As I write, the snow is falling rather heavily outside my window. I will always remember today as one of the most wonderful days of my life. From start to finish I couldn’t stop catching myself grinning from ear to ear, amazed that I’ve been fortunate enough to have this opportunity. Today I made my dreams a reality by visiting Le Cordon Bleu. It will come as no surprise to you that I am currently sitting in bed with their Basic Cuisine brochure laid out in front of me. “We have a 5 week intensive course!” The translator with whom I’ve bonded with over her love of Philly Cheese steaks and thus me since I hail from Philly. “You should do it!”
“Ah, perhaps…it would be amazing, wouldn’t it?”
I woke up this morning and dare I say the minute I walked out the door everything went right. I navigated the city like a local and caught each metro just in time. I didn’t get lost once today. Now that is a dream come true.
I arrived at Le Cordon Bleu at around 8:15 am, greeted with fresh pastries and delicious cafe au lait. I mingled among my classmates and became friends with Sofia of Milan, a woman from the Netherlands and another from France.
9:00 AM sharp we hurried out the door to explore the market. After we arrived, Chef Caals explained how to pick fresh items at the market (I have a video that I’ll share as soon as it uploads!)
We toured around, chatting with each other and Chef (via the translator on board).
Bold as I am, I say, “Chef, parlez vous anglais?”
“A little,” he replies with a smirk.
” Have you been to the states?” I ask.
“No, not yet… I think I may come and do ze running.”
“Ah, the marathon! Oui! New York City?”
“Oui, yes. One day”.
We returned to Le Cordon Bleu and the chefs (our group had gotten broken into 2, each with a different chef and responsible for picking up different market items. We were assigned pate and fromage) had set out all of the purchases in addition to several dishes students had made.
Oh, mon dieu! The best food I have had so far! I am currently obsessed with French cheese, fois gras, and pate.
On to the demonstration.
Le Programme du jour:
Langoustines Courstillantes au Basilic
Magret de Canard Roti au Miel et Citron, Mousseline de Pommes de Terre, Tomates Confites
Tarte Fine aux Pommes, Glace Caramel au Fleur de Sel
The demonstration was mindblowing. It inspired me so much to progress as a cook and push my limits. Chef had such flair and confidence in the kitchen. He decided to add the risotto at the last minute because “he felt like it”.
“Nothing is lost, everything is transformed in cuisine,” he said.
He was so patient with members of the group who decided it necessary to ask him to repeat himself 3+ times. If only I could have such a skill.
It was at this time that I truly stopped and thought, “what if this was my daily life? What if I was a student here?” That idea is definitely hard to wrap my head around but its fun to dream, isn’t it?
After, we were treated to pretty generous samples of everything.
The Langostine Risotto was amazing. He made the fumee from scratch (of course) and one delicate piece of langostine was served atop each. He used this beautiful spice, Piment d’espelette that I proceeded to purchase this evening (despite its hefty 122 E/kg price tag (it came out to about 7 E for my portion).
The duck (magret) was perhaps the best dish I’ve ever had in my life. Perfectly cooked, he spooned a citrus sauce over it that proved to be nothing short of magical. Honestly, if I had the never to walk up there and take more from the bowl (yes, people did that.) I would have! This is something that I definitely will be trying at home.
Lastly, the tarte was delicious but the glace (ice cream) stole the dessert show. The fleur de sel was a standout, balancing the rich caramel flavor. Mon dieu, who new ice cream could be so amazing?
We received “certificates of completion, snapped some photos and were sent on our way. I, however, along with a new friend, Becky who is living in Paris as an au pair, snuck into the student kitchens to snap some photos. I just couldn’t get over where I was and the fact that I am going back tomorrow!
The afternoon was perfect.
I stopped into Musee d’Orsay and took my time strolling around the 18th-19th century (my favorite art period) museum. I am in love with Degas and Manet and got to see a great number of their works. I enjoyed the artwork more than the Louvre because the Louvre pretty much ends (time period wise) before Musee d’Orsay begins. I left the museum only to be greeted with beautifully falling snow.
Finally, I found La Grande Epicerie, Paris and I think the thought that I must have “died and went to heaven” today crossed my mind. Imagine, a gourmet market filled with the best products you can imagine. I decided to grab a pain gourmand and an “individual bottle ” of chardonnay and enjoy the experience. After that, you know I was ready to shop. I picked up a very expensive but wonderful can of fois gras (not to be confused with pate that is made with a combination of parts of different animals and fillers according to my Parisian friend, Marie), a treat for my love, a small gift for a friend, and lastly two very important spices that Chef used in demonstration. Piment d’espelette and Poivre noir mignonette. Espelette is very expensive but worth it. I noticed it is used in many of the gourmet products and in our case, it was used on meat so that it doesn’t burn as other spices due at high heats. The same goes for the Poivre noir mignonette.
I popped into Bon Marche to try on a few dresses, hopped the Metro and returned ‘home’.
Tomorrow, back to Le Cordon Bleu for Pastry ! And this time, it is hands on!
Au revoir, mon amis.
Creme Brulee flavor
The best macaron in Paris. Just try to argue otherwise.