Wednesday, May 5, 2010

this little piggy went to market

I've had some great food experiences recently: dinner chez my Dutch friend Sjoerd (from superior class); dinner at Le Hide - a fabulous restaurant in the 17th run by a Japanese chef who trained under Joël Robuchon; dinner round at H's for her birthday last week; a fondue night at Le Refuge des Fondues in Montmartre where they serve wine in baby bottles; several market trips; and a visit to the world-famous Poilâne bakery where you can buy a very cool bread box for a cool 244€.

Our class dinner at L'Atelier Maître Albert however - "a restaurant with Guy Savoy" - was disappointing. The amuse bouche of tiny grilled mussels on cocktail sticks had bits of shell and dirt in them and the chilled tomato soup tasted just like Heinz. The cod with herb mash was very good, if a bit basic, and the lamb shanks, while perfectly cooked, could have done with some figs or prunes or similar to sex up the sauce. Not really what you'd expect from a restaurant with links to a Michelin starred chef (actually, chefs aren't awarded Michelin stars, their restaurants are, but let's not split mussel beards).


H is determined to be fluent in French by the time she leaves Paris in five weeks - which for someone starting from scratch and who sounds as if she's convulsing when she speaks it - will require a miracle of biblical proportions. She's started reading children's books, the French equivalent of Janet and John, and she likes someone, anyone - me, J, waiters, shop assistants, unsuspecting passengers on the Metro - to read words out to her to help her with the pronunciation. So I spent an excruciating 20 minutes in a posh coffee shop in chic St-Germain-des-Prés last week, reading Jeanette et Jean: Allons-y jouer (let's go and play)  aloud.

This badgering even continues in class. I'm pretty focused in our practicals and don't like to engage in idle chitchat, so I'll be concentrating on filleting a lemon sole or making a brunoise of carrots when I'll look round and see H through a haze of smoke, leaning casually against the wall admiring her nails, and she'll say: "Mate, how do you say in French, my saucepan's on fire?"


We have our written exam in just under two weeks so I'm going to have to knuckle down and start studying - which means no time for frivolous blogging I'm afraid.