Cooking with Christian Constant
Parler Paris–your taste of life in Paris and France
Monday, March 7, 2005
===== Special Sponsored Message =====
EUROPEAN BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY
Provision of fixed and mobile phone services. Representatives paid commission on expenditure of direct and indirect clients. Net reduction in client bills due to competitive rates and free calls to connected friends and family.
Presentation, Tuesday 15th, Paris
Contact Geoff Negus
Dear Parler Paris Reader,
Imagine my excitement when Christian Constant invited me to learn his treasured cooking secrets at his first private cooking class along with a few other selected individuals! More than I love to cook, I love to eat, so an opportunity to learn from the best and taste what he has created is a once in a lifetime occasion one wouldn’t want to pass up.
If you don’t know who Christian Constant is, let me remind you…
Constant won two Michelin stars as Executive Chef at the Hôtel Crillon’s Les Ambassadeurs, the Hôtel Ritz and Ledoyen. He has trained many of the hottest new names in French cooking, such as Yves Camdeborde, Eric Frechon, Alain Pegouret and Thierry Breton, who, I am told, are proud of being part of the “Constant Generation.” He won the coveted Gold Star at his own restaurant, Le Violon d’Ingres (number 135 rue Saint-Dominique, 7th), and has won rave reviews for his two new café style restaurants nearby on rue St. Dominique, Les Fables de la Fontaine (number 131) and Café Constant (number 139).
Please, do not confuse this Christian Constant with the “Chocolatier” Christian Constant on rue d’Assas in the 6th, a wonderful artisan, himself, but definitely not the same chef!
Constant has wanted to offer cooking lessons for food lovers for some time, in order to demonstrate his award winning cooking techniques and show how one can execute impressive dishes without too much effort. His hopes are to open his private kitchen about one Monday a month for a small, intimate group to witness, learn, participate in and then partake in the preparation of a three course meal, Constant style.
Today was his first attempt. I and nine others were the lucky Guinea pigs. Among our group were author Suzy Gershman (Born to Shop series and C’Est La Vie), cartoonist Barbara Dale (remember the funny riské greeting cards from a few years ago?), Discovery Channel’s Alan Grabelsky (Vice President of Production) and other noteworthy local and visiting directors, professors, attorneys and consultants.
Christian Constant and his Scottish wife Catherine, are warm, welcoming, spirited and gracious. They started us off at 9:30 a.m. with coffee and croissants at the tables at Le Violon D’Ingres (closed on Mondays) before donning our crisp white aprons and marching into the kitchen that serves all three restaurants. Catherine handed out the menu and instructions in English and translated Constant’s comments while he and his sous chefs prepared for the lesson. He proudly introduced Stéphane Schmidt, his number one sous chef, and Edouardo Jacinto, a new recruit from Brazil who he met at a gastronomic event in Sao Paolo.
After a brief tour of the three-part kitchen, Constant demonstrated the preparation of “Eggs Roasted with Breadcrumbs” then watched over and assisted each of us as we tried our hand at properly peeling the just-cooked eggs, sauteing them in butter and breadcrumbs, arranging the presentation of the plate with “mache” (known in the States as “baby lamb’s ear lettuce”), toasted “pain de mie” (white bread) spread with truffle butter, and to top it off, thin slices of truffle. Just some of the few things we learned during this first demonstration were that if you boil the eggs in water and vinegar, they will peel easier, that the best truffles are marbled and unearthed in January or February and that truffle oil should be used sparingly, but is delicious on salad.
We tasted the egg entrée ravenously and I caught a great shot with my pocket digital camera of Suzy licking her fingers — ripe for blackmail material!
We moved on to Sea Bass Encrusted with Almonds, Lemon and Caper Vinaigrette. Tiny croutons made up the crust that was pressed firmly into the flesh of the fresh sea bass (no, you can’t use Picard’s frozen fish for this!) and then fried in a light inexpensive oil. At the same time, a sauce mixture was made of “beurre noisette” (browned butter), lemon, gherkins and capers. The final presentation placed the fish on a bed of baby spinach, topped with toasted almonds, the sauce along with chicken stock surrounded the delicate mound.
Constant agreed that any firm fleshed fish would work well with this recipe (“aile de raie,” “dorade,” for example) and those of us who love fish, slivered away at it until every drop had been licked from the plates.
“La pièce de la résistence” came when we had our hand in preparing Coffee Chocolate Shortbread Tart. First, a “sablé” (sand) was made with flour, confectioner’s sugar, butter (tons of it), coffee extract, ground coffee and egg to form the crust. Kneading the butter into the mixture took strength as kneading dough would (and it was awfully tempting to lick my fingers, too, from the sticky buttery mixture that coated my fingers and hands). At the same time, a chocolate “sabayon” (eggs and sugar) was mixed (by an electric mixer) until it was smooth and frothy. Poured into the crust, only eight minutes later in the oven produced a light simple dessert that we couldn’t stop eating.
