One of our favorite things to do when we are home is to cook. Alex is really into grilling, smoking meats and cooking big meals for our friends. For me, I love baking -- as you can see from my blog, I'm kinda obsessed with baking pies. So when we travel, we try to eat everything and learn how things are made so we can try to replicate them at home. In Atlanta, we have this amazing street called Buford Highway, where we can find all kinds of ingredients from all over the world. We are really lucky to have it. Naturally, when we went to Kyoto we signed up for a cooking class. After much researching, we settled on Taro's cooking class. He offered to teach us how to cook miso soup from scratch, other side items and best of all, KOBE BEEF. Real Kobe beef is hard to find despite several restaurants saying they offer it. Kobe beef comes from a specific strain of wagyu cattle, raised in the Hyogo Prefecture. It's famous for its beautiful marbling (the high quality fat melts at room temperature!) and flavor. The beef goes through several inspections and must meet specific requirements -- where they are raised, who are the parents and slaughtered only at specific slaughterhouses. Due to the strict nature of the process, a lot of producers, especially in the U.S., cross a wagyu cow with an angus cow and call it "Kobe style beef." But it's not the same! Not at all. Let's just say that all of those requirements are worth it because that beef was AMAZING.
We signed up for the optional Nishiki Market tour before the cooking class. It was nice to have someone to tell us what everything was! Taro met us there with another couple and he picked up the ingredients for our class as we walked around.
After our walk around the market, around 2 hours, we took the bus to Taro's house. His wife and the cutest kid I've ever seen welcomed us into their house. Seriously though, the little kid was dressed up as Sailor Moon. Be still my heart. Their house is SO beautiful. We really felt like home there.
Our class was small, about 6 couples -- all from different parts of the world. We sat around a table as Taro explained to us the menu and the origin of Kobe beef. He even showed us the certificate for the beef we were going to eat that day and checked it online. Then we moved over to his kitchen and he asked for volunteers as we cooked the menu. Except for the Kobe beef -- he cooked that himself as that particular piece was over $100!
Taro's class was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. He speaks English really well, his family is so welcoming and his knowledge of the ingredients helped us understand Japanese culture a little more. I would suggest adding the optional Nishiki Market tour, it's a real treat. Plan to be there a whole afternoon, until about six. You can book your class here, with Kobe beef or vegetarian.
Have you ever taken a cooking class in another country? If so, where?
These photos were taken in October 2013.