Whether you’re a Masterchef in the making, eager to sharpen your kitchen skills, or simply enjoy spending time bonding over exquisite food and wine, then a cooking class at Ginger and Lime Food Studios is just the ticket.
Excited to try something exotic and out of my usual realm of comfort, I signed up for the Thai evening class, a specialty they’re well known for.
Upon arrival at owner and head chef, Denise Levy’s, stately home in Fresnaye (a place she affectionately calls the Peppermint Palace for its pale green patina), I was warmly welcomed in and seated with my classmates on her spacious patio.
While being thrust together with a few strangers can be intimidating, the festive atmosphere and air of anticipation made it easy to strike up conversations, and I found myself happily chatting away before we were all summoned to Denise’s gleaming and gorgeous white kitchen.
Ginger and Lime, as Denise explained, works a little differently to a regular cooking school. Rather like being in a friend’s home, the no-pressure environment means that guests are free to participate where they please, or simply sit back, enjoy the wine and watch the show unfold.
We began by learning how to concoct a traditional Tom Yum soup, while at the same time the ebullient and thoroughly entertaining Almo, one of Denise’s extraordinary team members, lead the charge in making a red curry paste and preparing the duck that was to be our mains.
Denise’s knowledge and love of Asian cuisine is magnetic. As she and a couple of eager participants tumbled lemongrass, lime leaves, coconut cream and a slew of other mysterious ingredients into the pot, she passionately shared her insider tips on where to shop, as well as the technique for perfecting the quintessential Thai taste (it’s all about the sweet, salty, sour, spicy ratio). Before long, our steaming soup took shape, wafting its wonderful scent about the kitchen.
Emboldened by the apparent ease of the dishes, I eagerly thrust my hand in the air when it was time for the next course and hopped to a free station where I was tasked with creating a Thai-themed salad to compliment the fishcakes and pea purée being prepared next to me.
I diligently chopped and shredded my white nectarines, edamame beans, radishes and snap peas as my friendly neighbour whipped up the tangy dressing. Totally absorbed in the fun, I looked up only to find that between our various workstations, we’d prepared a feast of delectable dishes that we were encouraged to sit down and enjoy together.
We made our way through our soup, Thai cakes, crunchy salad and the main event- the beautifully tender duck dish served with a saucy combo of aubergines and tomato, over unusual, nutty black rice. As if that wasn’t enough, neighbouring stations produced steamed and stir-fried chilli broccoli, as well as whole roasted cauliflowers, coated in a smokey, yellow Thai paste and spice.
As we ate, international visitors and locals, young and old alike, enthusiastically told stories about our different countries and cultures. We bantered over our favourite spots to eat and why we were drawn to cooking as a hobby, the air ringing with laughter and the atmosphere charged with cheer.
Denise and her flawless team finished up by serving us a traditional Thai dessert- freshly sliced mango served with coconut sticky rice and topped with crunchy coconut flakes.
After awarding a prize to the most enthusiastic participant, a hotly-contested spot, we reluctantly rolled out of the door, hearts and tummies full, all vowing to return to Denise’s hub of warmth and fun before long.
The Ginger and Lime Supper Club
Ginger and Lime has just launched their exclusive supper club – a series of events in which guests will be treated to a sumptuous set course at Denise’s expansive dining room table.
The food is often prepared by guest chefs like Liam Tomlin (of the acclaimed Chef’s Warehouse) and Jason Whitehead so it’s certainly worth booking your spot! One can sign up for the whole series or just book for a single event.
Book Your Ginger and Lime Cooking Class
Times: Classes at Ginger and Lime take place twice a week and generally last between 3 and 4 hours.
Cost: Classes begin at R650 per person.
Bookings: Bookings can be made via their website here.
Alternatively, call on +27 72 041 1038 or email email@example.com.
Blog post by: Tarah Darge
copyright © Cape Grace 2016