Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Cooking My Way Through Paris

Ah Paris... The city the world dreams about. Inspiring writers, artists and musicians for centuries. 
Paris is a city that wants to tell a story, a story the entire world is eager to hear. 

One can witness its twinkling lights, stroll along the Seine, shop the Champs Elise, explore the iconic architecture, take in exquisite art and only scratch the surface of what Paris really is. 

"A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty and in the point of life"
-Thomas Jefferson 

My adventures of 2012 led me to Paris. However, unlike many, I didn't go there for the art, fashion or for love, instead I went to Paris to cook. 

For an entire week I had the luxury of waking up to a breakfast of fresh croissants before taking the walk through Momartre towards Rue Baudelique and my second home for the week, Cook'n With Class, a boutique cooking school where I began my journey into the art of French cooking.

Cook'n With Class is a boutique cooking school based in Momartre offering a large range of high quality French cooking classes in the warmest most relaxed atmosphere. Don't worry, all the classes are taught in English, and are incredibly hands-on. 

As I went to Paris pretty much specifically to cook, I decided to par take in A Week In Paris - A package deal of 5 cooking classes. The classes I chose were the Evening Market Class, French Deserts, French Baking, Macaroon, and a Molecular Gastronomy class. 

As I wasn't writing a blog at the time, I unfortunately don't have many photos of the classes themselves, but I will do my best to show you a little of my time at the school, and my time Paris. (like many, my gallery contains possibly too many photos of the Eiffel Tower...Forgive me - I just couldn't help myself! I am a tourist like everyone else after all!) 

The Evening Market Class was my first. Our chef for the evening was Alex Dreyer. Alex was actually my chef for almost the entire week. Extremely funny, kind and informative in his teaching methods, Alex always made it a lot of fun! (It was also really lovely to have the consistency of teacher, as it meant that every day I got to walk in to a familiar face! I also got to learn the system of how the school, and Alex personally worked meaning I could get the most of my week there.)
For the class, myself and 3 other women were taken on a tour of the nearby market and stalls, learning the ins and outs of purchasing fresh produce in France. We were flooded with tips on purchasing meats, seafood, in-season vegetables and cheese. The menu is then created based on what you find on your tour. The rest of the evening is spent cooking and devouring the most delicious food with lots of chatter and wine. For those interested we made crispy sea-bass followed by veal farci served with pommes anna and season vegetables before a peach tart and a platter of fresh cheeses. 

I have done a couple of cooking classes elsewhere in the world, and Cook'n With Class stands out by far. What I loved about it most is that you will never find more than five students in your class making it incredibly hands on.

Next, I participated in a French Deserts Class producing passionfruit creme brulee, lemon tart, a flour-less chocolate souffle, madeleines, a strawberry tart, and a delicious red current sorbet. 

Molecular gastronomy delved into the weird and wonderful world of combining science and cooking. On the nights menu were sidecar cocktails, mushroom veloute, pea and carrot ravioli (were the carrot was used to create the "pasta"), re-constructed poached egg, herb crusted pork, and chocolate mousse with mint caviar. I know a lot of these recipes don't sound like much in the way of science, and I so wish I took more photos and could remember enough to explain everything we did! But you probably wouldn't believe me anyway ;) This is more to give you an example of the range of dishes one can learn at the school.

The Macaroon class is fairly self explanatory. If you are wanting to delve into the delicious world of macaroons I highly recommend attending a class of some form. They are extremely fussy and require many things to be "just-so". I am currently experimenting with the recipe at home, and still haven't been able to quite get it right with my oven. I think it will just take more practice! Thankfully I have enough people around me willing to help with the trial and error process.

French baking is also fairly self explanatory. It is a class where you learn the art of making pastry for the most delicious croissants, pain et chocolate, apple strudel, and sultana scrolls. This is also a class I highly recommend as the pastry is rather fiddly, and there are so many little handy tricks to be learnt when you actually are able to talk to someone about them. 

I had such a incredible week in Paris. One I will never forget, and would do again in a heartbeat!!! The classes are perfectly balanced with participation and observation. You get to eat all of the food you cook, and often take some samples back to your hotel room (my hosts were very pleased with me walking in each day with a box of treats to share)

After the lessons you are sent all of the recipes to add to your recipe book. I have loved coming back and trying them all out in my own kitchen so much so that you may find a couple pop up in the not so distant future. It is also a wonderful way to meet new lovely people from around the world, something I am all about.  

The staff are incredibly helpful and so kind. You can ask them anything and if need be they will answer any of your questions by email outside of the classes when and where they can. Oh and there is some form of alcohol involved in every lesson which is always a bonus! There is always time to celebrate with a glass of bubbles in Paris! 

I always know an experience has affected me if I continue to talk about it well after the event took place - My time cooking in Paris was over a year ago, and I am still talking about it endlessly!!! If and when I return to Paris I will definitely be adding a trip to the Cook'n With Class school! 

I can not recommend it enough. If you are in Paris, or thinking of visiting soon do yourself a favour and look them up. You can find their website here. Take your time to explore all of their class options so that you can find one that is just right for you. 

I am sitting here listening to the soundtrack of the beautiful Amelie, dreaming about jumping on a plane taking me right back to my last time in Paris. 

Do you have a love affair with Paris? 


  1. Oooh this looks delicious and so much fun, I may have to make a visit myself while I'm living in Paris! X

    1. Please do! Do it for me if nothing else ;) I am jealous of the fact that it is an option for you to consider taking a class - let alone that you live in Paris! Thanks so much for stoping by. x