Sunday, March 28, 2010

Good Company, Good Food

wow it's been awhile! Last week was definitely not long enough. One of my closest friends from college came to visit for a week (too short)! Unfortunately her spring break coincided with one of the busiest weeks of school... at least she spent her junior year abroad here so exploring Paris and getting around wasn't a problem for her :). Luckily (and for reasons unknown), I didn't start class on Friday until the afternoon, so we got a chance to catch up once she arrived in the morning. Saturday was a Journée Porte Ouverte - JPO (open house) for the public to come and see what we all do, so I had class again that morning. We didn't do much but make recipes while the public would stream through and ooo et ahhh. After a delicious lunch at one of the many crèperies concentrated on rue du Montparnasse, we stopped by school to check out the rest of the JPO. It was great to check out the other métiers that the school offers (leather, furniture making, upholstery, etc).

That afternoon we decided to benefit from the 5th annual
Jour du Macaron. We joined the crowds and stopped by one of the renowned Pierre Hermé stores to get 3 macarons for "free," (donations encouraged). The 40 min. line passed quickly as we spent most of the time choosing among the 25 various flavors (including ones like jasmine, strawberry/wasabi, and chocolate/foie gras). We narrowed it down to: Fragola (strawberry and balsamic vinegar), Éden (peach, apricot, and saffron), Mosaïc (pistachio and cherry), Marron & Thé Vert Matcha (chestnut and green tea), and Infiniment Caramel (caramel with salted butter)... I forget the 6th one. The fragola tasted like a jelly sandwich, while the éden was just as bizarre as it sounds. Maybe I need to really try saffron by itself and appreciate the spice? The mosaïc was ok and the marron one wasn't my favorite... but the caramel was delicious!

Sunday was a French family day -- we had lunch with my friend's former host family and from there we went to my English conversation class, where I teach 2 young French girls English once a week. The lunch was really fun and although I didn't understand all of what they were saying, it was very convivial and lively. We had confit de canard (duck) which was amaaazing. Conversation never ceased, especially with the parents, their two sons, and the American student currently living with them. After the English convo class, we headed to the lively Jewish quarter of Le Marais where we indulged in falafels!

Montmartre at night

While I had class during the day (when we worked on our Moka, Roulade, and Mont Blanc), my friend and I hung out at night, exploring Montmartre and making crèpes at home. Sadly, her last day was Wednesday, the same day I had class from 8am to 11pm. We had a final lunch at a nearby café during my extended lunch break before I returned to the kitchen to prep for restaurant service that night.

Pre-desserts (how amazing is that: mini dessert before actual dessert)!

Restaurant service consisted of a pre-dessert of either a mini mont blanc (meringue base filled with whipped cream, eglantine paste, and topped with a mess of chestnut cream) or a tapi
oca/pineapple cleanser. It was followed by a choice of spice cake with citrus segments or a layered square of nuts, red berry confit, and fromage blanc/white chocolate (I forget the French name and the English name just sounds weird). The petits fours for the coffee consisted of black/white sablée cookies, date crumble squares, and chocolats de cannelle/anis (cinnamon & anis). It was a long night of standing around, as we had the dessert courses ready before the customers even started dinner... at least we got to finish our roulades during the service...

spice cake with citrus segments and citrus gelatin

roulade with a vanilla bavarois and raspberries inside

We had an 9-hr turnaround time, from after restaurant service to the time we had to be in labo again the next morning. We spent the morning finishing and decorating our moka cakes... not necessarily the best "activity" to follow up a sleepless night... definitely need to practice this before our final exam! We also started to make marzipan flowers in the afternoon...

the infamous Moka cake: layers of coffee genoise, spiked with a coffee syrup sandwiched enrobed in coffee buttercream

Friday was an easier day, as we made and assembled an experimental Irish dessert that chef needed to do for the school. There was a base of a biscuit, soaked in coffee syrup. Then we spread a
crème brulée mousse on top (we actually got to brûler the sugar on top!), followed by coffee bavarois spiked with some whiskey... looked pretty good! Our marzipan flowers got a simple spray of color before we headed off to Oenologie, where we tried Sancerre (white), Rully (white), and Bourgogne (Burgundy).

burning the sugar on top of the crème brulée before we mashed it up and folded it into whipped cream = crème brulée mousse!

my marzipan flowers

Today for Sunday brunch a few of us went out to Angelina, famous for their mont blanc and thick chocolat chaud. We had an amazing spread of hot chocolate, omelettes/quiche, followed by some viennoiseries (croissants and bready items), and then an actual dessert.

half of my omelette angelina, half of a quiche brocoli et fromage, with my deliciously thick chocolat chaud

226 rue de Rivoli 75001 Paris

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