In the fall of 2008, I took a class at the Santa Rosa Junior College (one of the best JC's in the country) for fun. At least, it was intended to be fun, and it mostly was, except for the weeks where I was shooting 2 weddings in one weekend, buying a house and then moving, fighting a terrible cold, and trying to attend a 4.25 hour class on Friday nights. Phew! Luckily, the professors teaching the class were very understanding, so I was able to take the whole class even though I only made it to about 2/3 of the 11 classes.
I really wish I could have made it to every class, though, because it was a wonderful experience when I could be there. The class was actually, "French through Cuisine", which is what it sounds: a class teaching French cooking, spoken in French! I had wanted to take this class for years, and kept coming up with (as it turns out, valid) reasons why an intensive, late Friday night class during some of the busiest months of my wedding season would be tricky to fit into my schedule.
I'm horrified and grossed out by the smell and flavor of onions, but I did okay in French class anyway. I just didn't chop any!
The class consisted, each week, of 1.5-2 hours of French lesson, practice, and study, followed by 2-3 hours of cooking en groupe, cleaning, and (best of all) eating!
One of the nice perks of living in wine country - several of my classmates were involved in the industry somehow, so there was always yummy wine available with dinner:
It's obvious that I'm going to enjoy any class where I can both speak French (which I rarely get to do) and eat amazing food. But I also really enjoyed getting to know my classmates (who ranged in age from 18 to ... well, I'm not sure, but let's just say many were long retired) and les professeurs. I also felt really proud of each dish that my group made, and my contributions to everything - and the food was just amazing!
It is pretty scandalous how every recipe seemed to involve at least 20 ounces of crême fraîche. I had a really misguided diet at the beginning of the class - I was trying to avoid dairy and refined sugar for a month - and let's just say that most of the dishes we made involved a lot of both. Perhaps someday I'll try again.
It's hard to actually cook and take photos at the same time, so here are just a few ambiance shots. This one's of the vichyssoise my group made the last night:
The class also instilled in me a new found love for bacon!
Little self-portrait of me avec mon torchon et mon tablier, dan le miroir:
These vol au vents were eaten before I could get a shot - delicious!
Lamb, risotto (with a ridiculous amount of butter, cream, AND milk), brussel sprouts (same)...
In the mirror once again (love the cooking classroom!), some delicious mâche-citrus salads. Mâche (or lamb's lettuce) is my new salad crush - I can't wait to grow some in our garden.
It was a lot of fun, and I'm already thinking about taking the class again someday. You can also have breakfast or lunch at the SRJC Culinary Cafe to support the JC's Culinary Arts program (and pig out on affordable, delicious cuisine!).