Meet Carolyn, Frank and Gill my colleagues on the Gourmet Discovery Course at ‘The French House Party‘ in the featured image, Australia, Ireland and the U.K. are represented and we all share an interest in food! Today was to be taken up by a visit to the market at Carcassonne, a gourmet experience at the 1 Michelin starred La Barbacane, and our 1st cooking session.
I have visited numerous French food related markets over the years and they always seem to show produce at their best, always fresh, bountiful and ‘abundant’ as the recently departed chef, Antonio Carluccio used to say.
All the markets have a plethora of fresh fruit and vegetables, sometimes fish, and poultry swinging around a rotisserie spouting fat and aroma simultaneously, local specialities proudly displayed and Carcassonne was no different.One stall particularly caught my attention, extremely intricate pastries that were absolutely stunning, you can see an example in the picture above, Middle Eastern in origin and showing how food culture has spread across the world.Remi Touja has a Pâtisserie in Carcassonne and we passed by on the way back to to our next stop. Remi is top of his league and at 28 was working in Le Parc Franck Putelat, a 2 Michelin Star restaurant in Carcassonne, winning top awards for his work and we were going to have him teach us the following day. I have had the pleasure of Mark Tilling as a tutor for a day who was 7th in the World Chocolate Masters Final in Paris in 2009, so appreciate the skills that can learnt from such talent in a few hours, all very exiting.I am not a ‘car person’ but when we arrived at the entrance to Cité de Carcassonne we were surprised to see numerous Citroen cars from ‘yesteryear’, like a scene from Paris in Day of the Jackal they were in remarkable condition and seemed very popular. Our reason to visit the famous location was to eat at a renowned restaurant, the only 1 Michelin starred restaurant in the walls of the Citadel, La Barbacane. Suffice to say service was excellent, the food was excellent, the location was excellent, the weather was…. well you guess? Every dish showed its true light through well balanced flavours, quality ingredients and expert cooking we all were very pleased with the first of our ‘gourmet’ experiences, big tick in the box to Moira, our host for organising this visit.It often the local translations that can cause much amusement when travelling and this trip was to be no different, I always though cults should be avoided at all costs, now back to St. Raymond for some cooking with Laurent Jeannin and some hearty fare.
This was the first time the team of Frank, Carolyn, Gill and myself, Jules had worked together, and even more so in a kitchen producing any form of edible plated food, it was great fun. We jelled very quickly and started sharing life, jokes and global experiences which made the next few hours fly by.
Laurent is the newest member of the team, the previous mainstay Robert, retiring at 78 year of age, who I remember from previous trips as having a kind manner and being very calm and understanding. Laurent was a younger version and did very well, directing our efforts to produce some delicious hearty food as can be seen above!
Duck, Beef and yes, a Soufflé were produced over the three hour session and the end results were very tasty indeed. Laurent helped us with plating techniques and the end results were very pleasing to the eye.
As an aside, as I write this at 23:15, I have a miniature FM analogue stereo radio plugged into my head and have counted 20 or so local radio stations all pumping out tunes, mostly French but very enjoyable indeed.
……………Until next time……………..L8ers…………………