An Evening at Cook’n With Class

March 25th, 2018
Facebook Twitter Linkedin
Cook'n with Class

Cook’n with Class
Photograph by Discover Paris!

I recently had the occasion to participate in a private cooking class at Cook’n with Class, a cooking school in Paris’ 18th arrondissement that was opened in 2007 by French chef Eric Fraudeau. Six persons participated: husband and wife team Tanzets and Ariqa Islam from New York, Andrea Campbell from California, mother and daughter team Nicole and Daven Pembrook from Paris, and me. The class was led by Patrick Hebert, a French chef who speaks fluent English and who has considerable experience in the restaurant industry.

Tanzets and Ariqa Islam, Andrea Campbell, and Patrick Hebert

Tanzets and Ariqa Islam, Andrea Campbell, and Patrick Hebert
Photograph by Discover Paris!

We met at 5:00 p.m. at place Jules Joffrin and proceeded to the neighborhood market, where Patrick helped us select the products that we would transform into a delicious meal. We stopped at several stores, including a bakery where we purchased fresh-baked baguettes; a butcher shop where we decided to purchase quail for our main course; a green grocer where we purchased fennel and small potatoes; a fish market where we purchased scallops and mussels for our starter; and a cheese shop where we purchased several cheeses for the cheese course. For dessert, we decided to bake lava cakes for which Patrick already had the ingredients back at the school.

How to Recognize a Fresh Scallop

Patrick Explains How to Recognize a Fresh Scallop
Photograph by Discover Paris!

At each shop, Patrick took care to explain how to select the best products for a meal. At the bakery, we learned that a baker only has the right to call his shop “artisanal” if his products are made on the premises (and not, for example, produced off the premises and delivered to the shop for retail sale). At the butcher shop, we learned that the Label Rouge is a sign of quality for agricultural products. At the fish market, we learned that the shop should “smell like the sea,” and not have a fishy odor. We also learned that fish should be moist to the touch and that some fish, such as the monk fish, should be slimy.

We arrived at the school, washed our hands, donned aprons, and then assembled around a large table. Each of us had a cutting board to work on, as well as a metal bowl for scraps and a sharp knife for slicing.

Patrick with Menu

Patrick with Menu
Photograph by Discover Paris!

Patrick opened the class by posting the menu of items that we had selected for our meal. For the starter, we would have scallops and mussels with lemongrass sauce and candied fennel; for the main course, roasted quail in red wine sauce with Brussels sprouts and baby potatoes. These would be followed by a cheese platter and chocolate lava cake.

A scrumptious meal was in store for us! Were we up to the challenge of preparing it?

Patrick Shows Daven Pembrook How to Set Scale to Zero

Patrick Shows Daven Pembrook How to Set Scale to Zero
Photograph by Discover Paris!

Andrea Campbell and Chef Patrick Prepare Lava Cake Batter

Andrea Campbell and Chef Patrick Prepare Lava Cake Batter
Photograph by Discover Paris!

We got to work, beginning with the lava cake because it had to be refrigerated for an hour before we baked it. To measure the ingredients, Patrick showed us how to use a scale. First, the “tare weight” was set to zero with an empty bowl on it. Then the ingredients were weighed, and Patrick showed us how to prepare the individual cake tins to receive the batter.

Once the batter was in the cake tins and the tins were in the refrigerator, we proceeded to prepare the mussels, the fennel, and the Brussels sprouts.

Tanzets Islam Removes cooked Mussels from Their Shells

Tanzets Islam Removes Cooked Mussels from Their Shells
Photograph by Discover Paris!

Some of us sliced the fennel while others cleaned the mussels. Only closed mussels are supposed to be eaten, but if we came upon an open one, Patrick showed us a trick for determining whether it was fresh: squeeze gently on the upper and lower shell — if the mussel closes, then it is still alive, hence fresh. The cleaned mussels were placed in a pot with white wine, thyme, bay leaf, and shallots and cooked until they opened.

Nicole Pembrook Carefully Places Quail in Frying Pan

Nicole Pembrook Carefully Places Quail in Frying Pan
Photograph by Discover Paris!

Next, the quail were placed in a frying pan for browning on all sides. After this was accomplished, Patrick popped the frying pan into the oven for baking until the juices of the quail ran pale pink.

