Carol and I went for a cooking lesson in Naples. Le Lafayette is a French restaurant that is heart-achingly lovely. Rosy, warm, pink and breezy, while it has the charm of the south of France, the boyhood home of the chef/owner Sebastien, it reminded more of the Caribbean where he had had a restaurant in Martinique for many years.
The lesson took place in the kitchen on a large marble counter top. We arrived a little late (Carol) joining 4 other people for the lesson. En premierement, he had us make vinaigrette for the salad we would ultimately have with our lunch, et puis he demonstrated how to make creme brûlée which would be dessert. (He also complained bitterly and a little over-long about a restaurant patron who gave him trouble).
The vinaigrette was interesting because he makes it all the oil first into the mustard and then the vinegar, backwards from how I make it, vinegar first into the mustard and then the oil drip by drip. It was certainly good and very, very mustardy. He uses canola oil not olive oil and cider vinegar neither of which, to me, is very French, but hey, he’s the chef. And a seriously opinionated one at that.
I’m not sure where his eggs came from but they had chicken poop, dirt and little feathers stuck to them. On the one hand that seems to suggest that they’re coming directly from the farm which I like, but on the other hand, it’s well, poop. As he demonstrated cracking and separating eggs, he took six eggs out of the egg carton and put them into one of the rust colored ramekins out of which we would later be eating the creme brûlée. He then proceeded to make the batter (?). His whisking technique was impressive. You don’t need to master that technique to make it and it is a remarkably easy recipe (and if you want one, google it). But you need a blow torch.
During the lesson he many pronouncements; about dijon mustard storage, determining the quality of a food store based on their mustard storage (I didn’t get that), quality of prepared food, expiration dates (hates them, as do I, of course), organic produce (hates that but seemed to not really understand the entire issue, I wasn’t gonna argue), and a couple other topics that I seem to have forgotten.
The group of us then repaired to the porch for lunch. Like I said, the restaurant is gorgeous. Beautiful place settings, lovely day and the conversation was very pleasant.
I had a croque monsieur and Carol had escargots (more on that later). The creme brûlée est arrivée and I have to say it was delicious even though I am not much of a fan of it. It was a little too cooked on the edges which is a minor and trivial thing to me. In fact, I doubt I’d have noticed it at all if someone else hadn’t brought it up. I was more concerned about getting the rust ramekin. I did not .