Start Planning Ahead for University School's Evening Classes

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Every year, my alma mater University School of Nashville puts together a catalog of entertaining and educational evening classes that are open to the public. The tuition and fees for these classes help to raise money for the school's annual fund to support scholarship opportunities and general operating expenses for the school. This year, in an effort to be a little bit more environmentally sensitive, they won't be actually producing a print catalog.

The window between when they officially announce the classes on Dec. 1 and when registration starts on Dec. 7 is a short one, and the phones, fax machines and email boxes will be buzzing that morning as all of us foodies fight to get one of the coveted spots in one (or more) of the more than 50 cooking classes they have scheduled.

For a sneak peek at some of the classes, follow @usneveningclass on Twitter and "like" them on Facebook here. They are previewing one class a day until the official online catalog goes live. So far, they've offered hints of a tour of Clay Greenberg's new restaurant Silo, a sandwich and wine class taught by Deb Paquette, a charcuterie class at Miel, an Easy Dinner Party Menu for Young Professionals and two classes led by Sarah Souther of The Bang Candy Co. on how to make designer s'mores.

I can also let you in on two classes that I will be teaching that I can promise will be great fun, in a large part due to the co-instructors who I have conned into helping me. On Feb. 15 I'll be reprising my "Spirits and Classic Cocktails Class" with Mr. Martini himself, David Paine. I will take you through the history and basic characteristics of the base spirits as we taste some particularly yummy booze. Then David will teach and prepare some classic cocktails for the class and regale them with some very pointed opinions about what is and isn't a martini. Last year's class had a great time, and everybody went home with some pretty nice swag.

The second class I'm teaching is a new one, "The Secrets of Wood Maturation." Don't let the haughty scientific title fool you, this class is all about great booze and wine. We'll taste and learn how time in oak turns an unaged "white dog" into a knock-your-socks-off bourbon. We'll discuss (and taste) the effects of French and American oak on wine and how various levels of char or toast can subtly change the aromas, colors and flavors of whatever is aged inside the barrels. We may even try a bottle of oaked Genever, which I'll wager nobody else in Nashville has had a sip of yet.

Best of all, my co-pilot on this flight of fancy is the incomparable Kim Totzke, lately the operations director of Provence. In her previous life at several other restaurants, Kim taught more Nashvillians the value of good whiskey than anyone else since Jack Daniel himself shed his mortal coil. She has forgotten more about booze than most people will ever learn. (Which is a sign that she drinks the good stuff.) I'm so excited for the chance to teach a class with her, and I hope you all will mark your calendars for March 7 so you can join us. I hope to be able to announce a cool location for one or both of the classes soon, as well.

So, start following USN's classes and get your dialing fingers ready for the morning of Dec. 7. It'll be good practice for American Idol voting. Just lay off the Caffe Nonna class. That's still one of my favorite Saturday mornings of the year!

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