This was an evening of many firsts for me: the first time I had ever seen a frying pan used for baking, the first time I sliced fennel, the first time I helped prepare dark-chocolate lava cake with a secret white chocolate center…

Ariqa Islam Stirs the Sauce for the Scallops

Ariqa Islam Stirs the Sauce for the Scallops
Photograph by Discover Paris!

The mussels were cooked in white wine, the scallops were sautéed in olive oil, the Brussels sprouts were roasted, the baby potatoes were baked in their skins, the fennel was sautéed in olive oil, the quail were browned in a frying pan and then baked… Everything was ready!

We repaired to another room where Patrick talked about the two wines that he would serve with the meal. One was a rosé: Château Les Apiès – L’Arène de la Vallée 2015, from Provence, and the other was a red: Le Crouzet – Aude Côtes de Lastours 2015, from Languedoc. During our absence, a kitchen assistant cleared the work space and prepared the table for dinner.

The Starter

The Starter: Steamed Mussels, Caramelized Fennel, Sautéed Scallops
Photograph by Discover Paris!

When we returned, Patrick, Ariqa, and Andrea plated and served the first course: mussels steamed in white wine, caramelized fennel, and sautéed scallops in a sauce made from the liquid from steamed mussels, lemongrass, and cream. Bon appétit!

The Main Course

The Main Course: Baked Baby Potato, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Roasted Quail, Sautéed Apple
Photograph by Discover Paris!

Our main course consisted of baked baby potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts, baked quail in sauce made with Port wine and Muscat grape juice, and sautéed apples.

Cheese Board

Cheese Board
Clockwise from left: Sainte-Maure, Morbier, Pouligny Saint-Pierre, Cantal,
Fourme d’Ambert, Camembert, and Tomme du Barry

Photograph by Discover Paris!

Then came the cheese course consisting of Sainte-Maure, Morbier, Pouligny Saint-Pierre, Cantal, Fourme d’Ambert, Camembert, and Tomme du Barry flavored with tomato and olive.

Lava Cake

Lava Cake
Photograph by Discover Paris!

At some point, Patrick removed the lava cakes from the refrigerator and popped them into the oven. When they were done, he served them piping hot. I cut into mine to release its white chocolate lava, which flowed copiously onto the plate. Yum!

Eating a Fine Meal

Eating a Fine Meal
Photograph by Discover Paris!

The evening was an unqualified success. I met some great people, learned to prepare a delicious meal with them, and enjoyed their company as we sat down to savor the fruits of our labor. Thanks to Ariqa and Tanzets, Andrea, Nicole and Daven, and Patrick Hebert and the staff at Cook’n With Class!

Cook’n with Class
6 rue Baudelique
Paris 75018
www.cooknwithclass.com/paris

* * * * * * *
Join us on Facebook!

Christina Huang in Istanbul

February 12th, 2018
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Christina Huang in Istanbul
Photograph courtesy of Michel Fortin

Christina Huang is chef and co-founder of Zaoka, a restaurant serving Taiwanese fusion cuisine near the popular Mouffetard street market in the 5th arrondissement of Paris. She was recently invited by the Cordon Bleu in Istanbul to give a talk on the topic of international gastronomy trends.

Huang graduated from the Cordon Bleu in Paris with a Grand Diplôme, a two-track program that trains students in both pastry and cuisine, in 2015. Following her graduation, she went on to found a restaurant that serves Taiwanese fusion cuisine. We dined there in mid-December 2017 and posted a review to our Paris Insights restaurant review page (sign in to gain access to the review).

Huang received a diploma in Chinese literature in her native Taiwan and went on to study management at a business school in London. She worked for a while in the fashion and luxury trade before realizing that her true calling was gastronomy. Consequently, she enrolled in the Grand Diplôme program at the Cordon Bleu. The rest is history!

Travelers to Paris will enjoy dining at Zaoka. Try the Gua Bao, a steamed bun containing tender, braised pork belly garnished with stir-fried pickled mustard greens and ground peanuts.

Bon appétit!

Zaoka
3, rue des Patriarches
75005 Paris
Open Wed 7:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Thurs to Sat noon – 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Metro: Censier-Daubenton (Line 7)
Telephone: 06.67.59.67.82

* * * * * * *
Join us on Facebook!

