Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Great Gifting: Mad Skills

My son is a really good cook. Not dependent on recipes, he makes what pleases him and follows his palate, throwing together flavors from different cuisines in an international melting pot of his own creation, with delicious results. So for the last few holidays when a present is required, instead of trying to come up with some new gadget or game, I've given him gift certificates for hands-on cooking classes where he can pick up some new skills or find out more about a cuisine he's interested in.

Portland's Culinary Workshop: Whether it's honing basic knife skills or learning butchery or making Chinese soup dumplings (left), Melinda and Susana (top photo) make it not just informative, but fun. Their prices are more than reasonable for the lifelong skills they teach and I don't know anyplace else that covers such a wide range of topics. Almost all of their classes are open to kids under 12 for a reduced price, and they have special classes for couples, too—a gift that would cross off two birds on your list with one pen-stroke! Portland's Culinary Workshop, 807 N Russell St. 503-512-0447.

Ramsay's Dram: If you have someone on your list who appreciates sipping fine whiskeys, there is no person better to sip them with than Stuart Ramsay, writer, teacher and whiskey aficionado extraordinaire. This Scotsman calls Portland home, but he's known worldwide for his dedication to sharing the history and joys of fine spirits, as well as the pleasures of beer and wine. Imagine listening to his lovely burr extolling the virtues of a decades-old whiskey, and I think you'll agree it's a gift worth giving. Schedule of classes to be announced, gift certificates can be purchased by contacting him via e-mail.

Cocktail Classes at Raven & Rose: One of the most brilliant gifts I ever gave Dave was a basic cocktail class. He learned to wield a cocktail shaker and muddler like a pro, and I have benefitted immensely ever since. Many bars in Portland are beginning to offer classes worth checking into…from personal experience, the ones given by master mixologist Dave Shenaut will more than satisfy any thirst for knowledge your giftee may have. Cheers! Raven and Rose, 1331 SW Broadway. E-mail Natalia Toral for certificates.

Read the other posts in this year's Great Gifting series: Gifts That Give Back, Kids Stuff, Bookin' It and Good Eatin'.

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