The last time I left Belfast I wasn’t all that eager to return.
I loved it – I did – but I thought I had ‘done’ it; done the political tour, done the Titanic museum, and done the best food in the city (months later, I can still remember every bite of my dinner at Hadskis).
I did, indeed. During a pre-Lela Takes The Lakes research session, The Mall of America (and its surrounding areas of Bloomington and Minneapolis, Minnesota) seemed to offer everything I love in a new travel destination.
I expected much more than a mall. And boy, did I get it…
Though I’m a very confident cook, Christmas dinner has always proved too intimidating to take charge of solo. Over the years, I’ve done my Thanksgiving turkey, mastered the art of a roastie, and can put meat eater-friendly veggie dishes together in a flash, but haven’t dared to throw them all together at once.
I needed a push. And Jamie Oliver provided one.
Earlier this year, Big J launched his Jamie Oliver Cookery School at Westfield London and secured himself a spot on my must-visit list. When his Christmas: All The Trimmings class fell on the only evening I had free in December, my fate was sealed. It was time to take on the Christmas dinner.
Over three hours our class tackled everything from crispy skins to special stuffings, pausing only for sips of mulled wine between chops, sautés, and mixes. With each team of two set up at their stovetops, our teacher (a lovely Canadian chef) talked us through her Jamie-instilled techniques and tricks before leaving us to tackle our own.
Questions flew like wildfire and, before our group of novice to pro chefs knew it, we had completely homemade Christmas dinners plated up. Edible and all.
I enjoyed myself immensely and cannot wait to tackle a few more classes in the New Year.