Like a really bad joke, sending the writer that pretty much lives on alcohol to a cooking class seemed like a recipe for disaster.
And it looked like it could only get worse when the class was shown which knives to hack a coconut open with. Luckily, we sat across a long butcher block table from Matthew Kenny, of Heirloom and formerly of Pure Food and Wine, at The Plant in DUMBO and as he and his assistant were the only ones who handled the knives. We'd gone to the Thai Coconut Cuisine Class, part of the Organic Academics, their series of three hour classes offered ($65 per person, per class). We learned an overview of raw food principles, why you should only use young coconuts, how to correctly remove the coconut meat (it involves another frightening knife, a one-sided paring knife, usually used for sushi) and how strong the flavors of a single vanilla bean can be in a smoothie. Kenny is charismatic, interesting, adding anecdotes to every story, and was good at answering our dumb questions in the middle of a recipe. The class tried all four dishes prepared (a smoothie, a noodle dish, a ravioli and a flan) and were served coconut milk and wine with various courses. We were shocked at how filling the raw vegtables were and how complete the meal felt.
Besides upcoming classes on breakfast, sweets and raw cocktails (wine is considered raw, we're interested in how they intrepret classic cocktails) The Plant has a smoothie cafe, Blue & Green, and is starting a series of Friday night dinners. As much as we enjoyed the food- it made us so calm we didn't know who we were anymore- it isn't food that a novice can necessarily make at home comfortably. There's the knifework, the dehydrating in some cases and the very prohibitive cost (coconuts alone cost $1-$3 apiece, $1 in Chinatown or $3 at Whole Foods and you need four for a ravioli recipe that serves about four) make us more inclined to try a new restaurant, involve our more highly skilled friends or go back for a dinner in DUMBO.
25 Jay Street at John Street