Wednesday, October 15, 2008
We got off early and headed north to Avignon to the La Mirande Hotel where our friend Jean-Pierre is teaching a class on Farcis (stuffed vegetables, such as cabbage, zucchini, tomato, eggplant, onion, zucchini flowers and mushrooms.) Jean-Pierre’s cooking style is Provençal. In fact, he is such a great chef, Iron Chef Sakai invited Jean-Pierre to teach his protégés how to prepare and cook Provençal dishes in Japan. He has gone to Japan a few times armed with his recipes.
The class was held in a beautiful old kitchen in not quite the cellar-level but one floor above. There were seven in the class, five Americans and two French. The best thing about the class was that we all participated in the prep work, i.e. we became Jean-Pierre’s collective Sous chef for the morning. We all had cutting boards, paring knife and veggie peeler.
Chef Jean-Pierre was an informative teacher as he relayed his thoughts on his cooking-style, recipes and why each one has particular herbs and spices. The Chef gave a task to each student; we serendipitously eyed each other to see what talent everyone possessed. I was especially impressed with one young gentleman with fantastic knife skills – the Chef said “julienne this”, and whoosh, slash, stacked, and done beautifully. Wow, the competition is stiff.
Fortunately for David and me, we got most of the “stuff this” vegetable. Which was fine because as you can see from the photo, they turned out beautifully? We stuffed the eggplant, tomato, and zucchini and made the stuffed cabbage.
Everything went into the oven and we sat down with some wine to eat the finished product for lunch. Viola! The Chef’s course is great because you learn that you can accomplish a tasty vegetable dish.
That evening, our friends from Riboto-de-Taven came over for dinner. I prepared a mixed salad, pork ragu over pettole abbruzzi pasta and garlic bread. We all spent a lovely evening together. We found out from Jean-Pierre that the gentleman in the cooking class, who had fabulous knife skills, is a butcher. Philippe has already made dinner reservations at Chez Beverly when we return in the spring, quite a compliment.