Monday, 13 June 2016

The Avenue Cookery School: International Vietnamese

Diana, Sophie and Richard in their Avenue kit

The crew

If you read Notes of Bacon, you will be well acquainted with the fact that I make no claim to be a chef of any sort. I'm a cook, a home cook, and I love it. I get kicks from experimenting with weird ingredients, trying out new recipes and learning new kitchen skills (in order to a. make me appear more impressive and b. cook food that actually tastes good). Therefore, you can imagine my sheer glee when I was invited by my friend Sophie at The Avenue Cookery School to take part in their International Vietnamese cooking class.

The freshly baked bread we were greeted with. I ate most of it.

Where the magic happens

Where we get to eat our creations (such as those banging spring rolls)

I arrived early at The Avenue and leapt into their lovely kitchen, overflowing with flowers and fairy lights, and was greeted by the smell of freshly baked bread and a glass of wine from the beautiful head chef Diana Horsford and felt immediately at home. I then annihilated half the freshly baked loaf, with Diana chirping"I just whipped it up, soo easy!", whilst dunking chunks into a just-whizzed up coriander pesto, "Oh you know, just had some leftover coriander in the fridge". This is her style of second nature cooking, finding a use for every morsel and never wasting any food (with me desperately asking for exact measurements and ingredients list for everything.)

Diana reluctantly posing for a photo
As the rest of the class start arriving, the atmosphere was so relaxed – not just for me (who has known and loved the Horsfords for many a year) but throughout the class. We had a complete mix of people and age ranges but that didn’t stop conversation flowing and Diana leaving everyone in stitches from the word go with her wild and wicked sense of humour. The class is predominately teaching us how to cook a Vietnamese menu, but also incorporates knife skills, chopping skills, random tips - and I'm not exaggerating here - ALL of which I use nearly every time I cook. My prep time has been nearly halved now I can cut up an onion like a boss.

Mid-chop chortles

Choppin' skills

If you've even glanced at the blog, you'll know I love Asian food so the Vietnamese class was an obvious choice for me, but The Avenue do such a huge range of courses and classes you will not be short of choice. I've since found out they do dinner parties, hen parties, simple suppers, gluten free cooking, vegan, chalet courses.... and that's just a handful. The wonderful Sophie is your go-to lady for any info about classes so email her at and she will answer any questions. 

Soph certainly knows her way around a Sriracha bottle, that's for sure.

So to the menu......

Spring Rolls with a Soy & Sriracha dipping sauce

I've already made this dipping sauce for a dinner party since. I could drink it. And I didn't realise that spring rolls were something I could make at home? Me?

Vietnamese Hotpot

Huge bowl of magical deliciousness. This is a wham bam yeah look at what I can make in my tiny London kitchen dish. Perfect for dinner parties.

Black Sticky Rice with Mango Cheek, Black Sesame Seeds & Coconut Ice Cream

I could NOT stop eating this. By this point I was regretting how much of that freshly made bread I ate (though not enough that I wouldn't do it again).

I left a hell of a lot heavier than when I arrived. My gosh was it worth it though. 

Thank you so much to the Horsford team at the Avenue for the most wonderful evening. I'm no longer cutting half the ginger off with the ginger skin and i'm severely addicted to dipping sauce. I hope the next hen party I go to have the sense to book an evening with you (rather than sewing hearts onto knickers or something horrendous like that...)