No matter how many cookbooks we read cover to cover (and then mount beautifully on our shelves) or recipe pages we tear out of the weekend paper supplements, The Handbook’s cookery creations never quite live up to picture on the page. So what better way to scrub up on our kitchen skills than at one of the capital’s leading masterclasses. From butchery to cocktails and oyster shucking, here’s our guide to the best in London:
The art of fermenting
A stone’s throw from London Fields, Rawduck is celebrated for its healthful (though in no way preachy) approach to eating and homemade fermented drinks, from seasonal vinegars and hot apple cider – yes please! – to honey tea and infused kombuchas. The beauty of fermentation is you really can do it yourself at home, and Rawduck will show you how. They’re hosting a couple of workshops on Monday 22nd February and later in April, teaching you how to make fermented drinks in the comfort of your kitchen. Smelly, but good!
Where: 197 Richmond Road, Hackney, E8 3NJ
Where better to brush up your shucking skills than with renowned seafood restaurant and oyster farmers, Wright Brothers. Three of their four London restaurants host monthly shucking masterclasses, walking you step-by-step through to do’s and don’ts of opening oysters. You’ll be welcomed with a glass of bubbles and presented with six raw oysters from around the British Isles and France, tucking into a further six later on including dressed and cooked variations. Your expert host will dispel the old oyster myths and help you understand the health benefits of the luxurious shellfish.
Where: Kingly Court, 13 Kingly Street, London W1B 5PW, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Oxford Circus (0.4 miles)
Tony Conigliaro is a cocktail genius. His tinky, tiny, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Islington bar on Colebrook Row is a great first date destination and equally ideal for a nightcap post-performance at the Almeida up the road. Boasting some of Britain’s best bar-tending talent as employees, who better to teach you how to make your martini? And just in time for those first-daters, they’re hosting two Valentine’s dates on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 February.
Where: 69 Colebrooke Row, Islington, N1 8AA
How to marinade
Ceviche is raw fish, right? Correct. So why might you need to learn how to make something that’s already made? Well because that beautifully subtle, zingy, chili kick taste of ceviche doesn’t come au natural you know! At Ceviche’s monthly Don Ceviche masterclass – the next date is Sunday 28 February – you’ll learn all about the restaurant’s recipes, ingredients and dishes while enjoying a perfect Pisco Sour. The Handbook recommends it for groups or as an alternative party idea – brunch is so 2015…
Where: 17 Frith Street, Soho, W1D 4RG
Again, this is not a class on how to make your own wine. Instead, it’s a knowledgeable window into how to taste wine like a pro. You’ll learn about the producers, the grapes and how the wine is made, and what tasting notes to look out for when trying a bottle of vino. March’s masterclass focuses on Champagne from Cedric Bouchard (you’re welcome!) and every tasting comes with food pairings, so you don’t leave flat on your face!
Where: 8-10 Neal’s Yeard, Covent Garden, WC2H 9DP
The name says it all – from the award-winning Barcelona institution of the same name, DRY Martini offers three masterclasses: two on gin & tonics (one with Fever Tree, one without) and the third on the Dry Martini heritage. Hosted by the bar’s expert team, classes are offered to groups of all sizes, perfect for hen dos and birthdays alike (18 and above, natch), and go through the history and heritage of the world’s most glamorous drink.
Where: Melia White House, Albany Street, Regent’s Park, NW1 3UP
The Handbook is so bored of healthy salads consisting of chicken and salad. Salad as in a bag of leaves from Sainsbury’s – it’s not very inspiring. So thank you Andina for offering us an alternative; a masterclass on some of Peru’s keen superfood ingredients to keep our healthy needs in check. Head chef Vitelio Reyes will teach you all about these super ingredients, including quinoa, maca and chia; telling you all there is to know about the nutritional value and ways you can use them at home to walking you through a superfood salad recipe. To keep evergy levels up, sip on a smoothie or a cocktail while you take notes.
Where: 1 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, E2 7DJ
The Handbook has been spoilt when it comes to coffee. We’re embarrassed to say that our first experience was at the hands of a fine barista who made us a perfectly smooth, glossy latte – elegant coffee art included – and so chain coffee shop and instant granule coffee just doesn’t cut the mustard. Thank goodness for Bar Termini and their coffee masterclasses on their iconic coffee machine. They’ll tell you everything there is to know about the history of the humble coffee bean and offer different tastings to compare.
Where: 7 Old Compton Street, W1D 5JE
If you’re looking for something a little more luxurious, Nobu’s sushi masterclass ticks the box. The newly-launched classes invite you to spend two and half hours with Nobu’s amazingly talented sushi chef, either at the restaurant or in the comfort of your own home – ideal for super special occasions! You’ll learn about the intricate art of sushi making with a glass of Champagne in hand before sitting down to a beautiful lunch including highlights from Nobu London’s menu as well as your own sushi creations. And as a keepsake, you’ll get your own sushi kit to take home.
Where: 19 Old Park Lane, Mayfair, W1K 1LB
Back to basics butchery
Ginger Pig is one of Britain’s best butchers, that’s why! Head to their Askew Road or Moxon Street shop and get a good grounding in traditional butchery skills. You’ll learn how to buy meat – yes, there’s more to it than your go-to fillet steak – and how to get the most from each cut. Groups are hands-on and small in size, so you’re guaranteed to spend one-on-one time with the butchers, and each class has a theme, looking in depth at one meat type or skill. To top it off, the class includes a two-course dinner and a glass or two of wine… delish!
Where: Various: Moxon Street, Marylebone or Askew Road, Shepherd’s Bush
Rather than a masterclass on how to make your own chocolate, this is an in-depth evening focused on chocolate tasting. Introducing you to a world of artisan chocolate with a few glasses of wine to boot. Cocoa Runners’ Chocolate Salon is about comparing the flavours of various beans, bars and makers. Based at The Winemakers Club in Holborn, you’ll learn all about the origin of the bean and the various techniques of the makers while exploring various themes – think France vs USA, looking at two different bars both made from the same Madagascan bean
Where: The Winemakers Club, 41a Farringdon Street, EC4A 4AN