This review of my evening at the L’Atelier des Chefs cookery school is a little late, I’ve been thrown a bit by a horrible summer cold. You know the sort, they creep up on you, you think it’s hayfever…then caboom you are coughing and spluttering away and want to crawl back into bed!
So, this little review of the supper club evening sponsored by Casillero del Diablo was put on hold. But I wanted to tell you about it, partly because the cookery class at ‘L’Atelier des Chefs’ was great fun and compares well with the Waitrose one I went to a few weeks earlier as a winner in their spring Supper Club, and partly because of the fabulous wines that Casillero del Diablo have on offer and some of the exciting plans they have!
L’Atelier des Chefs is right in the centre of London, in Wigmore Street. They have a small shop selling high quality cookery goods and kitchens where they run a range of courses and corporate events. You can try for yourself for as little as £27 because they have a great sponsor, Natoora, who subsidise a 90 minute class!
Our event, ironically, was in the basement of the building. We had a warm welcome and a much needed glass of fizzy wine before settling down to the cookery part of the event. Now, for me the interesting thing here was the contrasting styles of the schools. If Waitrose Cookery School provides a ‘Delia’ experience, L’Atelier des Chefs was a lot faster and had more of a feeling of ‘improvisation’ about it. Think Nigel Slater or Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Nothing was pre-measured and we were given instructions for the entire three course menu up front. Needless to say our team got just a little confused along the way, with Juan, the lovely WineMaker from Casillero nearly killing himself hand whisking eggs for the brownies and with our Thai dipping sauce being turned into a fusion food by the addition of anchovies. Well, WHY NOT! I battled with shelling and de-gutting the prawns for the starter only to find that we had enough for 10 LARGE prawns each. Whoops! I’m going to post the recipes up a bit later, but we made chocolate brownies with cherries, lamb with mint sauce, spring vegetables and colcannon and a Thai prawn starter with lime mayonnaise.
The basement kitchen at least had nothing like the equipment we’d played with at Waitrose Cookery School. But the food at the end of the day was delicious, and if I was offered a choice of the two schools, I’d pick L’Atelier des Chefs, because it’s closer to how I do things at home.
On to the wines. We were lucky enough to be meeting Juan Sabja, the lovely winemaker from Casillero Del Diablo on his first visit to London. He explained a little about the provenance of the wines we were tasting and what we should consider when matching them. For me, I was able to confirm my favourites in the range. The first is the mellow Casillero Del Diablo Reserva Privada Cabernet Syrah, which you can buy from Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco.com or yourfavouritewines.com and which should cost you just under £10. It’s a fantastic wine that talks above its price. The sort of thing that might cost you £20 or more if it came from France. So, great value if you want something special to drink with dinner. The second, Casillero del Diablo Brut Reserva Chardonnay – a lovely sparkling wine that made an excellent aperitif, but wasn’t unhappy with our Chocolate Brownies either! You should be able to find that at Morrisons, Waitrose, tesco.com, ocado.com or yourfavouritewines.com for around £12 a bottle.
Now, if you think you’d like to try the Casillero del Diablo wines yourself, there’s a great opportunity at the moment. All you need to do is enter the supper club competition, by sending in your favourite summer dish. The prize is a half day cookery course for 2 people at the Waitrose Cookery School in London, wine tasting, travel and a night in a central London Hotel. My review is here