This Christmas at Mococha Chocolats by Monique Y. Wells

December 4th, 2017
Facebook Twitter Linkedin
Christmas at Mococha Chocolats

Christmas at Mococha Chocolats
Photograph by Discover Paris!

Christmas is one of the busiest seasons for chocolate boutiques in Paris and Marie-Hélène Gantois, proprietor of Mococha Chocolats at 89, rue Mouffetard, never misses an opportunity to regale her clients with special events and merchandise during this time of year.

Sheila Pinto Castilla Presents El Rey Venezuelan Chocolates

Sheila Pinto Castilla Presents El Rey Venezuelan Chocolates
Photograph by Discover Paris!

On Saturday, December 2, Marie-Hélène hosted chocolate and cacao expert Sheila Pinto Castilla for a presentation and tasting of El Rey Chocolates from Venezuela.

El Rey Chocolates are of single bean origin and are 100% natural. Their cacao is hand-picked and processed, and monitored from bean to bar. The company is dedicated to fair trade and preservation of the environment.

They have won numerous awards for quality, including gold medal and merit awards from the International Chocolate Awards (the world’s only fully independent international fine chocolate competition).

Monique Y. Wells Displays Bar of El Rey Chocolate

Monique Y. Wells Displays Bar of El Rey Chocolate
Photograph by Discover Paris!

My personal favorite was Mijao, a dark chocolate made from a minimum of 61% cacao from the Cerenero Superior bean. It has a slightly fruity flavor and a silky mouthfeel.

Mococha is our favorite chocolate boutique in Paris and we unabashedly encourage you to find your way there if you are in the French capital. El Rey and other Venezuelan chocolates will be available there through the holidays.

Admiring Chocolate Christmas Trees

Admiring Chocolate Christmas Trees

And you won’t want to miss the gorgeous chocolate Christmas trees made by Jacques and Vianney Bellanger!

* * * * * * *
Join us on Facebook!

The Pershing-La Fayette Monument to French-American Friendship

November 11th, 2017
Facebook Twitter Linkedin
Inauguration of the Parshing-La Fayette Monument

Inauguration of the Parshing-La Fayette Monument
Photograph courtesy of the Ville de Versailles

Today, November 11, marks the commemoration of Armistice Day in France.

Ninety-nine years ago, World War I ended when the Allies and Germany signed an agreement to cease hostilities. The United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 2017 and its first troops landed in France on June 25 of that year. Commanded by General John Joseph Pershing, the American Expeditionary Force provided men and material that tipped the balance of power on the battlefield, ultimately forcing Germany’s surrender on November 11, 1918.

In 1937, twenty years after the arrival of American troops, a grateful French nation celebrated the event in a ceremony held in the town of Versailles. There, on the Butte de Picardie, General Pershing and President of the French Republic Albert Lebrun inaugurated two equestrian statues mounted on tall pedestals, one of the general and the other of the Marquis de La Fayette, French hero of the American Revolution. Facing each other across a roadway, the statues symbolized the friendship of two nations that had come to each other’s aid in times of need: France providing military support during the American Revolution and the United States reciprocating during World War I.

The pedestals were solid, but the statues, erected in haste, had been made out of plaster painted with bronze patina. The idea was to replace the ersatz statues with bronze as soon as sufficient funds could be raised. But delays occurred, including the German occupation of the country during the Second World War, preventing the replacement of the plaster statues. By 1941, they had become so severely weathered that they were removed from the pedestals.

Following World War II, attempts were made to raise sufficient funds to place bronze statues of Pershing and La Fayette on the denuded pedestals. Efforts focused on raising funds to cast a bronze statue of General Pershing and to install an already existing bronze statue* of La Fayette. Plans were thwarted, however, because the post-war French government needed funds to rebuild the country and simply could not afford such an expensive enterprise. Efforts to find financial support for the project continued throughout the years, but it was not until recently that monies could be raised.

On October 6, 2017, I attended the ceremony of the inauguration of two new equestrian statues** of Pershing and La Fayette on their pedestals at Butte de Picardie. The funds to cast the statues had finally been raised by private subscription and the city of Versailles spared no effort to make their inauguration a special occasion. French and American color guards flanked the statue of General Pershing, while on the other side of street, called avenue des Etats-Unis, VIPs observed the ceremony from under a large tent placed in front of the statue of the Marquis La Fayette.

