Weekend Foodie Warriors – Take 61! The Cook’s Station Edition 👩🏻🍳
Hello again, Foodie Friends 🙂 Hope you’ve had a great week so far! For this edition of Foodie Adventures, we’re taking you on a tour of The Cook’s Station’s brand new location, and a review of a recent Greek cooking class “Athens to Corfu Island”! 🙌
The Cook’s Station – New Location!
There are certain places we visit that absolutely turn me into a kid in a proverbial candy store. I tend to get lost in the aisles and spend ridiculous amounts of money in such a short span of time I consider them slightly dangerous. These are some of my favorite places to get ideas for new cooking gadgets, recipes, and simply browse to my heart’s content. I can come up with anything from gift ideas to wish list items around every corner! The Cook’s Station has always been up there with my favorite local food stores, and I was super excited to hear that they had gotten a bigger location and moved recently.
I know we’re a little behind the eight-ball going to visit, but it definitely still has that new sheen to it! Outside they have a great patio area, where people were enjoying their charcuterie and rose flights on a Thursday afternoon. The weather was gorgeous and they had the window open between the outside area and the bar as well.
Inside, they now have dedicated labels for all the sections of their store which is awesome. Of course, you have your enameled cast iron pots and dutch ovens, mostly Le Creuset products. They have their gorgeous artichoke green designs out that are new as well.
Next, as you keep going, you walk into one of my favorites, the baking section! This is next to their cafe where they serve dessert, sandwiches, and little bites during the day.
They also have an impressive wine section, complete with a Sommelier, and an infused olive oil and vinegar section, which reminded me of our favorite oil and vinegar store downtown. The Cook’s Station is stocked with some great kitchen gadgets and food accouterments, from baking and flour mixes to jams and jellies, frozen and fresh prepared foods, and local drinks and beers to go!
They also had a great showroom upstairs where you could buy large kitchen appliance collections, and design your own Chef’s Kitchen. I honestly could have spent the entire day there and probably still not get bored. If anybody ever needs to get me a present, you know where to buy a gift card! 😁😂
Athens to Corfu Island – Cooking Class Review
Our buddy Chef Vince, who we met at the Foodie McFooderton event a couple of weeks ago (see full blog review here) works as a freelance chef at the Cook Station teaching cooking classes. He invited us to come to the Greek cooking class that was held last Thursday, and we happily accepted! Jamie and I have been to quite a few cooking classes together, and love the chance to have the opportunity to broaden our horizons with food and sharpen our skills. This was a dual-taught class with Chef Tazia Young and they work together quite a bit and had a really fun rapport throughout the night. Check out our tour of the demo room below before everyone arrived!
This cooking class reminded Jamie and I of the one that we took when we were in New Orleans a couple of years ago. It ended up being more talking about the history and the skills that go into making the food in a classroom type-setting, as opposed to each person getting their own set of ingredients and making a dish along with an instructor. We love both types, we’ve been to both, and I think this classroom style is a lot more relaxing. You get to really learn and appreciate more and still take notes for later on if you want to make the dishes you like.
We started out with the appetizer course of roasted pita bread with za’atar seasoning, along with some brined olives, Greek feta cheese (the good stuff, y’all!), and a homemade tzatziki sauce, which Chef Tazia demo-ed for us in person. She made sure to note what types of olive oils to use, what kinds of yogurt, and tips and tricks for creating something like this in a food processor as opposed to hand mixing it yourself.
The next appetizer was something I had heard about and was trending in the last 6 months to a year, however, I don’t think I ever tried it. We got to have Baked halloumi cheese, which is actually a Greek cheese made from sheep and goat’s milk! It’s really great for vegetarians or people that are trying to replace meat or use cheese in a form that doesn’t melt. You might also know halloumi as the “grilling cheese” because it stands up to heat and high temperatures really well while still keeping its chew and texture. Once baked, they topped it with sesame seeds and a little bit of honey, playing on the saltiness and sharpness of the cheese flavor but mellowing it out with a little bit of extra added crunch and sweetness. It was absolutely delicious, and now that I know this cheese is “Sarah friendly” (because it’s not cow’s milk), I will definitely be experimenting and trying more dishes with this cheese in the future! 😁🧀🙌
Next came the Greek salad, a really classic well-known dish comprised of onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, olives, feta cheese, and a Greek salad dressing, which Chef Tazia made homemade. She explained the specific ratios as to how to make a proper vinaigrette, with a 1/4 cup of oil, 3/4 of a cup of vinegar, and 1 tbsp of Dijon. She also recommended specific mustards she was using that they carried in-store so that if people wanted to go downstairs and purchase the ingredients to recreate the dishes that we were making, they would have the opportunity to, which I think is really smart.
