Cooking Classes

571. The Royal Eagle – July 26, 2022 – Harper Woods, MI

100 Places in the D is all about unprecedented experiences – and my visit to The Royal Eagle was certainly that!

This was my first time visiting a place in Harper Woods for the blog. Harper Woods is represented on 100 Places in the D! But more than that, this was an experience of stepping into another world. The Royal Eagle is a restaurant located on the grounds of a Russian Orthodox Catholic monastery located in a residential neighborhood.

St. Sabbas Monastery originated in 1999. The religious organization bought multiple adjoining properties in the neighborhood and converted them into the monastery.

It’s a singular experience to walk off a quiet, well-kept residential street through the gates of a monastery, which is also well-kept and quiet – and absolutely stunning! – but which you don’t expect to find in a suburban neighborhood. Lush gardens, a profusion of vibrant colors, fill the grounds of St. Sabbas, and the church and other buildings inhabit the Russian Orthodox style, with distinctive spires, use of color, and beautiful detailing. The outdoor seating area, where teas are held, struck me as especially beautiful with its umbrella-bedecked patio seating, mini clock tower, and gazebo lit by strings of light in the midst of the garden oasis.

And there in the midst of that garden oasis was The Royal Eagle. The volunteer-run restaurant hosts dinners, high teas, and monthly cooking classes; proceeds benefit the monastery. The current cooking class series is called Cooking with Grace and is taught by Chef Petr Balcarovsky. The theme of the session I attended in July was French Medieval Courts.

I didn’t take photos inside The Royal Eagle because cell phone use was discouraged, but you can see photos of it on Yelp. It’s cozy, dimly-lit, old-fashioned, outfitted with rich wooden furnishings, jewel tones, and the ornate detailing characteristic of the monastery.

The Cooking with Grace class was more a cooking demonstration. Chef Petr showed us how to prepare a multi-course meal, periodically pulling participants up to assist with chopping, stirring, emulsifying. A generous appetizer spread was served during the demonstration, and at its conclusion, we got to eat the foods we learned to prepare. We had a vegetable potage (soup), which was exquisitely delicious despite consisting of simple ingredients such as carrots, onion, and celeriac juice. Next was cornish hen with poivre jaunet, or yellow pepper sauce. The sauce was a piquant concoction of red wine vinegar, toasted breadcrumbs, crushed black peppercorns, ginger, saffron, and cloves. For dessert, there was Fontainebleau, a decadent dessert consisting of heavy cream, faisselle cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract whipped to perfection and served with powdered sugar-dusted berries and mint. Yum, yum, and YUM!

I had such a lovely time learning and eating, chatting and imbibing at this cooking class. I came alone but sat at a table with three other ladies, two of whom were friends and brought bottles of wine that they graciously shared. (The Royal Eagle doesn’t serve alcohol but encourages cooking class participants to bring their own bottles of wine. A list of recommended wine pairings was emailed prior to our class.)

It was, all around, a wonderful Tuesday evening. I highly recommend a visit to The Royal Eagle if you’re looking to infuse wonder into your everyday, as well!

18745 Old Homestead Dr.

Harper Woods, MI 48225

www.theroyaleagle.net

562. Frame – May 25, 2022 – Hazel Park, MI

Frame, making an everyday night an absolute experience!

What a special place this Hazel Park-based business is. Frame is not simply a restaurant or bar – though its FRAMEbar does function as one. No, Frame is a crafter of experiences – experiences like the cocktail-making class I took this May.

The class, titled, “Vintage Spirits & Forgotten 19th-Century Cocktails,” was part of a series called Frame Summer School. Workshops are a large part of what Frame does. It offers classes on food and cocktail making, on subjects ranging from cake decorating to beer-making to Ethiopian cooking.

If you prefer to be served an experience rather than trying your hand at crafting it yourself, Frame’s got you, too! Another of Frame’s primary offerings is its Frame Dinners. Locally-based chefs and those from farther afield come to Frame to cook multi-course, reservation-only themed dinners. I’ve not yet attended one of these meals, but judging by the descriptions on Frame’s website, they are special. I want to experience them all: the Traditional Mexican Dinner Party by Eddie Vargas, the Liberian Dinner Party by Ameneh Marhaba (both local chefs).

While tickets must be purchased in advance for the Frame Dinners experiences, walk-in meals are possible at Frame via its FRAMEbar concept. FRAMEbar hosts chefs – such as current chef-in-residence Shinya Hirakawa of Obi Sushi – for month-long residencies.

I would love to revisit Frame, to attend one of its Frame Dinners or sample fare by a chef in residency or take another class. That workshop I attended, on vintage spirits and forgotten cocktails? It was an absolute blast! It was taught by Paul Seif, a Pittsburgh-based bartender. We made three cocktails with ties to the Detroit area: The Last Word, The 12th Mile Limit, and The Cohaset Punch. All were delightfully boozy and utterly delicious, but my favorite was The Cohaset Punch. With its 12 ingredients (including two kinds of rum, spiced brandy, blackstrap molasses, and bourbon-soaked peaches), the drink is more aspirational than everyday for me. But I want to make it part of my everyday. It’s flavor-packed, booze-forward, and the ideal amount of sweet-but-not-too-sweet.

Paul was a great instructor: approachable, funny, and willing to answer the questions lobbed at him by our full class. He shared stories about each cocktail’s origin and his particular takes on them. As we mixed our drinks, I chatted with the woman next to me, a Frame workshop regular who raved about the place. Now here I am, a fellow raving fan of Frame and its ultra-special experiences!

23839 John R. Rd.

Hazel Park, MI 48030

www.framehazelpark.com

97. Cellar Door Wine Academy – January 9, 2015 – Auburn Hills, MI

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Grilled ribeye with a roasted-garlic and chive compound butter was our main-course creation – DELICIOUS!

Tucked away in a non-descript office complex at the edge of Auburn Hills, Cellar Door Wine Academy is a hidden gem for local food and wine lovers. It features wine-tastings and wine-education classes, themed multi-course dinners created by renowned chefs, and awesome cooking classes like the one I attended yesterday. The Chef’s Table Cooking Class Dinner Date Night, as termed by Cellar Door, is as fun for couples as it is for friends, mother-daughter combos, solo foodies who are open to cooking with strangers – basically anybody. We were teamed up in groups of four, and while sharing cooking duties with unknown people felt awkward at first, the ice broke sooner than our wedge salads with freshly rendered pancetta and homemade dressing were assembled (delicious – and I don’t even like salad). I would highly recommend this place if you are a food or cooking enthusiast – or even if you just want to change it up on a Friday night (the friend I went with does not consider herself a cook; by the end, she was enthusiastically exclaiming that she wants to become a chef!). Check Groupon; it is currently promoting a deal on these classes that offers a significant discount.

1091 Centre Ct., Ste. 150
Auburn Hills, MI 48326

www.cellardoorclub.com