What's that critter's name again? Punxsatawney Phil? We Americans celebrate the weather; the French celebrate February 2nd ("Groundhog Day") as Candlemas. Geek footnote, not Candlemass, the Swedish metal band. Candlemas, just one "s," la Chandeleur in French. Comes 45 days after you take the Christ out of Christmas. Reset the GPS to Seattle and say bonjour to Muriel-Marguerite Foucher, who has moved her cooking school from Paris to Capitol Hill.
Paris Eastside (named for Mme. Foucher's trajectory from the City of Light to the City of Microsoft, where her husband's a high-level exec) opened two months ago in a former architectural office just off Broadway. "I'm a city girl," she explains. For her kids, stuck in college dorms without access to a stove, she adapted French recipes to the four à micro-ondes. For her classes, she's come up against the American notion of supersizing small plates. But she's showing flexibility, buying her ingredients at Trader Joe's, and teaching her students about French traditions like La Chandeleur: you hold a coin in one hand, and flip a crèpe with the other; how well yo succeed determines how lucky you'll be in the coming year. Trick: don't try to flip the first one; use a very hot pan (Muriel's are made by Demeyere); don't try to flip a crepe that hasn't finished cooking; push the pan away from you with a snap. Sonja Groset watched Muriel flip a couple, got the hang of it right away.
There's a full schedule of classes, from 90-minute lunchtime drop-ins to three-hour Saturday classes, all on the website. And a selection of hard-to-find French grocery items in the store.
Paris Eastside, 816 Pike St., Seattle, 425-449-8447