Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Asphalt Green's New Battery Park Location Offers "Tasty Cooking" and Other Cultural Arts Programs

By Brian Mangan
Edited by Heather K.
Sparkling New Facilities at Asphalt Green Battery Park City
Photo by Brian Mangan
First opened in the 1970's on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Asphalt Green specializes in youth and adult fitness programs. Recently, Asphalt Green opened a new location in TriBeCa, offering similar sports and fitness classes, but expanding options with some intriguing culinary and cultural arts programs.

With that in mind, a friend and I ventured down to the TriBeCa location, excited to take a special cooking class, "Tasty Cooking for Special Diets and Allergies." Upon entering the location at 212 North End Avenue, the newness of the facility was immediately apparent. Everything was sparkling clean and bright, and we were greeted by helpful staff who were happy to talk with us regarding their brand-new set up.

Chef Hoffman Demonstrates While Would-be Chefs Follow Along
Photo by Brian Mangan
The "Tasty Cooking" class was led by chef Katie Hoffman who has been cooking, catering, and teaching in 
New York City for over a decade. Hoffman was extremely knowledgeable and her proficiency in creative cooking was even more impressive for this special diets" class, as so many of the issues and questions she faced pertained to food allergies and other exceptions requiring alterations to typical dishes.

"Tasty Cooking" was hands-on and intimate: in addition to taking place in the facility's brand-new kitchen, it had only five participants, making it possible for everyone to get a lot of individualized attention. We were given aprons and recipes when we arrived, and we were on our way. I knew nothing about cooking, but Chef Hoffman was helpful, friendly, and patient with me nonetheless. 

On the menu for the evening were three items: chicken and black bean enchiladas, guacamole, and cashew butter blondies. We started with the dessert first, then moved on to the enchiladas, and finished it off with the guacamole. While Chef Hoffman's methods were inventive and interesting to watch, and there was some interaction as class participants could help now-and-then to cut or dice, we were not provided with own dishes to prepare which would have brought the class around full circle. 

Mangan and Another Foodie Enjoy Enchiladas
Photo by Anonymous

As enjoyable as the class was, ostensibly the program still has some strives to make. For starters, although the class was touted as gluten free, some of the ingredients used did contain gluten. Also, since dishes were not individual, and all food was shared, the class was tailored to the person or people whose dietary restrictions were the narrowest -- therefore, we ended up making the "chicken" enchiladas vegetarian rather than with actual chicken. To her credit, Chef Hoffman did her best to accommodate all allergies and food restrictions given short notice as she was only advised of some of these issues directly before the class began. I must also say, the food was delicious!

Chef Hoffman also took her time in preparing and explaining each menu item, and although the class was supposed to last from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., she and the Asphalt Green staff were very accommodating in allowing the class to run into overtime. 

The Enchilada Speaks for Itself!
Photo by Brian Mangan
For someone who is an aspiring chef or foodie, the nearly one-on-one access to the tutelage and craftsmanship of an expert cook such as Hoffiman is undoubtedly an enormous perk, though it's clear that the program is still working out the kinks as they go. Though those with food allergies may be used to paying more premium prices to have specially prepared meals, similar classes may not justify the hefty price tag ($120/member, $150/non-member), but I will definitely be keeping an eye on Asphalt Green Battery Park City for future opportunities.

Brian Mangan is a co-founder and writer for The Read Zone (www.thereadzone.com), a community-sourced blog about Sports, Politics, Law and New York City. He can be found on twitter @brianpmangan and the Read Zone @ReadZoneNow. 

1 comment:

  1. A previous version of this article erroneously linked to "readzone.com." Brian Mangan's actual site is www.thereadzone.com.