If all the new restaurants popping up in the Collingwood area are not enough to keep you busy, here’s another fantastic idea for a great night out.
Recently, I was looking for a special idea to help celebrate a friend’s 50th birthday. I called upon another friend, Julie Card at mycollingwood who is akin to being the area concierge because she knows EVERYTHING that’s going on around town. Julie suggested we look into the Collingwood Cooking Academy which is exactly what we did.
Five of us arrived at about 6:00 p.m. The school is in the home of Chef Philip Tarlo and his partner Leanne Calvert who also operate the Willow Trace Bed and Breakfast from the same location on Poplar Side Road in the south end of Collingwood. A pretty driveway led us into the beautiful grounds that include 15 acres complete with forests, ponds and even quacking ducks to greet us.
We were warmly greeted into their home where we started the evening with a glass of wine decanted from a bottle we had brought along. Shortly thereafter, we were escorted into the cooking school where Chef Tarlo spent the next couple of hours teaching us to prepare incredible meals. Now I will tell you that the best thing I make for dinner is reservations. My husband is an accomplished cook and our birthday girl is herself an Executive Chef. Our two guests, Anke and Richard Lex of the Tremont fame, were the perfect couple to round out our evening.
First, we learned to make our own pasta dough which we soon fashioned into lobster ravioli that was lightly pan fried and glazed before being topped with fresh, shaved parmesan. We then were instructed in the preparation of three different main courses which included Spring Trout wrapped in Cucumber with a Tomato Coulis, Chicken Saltimbocca and Beef Tenderloin Dianne. After the lesson, we began the process of preparing our own selections and when partially completed, we retired to the gorgeous dining room to enjoy our appetizer first. When we returned to the kitchen, we completed the final preparation of our entrees which were accompanied by fingerling potatoes, maple glazed carrots and the beans that Chef Tarlo had prepared on our behalf. Let me tell you, our meals were incredibly delicious and I could barely believe I had actually prepared my own.
For our final course, we returned to the kitchen where we learned to make Peach Sabayon. Oh my goodness – I’m not sure there are words to describe this heavenly dessert. Between the great meals, the stimulating conversation, the pleasure of the experience and the wonderful attention of our hosts, we all agreed this was an evening we would not soon forget.
Chef Tarlo offers regular classes as well as special evening date nights and all the details can be found on their website. Did I mention we got to take home our aprons as reminders of this great evening?
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