Cooking with Julia (so to speak)

There’s no one better to give you a little “taste” of France than Elinor Griffith on one of her Griffith Gourmet tours.

“Pinch me,” said Brenda, a Florida doctor who loves to cook. “I can’t believe I’m actually here stirring things up in Julia Child’s kitchen.”

This past October marked the seventh year that Griffith organized a small group – six people in all, including a woman from Chappaqua and a mother and daughter from near Washington D.C. – to join her to cook in the South of France. They were in the quiet rolling hills above Cannes, away from all the glitz of that film-festival town, actually staying at – and cooking in – the former home of “The French Chef.”

“Soon we gathered at the stove to braise veal for our lunch, and put a flourless chocolate cake into the oven,” Griffith told me. “Around us, the yellow kitchen walls were covered with pegboards showcasing much of Julia’s batterie de cuisine, or the whisks and pots and pans necessary to make a gourmet meal. This charming kitchen was the very place where the beloved cook had written, along with her then next-door neighbor Simone Beck, much of ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 2.’ And in some ways, our treasured experience was much like cooking in the Smithsonian, where Julia’s Boston kitchen is now on display, one of the museum’s most popular exhibits.”

Recently Griffith organized an exclusive cooking school run by Chef Kathie Alex. During free time in the afternoons, Griffith served as a guide and took the group to special places such as the Ephrussi de Rothschild Villa & Gardens near Nice, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Musée Picasso in Antibes and to the artsy medieval village of St. Paul de Vence.

For Griffith, these trips are all about connecting with one’s passions. She was an editor at Reader’s Digest, then headquartered in Chappaqua, and always dreamed of more time to travel to France, Italy and elsewhere, eating superb food, surrounded by fascinating people. Now she can share her passions with small groups of people across WAG country and around the world.

For a lucky few, Griffith has a few spots remaining for the Sept. 7-12 Griffith Gourmet’s culinary trip to Julia Child’s kitchen.

In spring 2015, you can enjoy these culinary adventures – “An Insider’s Taste of Paris” or “Viva Italia – the Don Alfonso 1890,” at the Relais & Châteaux property with a Michelin-starred kitchen on the Amalfi Coast.

For more, visit elinorgriffith.com, email Elinoragriffith@gmail.com or call 914-400-4754.

More on a ‘taste’ of Italy

On cooking tours of Italy, the people are guests, not tourists. They discover the true Italy that so few fully experience. They live the passion for Italian country cooking and wine that is at the heart of life in Tuscany, Umbria, the Amalfi Coast, Barolo, and Sicily.

No matter where you go in Italy, you are sure to encounter fabulous meals. Florence, Tuscany’s historic capital, however, offers its own creative ways to please your taste buds that will have you talking for years to come. The famous outdoor San Lorenzo Market, otherwise known as Mercato Centrale, will take your vacation to the next level with local food expertise and cooking classes.

You can take a small-group Italian cooking class in Florence in a private home, where you’ll make a four-course Tuscan meal from the ingredients you’ve picked up with your chef and teacher at the San Lorenzo Market.

Or for an even more exclusive experience, you can go to a cooking class in a noble’s villa and on a farmers’ market tour with one of the best chefs in Florence, Chef Giovanni.

Whether you’re a cooking enthusiast or a novice, this full-day cooking class will provide you with an opportunity to learn how to prepare bruschetta, fresh homemade pasta and the chef’s main course, accompanied with a selection of Chianti wines.

For more, visit Cappy’s Travel at 195 N. Bedford Road, Mount Kisco. Call 914-241-0383 or email Cappy@travel-by-net.com.

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