This weekend we made a short leap to Fountainebleu! The home of a beautiful chateau where one of the Louis’ was born. Napoleon and a pope lived there at one time as well.
Fontainebleau is about 30 minutes outside of Paris by train. It is still within the Paris metro zones though, so the ticket is cheap! Buy a one day, all zones pass at the ticket counter for a 7.80 euros train ticket. If you have a Navigo pass, you can also use this to take the train on the weekends. The train departs from Gare de Lyon. The trains are up top, so you have to take an escalator to get to the main platform. You will want a Transilien or Ter train heading toward Laroche-Migennes, Montereau, Montargis or Sens. Get off at Fountainebleau-Avon station and hop on the bus shuttle which is directly outside the station. Follow the crowd and you will get on the right bus. Here’s more information on getting to Fontainebleau, but trust me on the ticket, you will just need a one day all zones pass to get out there.
It was absolutely vacant when we got there! What luck! Must be because we went at the beginning of April. It was SO nice not having it crawling with tourists. It was freezing (45 degrees abouts) but we still managed to take some awesome photos outside.
And a jumping photo, of course!!
See, told you! Vacant!
I’ve already been in class for two weeks???? Crazy talk!
We have learned and made so much already! Luckily I think I’ve actually lost a little bit of weight just from all of the walking! phew- at least it’s not the other way around. People at the school joke about the 5 kilos you gain. baha. ha. butter.
So far we have made….. drumroll!!
Diametes (Diamonds) Sable Cookies.
We learned that when you are making a cookie roll to later cut into slicing, first squeeze it into a log, and then roll it on a hard surface. If you just roll it, you will end up with an air pocket in the middle.
With some champagne of course. yumm!!
So we actually made the pastry crust with a tart mold. And here’s the interesting thing- it’s actually just the ring, without a bottom! This helps prevent sticking. The dough is formed to the ring in a way that it stays just right. Before filling, you place it on the baking sheet, because a full tart would not hold it’s shape uncooked. Bake Bake and then loosen the sides just a bit and the ring comes right off!
For the filling, it was important that the cut apples kept their shape, and didn’t turn to apple sauce. Did you know that if your apples oxidate (turn brownish) after you’ve cooked them, then they were not cooked through. Just like pasta you want to pick up a piece, squeeze it just a bit and feel for a firm center with a bit of give kind of like al dente pasta. Also, you only want to add water to the apples if absolutely necessary to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pan. If it’s a juicy apple, the water probably isn’t needed and it will dilute the flavor.
The sliced apples were the hardest part. The apple peeler/corer is very different than those in the States. boy did it take me several tries. After that, you want as thin slices as you possibly can and as even as possible.
We started out the day bright and early going to mass at Saint Etienne du Mont, a beautiful church by the Pantheon. We got there uber early expecting a crowd. Instead the church was just about vacant, so we got an awesome seat and got to watch the choir warm up!
Four priests, lots of incense, and an hour later, we were chilled to the bone! The church is made of stone and the cold just permeates everything in the Winter. Note to self: Bring a major coat to wear to church and keep it on during the service!
On the way home we stopped by a market to pick up some grub for an Easter Brunch at our apartment! Check out these cute eggs!
I made French toast with strawberries on top and Kerri made a play on eggs benedict without the Hollandaise. Then I started to wonder, why is it called French toast and do the French make it?
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