Julienne of leeks and carrots.
When making our plans for dinner, I asked if it would be possible to observe part of the meal preparation, or maybe do some prep work for Michel. Several days later Eric got back to me to discuss plans for the menu. Eric mentioned several courses, all of which sounded both fabulous and totally new to me. Then I was told that I should plan on arriving without David or Anna, four hours before dinner.
At this point I should mention that neither my French nor Michel's english are fluent, and that I was totally intimidated. But Michel is a sweetheart and didn't wince once as I clumsily attempted the various tasks he set aside for me. Let's just say I did more observing than actual cooking, but I learned a ton and can't wait to reproduce everything I learned (except, of course, the decorative handwork done to turn fruits and vegetables into things like flowers and baskets. That remains beyond my capabilities!)
In the blink of an eye, a carrot becomes a rose.
Grapefruit basket with carrot and mushroom blossoms and parsley. He made this for Anna, just because.
Preparing the insides of les aumenieres ("monk's pouches": pastry filled with shrimp, scallops, braised leeks and carrots.
Les aumenieres are tied with strips of blanched leeks.
David and Eric, waiting patiently by the kitchen door.
A final brushing of butter before going in the oven. I'm not even going to tell you how much butter was used in this meal! By the way, butter from Normandy is the best in France. True story. It's its own food group.
Anna's seat, complete with lily made from fennel and carrot, her basket, and the menu she wrote for each of us.
French radishes with butter and salt before the meal.
Plating and saucing.
From upper left, aumenieres served with a sauce made from shrimp shells and heads, whisky (which was set on fire), white wine, saffron, tomato sauce, garlic and carrots; zucchini drums filled with a garlic cream made from tons of garlic which was cooked 3 times to reduce pungency; potato pancake; eggplant cakes made with too many things to list here, which were cooked in moulds and then topped with a tomato confit. It was all crazy good.
A selection of cheese Michel chose for us. Cheese here is also its own food group!
We finished the meal with assorted pastries David, Anna and I brought from our favorite patisserie. And yes, you can come over for dinner!