October 21, 2011

Living Social Adventure - Empanada Making and Wine/Cheese/Chocolate Tasting

Who wouldn't get excited about an unlimited wine, cheese and chocolate tasting and the bonus of learning to make empanadas!? Well, last Saturday that was our M.O. I purchased gift certificates from Living Social for the deal and off to Miami we went. Overall it was fun to get out of the house (remember I work from home, so getting out is always fun), have some wine, meet a few people and learn to make something I would have never even attempted on my own.  There were a few things I think Living Social could have improved on though. Read more to see my review of the event. In a future post I will share my new empanada skills so you can make empanadas yourself!

Review of the Living Social Event

Customer Service
First off, you have to know how impressed I was with LS's customer service team. I had a few issues with getting the vouchers for the event and the customer service team was top notch. It is so rare to get good customer service these days and their team went above and beyond. I can't compliment them enough in this regard.

The event was held at Clos Bistro & Cafe in Miami. Parking was easy enough and the cafe looked like it was a nice breakfast or lunch spot if you worked in the area. They sent us home with menus and all of the items seem reasonably priced (Bagels for $1 , Pastries for $2, Salads for $6 and of course Empandas for $1.75). The downside was that this cafe is pretty small and there were around 60 people packed in for the event. There were so many people they had to open the doors and seat people in the breezeway. The tables were set up in long rows so if you needed to get up for a glass of water or to go to the bathroom you ended up disrupting everyone or crawling under a table. Classy ;)

Our table of new friends

Wine, Cheese and Chocolate Tasting
Upon entering the event you were handed a glass of Proseco. That's always a good way to start off an evening! Throughout the night we were supposed to be served 2 whites and 3 reds to sample although I think the 3rd red never made it around. All the wines we did sample were delicious and they even offered a 20% discount if you wanted to buy a bottle at the end of the night. The problem was the event and the pouring was so chaotic with so many people they never mentioned the name or type of wine you were trying. I would have liked to learn a little more about what I was drinking. The cheese and chocolate tasting were a joke! The cheese came out REALLY late in the evening after we had already made and ate our empanadas, was limited in quantity and was not the best quality. The chocolate tasting was literally mini Hersey candies unwrapped on a plate. Boo.

The wines we were supposed to taste. Not sure if they matched up.

Cooking Demo 
Our demo guy was entertaining and took time to answer everyone's question. On the downside, the room was so crowded, you couldn't really see what he was doing.
Super zoom photo of the cooking demo

Hands On Cooking
I'm not sure what I expected here but I was a little disappointed. I really don' know how they could make it better with as many people as they had, but I was left wanting. Basically, all the participants were handed dough and a cup of filling and our hands-on portion was pinching the edges of our empanadas. The empanadas were then collected, baked and served. Another major downside here: I saw people taking off their gloves and playing with their empanadas thinking they would get the empanada they made back to eat. No such luck. Everyone who ate the 'classes' empanadas got to share germs. Upside was the restaurant also provided pre-made 'clean' empanadas.
Did you know empanda wrappers came pre-made? Check the frozen food section.
Cup o' meat

Ham & Cheese

So overall, while I definitely think there is room for improvement, I would try one of these adventures again. I might however talk to the awesome customer service team first to find out a little more about what to expect. Have you tried a coupon site deal like this? What was your experience?

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