A Week Back in Paris–Part Trois. Thanksgiving Day and a Cooking Class!

Okie Dokie. We are finally resuming my week in Paris—Christmas preparations got in the way here. It’s a whole ‘nother blog post and wait till you read about the debacle.  Regardless, let us continue on our Paris adventures………………

It’s early in the morning. Thanksgiving Day to be exact.  Whereas back home, kitchen lights have been turned on in the darkness before dawn.  As the sun is still sleeping, people are preparing the bird. The Turkey. Whether it is a small one—just enough for a small gathering, or a monstrous one, enough to feed a clan, everyone is doing the same thing.  They are patting the turkey dry. Stuffing or not stuffing the bird. Is it stuffed or will there be dressing on the side?  Potatoes both regular and sweet are being peeled, pre-boiled and will later be whipped with loads of butter and cream, or dotted with butter, brown sugar and marshmallows.  The iconic Green Bean casserole is being put together.

Although I love me a nice juicy Turkey thigh and stuffing,  our tradition over the past non-Covid years has been for different fare in Paris!

Baked goods have been made or purchased ahead. The table is set early with the command to not touch anything.

Yeah. I realize THIS is a traditional and beloved Thanksgiving visual. I find it offensive because it’s ageist. Not all grandmothers are matronly. Okay? There. I said it.

We, in Paris, are also up early. Very early. We need coffee. We need to head to the garage to get the car because I’ll be spending the morning in a kitchen as well.  But I won’t be preparing a bird or potatoes or green bean casserole. Instead, I’ll be attending a baking class.  At Cook’n With Class on the other side of Paris.

And while everyone else across the Atlantic was prepping the birds, I was learing the skill of laminated dough!

It’s an odd thing, it is.  My husband grew up in Paris.  Rode the bus to the various schools he attended. He visited friends and family throughout the snail-shaped habitat. Yet, there are arrondissements he just never became familiar with.  The 18th Arrondissement being one of them. This is where Cook’n With Class is located.  And it took us over an hour to arrive at my 9:00 in-the-morning baking class.

To the far left we have the elegantly dressed Frenchman as a small boy. He grew up in Paris and had never ventured in to the 18th.  I guess it’s like my friends who wouldn’t travel to the Upper West Side of Manhattan to visit me!

After driving in what seemed circles in the stomach of the snail-shaped area of the City, I had a rather pragmatic enlightenment.

How many times can we circle around here buddy? Let’s get to the 18th!

I suggested we hook my iPhone up to the car and use Google Maps. This, my friends, became a life-saver, a time-saver and made driving to parts unknowns more pleasurable than you could have possibly imagined. Especially given the fact that my driver was my …shall we say very stubborn Parisien who refuses to ask for directions, this little app with the friendly, computerized voice was a best friend!

My little Google Maps app got us to where we were going with extreme efficiency and I made it on time!

We arrived at the location, a quiet street and as I eagerly exited the car, I was hoping that I would learn how to master the most challenging of all things baked—the laminated dough.  The class was on the smaller size which was great, a family visiting Paris and a woman from Turkey living in London.  Who, btw was great and we are now Insta-friends!

Even for a seasoned baker, you can’t go wrong with a class. Next visit I plan on taking the baguette class!  

It’s a charming environment that teeters between homey, rustic and the kitchen you wish you had at home. With two “kitchens” two classes are being conducted at the same time.   I took the croissant class and our instructor Sarah was epic greatness.

I’m a sucker for all things le coq. And when I saw this display I felt like I was in my kitchen!

One of the kitchens. I want this. Seriously. I want this kitchen in my home.

She was in total command and was concise and precise with her instruction. In addition, her time management skills in baking were to be admired—and she stressed the importance of cleaning as we go along (which is something I’m still trying to master).  She has had a dream patisserie career and is one of those people that if you became an ex-pat, you want her to be your friend!

Chef Sarah taking our pain aux raisins out of the oven. 

Explaining how her kitchen works. Completely in charge and that’s a great quality in a teacher!

She was also upfront and explained that it takes practice and time and patience to get it right and she was so correct.  I learned some cutting tips, the importance of measuring and weighing and learned to make the laminated dough.

Everything is so neat and orderly and that brush was fantastic for getting rid of excess flour!

Laminated dough–such a thing of beauty and something that eluded me for so long! I thank The Frenchman for surprising me with this class!

Measuring out the cuts for the dough…

the importance of a ruler..

..those triangles of laminated dough..

..will be cut, slashed at the bottom and rolled

…as will the little rolls of pain aux chocolat!

I immediately put those learning skills to work when I arrived home and, although, I did a relatively decent job the first time, the croissants and pain aux chocolat turned out fantastic the second time. (The issue with the first go ‘round was that I didn’t used a rimmed sheet and butter leaked—the kitchen was a smoke house for a while—all fans were turned on and windows opened but, in the end, the product was delicious.

I put my skills learned to home-baking and even though the butter leaked..

..and my oven ended up smoking like a group of employees on a Paris smoking break..

…my croissants turned out to be quite impressive and, according to my husband, quite delicious and very authentic..

I was especially happy with the flaky pastry of the pain aux chocolat. 

The class ended at noon and I was fully loaded with goodies as I jumped into the car.  My husband’s mouth was watering and he agreed that the croissant, pain aux chocolat and pain aux raisins were delicious.

We had a couple of hours to kill after arriving back in the 6th and after dropping the car back at the garage walked around our familiar neighborhood before meeting one of my husband’s colleagues for a drink before we headed off for our version of Thanksgiving dinner.

