21.06.2016 - 21.06.2016
Today was a day most anticipated. Mary Ann booked a morning cooking class in Paris. The company ‘La Cuisine Paris’ is owned by American ex-pats who have set up a group of local chefs to do cooking classes with tourists, using French ingredients and recipes.
Our class began at a small producers/farmers market close by. We met our class and our chef, Cyril. Cyril is a chef at heart, having studied for 3 years in Paris. He is also a food and culture journalist. We walked through the market and he was able to tell us about the fresh products. We were offered three options for an appetizer course and democratically, we chose.
We went to a boucherie (butcher) and a fish seller. Our choices for main ‘plat’ included sole, pork tenderloin, duck breast ‘magret’ and chicken leg. Our group chose the pork as Cyril made it sound very enticing - stuffed with pine nuts, onions, garlic, fresh herbs and parmesan. Dessert options were also voted upon - creme brûler, creme caramel with salted caramel sauce and fresh passion fruit, apricot or cherry clafoutis. The choice was the creme caramel!
Cyril’s lovely assistant, Molly, purchased the required foods at each stand and we all carried in tote bags to bring back to the school.
Across the street from the market was a boulanger called La Parisienne who bake the best baguettes in all of Paris. Truly! There is an annual competition for the best traditional baguette and this shop for a year has the honour. AND the responsibility of providing baguettes for the president of France - daily meals and state dinners. Three breads were purchased for our meal.
We made our way through Ile Saint-Louis to the right bank of the Seine and arrived at the school. Those of us participating in the class (10 of us all-together - 4 mother-daughter pairs and one pair of friends) enjoyed coffee & tea while Cyril went up to the kitchen to set up and do some pre-prep.
Once upstairs, we all had an apron and a cutting board station at a big prep table. We began with the dessert - creme caramel - with the caramel and the egg custard. Cyril showed us how to properly check the caramel for colour & flavour and once dessert was in the oven, we turned our attention to chopping, chopping, some stirring and some more chopping.
We sliced the tenderloins open slightly to accommodate the filling. Once stuffed, we added some thinly sliced French country ham and then wrapped the meat in ‘Caul’ fat. This is a net-like structure of fat from around organs in the animal. This serves to hold the dish together - the meat is browned on all sides, during which time the caul melts away and then the dish is finished in the oven.
The appetizer dish was an old recipe from the South of France called ‘Artichauts Barigoule’ which uses tiny artichokes - still on their stems, they’re sold like a little bouquet. To these were added carrots, onions, garlic and bacon. We also prepared roast celeriac and garlic; but LOOK at these cute herb roasted fingerling potatoes!
Cyril slicing the tenderloin -
We sat down as a group to enjoy the fruits of our labour - it was so delightful.
The side veg was roasted celeriac - celery root. Simple but so sweet and delicious roasted. All the dishes tasted great and paired with the president’s bread and some Sauvignon Blanc, we ate it all up! Oh - an didja know that you’re not supposed to buy passion fruits that are smooth, round and shiny? The best look old & wrinkly - they’re much sweeter & juicier.
Lots learned - a great experience. Lots of different classes from which to choose - If you go to Paris, something worthwhile!
Mary Ann & Alena