January 26, 2003

Learning proper French Cooking at and Inn

We has a wonderful weekend at a L'Academie de Cuisine French Cooking weekend held at the Mercersburg Inn in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. The Inn was fantastic, with wonderful accommodations, great common rooms, caring innkeepers that are friendly and very helpful, and very good food.

The cooking portion of the weekend was great. It was a present from Joy and it turned out to be a wonderful gift. The weekend revolved around the founder of L'Academie, Francois Dionot guiding the 14 students through making a four course French meal each day. The 14 split into four teams that prep and cook their portion of the meal. The meals are prepared in the kitchen of the Inn, which is just large enough for the 14, the instructor and his wonderfully helpful wife, and one person helping clean-up. Saturday's meal was a Cream of Cauliflower and Roquefort Soup with a Roquefort Flan, Quennelle of Salmon with Saffron Butter Sauce (our dish we helped create), Beef Goulash with Mashed Potatoes, and a Caramelized Pear Cake with Calvados Creme Anglaise. Today's menu was a Bourride of Fish with Aioli, Quail Salad with Polenta and Porcini Dressing (our dish), Chicken Blanquette with Root Vegetables (including salsify), Phyllo Tart of Chocolate and Raspberry with Chocolate Sauce.

We had a lot of fun and learned a lot. Francios is a perfectionist as one would expect and hope for as it pushed us to expand beyond what we knew. We also learned about adding more salt, not table salt, but wonderful sea salt (Sel de Mer) and kosher salt (containing all the minerals that should be in salt). Everything that was made was wonderful and a glass of wine was raised to the team that helped create that course. We also met wonderful people also taking the course, which was an added blessing. We plan to make courses at L'Academie a regular part of our lives and hope the rest of them are as fulfilling as this weekend.



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