Channeling Julia

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Julia Child. I can see myself in her. She was obsessed with food and cooking. She loved her people. She came into her own and was very happy and fulfilled later in life. She loved eating more than almost anything. And, when she didn’t like something, she really didn’t like it. (Or so I’m told.)

So, it’s no surprise that I’ve watched the Julie & Julia DVD more times than I can even count. I usually fast-forward through the parts with Julie Powell’s story line – no offense, Julie – I’m just more interested in Julia’s story. She was incredible. Then, when I saw the Julia Child class listed in the massive – I mean massive – schedule of cooking classes by Jerry Pellegrino at Waterfront Kitchen, I was in. So in. The next one was sold out (apparently that happens in a matter of days…) so I signed up for one few months away. By the time the class rolled around, I’d almost forgotten about it and when I realized my class was days away, I was so excited! I started looking through my cookbooks figuring out what we might cook – one was a given, Beef Bourguignon. We just HAD to make that, I thought. The rest, who knows. And I knew since this was a Julia Child class taught by Jerry Pellegrino, there would be wine. Win-win.

I arrived at Waterfront Kitchen and was reminded of how lovely the place is – the bar, the nautical touches and…that view. Wow. There were aprons at each seat (at a long dining table, so clearly we were going to eat what we cooked) and I met my classmates. There were mothers and daughters, couples, friends, singles. A few of the people there had taken classes there before and knew each other, but everyone was pretty friendly to me, the solo newbie. Jerry gave a brief introduction to the class, telling great stories of times spent with Julia here in Baltimore (Jerry, your Julia voice is pretty awesome) including a memorable 1999 visit to Corks, his former restaurant in Federal HIll, which closed in 2011. God, that place was wonderful. Anyway, here is a great photo of Julia wearing the “Corks Crown” they made for her. As Jerry spoke, it was so clear that he really loved her. How could you not?

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Then, the fun starts. We all choose jobs – some people chopped and cleaned leeks, browned meat…I was on onion duty. I was kind of proud that I taught a few folks how to quickly dice onions (thanks to you, The Kitchn.) The class seemed to go quickly…but by the time we sat down to dinner, two hours had passed. We had made potato leek soup, Beef Bourguignon and strawberry clafoutis. I sat with a few younger couples…what a great idea to learn how to cook together. In such a fun, social atmosphere, it wasn’t intimidating or too serious. But…you really did learn some things – and you left with the recipes, too.

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I would highly recommend these classes. Here is the schedule. I want to do a class on sauces next and I’d also like to attend one of the dinner cruises they do – you go out on the Lady Maryland or another ship for a little harbor tour, then enjoy a 3-course dinner on the promenade outside the restaurant. I went to a Bubbles & BBQ dinner last year, featuring Schramsberg sparking wines last year. We grilled everything from oysters, peaches, chicken, salmon and more and then ate at long tables on the promenade, family style. SO MUCH FUN. Here are a few photos from that event.

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And…Chef Pellegrino gave me the strawberry tops for my backyard chickens – their favorite!

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