The Smash Cake team loves events of every kind and are always looking to expand our range of offerings for our clients. As you can probably tell, we stay pretty busy with parties for the younger crowd, but let’s be honest, sometimes adults just need a night out more than the kids need another character-themed party.
When we started brainstorming about events for adults, we wanted to plan something that would appeal to both men and women, but move beyond the typical date night. That’s when we came up with the idea of Creative Classes. There’s just something exciting about learning new skills with a group of fun people, especially when good food and cocktails are involved. Since food is so near and dear to our hearts (and stomachs), we chose date night Cooking & Cocktails to launch our new series of Creative Classes.
This Couples Cooking and Cocktails Class was an absolute blast! We partnered up with two incredible women–Laney from Life is But a Dish and Deborah from Clever Little Madam to offer an interactive and educational date night. The evening was planned for one member of each couple to take a different part of the class, so in our case, the women did the cooking class portion while the guys did the cocktails class portion. Then everyone came together at the end to enjoy a beautiful meal together.
Before we get into the details of the class, we just want to talk about how much we love Laney. She’s a Los Angeles based food blogger who also holds classes and workshops. She’s very organized yet laid back, which translates perfectly into her class instruction, and her blog is an excellent resource. We highly recommend checking it out for 1) the simplicity of the recipes, 2) the yummy factor of the recipes, and 3) the weekly dish inspiration she offers. Every week, she offers one meal per day (plus one dessert) to get you started on your meal planning. And you know you’re making healthy, delicious meals. We all need that kind of inspiration in the busyness of life.
We loved how Laney did all of the planning and preparation for our meal in advance, so we were able to tackle the recipes in a social setting with girlfriends (wine may or may not have been involved) and remember how fun cooking can be. She kept us on track with the timing of all of the dishes, and none of the recipes or techniques were overly complicated. We also appreciated that this crowd-pleasing meal was made with regular ingredients that could be found at Trader Joe’s and could be remade even on a weeknight for our families.
We decided to go with a Southwest theme for the evening, so Laney created menu to compliment our decor of cacti and succulents. And what a menu it was! Many of our attendees went home and re-made the same meal the following week because they enjoyed it so much. And I (Angie) may or may not have an unhealthy addition to her roasted poblano salsa. There were 10 of us ladies, so we paired up and cooked one recipe on the menu from start to finish, all the while chatting, laughing, and drinking cocktails prepared and brought to us by our date for the evening. We all really enjoyed the flow of the class because it really was so low-pressure. If you wanted a more involved dish, you could choose that one to make. If you just wanted to make the salad dressing and be done, you could do that. Some people didn’t even cook and chose to simply hang out and talk. It was basically like a bunch of your girlfriends hanging out in the kitchen for the evening.
Some of our favorite recipes from the evening were:
The majority of the food was provided by Milk and Eggs, a local farm and food delivery service for Los Angeles County. From diary, to meat, to produce, Milk and Eggs connects LA residents to local growers and aggregators for fresh and convenient delivery. It’s possible that the food tasted so amazing because of the atmosphere and ambiance, or because of the well-crafted recipes. But we’re guessing the quality and freshness of the starting ingredients was a leading factor.
While the girls were cooking, the guys were cocktailing with LA based lifestyle blogger, Clever Little Madam (aka Deborah). Deborah was the perfect addition to our night, bringing with her plenty of food, travel and life experience. We absolutely love her blog, which in her own words is a “petite investigations into the delightful tidbits of life.” And it truly is. She travels often, blogging her journeys and giving helpful advice and revealing local treasures (locals, you’ve got do to her 24 hours in Santa Ynez trip!). We also really appreciated her writing on the (sadly) lost art of Thank You notes (along with examples of what to write) and hostess gifting. And of course, the continual presence of her adorable little Corgi, Hazel on the blog make it even more enjoyable. Deborah claimed that she has no official bar-tending training (she’s “just a girl who loves a good cocktail”), but as with many other things, sometimes experience is just as good as training. In everyday life when she isn’t traveling or dreaming up new cocktail recipes, Deborah is a school teacher. Even though she may not be an officially trained mixologist, she knows how to teach and knows her booze. And that combination was a win for our group.
Drink #1: X Marks the Spot
During the cocktails class, our guys learned two different drinks. The first drink was a wonderfully delicious concoction dreamed up by Deborah called X Marks the Spot. While mixing and shaking, she spoke on the general differences in tequila, as well as the importance of using high quality spirits and mixers for creating drinks that really stand out and taste good. She said that as with food, it’s important to avoid items filled with sugars, artificial sweeteners and coloring. She also taught on the importance of balancing ratios, warning against the temptation to use too much alcohol and overpower the drink. And finally, a good drink doesn’t only tastes good, but is attractive. For this particular drink, Deborah rimmed the glasses with prickly pear juice and super-fine sugar mixed with iridescent glitter dust (used for cake decorating), then garnished with lemon and a bight pink cactus prickly pear (which is visually striking, yet has a subtle flavor).
Drink #2: Margarita Bar
Our second drink of the evening was a margarita. Or more accurately, a margarita bar! Deborah started off by teaching the basics of a great margarita which is three ingredients with a 1:1:1 ratio: tequila, something sour, and something sweet. Typically this is tequila, lime juice and Cointreau, though the Cointreau can be switched out with a sweet alternative. And that’s when the fun started. Deborah brought with her a whole assortment sweet mixers including St. Germain, X Factor, simple syrup infused with mint, fresh squeezed tuscan melon juice and strawberry juice. She also brought a variety of fruit, jalapeños and herbs for grating, muddling or garnishing, and salts and sugars for rimming. Everyone was able to customize their margarita to their and their date’s specific tastes, and it was so fun seeing what our friends came up with!
After the teaching part of the night, we all came together for an enchanting and delicious meal under romantic market lighting. But that’s an entirely different post. To see all the delightful details of our dinner and decor, click here!