I am not stalking Alice…honest!

It was simply a twist of fate. I wanted to do something special for the “Hungry” Hubby right before Christmas. We always wanted to take a class from Michel Richard ,author of Happy in the Kitchen, at Citronelle.  We had such a wonderful dinner there in the spring, so I thought when better to do this than during the holidays.

So I called the restaurant and inquired if they had any seats left for their December classes. My heart deflated when the lady-in-charge said that those classes were sold out. But then she added:

    “We do have a special class with Michel Richard and Alice Medrich and there are some seats left in that.”


I wasn’t sure whether I heard her correctly: my chocolate guru, Alice Medrich and Michel Richard in a class together? I couldn’t believe my luck. I did ponder the odd combination: Michel Richard who spins complex multi-layered desserts and Alice Medrich who recently found renewed inspiration in the simplicity of her ingredients and methods … hmm…interesting.

      The lady said that the event was handled by the D.C. chapter of Les Dames de Escoffier so she emailed me the information should I want to register.

      It took me all but two minutes to decide that, yes, I do want to go so I quickly informed the hubby that he was going to DC with me this Thursday (he really did not have much choice). So what was going to be something special for him turned out to be something special for me.

      When I received the flyer via email I noticed that most of the recipes being “demoed” were pretty easy. There was a wine and dessert pairing right after the class so I had an inkling that it was not going to be as informative as her class at Tante Marie.

       The class was held in the kitchen and seats were arranged in front of the hot plate. As I suspected, the class attendees looked like they were Park avenue ladies who lunch. Expensive jewelry, perfectly coiffed hair, cashmere shawls – I was glad I told the hubby not to wear jeans (I heard one lady talking about her cashmere coat)

      Anyway, my attention was drawn to the stage where Alice and Michel were bantering so humorously together. Apparently Michel and Alice met in France in the 70’s when Alice was staging at Lenotre and Michel was the chef at the restaurant Lenotre. Michel said that he was that young man who had a crush on her and she just ignored him.


     “No French boyfriends?” Michel asked.

     “No. I was married at that time” Alice responded with a laugh.

     Out of the blue Michel asked the audience if they have heard of the book Heat. I think I was the only one who said yes.

      He looked to the opposite side of the room and said “let me introduce Monsieur Buford”. My head spun the opposite direction and sure enough standing not 6 feet from me was Bill Buford in the flesh!

      Okay, Alice, Michel and Bill in one room. I need a drink. As if on cue Michel said, “Anyone wants champagne, let’s have some champagne!” He signaled one of his wait staff to bring in the bubblies.

      I am not a big Champagne connoisseur, but I must say the selection was very smooth and well-balanced.

       As expected, the demo was really short. Alice whizzed through the making of the sherry and olive oil pound cake, the Italian chocolate almond torte and the spice dusted brownies. Michel was there for comic relief and to be her kitchen slave (he cleaned up after her so sweetly- clearly he still had a crush on her).


       It was over in about 40 minutes and we were filing out of the room when Bill Buford caught up with me because I requested a photo with him earlier. He appeared to be such a soft-spoken and intellectual type guy I really couldn’t picture him in the crazy Babbo kitchen or as Italian Butcher’s apprentice who had caught his apron on fire while stirring ragu (Bill told me he kept that apron) . I went into detective mode and asked him why he was snooping around Michel’s kitchen. He did not know I had a blog so I’m not going to reveal everything he said but all I can say is read the last part of his book where he said “I want to follow Catherine de Medicis. If I’m to understand Italian cooking, I need to cross the Alps and learn what happened next. I have to go to France."


     In the dessert and wine tasting area, our tables were set with 4 wine glasses each which were promptly filled with different dessert wines and champagne. Mark Slater, the knowledgeable Citronelle sommelier and 2007 James Beard award winner for best Wine service I might add, walked us through each selection. He said the hardest dessert to pair with wine is chocolate because of its dominant flavor. Although our menu had specific pairings for each dessert he encouraged us to mix and match. We were then presented with a plate of all the  samples from the class and then some.


         Our favorite was the Italian almond chocolate torte, it was not very sweet but had a wonderful texture. In fact, Michel asked us for a consensus as to what to add to his dessert menu and this had the popular vote. For best pairing ,the Olive oil and sherry pound cake was spot on with its dessert wine of Coteaux de Layon “Les 4 villages”, Domaine Jo Pithon 2005.

          Michel then thanked us for coming and gave Alice a big hug and quipped “ Need a job?” and the man who reminded me of Santa Claus left the room (I guess he needed to prepare for dinner service).

