I had orientation on Saturday, then my first class on Tuesday, first practical on Wednesday and geez I absolutely LOVE it!
Everyone is so warm and friendly, not the uptight French like I was expecting. Everything is translated into English so I don’t feel like I’m missing out because I don’t know French. And the chefs are so skilled, incredibly impressive, and one in particular is hilarious as well.
The class schedule is… interesting. It’s set until June- as in I know exactly when my classes are each day until then. Here’s the fun thing though (well maybe not fun), every day is different, every week is different. As in Monday I could have class at 8:30am, Wednesday all day, Thursday not at all, and then next Monday have class at 3:30. Weird, yes. But! As I was saying, it is set till June- so I can go ahead and plan side trips up till then when I have multiple days free. So not the best, but it works.
One thing about the uniforms, they’re pretty sweet w/ the Cordon Bleu logo on the jackets. But I’m short and have a rather large back side, so despite the small size fitting up top, I had to go up two sizes so the last button would fit around my hips. haha ugh. I think I’m going to go down one size, move over the last button, or just say who cares and wear my apron over it so it just fits a little bit better. :-) But on to more important things.
We made our first thing yesterday- Diamates aka “Diamonds” because of the granulated sugar around the edge of these shortbread/sable cookies. Super cute. We also learned how to make paper cones, which we’ll be using in our practical tomorrow morning.
They are the ones toward the middle without the chocolate. Oh and those aren’t the one’s I made- those are the chef’s from the Demo class.
A view of the class- kinda. Not the best photo b/c we’re really not supposed to be taking photos during class. shhh. The translator is the lady up front. There’s an angled mirror above the work surface so you can see what’s happening. There are also four TV screens on the wall where we’re sitting for more close up views.
The class format is to go to a demonstration class first where the chef shows you how to prepare several recipes, of only a couple you’ll be doing in the Practical class. The ingredients have been of the best quality- I’m an assistant this week so I’m responsible for getting together the supplies needed for the recipes before the practical class starts.
Here’s one interesting thing I’ve learned so far that makes total sense- when cutting out rolled cookies, the chef would flip over the cookie before placing it on the sheet. The reason was that the top has less flour, thus sticking a little to the parchment paper preventing it from sliding around, and it allows you to brush off the excess flour on top!
We’re making a Classic French Apple Tart tomorrow! Wish me luck…..
Holy moly it’s crazy cold! 40 degrees and it’s almost April- totally not used to this. I woke up at noon today. The very weird sleep schedule continues. This was after I went to bed at 3am? hm. I’m getting plenty of sleep but not really at the hours I want.
I headed out to just plain walk- no purpose or intent except to get to know the area better. First bought some metro tickets- un carnet or a pack of ten tickets. Quite successfully too- I might have even been asked for directions while I was waiting in line. Then off I went, through the Champs de Mars and boy were there a TON of people out, jogging, walking, playing soccer. There was even a “race track” set up for the kids with go-kart type bikes.
Kept walking North and ended up at Les Invalides!
Then up up up across the Seine after passing some guys playing street hockey on bikes.
And questioned by two more tourists for directions. Then continued on my way and my path was stopped by police. hmm I turned a bit and walked down another street and I was on the Champs Elysses in the middle of a protest.
Protest Video 3-24-13 I recorded a bit! Pretty exciting until I found out it was a protest against gay marriage.
So on my way again! Across the Seine, found that I was on Blvd D’Orsay the street the American Church in Paris is on! I saw a Cathedral and headed that way- Bingo!
I stopped in and can’t wait to get more involved.
On my way back, spotting the Eiffel Tower in the distance, and I stopped at a Boulangerie for une baguette, deux croissants, and une pizza jambon! Oui en Francais! huzzah!
Now I just need to figure out, what do the French do with a fresh baguette each day? Yes, I did eat half of mine with the most amazing salted butter, but really? A whole baguette every day? hm
Flashback to some cupcakes I made a couple weeks ago before the craziness of the Paris move happened!
What do you make for a bridal shower?? I’m a bridesmaid for my friend Catherine’s wedding and since I wasn’t going to be there for most of the festivities I wanted to make something great for the bridal shower. Cupcakes are fun, easy to pass out, relatively easy to transport, and they’re like each person’s mini individual cake! I thought they would be a little less time consuming then wedding themed sugar cookies as well.
I think they should be named Princess cupcakes though because you feel like a Princess eating them! tehe
The inspiration was from Sweetapolita’s Neopolitan Cake and cupcakes. I started with the One Bowl Chocolate Cupcake recipe. Super easy, rich, and delicious from Martha Stewart. Bake in a cupcake tin without cupcake liners. You want the cake by itself to show the chocolate layers inbetween the buttercream.
Once they’re out of the oven, use a serrated knife to cut them in thirds. I found it was easiest when they weren’t all the way cool because the sides and tops will crisp up just a bit, making it harder to cut.
