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I could have licked the inside of that lobster!!

Well, we had our cooking class with Daniel Rose and his very lovely sous chef, Marie, today at Spring. To call our afternoon with Daniel simply a cooking class is to call the Mona Lisa simply a painting. This was, so very clearly, the highlight of not only this trip to Paris, but ALL our trips to Paris!

We got to the restaurant a few minutes before 10am. The restaurant was set up with 4 place settings and all kinds of goodies were on the kitchen counter. Daniel offered us coffee or wine, and although it was 5pm somewhere in the world, we decided to start slowly and each had a very strong cup of expresso. Daniel went through the ingredients he had chosen for us and what he had in mind for the different courses. There were 2 different whole lobsters, North American and European. There was lots of delicious looking strawberries, some asparagus,little round potatoes, lots of fresh herbs and greens, lemons, limes, oranges, onions, ginger, garlic.......well, you get the idea.

We got a little more comfortable with each other, talking about many different things, including Daniel's trials and tribulations re: getting his new place in the 1st ready and up to code, how Daniel and Marie met, the "must eat" foods whenever they visit Montreal (bagels and smoked meat sandwiches), the crazy chef at Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal who puts foie gras on just about everything, including poutine, their recent visit to Thailand, our beautiful grandson Sebastian and how we want to bring him to Paris in a few years, the cost of living in Paris (sob,sob) and so much more. I found it amazing that we could feel so comfortable with such relative strangers, but they both made us feel like old friends and put us at ease from the moment we came through the door. Daniel mentioned that because of time constraints with trying to get the new place off the ground, they are only able to have these cooking classes a few times a year these days! We felt like we had won the lottery just by being here.

We did a little chopping, a little hulling of strawberries, Den shelled some tiny crevettes grises, and Daniel and Marie explained what they were doing and why every step of the way, but it really wasn't a conventional cooking "class". Den and I have been cooking for over 30 years each, so we were very happy that this was more like friends cooking together in a kitchen at home than a teacher/student type of environment. Daniel and Marie made us feel like we were guests in their home (which we actually were, if you think of it) and there was lots of laughter, story telling, wine drinking and great tips on sauces, broths, mayonnaise, hacking live lobster, making lemon creme, keeping things simple, but using the very best ingredients and making sure they shine.

We cooked and prepped, drank and chopped, laughed and sliced for a couple of hours. Time flew by and it was time to sit down and enjoy the fruits of our (mostly their) labour. Daniel and Marie sat with us and nibbled and sipped wine, but they only plated 2 servings of each course. They explained that they really couldn't stop completely as they still had to finish and serve each course. And what courses they were!!

The first plates were 2 different types of lobster salad, made with the North American lobster. They were served with blanched asparagus, roasted potatoes, the seafood mayonnaise and the vinegar based mayonnaise that Daniel whipped up from the same base of egg, mustard and oil right before our very eyes. I really can't do justice to the delightful, delicious food that was served to us since I'm not a food writer and I just don't have the right adjectives and descriptions available to my limited vocabulary. Just know that this was the best meal we have ever had, and we are both 49 (OK, Den isn't 49 until September, and he doesn't let me forget it, either). Daniel served us a nicely chilled Chablis which seemed to disappear rather quickly! We went back to the kitchen counter as he prepared the next course for plating and we just ate it standing up at the counter, just like old friends. It was the tiny crevettes grises that Daniel and Denis had painstakingly shelled earlier that morning, served with freshly shelled petit pois and those great roasted potatoes, served in the broth that the shrimp shells had simmered in, along with a bouquet garni. The shrimps themselves were pan roasted with lots of aromatic vegetables and spices and deglazed with white wine. We slurped up every drop and drank more wine and sang Daniel's praises. He is so happy when his guests enjoy his food and his eyes and face show his pleasure over our pleasure!

Marie then began to prepare the Brittany lobster, which was still alive and kicking. She hacked off his claws and pan fried them in a little butter and hacked the rest of him right down the middle and fried him up in a very hot pan with more butter. Daniel wilted some greens I had never heard of, but I would gladly give up sex for, and I've forgetten the name but not the taste (Den googled it for me, it was French sorrel). They were very lemony in flavour and he spooned them over each half lobster and we sat back down at the table to devour this feast. To say we were in ecstacy would be an understatement. The lobster was so fresh, so delicate and so flavourful, with the simple butter sauce, the greens melting into the lobster meat and the lobster innards (which we ate and didn't think too much about, since they were so damn good) that I was moaning and swooning with every bite. I lapped up every delicious drop of meat and toppings with my bread and I would have licked that lobster clean if I had been alone!

Next we had a wonderful fresh chevre with a white Burghundy Graves, which went perfectly with the cheese. Daniel and Marie then went back into the kitchen, where they plated fresh blueberries, raspberries and strawberries swimming in the strawberry juice that Daniel had made first thing this morning, with some freshly whipped up creme fraiche and some toasted brioche for some crunchy contrast. It's amazing how fast this disappeared, along with more of the wine, but that's OK, because there was still more sweetness and deliciousness to come (you can tell I'm running out of adjectives here!) Our last of 6 unbelievable courses was more of those sweet strawberries served with the lemon creme we (he) had made earlier and another version of the lemon cream made airier with some whipped eggwhite and sprinkled with chocolate shavings. Can you say orgasm on a plate? I probably shouldn't, but dammit, that's what it was and we spooned up every last drop and drank the last of our wine. Daniel and Marie had an appointment with their architect and were very apologetic about rushing us out the door. (after almost 5 hours of being there, 3 bottles of wine, 6 courses of fantastic food, great, friendly conversation and opening up their kitchen and giving up one of their precious day offs ~ yeah, that's really rushing us!)

What did this most wonderful afternoon cost us? 150 euros per person!! We had an unforgettable experience with one of the most talented chefs in Paris for less than half the cost of a meal at one of the Michelin starred restaurants in the city. We got to know 2 of the sweetest, most charming, unassuming, funniest people you would have the privilege of ever meeting. We sat around and learned, absorbed, inhaled, Daniel's brillance and inventiveness as well as Marie's charm and warmth, and her expert technique. We felt welcomed and comfortable, which is more important to us than almost anything else, but we also experienced a level of cooking that most people will never have the joy of knowing.

Thank you so much to both of you for giving us an experience we will never forget. We will treasure the memories and tastes of this afternoon for a very long time. We look forward to seeing you again next year, and hopefully toasting you at your new location! Merci beaucoup!!

We finished up our afternoon by walking to Denise Acabo's L'Etoile D'Or, a shrine to French chocolate. We spend a little while talking to this well known Parisian icon, who still proudly wears her pigtails and schoolgirl attire at the young age of 73! She is the only retailer in Paris who can offer the famous Lyon chocolate bars made by Bernachon. We bought a small ransom's worth of goodies and decided to walk home through the 9th, 2nd, 3rd and 4th arrondissements. It was much cooler and more comfortable for walking than the last 2 days and we got home a little after 5pm. Dinner will be takeout and leftover market goodies tonight, we are still full from our unbelievable lunch. Wine and chocolates for dessert end another great day in the most wonderful city in the world!

Comments (1)

Michek:

So Johanne lobster at your house when you get back.LOL So happy to see you and Den are having a real great time enjoy.

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