Sun Liquor bartender Erik Chapman (Dec. 15th at 2pm, $60, click for tickets). Along with nog you'll learn to make punches and "other holiday classics." And yes, of course you get to taste them.
Lastly, the Sorrento Hotel's Night School classes are still going strong. This month, learn all about bubbly at the Champagne-focused Drinking Lessons on Dec. 12th. There are two sessions (6pm-7:30pm and 8pm-9:30pm) and the cost is $35.