Bonjour, Paris!

Did I mention I’m in Paris for the next 40 days? I’ll be attending an intensive pâtisserie program at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. Although I miss mes amis at O Ya, Paris is indeed a nice change of scenery, people and livelihood. I was a bit apprenhensive this past week, perhaps from reading a lot of David Lebovitz, or because I speak seulemente un petit peu de français, who knows…c’est bizarre, no? When I traveled to Vietnam, the most ‘foreign’ land and language to me yet, I was fine–no worries, besides the possibility of dengue fever. It never phased me when Vietnamese cabbies laughed at my butchery of their native language or when waiters ignored my obvious motioning for their attention. However, in France I feel very much out of my element. Maybe it’s because they dress très façionable here and I’m a bit intimidated? C’est posible.

Anyhoo, once I arrived at Charles de Gaulle, I was surprised to see how fast and smoothly customs went. I landed at 7:30 a.m. and was in a cab by 8 am. Très impressionant, especially after reading about the chaos and discord on David’s blog. Since we had two huge suitcases and then some, mom and I opted for a cab. Perhaps my luck carried over from yesterday (I did see two pugs, after all. Two in one day! Excluding my two at home…) because our cab driver was Chinese! And he was driving a new Mercedes E 230. Double bonus!

Bon Matin!

We arrived at my apartment and met the owner, Madame Bardin. Everything went smoothly except for the few kinks setting up my wifi. We telephoned the Darty Box help line and within the hour, I was online. Success! I was surprised to hear the man on the other end of the phone spoke very good English! Much better than Madame’s (we spoke through Google translator. It was cute, actually). I also discovered that Madame Bardin’s laptop keyboard was different than mine. Letters were in unfamiliar locations. I had to press the ‘shift’ key to insert numbers. The culture shock (more buzz than shock) actually excited me and reminded me that I’m in Paris, baby!

My home for the next 40 days:

Rue Desnouettes

Afterwards, mom and I got lunch nearby the apartment. We were both really hungry and groggy from our flight so lunch was not tasty at all. After that we went to Le Cordon Bleu for a tour. On the way I picked up a SIM card for my cell phone at a nearby tabac (tobacco stand/shop). I’d read about SIM card buying technique from David and heard about it from friends and for some reason, I was apprehensive. Perhaps because my French is so rusty. After all, I only took an ‘intensive’ semester at BC. Coupled with the fact that I’ve been trying to learn restaurant/conversational Japanese for the past year, yes, I have all the reason to be ashamed of mon français! Well, that residual pug luck must have done its magic because the tabac owners were Chinese! They not only helped me purchase a SIM card but also called the mobile company and set up my account for me. Woohoo!

Call me Lady Luck because once at Le Cordon Bleu, we toured the classrooms with a Beijing native. Hence, my years of Chinese have finally paid off. Or, there are just so many Chinese people in the world that some were bound to have migrated to France because China is big, but it ain’t big enough.

Fast forward to dinner. The waiter and chef both spoke English. This worried me at first because if they both speak English and there is some English on the menu, will that make the food less French? Nope. To test my hypothesis, I ordered very traditional french dishes:

Amuse: Terrine de Lapin

Je Bois

Foie Gras au Confit de Pommes

Steak au Poivre

Milles Feuilles aux Fraises

Petit Fours

Everything was well executed. The gratuitous portions have left me typing like a comatose glutton. The half-bottle of chilled Brouilly was fruity, refreshing and perfect for a warm summer night. Its full body paired nicely with my foie and steak; the long finish is keeping my glands salivating as I type now. Not surprisingly, dessert was my favorite course. The milles feuilles was light and flaky yet packed with lemony tang. Strawberries are definitely in season for a reason. The petit fours were also a nice finish to a rich meal, especially the lemon meringues which had small, tart strawberry brunoise-gummy-surprises inside. Thank goodness Le Gastroquet (10, Rue Desnouettes 15th arr.) is just across the street. I’ll be bringing friends back for more, especially since the chef cares enough to come out and take orders himself once 9pm rolls around and the restaurant is bustling.

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