Looking back on the photos now, my visit to La Chocolaterie de Jacques Genin feels like a surreal chocolate, caramel dream. Even the staircase reminded me of a tempered chocolate spiral décor. Oui?
I arrived in Paris just in time for le dîner. I was craving the savory offal from Café Constant but as it turns out, good restaurants [that don’t accept reservations] will have lines out the door on a Sunday night. The neighborhood people sure know where to get their good eats. Thankfully, my local friends had already found a table around the corner at Bistro St. Dominique.
If there’s anything I miss more than the pastries in Paris, it’s the bread:
Je suis trés excité! Je vais à Paris pour le weekend a voir mes amis. A trés bientôt!
I finally made it to Don Serapio today. Marti suggested we pick up some goodies and take a hike up Monte Urgull for a picnic. It’s a quaint gourmet store full of imported goods as well as local, artisanal treats like hand-churned butter. Of course I grabbed some to try. We loaded up on some jamón, cecina de león, queso de idiazabal y pan for the picnic. I guess I don’t have to be in Paris to faire le picnic!
The ciabatta pan was decent for Spanish bread. iQue sorpresa! Crunchy outside, hollow ‘knock’ and a hint of yeasty goodness.
Pan y queso
A lover of charcuterie, I jumped at the opportunity to try cecina de león (cured beef leg) per Marti’s recommendation. The texture was similar to jamón serano but not quite as dry. There was a subtle smokey flavor to it that lingered at the end–nice touch.
Of course we splurged on a bit of jamón bellota because there’s no rival to this king of hams. So rich, so nutty, so smooth.
Of course I saved one piece for my last bite because when you are without chocolate to end on a sweet note, bellota is a suitable substitute. Such great, thin slicing on the butcher’s part as well. Bravo!
Though a bit chilly, the hike up the “mountain” warmed us and the sun did peek through the clouds a few times. It was a beautiful view and a perfect way to spend a friday afternoon, eating and conversing with two fellow food enthusiasts.
2010 was a glorious year in food and travel for me. I am very fortunate [and forever indebted to those who made it possible] to have experienced all the delicious journeys I did. Here’s a look back:
The tastiest, crispiest-skinned pork chop:
The freshest ikura (with edamame soy beneath):
Best intermezzo (passion fruit custard, XO rum granité, coconut foam):
Joël Robuchon, NYC
The best taste-bud-numbing spicy (lazi ji 辣子):
Favorite ‘cold’ dish veggie-seafood medley (dashi jelly with sea bean, bell pepper, zuchini, tako, white fish):
Best shaved-ice, a.k.a. mountain of ice with various bean and gelatinous toppings:
Best gelato (or in this case, lemon sorbet):
Best drinks (my favorites include: 1919, French 75, Old Cuban, Sazerac…just to name a few):
The ultimate naan bing (okay this was actually 2009 but I’m still remembering it!):
The best banh-mi sandwich [aptly hidden inside a convenience store on Larkin Street]. Don’t forget the jalapeños!
