I can’t even get started on the actual interior of the place, it’s too good. The white subway tile behind the stove, the robin’s egg blue cupboard, the beautiful wood table, the built-in shelves filled with books by all of the greats. Perfection.
The Pantry was the brainchild of Brandi Henderson, former pastry chef at Delancey whose resume includes an apprenticeship at the celebrated Tartine Bakery. She wanted a place where friends could come together to cook, share a meal, and maybe learn a thing or two. Luckily, Brandi isn’t short on friends as the class roster of guest instructors for each season just gets better and better.
The first class I took at The Pantry took place during one of its first few seasons and was a ‘Back to Basics’ class. My mind was blown as we learned how to made our own butter, mustard, and ice cream. If you ask my friends, they will tell you that my favorite thing to make at home is a roasted chicken. The Pantry is where I learned to ditch the traditional roasting pan in favor of a durable baking sheet. Voila! The most delicious, golden, crispy chicken every time.
Flash forward to a couple of years later and I’m lucky enough to have my friend Jessica working at The Pantry, so a group of us decided to sign up for a class on her night off when she could attend with us (this was several months in advance, mind you.) The challenge of the evening? Paella, among other traditional Spanish dishes. I came hungry.
This was probably my first mistake. Prior to coming, I was so excited that I didn’t think about the fact that it would be awhile until we sat down to enjoy the fruits of our labor. My second mistake was that I sat right in front of the beautiful display of ingredients in the center of the table. It took all of my self-control to refrain from gnawing on one of the chorizo sausages. Believe me, I really considered it. Luckily, their team plans for this and has bread out with a variety of oils for guests to nibble to take the edge off as we sipped our Spanish wine. Phew.
The guest instructor was Brandin Myett, who also has a very impressive resume and a love of Spanish cuisine. Upon recognizing him, I was a bit caught off guard. I’m used to seeing Brandin early in the morning, kale in hand, when I treat myself to a delish green juice from the Juicebox pop-up inside of La Bête on the way to work. (Side note: Juicebox is opening a brick and mortar restaurant soon on Capitol Hill!) I immediately felt a sense of fear come over me as I remembered the extreme
clarity hunger I felt during my three-day Juicebox juice cleanse aka the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but once he started spooning out fresh aioli to all of us, my nerves were quelled. Perhaps I need to sign up for another juice cleanse to combat my new aioli obsession…
There were a lot of moving parts as we prepared several dishes, so we were all given tasks (chopping, peeling, etc.) and got to work while Brandin demonstrated various techniques. On the menu were the following: Grilled Asparagus with Poached Eggs and Serrano Ham, Lemon Garlic Aioli, Piquillo Peppers with Spinach, Grapes, and Smoked Cheese, and Paella with Spanish Chorizo, Chicken, and Mussels. The perfectly al dente rice and the golden saffron in the paella! I’m still thinking about it. Everything was ridiculously good and seconds and thirds were had all around.
While I realistically won’t be attempting paella in my apartment on my electric stove anytime soon, Brandin made each dish feel accessible and adaptable. One of the takeaways for me is something that’s become so prevalent in restaurants, but also just as important when cooking at home: ingredients are key. The Serrano ham, the chorizo, the piquillo peppers. Every component was extremely high quality and allows each dish to shine without being fussy or too complicated. It’s really not worth cutting corners. (If you’re in Seattle or the Bay Area, most if not all of these can be picked up during a trip to The Spanish Table.)
I will be eternally grateful to Chef Myett for teaching me how to a) properly poach an egg and b) make my own aioli at home. Since we each poached our own egg but all needed to sit down to eat at the same time, we transferred each one to an ice bath after the white had set. This stopped the cooking and allowed us to still have that glorious runny yolk over our asparagus and ham, even though it looked like a creepy Halloween display of floating opaque jellyfish with long white tails. Brandin taught us to spin the water with a spoon to create a circular current and then slip the egg into the center of the whirlpool via a small bowl (crack it in the bowl first to have more control). Much less messy and way more effective than my previous method of simply cracking the egg into the hot water.
Lucky for your Seattleites, The Pantry recently released their fall schedule and you can sign up for classes here. I was particularly excited to see Oysters 101 and Basque Pintxos (I can finally pronounce this word, thanks to our lovely server at Chico Madrid). Several are already sold out, so act fast. They make great ‘experience’ gifts for friends and family, too. It’s impossible to leave The Pantry without new friends, new skills, and a full belly. I highly recommend it to anyone that loves eating and is curious about making delicious things.
As a treat for all of you, I’ve included the recipe for the Lemon Garlic Aioli. I am seriously addicted to this stuff and you will be, too. (The trick to not having it break while you make it is the water! Essential.) I like mine the most on baguette toasts with Mama Lil’s peppers and arugula, but really it’s insane on anything. Hell, I won’t judge you if you eat it straight with a spoon.
Lemon Garlic Aioli (courtesy of The Pantry at Delancey and Brandin Myett)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 egg yolks
- 4 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Combine garlic, egg yolk, lemon juice, and water in food processor and pulse into paste.
- Combine oils and add in a slow steady stream until all incorporated.
- Fold in salt and adjust with more lemon juice and/or salt if needed.
The Pantry at Delancey, 1417 NW 70th Street, Seattle, WA, (206) 436.1064, Visit thepantryatdelancey.com for information about classes and special events.