After a busy first session, I finally got a moment to share the experience of our week-long French culinary program in Provence with followers of our Paris school, Cook’n with Class Uzès. Read along to join us on our adventure in le Pays d’Uzès; a week full of food, wine, music and horses!
We had been planning our Week in Uzès French culinary holiday package for months. I would nag Eric on an almost daily basis for plans, ideas and schedules. I needed to see it all written down so that I could envision the week ahead. After all, I had to create the page and sell the idea to people so I needed to understand what was meant to be accomplished. I knew it would be great but I needed to be able to express that to the rest of world.
Eric went about making his menu wish list. To say it was ambitious would be putting it mildly – these folks were in for an intense treat. But we needed to try it out and we were so excited when our first student reserved for our March dates. I won’t lie to you, I didn’t want to do it. I had calculated and told Eric without 4 people, we would be out of pocket, but he insisted (like he often does), that we had to start somewhere.
I did all I could to fill up that class – ads, posts, videos and almost begging. I wanted it to be perfect and full. In the end we did manage to have a full-house, with two students and two invited journalists + one other invited guest. We reserved the entire guesthouse (Les Olivettes), because I wanted them all to have the entire experience. I am not one for cutting corners and generosity will always remain our motto – so no, we’ll probably never live in a palace but we’ll always be surrounded by lovely people.
I tried to think of all the minor details that would become elements of stress and strife during the busy week. Who would watch our son on the evenings we would be with clients? How was everyone planning on arriving at the house? I had to already think about the departure and the last day even before anyone arrived! I must have set about 15 alarms in my phone’s calendar to ensure that something was not missed – then I made us go over it again. When you are working together as a couple lines can be blurred and the important stuff can be forgotten. It is not always a walk in the park but I am quite fond of our duo – I think we compliment each other’s strong points at any rate.
We planned the daily schedule which Eric put together on a neat Excel sheet. I double-checked it for timing and asked the questions I thought students might ask. I booked the musicians for our closing event – a fabulous gypsy trio from Nîmes. We were going to thank our students and a few invited guests with a lovely, delicious (of course), musical feast.
When we debated over whether or not to skip the horse-drawn carriage ride to the Pont du Gard for our picnic offered by Emmanuel Pédeneau, Eric suggested that we sleep on it – no decision should be made in haste and he was absolutely right. I wanted us to go through all the steps – all the things that we really wanted to include so we could get necessary feedback and plan for future classes. We replaced the cheese & wine class with our Chef’s Table – Food & Wine Pairing class because I needed photos of that and we needed to see how Eric and our sommelier Frédéric would work together.
We tried to book La Table d’Uzès for a Wednesday night and learned that the hotel was closed till Thursday (as were many others) – could we still do it? Of course! Only needed to rework the schedule a bit to accommodate the changes. We would later learn that it was going to perhaps be our first and last session dining on the Michelin starred cuisine of chef Oscar Garcia.
Planning such a full program with tours, cooking classes, tastings, dinners and so on, can be complicated particularly when you are doing it for the first time and you are dependent on other people’s services. But honestly the planning process went very well – there were a few disputes but we worked it out. We had met some lovely people and they were more than willing to be part of this wonderful experience.
As the days approached I checked my phone’s weather app incessantly hoping that Spring would show its face and bless us with a wonderful sunshine filled week. It was looking not too bad but for one day but one day was not too difficult to deal with.
Our students baked, chopped, cooked, enjoyed wine, cheese, visited a farm, danced and dined and certainly felt their mark on us.
The result of this French Culinary extravaganza? Pure delight and exhaustion. Oh we’ll have to rework a few things, change out some equipment and decide if next year it will have to be more expensive – but no worries it will remain reasonable, but I am confident that the remaining sessions we have planned for this year (next up May 21-28), will be well received and hopefully well-attended.
The chefs and I trying to recreate Balbina’s illustration.
A special thank you for Balbina who under pressure from me, contributed some lovely illustrations for our Facebook profile pics and pages. Also thank you to our new intern, Paulina who executed my requests for menus, instructions and photos to ends way beyond my initial expectations. I am looking forward to the next time around and hopefully this time my son won’t deprive me of 8 hours of sleep over two days.
See you in Uzès. Your chance to inquire for one of our holiday packages below and a delicious recipe to try at home perfect for the season.
Why not try this recipe that we featured in our Chef’s Table- Food and Wine Pairing class during our delightful week in Provence.
Asparagus with Grapefruit and Herb Salad
|Serves||Prep Time||Cooking Time||Difficulty||Season|
|6||20 mins||5 mins||Easy||Spring & Summer|
|24 Green Asparagus
6 TBS mix of herbs (tarragon, basil, parsley, chive, comestible flowers…)
1 tomato in dices
for the dressing
1 tsp mustard
1 TBS honey
2 TBS sherry vinegar
4 TBS olive oil
2 TBS water
|Clean and peel the asparagus
Cook them in salty boiling water for 2 to 4 mins (you have to be sure they stay slightly undercooked)
Shock them in cold water to preserve the intensity of their green color.
Peel and segment the grapefruit
Make the dressing by mixing all the ingredients except the asparagus and grapefruit.
Add the Herbs and the dices of tomato to the dressing.
Cut the asparagus in half and serve 4 per person in a plate with the herb mix and one one 2 segments of grapefruit.
Asparagus is one of the nightmare foods for any sommelier. Why? Because of their metallic bitter taste, many believe they are impossible to pair. But our sommelier Frédéric was up for the challenge and expertly chose the Domaine de Malaigues, Cuvée Charme, 2014 for, as he put it, to pair bitterness with bitterness.