Categories:Recipes, Seasonal, Events

By Nancy Hann | Traveling With a Purpose

When planning a trip do you research the restaurants and regional cuisine before booking your flight? Do you love fresh ideas for cooking, entertaining and serving? If so, then this may be just the class for you, whether you’re a Hampton Roads local or merely visiting the area for a few days.

Recently I sat in on a “Chef’s Table Cooking Class” at Taste Unlimited in Norfolk, Virginia (the eclectic neighbor to the more touristy Virginia Beach). It was the perfect way to spend an evening and the good news is that they offer classes on a monthly basis.

Before I dive into the Chef’s Table though, I’d like to encourage you to visit one of Taste Unlimited’s eight locations even if you can’t make it to a class. As a relative newcomer to coastal Virginia, I’m always looking for consistently excellent food in every price range so I know just the place to grab a bite or confidently stop in with out-of-town guests. Taste Unlimited is one of those places. Their menu of mostly sandwiches and salads is creative without being crazy and the ingredients are extremely fresh, often local and full of delicious flavor combinations. The prices are quite reasonable too. I’ve never been disappointed by my meals in their casual surroundings.

Now on to the class: “Thinking Outside the Basket – A Delightful Southern Picnic“.

These classes, hosted by chef, author and food journalist, Patrick Evans-Hylton bring local chefs into the “Taste” kitchen to demonstrate the preparation of a full meal while you enjoy the fruits of their labor. In our class, Executive Chef Edward Storey from Supper Southern Morsels answered questions, shared tips and demonstrated recipes, then provided ample amounts of food for our tasting.

In addition, our host paired a Graham Beck Brut sparkling wine, a lovely Villa Sorono Pinot Grigio and a Las Dauphins Cotes du Rhone Rose with the appropriate courses. They even offered bottles of these wines at a discount so we could take some home. Sadly I forgot to buy mine before I left. I’m glad I have the names so I can look for them soon.

It was a delightfully creative menu:

  • Bellwether Farms Carmody Cheese, Herb Marinated Whipped Goat Cheese, served with crostini & fresh red grapes
  • Three Versions of Deviled Eggs – including add-ins like goat cheese, jalapeno, Old Bay Seasoning and more (psst – you can also try these at Supper Southern Morsels)
  • Glazed Virginia Country Ham Stuffed Biscuits
  • Corn Bread Salad – layered with black eyed peas, corn, green pepper, cheddar cheese and more, then served in large canning jars
  • Oven Roasted Pork Tenderloin was cooked perfectly to accompany the salad
  • Vanilla Custard layered with Mixed Berries – light and refreshing – served in small canning jars

The canning jar idea was brilliant for the salad and dessert, since it makes transporting and serving the picnic so much easier. This idea works well for any gathering where there isn’t a spot at the table for everyone. I highly recommend all these dishes and the class as well! At first I thought the price was a little high, but when I took into account appetizers, meal, dessert, 3 glasses of wine AND a 2-hour cooking class it’s really an excellent value.