Promenades Gourmandes in Paris
It was during the spring of 2001. I was planning a backpacking trip around Europe with a friend, to follow our college graduation. Seemed like a common thing to do at the time, but our trip leaned heavily toward the culinary end of things, whereas many other graduating students may have chosen to concentrate more on what to drink. We signed up for a weeklong culinary class in Italy’s untouched hill town of Casperia, highlighted gelato shops in Rome and Florence to hit (several times a day mind you), restaurants to try in Prague, dishes to taste in Corsica, and of course, planned a stop in my favorite city, Paris. A cooking class would be necessary there as well. I had just read about a Frenchwoman organizing a class where you shop at a local market and cook lunch from all the ingredients just purchased. I called Paule Caillat, and a friendship was formed. She’ll always remember that call, and that it was a rainy day in Paris, for it was I who informed her she had been in Gourmet Magazine!
My friend Joey and I ended up spending a fabulous day at Paule’s class, Promenades Gourmandes, starting at Paris’ oldest market, Marché des Enfants Rouges (on rue de Bretagne in the 3rd arrondissement) in the morning, cooking lunch at Paule’s apartment in Paris’ Marais neighborhood, and getting a royal tour of her favorite food shops that afternoon (with a clothing shop here or there, fashion being both Paule and Joey’s other passion). Paule is a sprightly petite woman with more energy than a 15 year old, with so much to say and share – and no worries, all in perfect English. Just be sure to have had breakfast before meeting her, you’ll need the energy to keep up.
Fast forward 7 years to this summer in Paris. I once again donned a Promenades Gourmandes apron, yet stood beside Paule as her assistant. Five students included a Canadian couple living in Las Vegas, and two young American girls studying in Paris and in Brittany, the latter accompanied by her mother, who flew in from Minnesota. We all met at the famous pastry shop Stohrer on rue Montorgeuil, in the 2nd arrondissement, and the day began with an overload of fun information about Paris’ markets, differences in the way the French display their meat and how it’s done in America, proper etiquette with your market caddy, so as not to roll over any passerby’s feet, and so much more. We picked up fresh cheeses, a whole assortment of vegetables for the day’s terrine, ripe apricots for one of Paule’s signature tarts and a whole chicken to make “Bouillabaisse de Poulet,” a recipe (see below) originally by Raymond Oliver, one of France’s most well-known chefs during the 1950’s, owner of Le Grand Vefour and first to host a food show on TV in 1953. The dish was a delicious take on Marseille’s famous fish soup, made with pastis, fennel, saffon, tomatoes and potatoes. A quick stop at Eric Kayser’s boulangerie at the end of the street for the best baguettes, and back to Paule’s apartment to get cooking, literally.
Within minutes, everyone had their aprons on and found their places at the table, where a packet of recipes, pen, plate, paring knife, and glasses for water and wine awaited. To work. A fully hands-on class, everyone participated, trimming haricots verts, peeling tomatoes, chopping zucchini and asking questions along the way. Following Paule around her kitchen is a task in itself, as she moves on Energizer batteries, left and right nonstop, giving a play by play of her actions, and sharing yet another interesting fact about a food or Paris or history or even politics. While the terrine cooked, it was Fromages 101 – Paule taught us all how to properly cut cheese (also one of the handouts in the packet), insisted we could eat the rind, recommended wines to go with and made sure everyone tasted each one. Our platter included 2 goat cheeses: Pouligny and Crottin de Chavignol, and 3 cow cheeses: Saint-Marcellin, Reblochon de Savoie and Comte.
Your hard work pays off as you eat the fruits of your labor. The terrine cooled off on the window sill and all the flavors set, fresh vegetables in a light egg base. A simple recipe (see below) to showcase the market’s fresh vegetables, whether it be spring peas, asparagus or zucchini. Just be sure to give the vegetables a quick steam first to make sure they are cooked through in the terrine. Paule added a sprig or two of wild mint with the peas, which added another element to the taste in the end. As for the apricot tart, the recipe includes a special Caillat family crust, which I am not sure my blog is privy to. Sorry, you’ll have to take a class with Paule to find out. And I’ll be the first to say, it’s worth it. Both Joey and I have been using the technique for all of our fruit tarts since our class in 2001.
TERRINE DE LEGUMES DU JARDIN (Vegetable Terrine)For 8 servings (30cm/12 inch mold) 2 small zucchinis 10 green asparagus stalks 6 eggs ½ cup (150 g) liquid cream 1 tsp tarragon, chopped 1 tsp parsley, chopped Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 360 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celcius). 2. Wash the zucchini, but do not peel. Cut into small dices. Trim asparagus ends. 3. Steam vegetables until ?al dente.? 4. Mix the eggs thoroughly with the cream, add the tarragon, parsley, salt and pepper. 5. Place the vegetables at the bottom of the mold, cover with the egg/cream mixture and bake for 45 minutes, or until set (check with a knife). 6. Remove and allow to cool before unmolding.
– You may use carrots, string beans, peas or broccoli cut up into the same small size. Make sure to steam until al dente before baking in terrine.
– The terrine, which can be prepared the day before, is best served at room temperature or cold, but not ice cold.
Serve with SAUCE VIERGE 2-3 tomatoes, diced and seeded 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced finely 1 bunch of mixed herbs: chervil, parsley, tarragon, chives 1 cup (25 cl) olive oil A few drops of lemon Salt, pepper or Piment d?Espelette
1. Place tomatoes in a bowl with the olive oil, chopped herbs, garlic, lemon juice and seasoning. 2. Set aside at room temperature for 2 hours.
LA BOUILLABAISSE DE POULET de Raymond OliverFor 4 servings One chicken, cut up, skin removed 4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced 2 onions, chopped A pinch of saffron (threads or powdered) 4 garlic cloves, peeled, core removed and crushed 4 potatoes 1 fennel, minced 1 cup (25 cl) olive oil ½ cup (12 cl) Pastis 1 Tbsp chopped parsley Salt and pepper to taste 4 slices of stale sourdough bread
1. In a baking dish, blend ½ cup olive oil with the Pastis, saffron, salt and pepper. Coat the chicken pieces with this marinade, and let sit for 20-30 minutes. 2. In a cocotte, heat the remaining half of olive oil, add the chopped onions, crushed garlic and sweat until translucent. 3. Add the diced tomato and fennel, cook at moderate heat until the mixture is soft. Add the chicken and its marinade. 4. Cover barely with hot water, season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 30 minutes. 5. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and slice. Cook in boiling salted water until barely done. 6. Remove the chicken when done. Also remove the vegetables, put aside in a warm spot with the potatoes. 7. Bring the cooking liquid to a boil and reduce until thickened, check the seasoning. 8. In a large serving bowl, place one piece of stale bread per person. Coat with olive oil, pour cooking liquid over each slice of bread, add the vegetables and chicken, and garnish with parsley.
Serve with AILLOLI 2 egg yolks 4 garlic cloves 1 cup olive oil Salt and pepper to taste
1. Crush the garlic cloves into a paste. Add the egg yolks and blend thoroughly. Season. 2. Pour the olive oil in a fine stream over this mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk or fork. When the ailloli thickens, taste and add the lemon juice if you feel it is necessary, or a spoonful of the cooking liquid. Serve on the side.