Cooking Class at Cafe Merlot

At the end of May our team at work did a cooking class, as a team building. We had a blast… what a treat! Lots of laughter, lots of food and lots of learning!

Our class started off with an introduction and some background from Toni Kraft, one of the proud new owners of Cafe Merlot at Bernardo Winery, the oldest continuously operating winery in Southern California. Bernardo Winery is hidden in the hills of North San Diego County (in Rancho Bernardo, as a matter of fact)… a quaint family run winery boasting jazz on Sunday afternoons, a large courtyard to stroll through, a coffee shop, restaurant, a farmers market on Fridays, shops & artist studios and a beautiful lawn leading out to some of the vineyards.

Please, if you do anything this summer… make sure to visit Bernardo Winery. (But don’t tell anyone else – we want to keep it “hidden”!) ; )

We had some appetizers…

And then Toni handed us off to Chef Daniel Reynolds, who schooled us! (In a good way…)

Let’s see… what did we learn/make?

– We made bruschetta (and he explained that if we were pronouncing this word “BROOSHEDDA” then we would be laughed at). Note to self: It’s “BROOSKET-TA!”
– We made a citrus viniagrette
– We made his Universal Marinade (did I write down all of those ingredients?! phew!)
– He showed us how to make his famed omelets, as well as how to FLIP an omelet! (I failed!)

Through all of those cooking lessons Chef Daniel shared with us some of his kitchen tips (like why it’s important to “spank the herbs”), a few chef secrets, the importance of LABELING everything in the kitchen/refrigerator (product, date, etc), tips on the proper julienne cut and explained the dice, aka “brunoise”.

After each lesson we’d get to taste test what we had made, of course

And by the end of the day we were so full we had to sit down…

And once we sat down they brought to us one of the most amazing mimosas I’ve ever had in my life. I’m telling you – they serve a special mimosa that you’ll have to try for yourself… using a unique-to-them champagne (that’s apparently rather difficult to acquire), blood orange juice and I believe there was a third ingredient (which I can’t seem to recall at the moment).

What a great day… we learned a lot, we ate some amazing food (THAT WE MADE OURSELVES) and have I said yet how much we laughed ?! Oh yeah, and one more thing we took away from the day? Don’t pull a Lori!(obviously referring to how I failed on the one-handed flip of the omelet…nice!)

enjoy your time in the kitchen…


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