She definitely recommended the Lusty Monk Mustard, which I know a lot of our local restaurants around here use, and Zatarain’s Creole mustard, which surprised me, as I didn’t even know they made mustard! I loved seeing how colorful everything looked in their prep bowls before it was placed into the salads. Rainbow salads are the best! 🥗
Next came the main dish, which was a muscles saganaki. The cool thing we found out is that “saganaki” is not only the name of the dish but it’s named after the type of pot that you cook everything in. It looks like your typical Dutch oven with the enameled outside and inside made out of cast iron, but it’s a lot shallower and wider than you would think a normal cast iron would be. I’ve included a picture below of the saganaki on the left and a regular Dutch oven on the right so you can compare the differences.
The saganaki almost tasted like if you combined a seafood stew with bruschetta, as it had fresh mussels, shrimp, and a Branzino fish included (which is a very typical small Mediterranean fish), along with white wine, thyme, onions, garlic, tomatoes, red wine vinegar, and sugar.
Chef Vince ended up turning this into more of a seafood saganaki, as there weren’t enough muscles at the fish market when they went to go pick them out that morning. It ended up working out for the best because I enjoyed it more with the extra seafood added as well. They plated them into these gorgeous little Le Creuset ramekin dishes, which were the perfect size for three or four bites of the saganaki and a toasty piece of bread. This, of course, was topped with more of that delicious, authentic Greek feta cheese.
Last but certainly not least was dessert! Chef Tazia had made homemade baklava that morning, but instead of the traditional pistachios in hers, she used pecans. It gave it a really nice, deeper, nuttier flavor, and she made sure not to make it too sweet. I have had issues with baklava in the past because a lot of the time, it’s so sickly sweet that you can’t have more than just one little tiny diamond piece before your teeth start to hurt. Chef Tazia had the same problem and made sure that her lighter, orange-infused syrup sat almost all day with the baklava, so it absorbed most of the sugar. The pecans also helped absorb and take in a lot of that flavor as well, meaning that the end product came out really tasty and not overly sugar forward.
We absolutely loved this class! There is another one coming up on the 4th of May, an Italian wine and food pairing night, along with ton of baking classes, couples pasta-making classes, and more! Definitely, some fun classes coming up (check out the full schedule here), and of course, the cafe downstairs is continuing to have its Charcuterie and rose pairing options for you to try as well. 🧀🍷
They also give you 20% off of anything in the store after you take your cooking class at The Cook’s Station, which is reason enough to go if you ask me. This was so much fun and it’s a great way to experience different foods and cultures in an environment that fosters asking questions and being curious, to help you understand better why and how other cultures or countries make dishes the way that they do. It also shows you how simple or similar other cuisines can be to each other when you break them down. I’m definitely excited to attend another class, and hope to see some of you attending too! 😁🙌👩🍳
Bonus! More about the Chefs:
Chef Vince is super cool, we ended up hanging out with him for lunch recently and he told us about how he used to be the fishmonger for the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen and Food Network in New York City! He’s cooked alongside Food Network chefs at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival and is a really down-to-earth guy. We’re glad we’ve found another foodie friend that shares our love of travel, cuisine, and cooking as well.
Chef Tazia is a local southerner, and went to the Greenville Technical College, majoring in culinary arts. She loves baking and has worked for The Cook’s Station for about a year, and prefers cooking European, African, and Caribbean cuisine. She and Chef Vince do quite a lot of classes together, and they tend to lean more towards Chef Vince’s Italian and Mediterranean roots, but it’s definitely a cool matchup with both of their personalities.
So how was your weekend, Foodie Friends? Have you ever taken a local cooking class? What is your favorite kitchen gadget or brand you can’t live without? Sound out in the comments below to let us know your suggestions of what dishes to make or places we should visit next. As always, feel free to like, comment, & share 🤗