Culinary explorations

Culinary explorations

Read about the author Megan Barnett

I adore cooking; I make everything from scratch at home, from savoury sauces to sweeter treats.
Mr Divine had booked us a weekend away in the city with an Italian Cooking Course to enjoy on the Saturday and a wine tasting on the Sunday, but right at the last minute work got in the way. Being the sweetheart that he is, he insisted that I go alone.

I was excited: the sun was shining so I wore a light summer dress. I knew I looked good because I was getting some glances from other passengers on the train, giving my esteem a boost!

I checked into the hotel, saddened that I’d be sleeping in the huge double bed on my own, but took a deep breath and told myself to enjoy it. After a quick spruce, I headed on to the restaurant.

It was a glorious setting: a huge, open space with gorgeous oak islands on which we were preparing the food. The decor was incredibly authentic and we were greeted with Campari cocktails. I did feel a little naughty indulging, but it helped to ease my mood.

Our group was made up of couples of varying ages, but I was not the only lone wolf in the pack.
Initially, I thought she was running the event. She was about my age and was simply striking. Gloriously tanned, her floral dress hugged her figure perfectly and I couldn’t help but envy her long, equine legs.

“On your lonesome?” She smiled, her full lips parting, revealing perfect teeth. A little taken aback I simply nodded. “Me too,” she said, “A friend booked this for my Birthday; I think she was hinting that I can’t cook!”

I couldn’t help but laugh. “From the looks of it we might have to pair up.”

“It must be my lucky day.” She winked, clinking her cocktail glass against mine. “I’m Sophia, by the way.”

“Jo.” I said, a coy smile tugging at my lips.

The chef appeared and told us to put on our aprons before assigning cooking stations. When Sophia slipped hers on, she twirled around. “You do me and I’ll do you, yeah?” she said, and I as I tied her strings I couldn’t help but notice her perfume. It was either the cocktail or the fragrance, but I felt myself flush a little.

I couldn’t be sure, but as she tied my apron strings, I thought that she let her fingers linger a moment too long against my waist, and I’m not entirely sure that I minded.

The session began, and it became harder to distinguish whether it was the heat from the cooking or the spark between Sophia and I that was sending a warmth throughout me. It was strange, I couldn’t quite put how I felt into words; all I knew was I wanted to find out.

The cooking was amazing, and Sophia made it so much fun. We got messy making our own pasta and she was quick to feed me spoonfuls of sauces to taste. She was very tactile, and I was quickly swept up in the food and the fun, and our cocktail glasses were regularly topped up too.

The day seemed to end too soon, but we were given our certificates and invited to eat the food we’d prepared and have some drinks, but rather than mingle Sophia and I were quite happy to slink off to a table for two.

I’d never met anyone like her; she drove the conversation, and as we shared funny anecdotes she wasn’t shy to touch my hand when she laughed, and there were a few times when her foot ran up my leg; while Sophia’s movements were languid, I felt awkward, physically pulling myself away.

As the drinks flowed, we found ourselves leaning in closer, forgetting the room. I was engrossed by her, captivated by the way Sophia’s long hair would fall down her face as she laughed, slipping it delicately behind her ear in an effortless way.

Time ebbed away, and soon we realised that we were the only ones left from the tasting, diners now entering the restaurant for their evening meals, so we decided to retire.

“I can’t wait for the tasting tomorrow. Although I hope there’s more than just wine on the menu.” She said with a mischievous smile, and I felt myself flush.

“I’ll have to keep my eye on you.” I said, laughing it off, wishing I could be as effortless as she could.
I kissed her on the cheek goodbye, only I accidentally caught the corner of her inviting lips. It was my turn to linger for a moment or two, and as we parted our ways, I couldn’t help but steal a few glances at Sophia as she walked away, hair dancing in the breeze.

The buzz of the city nightlife was a mere hum to me as I strolled through the evening’s glow back to my hotel room. Maybe it was just one cocktail too many, but there was a heat in my head and my chest… a familiar warmth that I found comforting. I think it was more than just the alcohol that had me intoxicated; it was her, too.


The cool evening breeze caressed my cheeks, and I was suddenly aware of their incalescence. I bit at my lip a little, feeling that unidentifiable and yet comforting giddiness once again. Could it be an infatuation? Or was it simply admiration?

When I returned to my hotel room, the blushing was sun hanging low in the sky, and it felt like the glow of the sunset encapsulated my mood.

I leaned against the closed door and collected myself. I replayed the afternoon in my head; Sophia’s grace when I first saw her, the way her body moved as we cooked, joked and laughed; the way she looked at me.

I still wasn’t sure what it all meant. All I was truly certain of was that tomorrow couldn’t come fast enough.

Written By : Megan Barnett