Get Cho Spice On! with Chef Adam Cho of Rick’s Cafe, Loews Lake Las Vegas. Watch and learn as I attend Spice SKool and take it all in! All five courses and a cookbook full of wisdom, that is. Also, find out what Chef Adam prefers to cook at home and never orders at a restaurant, as well as what brand of prepackaged spice he does use. It’s time to Get Cho Spice On!
HOW CHO CAN YOU GO?
Chef Adam Cho is warm, welcoming and a wealth of knowledge. Moments after we arrive, fun facts about spices, salts, herbs and chilies are whirling like dessert dust devils. The restaurant is closed, but my special Spice SKool class is in session!
Chef Adam is a natural teacher. He explains each spice to be highlighted in the Spice SKool five course tasting. We start with a Mediterranean spice blend called Za’atar that we mix with oil and taste with flat bread. We cover everything from Alaea Hawaiian Sea Salt to the “trendy” pink peppercorn, and every flavor in between. The spices, salts, herbs and tasting menu change from class to class, but the price (a mere $20 including wine pairings!) stays the same.
Just as I feel a rumble in my stomach, a decadent Scallop Brulee arrives as the first course. Chef Adam explains that he likes to “trick the palate” by pairing uncommon flavors and textures. And as I discover, the caramelized sugar crunch and savory chilled scallop with yuzu miso mango sauce is my kind of prank.
The second course is also chilled. A Honeydew and Fennel Soup is garnished with a skewer of prosciutto wrapped honeydew. Chef Adam encourages me to try the sweet soup and salty prosciutto at the same time — a virtual fiesta of flavors in my mouth. You can get the recipe for Honeydew and Fennel Soup here.
The third course (and my favorite) is Seared Opaka on a bed of edible violas and heirloom tomatoes with truffled soy sauce. The star seasoning in this dish is Za’atar, which complements the fish beautifully. At Chef Adam’s request, I try each dish then season and taste with a little more of the showcased spice. This “tongue-on” approach to teaching really encourages exploration and experimentation. Not only am I tasting spices I’ve never even heard of, I’m learning what they taste like both before and after cooking. As Chef Adam explains, heat changes the flavor of most herbs and spices. In fact, when seasoning soups and stews, Chef Adam recommends seasoning at the end, because some spices, such as cumin, may become bitter after heating.
The fourth course is an architectural beacon of lamb, cheese and asparagus. A bold Moroccan seasoning marinates the lamb tenderloin in flavor; smoked sea salt turns steamed asparagus into a “grilled” treat. Then another Chef Adam trick: Goat Cheese Cheesecake — an attempt to confuse me! This savory cheesecake with subtle flavors of rosemary and thyme has a saltine cracker crust and a cherry balsamic glaze that makes Algebra seem straightforward. It’s the perfect puckery punch to stand up to the lamb, yet not overpower it. You can get the recipe for Goat Cheese Cheesecake here.
The fifth and final course of Spice SKool arrives to applause and cheering! The Chinese Five Spice French Toast topped with ginger ice-cream and spicy chocolate covered bacon is the stuff my dessert dreams are made of. Heck, it’s the stuff my breakfast dreams are made of. Chef Adam’s trickery does it again! Get the recipe for Chinese Five Spice French Toast here. Bonus: Watch the Get Cho Spice On! video for Chef Adam’s tips on perfectly cooked bacon!
Spice SKool at Rick’s Cafe is an incredible value. $20 for a five course tasting with wine AND Spice SKool lesson. Rick’s Cafe (above, set for Spice SKool) is nestled inside the twenty-one lakefront acres of Loews Lake Las Vegas Resort, reminiscent of the sultry Moroccan restaurant in the classic film Casablanca from which it gets its name. Exotic furniture and airy linens contrast bold pops of color and niches filled with ornate vessels. Spice SKool classes are at 3:00PM every third Saturday of the month. Reservations can be made by calling 702-567-6000. Tell them you’re ready to Get Cho Spice On!
SPICE SKOOL AT RICK’S CAFE 2011 SCHEDULE:
February 19, 2011: “Sexy” plates. Tips and Tricks to garnishes and finishing meals, also adding “sweet” to your savory.
March 19, 2011: Fit into that “dress”-ing. Make your own salad dressings and sauces.
April 16, 2011: Ready Set Grill. Tips, tricks and fun recipes.
May 21, 2011: Mix it up. Fusion cuisine and combining flavors.
June 18, 2011: Cool it Down. Chilled soups and foods to keep you and your kitchen cool.
July 16, 2011: F.E.A. (Fire Eaters Anonymous). Hot and spicy salsas, dips and other spicy foods.
August 20, 2011: Not so exotic cuisine. Things you may have seen but never tried or knew about.
September 17, 2011: Adams Favorite Things: Intro to Korean Cooking. Learn how to make some of Chef Adam’s favorite dishes.
October 15, 2011: Umami. Looking more closely at flavors. Examining combinations that are new and exciting. Plus a little treat or maybe a trick.
November 19, 2011: Spice SKool Thanksgiving and Turkey Brining.
December 17, 2011: Sweet me! All about sweets and treats.
More coverage of beautiful Loews Lake Las Vegas here.
Special thanks to Chef Adam Cho, Rick’s Cafe; Ashley Miller and Ed Bakker, Loews Lake Las Vegas; Emily Wofford, R&R Partners and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority for making this cooking demonstration possible.