My Travel Blog

Our Taste of French Cusine; From Behind the Apron!

It’s Friday and we’re off to our cooking class.  We met Chef Alex Miles at his favorite coffee shop. Some of his local friends stopped by to say hello.  Christine, a young lady from San Diego joined us, as she was also taking the class.  Alex had brought croissants from his favorite bakery for everyone to enjoy along with their coffee or tea.

After coffee we walked a short distance to Dijon’s covered market.  Alex took us up to the mezzanine where the public isn’t allowed. From there we had a great view of the market designed by Gustav Eiffel.  Once back on the market floor Alex took us to his favorite vendors.  He told us what to look for, and why he liked the produce and cheeses he bought. Chef Alex was constantly on the lookout for the freshest local produce.

“Dijon’s covered market designed by Gustav Eiffel.”

“Not everything in the French markets appeal to the American palette.”

“Alex buying cheese at the Dijon Market.”

“A lesson on mushrooms.”

From the market we walked another two blocks to where Alex and his wife Elizabeth live.  For larger groups Alex uses a friend’s kitchen, but for our class his well equipped compact kitchen worked just fine.  Of course we couldn’t start cooking until we had something to eat.  Alex brought out some pate that he had made and sliced up a baguette purchased that morning from his favorite boulanger.  Lisa and I love pate, and we have tried every kind imaginable.  We both agreed that Chef Alex’s pate was the best we had ever had.

 

“The best pate we have ever had.”

“A little butter never hurts.”

Alex proved to be a fountain of knowledge as he discussed each step taken during the class.  For example he does not cook mushrooms in oil or butter.  He drops them in a cold pan, covers the mushrooms, and heats them up until they begin to release their liquid.  He then lowers the heat and lets them cook in their own juices. That way all you get is the taste of the mushrooms.  Alex said that the strong flavor of oil or butter would only cover up the earthy taste of the mushrooms.  We agree.

For the main course Chef Alex usually makes lapin (rabbit) in a mustard sauce, but neither Lisa nor I like lapin.  Alex said no problem.  In its place we made chicken in mustard sauce.  You have to remember I was just an observer so I can’t tell you how everything was made.  I will say that the mustard sauce Alex, Lisa and Christine made was some of the best I had ever had, but then so were the grilled potatoes and almond crust plum tart we had for dessert.

“Fresh Green beans, mushrooms and chicken in the red/orange pot.”

“A plum tart ready to go into the oven.”

“A vegetable, mushroom and puff pastry starter.”

“I loved these potatoes.”

“A plum tart with almond crust for dessert. It doesn’t get any better.”

It was a great class.   But best of all we made some new friends.  We are looking forward to having Alex and Elizabeth on Rabelo, as well as taking more cooking classes in the future.  If you are ever in Dijon and enjoy cooking, a class with Chef Alex Miles is a different kind of experience and well worth the time.  If you don’t speak French don’t worry Alex is from the Bronx.

-Tom Miller
Author of “The Wave”  and “When Stones Speak”– 
Chuck Palmer Adventure novels

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About the Author:

Tom Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He is a consummate adventurer with over 1,000 dives as a recreational scuba diver, and an avid sailor who has traveled 65,000 miles throughout the Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands. Miller has also cruised the canals of Europe on his canal barge and given numerous lectures on cruising the canals of Europe, as well as sailing in the South Pacific. Piloting is also an interest of Miller's, and He has completed over 1,000 hours flying everything from small Cessnas to Lear jets.