A Family Lunch at The Cook's Atelier
Good morning, friends!
It’s hard to believe that we’ve been in France for over a week now – the time has flown by. Every morning when I walk out onto the cobblestone street to make my morning run to the bakery (yes, we have croissants every morning!), I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. Truly, it feels too good to be true.
I admit: I was terrified at the prospect of traveling across the ocean with a 3-month old baby. Sure, flying to France is much easier than, say, Australia, but I thought we’d have least tried out flying somewhere stateside with Evie before attempting an international flight! And it wasn’t just the flight I was worried about. In order to get to Beaune, a small town about 3 hours southeast of Paris, we had to take a taxi into Paris to the Gare de Lyon, catch a train to Dijon, then transfer to another, smaller train to Beaune. All of that with a baby, 2 heavy suitcases, 4 carry-on bags, and a stroller. Brandon and I have always prided ourselves on being light packers – we’ve traveled for weeks at a time to far-flung places like Patagonia and New Zealand with just a carry-on suitcase each. Now, with a tiny person in the mix, we’re suddenly packing enough for a family of six! Why do babies need so much gear?!
I’m going to write a longer post with tips on traveling with a baby (I have lots!), but for now, I’ll say this: it’s truly not as bad as I feared. I dreaded being those people on the plane with a screaming baby, but as it turned out, Evie slept nearly the whole flight. (Us? Not so much.) I also feared that, once we arrived, that she would be totally turned around by the new time zone and wake up every few hours at night. Again, I was pleasantly surprised: she has slept through the night every single night since we've been here! (Yes I realize that now that I've written this, she will be up in the middle of the night. Knock on wood!) Given how much we love to travel, we are thanking our lucky stars that we have such a good little traveler. It’s so fun seeing a place I love through Evie's bright eyes. She's in total discovery mode. She loves going on stroller rides and exploring the town, and has even been a total champ sitting through long French meals. I’d like to think she was born a Francophile, just like her mama.
As I mentioned in my last post, we’re in Beaune this month spending time with my good friends Marjorie and Kendall, the mother-daughter duo behind The Cook’s Atelier. Marjorie and I met 10 years ago as stagiaires and roommates at La Varenne, also in Burgundy. Her daughter Kendall was living in Paris at the time, and the three of us took a road trip to Beaune one weekend, never dreaming that one day they’d not only be living there, but running a cooking school! They opened up The Cook’s Atelier in 2009, teaching classes and throwing dinner parties in Marjorie’s apartment, and in 2013, they expanded into their current location at 43, Rue de Lorraine. Their new space – spread over three stories connected by old, wooden spiral staircases – contains an adorable shop selling wine, artisan food products, and vintage cookware, a spacious floor kitchen for cooking classes (complete with a Lacanche stove and gleaming copper pots and pans), and a light-filled dining room on the third floor. For a cook and food-lover like me, their space is pretty much heaven on earth.
Despite being incredibly busy running their school (they do market tours and cooking classes every Wednesday and Saturday, plus 5-day workshops throughout the year) and shop, Marjorie and Kendall make a point to stop every day for a family lunch. They prepare a simple meal of salad, cheese, charcuterie, baguette, and – since it is Burgundy, after all – wine. Kendall’s husband Laurent, who runs the wine shop, and their two kids, Luc and Manon, all come up to the dining room to eat together nearly every day of the week. On market days, if there isn’t a class, they’ll often invite a few friends to join, and prepare something simple like roasted chicken with potatoes and seasonal vegetables.
This past Saturday, we all went to the market, made the rounds chatting with their favorite producers, and loaded up on everything we needed for lunch: salad greens, white asparagus, potatoes, Bresse chicken, cheeses, charcuterie, rustic boules of bread, and beautiful Gariguette strawberries for jam-making. They set the table and whipped together a lovely lunch, and we all took a pause to enjoy. We put Evie in her little bouncer beside the table, and she sat through the meal, playing with her little stuffed bunny, and taking it all in.
Life back home often seems so rushed and so stressful. New Yorkers are constantly on the go, and mealtimes often consist of a sandwich hastily swallowed in front of the computer. Since having a baby, our meals have frequently involved takeout in front of the TV. Not a habit I’m proud of, but sometimes exhaustion overshadows the best intentions. Being in Beaune has reminded me, once again, of the importance of stopping and savoring a meal. To sit at a table, to eat fresh food, and to enjoy being with friends and family. I know not everyone has the luxury of pausing mid-day to enjoy a family meal, but it’s a nice tradition for the weekends or evenings.
It’s a joy to be here, and I’ll continue to share more from our trip as I find the time. Also, I’m posting daily on Instagram at @annawatsoncarl, so feel free to follow along there!