Welcome To Lyon. The Gastronomic Capital Of The World.
The French are known not only for their cuisine, but also for their technique. So, what better place to learn French culinary techniques than in France itself! And now we’re in Lyon! So what do we do? Enroll in a cooking class, of course!
A promising 3-course meal instruction at L’atelier De Cuisine De Lyon. The menu included a Sea Bream Tartare with Peaches (pictured above), Chicken Breast with Basil and curried vegetables, and Chocolate-Raspberry Fondant with Caramel Emulsion.
Tartare de daurade aux peches, mesclun et emulsion au romarin (Tartare of Sea Bream and Peach with a Rosemary Cream and Mesclun Salad):
I love a good peach. Especially yellow peaches. And the peaches in our basket were incredible!
They were sweet, yet tangy. Soft, yet had just the right amount of bite. They had this incredible sweet, fruity scent you could smell through the fuzzy skin. And that gorgeous reddish-yellow color! Taste, touch, sight, and smell. 4 out of 5 of my senses were engaged! At the expense of sounding crazy, I am tempted to go as far as to say these peaches in my hands were actually saying…”eat me! eat me!”
The sea bream itself was a great fish for this dish. It was easy to work with, was not overwhelmingly fishy, and tasted incredibly fresh! Especially when it was mixed with the peaches, shallots, olive oil, sweet balsamic glaze and mesclun… it was a wonderful flavor combination!
The fail in this dish was the rosemary-infused “cream” because it didn’t live up to being a “cream”, and it wasn’t really infused with any flavor. It was just a melted whipping cream with not enough air in it to set. The concept had potential…but the execution needed work.
Would we make it again? Absolutely!
Tip: Try this with other fresh fish and fruit combinations! Why not add an extra dimension of sweetness and crunch with some refreshing jicama!
Recipe coming soon!
Supreme de volaille au basilic, wok de legumes au curry (Supreme of Chicken with Basil and Curried Vegetables):
This dish itself made the cooking class for us…a perfect example of letting the star of the show be the star of the show, without the frills and 30 different spices to ‘give it flavor.’
A few leaves of basil placed under the skin and straight into a hot pan (skin side down) and then a sprinkle of salt and poudre de piment d’espelette on the meat side facing up…et voila!
As we wait for the chicken to crisp up, allow me to explain what this poudre de piment d’espelette is:
- The Ingredient: Basically, it’s Espellete pepper powder. The chili powder itself has a deep orange-red color, and a sweet, smoky, mild heat. The flavor and smell reminds me of paprika. I don’t recommend smelling it… the peppery-spice might take over your senses for a few minutes…
- The History: Turns out the pepper was introduced to France in the 16th century, and now some regions have replaced black pepper with this stuff. In fact, we went to a couple of restaurants that had “salt and red pepper shakers” on the tables. Well, now we all know what the red pepper is.
- Buying It: We were so amazed by the flavor that we actually went to a spice store and bought a jar to bring back with us (our list of souveniers from Europe is quite sad….it includes chili powder, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and mustard). Lucky for you, I’ve done the extensive research for you — you don’t have to go to France to buy poudre de piment d’espellete! You may be able to find this pepper at most Italian grocery stores near you. And if you’re a real lazy git, just order it on Amazon Prime.
Back to the chicken….after a few minutes with the chicken skin side down and browning to a crisp, it was immediately removed and placed meat side down into a baking dish and straight into a preheated oven (450F) for 8 minutes to finish cooking. Remove and let the loosely foil-covered chicken rest for 8 minutes or so AND DO NOT CUT IT OPEN “JUST TO CHECK IF IT IS COOKED”… trust me, IT IS!!
Chicken, basil leaves, salt, and espellete powder. 4 simple ingredients made an incredible dish!
Now, the pain-in-the-a** vegetables. Don’t get me wrong — the vegetables were delicious. But we had to julienne carrots, celery root, and asparagus. And for those of you that have julienne-d carrots, you know — carrots are not fun to julienne. It strikes me as such a dangerous task… I always feel my fingers are at risk of being chopped off. But I guess this speaks to the precision involved in French cooking. The focus is not only on developing great flavor, but also on presentation. French cuisine is just so delicate and beautiful!
Anyhow, the vegetables were delicious! Here is where we saw the overlap between French and Asian cuisine, not only in technique, but also in flavor. The vegetables were seasoned with a bit of salt, curry powder, and black sesame seeds, and this side went so well with the chicken!
Would we make it again? Obviously!!
Update: We got to England and I actually allowed Simon to crack open my prized jar of Espellete Pepper Powder to make the chicken and vegetables again for a large crowd. We couldn’t find celery root, so we used parsnips instead, and it worked! I am proud to say there were no leftovers. Score!
- My Sad Confession: At the risk of sounding like a real selfish asshole, I will also admit — the opening of the jar was tearful as I watched Simon sprinkle one-too-many grains of my prized espellete powder onto the chicken…. I was watching my stash slowly disappear, grain by grain! That being said, I do feel relieved having seen the same jar available in our local Italian Market! Double score!
Recipe coming soon!
I felt the dessert was a bit of a fail. It was an overcooked raspberry-filled cupcake. And the caramel cream was not really set. Perhaps it had the potential of being a good dessert. We’ll have to cook it again to see.
Would we make it again? Perhaps…
Recipe coming soon!
Overall, other than a couple of “creamed” hiccups, this was a worthwhile experience.
We left with the reinforced belief that a great dish is achieved by respecting the ingredients and sometimes, less is more!