         Despite the great experience, the hubby and I were itching to get out of there. The “ladies who lunch” were starting to get on my nerves after one of them found fault with the pound cake stating that it had a burnt crust. I wonder where she was when Alice explained that the pound cakes were cooked in a cast iron terrine because there was no loaf pan to be found which was why it had a darker crust. Anyway I repeated that information to her and I was met with an icy stare as if I was an idiot for even speaking up.

        Where was Gordon Ramsay when you needed him? I remembered when he told off a woman who found fault with every dish that was served to her. What was that he said “ You’re speaking out of your rear!” He..heh…

            After searching for my coat check-ticket for 10 minutes (quite embarrassing to dig into your purse and pull everything out in an upscale restaurant , I finally went into the ladies room to unload the contents of my heavy pocketbook) , we were on our way hitting DC traffic (how do people that live up there deal with this everyday) and headed back to good ole’ Richmond.

Cookbook Giveaway:


            I am giving away two signed copies of Pure Dessert. To express interest in joining the raffle, please:

1. Leave a comment stating what your favorite Alice Medrich dessert is and

2. That you wish to be entered in the contest.

Do not forget to leave a valid email address because that is the only way I can contact you. The comment section will be open until Wednesday -Dec 12, 2007 6pm. The winners will be announced on Sunday – Dec 16, 2007.

Other contest rules:

            One entry per person. All winners must be 18 years or older. The drawing will be an archaic method – no electronic drawing here. I am going to print all the comments and cut them up and toss them in a box and randomly pick two winners. I am going to send an email to the winner and he/she must respond within 7 days or a new winner will be picked.

            Veronica’s Test Kitchen will be responsible for shipping and handling but will not be held liable for any damaged shipment, dissastisfaction with the product or be required to replace said product. Also any required Customs fees in case of international shipment will be the responsibility of the winner.

            Veronica’s Test Kitchen also reserves the right to alter the rules of the contest anytime if some kind of unforeseen conflict arises.


            I am simply giving away two extra copies of “Pure Dessert”. Alice Medrich or her publisher Artisan is in no way connected to this drawing.

50 thoughts on “I am not stalking Alice…honest!

  1. Oh my, a photo with Bill Buford? Be still my heart!!! I love this post. You're so lucky to have a hubby who enjoys cooking classes as much as you do. (I already have this cookbook, so don't enter me in the contest.)

  2. Oh please enter me in this contest. I have not had the good fortune of trying any of Alice's desserts, so as of yet I have no favorites. I sure would like to try some though. Nice photos by the way!

  3. WOW! I'd love to win that book!!!Please enter me in this contest! I was planning to order it on Amazon.com since I can't find it here in Italy! I often read your blog and your enthusiasm about Alice's recipes made me want to taste some. But you know, I haven't the book yet so…maybe you can help me about that!! 😉

  4. Omg, I saw that this event was happening, but I couldn't get off work!!! (I live in DC…) And to think, I missed Alice, Bill and Michel, all in one room!!! Sigh. Isn't Mr. Richard the sweetest? I saw him in Le Pain Quotidien a few months ago, when the first outlet of the chain opened here, and he was so sweet (I think he was inspecting the lastest addition to the neighborhood!). And Citronelle…to die for. I'm totally jealous. Please enter me in the contest to make me feel better! I haven't made nearly enough Medrich desserts, but I think my favorite I've made is her chocolate chestnut torte…

  5. I cannot tell you what my favorite recipe is from her, because, I do not have any of her books..I know…crazy, but true. I am sure that they all are great! I would love to be entered into this contest!!!! Then, once I recieved her book, I could make everything in it and decide on a favorite. 🙂

  6. You are so lucky, Veron! Did Alice recognise you? About the contest,Give me me me me me! I am her huge fan too! It would mean so much to have her signed copy. Don't think she would come to St Louis for book signing. 😦 So this is my best shot at getting a signed copy.

    It's hard to decide on only one favorite recipe from her……hmmmm…I have to give it to the low fat marbled cake, which I must have made more than 7 times. I even added in Matcha in the vanilla batter one time to make it a Chocolate and Matcha Cupcakes. The recipe comes from "The Art of Low fat desserts".

  7. Hi Lydia – I was tongue-tied at first when I saw him. I even forgot to introduce myself but my hubby did. 🙂
    Shelly ,Frederica and April – Sure I'll enter you girls in the contest :). I just want to make sure that the books go to people truly interested in learning more about Alice's work!
    Dana – you work in D.C. ? How do you survive up there the traffic is crazy. Citronelle is heaven – i checked out reservations for this month – everything is fully booked!
    Mandy – She sure did! She kept looking at me and smiling. Finally I said I took her class in San Fran and she said: "That's where I know you from!" . I really need to add more matcha to my desserts since I love the flavor so.

