Cooking In Paris

6/18/2013 Tuesday 8:39 am

Cooking is one of Glenda’s and my favorite things to do.  It’s a really big part of both our lives.  I grew up cooking and baking all kinds of things , and almost 13 years ago, Glenda joined a supper club of incredible women who have stayed together since then!  Holiday times mean cooking times, and the days when we can clear our schedules to work side by side in the kitchen are life-giving, joyous days indeed.

Oh yeah, we also love eating!  So we’ve been super-excited about this trip, among other reasons, because we wanted to explore food in Paris.  We visited many restaurants during our week there, but we also had some simple memorable meals at home, visited the markets (les marchés) and even had a phenomenal class with a French chef!

Here I am with my sister, Sarina, in our flat having our typical breakfast of coffee and fresh croissants from the fabulous corner bakery.  Each morning, Dad went out to get the croissants, and usually came back with some other goodies too, like pain au lait, or pain au chocolat!  Yum.

 

1 Breakfast with Sarina

 

Without question our culinary highlight of the week was Wednesday, when we spent the morning–and the early afternoon–with Chef Frederick Dillon Corneck.  I realize that his name doesn’t sound particularly French, but he’s quite French, from Normandy, and he was a generous and insightful guide, host and teacher.  (Glenda adds, he said something like, “My middle name and last name are Irish, and I love Irish culture, but I am French.  Nobody’s perfect.” Here Frederick answers a question from Dad about sharpening knives.

 

2 Class Frederick

 

The class began with Frederick taking us across the street to a long and bustling market where we walked from one end to the other appraising the large quantities of produce.  There was everything from fruits and veggies to meats, cheeses, dairy products, fish, seafood, spices, dried versions of most of the above, and more.  (Glenda adds, like CD-Roms, kitchen tools, garments, and accessories.  When one vendor saw our group, he hawked, “Paris-style clothing!,” and added in an American accent, “I looove it!”)  Then we stopped for coffee (of course) and made a plan for what we’d make for lunch!  Frederic came up with a marvelous menu on the spot and we set about buying the goods.

Here is Vicky, Dad, and Sarina after we’ve returned from the market with our spoils that included tomatoes, chicken breasts (Glenda adds: chicken boobies), Roquefort cheese, endives, and much more!

 

5 Class Sarina D&V

 

Glenda is appraising the goods!  On the far right you see a purple plastic bag.  Those are pre-steamed beets that are, apparently, available at most markets here.  For those we combined fresh chevre with fine-cut shallots, fresh thyme, and chives, and layered the mixture between four thick beet slices to create a vegetarian napoleon, with salt, pepper and drizzles of olive oil and vinegar on top.  (Glenda adds, this was like a napoleon, and the filling was similar to the French dip called cervelle de canut–except we used fresh goat cheese, rather than fresh dairy cheese.)

 

4Class Dad and Glenda

 

Here Vicky is quartering a carrot lengthwise, leaving just a bit of the green top, per Frederick’s instructions.  These carrots, along with radishes and these unbelievable new potatoes (grown on an island off the coast of France that is often covered by seawater) that are only available part of the year and not exported due to their rarity, were cooked stove-top with butter and fresh thyme in a covered dish and served as sides.  (Glenda adds, these were the potatoes of my dreams!  They are naturally salty, and Frederick said they have a slight hazelnut taste to them–for me, I tasted walnut.)

 

3 Class Dad and Vicky

Et voila!  In addition to the veggies and beets we had Œuf  Cocotte à la Crème d’Endive, Roquefort et Noix (for the vegetarians), and La Roulade de Poulet à la Sausage for the meat eaters.  The first was sauteed endives topped with walnuts and cooked in the oven water bath with an egg, and then finished with a creamy gorgonzola sauce.  The second was chicken breasts sliced in half lengthwise and rolled with ham and sage (upper right of this photo).  (Glenda adds, like the Italian dish, saltimbocca.) We also made oven-roasted tomatoes topped with thyme and breadcrumbs a la Provencal–yum.  The lower left is a port-wine reduction he made from deglazing the pot the chicken had been sauteed in.

6 Class Finished

 

And here’s the finished (meaty) plate!  Ooo, and for dessert (yes, we made and ate dessert too) we had fresh black cherries, peaches and strawberries warmed in boiling honey with thyme.  Unbelievably tasty!  The thyme figured in heavily since it’s what we bought fresh.  (Glenda adds, the thyme was like a through-line for the menu.) We learned so much from Frederick but, among many other things, we were inspired by his spontaneity and his willingness to wait and see what was fresh and high quality before deciding what to make.  I hope very much that our paths will cross again.  (Glenda adds, me too!)

 

7 Class Plated

 

There is an amazing array of food options on nearly every street in Paris, it seems.  From restaurants, to take-away places, to markets and supermarkets and specialty shops.  We were struck by this device – which we actually saw several times, that is right out on the street.  Its a giant rotisserie with chicken and meat above and then, in the bottom, there’s a tray of roasting potatoes that’s catching all the drippings from the meat!  Not good for me, the veggie, but still fascinating! (Glenda adds, good for me though, the omnivore!)

 

8 Chicken and Potatoes

 

We had loads of fun in the cooking store, E. Dehillerin.  Here you see trays and trays of knives.  This was open to the public, but clearly had anything you’d need for a full commercial establishment.

 

9 Cooking Store Knives

 

Including gi-normous ladles!  On the upper right you see ladles that are more or less normal-sized.  But look along the lower shelf from left to right.  Those are all ladles too!  That’s a whole lot of stew!

 

10 Cooking Store Ladles

 

One of our favorite specialty shops was this breathtaking and lovingly presented candy shop called Le Bonbon au Palais on Rue de Monge (our flat’s street).  Here in the window you see fresh-made marshmallows in many flavors including Rose, Lychee, Pineapple, and more.  See those cute jars? Imagine an entire shop filled with everything from jellied chili peppers (delicious!) to real candied flowers like violets and rose petals.  Georges, the owner, is downright exuberant, speaks five languages, and simply loves to tell visitors all about the various artisans who make his candies – just for him.  (Glenda adds, and his decor was very charming–filled with elementary school paraphernalia like school desks, globes, diagrammatical posters, even his class pictures and report cards.)  We suspect that the jars are a little low because we turned our family and some American friends visiting Paris on to his shop!

 

11 Candy Store

 

So what do you do after buying all these goodies?  You head home and share with friends and family.  Here Dad was preparing a special apertif of white wine over violet (the flower!) syrup he’d picked up in Toulouse.

 

12 Wine at Home

 

And I couldn’t help getting a shot of this wine we tried.  I’m sure you can tell from the label alone that it was… exquisite, balanced, deep and engaging yet rounded and sophisticated, with a particularly good nose and body.  Mmmm.  (Glenda adds, what a body!)

 

13 Wine Mathieu

 

Cheers!

 

14 Dinner at Home Toast

 

And here I am on our final morning in Paris – enjoying our last omelette!  I made this one with the goal of using as many left-over ingredients as possible, so it was eggs with a soft cheese, avocado and tomatoes with toasted day-old pain au lait, coffee and jus de pomme.  Au revoir Paris!

 

15 Last Day Omelette

Comments are closed.