I don’t speak french, but I know all about joie de vivre. We found it in Paris last summer, in the midst of a general strike, only hours after historic flooding, and just months after a devastating terrorist attack. We heard it in the animated chatter of proud Parisians, smelled it wafting from their sweet […]
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Katherine’s magic spreadsheet took us all over Paris, through parks bustling with happy children and uninhibited lovers, into cool bookstores and sweet patisseries, across flooded rivers and ancient cobblestone, to five-star restaurants and delicious street vendors. But, the best gift her research brought us, unwrapped itself in Le Baiser Salé, a Parisian jazz club. Cynthia […]
I picked up some excellent tips on cooking and the fine art of French flirting during our recent trip to Paris.
The tres beaux Chef Erich taught me the former; my own two daughters taught me the latter.
It happened like this:
Katherine, who can whip up a perfect triple chocolate marshmallow cookie faster than you can say “oui!” took one look at our handsome instructor and forgot how to crack an egg.
“Kat-reen,” Chef Eric said. “You must hit the egg firmly on the table.”
“Like this?” Katherine, who had been successfully cracking eggs since the Bush administration (the George H.W. Bush administration), giggled a little.
I rolled my eyes and turned to Molly, my partner in sarcasm.
But, she was otherwise engaged.
“I’m trying to think of a whisking pun right now,” said Louie, a tall, precocious California teen-ager.
“Well, I’ve been whisking you had one,” a laughing Molly responded.
Mon Dieu! We’d only been in Paris a few short hours and already I hardly recognized my own kin.
I busied myself taking pictures while the two girls, the sweet teen, a mother/daughter duo from Pittsburgh and a Parisian couple helped Chef Erich whip up a cheese soufflé, a très délicieuse vinaigrette salad, and, best of all, a chocolate soufflé.
“Kat-reen will you help me serve dessert?”
“I’d be delighted, Chef Erich.”
I did pick up a few excellent soufflé cooking tips I’m happy to share.
1) Steam makes soufflés rise and crust traps the steam. That’s why you may want to add a layer of grated cheese to the top.
2) To avoid lumps, start whisking in the center of your bowl and work your way out.
3) Butter the ramekin in the direction you want your soufflé to rise.
4) Determine your whisk size based on the amount of air you want to add to your dish. Big speed equals big bubbles. Small speed equals little bubbles.
We all had a great time, ate some delicious food and shared a few laughs. We highly recommend La Cuisine, a cooking school located right on the banks of the Seine in Paris. And tell Chef Erich Kat-reen sent you.
Most days, Paris really does smell like a warm croissant — buttery, flaky, rich — and we enjoyed every delicious bite.
In our short time there, we found our way to 22 spots bookmarked by our most Excel-lent guide, Katherine.
Her glorious spreadsheet brought us to nearly every arrondissement in Paris — a slam poetry reading, a gypsy jazz concert, a cooking class, a très chic clothing store, a crepes restaurant, a falafel house
We walked 19 miles our first full day, drank tea on the Champs Elysees, lit a candle in Notre Dame, posed with tourists on the grounds of the Louvre, shared charcuterie and a bottle of wine.
Over and over we crossed the beautiful, swollen Seine River. We took a day trip to Giverny and Versailles, and then spent four hours seeing all that beauty captured on canvas at Le Musee d’Orsay. We toured Victor Hugo’s house, then traced his walking path through Luxembourg Gardens.
We ate a croissant every morning (pistachio was my favorite), and sipped a little wine every evening, tasted escargot, coq a vin and two different kinds of soufflé, and hilariously chatted as well as we could.
“What are you doing here?” asked the timid Norbert, who’d been forced to keep our company when the bar owner barked this at him: Are you afraid of American women? No? Then move over and let these ladies sit with you!
“We’re tourists,” Katherine replied.
“No,” Norbert said. “What are you doing here. There’s an English speaking place right up the road.”
Eventually, poor Norbert warmed up to us.
Our cooking class with the très beaux Chef Eric taught us the fine art of French flirting and how to crack an egg, but that’s a post for another day. I became obsessed with Claude Monet and that’s a post for another day. And, thanks to Katherine’s research, we discovered a young French jazz singer who blew us away and that’s a post for another day.
I snapped a few (hundred) photos. At the risk of making you feel like you’re trapped at a dinner party viewing our vacation slides, I’m sharing a few…