La Cuisine was by far the best part of my trip to Paris, and I will never forget it. My mom and I took 3 classes together and also went on 3 tours (yes we were spoiled, and yes, we loved it). It was all fantastic! Jane and Olivier (the owners) are lovely people and quite easy to talk to; you can tell that they love what they are doing - and it pays off.
Bellies on Foot tour:
We started our La Cuisine Experience with the Bellies on Foot tour led by Karen. The tour was fabulous, it was led through the Les Halles area of Paris. There were so many interesting facts strewn throughout the narrative that I felt like I was learning, and not just there to eat (though that did occur, too!). Not only did we go to food shops (boulangeries, fromageries, patisseries, etc.), but we also went to St. Eustache Church (which we returned to on Sunday afternoon for a free organ concert), and cookware stores. Also, Karen was super sweet and took the time to answer all of our questions, giving us advice and tips for our stays in Paris as well.
Path to Paris Pastries tour:
This was the tour that I was most looking forward and it did not disappoint! It was led by Karen, who was, again, great and went all throughout the Marais. We lucked out with this one because the tour was just the three of us (me, my mom, and Karen), so we really got to take our time, and when we went to the pastry shops we got to pick out exactly what we wanted to try (although we went with her excellent suggestions sometimes, too!). All of the shops we visited were fabulous and the treats were all exquisite. Since it was just the three of us, partway through the tour Karen took us to a cafe by the Place de Voges and we all got some coffee/tea and just chatted for a while. We didn't return to La Cuisine (which is what we did after the other tour) to eat our treats afterwards because we ate them on the tour (this would be different if there are multiple couples/groups on the tour).
Fit for a King (a tour of Versailles): Upon arriving at the meeting location we got canvas La Cuisine bags filled with water and tickets. We then hopped on the train (which was insanely crowded because of the rail strike) and headed to Versailles. This tour was led by Karen (unfortunately she doesn't do the cooking classes, though, so this was our last class with her) who did all the research for the tour herself. She took us to the Potager and told us the history of it (be careful walking through a botanical garden at the back as I got poison ivy!) and then took us to the quaint gift shop (be sure to get/taste their strawberry jam). Afterwards we walked to a market which was huge, beautiful, and everything you could ever want in a market. Then we went to get lunch (set courses) together, and also ate some cheese and nougat that Karen bought at the market. Afterwards we all went our separate ways.
French Market Class: This cooking class was taught by Chef Diane. She gave us a few options of main meat/protein and we went from there, with her making up most of the menu on the spot. Since the menu changes from class to class, not everything has a recipe, so be sure to write things down on the recipes that they give you! Everyone contributes to the meal regardless of cooking experience. Very good class with a fun chef!
Our next class was the Croissant and Breakfast Pastries Class, which was my favorite class. It was taught by Chef Frances, who was very sweet and gave lots of good criticism and tips! We made four pastures from our laminated dough, and also learned how to make creme anglaise as it was used in two of the pastries. After cooking we were able to taste the fruits of our labor and got to take plenty home as well!
Our final class was the Macaron Intensive Class taught by Chef G! The class was great and we learned both techniques for macarons (French and Italian). We also made four separate fillings and got to choose our own colors for the cookies. The class was very fun and I learned quite a bit, the only downside was that there was not enough time have the macarons set in the refrigerator before the end of class. But all in all it was awesome.
*Side-note: High praise for Karen who led all three of our food tours. She was truly fantastic. Very personable, knowledgable and kind. You're quite lucky if you get her as your tour guide.
Bottom-line: it is a must in Paris. Take whatever fits your fancy as there is no class below excellent here.
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