Class Act in Newburyport

Posted: February 22nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Event, Newburyport | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Learning something new about food is always a pleasure, and the fun didn’t stop there Friday night at Jewett Farms Studio in Newburyport, where Mary Reilly of The Savory Kitchen was teaching a class of eight how to cook Thai food at home.

When we arrived, we were warmly greeted by Reilly and Jewett’s Elena Bachrach and offered beer, wine, or limeade. Being a Thai-themed evening, the beer was Singha, and the wine was a Covey Run Riesling from Washington, chosen by Bill at New England Wine and Spirits to go with the meal.

We gathered around the soapstone island in the store’s demonstration kitchen while Reilly, a personal chef, began simultaneously preparing Tom Yum soup and giving us a wealth of information about where to find Thai ingredients locally and what to substitute for hard-to-find items. We learned about green papaya, banana blossoms, jicama, red curry, coconut milk, and more. Reilly is a born teacher, relaying food history and kitchen techniques in a relaxed tone and happily fielding all of our questions. It was more like being in a friend’s kitchen who happens to know a lot about Thai food than a class.

0220BBAfter Reilly prepared a salad of jicama, pineapple, and watercress, another of green papaya, and set the red curry pork to cook, we sat down to taste the soup. The chicken broth had been flavored with lemongrass, ginger, lime, chiles, fish sauce, and brown sugar. Served over jasmine rice with tiny, fresh Maine shrimp and optional extra chiles and herbs, it hit all the notes that make Thai food so addictive, according to Reilly: hot, sweet, sour, and salty.

Reilly returned to the kitchen for a bit more prep work while we chatted about food and other topics. The group was diverse in age, but everyone was friendly and clearly excited to be eating well and learning. Reilly called us over to watch her make pad thai (in two batches so as not to crowd the pan), then we sat down to a Thai feast.

0220CXThe curry had just the right amount of heat, tender meat, and lots of vegetables like cauliflower and sweet potato. The salads were full of unusual flavors and textures, the perfect foil for the rich curry. The pad thai was outstanding, with perfectly cooked noodles, fried tofu, salty peanuts, and, once again, those salty and sour notes.

Dessert was deceptively simple. Reilly set out vanilla ice cream and mango sorbet. We helped ourselves, pouring on a luscious banana ginger sauce that everyone swooned over. All of the recipes were bound together in a neat booklet that included make-your-own versions of things like roasted chile oil for those who don’t want to hunt down Asian convenience foods.

The class was the first in a series Reilly is doing this winter/spring. The next class is bread, on March 13, followed by food of Northern Italy on March 19 and fresh ways with seafood on April 16. Classes are $90. More details are the Savory Kitchen site. All classes are held at Jewett, by far the most appealing kitchen showroom I’ve been in.

Mary Reilly
The Savory Kitchen

Jewett Farms & Co
58 Merrimac St, Newburyport
(978) 961-1538


6 Comments on “Class Act in Newburyport”

  1. #1 Jon said at 11:43 am on February 22nd, 2010:

    This looks great. I wish it was tad more affordable, and I’d sign up for one without hesitation!

  2. #2 JR said at 1:03 pm on February 22nd, 2010:

    I understand. It can be difficult to spend money on a class in economic times like these. On the one hand, I have to say it’s worth it because it’s such a small class, and you learn so much, and it includes drinks and food (dinner, in this case, and we were invited to take home as much leftover food as we wanted). On the other hand, there are some more affordable options. I don’t know if Lynn is convenient for you, but The Blue Ox holds cooking demos every few months. They have about 30 people each, so it’s not the same, but it’s very enjoyable, and it includes dinner. They are usually $35. If you sign up for their e-newsletter, you will learn about the classes as they announce them. And they don’t abuse their e-mail privileges by sending lots of useless stuff. If you search Blue Ox on our site and scroll down, you’ll see our post, with pictures, about the demo we attended. Also, we will continue to seek out cooking classes and let our readers know about them.

  3. #3 Jon said at 3:21 pm on February 22nd, 2010:

    I agree – it’s pretty reasonable for all of that. Since I live in Newburyport it is super convenient to. I did look at the Blue Ox lessons that you mentioned and will keep an eye out for those. I also look into Mamma Licia in Salem as hers are very reasonably priced ($45), but sadly the timing doesn’t really work for me.

  4. #4 JR said at 3:51 pm on February 22nd, 2010:

    Readers—if you’ve been to a cooking class you enjoyed, please share with us. Or even a class you’ve heard about but haven’t been to. The Dish, Jon, or both, might want to check it out.

  5. #5 Jacqueline Church said at 1:57 pm on February 25th, 2010:

    I was just having a conversation w/a friend about Thai and Indian cooking at home. Neither are difficult but they can have new ingredients or basic components that you make first, before you get to the recipe at hand.

    The rewards are worth it. I’m sure this was an enlightening and delicious class! Go Mary!

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