Artepicure spreads the skills of cooking to Massachusetts microwave-dependents with an array of hands-on cooking classes that emphasize how the techniques of professional chefs can be transferred to home kitchens. Satisfy rabid Roman herbivores with Mediterranean Vegetarian, featuring meatless summer soups, spaghetti, and a crêpe cake in its curriculum, or meal-mallet gastronomic glockenspiels with Authentic German Cooking, touching upon Teutonic treats such as potato pancakes and pork schnitzel. Artepicure's Knife Skills class teaches slicing, dicing self-defense against invading tomatoes and radishes, whereas French Brasserie Dinner teaches students classic Parisian fare such as onion soup au gratin, mussels Normandy, and beef burgundy. At the end of the class, students will dig into their culinary creations, an academic output far tastier than the edible diorama of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand from third grade. New classes are added monthly, so check the schedule to see what nourishing knowledge waits in the weeks ahead.
Master hummusmith Ahmad Yasin doles out zesty lesson plans along with his family-recipe lamb-stuffed grape leaves. With a culinary philosophy that emphasizes the organic relationship of cook and cuisine, Ahmad guides burgeoning food-foodee relationships from their spicy mohammarah honeymoon to the golden anniversary of moist lemony-walnut cake. Catch a glimpse at a culinary world you might master with Ahmad's catering menu, which includes such edible edifications as baked kibbeh, which packs lean ground lamb, pine nuts, garden-fresh herbs and spices, and homemade yogurt in an envelope of golden cracked wheat or a regally red Royal hummus dip (shammandar) whipped from beets, sesame tahini, chickpeas, garlic, and lemon juice and stirred with a jewel-encrusted scepter.
On any given night at Gordon's Fine Wines & Liquors, guests might hear staff instructors share their favorite French wines or introduce a Speyside scotch. They might also see guest sommeliers, local brewers, or winemakers discuss the production regions and flavors of their most cherished varietals. For more than 75 years, Gordon’s has been a beacon for such talented flavor enthusiasts, recruiting a team of specialized instructors that has earned the alcohol emporium the title of Massachusetts Beverage Business 2012 Retailer of the Year. These professionals have never tired of spinning out lessons—touching on wine education, beer and spirits, cooking, and wine-and-food pairings, which immerses visitors in how to successfully marry cheeses and wines without their parents getting all bent out of shape.
Yet apart from the knowledge spread therein and the discussions bubbling with poignant enthusiasm behind the shelves, Gordon’s also serves as a supplier. Its shelves abound with hundreds of wines—including kosher wines—from every continent except Antarctica, more than 500 types of craft beer, and 300 single-malt scotches.
Since 1982, Sea To You Sushi's deft chefs have traveled across the region doling out fresh, meticulously constructed sushi rolls at colleges, businesses, hotels, and country clubs. They cull an extensive supply of ingredients at their store, tapping into the well-stocked stash to guide nascent sushi-smiths through the art of constructing maki and nigiri rolls during Sushi School sessions.
The mobile gourmands also cater private parties, regaling revelers with custom menus and war stories about ferocious clumps of seaweed. Die-hard sushi fans can join Sea To You Sushi's C2U Sushi Club, which grants member discounts and special access to the company's facilities.
Combining two romantic gestures doesn't always work—it's hard to write a love letter in chocolate or hug someone while you're kissing their hand. However, Jennifer Dumais consolidates romantic gestures with great success when she bakes up cupcake bouquets that look like flowers in a vase with blooms of icing. She also sculpts and frosts customized cakes for any event, as evidenced by her gallery of edible art. Idiosyncratic cakes that resemble a tool belt or a gathering of jungle animals complement tiered wedding cakes, which can sport spiraling accents and actual flowers.
Jennifer and her staff prep a whole range of homemade confections, from fruit and cream pies to cinnamon chip cookies. Their impressive list of cake flavors covers classic tastes, such as chocolate and old-fashioned lemon, in addition to slices of pumpkin, white chocolate spice, and seasonal passion fruit. All these are available as cupcake flavors as well. Guests can even learn how to bake and decorate their own cupcakes during two-hour parties with optional add-ons such as photographers and goodie bags.
On a visit to the Mexican state of Oaxaca, Alex Whitmore tasted stone-ground chocolate for the first time. Although the bite was just a fleeting part of a larger journey, Alex was hooked. Upon his return to Somerville, he founded Taza Chocolate and learned how to hand carve the granite millstones that still grind the factory’s cacao today. Each bar of organic dark chocolate is crafted with a set of core missions in mind, including sustainable community and environmental practices, direct trade with cacao producers, and federally compliant drainage of all chocolate rivers. Taza’s chocolate bars and discs also honor Mexican traditions and cross-cultural tastes through their creative flavors which include chipotle chili, salted almond, and ginger.
Butter, sugar, and flour. These three simple ingredients form the basis of each treat cooked up at Amanda Oakleaf Cakes. While the ingredients are straightforward, the cakes are anything but, as proven by head baker Amanda Oakleaf and the 4-foot-tall Dora the Explorer cake she constructed on the Food Network’s Cake Challenge. At her shop, Amanda and her team of artists, sculptors, and bakers create treats that run the gamut in flavor and function, from elegant tiers of red velvet to sugary cartoon figurines placed atop marshmallow fondant. Guests can dream up flavor combinations such as gingerbread cake slathered in white-chocolate buttercream or chocolate samoa layered in honey icing, or offer up a 3-D object for Amanda and her team to re-create in meticulous, edible detail. Regularly scheduled cake-decorating classes impart visitors with some of the team’s creative tricks of the trade, such as leveling cakes and keeping schoolchildren from swarming in through the doggy door at the sight of snickerdoodle cupcakes.