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6 culinary experiences that make for tasty Atlanta date nights

Date night means dinner and a movie, right? Not so fast. While an outing to one of metro Atlanta’s finer restaurants is an easy option, why not take a more creative approach? These six culinary experiences offer a unique look at the Atlanta food scene, and are a great opportunity to take a break from the expected while still delving into the world of our top eateries.

Baking class at Root Baking Co.

One of Atlanta’s most buzzed-about bakeries is tucked away on the second floor of Ponce City Market. Chris Wilkins and Nicole Lewis-Wilkins moved their bread-and-more operation to Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward from Charleston, South Carolina, late last fall, and locals have been quickly taking to its crusty, chewy, picture-perfect croissants, pains au chocolat and sourdough loaves. The owners share their secrets with a small group of attendees at their weekly classes, guiding you on how to create sourdough loaves or bake with corn, be it grits, masa or cornmeal. Look for Root to introduce more classes throughout the year, including ones focusing on porridges, alternative grains and international baking traditions.

6 p.m. Wednesdays. $100-$125, reservations required. 675 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta. 470-639-8046, rootbaking.com/baking-classes.

Pasta maker Mike Patrick leads Intro to Pasta classes at his Buckhead shop Storico Fresco, teaching students to make dough from flour, semolina and eggs. CONTRIBUTED BY KAREN PAGANO (For the AJC)

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Pasta-making class at Storico Fresco

Shelf after shelf of innumerable noodles line American grocery stores these days, so the idea of making your own pasta can seem intimidating. Master pasta maker Mike Patrick punctures that misconception with his pasta classes. Patrick built his ATL reputation selling his handmade Italian classics from his Buckhead storefront, and grew that shop into a beloved neighborhood restaurant. Now he’s walking students through the process of making dough balls and turning them into pasta perfection, as well as diving into the history of pasta and its different variations. Classes also include small bites, wine and a tasting of various types of pasta; classes are held in the Storico Pasta Co. space, located behind the restaurant and storefront.

6:30 p.m., dates vary. $65. 3210 Roswell Road NW, Atlanta. 404-500-2181, storicofresco.com/pasta-classes.

Tea tasting at ZenTea

If you haven’t given the many dimensions of tea much of a thought beyond “hot” or “iced,” the weekly tea tastings at this Chamblee tea house should open up worlds of possibilities for you. More than 200 different varieties of tea line ZenTea’s shelves, each with its own distinct flavor profile and characteristics. Tastings focus on one variety of tea — mild, low-caffeine white teas, for instance, or rich and brightly complex oolong tea, and an instructor guides you through a tasting of five or six different versions of that variety. You could also delve into tips for brewing and steeping tea, pairing foods with tea, and how to use tea in crafting cocktails. The hourlong experience wraps with a dessert chosen to match with the teas.

Various times, Saturdays and Sundays. $20, reservations required. 5356 Peachtree Road, Chamblee. 678-547-0877, zenteaco.com/tea-tastings.

Whole hog butchery at Pine Street Market

What’s the exact difference between a pork chop and a tenderloin? What makes some bacon Canadian and other bacon, well, delicious? The bevy of terms around meat can flummox even the most experienced eater. Pine Street Market has classes in sausage making, meat curing and lamb chop mastery, but it’s the whole hog butchery class at Avondale’s artisan meat market that lets you learn your cuts of meat “from the inside out,” as Pine Street likes to say. Owner Rusty Bowers leads learners through the intricacies of turning a slab of meat into something ready to cook, and you’ll leave with a load of chops you’ve carved yourself; the bacon you cure is available for pickup a week later. Tickets also include a lunch of slow-roasted pork shoulder, seasonal local vegetables and beverages.

Monthly. $125, reservations required. 4 Pine St., Avondale Estates. 404-296-9672, pinestreetmarket.com/upcoming-classes-events.

Cooking classes at Barrington Hall

Just off Roswell’s town square you’ll find Barrington Hall, a massive Southern home that dates back 180 years. In addition to the events you’d expect to find in a historic location — lectures, tours, open houses — a number of cooking classes cast the Greek Revival mansion in a unique light. Chef and culinary educator Wendy Gay leads classes focusing on European, Asian and American culinary traditions. One multicourse evening might focus on traditional dishes from Thailand, while another could pull from Edna Lewis’ iconic Southern recipes, and class attendees get to tuck into what they’ve cooked as the evening progresses. Wine is included in the fee, as is a tour of Barrington Hall.

6:30 p.m., select Tuesdays. $65-$85, reservations required. 535 Barrington Drive, Roswell. 770-640-3855, southerntrilogy.com.

Chocolate-making tour and tasting at Xocolatl

Ever wanted to know exactly how those oversized, knobby cacao pods that grow only in the tropics turn into luscious bars of chocolate? Atlanta-based Xocolatl offers tours of its “micro-factory” located inside Inman Park’s bustling Krog Street Market. Small batch “bean-to-bar” is the approach the company takes, and you’ll learn how founders Elaine Read and Matt Weyandt approach their ethically minded cacao sourcing to craft this local favorite. The ticket price also includes wine chosen to pair with tastings of Xocolatl’s single-origin selections, which lets you mull over the nuances of your favorite chocolate. Are you more a fan of Peruvian chocolate, or Nicaraguan? Here’s where you’ll find out. Another bonus? Attendance is capped at six people, making the tour delightfully intimate.

Mondays-Wednesdays, and on alternating Sundays, times vary. $25, reservations required. 99 Krog St. NE, Atlanta. 404-604-9642, xocolatlchocolate.com/tours.html.

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Read the 2018 AJC Fall Dining Guide: Dining on Buford Highway 

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