Jeff Roberto, a sushi expert, brings a plethora of experience to his San Diego sushi oasis. He has catered large events of up to 16,000 guests as well as the sets of such Hollywood films as Titanic, Pearl Harbor, and Elizabethtown. Inside SOAR (Sushi On A Roll) he constructs specialty rolls filled with shrimp tempura, seared tuna, spicy scallops, and sashimi and nigiri rolls featuring fresh water eel and squid.
Roberto also leads group explorations in the art of sushi preparation during interactive sushi-making classes held inside a private sushi bar. Two-hour classes commence with an assessment of how many edamame you can stuff in your cheeks before you begin tucking vegetable fillings in sheets of seaweed with the help of a bamboo mat. Students jot down notes on the proper consistency of sushi rice, when to sprinkle rolls with sesame seeds, and how to repurpose chopsticks as the mast of a ship-in-a-bottle.
A koi mural provides the backdrop for the expansive 30-seat sushi bar, which is outlined in neon to highlight the dramatic curve of the space. The expansive venue, which accommodates up to 100 people, is popular among large groups of friends looking for a fun outing and U.S. senators playing hooky. Free parking is also available.
Do It With Icing's expert confectioners sculpt frosting frescos and lush delicacies in their classroom kitchen, benefiting bakers-in-training with years of experience and a plethora of sweet supplies. Sugary shelves offer provisions for opulent dessert sequencing, including candy-making paraphernalia and a bevy of different chocolate molds for creating an army of cocoa droids.
Nestled among Bernardo Winery's trailing grape vines, Café Merlot serves an elegant brunch spread on its olive tree-shaded patio or within its indoor café. Chef Daniel Reynolds and sous-chef Stella Midori-Mokofski fashion the breakfast menu with Kahlua-infused french toast and steel-cut oatmeal that bench-presses craisins and hunks of brown sugar with its rippling oats. Lobster eggs benedict reclines atop warm focaccia surrounded by a sea of breakfast potatoes. Duos can clink fizzy champagne, mimosas, or glasses of sangria bejeweled with fruit as they nibble California cheeses off a platter piled with olives, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes. Brunch is served from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and tangos across tongues to the accompaniment of live music on Friday mornings and Saturday mornings.
Besides a working kitchen, there are two things a person needs in order to cook: the right gear and the right recipes. The chefs and food aficionados at Kitchen Fantasy supply both with an extensive stock of cookware and a full schedule of cooking classes. Kitchen Fantasy's products run the gamut from tools, like cheese slicers and meatball makers, to accessories, such as chef's coats. Its courses, taught by a team of experienced chefs, touch on general and specific cooking techniques, from knife skills to vegetable-cooking methods less destructive than flooding a garden with boiling water.
Each three-hour class at Laguna Culinary Arts caters to any skill level, from expert chefs to certified microwave users. With no more than 10 people per class, the intimate classes cultivate individual, hands-on instruction, and guarantee that no one gets lost and eaten by bears during training. De-hibernate your china and entertain friends, neighbors, or your glass menagerie collection with the skills you pick up in one of Laguna's party-throwing classes. Learn how to grill goat-cheese-stuffed radicchio wrapped in pancetta and brush up your Crème Catalan skills to throw a Spanish paella party. Or craft an elegant menu of blue-cheese-dressing salad and filet mignon with blackberry sauce, ending with a chocolate soufflé ($95 per person, or $115 with wine pairings). At the end of each class, sit down to enjoy the dinner everyone has worked together to create, minus the piled dishes usually left for gnomes to clean.
The sounds of conversation and laughter compete with the clinking of glasses in The Wine Artist’s lofty venue. The space sprawls over 2,500 square feet, with plenty of room to host wine tastings, networking events, and cooking classes. During these classes, students perch on wrought-iron stools around marble countertops as they learn to prepare food with wine or the cuisine of faraway countries such as Italy, Thailand, or Narnia. Afterward, they savor their creations amid the pale tiled floors and dark-wood accents of the Tuscan-style space.