Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Great Gifting: Class Acts

One of the best gifts I ever gave Dave and, by extension, myself, was a cocktail-making class with Lucy Brennan, Portland's Queen of Cocktailiana. He learned basic skills like shaking, muddling and mixing and came home with recipes for a classic martini and other Brennan-devised specialty cocktails. Which, over the years, has made for lovely evenings spent in the company of Messieurs Negroni, Sidecar and Manhattan and even Madame Corpse Reviver. Lincoln restaurant has a series it calls Bar Camp, a class that introduces non-professionals to the history of cocktails. Just think how nicely a gift certificate for a class would be tucked into set of martini glasses!

Details: Private cocktail-making classes for groups of 8 with Lucy Brennan at Mint/820: check the website or call 503-284-5518 to inquire about general classes. Bar Camp at Lincoln: check the website or call 503-288-6200.

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Whether your giftee is gifted in the kitchen or not, a cooking class can expand an existing repertoire or give confidence to a novice. And it doesn't have to cost a fortune. My friend and fellow blogger Katherine Deumling of Cook With What You Have has a series of classes coming up in January on stocking your pantry that includes a dozen new ideas for quick weeknight dinners. She also does private classes for a reasonable price that can range from baking to quick meals for your family. Another option for bakers is a pastry class at SweetWares in Hillsdale, which has a full schedule of classes featuring breads, cakes, pastries and even gluten-free options. And if your cook wants to explore new horizons, I can't think of a better way to add some international flavor to your table than a class with Sophie Rahman of Masala. My post about her class is here, and I can guarantee your gift will be appreciated!

Details: Cooking classes with Katherine Deumling of Cook With What You Have: check her website or e-mail Katherine. Baking classes at SweetWares: check the website or call 503-546-3737. Indian cooking classes with Sophie Rahman of Masala: check her website or call 503-233-1966.

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And how could I leave out the cheesiest gift of all? I couldn't! So if your beloved goes weak in the knees over washed-rind cheeses or gets all gooey for gouda, a cheese-making class might be just the ticket. Some of the best in the area are offered by Chrissie at Kookoolan Farms in Yamhill, who brings in artisan cheesemakers from around the area to do everything from soft, fresh cheeses to Port Salut, Muenster and Tallegio. Another option for the not-so-hands-on recipient would be a cheese tasting class, and I can think of none better than those offered by Luan Schooler of Foster and Dobbs in Northeast Portland. With classes on styles of cheese (think goudas or goat), the cheeses from a single cheesemaker (Mt. Townsend Creamery or Vermont's Jasper Hill) or pairing cheeses with wine, you can't go wrong.

Details: Cheesemaking classes at Kookoolan Farms in Yamhill: check the website or call 503-730-7535. Cheese tasting classes at Foster & Dobbs: check the website or call 503-284-1157.

If you know of other cocktail, cooking or cheesemaking classes that offer gift certificates, please let me know in the comments section below!

Check out the other gift suggestions in the series: Book by Book, Classic Design, Not Dead Yet! (food magazines you'll love) and Giving From the Heart.


Lacy said...

Awesome ideas! I am trying not to buy my family and friends "yet another thing to dust" & support local businesses so these ideas fit the bill perfectly!! Thanks!

Kathleen Bauer said...

Good for you, Lacy! Let me know if you come up with some other ideas…