It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and I was entertaining a few stowaways from Philly who were riding out the rain from Hurricane Irene. We were having a great time. So I wasn’t going to leave my patio and my guests for just anything. But for a cooking class with Naomi Gallego, the Executive Pastry Chef at Habitat at The Fairmont Hotel? Bye bye guests and comfy patio chair. At a little after 4 PM, I was in my car and driving downtown, excited to see what Naomi had up her sleeve for a few food bloggers who were able to attend this special class.
Naomi didn’t disappoint. I was joined by the ladies from EatPGH to have cocktails and then some bubbly and sweet (and homemade by Naomi) hausmade federweisser, a barely fermented freshly pressed grape juice. At only 4 percent alcohol, this fruity, fizzy beverage was refreshing and perfect with our first creation, a traditonal flammkuchen. Both recipes are fond memories from time that Naomi spent studying and working in Cologne, Germany. The flammkuchen, a much better rendition of the Alsatian Tart that I frequently purchase at Trader Joe’s, consisted of a thin raised crust, topped with bacon, onions ( both raw and caramelized), homemade creme fraiche, fresh chives, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. As usual, I tried eat only part of it, but ended up eating the entire savory tart. Next, Naomi threw in a few greens, in the form of a baby arugula salad with white balsamic vinaigrette. So good. Then we each made a Peach Bakewell Tart for dessert. I mentioned that I have a hard time with pastry crusts – that the crusts are never flaky, and Naomi felt my hands, labeling them “hot.” That’s no surprise to me. All of me is a few degrees warmer than it used to be these days. Even with hot hands, my tart came out looking beautiful. And it tasted great.
I’ve eaten at Habitat a few times, and also attended special events there. The food has always been carefully prepared and wonderful, with a special attention made to buying from local farms and purveyors. Naomi is very talented and you umight know her from her appearances on Food Network Challenge. It’s really a plus to have her in Pittsburgh.
I’m hoping the folks at the Fairmont will be doing more classes for the public in the future. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my family and guests about the class and the recipes that were near and dear to Naomi. Next time, maybe I can bring others along. Thanks to both Naomi and to Julie Abramovic, PR Director at the hotel, for a fun and informative class.