Once complete, we divested of our aprons, poured a glass of Chablis and toasted the hosts and Chef Extraordinaire. He and Catherine invited us for a full three-course lunch at Les Fables de la Fontaine just next door. Over Soupe d’Etrilles, Coquilles Saint-Jacques in butter (of course!) and another round of Chocolate Shortbread, drinking both red and white wines, we reminisced about the wonderful experience we had just behind us, planned for the next occasion in his kitchen, and savored his creative cuisine yet another time.
When’s the next one you can reserve for yourself or give as a gift for a friend?
For more information about Christian Constant and his restaurants, visit http://www.leviolondingres.com/
A la prochaine…
P.S. Brand new updates of are online and available for immediate download of Elizabeth Reichert’s “Writers Insider Guide to Paris” (for Novelists, Journalists, Poets, Dreamers and Doers Alike!) and Melinda Herron’s “The Insider Guide to Black Paris” (when Melinda Herron first came to Paris more than twenty years ago, she wanted to know where the Black hair salons were…). Click here to get these Insider Paris Guides (and more), plus a savings when you order any two or more: http://www.insiderparisguides.com/index.html
P.P.S. See you tomorrow at Parler Paris Après Midi…3 p.m. to 5 p.m., La Pierre du Marais, corner of rue de Bretagne and rue des Archives (3rd), upstairs! For more information, visit /parlerparis/apresmidi.html
* Learn how to buy property in France….the insights, recommendations, and discoveries about buying and investing in real estate in Paris and France.
* Great meals in Paris don’t have to be expensive. Parisians do it every day and Adrian Leeds tells how to pay less, eat better, enjoy Paris more. Learn how. http://www.insiderparisguides.com/restaurants/index.html
* We’re meeting in Paris this May for three power-packed days to learn how to make your dream come true! Learn more about our Living in France Conferences:
======= CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING =====
==GUEST ROOM/CHAMBRE D’HOTE==
Leeds Marais Guest Room
Located in a 17th century Le Marais Hotel Particulier, this 70 square meter two-bedroom apartment with lots of light is nicely furnished and is perfect for a single woman in the freshly renovated guest room when owner Adrian Leeds.
Pictures and more details available At /parlerparis/apartments/rentals/leeds.html
Think of coming to Paris before it high season — check http://www.parismarais.com — THE reference Web site for le Marais. Discover selected hotels and the best places to shop as well as last minute promotions on luxury weekly rentals.
For example: 4-star studios at only 100 euros per night instead of 140 or a loft rue Charlot at only 800 Euros per week… Visit now! http://www.parismarais.com
The best and easiest way to find an apartment in Paris…
So, you want to rent your own “pied-à-terre” for a week, a month or a year? It’s easy — there are thousands of apartments in Paris to call home, but it’s not so fast and easy to surf through all the thousands to fine the one perfect for you.
For just $39, we’ll do all the legwork and you’ll just move in and unpack. Let us do a customized search for you with our favorite short-term vacation rental agents!
To start your search, contact Adrian Leeds at mailto:[email protected]
* Property E-Zine: French Property Insider
Learn how to buy property in France. French Property Insider is an e-mail newsletter from the editors of Parler Paris. If you’d like to learn about the insights, recommendations, and discoveries about buying and investing in real estate in Paris and France that French Property Insider readers get every week, read more about a subscription here:
Cooking with Christian Constant
This entry was posted in 2005, Parler Paris and tagged ==apartment rental==, Adrian Leeds, Adrian Leeds Editor, Black Paris, blank message, c'est la vie, Café Constant, Chocolate, Chocolate Shortbread Tart, coffee, Constant Generation, Constant Parler Paris, Constant style, Constant won, email address, fish, French Property Insider, guest room, Insider Guide, Insider Paris Guides, Le Marais, Le Marais Hotel, Le Violon, Leeds® Adrian Leeds, Les Fables, loft rue charlot, Marais, Melinda Herron, mobile phone, number 135 rue, old email address, Paris Après Midi, Paris Contact Geoff, Paris time, parler paris, Parler Paris Après, Parler Paris classifieds, Parler Paris Email, parler paris reader, private cooking class, Property Insider Learn, real estate, sea bass, sous chef, Sous Chef Stéphane, Stéphane Schmidt, treasured cooking secrets, truffle. Bookmark the permalink.