We were finally able to make it to Refugio Paso Robles for one of their cooking classes. It was long overdue. Brigit Binns, author of numerous cookbooks, has a wonderful setup at Refugio. There’s a large, open semi-professional kitchen which has beautiful finishes and is decorated in what I would describe as Paso Robles rustic.
She not only does cooking classes there but also rents the kitchen out. You can learn more about that here. Attached to the kitchen are two suites that can be rented individually, together, or you can rent the entire house which includes the aforementioned kitchen. You can read more about those options here. It really is an interesting setup…and pretty unique in our area.
Down to business. As the title states, we were there for the class, Unique Tapas & Spanish Wines. The food, obviously, was by Brigit and her crew while the wines were brought to us by Ali of 15C Wine Shop & Bar in Templeton.
The class was fun, educational, and tasty. We got lucky with a good group of participants including, Maggie and Marc from Windward Vineyards and Neil Roberts of Clavo Cellars. There were also about eight or so other people taking part in the class. Lots of laughs, especially when Marc got the go-ahead to tell a couple of “dirty” jokes.
You can check the full menu below and if you find something that strikes your interest we can supply you with the recipe. We didn’t want to make this blog post 12 pages long so we’re leaving recipes out. The most unique thing on the menu for me was the Sea Urchin and Cultured Butter Crostini. I have never had sea urchin. Although this wasn’t in original, raw form, it was really good. Rich, but incredibly flavorful.
The Smoked Paprika Aioli that came with the Roasted Market Carrots was probably one of the best aiolis I’ve ever had. That’s one I will want Annie to recreate. I hate doing this but if I had to call an absolute favorite on the menu I’d have to go with the Smoked Duck and Roasted Mushroom Salad with Crispy Iberico. It was insanely good! Again, you can see the full menu below as well as photos of the evening and remember, if you want one of the recipes just drop a comment below.
I think most of us search out unique experiences. What Brigit brings to us at Refugio is just that. You quite literally feel like you are in your friend’s kitchen. As she’s going through each course, explaining why this and what that, she drops in stories from her past. Maybe it’s a story about a travel experience, a book she worked on, a particular restaurant or dish that has stayed with her over the years…it really makes it a personal, warm experience.
Thank you very much to Brigit and her crew. You made a lovely evening for us. I will also add that Ali was amazing. The wines she chose (which Brigit then had to pair a food with) were beautiful. She also brought some “extra” wines. If you know Annie and I, you know we love “extra” wines. Ali is crazy knowledgeable about wines but clearly has a deep love for Spanish wines. She hit it out of the park.
Bottom line, great night, great food, great wines, but most important, great people.
Here is the menu that we enjoyed:
Marcona Almonds and Refugio Estate House-cured Olives (Marques de Gelida Cava)
Sea Urchin and Cultured Butter Crostini (Aidura Txakoli)
Spicy Tuna Crudo (La Cana Albarino)
Roasted Market Carrots with Smoked Paprika Aioli (Muga Reserva)
Smoked Duck and Roasted Mushroom Salad with Crispy Iberico (Pago Florentino)
Three-Pork Burgers with Whole-Grain Mustard Mayo (Dios Baco Amontillado)