Culinary Artistry
1406 SE Stark, 232-4675

Normally, I hate scones. I think of them as dry little turds of overcooked dough. That said, I'm not really sure what motivated me to sign up for a cooking class on baking scones and soda bread. For years, I never cooked, bought only milk and cereal, and ate every other meal at a restaurant. I love food, but just as some people appreciate music without ever learning how to play an instrument, my ignorance of cooking translated to unmitigated awe at the wizardry of how someone "made" lemon meringue or Chicken Kiev.

I have always had a nagging worry that learning to cook--to really cook; not just following the Joy of Cooking recipes--would have the same disappointing and demystifying effect of learning how a magician pulls a rabbit from a hat. Instead, the classes at Culinary Artistry are inspirational. The insights and insider tricks made me want to run back to my own kitchen and whip up--yes--the very scones that I hated so much.

Part chemistry class, part magic show, the classes move through several recipes. Our instructor, Jesse, was a bread-baker from the respected and popular Wildwood. Soft spoken, but clearly a food geek, his enthusiasm was infectious. Along the way, he casually doled out advice and insights (like smearing the butter into the flour mix, instead of cutting it in, creates little pockets in the dough; when baked, these help make bread more flaky and light). The class was never haughty; more like a friend patiently teaching me to drive a stick shift.

Culinary Artistry opened only a few weeks ago. A former cook at Wildwood as well, owner Jenn Louis spun off her own catering service. The boutique storefront along SE Stark is her attempt to keep an active interaction with the community-at-large, not just her individual clients (although it looks like a quaint tea shop, painted sunshine yellow, it is not open for drop-in service, just classes and catering).

Next time, I plan to enroll in the dim sum class. Pot stickers, here I come!