Thursday, June 20, 2013

Effortless Entertaining: Girls Night In Thai Cooking Class

SPONSORED POST: This is a paid post. The Road to The Good Life chose to work with La Crema Winery for their dedication to handcrafted wines at reasonable prices. All opinions presented are my own.
Time gets away from the best of us. Long periods of it can pass in between seeing friends. I don't know about you but it's a constant juggling act handling the day-to-day activities, work, blogging, family, and friends. One or more things, often getting together with friends, falls by the wayside. To maximize time with friends and reduce the planning and organizing and cost, I'm all about activities that get everyone involved. Lately my favorite girls nights are girls nights in where we gather in the kitchen.

I first stumbled on the benefits of having your guests help you in the kitchen when I lived in Texas. I'd lost track of time and hadn't started three of the four courses we'd be eating for dinner. My guests, Texas Hill Country vintners, opened a bottle of wine, poured glasses for all, grabbed aprons, took tasks, and voila participatory dining was born. Early guests to the housewarming party for our last apartment rolled Vietnamese Spring Rolls and chopped veggies for Thai stirfries. We had such a great time that we planned on cooking together again and emphasizing learning to cook Thai food. Well that was over three years ago. Flash forward to last Tuesday night when La Crema Wines sponsored our cooking class.

I met the team from La Crema Wines at Alt Summit SLC in January. They were one of the event sponsors. We'd served their wines at our wedding, so I was super excited that they were going to be there; I immediately signed up for their dinner. At the dinner, they let us in on a secret: they were expanding from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to include Pinot Gris.

When time came to launch the Pinot Gris, Mark invited me to participate. I told him about this Thai cooking class that I'd been trying to do for awhile now and how I thought it would be a good fit. It's a good thing I was alone in The Station the day I received the go ahead, as I'm sure my squeals of delight could be heard down the street when Mark said yes.
With Mark's go ahead, I was immediately texting and messaging on Facebook to find a date that worked for most of my girlfriends. I love throwing events and wanted to share the evening with as many girls as possible. (My only constraint was that we have twelve sets of everything and I didn't want to use disposable plates and bowls.)
Ten girlfriends, including two of my friends from Alt Summit SLC, Meredith of Not Merely Living and Maggie of I'm not a very clever robot. Sometimes I just beep, jumped at the chance to cook Thai food and drink La Crema wine. Turns out ten is the perfect number for the size of my kitchen and dining room.


What We Drank

When I serve Thai food, I typically serve either a Pinot Noir (red wine does pair with Thai food, but I'll save this for a future post) or a Pinot Grigio/Gris. Besides water, we enjoyed La Crema's 2012 Monterey Pinot Gris. I only have one refrigerator at The Station so I chilled bottles in batches. Twenty minutes before the girls showed up I opened the first bottles and poured ten glasses.


What We Ate

I put our menu together with a goal of showcasing La Crema's 2012 Monterey Pinot Gris. (I wanted dishes with flavors that complimented the nuanced flavors in the wine.) When I worked at the Thai restaurant in Austin, along with the owner, I met with our wine distributor to come up with culinary experiences for diners that paired wines with each course and dish. At the time, a lot of people still hadn't tried Thai food. A lot of what I did was discover what foods and flavors diners liked and then suggested a meal that would play on their preferences. I used this training and experience to shape our girls night in.
  • Starters: Chilled Carrot Ginger Soup Shooter and Vietnamese Spring Rolls
  • Soup: Tom Yum Soup with Shrimp
  • Stirfry: Pad Prik King
  • Curry: Thai Basil Green Curry with Chicken and Eggplant
If you'd like to make these dishes yourself for your own girls night, I shared the recipes for the Tom Yum soup and Vietnamese Spring Rolls last week, and I'll be sharing the recipes for the stirfry and curry later today. You'll have to wait a little bit for the Chilled Carrot Ginger Soup recipe as while divine, you probably don't want to spend half an hour blending in batches and repeating until smooth. (I forgot I own an immersion blender and want to try the recipe again before sharing.)

What skill would you share with girlfriends?
Tomorrow I'll share how, with the help of a friend, I prepared all the ingredients ahead of time to reduce the time we spent with knives and to increase the time we spent cooking.
Bon Appetit!
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My Girls Night In Thai Cooking Class and the posts leading up to it about the ingredients, the planning, and execution tips are all sponsored by La Crema Wines, as part of their Make Any Moment a Great Moment campaign. La Crema Wines are my go to choice for celebrations big or small; I know I can always count on La Crema, which is why I served their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at our 10/10/10 wedding. Ever since 2000 when I helped a chef open a Thai restaurant and ghost wrote a Thai cookbook as part of his branding, I've been serving Pinot Gris with my Thai food. I'm excited that La Crema has added Pinot Gris to their line up this year. All opinions presented in this series are my own.
Credits: All layouts designed by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life. All images taken by Jessica Palopoli for The Road to the Good Life.