Friday, March 29, 2013

Tampa Sushi Class

posted by Bill....

Debby has always wanted to learn how to make sushi and had recently bought the sushi mats for making rolls, but was a bit nervous to use them. Well wouldn't you know, she found a Groupon for sushi lessons at Stone Chef in Tampa (Ybor City actually), so she jumped on it and scheduled us for a class.

We took the toll road to Tampa and went straight to Ybor City, arriving a couple of hours before our class. This is where we went for the beer festival that Debby wrote about a few weeks ago. We parked in the lot behind where we were having the class and walked down the main drag of Ybor to the Tampa Bay Brewing Company. Ybor City is a funky town that saw its heyday around the turn of the century. Back then it was populated primarily with immigrants and the main industry was rolling cigars. Over time, the population dwindled and the city became blighted. Today, it is regaining some of its former glory through aggressive redevelopment. Walking down the main street was reminiscent of walking around the French Quarter in New Orleans. The architecture was beautiful and much of the cobblestone roadways were still in place. 
The brewery had outdoor seating and the weather was beautiful, the calm before the storm actually, so we sat outside and watched the tourists coming and going on the trolleys while we enjoyed our beers. They had some seasonal brews so I tried the double amber ale with about 9.5 ABV. Debby had the regular amber, and both were excellent. We were starving, so we ordered a couple of delicious soft pretzels, which held us over until we got to eat our sushi creations.

We checked into our sushi class and the first thing they did was take drink orders - got to love that. Since we’d just had a couple of potent beers, we passed, for now. There were a lot of people and open seating at tables of 4-6. We sat with a single guy and a couple and they were all very nice and we enjoyed some small talk as we got to know each other. The first lesson was how to cook the rice. For sushi, you need really sticky rice. The chef suggested using medium grain white rice because it is much cheaper than small grain sushi rice and easier to work with. I didn't find the rice easy to work with at all. They had a bowl of water at each station for us soak our hands in and pat them dry to hydrate them several times before handling the rice, but that just didn't work for me. I tried to get my hands as hydrated as I could, but the rice stuck to them like glue. It wasn't pretty.

When it was time to start preparing the rolls, we split into teams of two and went to a station in front of the chef to prepare our rolls. We went ahead and ordered a couple of beers to enjoy while we were working on the rolls. Everybody got to make one regular roll and one hand roll. Debby made a caterpillar roll and I made a shrimp tempura roll. The hand rolls were spicy tuna. The chef demonstrated how to spread the rice on the seaweed sheet then flip it over onto the sushi mat before adding the filling and rolling it up. They also taught us how to hold the knife to slice the rolls without messing them up—no downward pressure—just let the weight of the knife do the work. Once we had each made a roll, we made our hand rolls. Mine was a mess, but Debby’s looked pretty good. We then went back to our tables to eat our creations and we were served three different types of sake paired to the rolls we had prepared. All in all, it was a great experience and now we can try it at home - but at home we will be sticking to our plant-based diet and making great vegie rolls!
From top to bottom Caterpillar Roll, Shrimp Tempura Roll and Spicy Tuna Hand Roll.

After the class, we drove to my Mom’s, but she had already gone to bed so we snuck quietly in and went to bed ourselves. The next morning Debby went to yoga and did some shopping and I did laundry and worked with my Mom to get her more familiar with her new iPhone. Debby came home just after I finished a short run and we went out with my Mom for lunch and to buy me a new pair of shorts and some sunglasses. I've lost so much weight that the shorts I bought last spring were falling right off me.  

The strip mall where we had gone to shop had a Colombian restaurant that turned out to be just what we needed for lunch with quite a few plant-based options. The food was delicious as was my mojito. Debby tried their special Sangria, but wasn't that impressed with it. After lunch, we went to the men’s store where I had found my shorts last year and found a nice new pair. I also fell in love with some sunglasses there, but they didn't fit right, and for the price, I wasn't willing to compromise. They really tried hard to sell me those glasses even offering to let me take them home with a promise of a full refund if I didn't like them, but I had to leave the price tag on them, which just wasn't going to happen. I found a nice pair of Serengeti sunglasses in another store, where they actually dropped the price a bit, and then it was back to my mother’s for a quiet night at home. The next morning, Debby worked with my Mom on her iPhone and wrote down instructions to help her remember how to do some of the more complicated tasks. She was happy with all the help she got and we signed up for a class at the Verizon store for more training and to get everything in order on her phone before we take off on our trip back to California—can’t believe how close that is now.  

On the way home we stopped at a natural foods store to restock the kitchen and then went to the Dunedin Brewery where we had some tasty red ale and their delicious vegan black bean burritos, which they seriously load up with jalapenos. Trace, the head brewer that we had met through our friends Maria and Brian, was not in that day, so we didn't get to say “Hi.” We got home before dark, but it was super foggy and later that night a big storm blew in, and boy did it blow. It’s three days later and the winds still haven’t died down—and it’s freaking cold, well for here anyway.

1 comment:

  1. That is good stuff,we too love Sushi and actually just yesterday we celebrated a birthday in Japanika
    that specializes in Shushi
    Our daughter is the the Manager,so may be when we meet we can share some recipes.
    Happy Trails