Saturday, August 15, 2009

Another cooking class

Nomiya is the restaurant perched on top of the Palais de Tokyo, all but impossible to get into because of its views of the Eiffel Tower and its sheer novelty (the French have mastered the pop-up shops, especially at Colette, but pop-up rooftop restaurants are a whole other ballgame). But with the restaurant, the museum and Electrolux (maker of kitchen appliances) launched two-hour cooking workshops, which I gladly opted in for.

The site does a good snow-job of making it sound like you’re in fact going to be cooking up on that roof, under the personal tutelage of Gilles Stassart. Even though neither was the case, it was a fun class nonetheless.

The space is white, slick and huge. There were 11 of us with a charming female chef, and we were divided into three groups: one preparing the fish, one preparing the veggies, one preparing the dessert. Which group do you think I joined?

The lunchtime menu was grilled sardines with coriander (now I know I like sardines—yay!), sautéed Provencal vegetables and plum clafoutis. I liked the simplicity of the menu as it was manageable for a large group and also the essence of modern French cooking: let the flavors of the ingredients do the work.

Although I didn’t touch the sardines, I kept my eye on the group as they deboned, dressed and cooked them.

I wanted to get a close-up of the skin so you could see the brilliant color—such a pretty, iridescent blue-silver—but it was something I couldn’t capture with my little camera.

Nor could I capture the gorgeous colors of these berry sauces, one cassis the other groseilles, which accompanied the clafoutis.

I worked on the clafoutis—a custardy cake that’s baked with fresh fruit and made with plenty of eggs, butter, sugar and cream.

Aside from baking with Pichet back in New York, it was my first time using scales to measure ingredients, which is how the French do it, and is a more precise way of baking, which is what you need when baking. Or so they say.

It turned out okay. I would have liked more plums baked in the cake and a less eggy/custardy consistency.

This is me feeling all Julia Child in an apron, smiling because dessert is on the table.

I was also happy as the fun and lovely patissier Rachel Khoo happened to be taking the same course, and she’s next on my list for cooking adventures in the city.

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