For those of you still cooking from the safety of your own home, have I got a treat for you. The incredible Mexican restaurant El Alma has started a monthly membership program called “El Alma at Home.” Perks range from complimentary queso for dine-in when you mention you’re an El Alma At Home Member to virtual meal and cocktail classes will all ingredients provided. You know I’m all about fun virtual events, so this was right up my alley.
Thank you, El Alma, for letting me be one of the first in line to try your El Alma at Home membership program! While I did receive a complimentary meal and cocktail kit, all opinions are my own.
When you sign up for El Alma at Home, there are four membership levels you can choose from (ranging from $5-$75). Full details are on Elalmaathome.com.
I was able to try their El Alma VIP package, which includes a virtual cooking class cook-along-kit with all the ingredients, plus a virtual cocktail class with mix-along-kit, both prepared by El Alma. The virtual classes are on the third Wednesday of every month and you pick your kits up from El Alma the Monday and Tuesday before. They currently have several “to-go” parking spots labeled right in front. Just park, text the number on the sign, and someone will bring your kits right out to you curbside. Everything was perfectly packaged and I just kept it in my fridge until I was ready to cook it.
The first thing I did (obviously) was put together the cocktail kit! The watermelon margarita with serrano infused tequila and agave was already premixed and delicious. All I had to do was use the salt and chile mixture to coat the rim and garnish with a lime, both of which were provided. SUPER simple, super delicious, super fancy looking. Premixed to-go cocktails are perhaps the greatest thing to come out of 2020 so far. Our kit made 4 margaritas and it costs $20 to add on to your monthly membership. At $5 a drink, that’s a steal.
For cooking, you can watch the video and cook along with Alma herself! I tuned in to the zoom call because I was curious, but I actually used the recipe instructions that were provided and cooked my meals the next day. The live cooking tutorial was cool though because you could ask questions as you went and there was a Q&A with Alma at the end. Even if you don’t actually plan to cook along, I’d recommend hopping on the call (it’s webinar-style, don’t worry, no one will see you come and go.)
The kit comes with two meals that complement each other. These are restaurant quality meals. Nothing simple like fajitas and rice! This might be something to take into consideration if you’re a picky eater. The first recipe we tackled was the creamy corn and poblano pasta salad. I say “we” because Brian and I cooked together. I’m not a cook (at all) and it would have been pretty difficult for me to do this on my own! It turned into me reading the directions 50 times while Brian did the slicing and dicing. Don’t get me wrong – it turned into a super fun date night that neither of us was expecting.
We did have to improvise at one point. The instructions called for an immersion blender. It was necessary for making the sauce and we definitely didn’t have one. See what I mean about it being a bit complex? Luckily, I do have a Magic Bullet! We poured all the ingredients in there and blended them up nicely. Sorry, Alma! I hope I didn’t ruin your recipe too badly!
After a couple rounds of blending, we poured the sauce over the pasta and topped with cotija cheese and cilantro. Dish one – done!
Next was ahi tuna salad stuffed jalapenos. Again, a complex recipe, but we were up for the challenge. We seared the ahi tuna up real good and Brian even did the quarter turn to get those perfect grill lines. We are basically pro chefs at this point.
When the ahi tuna was done and chilled, we shredded it up and combined it with a mixture of onion, garlic, tomato, red wine vinegar, green olives, capers, and the juice of an orange. It sounds weird, but it was so tasty all mixed together. The consistency probably wasn’t right, since we didn’t let it “cook down to a paste,” but we still really liked it! We spooned the ahi tuna mixture into the jalapenos and boom! Gourmet meal number two – done.
I ate the leftover filling from the tuna with pretzel crackers the next day. I liked it better that way instead of inside the jalapenos (again, don’t hate me, Alma!). The citrus mixed with the ahi tuna gave me ceviche vibes and I really enjoyed it. The pasta salad was good as is – cold leftovers right from the fridge.
Overall, I’d say the cooking part was challenging. It was a complicated process and at times the directions weren’t clear to me. For example, some of the steps were already done for you and packaged up (which was meant to make things easier for you!). However, the instructions online didn’t reference the prepackaged things, so I was confused and thought we were missing ingredients. For example, there’s a whole ingredient list “for the jalapenos” but really, the jalapenos came already mixed in their brining liquid, so you could have skipped the first paragraph of instructions. It seems obvious now, but in the moment, I was definitely confused.
All in all, I’d say the kits are what you make of them. Brian and I made some mistakes, ran out of olive oil halfway through, had to spoon ingredients into my smoothie maker, etc., but we still had a BLAST. We both looked at each other at the end of the night like, “Wow, what an unexpectedly fun evening.” It’s good to challenge yourself every now and then. It wasn’t a quick meal you’d throw together at the end of a long day, but more of a foodie experience you commit your evening to.
Want to start your own El Alma at Home membership and have fun foodie experiences every month? Sign up by the end of the day on Sunday, September 13th to join in the next virtual cook-along! Head to elalmaathome.com to get started!