Ride and Cook

- July 7, 2011

"Master Chef, Johnny Vee gets a bear--hug from a fan and very grateful student"

Oh how I look forward to days like this one---cooking with Johnny Vee over at the Las Cosas Cooking School. I couldn’t even begin to count the number of classes I&ssquo;ve taken with him. He has taught me so much over the years, and each class is informative and fun--packed. Johnny always has hilarious stories to tell, and great jokes to go with them. He enjoys his comedy routine as much as we do. Johnny is one of my heros---a culinary one---but a hero nevertheless. Today’s class was being given by Josh from Josh’s Barbecue, a relatively new eatery here in Santa Fe. Johnny was co-hosting and it was a blast. Why? Because we eat what we cook that’s why----and because Josh’s BBQ is nothing short of gourmet. Haute cuisine. Even the Swiss chef in the class was in culinary---ecstasy. Forget all those images of overcooked meat slathered with sauce. Josh’s slow--smoked brisket is succulent; and the homemade sauce which I was assigned to make in class, complements, rather than hides it.
 
I decided to take the bike in hopes that I might burn off some extra calories. I knew what was coming. During the ride, I kept reminding myself of how I needed to eat little because riding home on a full stomach would be impossible----and if not impossible, then at least downright unpleasant. I also knew the food would be high in calories, in other words, this is fattening fare no matter how you slice it, literally. It is the kind of food that makes you feel full, satisfied, and happy. It’s why we like it and it’s also why it’s sometimes called “comfort food”. It does just that. I feel like a giddy kid in these classes. I was born to do this!
 
If you haven’t met Johnny yet, stop by Las Cosas in the DeVargas Mall and say hello, and tell him Lizzie sent you! He’s one of the most affable people you’ll ever meet----not to mention, an encyclopedia of culinary wisdom and information. 
 
While riding the Slingshot (my bike) into town, I was conducting a silent pep-rally in preparation for the class. It went something like this: “I need to go easy on this. Don’t pack it away. Apply a little self--control for a change and DO NOT eat everything in sight. Don’t poach or hover around while the Chef is carving. Don’t offer your brilliant ideas either. Maybe forego dessert.” I figured if I repeated these edicts often enough, I might adhere to them---but, alas, it was to no avail. Why do I even bother with such mental gibberish? It’s like trying to convince yourself not to have a good time. And I want to have a great time. So of course I disregarded my own advice the minute I stepped into Johnny’s kitchen----pep rally out the window. Gone. And good riddance. I did every single thing that I said I wouldn’t do, including suggesting to two internationally renowned chefs that we put booze into the BBQ sauce. I just wished that my friend Michael from Buffalo could have been here for the class. He would have been out of control too and I would have felt better having a partner-in-hilarity while breaking all the rules. (We have a history of this when it comes to group meals.)
 
I grew up with great cooks in my childhood home. The aromas in that house were the equal of any great restaurant. And my role models were both creative and highly competent cooks who could do it all and do it in style----from soup to nuts as we say. My grandmother, Ada, was brilliant in the kitchen, and so was Bertha, a Bavarian lady who lived with us during my childhood. My mother was the Master Chef in that household and her lobster curry was beyond compare----served in a fresh coconut. So it is imprinted on me to love this, and to seek it out regularly. There are few things I enjoy more than being in the kitchen for long periods of time and cooking up great meals. It gets really interesting when the produce from my own garden starts coming in: eggplant (aubergine), peppers, leafy greens, garlic, onions, beets, shallots, various tomatoes, pumpkins, melons, squash, beans and potatoes.
 
Oh, by the way, it was a really slow ride back home, but I had done penance by walking the bike around the entire shopping complex twice before heading out.  Helped a bit I reckon. And sorry for the blurred quality of some of the pictures---found out later that “effects” had been turned on.
 
Bon Appetit from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and, as always,
Happy Trails to You.
NOTE: If you'd like to see photos of the event, please scoot on over to