We’ve been buzzing along here in ‘The Cap’ kind of like a plastic sac in a swirling wind. Mostly due to the frequent swirling in our very own verre de vin (wine glass). This weekend was the wine festival along the waterfront aptly named VinoCap, stumbling distance to our apartment. There were close to 90 wine booths, each offering a white, a rose, and a few styles of red, so using new math, that’s about 450 dégustation de vin! Hic!
French wine tasting is more of a family affair. Even children were seen holding familiar looking stemware with the telltale logo of the event. That may explain one sighting of a little person in a grey hoodie curled up like a koala on top of his father’s shoulders. His bobbing head and rouge stained drool was a dead giveaway. ‘A’ for effort little one, ‘A’ for effort. Most people held their own. There were no brawls or miss-stepping in to the quay. Actually it was all very educational. We tasted many varietals unfamiliar to us, such as pinot meunier, picquepoul, cot, and tibouren. It all sounds made up. It makes me wonder how wine varietal names come to be; I’ll have to look into that and get back to you. Another discovery we enjoyed was smelling a wine and then tasting something completely unexpected. There was a Muscat Sec at one booth. It smelled…..well, ‘muscat-ty’. It was floral and sweet smelling, but when we tasted it it was clean and dry and not sweet at all. We have come to realize that we have many hours of homework ahead of us. It’s all in the name of education. My poor liver.
Cooking has been going well, although I may have dropped French at exactly the wrong time. I was transferred to the morning cuisine group, a fairly amiable bunch and as luck would have it, mostly French. I really wasn’t ready for emersion, but that’s basically what’s happened. My partner was a vociferous older mademoiselle, who felt if she spoke enough French eventually I would miraculously become bilingual. Sadly, no.
To top it off, Chef tossed a blank piece of paper at each team and said, “Use these 4 ingredients minimum (basil, mozzarella, tomatoes, & vinegar) and I don’t want to see any caprese salad!! No traditional plates! Allez!”
“Shit.” I said.
“What was that?” chef asked.
“Thank you, Chef.” I replied. People sniggered behind me.
After copious gesticulations and rudimentary sketches, my teammate and I rallied together and started on a dish. I tried to make basil alginate that was a complete flop. Georgia, my teammate, attempted to sauté some tomatoes and then cut them into little circles; they weren’t going to cooperate. Finally we plated some very attractive panko crusted deep fried mozzarella towers. Chef gave us the thumbs up. Whew!
Next week the chances of me teaming with another French cook are pretty high; I just might know a phrase or two before the end of the course…more than ‘ce goût de merde’ and baiser!
Truly, one of the reasons I left the French course was a crowning conversation that I’m still trying to see as amusing rather than beyond embarrassing. My last day in French class…
What better way to learn more about all things French than from a Frenchman?
It went down something like this:
Me: Stephan, do you like putain?
Instructor: excuse me? Can you say that again?
Me: do you like putain, ya know, with the balls? I’d like to learn about it. What are the rules?
Instructor: I don’t think I understand you.
Me: You know PUTAIN! You have balls and you take turns! I’d like to learn about putain to play with my husband.
Instructor: Do you mean petanque?
Me: PUTAIN, PETANQUE?! What’s the difference!
Instructor: Well, a putain is a hooker. Are you wanting to learn how to be a French hooker?
Hopefully Steve is having an easier time in pastry?