Saturday, April 10, 2010

Flower Arranging Class in Paris

I was in Paris for my birthday this year and I gave myself the gift of attending a flower arranging workshop with Catherine Muller, a delightful and creative florist, at her new store,'s a display from her store - yes, those are coins glued onto a torso.
Catherine's classes are in French and English and she can even throw in the odd Korean word. There were five of us in the class - three young women from Korea, myself, and another Parisian florist. Just an aside.....I've previously taken a flower arranging course in London and there were two gals in the course from Korea. I'm thinking that flowers must hold a special place in the hearts and minds of the Korean people. Does anyone know the reason?

Raw products were at each station ready for preparation of the first arrangement.
) My first arrangement of peonies, lilacs, anemones, one large hydrangea, and long strands of ivy (Catherine's signature style is natural and she uses sprigs of ivy in the arrangement as well as ties the bouquet with it instead of wire or tape.

We deconstructed this arrangement and Catherine demonstrated how to use the same flowers to create a centrepiece on a mirrored surface. She scattered water drops on the mirrored surface and petals to simulate a sprinkle of rain.

I thought this was so creative - using 2-way tape to attach single hydrangea blooms around a small vase to hold a floating votive.
The afternoon's arrangement resembled a cake of flowers on a pedestal:
Catherine's final arrangement of the day incorporated lavendar roses, sweet avalanche roses, pink nerines, vanda orchids, and magnolia branches. This would be suitable for an office desk because the flowers are arranged vertically thus taking up less space.
Catherine also has a blog which gives a link to her flower school. Interesting to note is that one her students, Laura Dowling, is the new florist for the White House.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Cooking Class in Paris

Before going to Paris, my sister-in-law, Susan, sent me the Eye Prefer Paris blog by Richard Naham (transplanted New York restaurant owner and caterer) which linked me to the Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes. Having a free day on the Friday (classes are offered Wed. through Sun.), our group of four women decided to try it. It turned out to be one of our best experiences that week.

Richard picked us up at the Raspail Metro station at 9 am. and we shopped the Raspail market selecting seasonal ingredients for the lunch we would be making.Richard pointed out that often radishes are presented as an accompaniment to appertifs with butter and salt...the green stems removed but not necessarily the white tails. White asparagus were in season. Scallops from Normandy were displayed in their shells.
The Raspail market is open Tuesdays and Fridays and also includes clothing items such as reasonably priced scarves (beautiful ones for 5 euros) and stylish kid's clothing.

Following our market tour, Richard took us on a Metro ride to the private townhouse of our cooking class chef, Charlotte Puckette, a delightful woman originally from Charleston, South Carolina who has 13 yr. old triplets and has lived in Paris for over 20 years operating a successful catering business. Over coffee we discussed the lunch menu we would make:
Asparagus Tart with Chevre and Arugula
Roasted Duck Breast with Fig Gastrique and
Chocolate Fondant

Note the beautiful stone walls of Charlotte's newly designed kitchen - making up the entire first floor of her townhouse. Here is some of our group trying our hand at the asparagus tart.
and the finished product...
The recipes were easy to adopt to our Canadian kitchens using ingredients we could find at home. Cost of the class and market tour is 185 euros per person (about 4.5 hrs.) and it would be ideal for 3 - 6 people.....a wonderful addition to any Paris trip. Richard also does shopping tours to stores known only to insiders.