Despite what it looks like Nat was happy to be there. I think he just thought I was lame taking photos.
Ruth holding up a jar of the strawberry jam that we each took home as a gift. Ben Hobbs is in the background. This was our point of view from where we were sitting.
Ruth's workbench near the beginning of the class, with all the herbs and many ingredients laid out.
So I won two tickets, worth $195 each, to one of the classes at Ruth Pretty Cooking School. It turned out to be a class run by Ruth herself, after a guest presenter had to cancel. It was from 10am-4pm on Saturday 5th Sep, and it was great.
Nat said to me about the other participants "You know they'll all probably be old right?" And he was pretty much spot on. Safe to say we were rolling with a different crowd than what we're used to. People who like food and can afford to attend a $195 class (many were return "students") seemed to come in a pretty standard mold. At the sit down lunch that concluded the class, the woman next to Nat talked mostly about all the issues that carry-on weight limits have caused her throughout the years to the "I know!"s of everyone around her. She also said things like "I don't know why I've been going to India all these years, Cypress was beautiful!" I think we could safely say that:
1. I was one of maybe 2 people in the room who might be humming Taylor Swift You Belong With Me to themselves and
2. I was one of the slimmest ladies in the room (yes! Not the case much too often).
We watched Ruth and her apprentice chef Ben Hobbs prepare 7 different dishes for us, followed along in our take-home folder of recipes, ate all day long, and laughed at her funny stories. She was a great person to watch for 6 hours.
During the day we took a few breaks where we would head outside into the beautiful grounds and weather and eat even more food from the "morning tea" selection.
Yoghurt and cinnamon walnut teacakes served with...
... Berry Cream.
Enormous tamarillos topped with brown sugar.
Karaka Gouda cheese, with pear chutney and Melba toast. I attacked this stuff, it was so good.
Ruth's "perfect" Christmas cake which she took 10 years to research and find the recipe for (and which they served to us during class with sherry, as well as it being out for morning tea).
Ruth's own Extra Virgin Olive Oil which I hoped would be a gift for us all to take home, because it was all laid out nice by the food and everything, but it just turned out to be part of...
... Which was mostly much to expensive for Nat and I. There were some really cute play kitchen things like a Kembrooke kitchen aid type thing and a double oven, both of which were just as/more expensive than the real appliances in my kitchen. The Kembrooke was even functional and came with recipes. Ruth brought these out during one of the breaks and had a play with me because she saw me eyeing them up. Bless.
The table spread after our delicious 3 course lunch with accompanying wine (not that we drank the wine. Or the sherry.) Sorry but I was just too busy eating to get any food shots at the table!
Looks good huh? Too bad the combination of copious amounts of pear chutney and cheese with too many glasses of (SUPER SOUR) freshly squeezed orange juice sent me to the bathroom during the middle *twice* to hurl. What a day to get an upset stomach huh?! The India/Cypress woman (who you can see above in the pink cardigan) thought I was pregnant and asked me about all the foods I do and don't eat. I knew what she was thinking but went along with the questions for a while until it became too hard and said "You mean when someone's pregnant? I'm not pregnant." It wasn't too awkward.
Nat and I were seated at the top of the table and were served everything first. Ruth and the "pink shirts" (like waitresses but better) took a special interest in me and waited on me hand and foot after the run-out-of-the-kitchen-to-spew incident. They gave me an extra loaf of bread and a glass of milk just because I wanted it even though no one else was having any. And they kept checking if I wanted to "have a lie down in the cottage". They were super nice!
So apart from an hour in the middle when I was feeling pretty nasty and missed the demonstration and the tasting because I was otherwise engaged, I had a really great time! We'd love to do it again sometime, but don't see it being within our budget on the near horizon. I really wanted Ruth to say "Come back again sometime when you're feeling well, here are two more tickets" but she didn't. She was very nice though and spotlighted me in front of the group as the competition winner, asked if I was named after Mariah Carey and enquired after the kids while handing me my complementary jam.
Thanks Mum and Dad for looking after the kids! Thanks Ruth Pretty!