Make the buttercream while they’re cooling. I’d never made a meringue buttercream before and was up for the challenge! I ended up doubling the recipe because I was a little healthy with the icing the first go around.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 5 large fresh egg whites (150 g)
- 1-1/4 cup (250 g) superfine granulated sugar
- 1-1/2 cups (340 g) (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- Melted bittersweet chocolate (about 1/4 cup)
- frozen or fresh strawberries pureed.
In the bowl of a mixer combine the egg whites and granulated sugar. Set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk constantly until the sugar is dissolved and the temperature reaches 160 degrees. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, whisk until the egg whites are hot.
Remove from the heat and attach to your electric mixture. Using the whisk attachment, beat egg whites until they are thick and glossy and the bottom of the bowl is cool. Switch to a paddle attachment and slowly add the cubes of butter. Add the vanilla and pinch of salt.
Divide buttercream into three bowls.
To make the chocolate buttercream, add the melted chocolate to taste. Make sure the chocolate is warm, not hot.
For the strawberry buttercream, add pureed defrosted strawberries or fresh strawberries to taste and a couple drops of red food coloring.
**** If the buttercream curdles, transfer 1/4 of the buttercream to a microwave safe bowl. Microwave about 10-15 seconds until warm and starting to melt. Slowly add back to the remaining buttercream, while beating, and it will come back together!
I’m fast starting to think that the Champ de Mars is going to become a spot that I go to quite often. It’s just so cool with the Eiffel Tower looming down a pretty view of green lawns. Once the flowers and trees start to bloom, it will be even more gorgeous. Today I had actually set out to go to Les Invalides, Nook in hand, to find a spot to read. Halfway into my journey, I noticed I’d forgotten my super sweet Paris Moleskin that has maps printed in the first half of a discreet black journal. Not wanting to get too too lost, because really I could just jump on the metro and be back where I needed to be, I headed toward the top of the Eiffel tower that I saw in the very near distance. A couple minutes later and I was there, phew, I knew where I was.
I perched myself on a bench on an off shoot of the park not realizing that I was in a prime location for watching the cute little French kids walk home with their parents and nannies. Too cute! A little while later an older couple ambled up to sit on the bench next to me despite several others being open. I think they wanted to discuss my Nook but realized fairly quickly with a blank smile from me that unfortunately I did not speak French. A couple points and a discussion between the husband and wife and confirmation! “Le lee!” Oui! I could feel the bench rumble when the old man spoke. Some quick pantomiming from the older lady when their dog walked up meant- don’t touch! She’ll bite. haha A couple Au revoirs and they were gone several minutes later.
I visited the Cordon Bleu today!! It’s a 20 minute walk from my apartment past lots of grumpy teens that were on their lunch break. I might look for another route that sidesteps the schools depending on my class time. haha The school was so cool! Garbine (another pastry student I met there) and I were greeted by the nicest British guy named Allan. We confirmed our orientation time which I’m glad we did because in the mail it said 9:30am and an email had said 2pm. Allan showed us the “Winter Garden” where there’s lots of tables to hang out in between classes. I commented that it wasn’t very chilly in the “winter garden” tehe but I don’t think Allan heard my awesome joke.
Camembert sandwich for lunch that seemed to be made out of an entire baguette. Garbine had one half, I had the other. Well shoot I should have taken a picture. I ate about half of the half. Appreciated the cheese (excuse me “French” cheese as told to us by the waiter) but had had my fill of bread for the day. haha. The waiter was great! So very nice and so was the manager. Off to a grocery store- fast becoming one of my favorite past times because of the interesting finds, including American sauce? Made of tomatoes, onions, basil (I think), and some other things? I’m thinking mayo too? hmm. weird.
Then to the Louvre! I appreciated it even more than the first time I went in 2007. And guess what??? Free entrance for people under 26 attending a European school. I didn’t have proof yet so I had to pay this time. But awesome!!
Conquered the metro with threeee changes- holler. And stopped by the grocery store on the way home where I did not follow the appropriate protocol but was helped by not one but two different people translating an annoyed clerk’s French. No. 1- I didn’t empty my basket onto the moving conveyor belt before they scanned it. No. deux- Forgot to get stickers for the produce I’d picked up, punched in and printed out by a person who I guess has all these codes memorized in the produce section. I had to pick up just the two items, scurry back against the flow of the line, head to the produce section and get the stickers while everyone waited, but they didn’t seem to mind. No. 3- um not answering what sized reusable bag I wanted? Fortunately the ridiculously nice lady in line behind me translated. The really cool thing was the people that stepped up to help- all so nice and the older lady who helped with the last question said not to worry, there were a lot of foreigners in the area with a big smile. The most expensive item I bought? Crunchy M&Ms…. my favorite which they haven’t had in the states in about 6 years. yess!!
I was asked four times where I was from today, all of which I told Texas. haha yeehaw. I must look foreign or something.