“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ....Oscar Wilde

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Bienvenue a la Maison de Maitre.....French cooking and language course

Before the madness started of packers, containers and generally not being able to find anything because everything has either been moved or shipped off, I had a fantastic gift from my hubby which was to attend a French cooking and language course. 
It took place on a Sunday morning and I have to say it was quite nice to drive through Melbourne whilst the traffic was so quiet. I know realise that there are some parts of Melbourne that I still haven't seen yet! 
There wasn't much activity on this particular peaceful Sunday morning I have to say...except for the odd car, joggers and fitness fanatics, dog walkers and yawning Dad's accompanying far too energetic, enthusiastic kiddie-winks to the park! Along with the obvious benefits of holding the course on a Sunday, in order for everyone to be able to attend, there's also no parking restrictions and plenty of spaces near to hand. Yay!

Bienvenue a la Maison de Maitre....

« Convier quelqu’un c’est se charger de son bonheur pendant toutle temps qu’il est sous votre toît.  » Brillat-Savarin 1826

«To invite someone is to take responsibility for their happiness for all the time that they are under our roof.» Brillat-Savarin 1826

Greeted at the door of La Maison de Maitre by Maggie Brocher (one of the Directors of Corporate Language Communications Company) I was also greeted by the fabulous waft of garlic and Madame Chantal Moritz busy with her preparations for the delights ahead. 
Chantal is a French chef and language tutor, who has a passion for French cuisine and an ability to teach simple French cooking skills in the French language. 
It was a delight just to listen to her friendly chatter. 

Born in Paris to a family of French chefs, Chantal followed the family path of cooking good honest country cuisine. She believes that "cooking should not be overly complicated simply by choosing fresh seasonal products at their best using local ingredients and adding the personal touch and lots of love".

With Chantal and Maggies friendly personalities plus the French music helping to set the scene, it soon enabled all of the 'foodie' and amateur gastronomes to relax and mingle whilst having a cuppa. 
Always a good start in my book!
I didn't really appreciate quite what was to come during the course because not only was it to have audience participation, there was also to be a three course meal with wine! 
This part was a total surprise to both me and my hubby.
He was at home expecting his Sunday Roast later that day......oops back to the drawing board sweetie!

As we sat down at the dining tables all 17 enthusiastic wannabe's took it in turns to introduce ourselves to the group. I know that can be terrifying to some people, but this part was in to be in English...the terrifying French version was to come in between the main course and dessert! 
Don't worry Chantal was so gentle and encouraging that we all survived...even the ones who nipped to the ladies in the hope that they'd miss their turn!
Nowadays I do try to taste everything and anything, realising that I can't possibly say I don't like something if I haven't tried it first. But when I realised what was to be come I nearly fell at the first fence!

Yes I know I should have expected them...but I didn't. 
Just a little detour here to explain that when I first got married....years ago...I wasn't much of a cook and so took myself off to a cooking night school. Why I chose a Cordon Bleu cooking course I don't know to this day because how many times do you need a Black Forest Gâteau when you arrive home mid week after a tough day at the office. See I told you it was years ago...BFG how retro is that? 
It would probably be a deconstructed version today!
As part of the course (run by a very cute chef I should add) we were introduced to snails or should I say escargot. I desperately wanted to decline but as I say he was cute and very persuasive. He explained that I should try one and if I didn't like it then that was okay, at least I'd tried and I'd never have to have one again! 
Well I'll skip over the gagging and baulking details...but suffice to say I didn't like them!!!! So I vowed I wouldn't need to have them again...EVER!

But then enter Chantal....
Now being a woman she was switched on and had already anticipated the reaction of many in the room, so she disguised them by wrapping them in beautiful pastry parcels. We were all able to watch the whole process from our seats on the overhead TV. 
We also had the amazing aroma of the sauce which was reducing on the stove. 
So here are the little darlings....

Apologies for the poor quality of my photo below because the light wasn't the best for taking photos!

As you can see I made a polite attempt to eat them, but really only moved the parcel around the plate taking a tiny piece of pastry to get the essence of the dish. I hope Chantal isn't reading this but if you are Chantal I apologise because I wrapped them into my serviette to take home a pressie for the boys. What a laugh I had when I told them that in fact they weren't tough mushrooms as they thought but escargot!
As I mentioned earlier this course was audience participation and we had all entered our names onto a white board to volunteer to help on a particular part of the meal. 
I decided to help with the main course and was set to chop and prepare the vegetables for roasting. Again I couldn't help myself as I began chopping crazily like the top chef's do, but without going near the veggies. It was priceless to see everyone turn to look with a gasp at my efficiency until they realised I hadn't chopped a thing! I know simple things and all that...but it was a giggle.

On to serious stuff...the main course...
Poulet Moutardier / Chicken with Mustard Sauce 
This dish was so simple but so tasty. The roasted veggies (potatoes, tomato, onions, aubergine, courgette, theme, salt and pepper and probably lots of other veggies that I'm forgetting but you get the idea) cooked so easily in a large oven dish and looked so attractive. 

After a civilised glass of wine...either red or white (French of course) then Chantal began the language exchange that although struck me with terror initially was actually fun. 
And so onto dessert...one again apologies for this photo...I certainly haven't done it justice here.

Lemon tart accompanied with chocolate mousse and raspberry coulis. This certainly was a quick recipe and didn't actually bake in the oven. Perfect when time is of the essence, but I have to admit I don't think I could change from my own favourite recipe...here it is if you'd like to try it out...

Here's Chantal and Maggie at the end of the day's course...obviously even though it's hard work it's very rewarding and enjoyable for everyone. Thank you ladies for such an great day...good wine, fantastic food, pleasant surroundings and meeting new like minded people. Magnifique! 

If you would like to take a look at the details of future courses then click here....La Maison de Maitre

Et Bon appétit!


  1. Sounds like a good day out, except perhaps for the snails!! But the rest looks delish! Hugs, Valerie

    1. Morning Valerie, how's your weekend going? Good I hope ;D
      You're right, it was a great day...everyone seemed to have a good time. Plus I didn't have to cook another roast dinner when I got home, so it was a totally indulgent day ~ just perfect :D
      Enjoy your Sunday whatever you have planned!

  2. such an exciting and creative gift from hubby, I think you enjoyed this very much and probably came away with lots of tips!I would love to do this,

    1. It was a great idea Laurie, because I'd said when we where in Quebec over Christmas that I'd like to try to speak more French plus the food there was so great. So when my hubby saw that this course covered the two it was just perfect.
      For my next pressie I hope it'll be an arty course, but I mustn't be greedy ;D
      I hope you're having a great weekend.
      Pop the kettle on cos I'm coming over soon :D

  3. Sandy
    Oh how I would have loved to do this!!!! The food looks fantastic!

    1. Apologies Sandy...I must have omitted to publish your comment so I've attached it now ;D
      I'm sure you would have loved the course and to indulge in a three course meal was such a bonus!
      Je vous remercie pour votre visite ~ je remercie vous temps.
      Avoir un merveilleux week-end :D

  4. The very thought of eating snails makes me want to gag--even wrapped in pretty pastry. I would have nibbled and passed, too. But the rest sounded and looked delicious! What a treat! :)

    1. It was a great day Rita, I really enjoyed it ;D


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