Then: At 5:30 a.m. on a Tuesday, I was rattled from my sleep with an idea. The sit-up-straight-out-of-bed kind of idea. Instead of setting up shop at one French cooking school, what if I hopped around the European continent and sampled from a variety of courses in different cities and countries? That's how Culinary Hopscotch was born. Follow me on an epicurean tour of cooking schools in countries around Europe and beyond. I'll be traveling and cooking for about three months, so if you're curious about where I'm headed, just ask. Otherwise, I'll be updating my whereabouts in the Twitter section on the right. The culinary crusade starts on January 29, 2010, and I'll be doing it all in a carry-on.

Now: We live in Portland, a culinary capital in its own right. I man the stove chez nous and plan our meals weekly on a colorful pad from Anthropologie. Things have changed a bit from the old school days of Culinary Hopscotch, but it makes sense (to me) to keep it alive. Look for posts on restaurants we visit, culinary happenings in the news, what's on the menu in our kitchen, and more!

Been There, Cooked That

Monday, February 1, 2010

Le Marais

The metro is like a warp zone. I descended in one climate today, and ascended in quite another. Look at the picture on the was tough to capture, but the woman behind me and I could hardly contain our laughter as we ascended to the street on the escalator and saw a blizzard before us. That's not rain; it's enormous snowflakes that accompanied me and my umbrella down Blvd. St. Germain until I ducked into a cafe. 

So much for that Fat Tire bike tour today...

Instead, I waited for the storm to pass, and after walking down to Marche St. Germain, I took the metro again up to where the Soundwalk tour I had downloaded for my iPod started. It cost €5, and provided a private tour of shops, restaurants, and historic sites in Le Marais. "Le Marais" in French means "the marsh," and this area is one of the lowest in the city, and very close to the Seine. As such, it's predisposed to flooding, which is how it got its name.

It is also the Jewish quarter, which is evidenced by the many falafel shops on Rue des Rosiers. It smelled fantastic. The walk traced the route of a fictitious singer who had an audition at Place de Vosges and had lost her walkman with her tape. With my iPod strapped on, she led me around the Marais to various cafes, bookstores, theatres, and even the bar I had looked up where they do magic tricks. It was closed today or I would have put the tour on pause for a bit.

The tour was impeccably timed, and my walking pace matched the narrator's to a tee. I would arrive at the intersections when it was time to turn, and often be directly in front of the addresses she was referencing. It was also cool how one of the stops was an enclosed courtyard, but she gave me the code to open it up and get inside. Evidently, it was where her mother lived. Je ne sais pas si il est vrai.

The weather improved as the day went on, and this was a fun way to see a part of the city I was very unfamiliar with...until now. Tonight, I'm meeting a friend for a drink back in St. Germain, and then some friends from my cooking class at the Buddha Bar near Hotel de Crillon. Fingers crossed the ascent at the Mabillon metro is more favorable. 

Tomorrow: Cooking class number two at Ecole Ritz Escoffier.

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