Adventures in Culinary Land, Day 3

HELLO out there!?!………. Hello!!?………. Is there anyone out there who can tell me how much French food I need to cook and/or eat before I start speaking the language fluently? I’ve been working hard, really, really hard ……….. but it’s just not happening……….. at least not yet ………..
…………. I’ve been cooking French food all week here at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park New York,where I’m spending the week studying French cuisine. I’ve personally cooked Bordelaise Sauce, Sauce aux Tomates Fraîches (fresh tomato sauce) and made over a zillion (well at least thirty) crêpes for a delicious dessert called Crépe Beurre-Sucre (Crépes with Butter & Sugar). I’ve also made Mussels in Cider and Cream, French Onion Soup and Ratatouille. I’ve watched wonderful demonstrations (do these count in linguistic expertise?) by our instructor, Chef Bruno about everything from Pâte Brisée to Spaetzle and Aioli.

Yesterday we nibbled on cheeses from every region of France: soft, hard, mild, strong, creamy, salty stinky, yes France has them all. It was so fun learning the unique specialties.

In addition to all this, I’ve eaten a ton of amazing French dishes created by my cohorts. If you didn’t stop by The Café yesterday you can see here what types of things we’re preparing (and enjoying) each and every day.

After all this, sadly, my French is still confined to the paltry few words that I knew before I came to this wonderful institution; lets see ……….. merci, au revoir, baguette, adieu, à la carte, crème brûlée, bon voyage, concierge and of course, thé, café, sucré and farine. That’s was about it when I came and, much to my chagrin,  that’s still about all I know!


Maybe …….. just maybe ……… the big “ah ha” moment is going to come tonight. Part of the curriculum  I’m enrolled in involves dinner at several of the fine dining establishments staffed by the very talented students here at The Culinary Institute. Tonight we are excited about dining at the award-wining Escoffiér Resaranté, legendary for it’s delicious French cuisine ………… I’ll let you know if this is the magic bullet, you know, the one that loosens my tongue for the French to come pouring out ……… 🙂

I was snapping pictures all day so I’ll finish this post with a few of them. It’s so much easier to explain my experience through pictures than it is with words. I know my photos are nothing like the ones that my photographer (aka mouse) takes but guess what? He’ll be here tomorrow! He’ll spend the afternoon and evening with me here at Hyde Park then head down to New York City for a three day workshop in food photography. I can’t wait for him to see my world here and I’m so excited about his classes as this is also a dream come true for him.

P.S. A note to my blogger friends; please don’t think I don’t like you or that I think I’m highfalutin because I’m studying French cooking. I’m still the same old me. I haven’t visited many blogs this week or answered many comments because at the end of the day I am just plum worn out. Most nights I’ve fallen asleep sitting up in the bed trying to finish my post for the next day. I’ll be back to see you next week and who knows, I might even be commenting in French ……… but then again, maybe not 🙂

If you visited The Café on Monday, you will have seen some photos of what I thought was the front of the CIA. Was I ever wrong. The front is actually in the back and faces out over the Hudson River. Check it out above and at the top of this post. Quite magnificent, isn’t it? There is a large terrace where I love to wander on pretty days.
View from the  front of the CIA. It’s set high on a hill on the banks of the river.
Every direction you look is gorgeous. The trees beautiful right now as they are in the midst of autumn transformation.
One more view as the sun was setting.
This is one of the fun restaurants within the CIA run by the students here. They serve sweets and treats along with lovely soups, sandwiches and salads. 
Everyday there is a long line down the hall and around the corner at lunch time  with people waiting to  eat at the Apple Pie Bakery.
Another of the student-staffed restaurants.
Our faithful friend, Richardo, showing us the proper way to caramelize onions.
You want crépes? I can make some serious crêpes! It took a bit of practice but I’ve got it down pat after about 30.
My cooking partner, Kenneth,  hard at work. 
Some of my cohorts working with Chef Bruno

Well, arrivederci till tomorrow ………… oops, wrong language, sorry about that! 🙂

19 thoughts on “Adventures in Culinary Land, Day 3”

  • i hope one day you can show us th eway to make proper crepes! good luck in your french! it’s also very late now, i shall come back and chk your posts later!! enjoy!!

  • I am amazed you have any energy to blog at all, Chris. I thank you for doing it as I think we are getting the blow-by-blow while you are sky-high with enthusiasm. As for the French, if you didn’t have it as a kid, honey, forget ever speaking it fluently. Just ain’t going to happen. I began learning French in my late 50s – took every course the local university offered, went to immersion school in Villefranche for a month for 5 years. I can read it, write it, understand it, but cannot get a paragraph out of my mouth in conversation. I am too Type A, too adult, too have to have it perfect. And, I am afraid, my dear, that you fit that description also. But, keep trying. I am still going to conquer this language……. Bonne Chance!

  • I can hardly wait until you get home and process what you have learned. I hope that you will share a few of the techniques with us. You are already such a great cook that I am anxiously waiting to see what you think has improved. I hope your husband will share his experience also since he is already very talented.

  • I’m glad the cheshire grin is still there as strong as on day one! What a beautiful little part of the world. Don’t worry all the French words must be hidden in the last meal you’ll learn how to make!
    Amusez-vous! (that’s French for have fun and yes I had to Google)

  • Looks like the most fantastic time. And you look like you are enjoying yourself immensely! Love these posts, I’m enjoying your adventure as well!

  • Oh Chris, I’m so proud of both of you, you and the mouse, what a splendid idea that you had, to combine those two activities that both concern food! well in your case.. fine dining?
    Maybe you’ll share this ratatouille recipe, so I can see how it actually is.
    You’re getting tired of me, but I honestly am so excited for you!
    Hugs and Kisses!

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