Bredt Hardt, Chargée d’Affaires
Photograph by Discover Paris!

Among the speakers who hailed the occasion was Brent Hardt, Chargé d’Affaires of the United States Embassy. After his discourse, musicians from the Fondation pour le Rayonnement de la Trompe Musicale played God Bless America on their hunting horns. Other speakers included Monsieur Schmitz, Regional Delegate of Ile-de-France for the Foundation of Patrimony, and Monsieur Martin, President of the Pershing-Lafayette Association. The mayor of Versailles, Monsieur François de Mazières, gave a speech and presented medals.

High school students singing

High School Students Singing It’s a Long Way to Tipperary
Photograph by Discover Paris!

Following the speeches, local high-school students read letters written by World War I soldiers and sang songs, including the British World War I song It’s a Long Way to Tipperary. An emotional speech by American Colonel Charles E. Stanton was recalled. On July 4, 1917, Stanton stood at the grave of the Marquis La Fayette in Paris and called out, “La Fayette, we are here!” His remark was a poignant reminder of the esteem that Americans hold for La Fayette and for the gratitude that they feel towards the French for their support of the American insurgents during the War of Independence.

View of the Inauguration of the Pershing-LaFayette  Monument from the La Fayette Column Courtesy of the Ville de Versailles

View of the Inauguration of the Pershing-La Fayette Monument from the La Fayette Column
Photograph courtesy of the Ville de Versailles

It was a fine ceremony that took place under a beautiful blue sky, and I felt honored that I was able to attend such a magnificent observance to the memory of French-American friendship.

General John J. Pershing (left), Marquis de La Fayette (right)

General John J. Pershing (left), Marquis de La Fayette (right)
Photographs by Discover Paris!

* * * * * * *

*It was thought, at the time, that the statue of the Marquis La Fayette that stood in the courtyard of the Louvre could be transferred to the pedestal in Versailles. That statue now stands on Cours-la-Reine, an esplanade in Paris.

**The statues were cast in resin, not in bronze as had originally been planned.

* * * * * * *
Join us on Facebook!

Paris Panorama Newsletter for November 2017

November 1st, 2017
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Paris Panorama Newsletter for November 2017

Welcome to the November 2017 edition of our newsletter Paris Panorama!

Each month we feature an inspiring haiku poem by Anna Eklund-Cheong. You will also find a photograph of Paris by Sophia Pagan, a photograph of our restaurant of the month with a link to our review (sign in to read the review), and an angel of the month by Rosemary Flannery.

Click here to access our current newsletter: https://discoverparis.net/newsletter-current.html.

* * * * * * *
Join us on Facebook!

Join Us for Our “Black History in and around the Luxembourg Garden” Walk

October 26th, 2017
Facebook Twitter Linkedin
Three Chairs in Luxembourg Garden

Three Chairs in the Luxembourg Garden
Photograph by Discover Paris!

Traveling to Paris soon? Click here to learn about our “Black History in and around the Luxembourg Garden” walk: http://discoverparis.net/black-history-in-and-around-the-luxembourg-garden.

It’s one of our most popular walking tours!

* * * * * * *
Join us on Facebook!

Raula Leustean of Les Trublions

October 25th, 2017
Facebook Twitter Linkedin
Raula Leustean of Les Trublions

Raula Leustean
Photograph by Discover Paris!

Yesterday, I stopped by Les Trublions to reconfirm a dinner reservation that I had made with Raula Leustean, co-owner of the restaurant. My friends and I look forward to a fine meal there soon!

I wrote about Les Trublions in my book Dining Out in Paris. To learn more about the book, click here! http://amzn.to/219LraJ

* * * * * * *
Join us on Facebook!

A 10€ Lunch at Don Lucas

October 24th, 2017
Facebook Twitter Linkedin
Sandwich and Sangria at Don Lucas

Sandwich and Sangria at Don Lucas
Photograph by Discover Paris!

On Monday, I stopped by Don Lucas at 42, rue Monge in the 5th arrondissement for the lunchtime special: a sandwich made from Pata Negra ham and manchego cheese, served with a glass of sangria, and followed with a goblet of mousse au chocolate. All this, for only 10€. What a treat!

