It's the health-conscious worker's holy grail: making evening meals materialise without ringing the local takeaway store. Don't get me wrong. I usually love cooking. But lately, after a long day in the office and a commute that seems even longer, simply cooking pasta can seem a chore (and that's before I get cracking on the Puttanesca sauce to accompany it).
So I decided I needed to find some fresh inspiration. Instead, inspiration found me. I was stuck in traffic one night, and cast my gaze along a familiar row of shops that contain gems I've visited previously such as Vintage Etcetera Gift Store and The Single Guys Coffee Co. Julia's Pantry at Kenmore sits on the end of this same little stretch. And a cooking class was in progress.
The lights changed and, with the rest of the traffic, I was forced to move on. But I wandered down a few days later to investigate further. Cooking classes, it seems, are just one of the things Julia's Pantry does. More a café than a cooking school, Julia's Pantry offers coffee, tea, and a range of made-from-scratch temptations for sweet tooths, including cakes, tarts, biscuits and pastries.
A perfect opportunity to pull out the cake forks. Image courtesy Julia's Pantry.
Gourmet pantry staples, locally-sourced produce, cookbooks and kitchen gadgets are also for sale. And for people like me who sometimes don't have the time, the will or the energy to cook for themselves, it's also possible to pick up prepared meals that can be taken home and whacked in the oven or microwave. Think savoury rolls and tarts, soups, and salads. Feeding a crowd? Julia's Pantry does catering too.
I was keen, though, to join one of the Tuesday evening classes. Coming up is a class on school lunches - another bane of the working mother's existence. Classes exploring jams and preserves, easy entertaining, cooking with grains and seeds and gluten-free baking are also on the calendar. 'The aim of our classes is to inspire you to try new things and use some different ingredients,' says owner Julia Matusik. 'But above all, we want to arm you with some recipes that you will take home and make again and again.'
The class I decided on is entitled 'healthy weekday meals'. I'm excited but a little downcast too. This may mean the end of the special relationships I have with the Indian restaurant manager and the noodle bar cashier and the pizza delivery guy. This class at Julia's Pantry might change my life. I'm going in. Wish me luck.