Guest post by Patrick Harney - Sales Manager DC, MD, DE
As I planned for Maria Innocenti’s visit to the Baltimore market not long ago, I was hesitant to set up yet another wine dinner. They occur far too often in our market and it goes without saying that the consumers often grow weary of them resulting in poor turnouts and lackluster sales as a result.
Something different needed to be done.
The cooking school is located in a townhouse in the Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore. A few blocks away is nice little wine shop named Spirits of Mt. Vernon run by Vicky Schassler, the unofficial mayor of Mt. Vernon.
Schola’s motto is: “Because the party always ends up in the kitchen…”
The plan was to conduct a cooking class featuring the Cuisine of Argentina using the wines of Angulo Innocenti.
With a date set, Vicky sent word to her customers about the upcoming class. It sold out in 4 hours. Jerry asked if Maria could send some family recipes for some of the menu items. Maria sent a terrific recipe for Empanadas which were a staple during her Sunday family dinners. Things were starting to get interesting.
On the evening of the event, guests arrived and the corks on bottles of Alma Negra Sparkling Brut started to pop. Jerry brought the group together to give us a rundown on how the evening would shape up: The group was to divide into smaller groups assigned to preparing different parts of the meal, this would take about 1-1 1/2 hours.
After prepping the double cut Ribeyes and smashed potatoes would go into the oven and the prep tables would be cleaned up and set for dinner.
Needles to say the evening was a blast. We all donned aprons, washed our hands, pulled corks on the Angulo Innocenti Malbec and Cabernet and set to work. Most of us got to the task of rolling Empanada dough while preparing the filling and then folding them.
Maria was a terrific instructor and moved about the kitchen showing guests the finer points of making the Empanadas and answering questions about her wines. Others worked on a rub for the Ribeyes while a few guests were just content to sip on wine and chat.
It was amazing sipping on the savory flavors of the Malbec and Cabernet while the aromas of roasting Empanadas and Ribeyes wafted through the kitchen. One doesn’t get that experience sitting in the dining room of a restaurant.
Jerry and Amy worked behind the scenes doing the heavy lifting to make sure all parts of the meal were coordinated. Magically, everything came out of the ovens perfectly cooked as the kitchen had transformed into an elegant dining room.
Bottles of the ’10 Unisono were opened and everyone sat with their newfound friends and cooking partners to a magnificent meal. Maria spoke a bit about her family’s estate and the guests by then felt as if they were members of the Innocenti family. While a ton of wine was sold as a result, more importantly, we all enjoyed a wonderful experience and learned a thing or two about cooking.