Friday, June 13, 2014

Cooking with Capeo at Eggshells Kitchen Co.

Posted By and on Fri, Jun 13, 2014 at 6:10 AM

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The Heights neighborhood of Little Rock has become a mecca for foodies. Burge’s, Terry’s, ZaZa, Boulevard Bread and Baja Grill are all on short lists of the best spots in town for their categories. And nestled right in middle of this is Eggshells Kitchen Co. Eggshells bills itself as the "toy store for foodies."  This is a very apt description: whether you are a cook, chef, griller or mixologist you will find something here that you need or never even knew you needed.

Owner Lindsay Gray and her staff carefully select high quality items to stock their showroom. In addition to selling all of these wonderful products, Eggshells offers gift registries. But one of our favorite things they do is host cooking demonstrations featuring some of the finest food stars in the city.

On a recent night, we joined about 25 other food lovers to spend an evening with Chef Eric Isaac of Ristorante Capeo. These classes are a rare opportunity to listen to a professional talk about their backgrounds and inspirations while watching them practice their craft. When we arrived, we were welcomed with a glass of wine and the reminder that everything in the store is 15% off during the class.

Chef Isaac invited all of us to come up close and watch him work. This was maybe the only downside to the evening, though. This particular demonstration was booked solid, and the set up in the store made it a little bit difficult to follow what was going on up front. Chef Isaac is a soft-spoken, thoughtful guy who needed a little help getting heard over the crowd. Since we made the mistake of sitting near the back, our night wasn’t focused on learning about the cooking. It was more like a great dinner where we got to hang out, chat with our table-mates, and occasionally get a little information from the chef when the crowd thinned out.

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Other folks with a seat near the front had a much better experience in terms of learning the recipes. Our inability to really catch everything the chef said didn’t dampen our spirits, though. The crowd was full of questions, and Chef Isaac’s answers helped bust a few of our long-held cooking myths. Many people in the room were surprised to hear there’s no good reason to put butter or olive oil in pasta water, and that failing to put salt in the water keeps the pasta from absorbing flavor. We managed to get up front long enough to have Chef Isaac explain to us why making a good risotto is so difficult—it requires precise timing and sharp attention.

As each course was complete, we sat down around large tables and enjoyed our food family style while visiting with the other attendees. By the time the evening was over we had enjoyed Spaghetti Carbonara, Risotto, and Chicken Picatta. Chef Issac finished with a cheese-stuffed tortellini tossed in a spicy tomato sauce. It was the best dish of the four, although the Chicken Picatta was a strong second at our table.

It was interesting to see that these restaurant-quality dishes could be made using household tools and appliances. And other than the gas oven which everything was cooked on, all of the other tools were available there in the store.

So check Eggshells website or follow them on Facebook to learn more about upcoming demonstration classes or just stop in and visit with the charming staff. Browse the store, ask questions and check the board behind the counter for schedules of upcoming events.

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