I reported to Le Cordon Bleu at the same time as yesterday… I loved the feeling of this routine. As I left my hotel I realized I’ve been missing a Marche Provencal close by. It is amazing how complex this city is. You never know what’s around any corner-exciting or discerning, depending on how you look at it.
When I arrived at LCB I was issued an apron and tea towel. I never want to take that apron off! Damn, I looked cool. We socialized for a bit, my friends from yesterday as well as a new gentleman from Melbourne. My Parisian friend and I were headed to pastry while the others were enrolled in fois gras. In all practicality, Fois Gras would have been more useful given my passion for cuisine. However, pastry is challenging to me and I knew it would be quite fun and rewarding.
Chef Walter was amazing. A charming older man with a great sense of humor (even though I laughed 2 minutes later after the translator was finished)
On the menu for the day?
Pains au Chocolat
Kougin-Aman (from Brittany)
The class was set up in a typical culinary school format. First, a demonstration followed by ‘practical’.
We began with the ‘turning’ (folding to make that flaky amazing texture) of the croissant dough. I frantically took notes, missing the point entirely. When it came time to practice, I found myself ‘cheating’ off of others trying to keep up! I was unimpressed with my croissant rolling skills.
Brioche, let me say, was another story. I rocked it! We learned this ‘ball rolling’ technique; you put flour on your hands, not the surface, and cup your hand over it and move it counterclockwise.
We finished with pain au chocolat and ‘raisin buns’ and took a break for lunch. The buffet was pretty much the same today, but Rose was served instead of Chardonnay 🙂
Upon returning to our stations in the 3rd floor kitchen, we retrieved our rising pastries and applied an egg wash. They were placed in a heavy duty convention oven and set to bake. Meanwhile, we learned techniques for some other glorious pastries.
After noticing the pastries were properly browned (it is common for these Chef’s to never give a set time that a dish will take, instead responding “when it is done”) Chef had the assistants take our pastries out and they cooled before we retrieved them.
We received our certificates, snapped a few photos, and were on our way.
But first, I decided to ask (or ask the translator to ask) the woman cleaning the kitchen if she wanted pastries to take home. She grinned and said yes so I loaded a box full. I wish I had a picture of the look on her face when she opened the box. She squealed, kissed me on both cheeks, and yelled “Chef, Chef!” to Chef Caals from yesterday to show him the bounty of goodies. He smiled and asked how I enjoyed the class.”I loved it,” I said, “but I prefer cuisine.”He patted me on the shoulder, said “Au revoir” and “good luck” and we parted ways.
Paris is the city of indulgence and sensuality. Food, wine, shopping, beauty, and of course love, Parisians love to give in to these pleasures.
As a person trying to ‘blend’ into this society, I am no different (minus the love part). You’d think that being surrounded by stunning women all the time would make you feel a bit, say, troll-like? Not so! In my opinion in makes me feel more beautiful and confident, and willing to treat myself to experiences and maybe a few indulgences that make me feel good.
After class, I hopped the train to Montmarte where I strolled around, despite moderate snow, and visited a few shops. I picked up a lovely gift for a family friend and a beautiful champagne colored lace top for myself. I popped in Gallerie D’lafayette and bought a wonderfully large, Parisian scarf (unfortunately, the 200E cashmere version was not in my budget).
The day was going beautifully until this point. The snow started picking up, and my train was late to take me to meet my friend at a restaurant in Montmarte. I got lost for 45 minutes on boulevards of sex shops and alleys with no signs and suspicious people. After 45 minutes of getting lost, I asked for the metro and returned home to write an apology email to my friend.
All part of traveling, is it not? Making mistakes, getting lost, and learning in the process. Note to self: don’t go to a ‘gritty neighborhood’ for the first time on a Saturday night in terrible weather… so noted.
For now, I sit sipping some delicious Cote du Rhone from the corner market, eating copious amounts of pastries, and making plans for tomorrow…Versailles.