Always a pleasure to walk around and admire the Holiday decor!

..and even on the chilly Thanksgiving day, a pleasure to sit outside to people-watch!

We headed back to Citadines to freshen up and headed for the quick walk across Pont Neuf to Restaurant Paul on Place Dauphine. This restaurant holds a plethora of memories for me.  Back in 2006, it was the first restaurant in Paris that I ever dined.  We went with my husband’s aunt; Daniele Delorme and it was the initial wonderful dinners enjoyed with Daniele.  I miss her so much and we always manage to have a toast in her honor when we dine there.

Paris Place Dauphine. Chez Paul Fun with Daniele and Andre! | Atypical 60

Not Thanksgiving but this was one of our last dinners with Daniele at Paul. We dined outside. That’s my husband’s cousin next to Daniele..back to Thanksgiving.

A regular neighborhood restaurant. The staff *under new management* was very pleasant!

…and look! What’s this?  …

..another Bear!  I “bearly” had time to notice –I was very hungry!

I started off with bone marrow. I can’t help it; the bone marrow was so remarkably smooth and lusciously fatty-I could have had a second helping.  Vincent started off with a pate that was equally delicious.

Behold this gorgeous bone marrow.  And I wonder why my pants don’t fit..

And how about this excellent pate?

Our main plates consisted of veal for me and lamb for him.

The veal dotted with wild mushrooms and resting on a cream sauce was heavenly..

I almost grabbed for the lamb shank!

Fully stuffed, we made our way back through Place Dauphine, over Pont Neuf and back for a cozy remainder of Thanksgiving 2021 by reminiscing of Thanksgivings past spent in this City of Lights before falling asleep and looking forward to the next day’s adventure at the Musee Carnavalet!

Bonne Nuit!

Next post will be about our fun-filled Friday at the Musee Carnavalet

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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14 Responses to A Week Back in Paris–Part Trois. Thanksgiving Day and a Cooking Class!

  1. bone&silver says:

    Those croissants look AMAZING!!! Well done- what a great idea, to do a baking class in Paris 🙂

  2. Donna says:

    So glad to get this next chapter on your trip to Paris! The food looks scrumptious, and I’m jealous of the cooking class. We’ve got a trip to France scheduled for late summer, and I can’t wait! Fingers crossed we’ll be able to go… thanks for sharing your trip with us!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Donna, The way things are going I would say you’re in a good place to get back to France this summer. The French are very compliant with wearing the masks and taking safety precautions. Very different then the contrary frame-of-mind here with many! XOXOXOXO

  3. Congratulations on those Croissants, They look sooooo good. Can you eat just one? I love the idea of taking a baking class in Paris.I’m going to be taking some cooking classes via Zoom here in the states. Just wanting to cook something different for a change. Looks like we’re going to be IN for a while. So enjoying your trips and cooking. I always make a mess cooking also. Any tips on how to keep a clean cooking area?

    • Catherine says:

      LOL. Sandy. I AM, hands down, THE messiest cook and baker on the face of the earth. My tip? Get my husband to clean up after you-LOL! Surprisingly, Croissants are not my jam. I prefer brioche or tartine–but I’ll never turn a pain aux chocolat down! XOXOXOXO

  4. Debra says:

    Thank you for this – I’ve never been to Paris during the holiday season but hope to do that SOON!

    And I’m for sure going to take one of those classes this summer. I’m terrible at yeasted doughs so I think the croissant class will be the one I enroll in, but the market class looks like fun, if I can get someone from my family to come with me.

    Chapeau to your husband for driving in Paris. It is something I’ve never dared and don’t ever plan on trying. It’s hard enough for me to get away from Orly, where I usually rent a car – somehow I always end up driving around the warehouses at Rungis! I might try renting at CDG next time as it seems to have easier access to the freeway – on va voir.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Debra. TBH, the croissant class was great. I need the help with the laminated dough and it really was a tremendous help–and that dough is so challenging. No way would I get behind a wheel in Paris. I find NYC so much easier to drive in! XOXOXOXO

  5. marsha57 says:

    What a fun gift! Maybe we’ll see you on a baking show soon! This was the year we were going to finally make it to Paris, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I’m so happy to live vicariously through your posts. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Marsha! Actually………………………………………I’m going to, after I write about the trip–give my thoughts on how the trip was this time around. I think you might be surprised AND might be cautious about traveling overseas till this whole thing blows over! Stay tuned on this…XOXOXOXO

      • marsha57 says:

        I somehow think this damn virus is going to outlive me. Omicron is running rampant in Indiana, our Governor No Balls is doing nothing about it! So, I think we will be staying home for quite some time yet. I look forward to your blog posts of any kind!

        https://marshainthemiddle.com/

  6. Fiona says:

    Wow Cathe, your viennoiserie looks amazing! Kudos to you, I could not be bothered with all that faffing about no matter how much I adore pain aux raisins. Chapeau.

    • Catherine says:

      Fi–I am the queen of Faff!!!! I’ll be making more pain aux raisins and croissants this coming weekend. With perhaps a batch of scones! XOXOXOXO

  7. Bonnie says:

    So nice of Bonaparte to give you a class to learn to make something he “might” enjoy too – haha – so sweet. I’m remembering when husbands gave wives vacuumn cleaners and such as their gift. We put a stop to that in our generation. I do think the class sounded perfect for you. I’ve admired how much cooking and baking you do, even with a full-time job. Was this the way to your Frenchman’s heart?

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