Saigon Sandwich, San Francisco
El mejor jamón [bellota]. Que rico:
Bar La Cepa, San Sebastián
Crispiest sea-bass [with safffron emulsion]:
The French Laundry, Yountville
The coolest gougère [pillow]:
Meadowood, St. Helena
Best cheese course (chevre, roquette, pain et miel confiture):
Une Table au Sud, Marseille
Favorite dessert [an ode to Alex Stupak] (vanilla-mango ice cream, yuzu, spruce):
Best ma soy (house soy sauce), anago and bonito [an ode to Yasuda-San] :
Sushi Yasuda, NYC
Best pasta (Fresh cut semolina spaghetti, crab, Santa Barbara sea urchin, basil):
Tastiest post-dessert treat (Olive oil ganache):
Best offal (Tête, langue et cervelle de veau croustillante, pommes vapeur et sauce gribiche aka crispy head, tongue and brain of veal with boiled potatoes and gribiche sauce):
Café Constant, Paris
The juiciest, most tender pork bun (“Chairman Bao” with Berkshire pork, haus relish, Taiwanese red sugar, crushed peanut, cilantro):
The tastiest non-standalone-uni dish (Santa Barbara uni with black soy bean yuba in shiitake broth):
The ultimate beef [flap meat] roasted over an open pit (Annual Portuguese American festival held in August):
Portuguese American Recreation, Woburn
The best chocolate tart (smooth, velvety, deep):
Les Cocottes, Paris
After a delectable lunch at Le Comptoir (post to follow), mes amis wanted to make a pâtisserie visit in the Odéon area. We accidentally stumbled upon a new Maison Georges Larnicol! We soon joined the crowd of ‘curious Georges’ that stood peering through the window display at the two MOFs inside, one of which was Georges Larnicol himself! The Maison was set to open in the après-midi the following day so of course we returned the next day. Here is what we found:
I could see how the chocolate décor may be a nice touch to a holiday party or serve as a fancy gift...mais pour manger? I’m skeptical. I spoke with Chef Larnicol and he said all of the chocolate is shipped from the home base in Bretagne. What kind of extreme bubble wrap do you think they use in order to ship all these delicate chocolate sculptures to Paris? Olala…
By the way, if you plan on buying something to eat and enjoy, stay away from the macarons! Ick. As I’ve said, I prefer ones from Dalloyau and Pierre Hermé.
However, these praliné ‘eggs’ and ‘mussels’ were pretty good:
Pour la derniére demo, Chef JJ a fait le mille feuille:
I was sad that there is no practical to go along with the last demo because this is one of my favorite desserts! Crispy puff pastry, creamy mousse sans gelatin, crunch caramelized hazelnuts and chocolatey praliné! It’s to die for.
Surely I’ll be practicing this leçon back home. Guinea pigs welcome!
Finally, the Cordon Bleu lesson I’d been waiting for…baguette!
Pour la dernière pratique, nous avons fait baguette.
Mais, je pense que les baguettes du chef sont plus jolies. Donc, ils sont ici.
It’s too bad we only bake baguettes once at Le Cordon Bleu. There isn’t very heavy emphasis on breadbaking. We just get a glimpse of brioche in basic and baguette here in intermediate. That’s it. C’est tout. Superior Pâtisserie is all about chocolat et sucre. To be honest, I don’t think a homeless frenchman would even accept our baguettes. They lacked the crunchy exterior and large-air-bubbly interior that every baguette should have. The bread too had little taste which I also think was because of the recipe we were given, which called for fresh dough versus starter dough (often found in sourdough). Oh well, I suppose we signed up for Cordon Bleu and not Cordon Pain.
Traditionally, the French celebrate weddings with Croquembouche, meaning “crunch in the mouth.” This week, we celebrated sizzling hot caramel and nougatine, meaning profanity in the kitchen.
This was a two-day ordeal. During the first practical, we made the nougatine and piped the royal icing. After Chef Walter demonstrated during practical and we got the hang of handling hot nougatine, it wasn’t so difficult, it was just a matter of working quickly and efficiently. The piping of the royal icing strings was also easier than I had imagined. The tough part was moving the piece to storage for the next day.
During our second practical, we made pâte a choux, filled them with pastry cream and then dipped them in caramel on each side. This we had done before in basic, when we made the Saint-Honoré. Again, no gimmicks here. The challenge was to speedily assemble the choux into a non-leaning tour before your caramel solidified, all the while taking care not to burn yourself or break any icing strings or nougatine triangles.
Not too shabby, eh? Mine was slightly crooked but I’m rather satisfied nonetheless. I wouldn’t mind making it again if it was requested of me. I think Croquembouches look a lot more difficult to make than people think. We didn’t even do the hardest part! Read on…
This was our last practical with Chef JJ. Je suis triste 😦 Doesn’t he look like a grown-up Daniel Radcliffe?
Chef Jean-Jacques et Moi
Chef JJ made a curvy nougatine piece and pulled sugar décor for his Croquembouche, as a sneak peek into what we will be doing in Superior Pâtisserie. Ooolala!
Imagine caring those down the stairs.
Divorce et Mariage
Chef joked that the larger piece was for a divorce and the smaller for a mariage. Hohoho so silly.