I wrote about Don Lucas in my book Dining Out in Paris. To learn more about the book, click here! http://amzn.to/219LraJ

* * * * * * *
Join us on Facebook!

Our Walk – Black History in and around the Luxembourg Garden

October 17th, 2017
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Christin Gumbert from Hamburg, Germany
Photograph by Discover Paris!

Christin Gumbert from Hamburg, Germany joined me today for our “Black History in and around the Luxembourg Garden” walk.

Are you coming to Paris soon? Click here to learn about the walk: http://discoverparis.net/black-history-in-and-around-the-luxembourg-garden.

* * * * * * *
Join us on Facebook!

Macaron Secrets at Cook’n With Class

October 16th, 2017
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

By Monique Y. Wells

Last Saturday, I had the distinct pleasure of attending a macaron class at Cook’n With Class – a cooking school in Paris’ 18th arrondissement.

Cook'n With Class Cooking School

Cook’n With Class Sign
Photograph by Discover Paris!

I won this class when I attended the school’s 10th anniversary party last month.

Macaron class at Cook'n With Class

Proudly displaying my Macaron Class gift certificate at Cook’n with Class
Photograph by Discover Paris!

Chef Sarah Tyler taught four other attendees – Nadine, Krystian, Sara, and Paola – and me how to make four varieties of this popular French dessert: rose, caramel beurre salée, pistachio, and fig.

In case you didn’t know, all macaron shells (the “cookie” part of the macaron) taste the same. What gives macarons their flavor is the filling. Macaron makers add coloring to the shells to help you anticipate the flavor of the filling!

As Chef Sarah instructed us on making both elements, she shared some surprising facts about macarons.

For example, did you know that the egg whites that go into the meringue should sit in the refrigerator for about a week before being used?

And that most macarons you buy in pastry shops, including the highest caliber ones, have been frozen?

Here are some photos that demonstrate a few of the steps required to make these scrumptious confections:

Making the macaron shells

One of the most important things to remember here is that MOISTURE IS THE ENEMY. You must be conscious of any additional liquid you may introduce, purposefully or inadvertently, because it can compromise the quality of your final product.

Making Macaron Shells_collage

Top:(left to right): Mixing powdered sugar and almond powder, making sugar syrup,
soft peak meringue, folding meringue into almond powder-sugar mixture
Bottom: Four colors of macaron batter

Photographs and collage by Discover Paris!

To make the pistachio shells look more appealing, we sprinkled them with crushed pistachios.

Piping batter_shells resting_collage

Left to right: Piping batter; pistachio and fig shells resting
Photographs and collage by Discover Paris!

Making the fillings

We made a fig jam, a salted butter caramel, and two ganaches from white chocolate to fill our macarons. We learned that ganaches need to set so that they become firm enough to pipe and that you should add their flavorings in small increments to avoid making them too strong.

Making Ganaches and Fig Jam

Top (left to right): Mixing pistachio ganache; adding salt to caramel ganache
Bottom (left to right): White chocolate and rose ganache; cutting figs for jam

Photographs and collage by Discover Paris!

Assembling the macarons

We decorated the caramel macaron shells with edible glitter and the rose macaron shells with a brush of red food coloring.

Chef Sarah explained that you must massage the bottom of each macaron to release it from the parchment paper. If you skip this step and try to lift the shells from the paper, you risk leaving much of the center attached to the paper.

Then you place the shells on a rack and match them for size.

After piping the filling onto a shell, you make the macaron “sandwich” by gently twisting the second shell onto the filling.

Assembling the macarons_collage

Top left: Brushing caramel macarons with edible glitter
Top right: Removing rose macaron shells from parchment paper
Bottom left: Piping ganache and assembling pistachio macarons
Bottom right: Creating the macaron “sandwich”

Photographs and collage by Discover Paris!

Chef Sarah and macarons

Chef Sarah and finished macarons
Photograph by Discover Paris!

This three-hour class was one of the most interesting and fun cooking adventures I’ve ever experienced. I highly recommend it!

Cook’n With Class
6 Rue Baudelique
75018 Paris
Telephone: (0)1 42 57 22 84
Internet: https://cooknwithclass.com/paris/

* * * * * * *
Join us on Facebook!