  8. wow veronica, you are indeed alucky person to meet the chcolate guru. i wish i could attend one of the cooking classes with the pros..but living far away the u.s.a i only can buy cokbooks from amazon and follow up the blogs.my favorite recipe is tiger cake from bittersweet and this is the only book i have for alice medrich….and i dream to win pure desserts through you.

  9. I can't believe how lucky you are! All three in one shot! I'm really jealous. I've been meaning to buy Alice's book just for the Nutella Bread Pudding; I don't know a ton about her but it comes highly recommended!
    Please enter me into the drawing!!!!

  10. I love Alice's brownies that go into a water bath after baking from her cookies and brownies book. Please enter me in your drawing and thanks for telling us all about your experience.

  11. My favorite Alice Medrich recipe is her Bittersweet Decadence Cookies from her Bittersweet book. Delicious! Please enter me in the contest…thanks for the chance to win a fantastic book!

  12. Please enter me in the contest. I've been making her "New Classic Brownies" for years and would love to have a copy of her new cookbook. Nice of you and fun.

  13. I keep forgetting that you're the food blog I read who lives in Richmond! I'm in Charlottesville and lived in DC just long enough to not ever want to live there again (a year) unless maybe I can afford to be IN the city with public transportation, a rooftop garden, a place to keep kayaks… I guess I better stay here.

    I've just started a cookbook collection and am about to order a book case for it to live on. We finally finished painting the kitchen and got a new floor installed. Now we can finally have people over! :):)

    I haven't seen any of Alice's books, but I did try the saffron cardamom panna cotta. I loved it! I'd never had panna cotta before I don't think.

    So sure, enter me in the contest, but I might have to add Alice's book to my bookshelf some how anyway 🙂

  14. Please enter me in the contest! Like many of the other entries, I haven't yet tried any of her recipes, but I've heard so much about recently that this book sounds divine and I'd love to try it out.

  15. I admit, I've never even seen a Meridith book so have no favorite recipe! I'm just an ignorant Canuck who wants to learn!
    So please enter me into the draw and I will cross my fingers that I will soon begin to fill up that empty spot in my education!

  16. Bill Buford is hot! 😉

    I am soooooooooo envious, Sis! Wow.. even with the snooty ladies and the quick run throughs it had to have been so amazing to watch those 2 together!

    'kay if this opportunity ever arises again with Gordon as the featured chef – you WILL let me know and I WILL be in Virginia in less than 8 hours. He's so damn dreamy, isn't he? *swoon*

    Well I can't say as I have an Alice favorite as I've never had the opportunity to bake from one of her books.. so add me to your growing list of begging groupies, pretty please! =)


  17. Oh my gosh… you are so lucky! What an awesome coincidence.

    As for myself, I have looked at the book you are giving away and it is really is so intriguing..! I wanted to make every single recipe… My favorite that I have tried as of yet has the be the whole wheat sables, but I've got my eye on that scrumptious looking chocolate torte that you mentioned…

    Please enter me as well! 🙂

  18. That's a three birds, one stone Veron! You are living good girl!
    Can't say I've a favorite, I just have drooled at all her things on your site. I'd love a signed copy of that one!! Wish I could have been in the room with you.

  19. so happy for you to have had a dream come true!
    Veron, I am not much of a desserts person and very much a novice in baking. I really only first came across Alice Meldrich's name thru your blog. Now I am intrigued!

  20. hi.i am only 19.to be honest,i would really love to have that book because i want to start making desserts for people around me whom i love.i have always cooked the same old soups and dishes.not much of desserts though.i would really hope you let me have the book if you could.thank you for your time.take care and god bless you. 🙂

  21. I just found your blog but since I am a fan of Alice's I am going to enter the ruffle ;o)

    It is hard to choose among her wonderful recipes. They are not desserts but since I am a cookie fanatic I will have to include her recipes for Almond sticks with cocoa nibs, and Nibby hazelnut cookies, both from Bittersweet. They are both delicious and can be used in dessert paring.

    By the way I just tried the Walnut sponge cake from Pure Desserts and it was really yummy, and it stayed fresh for days!

    Happy baking!


  22. My favorite Alice Medrich dessert is Chocolate Cranberry Pudding; we are very much into Pudding desserts at home this year.

