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Our course curriculum is especially interesting in that, in addition to the usual repertoire of dishes and techniques we must learn, every other week we are given a menu to prepare that specifically highlights the cuisine of a particular region in France. We learn about the wines and cheeses of the region in our oenology class, we are given recipes from the region, we cook the food, and then we all sit down and eat it together.

Today we focused on Provence.

Located in the south of France, bordering Italy, Provence is known for many things—its herb blend, its fields of lavender, Provencial wines, and of course, delicious food. The cuisine features a lot of seafood dishes (particularly Bouillabasse), olives, garlic, and fresh vegetables. It is also known as the birthplace of popular dishes such as ratatouille and Salade Nicoise.

Today, we worked in groups to prepare 5 traditional dishes.

after 5 hours in the kitchen, the cooks finally sit down and uncork the wine.

I was a little disappointed that my dish was, comparatively, not so interesting. It was an appetizer consisting of crudités and a dip made from anchovies, called anchoïade. But it was quick and easy, and I got good practice cutting things into matchsticks. And since we’ll be rotating through which course we do, I know I’ll have a little more exciting assignment (hopefully) on the next menu.

Plated and ready to serve, the platters of veggies and anchoiade dip wait to go out to the table. My favorite part of this was the tiny little quail eggs (!) we put on top, and the fact we cut all the radishes into little flowers (hey, we had 5 hours to do this so we might as well get fancy).

The second course is a dish entitled Petits Farcis a la Provencale. It was essentially a chicken and lamb meat mixture stuffed into tiny bite-sized vegetables. adorable.

Third, Filets de Rougets a la Creme d’Olive et Marjolaine, et Fine Ratatouille. Rouget is a fish. The sauce, la creme d’olive, was really good. Some classmates expressed concern that the rather strong flavor of olives might overpower the fish, but it worked quite well and everyone seemed to enjoy this one.

My favorite dish of the day: Daube a la Provencale. Beef with mashed potatoes. The thing that I thought really *made* this dish was the addition of fennel. It wasn’t a strong taste, but enough to be just noticeable and definitely added a new, interesting dimension to beef stew. the sundried tomatoes on top were delicious as well, and contributed a little bit of sweetness to the dish.

Finally, dessert. Nougat Glace au Coulis de Framboise, Tuiles a l’Orange. My one complaint about this was I just didn’t prefer the rather strong flavor of the alcohol in the dish. The chef noted that if it had been prepared a day or so ahead of time, it would have balanced out a little bit better…Even so, it was still very good and beautifully presented. Hard to go wrong with pistachios and raspberries.

So, thats the end of our Provencial meal! Super looking forward to the next one now. Normandy, I think!

Oh, and as an added bonus, the school dishwasher saw me with my camera today and asked me to take his picture. Not sure why he wanted me to, but here it is anyway::