France is world famous for their cuisine, and Paris is often thought of as a magical city where food and wine are at their finest. I am not a professional food critic let alone a chef, but I do love to eat. So for me, eating, drinking, and soaking up French cuisine is essential on a trip to Paris. I love eating at cafes, sipping on the best champagne or Bordeaux wines, visiting Michelin star restaurants, and splurging at patisseries. However, the culinary experience I was most excited for on this trip to Paris is returning to La Cuisine Paris to learn how to make delicious French dishes and cook with Parisian chefs & supplies. La Cuisine Paris offers classes such as cuisine courses, pastry & baking lessons, and food/tasting tours. Last time I was here I tried the French bistro cooking class, and dabbled with the French macaroon lesson, but none of those courses compared to the Market Cuisine course I took on this trip. There are over 90 open markets in Paris. This market class is in English and is a four-hour experience that focuses on exploring the local open air markets in Paris. The course takes you step by step from going to the market and picking out fresh ingredients, back to the kitchen for cooking and preparing, right to beautifully plating the incredible French dish you’ve just made from scratch!
Early on a crisp Saturday morning in October, 9 curious foodies met at Metro Maubert Mutalite, in front of Café Le Metro to meet our chef and tour guide Chef Eric. Our adventure started at Marche Maubert, a picturesque French market in the Left Bank near Boulevard St. Germain. This is where we picked out our produce, seasonal vegetables, meats, and cheeses to make up our menu for the day. Chef Eric, a personable French chef (who spoke perfect English & wasn’t bad on the eyes) guided us through what was in season to help curate our Market Menu while trying to balance that with what everyone on the tour liked to eat. What was first going to be duck turned into rabbit (when one of my tour mates insisted that duck was much too cute to eat) accompanied by a seasonal salad, cheese plate, and pear dessert. Wandering through the market chef Eric taught us how to properly inspect produce, choose the best duck or rabbit filet when back is the US, and which cheeses are forbidden from returning with you by the FDA. It was wonderful to see local Parisians enjoying their early morning baguettes, merchants telling locals which produce just came into season and whats soon to be gone, and as classical French music drifts out from many of the stalls all the smells and sounds of the market seem to come alive.
After we chose our ingredients for the menu the class walked over to the La Cuisine Paris kitchen to create a four course meal. Chef Eric guided the market class through much of the menu preparation, but also taught us cooking skills such as, the proper way to peal & cut produce, correct measurements for au jus , and how to measure an egg to the ingredients for dessert. One of the best parts of the market experience is the fellow foodies that share the class. It is interesting to observe the kitchen skills of others and learn what their personal cooking techniques are and how they differ from your normal practice. After we prepared all parts to the menu, we sat down as a group raised our glasses of wine, and enjoyed every bite of a meal we all prepared together. The experience was truly unforgettable and something I recommend to any friends who are visiting the city of light.
Here are the top 10 things I learned from The La Cuisine Paris Market Class-
- I am terrible at cutting through an orange.
- Rabbit is very tasty and lean, but hard to find in many markets in the U.S.
- Au Jus in a meat dish is everything!
- Mimolette Cheese is banned in the U.S. due to its inedible rind.
- When buying leaks- the best buy is when it almost all white.
- When roasting potatoes – lay them over a bed of kosher salt for absorption and flavor.
- Peeling an artichoke to get to the heart is difficult! To reduce oxidation of the artichoke- soak the hearts in cold water when preparing the dish.
- You can never use to much pepper or butter.
- You can peel a bell pepper in one slice.
- Your dried herb garden can be stored for months.