    Please enter me in the contest to win a signed copy of Pure Desserts by Alice. Thanks, Christine

  23. I'm truly envious – I'm in awe of Alice Medrich and can't say I have a favorite recipe of her's – what ever I last made from one of her wonderful books would be the current favorite, since I've never had anything turn out less than great – so Queen of Sheba cake w/ cocoa nib cream on the side would have to be it. Do I want to be entered in the contest? You betcha. Thanks.

  24. I'm another one who's unlucky enough to not have a cookbook by Alice Medrich; everything of hers you've mentioned has sounded wonderful, though! We don't get opportunities quite like yours in the wilds of upstate NY, though we do have a few goodies of our own (not least of which is *lots* of wineries).

  25. I just baked the Nibby Buckwheat Butter cookies that I got off of another blog (Orangette) and they were incredibly good. I would love to try more recipes from that book so please enter me in this contest! Thank you ~

  26. I bet all of that used up your good luck for the next year! (Hopefully not, of course). Also, I'd like to participate in your drawing! I love love some chocolate, and I think my favorite Medrich recipe is cream-free mousse (from Bittersweet) because it's healthy(er?)…ha.

  27. I would love to be entered into the contest! I would love a book all about desserts! I have never made or tasted anything from a Alice Medrich book, so I could not say which dessert would be my favorite. I would be willing to try any you'd recommend! Thanks! Oh and my email is canelaycomino@gmail.com

  28. Queen of Sheba… (& I like the Julia Child/Simcha Beck Reine de Saba, too!)
    After reading all of the above comments, I'm dying to have time to try some of the other recipes people are mentioning!

    I am so jealous, too, would love to take some cooking/baking classes and how fabulous that you got to meet all of these inspirational food heroes at once! I have Heat waiting for me to have time to read it, too! There just aren't enough hours in a day! 🙂

  29. Queen of Sheba… (& I like the Julia Child/Simcha Beck Reine de Saba, too!)
    After reading all of the above comments, I'm dying to have time to try some of the other recipes people are mentioning!

    I am so jealous, too, would love to take some cooking/baking classes and how fabulous that you got to meet all of these inspirational food heroes at once! I have Heat waiting for me to have time to read it, too! There just aren't enough hours in a day! 🙂

  30. hi, seems like it was your lucky day! one alice medrich recipe i get requested to make most often is her chocolate decadence cookies. the ultimate indulgence…oh so rich! please please enter me into your draw. i'd love to get a copy of her book. thanks 🙂

  31. Yes, sign me up for the contest.My favorite of her recipes is Albert's Extraordinary Chocolate mousse, that she came up with for her brother Albert because he could not have any cream. The base is instead a sabayon that she mixes with the melted chocolate. It is completely heaven in a spoon!

  32. I just noticed that my comment/entry posted twice…
    I really wasn't trying to enter twice, I swear! :-0
    I obviously need to go back through Bittersweet as I seem to have missed so many fantastic sounding desserts and cookies!
    chocolate cranberry pudding, saffron cardamom panna cotta,nibby hazelnut cookies, yummm!

  33. I LOVE Alice Medrich – she's my chocolate guru. Please enter me in the contest! It's hard to pick a favorite recipe, but one of my favorites is her Bittersweet Chocolate Ice Cream.

  34. i just discovered your blog and i find it amazing..lucky for you to have shared a wonderful moment together with your gourmet idols!! im hoping to be posting someday similar post on my fave french chefs..with matching photos and signatures!!that would really be cool!!

  35. Seems like my comments don't get through…arghhhh!!!
    Please, pretty please,enter me in the ocntest. I have had my eyes on that book since you first talked about it.
    My favorite of her recipes is Albert's Extraordinary Chocolate Mousse that she created for him because he could not have cream, and she uses a sabayon as the base to fold in the chocolate. It is heaven!

  36. Oh, definitely count me in for this contest! New classic brownies! And you can add all sorts of things to them.

    It sounds like you've been having some amazing adventures! I'm so jealous!

  37. I haven't had much experience with Alice Medrich's recipes, so please enter me. The only thing I've made was her low fat chocolate souffles with a friend. They turned out wonderful, light yet chocolatey and gooey.

    I'm taking the pastry course at Tante Marie's right now, and hopefully we'll get to participate in two of Alice's demo classes next year. I can't wait for that!

    Your blog is awesome and a great baking inspiration. Keep up with the good work and Happy Holidays! ^___^

  38. Sounds amazing. Wish I could have been there.

    I really like the whole wheat sables. At least it seems healthier and tastes great!

    Please enter me in the contest.

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