French lesson in two courses
One of the best ways to learn anything new is to participate in a hands-on experience. That’s w
hat members of The France Summer 2001 Youth Group did Feb. 5 at the Mirabelle Restaurant, when they helped plan and serve a French dinner as a fund-raising event.
The youth group, comprised of Francophiles who will be traveling to France in July, includes members of the French Clubs at George Whittell High and Kingsbury Middle schools as well as students at South Tahoe High School.
Camille Schwartz, owner and chef of Mirabelle, a recently opened French cuisine restaurant at 290 Kingsbury Grade, offered his restaurant and talent to help the students. After designing a special menu for the event, he prepared all the dishes for the 60 people who filled the room to capacity. The students had an opportunity to practice their French as Chef Schwartz conversed with them, explained what went into each item on the menu in French and showed them how to serve the four-course dinner.
The meal began with Salade Maison (house salad) and Alsatian Onion Tarte (puff pastry topped with sauteed onions, bacon bits and gruyere cheese,) and the entree, Le Coq au Vin du Chef (chicken in red wine,) was accompanied by legumes Frais (fresh vegetables) and Spaeztles au beurre (noodles with toasted, buttered croutons.) Dessert was a Meringue Mimosa au Coulis de Framaboise (French vanilla ice cream with egg white cookies and raspberry sauce topped with whipped cream.) The finishing touch included Caffe et boisson fraiche (coffee and cold soft beverages.) In addition, patrons were able to order from six house wines and a selection of 47 excellent California and French vintages.
“I selected this menu because these are many of the items the students will find during their time in France. I want them to be able to read a menu and be familiar with what they are ordering,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz was born and raised in Alsace Lorraine, a region of France on the German border that is well known for its good food, wine and pastries. He studied cooking and apprenticed in Lorraine classic French cuisine. His career includes six years on French ocean liners and six years with the Westin Hotel Chain in Canada, the United States, San Salvador and Johannesburg, South Africa. He worked for Ernie’s in San Francisco and the San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara, Calif., before opening the Mimosa at Santa Barbara in 1983. His family still owns and operates the French Mediterranean atmosphere restaurant.
“Since my first trip to Lake Tahoe in 1978, Tahoe became a place of choice in my life and Mirabelle was born Dec. 22, 2000,” Schwartz said.
“The trip to France will provide an educational opportunity for the students to practice their foreign language skills and learn first-hand about French culture, art and history,” said Illana Rugg, a local French teacher who will lead the trip.
Some of the students have been studying French for four years and they all said that they are especially interested in using their French with the people.
Aubrey Burton, a junior, has been a member of the Whittell High School French Club for three years. She said, “I want to see pretty much everything. I’m most excited about visiting the Cathedral of Notre Dame and the Louve.”
Emilie Esders, an eighth-grader at Kingsbury Middle School, is a charter member of the KMS French Club, which was started last October. She said, “I really want to learn about the language and the culture.”
Thanks toSchwartz the students received valuable knowledge they will be able to put to good use during their trip abroad.
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